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I retain copyright to my work at all times. However, you may use my words and photos on your blog without asking for permission, as long as the following conditions apply: 1) it’s not a commercial use, 2) the work is attributed to me, 3) copyright notice is included (© Janice McDonald), and 4) you link to this site. If you wish to use my words or images for anything that might be commercial in nature, please ask.

ThroughLines Exhibition Opening / Views

I’m loving having this series of collages on the walls at Spark Gallery… I always gain perspective on my work by standing back and studying it.

My artist statement for the ThroughLines collages:

Recurring issues can confront and confound us, occupying our thoughts. Technology distracts us with incoming stimulation. Daydreams intrude…

These collages are visual riffs on all that we carry within: explorations of the processes in our minds as we address issues of bandwidth, multitasking and overwhelm—alongside goals of simplicity, mindfulness and purpose.

Each collage represents a moment in time, full of multi-layered and competing thoughts, hopes, fears, dreams, and memories—all moving forward and influencing each other—glimpses of the landscape of my mind.

The collages are made from ripped strips of contemporary repurposed paper using a wet working technique.

For those who were unable to be at the opening of my show at Spark Gallery, click below for a quick tour of my show as installed.

To see each collage in detail, view the ThroughLines: Virtual Exhibition on my website. Pour yourself a glass of wine (or beverage of choice) and see the whole show at your leisure!

If you have questions or are interested in adding one of the collages to your collection, please get in touch. Cheers!

ThroughLines exhibition on a quiet evening.

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ThroughLines show prep

Postcards for the show, atop the collage that provided the image.

I’ve been working steadily on collages for my ThroughLines show… recent weeks have included looking hard at them and making any last minute adjustments to the artwork. Then I varnish each one with a UV-resistant matte finish, adding hanging hooks/wires and title/care/inventory labels.

All of the work has been sent out to be digitally captured so that I have high-resolution, color-corrected files that could be used to print the images as enlargements, should there be interest in using the work that way.

ThroughLines collages drying in the studio after varnish application.

It’s amazing how much time goes into the unseen aspects of making art, not to mention marketing.

Hanging begins on Monday. It seems odd to be able to get all the work for a whole show into just a few boxes, but all the work is small this time, just 10 x 10 x .75.” Having never hung a whole show of such small work in such a large space, I’m really excited to see how it will look on the walls! As always before a show, I have a little trepidation, too — but hopefully they will be like little jewels, drawing people in to look at them more carefully. I haven’t been able to see the collages all together, with adequate white space between them, so I’ll certainly enjoy studying the work from a distance once it’s hung.

Here’s hoping some of you can drop into Spark Gallery in Denver to see the work. The show begins September 20 and runs through October 14. The opening reception is Friday, September 21 from 6-9pm. You’re invited! And if you can’t make it, I’ll be updating my website prior to the show opening so that you’ll be able to view the finished series there.

Sideview: ThroughLines collages lined up and ready to box for transport to gallery.

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Visual riffs / scenes from the studio

Studio scene, summer 2018.

So here’s how the studio looks when I’m in the midst of finishing a new series of collages — this work is for my “ThroughLines” show in September.

It may appear hectic, but there’s lots of study and contemplation to figure out what paper element goes where. I commit to placing one piece and let the composition evolve from there — it’s not all figured out in advance. So I have to stay somewhat centered, in the midst of the mayhem, to accomplish my goal of making these collages powerful and relevant.

My working artist statement about this series: The “ThroughLines” series of collages are visual riffs on the unexpected landscapes of our minds as we address concerns like bandwidth and overwhelm, alongside mindfulness and purpose. Each piece represents a moment in time, full of multi-layered and competing thoughts, hopes, fears, dreams, and memories — all moving forward and influencing each other — glimpses of the complex world of the self.

In case you’re worried about this new look, I haven’t given up on ripping paper… that artistic gesture is far too cathartic! To get this stripe-y effect, I’m ripping against a metal straightedge to crop images in a uniform manner. I have several shoeboxes full of these strips, ready to use as appropriate. Here’s a tray of some of my “ingredients” / palette, below.

Overhead view of a tray of ripped strips, each one jockeying for position :)

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KolajFest Recap… contemporary collage symposium

So glad I made the decision to attend the first-ever KolajFest, a multi-day festival & symposium about contemporary collage and its role in art, culture, and society, held July 12-15, 2018 in New Orleans.

It was an honor to deliver the first presentation in the Collage-Making Space, “Ripping It Up,” followed by a demo of my wet-working technique and time for those attending to give it a try. I challenged everyone to try ripping their papers… there were a lot of meticulous paper-cutters in the room so it was fun to see people experimenting and working outside their comfort zone. It was great to connect with people in a truly hands-on way right at the outset of the conference. I so appreciate all of you who were able to be there and participate with such enthusiasm. Thanks to Ric Kasini Kadour and Chris Byrne for their support in prepping for my talk and to Kevin Sampsell and Jay Berrones who set up and managed the collage-making area. I was glad to be the “guinea pig” in that space — and get my session out of the way! 

