Speaking Out

I am hoping that this is a new era of daring to speak out.  But I also hope that daring to speak out is also daring to listen, not interrupting, and searching for common ground.

I plead to do that and I hope others will too.  If I make a political cartoon that ridicules someone's appearance it is only part of the genre, that is part of the style within that medium.  It is an attention getter, appealing to a sense of humor,  and exaggeration of a point.  It is not intended to be the thrust of the message.  Denigrating someone's looks is like name-calling, labeling and might distract from a message.  Without a message it is like hate speech.  In that regard those kind of drawings say more about the artist than the subject drawn.  My opinion of course but I will try to hold to that as my standard.

Doodle Power

When I was young I remember loving to draw but thought I wasn't a drawer because I had to look at my subject.  I couldn't just refer to that photo in my head because it was not there.  That didn't stop me from drawing my favorite  baseball  players looking at my crumpled up baseball cards and erasing more than drawing.  I loved mark making and discovered that others did also.  Many told me that they couldn't draw though.  Hmmm.  That sounded familiar. So now that I am a more seasoned mark maker I decided to validate and inspire the expression urges of people like myself with a book.  The book is "Doodle Power" and it is unlike the typical how-to drawing book, or the "prompt-style book", or "repeat this pattern type book."   My book includes techniques with emphasis on expression and originality.  It tries to tap the true artist within us all. I hope it dispels the myth that I lived with too long-that if you can't draw something real you are not artist material.  Oh so wrong.

Buy a copy on Amazon


On my way to trying to make sense of the world....

How does an artist carve a niche?  I see so many opportunities out there for protest art.   Cartoons and graphics are invited for submission.  Here is your big chance! Speak to the world with your art!  And artist after artist pour their heart into a creative blast of visual poetry, good enough for a tee shirt at a beer festival.  Submit it to the latest website free for the looking.  I just about fell into that trap until my dryer broke the other day.  I thought "hmm, why don't I put out a "call for dryer repairman" notice. The repairmen could submit a visual of the work they had done for the neighbor down the block and then I would evaluate it,  zoom in on the photo to see if the screws were done correctly, etc. Somehow I couldn't  even imagine them or any professional submitting  examples of their work and then paying the entry fee for the judges to look at it.  Yet this is what we ask of artists.   Artist don't have as much business sense as they have artistic talent. They continue to hand over their works free for the slightest affirmation. Artists happily decorate the walls of a coffee shop for free in hopes of selling one or two. As they continue to do this they devalue all artists' talents.  Even if it keeps them happily creating it won't pay for the next tube of paint nor the dryer repairman, unless he will take a protest painting in exchange.  My guess is that it is not his style.    

Something New

So I decided to take up a hobby while watching the nightly news.  No it wasn't knitting.  Actually it was inspired by the nightly news. Ever catch yourself yelling back at the TV?  Well, that is what  I was doing  until I decided to channel my frustration into making political drawings and cartoons.  That gave me much release from the day to day nonsense coming across our airwaves  especially in regards to our government and politics.  Oh no.  There I said that conversation killer - "politics."  It's possibly a killer as well in the world of art, unless you are really good and get published..     My drawings are not kick butt good but they represent a darn good effort at trying to communicate.  They are just my opinions of course, but  I have offered, in the form of a compilation of more than 40 drawings,  something to stimulate conversation.   I hope.  The premise of the book is that we are bullied  into giving up our freedom of speech when it comes to discussing issues.   Without commonsense discussion, reverberations by the media echo chamber is the script in our heads.  And that noise has replaced our own thinking and now most of us are in that position where we do not dare to have open free  flowing discussion..  The book, Graphic Tactics, can be ordered online  through LuLu.com .  Maybe we can talk too.  I would love that and I promise I will listen.

A Discourse on Love

It's an ambitious endeavor to rally over 40 artists to present art works about the topic of love.  This is exactly what Mallory Shotwell has done and I am lucky to have found her "call for artist."  Her efforts involve community input through several workshops.  

