For current posts, scroll down past artist's statement.

The Muse's Storage Box

The Muse's Storage Box
Copyright Diane Lou.

Alchemical Dreams and Disparate Realities

Rust and bones, broken toys and old text, game boards, gears and nests. Even as a child such odd, unwanted items evoked a pit-of-the-stomach response that bordered on exhilaration.
While I make no attempt to conjure up specific feelings in the viewer, the ambiguous juxtapositioning of familiar materials creates art that evokes half-forgotten, dream-like visions that beg to be interpreted by the viewer. There is a sense of deja vu (the already seen) tempered by a sense of jamais vu ( the never seen, or the illusion that the familiar does not seem familiar), and this contradiction asks the viewer to dig deeply, to look inside her own repository of wisdom, intuition and experience to find her own meaning in the familiar objects she sees.
The once-private discards of people's material lives that I collect for my art seem to carry universal memories with them, memories that can engage and mystify the viewer. Their beauty lies within the rust, the erosion, the wear, and the mere fact that they were once possessions.
I play with abandon and with no forethought. Each piece of detritus seems to suggest to me a relationship with some other piece, and I begin to put them together and wait for the mental "buzz" that lets me know I am proceeding as I should. Even at this point, I continue to remain in the play state and will not allow myself to direct the outcome of the piece, a process that requires complete trust. The outcome often mystifies me as much as it might any viewer.
Remember when, as a child, whatever was in reach became the instrument of your creative exploration? That is my life. A rusty, flattened piece of metal on the street, a gnawed bone by the roadside, a unique twisted branch from a tree, a fallen nest, a broken egg, a snake's skin, a dead butterfly...all will be added to my collection and eventually have their beauty honored in one of my pieces. The resulting art creates a new story with its own imagined history, one that invites the viewers to lay some claim on it by allowing themselves to be enveloped by the sight, the history, and the ambiguity of the realities before them.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Winter solstice...

A couple days ago the shortest day passed by...the "watershed of the year", as Vita Sackville-West called it.  Now we can look forward to the gradually lengthening days as winter officially arrives.  It's a long, slow process, this getting through dark, damp and dreary days, but here in Oregon, the signs of spring are already evident.

Daffodil shoots are already a couple inches high, and instead of dying down completely the perennial flowers have thick rosettes of new leaves at ground level as if they are eager to head towards next summer's prolific bloom.  The filbert/hazelnut trees are covered with a thick dusting of catkins promising a more abundant crop next year.  Camillias are in full bloom at elevations lower than we are.

Like these lengthening days (today will be 11 seconds longer), life sometimes has to be taken in baby steps too, instead of those giant leaps we often choose to take.  Change brought on by challenge is in the end a positive...but the getting to the other side can take every ounce of effort.  This year was one of loss (of my son-in-law) balanced by gain (new granddaughter Geneva, lots of new art, and deepening relationships with loved ones).

Today I'll be back in the studio for the first time in a week, looking through some newly acquired items from the bin trip yesterday, temporarily packing away some things that have sat for too long, and attempting to free up some wall space so I have a place to work.  In a few days, grandson Jake will be here again and treehouse work (siding) will continue.

I hope your holiday finds you in a place of peace and comfort with those you love!
(Untitled piece, copyright Diane Lou.  Just added the "cage" part in the past week.)

Friday, December 17, 2010


Last summer when my sister and I sweated our way through about 100 garage sales in Oregon City (in unusual 100+ degree heat), we found a car full of goodies.   But as the day wore on and the heat had taken its toll on us as well as on those selling, we decided to head home....then saw one last sign that we decided to follow up on.

The sellers were packing up and giving up so had a huge number of free things, some of which went home with us.  They also had this old  shadow box made from an old wood-framed window that I gladly paid the $10 for.  With its perfectly peeling old paint, the nice division of space, and a good depth,  I knew it would be the start to a fun project.
Here's a detail of the piece.  All the interior spaces are lined with black and white photos of European architecture (enlargements from vintage postcards) which create a real sense of depth and perspective. The top addition was part of a broken picture frame from the bins (like most everything else inside the boxes).  Upper left there is a small nest, a gift from Kim.  The wooden window below it has a transparency of a nude woman in it.  The Glamour Shots plastic holder on the upper right houses vintage photos instead of Glamour Shots, and the bottom holds a sparkly little girl's shoe, an evocative addition to the piece (and a gift from friend Jennifer).

