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.

Monday, February 28, 2011

Last day for February giveaway...

Just a quick reminder that today is the last day to post a comment to get your name in the drawing for the "stuff" I am giving away this month.

I've decided to do a giveaway each month...either art or "stuff" or ephemera or stay tuned!
Good luck!!

Sunday, February 27, 2011


I've written several times about the treehouse Nils, grandson Jake and I are building.  We're getting down to the fun parts now....the railing and special touches.  Today, we finished siding another side, and decided to build the driftwood railing to keep energetic young boys (and everyone else) from falling over the side.

When Jake and I sorted through the driftwood stash, I immediately saw a pterodactyl in this one (or, as Jake reminded me, what we think a pterodactyl looked like).  We decided he should be the guardian for the treehouse.  Not content to leave it at that, I dug into my stash of taxidermy bird eyes and found the biggest, scariest ones ever, and drilled holes and put them in.

Last time friend Deb was here, she brought me a stash of stuff for my creative endeavors, and in the box was a wonderful piece of bark with perfect knothole in it.  I immediately knew I would do something with it, but I had no idea what.  Well, here's what happened to it.
A plexiglass mirror screwed into the back started the thought....then when I attached it to the treehouse, from the ground, it looked like a hole into the treehouse.  So when a visitor climbs up the ladder and bends over to peek into the peephole, all he sees is himself!

 I just love it!  As Nils said tonight, "I think you are having as much fun with the treehouse as Jake is." I'm sure I am.
Nils and two favorite guys...creating the driftwood railing for the treehouse.

Friday, February 25, 2011

New snow...

It's amazing that the internet stayed on during our 5" of snow!  Now the sun is shining after nighttime temps of 22, and we have a predicted low of 15 tonight.  After that back to our 40-50 daytime temps.
Here's a few shots of our winter wonderland:
                          The garden and greenhouse which are right beside the studio.
                                                                Gorgeous blue sky.
                                               Grandson Jake going down the driveway.
                                                                 On the way out...
               Footpath to the studio in the background.  Treehouse is off to the left in the trees.

Off to take art to a professional photographer for some good photos to use for jurying into shows.  More later....

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

February Giveaway....a few days to go

Well, fortunately we still have internet so I am going to post a couple things while I can as it could be several days before I get back on here.  First, the giveaway...

Anyone who has posted or will post a comment this month has had their name put into a drawing for some  "stuff" for assemblage.  Now if you don't like to play around with odd stuff, this drawing may not interest you, but if you do....there are over 50 items in the giveaway box, and I'll probably toss in a few more things at the last minute, so do post if you are interested in possibly winning!

Second, as promised, some pictures of the piece I finally finished up to my satisfaction. I've titled it The Invitation.  There are some detail pictures following. It may be hard to see, but behind the box with the eye, there is a burned paper border made from an old document, and peering through it is a reproduction of a vintage nude.  She barely peeks around the  left side, and is further camouflaged by the curly metal pattern.
 And then there is the watchful eye...
(The Invitation copyright by Diane Lou)

Remnants...and snow again...

If I'm not visible for a few days, it is because of snow.  Because we live way back in the woods, we have a satellite dish for internet, which is fine....but as soon as there is 1/4" of snow on it, we lose service.  Good thing we live where there isn't much snow.  Seems they should have a little heater in there that kept it just warm enough to keep the snow off.

The snow and predicted cold (teens Friday and Saturday) made us postpone the anagama kiln firing for two weeks.  Just not worth the risk with dozens of people trying to make it out here on bad back roads.  And I can't imagine getting snowed in with 20-30 people!

Another new piece below is fashioned on the framework that would hold a wooden sewing machine drawer on an old cabinet treadle sewing machine.  The "flying buttresses" are actually plastic bridge pieces from some child's toy, while the little stained glass piece under the top finial is part of a very 1960's stained glass hanging lamp that I disassembled.

Within the wooden framework, I attached a sheet of copper on the back, and to that, I attached a "rusted" plastic rib cage (which I made use of it broken) attached to the copper with red cotton string.  Over the top of that is some heavy wire mesh (hardware  cloth).

Yesteday I finally figured out how to finish up the piece that had the vintage French doll eye on it (I'd have to look back to see which post that was).  Utilizing an image of a vintage nude and an old document disfigured by my burning much of it away, I'm finally happy with it.  Will post that soon.