The Discourse climaxed at Absolutely Art open house this June.  It was a great success. Now the show's theme was moved to the Bubbler -an idea generating room at the public library and to the Children's Museum downtown Madison. 

And now living the discourse continues.  Making art tends to be a self absorbed endeavor and much reflecting.  Reflecting means going deep  and then trying to make visible  and presentable and understandable.  It's hard and I rarely succeed.  Yet making art is not the same as living the experience.   Mallory is now trying to launch her next exhibition whose theme is "Courage."

Seems like a good follow-up. 

Bot Convention

 I had an attack of "junk guilt" last fall.  My tubs of accumulated cast-off plexiglass, jewelry, computer scraps, knobs, game pieces, springs, radio tubes were weighing heavily on my anti-clutter/landfill mind.  How to justify such an absolute waste of space these items were taking in my crowded studio.  This became the foundation of my guilt.  I had scaled back significantly at one point by imbedding junk into modeling paste and calling it art.  After rave reviews on those heavyweights, I created a fish out of rescued garbage items and donated that to the Restore Habitat Art Show.  But now I needed a new idea: plexiglass. True Value, bless your heart, gave me your scraps thinking  "what a weirdo" and now that very plexiglass became the savior for these humble items.  I love plexiglass.  I have mastered it.  I can snap it, glue it, paint it.  Now it was elevated to be the backbone of my new creations-robots.   Hence, Guitar-Bot, Love-bot, Time-bot, Backpack-bot,  Music-bot and Etc.-bot were born.


Each had a theme and added ever so little meaning to life.  Before you know it, I had a growing family of bots  and a growing problem of what to do with them.  It was a mystery to me.  Then someone mentioned "how about displaying them at Mystery to Me?" (a bookstore on Monroe Street.) In December I brought them to this temporary home.  They were greeted  by passers-by as they looked out the window.  Some found new homes.  Some formed new relationships during the 3 months they graced the window sill.  Much thanks to Joanne Berg for hosting the convention at her store.  Now they need a new home and again it is a mystery to me.

Love's a Puzzle

What to do with a puzzle that has lost some of its pieces?  Now that's a puzzle.

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It's kind of easy to use the word "puzzle"  to make a comment on some aspect of life, so why not use  puzzle pieces as a key visual element in an art work.   In this art work I glued  down several  puzzle pieces in the shape of a heart, layering them a bit to build up for a slight 3-d effect.  I filled the gaps by gluing tissue paper over the entire shape using gloss acrylic gel medium.  It's clear and sticky,  so it's my adhesive and also the method for creating transparent layers of color.  After the tissue paper dried I painted solid colors over the entire work.  To give this static design some interest I  dry brushed, blended dark to light, layered colors and outlined.  I like to add the element of meaning to my art to involve the viewer a bit more   Hopefully you are inspired to try this yourself and perhaps to unravel the "Puzzle" of Love." 

Coffee Filter Fish

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I love coffee filters.  Especially for coffee, of course, but they are also great for folding, and dipping into diluted food color.  They provide such a wow event for kids and those of us unwilling to grow up. What  do you do with them once we made a room full? Well, it is endless. My favorite is tropical fish. Here's what you need: coffee filters, yellow, red and, blue food coloring, 3 containers, newspaper for covering table, white paper for blotting (card stock is nice), plastic gloves, scissors, glue stick, and tissue paper (optional). 

Here's the process:   Take 3 coffee filters together and fold in half again and again to get dipping corners.  With gloved hands carefully, beginning in the yellow food coloring, which is diluted just enough to still be a bright color, dip a corner. Proceed to dip in the red, and finally another corner into the blue.  Now unfold it on top of a white piece of paper, totally unfolding it and then placing another piece of paper on top to blot it . Two beautiful prints of the round filter gem are produced for more artistic inspiration.  So keep making more until your art fix is exhausted.  Let them dry while you clean up or get the iron out and speed up the process.

