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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!
A week or so ago, I showed you the start of this piece with the wooden box with checkerboard pieces around the sides. Well, now it is done and here is what has happened. I've had to take side shots to keep the glare off the glass inside the 1950 Ford pickup dashboard "shrine". With photos and transparencies, and the two copied together, I've come up with the image that you see.
I also added the base piece, ones I often find at the bins. They are designed to be hung on the wall (upside down from the way I use them) and then a plate or some knickknack would be displayed on them. I love them as base pieces. The chain is from an antique cuckoo clock, with the key hanging on it, and the decorative wooden piece near the bottom was from a box I disassembled.
Here is a new piece in progress. I have the bottom box to complete, but most of the rest is (I think) as it will remain.
It's been a very strange spring and summer, as it has been in many parts of the country. Ours has taken the form of one day a week of sun, and the rest of the time cloudy and overcast with showers. Even spring gave us none of the "normal" warm, spring-like days we often have. But, there are the usual treats as always, like this magnificent poppy and the wisteria.
The weekend in Portland was a delight! Laughter, learning, art, old friends and new friends...what could be better?
(Photo by Maria Raleigh of Collage in Portland)
Above is what I made in Sunday's workshop with Michael DeMeng. Although I have long taught classes using transparencies, I learned some new tricks from Michael that I am now just itching to use in some of my art! I especially loved the curved transparency look (upper woman) that looks almost like curved glass, and the mica trick on the woman below.
To backtrack, on Saturday I took a workshop called Pretty Vial Things from Michael. I have to run take a picture for you right now. ( Music playing........)
There were about 18 in the class, and oh, I wish you could see all the marvelous bottles that came out of it! Basically we used bottles of our choice, and applied Aves Apoxy, an air dry clay with almost endless possibilities to create a new surface....or as a way to attach things....or to create decorative elements. After seeing its potential, I quickly ran and bought a big container of it. Among other things, it will be a great way to attack (and attach) some of the really tricky issues we as assemblage artists often come across when trying to connect drastically dissimilar items.
This little one is my favorite of the 3.....about 5-6" tall.
I stayed with dear friend Jennifer, and we had a fantastic time as always. Catching up, lots of laughing, good food, and solving the problems of the Universe and life.
I came home so refreshed and inspired and invigorated! I quickly attacked the over-the-line mess in the studio by moving another metal shelf unit in. Shelf units are like magic really....you have an entire floor covered in stuff (and you can't find anything), then in goes the shelf which you quickly fill with everything (and often even have room to spare)....and it is organized and you can see what you have and the floor is cleaned up. It's a wondrous thing!
Dave from Illinois, whom I know from one of Michael's online classes, is stopping by today during his trip west, so I'm off to put some brownies in the oven.
The garden is finally growing wildly and beautifully.
On the latest trip to Portland to pick up my grandson Jake for the weekend, I did my usual stop at the bins, even though, as of late, they have been rather disappointing as far as a source for art-inspiring "stuff". But one item on that trip did make the stop worthwhile.
It appears to be a part (unfortunately the only part there) of a very old loom, with little reeds (or something?) creating the spaces that would have kept the threads in line. I'm sure some weaver out there is cringing right now at my lack of correct terminology. The whole thing is about 4' wide, and I can't wait to figure out what I am going to do with it, though a quick thought is to create below it, working from the bottom board.
A current shot of part of one wall in the studio. There are so many pieces there and on other walls, as well as about 15 in the house too. I never thought I would run out of room!
And, a parting garden shot. A few (although very few) warm days brought some of the perennials into bloom....here the lupine in the foreground, with purple catnip lavender (catmint) in the background.
Today, just a quick little garden shot or two. When I created the garden 2 years ago, I found these hollowed out stumps which, to me, called out to be filled with plants.
Years ago, I owned an herb nursery called Lost Prairie Herb Farm which shipped live herb plants all over the US. One of my very favorite plants was creeping thyme, of which there are many varieties, and I loved them all. This one provides a dense carpet which, starting this time of year, covers itself with breathtaking deep-pink/purple flowers. Exquisite! It's just beginning that process right now.
This is a closeup of the top scene. Loved the mushroom that situated itself right in the middle!
Back to the studio today. Hope you get some time in yours, whether that means at the kitchen table, in the corner or basement, or on the floor (and I have worked in those places many times too).
Lately I've been bemoaning the slim pickings at the Goodwill "bins", my favorite go-to place for "stuff". I come home with a few odds and ends each time, but nothing unique that really inspires me to create.
So, yesterday I went down to the old studio, a huge building holding the remnants of the 36 years my husband has lived here (I've only been here 4) but a building no longer used for much. There are boxes of nails that have rusted with years under a leaky roof, bits of wood and metal, a couple rooms full of excess art, and then lo and behold!....a find....right under my nose.
Eureka! OMG! Cool!! Beautiful rusty dashboard parts from the 3 (yes, 3) 1950 Ford pickups my husband gathered together at one time to put together one complete one. Gauges....all suitably aged. The wonderful arched pieces that immediately called to mind shrine-shaped openings...and they come apart so each one provides 3 pieces I can use. And even a speedometer dial....up to 80 mph!
Oh, then the glass and metal arches (the glass that would have covered the dashboard gauges). Be still my heart. Can you tell I was thrilled with these new acquisitions?
When I first showed them to my husband, he said, "Oh, I could probably sell these on ebay to someone restoring an old truck" (His is finally finished after 15 years!), but I'm sure the crestfallen look on my face made him quickly say, "but you can have them if you want them." You bet I do!
I've already started a piece which will utilize them. Here's just the start....I'll show you the rest as it comes together. Suffice it to say, one of the arched pieces will go inside.
Love my tabletop bandsaw for slicing up those checkerboards.
And here's a piece I think I consider finished. Tentatively titled "Stepping Out", but subject to change.
Pam McKnight, please contact me so I can send your winner's print to you. Everyone remember to post this month for a giveaway of my Transfers and Transparencies book! Hope everyone's weather has settled down, and that you aren't melting, washing or blowing away, or staying cold like we are.
May's free giveaway winner is Pam McKnight! Gee, I was so lax this month that I didn't even tell you what the prize was. Pam will receive a free print of one of my collages! Pam please email me at dianelou at earthlink dot net with your address, and I'll get this right off to you. Congratulations!
This month I'll start off more professionally by saying that, to make up for not posting much lately, I am offering a free copy of my Transfers and Transparencies book. It details all the steps I go through in my workshop that I have taught for years....and more! It goes into creating your own transparencies on your inkjet printer at home, and creating all kinds of layered and wonderful art.
Remember, every time you post a comment this month, your name goes into the hat for the drawing!