I just emailed a picture of this as a submission to the Wild Women show.  Fingers crossed!
(Reveries, copyright Diane Lou 2010.  28x25x5)

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Our Stuff...

First of all, thanks to assemblage artist Terry Flowers for finding this amazing particularly appropriate for those of us who see the potential in every bit of rusty metal on the street, every bone and stick and stone by the wayside, every broken toy or doll, every bit of fabric or, oh my, old paper with the written words of someone now long gone.  Every bit of eggshell or nest, every gear, every old book or box, every clock piece or number.  But no, we can't take any of it with us, so we have to create, create, create while we have the chance!  Enjoy your gift!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

$10 off Transfers and Transparencies Book!

Order your copy of Transfers and Transparencies and get $10 off!  You can order in paperback, image wrap or hard cover with dust jacket.  Just type in the coupon code CHEER when you get to that point in the order blank.  Happy Holidays!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010


As this holiday season begins, I find myself filled with gratitude for all the good things in my life. For a loving and much-loved husband. For three beautiful adult daughters and three exceptional grandchildren. For living where I live, for having time to pursue the creative dream of lifetime, for being surrounded by beauty everywhere in my life.   For long-time and loyal friends who enrich life at every stage, for newer friends who entered my life when Nils and I married, and family members who have known me forever.  For good health, happiness, strength and maturity.  For being alive and learning and growing daily.   And I'm thankful to all of you who read these posts, who have taken my workshops or purchased my books.  You keep me motivated!

May your Thanksgiving be filled with warmth and love and friendship.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

New starts...and a finish

On November 8th, I posted about the initial stage of this piece and wanted to update you on that with the picture below.  At this stage, again, I have no idea where it is going beyond where it is.  So far, we have a cigar box, lego pieces (the black and gold), a clock part and a checkerboard.

Another start below fashioned on an old sleeve-pressing board, on which I fastened a set of antlers (both bins finds). No, those aren't eyes, just the two screws holding the antlers on...and no, this isn't a holiday piece :)!
And now for a finish.  If you look across the top of the piece, that gridwork section is those little lanterns I disassembled.  Really like them!  Inside, the scraggly, rusty bit is a burnt out drain pan from a charcoal grill (bins again).  Couldn't resist its patina and wabi-sabi appeal.  Still waiting for the title for this one to pop into my head.  Any suggestions?
Hard to believe we are flying towards Thanksgiving and Xmas and the end of the year already. Possible snow this week down to 1000'.  We are 700' so we might get a skiff.  

Monday, November 15, 2010

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Granddaughter Geneva Alexandra here at last...

Gad, I don't even have a picture to show you, but she's here at last.  It was a rather problem-fraught delivery....her heart rate kept dropping dramatically during labor, she was certainly overdue, so eventually the answer became to do an emergency c-section.  She had the cord wrapped around her neck, poor dear.

Since she was still distressed after delivery, off she went to Legacy Emanuel NICU, where she still is (fortunately it is only about 20 minutes from where they live and has one of the top NICU's in the country).  But, she's doing better, just very tired out (aren't we all?) by the whole experience.  The great news is that she is here, lovely, 6#8oz, 20 inches long with a little curly red hair like her lovely mom.

Huge congratulations to Kolya and Larry and Geneva!

Monday, November 8, 2010

Beginnings and baby?

This week I've been showing some of my "starting anew" process, which involves preparing materials (painting, rusting, disassembling, breaking) for inclusion in a work of art.  Most of the time, I try to alter each thing I use in some way prior to  putting it in a piece, and this process creates a whole new inventory of materials to choose from.

After that, I start setting things together (without any idea of where the assemblage is going).  Right now I have 9 pieces in that state.

Here are a couple pictures of how this might start.  This photo shows a wooden cigar box painted black and from the bins, a couple Lego pieces which I thought were just smashing.
Here are how the two might be "tried on" to see if I think this is a direction I want to go.
I love the enclosure these two pieces create for the box.  It already has a sense of mystery about it.  At this point there are not attached because it will be much easier to work inside if they aren't, but they will be nearby to set on the piece as I work to check how they will look.  Their attachment will probably be one of the last things I do.

