Monday, March 31, 2014

Latest work: "Depth"

I combined my photos of peeling paint, my own graffiti-like scribbles, various textures and more to create this abstract image. There's a feeling of watery depths, mundane human markings, and a mysterious sky going on here. (At least to ME that's what's going on!) ©Carol Leigh

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Collage 588

This is a photograph of a physical collage (5.5"x7.5") I made this morning using torn papers, old inked papers, scraps of this and that, hand-painted rice paper, and a 1943 postage stamp depicting Mt. Fuji in Japan and Mayon volcano in the Philippines. Thank you, Kathleen A. for some of the papers I used here. ©Carol Leigh

Friday, March 28, 2014

Art and discipline...

I am in a big artistic slump. Big. But I'm pressing on, knowing that this, too, shall pass. I rummage through my photos daily, look through books, refer to my "idea book." I'm showing up and doing the work. I'm creating a lot of crap. But I know this will turn around.

I did a Google search for the word "inspiration." Here's a quote I liked:

"Talent without discipline is like an octopus on rollerskates. There's plenty of movement, but you never know if it's going to be forward, backwards, or sideways."   -- H. Jackson Brown, Jr., author

Carol Leigh

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Abstracts anywhere . . .

In my quest to show we can create unusual abstract images no matter where we are and no matter what's in front of us, I offer you this.

I was walking through a parking lot here in Waldport and I liked the way the yellow colors stood out against the dark asphalt. I purposely put the yellow "bumps" off to the right and had the long horizontal line of the marked parking spaces run along the entire width of the frame. That horizontal line ties the two yellow elements together, offset on the right (following the Rule of Thirds).

Notice the small triangle below the upper yellow element as well as the triangle to the left of the lower element. And then notice how the entire lower right corner is an even larger triangle.

Complex simplicity reigns!

©Carol Leigh

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

It's a good day to . . .

. . . tidy up the office.

Taken at the boathouse in Vineyard Haven, Martha's Vineyard last year. ©Carol Leigh

Monday, March 24, 2014

I got mail!

I have a friend in Illinois who so kindly sent me this hand-made journal as a gift. And what a gift! Laura Lein-Svencner is a collage artist and instructor and among the many things she does is make these coptic-stitched journals, using her own collages on the outside and inside covers. This is the one she sent to me, which arrived today. Isn't it cool?

But now, the pressure! I have to have something equally worthy to put on the empty pages inside. Let's see . . . "It was a dark and stormy night . . ."

©Carol Leigh

Latest work: "Terracotta Earth Tones"

Here I've layered together photos of various hand-painted Japanese papers, peeling paint on the side of a fishing boat, torn papers, Kanji writing, adobe walls, and more to create this piece which looks sort of like worn ceramic tiles stacked one upon the other. I like the warm colors, the texture, and the overall earthy look. ©Carol Leigh

Sunday, March 23, 2014

It's a good day to . . .

. . . just sit around and doodle! ©Carol Leigh

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Reading hiatus . . . DAY THREE

I have decided that NOT reading isn't for me. But one of the alleged benefits in doing no reading for a week was that I would "run out of work and be forced to play."

Well, what if my work IS my play?

Or, if work is really my work, then maybe my "play" is reading? But I'm not allowed to read!

Do you see the conundrum?

The REAL message, for me, is balance.

Walk. Read. Shoot. Relax. Paint. Make physical collages. Make photomontages. Walk some more. Go off by myself every week. Limit computer time. And take a walk. Oh, and sleep at least six hours a night (instead of three to four hours, which is literally killing me).

So, as I posted previously, I know that I CAN follow the no-reading exercise. But it just feels WRONG. Reading is highly pleasurable for me. Always has been. To give it up increases my stress levels (never good).

If the lesson is balance, then lesson learned.

So what shall I do today? Well, maybe I'll go to the aquarium, walk around Nye Beach, have a grilled salmon sandwich, go to the Yaquina Art Center, and then GO TO THE LIBRARY!

Ahhh! I feel lighter and happier already!

©Carol Leigh

Latest work: "Koi In Orange"

For this piece I made a lot of marks on paper (thank you, Laura, for the suggestion), photographed the papers, then added them to some backgrounds I'd made using photos of scratches and painted paper as well as old, faded, scrapbook pages. I've gotta say, the process gets crazy after awhile and involves a lot of staring, a lot of experimenting, and a lot of just tossing things in and then immediately tossing them out. I pronounce this one done!

©Carol Leigh

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Reading hiatus . . . DAY TWO

I'm not sure I want to do this any more. Notice I didn't say I "can't" do this any more. I could stick this out, purposely not reading every day for a week. But for me, I'm not sure I need this "no reading" exercise to realize I simply need more balance in my life.