Now let's make fish with these beautiful orbs.  Take 2 of the coffee filters, fold each in half like tacos, and  then push them together with the curved edge going into the fold.   Now, glue stick  on both sides to stay together.  One end of this creation is the mouth of the fish.  To make it more convincing fold it back a bit.  At this time you can stuff the cavity with tissue paper, or paper toweling . Fold another coffee filter in half and then cut a slice getting 2 identical pieces which will become fins, one to glue on each side.   You can add more fins as desired.  It is fun to add tissue paper streamers to the tail so that when you add a string to the top you can figure 8 your fish through the air.   Add a fishline to the midpoint of the top of the fish and take it for a swim.  It would be exciting to see what you do with the rest of your dippings.  




My Personal Art Landfill

My favorite haunt is a place in St. Paul, Minnesota called Art Scraps.

My kids would leave off the "s" when I told them we were going there.  They knew it meant mom would be in the store for hours while they fogged up the car.  (In those days we just let kids  fend for themselves.)

Anyway, for an art person it is a dream place because it is a recycle center for used art supplies and all very cheap.  I would come to the car with groceries bags full of bulk items from adhesive backed foil papers to paper sample books.

Madison, Wisconsin has a similar adrenalin rush for the art junkie.  It is an annual art exchange hosted by Absolutely Art  Gallery in late June.  Businesses, artists, and crafters donate art related materials and anyone can grab whatever they want for a small fee.  It is a fantastic way to keep stuff out of the landfills and artists and teachers creating.  Let's face it,  this "junk" has a temporary detour to studios and eventually does make its way to a landfill but the process is enduring. 

The Gallery of "You"

It's time to open up your own gallery featuring your own original art work!  

DevoDeco - tabletop gallery

DevoDeco - tabletop gallery

Take a piece of stiff poster board, 8"x18" and accordion fold it at the 4 1/2" mark.

No poster board?  Take those old Christmas cards and glue them together in zigzag fashion.  Create a fancy top to both ends and an  inviting door.  Now the fun begins with hanging your own original art work.  Don't forget to give your gallery a name that is as unique as your art.  And pla-eeeeze, don't ever say "Is this how it's suppose to look?"  This is your one of a kind gallery.  

Sand and House Paint


It's soooo satisfying to take something useless and repurpose it by resurrecting it, renewing it, reviving it, redeeming it… O.K. I've gotten a bit carried away here, but you get the gist -- the feeling of renewal is guilt free.  

Actually I got the idea of combining white house paint  and sand when studying cave art with my 7th graders.  Ok, so the  tight budget and desperation for materials had something to do with it too leaving me with donated sheetrock and house paint.   We went out to the playground, gathered sand, sifted it, mixed it with the paint as thick as Cream of Wheat, spread it on the sheet rock like frosting on a cake, and while it was still wet carved a cave animal into it.  The next day we painted it letting the darker colors settled into the incised areas defining our primitive beast.  Other classes took the idea to a whole new level of recycle and guiltlessness when they imbedded junk into the wet  paint/sand. ( Maybe it should be called "p a n d"  which is a word I could use in my current  scrabble game. ) Anyway they did end up using up all my metallic paints when they highlighted the surface with golds and copper.   

Art - toid


I think all of us are collectors.  Some collect jokes, recipes, money, and junk.  That's me.  I collect junk and then I feel responsible to give that piece of junk meaning in life.  So that is what I did with my Altoid box.  But actually the idea started from a dream that someday I would be sitting on the banks of the Seine painting away while people threw coins into my recycled tin can.  Knowing how portable my travel gear would have to be,  I decided to contain all my painting supplies in an Altoid box.  So I chewed a lot of Eclipse gum, saved the empty plastic, saved glue stick covers, trimmed an eye dropper, resized a brush, and cut up a sponge. Squirt, squirt, squirt some watercolor into the little gum compartments and  whalla! .  My "Art-toid" was born.  Anybody want to go to Paris with me?



Girl Interrupted


As an artist I like to take whatever mystifies, confuses, and enrages me, and channel it safely into creativity.

Now that I have retired, I have a chance to let my soul catch up.  I use to see art as interrupting life, but now life interrupts my art.

What interrupts and inspires you to create?