Drawing for free assemblage "stuff" coming on March 1!  Post a comment to be entered

(Remnants copyright by Diane Lou)

Monday, February 21, 2011

John Ruskin....and free stuff...

Since we are in the midst of loading the big anagama kiln, and getting ready for the firing which begins Wednesday night, I've been away from the computer.  Back for now, but it will be be a crazy week.

Looking at the calendar, I realize that the month is nearly over! Giveaway time is nearly here.  Yes, yes, I know I still haven't posted a picture of the mixed media goodies you will get to use in your art...but if you post a comment, or have posted a comment this month, your name is in the hat.  For now, all I can say is that it is a box of goodies, ephemera, and who-knows-what!
 Here's another new piece...John Ruskin, the title taken from the cigar box piece at the top (the bluish part).  It began on 2 old, old boards from the ReStore, then an old book cover, and on top of that, the grill from a small barbecue, then....then...then...  The metal strips along the sides are what is called "plumber's tape" (I think).   It comes on a roll and has holes punched in it.  Recently at the bins, I found a bag of wonderful, sort of brassy, very short screws, but with very large rounded heads on them.  I have used them repeatedly because I love their look, and they fill each hole in the plumber's tape.
 This is a detail of the piece.  Under the double arched windows (doll house plastic pieces which have been rusted), a photo strip from a photobooth of a man and woman peek through.  Their faces alternately show passion and almost disgust (and yes, I even found them in the bins several years ago).  Wish you could see all the detail in person.  Lots is lost in the photos.

                                                              Anagama, here we come!

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Snow and website note...

We had snow yesterday afternoon, and the temp has kept hovering around 33 degrees....not enough to melt the snow off the satellite dish we need to get the internet in our remote location.  So, I'm only online now because I am at my daughter's restaurant.

Just a note on the website,   ....I haven't figured out the intricacies of the purchase gallery and paypal buttons yet, so please be patient on that bit.

On Saturday we start loading the East Creek anagama kiln, a process that takes two days.  The weather doesn't look too favorable...chilly, possibly snowy. Usually 20-50 people are involved. The firing starts goes Wednesday night through Saturday afternoon, then the kiln cools for a week (it takes 6 cords of wood to fire and holds about 500 pots and takes a while to cool), so the opening will be the following Saturday.  We'll have 3 kilns going....a pit fire, the big anagama, and the "caboose", another wood-fired kiln.  Can you spell "pyromaniacs"?  Everyone is just in heaven....:)

I'll be back with art in a day or so.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Website at last...

After having "create a website" on my to-do list for oh, maybe about 3 years, I finally did it!

Yesterday I awoke to large snow flakes falling down (but not sticking), an overcast sky, and a nagging feeling that I really needed to get this done!  So I did a little yoga, ate breakfast, grabbed a big mug of tea, and went to a create-your-website site I had seen.  They offered the super package for $20 for 3 months to try out, so I thought, why not?

As they advertise, if you really want a basic website, without lots of extras, you could do it in a hour or two.  And the basic ones are free!  So yes, after an hour or so, I had the basics of my site together, some photos uploaded, but of course, I couldn't stop there.  Then there was adding in the artist's statement, bio, comments, a review, links to everything, going to Photoshop to create a cover page, and on and on.  So for now, at least, it is good enough, and it is up and running.

                                              Go take a peek:  Diane Lou Assemblage

Art tomorrow....

Monday, February 14, 2011

Game of version

I've enlarged this a bit so I hope you can see it better.  The added details were pictured previously so perhaps you can pick them out now on the finished piece.  That creepy former spoon and fork seem to have taken on new power.

Enjoy!  A new piece tomorrow....
(Game of Chance, copyright 2011 by Diane Lou).

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Game of Chance details

As I mentioned in my last post, I decided that I needed to start using some of my metal bits and pieces...or else get rid of them, so here is a start.

If you'll look back two days at the post of Game of Chance, you can see where these changes occurred on the bottom part of the piece.  There are two sort of creepy wooden figures (former spoon and fork) flanking each side of the box, so I decided to give them a little more connection to the piece.  I used a metal piece from an old 100-key adding machine (oh my, what a treasure trove of odd-shaped pieces), used its spring to connect it to the on/off switch, and then used a wire (also from the adding machine) to connect the metal bit to the wooden character.  To me, it changed the whole feel of the piece because now the wooden character seems to have some control over your Game of Chance.