Not reading has shown me how much time I spend reading other people's blogs and their Facebook posts. At least I don't think I'm reading crap (she said defensively). I'm not reading about Kardashians or new video games or reality shows. My blog reading is confined to art blogs, life improvement blogs, inspirational material, etc.

Not reading has encouraged me to watch more television. This is bad. My TV-watching has always been limited to a half-hour art show at noon on OPB, maybe a cooking show after that, and then maybe part of a basketball game or "Jeopardy" at night. But now, because I'm not reading, I'm tending to spend more time on the couch, watching TV, when I would really RATHER be reading!

I AM getting more collage work done. I'm making a book (I think) and can work on it for about 30 minutes before my neck gives out. So yeah, I'm doing more physical art because I'm not reading.

Bottom line, what this means is that, this evening, I'm thinking about simply restructuring my life to include reading, physical collage art, photography, photomontage-making, and exercising. What's different? Well, more reading = less TV. Setting a time limit on reading = more time making physical collages. Setting a time limit on physical collage = a herniating disk I can live with.

I'm going to let this simmer overnight, but my gut feeling is that this exercise isn't for me. If not reading is designed to give me a "jump start" on my art, I don't need it. I always have dips and slumps, but I never stop creating. I never stop shooting. Never stop looking at other work for inspiration, never stop experimenting.

Chris tells me the Lakers are playing the Spurs right now (oh, yeah, like THAT'S going to be an exciting matchup), but it's time to push away from the computer, and to read or not to read . . . that's the question.

©Carol Leigh

Latest work: "Fly By Night Mail"

I made this photomontage this morning, not yet 24 hours into my "no reading" program. Is it breathtakingly wonderful? Is the "no reading" constraint giving me great insights and energy regarding my work? No.

I would probably have made this anyway. I see no major breakthroughs evident in this piece.

So now, after lunch (a bookless lunch, by the way), I'm heading into the art studio to see what happens there.

Not reading is very, very hard. I mean, VERY hard. Ex-friends are laughing at me, not understanding the concept at all. So is a soon-to-be-ex-spouse . . .

©Carol Leigh

Reading hiatus . . . DAY ONE

Well, after posting about purposely not reading for a week, I began yesterday.

As of 1:30 p.m. I went on a reading hiatus. No reading books, e-mails, letters, blogs, Facebook, art books, magazines, etc.

I am reachable by phone. And I am reachable if you put the word URGENT in your e-mail header. (I check e-mail headers, and unless you're one of my weird relatives, my neighbor across the street, or Fine Art America saying I've made another sale, the e-mail is set aside until the end of this project.)

So what will I be doing instead of reading? I'll be reporting about it. After all, it's a READING hiatus, not a WRITING hiatus!

So here's my first report, not even 100% into my first official day of not reading . . .

Here's where it gets tricky. I'm working on a collage. I'm rummaging through papers and I find an old check dated October 19, 1878. (Thank you, CJ.) It's for $100, made payable to Moss, Reynolds & Co., on a check from the Bank of La Porte, California.

My first inclination is to go online and research La Porte, California and Moss, Reynolds & Co. But NO! I'm on a reading hiatus! Just 2.5 hours into a reading hiatus! Heavy sigh.

So what did I do with the rest of the day? I did a bit of tidying and collage work in the art studio. I put away a few pieces of camera gear in the photo studio. (Doesn't it sound grand saying "art studio" and "photo studio?" Well, they ain't grand! Those of you who have been here know how tiny those two little places are. But they're MY places, and that's what counts.)

It was a sunny warm day so Chris and I were out on the front balcony late in the afternoon, having a "beverage of choice," just sitting and talking. Now here is where I would have had a book to read. But nope, that's not the deal. So I brought out a book of collage photographs, called Collage Masters. Unlike Playboy magazine, where you read it for the articles, not the pictures, this was definitely for the pictures!

Then I (sigh) watched TV. Charlie Rose was good. But watching a spoiled brat try to choose a condo to buy in Hawaii? "Eeeuwww. It doesn't have my granite countertops. It doesn't have the gas stove I want. And this carpet just HAS to go." Such a sense of entitlement and such a lack of perspective got to me, so, click, over to a Trailblazers basketball game. Watched maybe 15 minutes and I was done. Have you heard "Mike and Mike?" The Trailblazers announcers? I wish they would announce my LIFE, because apparently their team can do no wrong. It's embarrassing.

I sketched a bit. I watercolored a bit. I looked at inspirational art on Pinterest. And that was basically my day.

NOT READING IS NOT EASY. Especially if you're a habitual reader. And today another day begins. Wish me luck.