Granddaughter Geneva is apparently reticent to come out.  Attempts to induce failed, so mom and dad (Kolya and Larry) are back home waiting...waiting...waiting.  Send some "Come on, Geneva!" energy their way.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

More changes... and recent purchases

Another beautiful fall day here.  Some sun, some rain and a vibrantly colored rainbow as we drove to brunch this a.m.

Here's a continuation of the posts about transforming things before I use them.  Recent bin finds (Nils found them for me) included these very neat little "lanterns" which were fitted onto a string of holiday lights.  
As you can see, they are rather easily cut apart to form an interesting series of small panels.  I'll be showing photos of a piece I have started and which is nearly done which utilizes these little grid panels lined with paper.

Part of Art and Soul, the Portland event that I taught at in October, is a vendor night.  And since I was a vendor myself, I had little time to shop but did manage to hit one very cool booth where I bought the following items.  I can hardly wait to use them.
I love the whole idea of opening doors, keyholes, locks and keys, and when they are old, even better!  I thought these were just terrific.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Fall color....

Burning Bush
Beauty Berry
Maples in the Douglas Fir forest

Beauty Berry
Sweet Gum

More transformations...

As I continue to prepare my "stuff" for pieces, I thought I'd show you a few more photos of what I've been doing during the past few days.  I love the Sophisticated Finishes rusting finish (from that enables me to transform ordinary plastic (or paper or fabric or lace or wood or metal) into something that looks like it has been around for decades.

In the first photo, you'll see the original items (clear plastic man, red giant checker, and plastic castle tower from a child's toy) and  then one with one coat of the metal finishing on it.  I used the clear primer from the same company first, which creates a surface that the dark painted on metal adheres well to.

More plastic items with the metal surfacer coating on them.
Here are some pieces in the process of "rusting"  The rusting solution is applied after the metal surfacer (usually 2 coats) is completely dry.  Sometimes if I don't get quite as much rust as I would like, I reapply the rusting solution again.  It can take several hours for this part of the process to complete itself.
Since the dark metal surfacer actually contains metal filings, what you are getting is really rust, not just a look-alike. 
Gorgeous fall photos to follow.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Transforming things...

After a period away from the studio as October has been, I go back through my stash, pull things out, take some apart, paint some, rust some or in general alter most everything before I use it.  That's the stage I am at now, so I thought I'd post some pictures of some of the changes.
These drape pull-backs from the bins showed potential.  I loved the spiral design which will make great finials to top a piece.  See the "after"picture after I cut them with a hacksaw.  They could be interesting "rusted" too, or painted.  I'll show pictures of other transformations in the days ahead.

Waiting on my new granddaughter, Geneva Alexandra, to make her entry into the world.  My daughter and her partner are at the hospital.  Waiting, waiting, waiting....

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Birds and No Excuses...

The birdhouse shown in the previous post has been upgraded a bit.  A tiny cuckoo from an old broken clock as been added to the circular opening right beside the cat...and a feathered tail now sprouts out the back.

Here's a relatively new piece...No Excuses 2.  A smallish piece at about 12x10, created inside an box that looked like a book, enhanced by a child's dragon gate and old wooden castors. A metal bishop from a chess set sits in the center.  See the details following.  Currently at River Gallery.

(No Excuses 2 copyright 2010 by Diane Lou).

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Where Birds Dream...

In about 10 days I'll be delivering this piece to The Arts Center in Corvallis, OR for a show with the theme of Where Birds Dream. The above picture is not the most recent, but shows the early stages of the pieces. The one below shows the rockers on the bottom, the stars in the trees and more.  I had found this old birdhouse at the bins, as well as the striped cat.  The house had so much character and age and history that I couldn't resist using it for this project.  The peeling paint, the rusty screws, the old faded stencils...perfect!

I drilled a couple holes in the roof to accommodate the 2 branches obtained out the studio door, complete with moss and lichens.  Cut out stars from a metal tin I also found at the bins.  Stars were tacked on the house and hung from the trees with gold wire.  The final touch was adding the cradle rockers to the bottom.  They were also from the bins (need I say that anymore?), newish wood, but I spray painted them black, then sanded them to make them match the aged patina of the birdhouse.

Show opening Nov 19, running through Dec 24.  Opening and beginning of silent auction Nov 19.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Back in the studio at last...