On the right-hand side, I also used a piece of the wire and another small metal part to connect the figure, this time to the old bottle full of dice and rusty nails.  I just poked a hole into the cork and inserted the wire in with a little glue to help hold it.

To me it is interesting how the smallest changes or details can either make or break a piece. Too often, it seems, I see art in which the artist has just felt the need to add pieces, but those pieces add nothing to the final artwork, and they become instead, the kiss of death to the piece.  Each ingredient in the piece should have something to add to the narrative of the art.

Adding to art and another new piece...

Since I posted Game of Chance on the previous post, I've added a bit to it (but the camera is on it's way to school with Nils today so I'll have to photo it later).

I came to the realization that even though I have loads of metal things that I have collected,  I seldom use them.  I also realized that much of what I have collected are really heavy metal things, which will just not work in the art I do. So, in my usual state of clean and purge which is amplified by the first signs of spring, I packed up boxes and buckets of very cool, but very weighty metal bits and sent them off to school with Nils.  Some of the students who do very large pieces or metal sculpture will love them, and I no longer have to look at them sitting here unused.

At the same time, I committed to at least trying to use some of my smaller metal cool metal bits from the old fashioned adding machine Kim gave me and Jake disassembled.  I decided that if I find I really don't use them, off they go to a new home too.  As a consequence, I added a bit to the Game of Chance (honest, I'll have a picture next time).  I think it made it a more interesting and mysterious piece by adding a metal piece with a spring and a couple wires.

I've been doing a lot of cleaning and purging, and find it a great creative exercise.  Not only do I find things I had forgotten I had, but some that I had disregarded as sort of uninteresting before have suddenly become the exact piece that I need right now!

Here's another new one.  I'm not sure there still isn't something that needs added, but here is where I am right now with it.

Here is a detail shot of that little piece. That lovely little eye is a very old French doll eye (thanks, Maria!) which opens and closes.    No title yet.

First 2 crocus are in bloom and more and more of the daffodils are budded!  I LOVE spring!! (Sorry to all of you who are still buried in snow.  Stay safe and warm).

Oh, I'll get a picture of the giveaway packet for this month for you too.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Game of Chance

Game of Chance is another new piece from the past couple days.  Do you see the rather forbidding figures flanking the spinning dial (the spoon and fork from the bins the other day) and the white, very old finial on top also from the recent shopping.
The surface holding the spinning dial (a game piece that was altered by replacing the center with a Viewmaster slide circle, with slides removed and various other tiny images inserted) is raised off the checkerboard background to give more depth and interest to the piece. I do this by gluing or screwing wood blocks below.  The fiery wings which rather match the color on the John Ruskin cigar box end are Lego  bits (I think).  Below the spinning dial are 3 green bulb things which were gleaned from a box at the bins, as was the on/off switch at the center bottom.  A rusty chain finishes it off.

I have to say one of my favorite tools besides a battery-powered drill is the new bandsaw my husband bought me for Xmas.  We found it at the Habitat ReStore.  It's a table-top model, so fairly small, but it was brand new and was priced at $45...and we had a 50% off coupon for that day so $22.50.  It is fabulous for cutting things like that checkerboard, cutting the spoon and fork ends off the figures.  It makes it all so fast and effortless that I am doing things I never would have done if I had to struggle with sawing small bits by hand.  Thanks, Nils!  I didn't know I needed it until I had it!!

Since the photo, I've added a very funky bottle in the lower right, filled with dice and rusty nails.  It has the cork attached by a rustic leather strap...something someone's grandfather collected his rusty nails in.

Off to the studio for more creating.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Omaha....and another giveaway!

I love it when I get on this creative roll!  On Thursday I finished 5 pieces, yesterday two more, and I hope to spend all afternoon in the studio again today.  The times of "flow" or "the zone" are just the closest to heaven on earth that there is!  The world and worries all vanish and I tunnel-vision into the 3-5 pieces I am working on, and nothing else exists.
"Omaha" is another new piece that came out this week.  Like most, it is rather detailed and maybe not that easy to see.  There is a detail shot below.