Carol Leigh

Monday, March 17, 2014

A reading moratorium . . .

Well, isn’t this interesting? The next section (on page 87) in The Artist’s Way is about not reading for a week. “If you feel stuck in your life or in your art, few jump starts are more effective than a week of reading deprivation.” That’s what I was reading this morning.

Fast-forward to this evening when I pick up the book World Enough & Time, where I’m at page 139, with a chapter header: “The Joy of Reading.” The author relates her love of books, that they provide "joy and connection and escape.”

I’ve always had at least two books going, often four. But I’ve never had one book tell me to stop reading the others!

What to do, oh, what to do?

Well, I am going to go on a reading hiatus, just not today. But doesn’t it sound interesting? No reading newspapers, online news, blogs, Facebook, no e-mail, no magazines, no crossword puzzles, etc. BUT NO BOOKS?! (Fanning face.) That’s the hardest.

I’ll let you know when I begin. And I’ll let you know how it goes . . . After all, the rules say don't read. They don't say anything about writing . . .

©Carol Leigh

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

©Carol Legh

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Latest work: "Blue Paint and Papers"

My friend Kathleen A. sent me some of her hand-made papers and envelopes, which I used here. I also used some of my own brush strokes and stained paper plus an old Japanese stamp to complete the entire picture. Lots of stuff for such a simple piece! ©Carol Leigh

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Latest work: "Ten Moons"

I paint a lot of papers, photograph them, and then combine those photographs to create collages and photomontages such as this. This one contains ink stains (the circular "moons"), close-ups of postage stamps, silk, lines drawn in ink, and more. Not unlike a physical collage, I can move these papers around in various combinations. It's incredibly fun stuff! Hope you like this one. ©Carol Leigh

Friday, March 14, 2014

Latest work: "One Through Six"

Yes, I am still slogging through computer challenges, although the slog is going much, much faster now. But I'm not sleeping much and am not eating much, so I'm not exactly at tip-top form these days. No matter. I press on.

This piece began with a photomontage "work in progress." Do you have these? Things you're making but they don't seem to be going anywhere so you set them aside, revisiting them sometime in the future to see if maybe new eyes will give you new inspiration? That was the case here.

My background was all sorts of things -- torn paper and cardboard, probably some metal, I don't know -- I make so many photomontages now it's hard to keep track of the individual components.

But this montage seemed too red to me, so I made it browner (but see the bits of red still coming through here and there?) and then I added photos I'd taken of really old measuring tape. I mean REALLY old, brown, stained, yucky, but I have 100 feet of it measuring tape. Hence the numbers you see here and there.

I pronounced it done and moved it over to Fine Art America. We shall see.

Sometimes you just can't dither around with a "work in progress." If it becomes a "work in CONSTANT progress," it begins to sap your energy, remind you of things left undone, and becomes a hindrance rather than an inspiration. So yup, this be done and it's time to move on to something new.

It's going to be (gasp!) sunny here this weekend . . . wishing you all warmer temps, less snow and ice, and spring on the nearby horizon.

©Carol Leigh

P.S. And Fran R., my recent FAA friend? I now picture you there in Montana, peering into the screen, reading these words. Wishing you an especially productive day!

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

List five childhood accomplishments . . .

As I’ve mentioned here from time to time, I’m reading the book The Artist’s Way. It annoys me. I’m doing it very slowly. But I’m sticking with it.

One exercise lately was to list five childhood accomplishments. It was embarrassing for me to come up with only four. Four! How pathetic is that? How pathetic was I? That was on March 5th.

On March 9th, after thinking a lot about that exercise, I finally decided everything I learned as a child was an accomplishment. The first time I tied my own shoes? Ta da! Buttoning my own blouse? Graduating from training wheels to a real two-wheeler? Flying a kite for the first time? Diving head-first from the diving board? Hooray for me!

Looking back, they don’t seem all that list-worthy, but when marking a child’s life, they were big deals.

But how does that apply to art? (See, it always comes around to that.)

What’s an “accomplishment?” Well, it’s “something done admirably or creditably.” It’s “a deed or achievement.” It’s “any acquired ability or knowledge.”

So as we’re making, sewing, collaging, photographing, painting, building, etc., where do we spot our accomplishments?

Sometimes we notice them right away, those little “aha” moments when we finally learn that stitch that makes an embellished garment come alive. Or when we set up the lighting just right so the oil can looks like it’s sitting on an old workbench. Or when we finally learn how to delicately shade something using watercolors.

Sometimes it takes a bit of distance for us to realize that yes, when you first began creating photomontages and you were using the eraser tool, you'd get much better results if you'd use layer masks. And now you’re creating images unlike what others are making.

