Thursday, November 21, 2013

National Geometric

Working on a new and somewhat-not-new series whose working title is "National Geometric."  Not sure how many pieces I'll make, but this is a snapshot of how one piece gets made.

The pieces start with a pencil drawing on card stock.  I use a ruler, though I don't necessarily have to use a ruler.  I could free-hand it.  

Then all the lines get cut with an X-Acto knife.  Here: not all the lines have been cut.  You'll also notice that I put a pink mark on each piece.  That's so I know which side faces up when I start to reassemble all the pieces.  This work is heavy on the front-end conceptualization.  

Then I rifle through my magazines and choose some pages that I might want to use.  Because I want the compositions to be angular and "un-friendly" (to some extent), I am also thinking that I want to (to some extent) choose images that will amount to unexciting and/or muddy palettes.  The piece in this post isn't all that muddy or unexciting.  Oh well.  One must break any of his own rules whenever he feels like it.  For me, there's no point in making my own set of rules if I'm not also willing to break them when the mood strikes me.  I'm not a robot.  

Then, piece by tedious piece, I reassemble the drawing...

Rubber cement is involved 

Magazines pieces are glued onto template pieces and then the finished pieces are glued (in this series) onto a masonite backing.  It's slow-going, exacting work that demands patience, good light (no shadows), and sharp blades.

Partially finished work with some notes about remaining decisions to make (notes that, btw, I didn't follow to a T).  

This one, which I've called "Utah 4 U: I Love Driving," is actually one of the friendlier pieces in the series.  The composition isn't that off-balance and the colors are pretty nice.  The general idea, though, is to make compositions that walk the line between almost terrible and really terrible, off balance and very off balance.  Etc.  Again, this piece isn't the best example, but the pieces also work to skew perspective, to make it hard for the viewer to know what he or she is looking at, to know what to think about it, to decontextualize the source images so that they cannot be identified/become mere color or to at least obscure the context enough to make it difficult to identify the source image.  With this piece, however, I wanted to make a friendlier piece that doesn't alienate the viewer quite so much as the previous one:

But even this one is friendlier than the one that came before it.  Each small piece takes about seven hours, and I've only made three so far.  My ideas change as I go.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

wintertime collage studio

B.D. gave E.P. many volumes of 19th century Harper's and Frank Leslie's magazines, but E.P. couldn't keep them—it's an enormous amount of old books—so she handed them off to me, J.T.  I busted them out to make some custom wrapping papers for Christmas, and now I am addicted to them.  Rubber cement is habit forming.  With a couple shows coming up soon—the Funaday show in February and a March show at Museum and Crane in L.A.—Frank Leslie and whomever Harper are now the main residents at my dining room table, a.k.a. my winter studio (my summer studio is too cold now). Here's the winter studio tonight.  Funaday is fun.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Everyone's a Saint

So I had a spare four foot by four foot piece of particle board, and for a long time I'd been wanting to do a parody of those medieval paintings in which all the saints have golden halos.  I also had some neon pink spray paint, and I wanted to use my collage scraps as stencils.  I started work today.  These are mostly details:

For better or worse, this guy with the handful of grasshoppers is the center of the composition.  Then, at least so far, there are these other satellite saints:

 We'll see where this one goes.  It's hard to tell.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Swiss Cheese

Come out to Mag Hags II to see this baby in person.  It's like what would happen if Cy Twombly had a love child with the love child of Andy Warhol and Mark Rothko.  

Mag Hags II opens at Gallery A.P.E. on August 5th (2011), with a reception on August 12th (also 2011), in Northampton, Massachusetts, one of the coolest towns in America.  Come out and see the works of 14 bad ass collagers.  Also, this will be your opportunity to fawn over me as I pretend to be extravagently modest and anxious. 

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Four by Four, USA

Work came to a stop about three weeks ago, about a week after I finished the...there's just no nice way to say this...the big diptych I'd been working on.  [not shown here, come to Mag Hags II on August twelth, Gallery APE, Northampton, MA, to see the work (and many other works from about 20 collagers) in person.  Until then, here's the scoop: a new direction:

I started with a full sheet of plywood, eight by four, and had the dude at Home Depot cut it in half.  Then I primed one half, thinking it needed to be primed, but I ended up loving the washy-ness of the primer so much that I didn't really want to collage, just paint and be done with it.  So I marked in the big shapes, still thinking they would be covered with papers, and liked it even more.  Then I took a break because I was conflicted: collage or paint?  Here's what I've learned about making collages on scales that are larger than a page from a magazine: as the pieces get bigger, a bunch of things change:

you realize that you need to be able to apply large amounts of glue rapidly

because, I think, the temptation is to use bigger pieces of paper (to suit the bigger surface) (like wearing big pants because YOU ARE BIG)

so you switch from brushing on glue with small brushes to using aersol glue, spray glue

which because of ease allows you to work faster, which

if you're comfortable working fast, allows for a bunch more spontaneity, maybe...

