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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, July 30, 2010


A new piece which actually has been altered just a bit since the photo was taken. It was inspired by the lovely metal cross I found in the Goodwill bins on my last visit there.

I grew up in a devoutly Catholic family, was nearly ushered into a nunnery at a young age, but managed to escape such a life ( wouldn't have been pretty). I ran away from religion, found my own "spirituality" which helps me get through life, and yet, at times, I feel compelled to dabble with the icons of my youth. What statements these works make, if any, are vague at best, but still the urge remains to jump in with crosses and Madonnas, milagros and gothic arches.

(Domino, copyright by Diane Lou 2010. Approx. 24"x15"x4")

Monday, July 26, 2010

Flowing like a river...

Many years ago when someone asked me what my ideal life would be I remember replying, "I would be a full-time artist". That has always been my love. As a child I would hide out in the sweltering upstairs bedroom of our Kansas farm house to do art with whatever few things I could gather. Interestingly, in light of what I do today, one of my favorite things was to use shoeboxes to create dioramas, 3-D scenes. Even then I remember being entranced by these miniature worlds I could create within a box. it surprising this is what I am doing now and what has brought me the most joy of any of my creative endeavors?

I've often read that the things that make us happiest as adults are the things we enjoyed doing during the years of 7-10. When I see how many people count the days until they can retire, or dread each and every day spent at work, I am even more grateful for the opportunity to do what I love.

And the art flows out like a river. It is as if a whole lifetime's worth of shoebox dioramas has been dammed up inside of me all my life and now, given the time, space and opportunity, it is all coming out.
P.S. This piece has undergone some additions since this photo was posted. Will post an update one of these days.
(Bound Angel, copyright by Diane Lou 2010)

Friday, July 23, 2010


One otherwise-boring day at the Goodwill bins, I found a defunct EXIT sign. Had to have it, of course. Doesn't everyone need an exit once in a while?

Grandson Jake disassembled it for me (one of his favorite things to do) so I was left with a metal cutout of the word. Behind that (even though it isn't highly visible from this small photo) I put a wide photo of my maternal great grandmother's family...her, her husband and her 16 or so children...on the Kansas plains. I'm sure there must have been days when she wanted to exit. Doing all the baking, gardening, sewing, cooking and child rearing while being pregnant every year, well, I think at least some days she would have wanted to tuck her other dress (if she had one) inside a bedsheet, grab a loaf of bread and hit the road. There must have been many days she asked herself, "Today?" So the musical instrument part with the question-mark shape (thank you, Jennifer) was a perfect addition to the right side. And the box the piece is created in actually has a handle on top like a suitcase (and I just now realized the amusing connection my muse gave me there since I chose the box randomly when I started the piece and had no idea it would have any connection to the piece at the end).

Interestingly, none of this story was my idea, and it was only after the piece was finished (now) that I realized how my subconscious had created the story. It makes me smile....
(Exit, copyright by Diane Lou 2010)

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Felix aka Flix

Summer brought a new addition to the studio, Felix aka Flix (Nils condensed his name a bit). When daughter Lenka was moving to the coast for the summer to help her sister, niece and nephew, she couldn't take both Flix and Sophia, her chihuahua. So...Flix came to spend summer vacation in the country with us. He's a big, beautiful 10 year old who doesn't take life seriously, adapts to new situations immediately, takes all the love we can give but doesn't demand it, and likes to spend his day sitting in a lawn chair watching birds and squirrels. He's the perfect studio cat.

As I mark off the days on the calendar, I am amazed how quickly summer is passing by. August is just around the corner, and 2 months later I'll be teaching at Art and Soul! More art in a day or two (finally have it all re-photographed).

Enjoy your summer in whatever form is perfect for you.
(Felix/Flix photo courtesy of Jake Therrow)

Monday, July 19, 2010


Today was a bit of a studio clean and rearrange day. It seems I finish 3-5 pieces that have been in progress at the same time, then I need to reassess what I have. organize a bit, start pulling out boxes and "stuff" that appeals to me, paint a few things, rust a few things, then it all starts to come back together for the next creative round.

These days my time is divided between the yard, garden and studio, and re-doing the blurb book of my art that was lost when my hard drive crashed about a month ago. It was nearly finished at that time, so I am starting from scratch again. I finally have nearly all the art re-photographed, except for some that is at galleries...and those pieces that have sold. The garden is finally thriving with the warmer weather, and the newly finished greenhouse is amazing! It will be a jungle in there in 3 weeks! Should have made it bigger (of course).

I had 3 pieces accepted for the Fur, Fin and Feathers show at River Gallery (opening August 7). Right up my alley, I'd say, with all the bones, eggs and feathers I like to use in my art.

We've been enjoying Nils's time off from school, seeing friends (which we haven't done for a while because family needs called), spending easy and relaxing days together. Grandson Jake was here this past week, so it was golf, studio and 4-wheeler time. What a great kid!

(Albion Joseph (Indenture), copyright Diane Lou 2010. )

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Back at last...

Following son-in-law Bill's passing, my hard drive on my computer crashed, leaving me without photos, without Photoshop, and very frustrated. The hard drive was sent off for data retrieval to no avail, so I/we started the long route back to re-photographing art and trying to gather things from Nils's computer that applied to me.

Who knew 10 years ago that we would be so incredibly dependent on our computers? Our lives are literally stored in them. Family photos, writings, journals, friends' birthdays, and on and on. Sadly, my blurb book on my art and grandson Jake's blurb book on the 25th anniversary anagama firing that were both nearly done were both lost. It's been a time of electronic frustration, and it seems that Murphy's law has applied day after day with everything related to technology.

We have finally gotten the new hard drive, Photoshop, and a start on the photos. Once I get all of those, I can again begin to work on my book, and I now have photos for my blog.

Summer has come at last after an unusually cold and rainy spring and early summer. We had a taste of several 90-100 degree days last week, but now are back to our lovely 79 degree sunny-with-a-cool-breeze days, which are perfect. The garden shifted into high gear during those hot days, and my tomatoes and basil decided it was worth growing after all.

Life is shifting back to relaxed summer mode, with Nils and I playing golf (and he shot the best game of his life on Tuesday...74!), me doing yoga, us having dinner guests, doing repairs around home, and playing in the studio. Long may it remain this way....

(Photo: Delivered, copyright Diane Lou 2010. Photo by Nils Lou)

Monday, July 5, 2010