So what’s my point?

What’s considered an “accomplishment” varies from moment to moment. And “accomplishments” don’t have to be “I invented basketball” or “I discovered the cure for polio,” or “I invented the ice cream cone.”

Our lives are marked with accomplishments of all sorts. The trick is to be aware of them. To recognize them as you go along. And to celebrate yourself for accomplishing them.

The first time you had to drive on the “wrong” side of the road in another country — that’s big. (Especially if you’re driving a stick shift.) The first time you stood up in a karaoke bar and belted out “Tie a Yellow Ribbon ‘Round the Old Oak Tree.” Or created a wonderful meal for 19 people that seemed so effortless on your part. Or stuck some forsythia twigs in the ground last fall to see glorious sprays of yellow appear this spring. These are tiny, seemingly inconsequential accomplishments. But once you learn to recognize them, you will see your self-esteem and confidence building.

In art, you will see your leaded glass designs become more sophisticated. Your purse designs will become freer and more interesting. Your photographs will begin changing, showing more thought, more purpose, rather than looking like everybody else’s.

Accomplishment, no matter how small, builds confidence.
Confidence encourages experimentation.
Experimentation begets something new and different, no matter what your art.

Watch what you do today. And when you see yourself doing something cool, celebrate it! You never know where that will lead you.

©Carol Leigh

And the above photo? It all began with my simply making black marks on paper. (Thank you, Laura.) I then bent, folded, spindled and mutilated them until I came up with this. Not sure where I'm going yet, but it's fun, it's a small accomplishment, it's an experiment. And we never know where our experiments might take us, do we?

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Latest work: "Of the Earth"

This is a physical collage I made from torn papers, hand-painted papers, and wallpaper.

©Carol Leigh

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Four Colorful Rabbits

I am trying to come up with some blatantly "commercial" images to supply to Fine Art America. I like these three pictures because they're bright, colorful, might look good in a child's room, and, well, they're rabbits.

They're also big. The two long, skinny ones are 67" on the long side. The other is 35" square. So they blow up beautifully to as big as 108" for the skinny ones. That's NINE FEET! Woof.

Anyway, it's pleasing for me to see all this color in the midst of storm after storm moving onto the coast. But at least, as a lot of others have been experiencing seemingly forEVER, there's no snow involved nor horrifically cold temperatures. Just a lot of wind, blowing the rain horizontally up the street.

Wishing you a colorful Sunday!

©Carol Leigh

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Festival of Owls

A fictional postcard for an actual event. I had fun making this! ©Carol Leigh

Waiting for a muse to amuse me . . .

As you know, I've been bitching about how my art seems to have stalled, that I don't think I'm producing extraordinary work these days. But I am undaunted! I press on nevertheless. And so here you see three postcards I've made in the past couple of days.

Are they wonderful? Brilliant? The best I've ever done? Nah. But I will get nowhere if I just sit and bemoan my lack of creativity. So I keep on keeping on, hoping that my "muse" (and boy, I do not like that word, it is so overused, so overdone, so woo-woo) will see that yup, I'm still working, waiting for that tap on the shoulder.

And not just a tap. Rather a full-on wand with lots of twinkly little lights and glitter and pixie dust...

©Carol Leigh, hoping my muse looks a lot like Antonio Banderas!

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Signs of the times . . .

Walking around the industrial sections of Portland gave me a lot of opportunities to photograph parking signs. I tried to find ones that were either interesting or were placed in front of colorful buildings.

Why shoot these things? Well, they're colorful, they're spare, and, damn it, SOMEBODY has to do it!

©Carol Leigh

Latest work: "Door to Geometry"

When I was a sophomore in high school, I didn't do well in geometry. To pump up my grade, I took it again in the summer. The grade went up, but I'm still unclear of the concepts. But I do know a rectangle when I see one! So I loaded this image with lots of them, put in a triangle and a few trapezoids. And now you see all I know about geometry!

I know a little bit about ornithology and so I had a crow in the scene at one point, but (reluctantly) I took him out because he seemed just a bit contrived.

I know a little about starfish, too, but I also know when to stop!

©Carol Leigh

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Portland. Keeping it Weird. Part 2.

More interesting graffiti from last weekend's shoot in a burned-out building.

I love the lion head on the person's body. The meek and mild-looking posture and the quizzical look on the lion's face really caught my attention. And the rest? Well, I love the reflections in the puddles. And the final one sort of represents how I'm feeling lately regarding changing over from the PC to a Mac.

©Carol Leigh (who likes using just two keystrokes on the Mac to create the copyright symbol, versus the five keystrokes necessary on the PC)