With Art and Soul behind us, other workshops done, and a few days to clean up and put away, I look forward to an afternoon in the studio. Thanks to all my adventuresome students!

Fall here has been amazing, with mild weather still continuing, the color spectacular, and many of the trees still in full leaf!  The coming week continues with showers and highs in the 50's and lows in the mid 40's, which gives the fall garden longer to grow and the tomatoes more time to ripen.  Despite garden failures this year in some other areas, it has been a great year for tomatoes.

After time away from the studio, which the ever-so-short-seeming month of October has required, I find myself filled with a certain anxiety that tells me I need to get back to creating.

At times like this, my process involves going back and digging through my collection of "stuff" and pulling out the things that appeal to me.  These will probably be the starting point for new pieces.  I also look through boxes and boards that will serve as backgrounds and pull out the ones that call out to me.

The first step is always to determine the orientation of the background (vertical or horizontal) without having any idea what kind of piece I am going to do, and to put screw eyes and a hanging wire on the back.  Having also freed up some wall space by this time, I hang the empty boxes on my working wall and begin placing the pieces I selected into each one just following my gut about what goes where.  Of course some things will not be used.

Normally I work on 3-7 pieces at one time, bouncing between them on any given day.  As soon as I can't figure out the next step on a piece, I move to another allowing my subconscious to work on the previous piece.  During this whole process, I have no idea where any of them are going.  The "stuff" seems to create its own connections, and it is my job to simply listen.

Sometimes I'll just look down or on my desk, and a piece will literally jump out at me as the perfect piece for an assemblage I am working on.  Often two ideas sitting side by side will suggest a combination that should be used.

Starting with a theme means sudden death.  The piece will be contrived and dull, at least in my eyes, and will possess none of the mystery and surprise that I love to feel when I look at this type of work.

(Room #5 by Diane Lou,  8"x4"x1")

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Studio workshop today...

Today, for the first time, I'll be conducting a workshop in our studio here at home.  Twelve Linfield College students will be coming out for an all-day workshop on Found Object Assemblage.  After loading, unloading, reloading and unloading about half a dozen times in the past 3 weeks for workshops away from home, I think I am really going to find I love teaching on the home turf where every tool, adhesive and piece of "stuff" is at my disposal.

Today will mark the end of workshop teaching probably through the holidays at least, and I eagerly anticipate getting back in the studio to do my own work instead of just preparing for the workshops which I thoroughly enjoyed teaching. I'm sure the galleries are also looking forward to something fresh...and speaking of that, I hope to find a couple more galleries so my workspace walls can be freed up for new work.

A new granddaughter is due in a week, so there is anticipation on that front too.  Geneva Alexandra.  It's been 10 years since the last grandchild and 16 years since the first one, so there will definitely be time to treasure her every moment just like with the first two.

Nils is off teaching a workshop at Chemeketa Community College today, so tonight we'll both put our feet up and heave a sigh of relief.

I sliced and dried the first big batch of tomatoes that are suddenly all deciding to ripen at the same time.  We had a couple nights at 32 degrees, but with covering, everything survived.  And now we are headed into a weekend of winter storms, which for us here means gusty winds and heavy rains (a couple inches or more predicted), but with moderate temps.  So no more frost on the horizon but the shortened daylight hours will still take their toll on the plants and me.  I say this sitting beside my light box as I do each fall/winter a.m.

(111, copyright by Diane Lou.   20x18x3)

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Chicken feet and a cuckoo clock...

After a grand and exhausting time teaching at Art and Soul, I'm home again...or I was.  Now I'm back in Portland with the grandkids.

My classes were all packed, and the only way I pulled it off was with the help of my volunteer assistants who were amazing!  I love wonderful, resourceful women, and these gals were.  They saw what needed done and didn't ask, but just did.  Thanks to each of you if you are reading this.

Roomie Jennifer got me a awesome present...a white chicken (or perhaps turkey) foot.  She knows me so well!

Then on Saturday, vendor night, one of my students who, earlier in the day had asked directions to the Goodwill bins, came up with a gift for me.  She was so hopeful that I would like it, and of course, I did!  It was a broken old German cuckoo clock with all the beautiful gears, the pendulum, the bellows that make the cuckoo sound...oh my.  It is awesome!

Now two more workshops next week, then hopefully a little down time. Thanks to all my wonderful students at Art and Soul for a great time!