I rather like the break away from working just inside a box, and enjoy the complexity of the multiple containers stacked on top of one another.  So, you may see more of these.

The photo on silk is my mother at a young age, a photo I especially like of her.  She appears to be standing in front of a greenhouse, in her very best dress...perhaps Easter or her confirmation or something.  But even though the photo was marked as her being 11, she definitely has the air of someone more mature than that age.

One of the fun parts of the piece is the octagonal piece near the top, another bins find.  It has what looks like hand-printed lettering on it, disconnected just enough so you cannot know what it is saying, but with phrases that are evocative as if we were reading pieces of a torn up letter full of personal details.  The old tiny box of matches below my mother created the name for the piece as they are from a business in Omaha.

OH, and I did mention a new giveaway, did I not?  I've decided to do one a month! Say, why not?  I have sooo much stuff.  Some may not be pieces of art, but may be bits and pieces you might like to use in your art (like game pieces, ephemera, and who-knows-what), so if you don't do found object art, some of these drawings may not appeal, but again, each time you post a comment, your name goes in the hat, so to speak.  This drawing will end at the end of the month again.  Makes it easy for me to keep track of!
Good luck!

Saturday, February 5, 2011


Introducing my warrior cuckoo/crow.  Thursday a whole day spent in the studio allowed me to finish up 5 pieces, and here is one of them.  This one was not started prior to that, but the bird, the clock case and #12 had been around forever!!  The bird happened to be sitting next to the spiked helmet, and suddenly they seemed to suggest something to me, and I put them together.  I knew, for some reason, that I wanted the bird peeking out of a off to the clock case.  On that I added the round wooden foundry mold, figured out how to attach the bird inside, put in a background, glued on moss from outside the studio door, attached a cuckoo clock sound piece (what would you call one of these things) on the left, and the number 12 on the top.  The spikey wings were from a Lego set, I think.

I'll show you the rest of the art of the day in upcoming posts.  

I'm going to start working on an honest-to-goodness website this week, I hope.  About time....

I hope everyone is staying warm and inside with all the crazy weather going on.  Good time to do art....

Thursday, February 3, 2011

More on "the bins"...

Since posting about "the bins",  I've done a little more research as people here, and on other groups, have mentioned not having any where they live. Apparently in some areas, they are called not the Goodwill Outlet, but the Goodwill As-Is Store...or even the Goodwill Blue Hanger Store.   I was told by a Goodwill employee that in Oregon and Washington, there is one outet for each Goodwill region within the state.

To find what you have, Google Goodwill Outlets...or call your local Goodwill and ask (or ask to speak to a supervisor if you get nowhere with that).   Of course, other sources for goodies are all your friends (once you put the word out that you are looking for things), estate sales, garage sales, thrift stores, and secondhand stores.   Also some recycling centers (here in the NW) also have recycle/reclaim stores that are affiliated with recycling station.  And, in some parts of the country (not here) local dumps still let you dig.  And then, there is dumpster diving....and on...and on...and on....

The point is really that once you start looking, there is stuff everywhere!  I've found some wonderful things squashed on the road or street...rusty cans, metal bits from cars, a squashed frog, bones, bottle caps, and more.  Look at all of nature's discards...feathers, bones, teeth, moss, lichen, branches, leaves, cones, seedpods, stones.

Take a different look at all your own stuff.  For example, for years I had boxes of some of my mother's things....boxes I never opened.  In my clean out and organize mode, I decided I needed to either donate, use or discard many of these things.  It was very freeing to put some of them in my art, and I felt good to have upcycled it.  I felt good that her image, her stuff was out there in the world being enjoyed by whoever bought the art.

By the way, the free art was shipped to squidglass.  Watch for other maybe some "stuff" to work/play with.
(Childhood copyright by Diane Lou)

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

And the winner is.......

Hi all...
Before I head off to yoga, I wanted to let you know the results of the drawing.  I put each of your names on a piece of paper, once for each time you posted, put them in a wide plate, then had my husband stir them up and pick a name.

And the winner is squidglass!!  Congratulations!  Please contact me with your mailing info, so I can pack this up and send it to you.  Contact me at dianelou at earthlink dot net.   I'm so happy you'll be the custodian, and hopefully enjoy-er, of this piece.

More later, everyone.  And watch for future drawings too.