And really, with such a big surface, it feels right to get your arms in motion, swinging,

instead of the rather small and tense little motions 

you always end up making when fitting tiny pieces onto a small piece of paper. 

Anyway...this one is barely underway.  I could say it's finished and be confident about that, and people would "buy it" (nobody really buy it in this town), because there's tons of sketchy art floating around in this world that passes for finished work thanks to people like Cy Twombly, but I figured, what the hell, I might as well see where this baby can go.  

So we'll see.  Or I will.  If you want to see the finished work come out to Mag Hags II. 

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Foliage: Big Decisions

Today I lifted the ban on paint.  I keep a mental set of rules, rules of conduct, moves I can and cannot make—I cannot make photo copies to extend images I want to use; I can only use what my mags provide me.  Until today, this afternoon really—I had a morning session, too—using paint was totally verboten.  Not allowed to use paint.  Definitely no paint. 

But then this afternoon I really wanted some areas to be yellow.  So I made them yellow.  "It's still mostly collage, Jono," I said to myself whilst listening to some bad radio out of Springfield, America's newest tornado alley.  

Anyhow, this piece, "foliage," the diptych companion to "flowers," used to be "the shark," but the shark died because it got stale.  It was ugly and I couldn't stand it.  I'm much happier with this, but obviously I have a tender spot for the shark because I'm letting wee bits of it show through...

Monday, May 30, 2011

flowers, foliage

So I almost completely white-washed the shark.  Couldn't stand it anymore.  Left some bits behind, but who knows, wouldn't be surprised if I obscured them, too.  As I told Rachel on the phone today (discussing upcoming Mag Hags II stuff), I'm covering up at least 70% of the work I'm doing these days.  Layers.  

Crappy pic of the diptych in progress: top half flowers, bottom half foliage/ex-shark.  Foliage and flowers: I love you, I need you.  Told Rachel I was working on a big diptych.  She said she hadn't heard that word in a while. Diptych.  Diptych.  Diptych.  This one's huge.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Shark Attack

OK, this is like 90% done.  Throw in a couple swimmers, some more blood, a couple beach balls, and I'll be golden.  What I called "ugly bastard" in the last post is now, for obvious reasons, "Shark Attack."  I can't believe I even hesitated to glue the shark down.  

Still totally chaotic, but perhaps the shark excuses the chaos?

Monday, May 16, 2011

Ugly Bastard

Rain, chronic rain.  I seem to be remiss this morning.  Last night, I was anti-social.  Went upstairs to my attic studio and set down the ground work (on half inch plywood) of this new piece.  Had been going through old work, bad old work, earlier in the day—been carrying a box of it around with me for too long—and found some really terrible but really large marker drawings and pen doodles.  I pulled out the ones I wanted and laid them on my bed.  Round nine p.m. I took them upstairs and started gluing them down to make this ugly bastard:

This morning, in the half-light of my room, I squinted at it on and off for about ten minutes.  Squinting allowed me to see only its main shapes, blurred the mess of details, told me where I need more contrast, more white, more black.  The main shapes are in.  It could go in any direction and probably will.  I post it now because it looks like a turd now.  But I am one hundred percent certain that it will clean up beautifully.  Mark my words.  Watch for the conclusion.  Give me about ten days and I'll make her shine. 

Sunday, May 15, 2011

technique book

At some point I started naming the different collage techniques I've learned, invented, used.  For example, one of them is The Haircut.  This is when you trim someone's hair or head so that it deliberately looks ridiculous, cool, wrong.  Another technique is The Deliberate Reversal.  This is when, for instance, you cut out a crab, a lamp, a bed, and then, deliberately flip the image over and use whatever happens to be on the backside of the page.  I don't often use this move, though I do use a version of it for which I don't currently have a name.  Finally, for this post at least, there is The Pop-Up.  This is when, for instance, you take your X-Acto knife and trim along the crest of a hill, for instance, though it could be anything, and slide another image into that cut so that the image you slid in there appears to be Popping Up from behind the hill.  

I used a cousin of The Haircut, The Rough Trim, in this collage.  Notice the bathing dude in the bottom left-hand corner.  Notice how rougly I trimmed around him.  Anyway, I want to compile all the different techniques/moves and couple each one with an example of the move, and make a book out of it.  For what reason?  Dunno.