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Packing up for the rest of the week...

Tomorrow I'll be leaving for three days at Art and Soul. Friday night is my Dumpster Diving Assemblage class, Saturday night is vendor night, and Sunday is a repeat of my Transfers and Transparencies workshop.

The van is packed full of stuff, my husband is prepared for a weekend alone, and I'm trying to stop my mind enough to relax and hopefully get some sleep tonight.  There is always the nagging thought that I will forget something really important!

If you are attending, I look forward to our time together!

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Off to Art and Soul...

Tonight I'm teaching my Transfers and Transparencies class at Art and Soul at Embassy Suites in Portland.  So now, I've just finished packing up and mentally preparing for an adrenalin-rush of an evening.  The class is very fast paced, and of course, there is the set up and tear down, and then the  2-hour drive home tonight at 10 since I don't teach again until Friday.  All three of my classes are full, but if you are one of the ones already signed up, I'll see you soon!

Monday, September 27, 2010

Improbable Nest...

Perhaps this piece is a little hard to see at this size, but the improbable nest rests on a large pointed, rusty metal piece which is attached to the old tape measure hanging from the twig.  All are enclosed in the drawer of an old treadle sewing machine with on old fence finial on top.  The image of a  grimacing mother holding a child as well as part of a child on the right side creates the story. The detail is pictured below.

(Improbable Nest copyright by Diane Lou 2010.  20"x5"x5")

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Magical Kingdom

This piece is titled Magical Kingdom.  A few weeks ago a long-ago friend of Nils's showed up, and we ended up all going to the Goodwill bins the next day.  Mary pulled the lovely background wood piece out of the bins and my heart sank for a moment that I had missed out on it, then she came over and handed it to me.  I kept trying to use it horizontally and finally took it off the wall and set on down in front of some other things...on end.  A couple days later I walked by and realized that I needed to use it vertically and from there it all fell into place.  Old post office box dials are in the lower right, an old wooden box houses the vintage photos, and a rusted plastic castle tops it off.  The stained glass piece at the top was from a disassembled glass lamp from the bins.  

Back in Portland with my grandkids after a busy weekend with grandson Jake at our place starting to build a treehouse.  I'm not sure who is having more fun...Nils and I or Jake (or friend Jim who stopped by today).  Why do treehouses hold such magic?  All you do is mention treehouse, and people show up at the door with a hammer in hand.  Did we all wish for a truly wonderful treehouse when we were kids when what we actually had (if anything) was a tiny platform in a forked tree?

This treehouse has a 10x14 platform, so will have a little deck around the actual house.  We got the platform frame done, and the floor joists put up.  Now for decking.  Jake below "meditating" on the started platform.  Did I mention he is quite theatrical?  Ommmmm......
(Magical Kingdom.... 24x10x4  Copyright by Diane Lou 2010)

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Constructing a spiral...

Here's a new piece ...well, actually a piece I thought was done a while ago, but its incompleteness nagged at me.  Then I took a couple pieces off and added the black ball and the red tin in the top center, and now it is finished.
It's about 20" tall in all, and the piece it was created on (the pointed wood background with a shelf-like front) was part of what I got in a $1 bag at the end of a church rummage sale.  The smaller picture frames were actually made from one picture frame cut in half and separated.  The black turned pieces were just made from one that had split in half down the grain, and the black ball was a peeling, freebie ball I painted black.

I get as much joy from reclaiming discards as I do from the act of putting them all together. Looking at things for their shape, their texture, their dimension and looking beyond the dirt, the rust, the chips and broken bits...that is really the key.  Everything I use was once destined for a landfill, and I love nothing better than making art out of all the things I rescue.

The days are full of getting ready to teach and sell at Art and Soul October 5-11. And this weekend grandson Jake will be here and we'll start building a treehouse!  I can't wait. I envision a forest full of treehouses with rope bridges and zip lines connecting them.  Sounds like great fun!

Friday, September 17, 2010

Fall preparations....

While for us, this time of year means making sure we are prepared for winter with wood for the stove, gasoline for the generator, and some extra food on hand, for the pack rats who share our forest, it means finding a place to settle in for the winter.  One quickly seized the opportunity by settling into our wood elevator that takes wood from the garage to the upstairs deck beside the living room.

