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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.

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Oh my....where did the month go?

Here we are, the last day of May, and I'm embarrassed about how little blogging I have done.  I wish I could say it was because the weather was heavenly, and I spent all my time enjoying it, but that was certainly not the case.  Our weather has been not unlike our usual January or February, overcast, and rainy.  Poor garden....  We are promised some sun by the weekend, but we have been running 15-20 degrees below our normal 71 degree temperature.

My daughter and baby Gigi (Geneva) moved back into a cabin on the property at then end of April, and I have been helping them get settled in their new home.

Then last weekend I hurt my back (ugh) so now am trying to coddle it along into recovery, and consequently haven't done much in the studio though I hope to get back in there today.

I have also, I am ashamed to say, not properly promoted my May giveaway, so you loyal darlings who have actually posted have a very good chance of winning when I draw a name tomorrow a.m.!  The June drawing begins then, and I will try to be better at actually giving you something to post about!!

The deck is currently full of grosbeaks, chipmunks, Douglas brown squirrels and Stellar jays enjoying their morning sunflower seeds and suet.  Love the chirpy grosbeaks!
(Wings copyright Diane Lou)

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

King's crowns

After I posted that I would LOVE to find more of these (found the first one at a church rummage sale), blog-reader Su found a source for them for me (, so naturally I ordered a dozen.

I love the design of them...and "rusted" they are just perfect for borders on pieces.  So perfect, in fact, that I have used them many times.  See "B-4" below.  Just an example of how almost anything can be transformed by the Modern Options rusting solutions.  (Sometimes sold under the name Sophisticated Finishes).  I use their primer first, then paint on the paint containing the iron filings, then when it is dry, I paint on the rusting solution.

On another note,  I finally finished planting the garden today, inspired by the first truly warm day we have had.  The greenhouse is now filled with 6 varieties of tomatoes and as many basil as I could squeeze in.  All of that means that possibly/maybe I'll have more time to make art and blog about it. 

Nils had a great opening of a 3-man show on Friday night.  Fresh new work full of color and energy!

I hope you are having and enjoying spring!

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Tulips, gardens, and ....

The red tulips I planted a year and half ago multiplied beautifully and put on quite a show this year, as you can see.  A few (and I do mean few) warm days pushed them to full open bloom quickly after sitting in bud stage for 2 or 3 weeks.  Even though they are transient, I do love them!
                                   As you can see, they surround the fenced garden area, which is right beside the garden and greenhouse.  Perfect for multi-tasking.
The lack of posts on my part demonstrates that time has been spent helping daughter Kolya settle into her new digs here on the property, having grandson Jake and little granddaughter Gigi here, and digging out the bad garden soil we got to replace it with new.  Not much studio time, I'm afraid...although I do have several pieces started in the process of discovering where they are going.  I'll be showing you some of them within a few days.  

The weekend is packed with me having to run to Portland tomorrow to pick up grandson Jake for the weekend, and from there to Salem for Nils's art opening at Bush Barn, then home for a full weekend of entering into the world of an 11 year old boy!  It's always rejuvenating and fun to be around him.  Such energy, creativity, and interesting thinking to observe.

I hope all of you are having more of a spring than we are!  Still chilly with not a lot of sun, but gradually improving.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Strange Woman....finished

I finally finished (I hope) Strange Woman with the few additions in the bottom box.  Some small fake cherries in the left hand corner, and a glass and copper hand on the right.   They seem to add the needed visual weight to the bottom of the piece.
Here's the detail of the lower box.

 Life's been a little crazy lately.  One daughter has moved back here with her 6-month-old daughter (Geneva aka Gigi), and they will be living in a cabin on our property.  We all know what moving and settling into a new place is like, so we've been helping her with that.  I look forward to spending time with both of them.

I had added new soil to all the garden beds and started planting when we found out the soil we had bought and already added to the beds was no good, so all will have to be dug out and replaced!  Not a chore I look forward to.

Hopefully things will settle down and the spring weather we have just had a few days of will become more regular.  Sunshine does wonders for the spirits.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

May Workshop at Keizer Art Association

Nature Collage Workshop
with Catherine Alexander and Diane Lou
“Monarch and Wanderer” by Catherine Alexander
Read Before Cutting” by Diane Lou
About Catherine
As a child, Catherine often drew the flora and fauna of Western
Oregon. After studying fine art at the University of Oregon and Portland
State University, she worked for an art dealer in New York for eleven
years before relocating to Florida to direct a gallery and pen art criticism
for the New York Times Syndicate. After devoting six years to illustrating
orchids at the Marie Selby Botanical Gardens in Sarasota, Florida, she
returned to Oregon to renew her connection with Pacific Northwest
ecology. She currently serves as the gallery director at the Bush Barn
Art Center in Salem, teaches at several art centers and botanic gardens
and exhibits her work regionally.
About Diane
A degree in art opened Diane’s eyes to the creative world she now
inhabits. From that time forward, artistic expression has filled her life,
whether it was painting, pottery, herb crafting, package design, jewelry
or assemblage. She has taught workshops at a variety of events and
venues throughout the Northwest and her work has appeared in
Somerset Studio, Cloth/Paper/Scissors, Art in Your Pocket, and more. She
shares a studio in the Oregon Coast Range with her husband and fellow
artist, Nils, and their feline collaborator, Flix the cat.
Nature Collage
Saturday, May 28, 9:00am-3:00pm
Keizer Art Association, Keizer, Oregon
Using pressed flowers, leaves, shells and
other natural materials, create a nature
collage incorporating decorative papers,
vintage memorabilia and photos, lace,
buttons and other found objects along with
botanical drawings or mixed-media paintings.
All skill and experience levels welcome.
Optional supply list. (Basic materials will be
provided.) Bring a sack lunch. To register,
visit or call
This workshop will be team taught with
Diane Lou, noted assemblage artist and

Monday, May 2, 2011

And the winner is....

And this month's winner of  a 100-piece assortment of creative possibilities/treasures/stuff, is.....
drum roll!!!......Rebeca Trevino!  Congratulations!  Rebeca, please contact me at dianelou at earthlink dot net and I'll send it right out to you.

Details on next month's (well, actually now this month's giveaway) to follow tomorrow.

It finally feels like spring is here! yay!