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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.
At this time, I have no workshops scheduled. But if you are interested, email me and let me know you'd like to be on the list. And, of course, the info about any workshops will be posted on the blog several times. Thanks for your interest!
"What marvelous work! Dreamlike and full of mysterious archetypes. A wonderful mind must make these things! ..K.S.
"These works are springboards to remembering."... L.H.
"Your cabinets of curiosities are strangely disturbing and delightfully compelling—all at the same time. What I liked most was that I could not determine WHICH elements were serving which of those roles..." V.M.
"My internal monologue went a bit like this: 'These are great! I love them!...why do I bother making assemblages?...well, it's a relief in a way, because here's someone who can do it for me...I wonder if she's a student....I bet she's like 19. Rrr.' Well, she's not 19, she's older than me, and her work is an inspiration to make art instead of think about it!"...MacArtWalk blog reviewer.
"As one who looks at art on a daily basis, (my) palpable reaction was rare and unanticipated. Her constructions create familiar, even comforting, but strange and uncanny juxtapositions of the homely rendered beautiful through the transformative property of suggestion."...Brian Winkenweder, Ph.D.
I'm having the time of my life...that's how I would describe my days. Finding Nils, my wonderful artist husband almost five years ago now, having a studio and time to create art, having my family all nearby, living in a setting that surrounds me with nature's beauty no matter where I turn, having unique and creative friends who support and understand my art, and lastly, being able to share my enthusiasm for fearlessly creating art by teaching workshops. Perfect!
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....
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....
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.
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 garden...wine 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")
Another new piece, this one fashioned inside half of a small wicker suitcase. One day at the Goodwill bins, I found a couple small (2 1/2" tall) architectural models of homes. To me, this one was especially nice so I "treasured" it for a while before deciding it could go somewhere. I already had the box inside the suitcase with the metal roofline attached, had just located the candlestick in my miscellaneous box, and suddenly it seemed right for the house to go on top. At the same time, I came across a set of game pieces that had traffic signs on them, so "do not enter" went in. On the bottom, I put down a layer of gel medium, sprinkled it with garnet sand (which my sister and I found at a church rummage sale probably about 15 years ago). A lock and key dangle enticingly below the house, and cut electrical wires adorn the two long vertical pieces along the side (all bins goodies). An old copper doorknob (luscious with a natural patina) fits inside the roofline triangle.
Have had grandson Jake here all week, thus the lack of posts, and then dinner guests tonight. Tomorrow in the midst of an unusual heat wave, my sister and I will be off to the antique fair in Aurora. We'll start early so we can hopefully miss the heat of the day. At least I got the a/c in my car fixed. Anyway, a full week. But now the table is set, the house is as clean as it will get, so I am heading down to the studio to get at least a little creative or at least clean up time in.
Hope you are having a grand summer. (Do Not Enter copyright by Diane Lou 2010. 18"x8"x5")
Please welcome my new book of my art. It gives a comprehensive overview of my art since 2008, though it certainly doesn't include everything. 7x7 size, 78 pages. Available hard cover, image wrap or soft cover. Click the link to order. You can see a free preview of 15 pages below.