I love nests of all kinds and am entranced by pack rats' collections and their adorable appearance (but am repelled by their smell).  The bulk of this nest was made from twine which had obviously been nibbled from a large spool in the garage.  Each piece was approximately 6" long and had been carried up the elevator shaft, probably one by one, then shredded for extra softness.  Further enhancements were twigs, moss and lichens.

All of this happened in a very short time, as one day I went to get wood to bring into the house and was startled to be face-to-face with a pack rat, cozy in her nest and obviously none too eager to abandon her new beautifully crafted home.

When my daughters were young, my former husband and I lived in the backwoods of MT with no power, no running water, phone or anything else.  When my daughters tired of the large dollhouse their dad had built for them,  we put it in the woodshed for the winter with the plastic furniture inside in a box.  When spring came and the woodshed emptied, there was a large packrat nest in one corner filled with plastic dollhouse furniture. They had couches, beds, sinks and toilets...all of it.  It is a memory that never fails to bring a smile to my face.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Ordering glitch...and repeating arms

It was pointed out to me yesterday that the link to my earlier book, Diane Lou Assemblage, was not working. Because I had revised it a bit after the initial printing, the link changed. It is now fixed if you want to order. You can just click on the image on the left sidebar for any of the books. Thanks...

When I bought an old mannikin (female child), her arm kept falling off, so I took that as a sign that I needed to use it separately (and that means the rest of her will be used in parts too).  I had also just purchased the end of an old wooden box that said Repeating Arms Co.  Couldn't resist putting the two together.

Another beautiful day here, so after yoga this a.m., I am off to the studio. Getting ready for some fun visitors, doing art, taking care of the garden, and getting ready for Art and Soul in a couple weeks is keeping me busy. Love this time of year...

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Hot off the press...Transfers and Transparencies

It's ready! 78 pages of fully-illustrated techniques. To view bigger, click on the little box with the 4 arrows. Thanks for looking!

Artful home...

Yesterday Nils and I were invited to be a part of an art discussion group hosted by friend Monica. The gathering was held at the home and studio built by her father, a noted woodcarver. The house, built decades ago, was built entirely of hand-hewn logs,
including the floor boards and the long dining table. It is said the house was built without a nail...just dovetailed joints and hand-carved dowels holding it together. The artist's mark was everywhere.

One room caught my eye...the spectacular wall you see pictured here. This is an interior wall, carved by the artist, right into the logs. You'll see the backside of this wall in the following photo of Nils.

Here's what greets visitors by the front door....another massive carving right into the logs of the building. The whole place overlooks the beautiful valley, features a gazebo, koi pond, garden and carvings around every corner. Lovely!

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Book finished...mural up

Actually the mural we put together a year ago this summer has been installed for quite a while, but it took a friend visiting to finally get a picture of it for us. It was fired in the spring firing of East Creek Anagama, here on our property. All the color comes from the wood ash of the firing which creates its own glazes.

Beyond that, I finished my book on Transfers and Transparencies and should have copy #1 next week to do a final proof before ordering lots of copies. They'll be available from me or at Art and Soul or from I'll post when it is ready.

Fall's cooler, damper, shorter days are upon us (even though it isn't fall) and it has put me in housecleaning mode, wood stove mode, and getting ready for fall workshops mode. The calendar is filling and I can see Xmas here before I realize what hit me.
Oh, and a new granddaughter is due on Halloween, so that is an extra-special fall thing to look forward to.

There is always that bittersweet quality when the weather starts to change. I love the weather, but there is the reality that a rainy winter lies ahead, with short, dark days. If I stay as busy this winter as I have the rest of the year, I'm not sure I'll notice.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Book busy now...

For the past few days, I have been book-busy again, creating a book of my Transfers and Transparencies class that I will teach at Art & Soul in Portland in early October. This class has been the gift that has kept on giving, since I have been teaching it for about 6 years now.

As anyone who has created a class knows, it is a lot of work...and sometimes you end up teaching it once or twice and then there is no interest. Not so with this one. It is a packed 3 hour class (which always fills), full of learning image transfer techniques, and then shifting gears to learn to use transparencies to create what I call "glueless collage" or Photoshop without Photoshop. Much of what is learned involves using your inkjet printer that you probably already have at home.

So, the idea of doing the book came about because despite the handouts attendees receive, people wanted a more complete reference with photos, and, those who could not come to Art & Soul or other locations where I teach wanted to learn the techniques. The book will have the entire class contents with photos (thanks to granddaughter Abbie for being my hand model) plus additional techniques, as well as two full-page prints of my collages that can be cut out and framed. I'm now on page 50, so I think it will run about 80 pages, 8x10 portrait format. It will be ready in time for Art and Soul.

The past couple weeks have been full with grandchildren Abbie and Jake spending time here, golf, other trips and outings...just all the end-of-summer things before Nils started teaching again (today)...and boy, does it feel like the end of summer. Nights have been down in the 40's (I'm now covering the tomatoes at night)...and the high today is a mere 56 degrees with the sky darkened by clouds and a light rain falling. Feels like October to me. Let's hope this isn't the end of a seemingly very short summer....

Friday, August 20, 2010

Eyes and other parts...

The piece pictured above is one I did a year or so ago titled Stargazer. One day at the Goodwill bins, Nils found a very, very old flashlight for me. Coming home, I paired it with a block of wood (from the bins) and a very old bunson burner from Nils's stash. Inside the lens area is a transparency of a woman looking out. It was one of those 15 minute pieces that I love for its simplicity. Often working quickly, without too much thought, garners the best results.

Today after yoga we saw an estate sale sign which we followed up. The garage was packed with tools, dozens of duck decoys (new), 1000's of Hot Wheels, and not one thing that caught my eye, till we headed into the back room. There we discovered the owner had been a taxidermist and there were all the furs and hooves that were part of his trade. I vacillate between being captivated and repelled by these pieces, but I love skulls and bones so.... What's the difference? I guess the fur and all seem closer to what these animals once were. Then, just as we were leaving, I spotted one of those little metal cases that often house screws and nuts and bolts of various sizes in individual drawers. But when I got closer, I saw the drawers were labeled bird, elk, raccoon, caribou, wolverine, etc. And inside the drawers were the magnificent glass eyes that seem to give stuffed animals a spark of life. The eyes were just spectacular, and I immediately knew they were the find of the day. $80 for the box seemed steep until I came home, counted the eyes, then looked on the internet at prices for them and found I had about $500 worth of amazing eyes to use in my art. Can't wait to see where they lead me....

(Stargazer copyright by Diane Lou 2008)

Monday, August 16, 2010

Revised Bound Angel

I promised you the revisited and revised Bound Angel that I posted July 26th, and here it is. The top and bottom additions made the shape more interesting, and I took off the head and replaced it with a crow skull adding to the mystery.

Hot, hot, hot again today, a siege that is promised to end by tonight as we return to our 70's and 80's. The garden, however, is enjoying the heat as long as I keep dumping water on it all.

Off to the studio...

Sunday, August 15, 2010

70 garage sales...

Yesterday my sister and I headed to Oregon City where there were over 70 garage sales this weekend, many in the lovely historic district of town. It was, unfortunately, one of the hottest days of the year hovering around 100, but we soldiered on and still found many wonderful things!

Ancient puppet women from Thailand, barn owl wings, a vintage double hourglass housed in bamboo and wrapped with metal, several wonderful old boxes to work in, an ancient domino set, and 3 very old handcarved duck decoys (3/$10), and much more. There were also things for the house and glasses and weed barrier cloth. It was a very productive day! Now I'm ready to work again.

Pictured above is a whimsical, light piece...not my norm...but once I put those curlique wood pieces on the side of the box, it seemed that was where it wanted to go. The wooden "gateway" above her, the lace arch in the background and the 3 stars above her were all bins finds. On the right are plastic tree branches (probably from a Halloween decoration, also at the bins as was she and the giant die she is sitting on). Her painted face has a rather quizzical expression on it so once I got that far, I wasn't sure where this thing was going. Then I looked at my cluttered desk, and saw the taped together black envelope that has written on top "Fragile....frog inside" . You may wonder where that would have come from, but once my sister found a small frog that had become flattened by a passing vehicle. The dried out, very flat frog, was then sent to me with the cautionary words on the envelope.

Anyway, that jumped up at me, nearly flying into my hand and from there it landed in the tree branch, and I knew the damsel in distress was looking for her frog prince and the piece became "The Kiss", a title stolen from one of my all-time favorite pieces of art by Klimt.

(The Kiss, copyright by Diane Lou 2010. 16"x12"x4")