There were lots of choices of where to be and what to focus on at any given moment — so it was sometimes very hard to decide which session to attend. Beyond the planned sessions, I loved connecting with other collage-makers in the moments in-between and during the walks between venues. Meeting and spending time with people whose work I’d long admired online was really wonderful. 

Some of my personal highlights included:

• Spending time with like-minded, paper-loving collagists with such diverse practices, visions, and approaches — who embrace this medium with near-fervent enthusiasm.

• Getting re-acquainted with Jill Stoll, an extraordinary collage-maker whose new series “Women Standing Alone” was represented with two works in the exhibition “Revolutionary Paths: Critical Isssues in Collage” at Antenna Gallery.

• Connecting with an artist whose work I’d admired online, Andrea Burgay, who brought the first issue of Cut Me Up magazine with her. A call and response project, you cut up the first issue to inspire a collage, then submit your work to be considered for inclusion in the next issue, and so on. Only a few copies remain; order one here.

• Hearing about the many creative collaborative projects that Amy Tingle is working on via the Creativity Caravan. I’m enjoying her book, Strange Diary, or How to Make a Collage.

• Seeing presentations that placed collage in a broader historical sense and learning about Todd Bartel’s concept of “UnCollage.”

• Meeting Danielle Krysa… aka blogger/podcaster The Jealous Curator. Be sure to check out her new book, coming in October, titled A Big Important Art Book (Now with Women). Mine is pre-ordered :)

• Learning about Jay Berrone’s business, Toil, launching now via kickstarter — for the purpose of reproducing collage via the medium of silk screen printing.

• Having conversations about raising the profile of collage plus creating more community and collaboration opportunities… riffing off all the enthusiasm in the air.

• Getting fresh ideas about my role in the world of collage and wondering how those might develop…

• Exploring previously-unknown-to-me parts of New Orleans in the mid-summer heat and being rewarded with amazing food, jalapeno watermelon margaritas, and great conversations.

OK, I’ve barely scratched the surface! Kolaj magazine’s recap of KolajFest is here and worth a read.  Maybe I’ll see you at the next one?

Huge thanks to everyone who participated with such a spirit of generosity and to all those who made this inaugural event possible.

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World Collage Day 5.12.18

Kolaj Magazine has proclaimed Saturday to be World Collage Day. Celebratory events are happening all around the world, so you may want to check to see if there is something planned for your area. Or plan one for yourself!

Hopefully people will also use the #worldcollageday hashtag and post their work online that day.

If you’re unfamiliar with the magazine, and you’re intrigued by collage, it’s worth seeking out and/or subscribing. Besides in-depth articles and reviews, each issue typically includes a few fun cut-out pages for you to literally take apart and consider for use in your next collage.

For their World Collage Day Special Edition, the magazine included profiles of 14 artists along with a cut-out page for each. I’m happy to have been included (even though cutting is not generally part of my methodology, as I’m a ripper of materials).

The cut-out page that I submitted reflects what I most like to work with: chunks of color, texture and pattern… in this case ripped and roughly organized in a grid.

Happy World Collage Day! Of course, nearly every day is a happy collage day in my estimation!

 

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Musings…

These first months of 2018 find me tightening up concepts and working on pieces for an upcoming solo show at Spark Gallery in September… the current working title is “Branching Out.” I’m also looking forward to showing with fellow collagist Lili Francuz at ReCreative Gallery in December. There’s much to consider as the work progresses and sometimes sends me in slightly different directions than I’d originally anticipated. And that’s also the wonderful, challenging, discovery-filled part of it!

Lately I’ve been thinking a lot about the philosophical underpinnings of my work. Last night I attended a panel discussion at the Clyfford Still Museum titled “Painting/Non-Painting” featuring artists Stephen Batura, Terry Lee Maker, and Sarah McKenzie. There was a lively discussion about how the act of painting continues to evolve, photography’s use in painting, and just how blurred the boundaries of painting have become — the “elastic nature of painting,” as one of the panelists put it. It made me realize that while I tend to label myself a “collagist,” my working intention/philosophy puts me squarely within the “painter” realm even though I work with bits of photography/color rather than pigments.

While not such an issue for a traditional painter, I’m always wondering how to work bigger and stronger when my raw materials are mostly quite intimate in scale. In some cases, I’ve teamed up with art consultants to enlarge certain collages for installation in corporate or health environments. I love that the dot detail and ripped edges are revealed and yet they still read well from afar. This week it was exciting to see a sampling of the “Daily Mail” collages enlarged to about 3 feet tall and printed on plexiglass for an upcoming corporate installation… note doorknob for scale (below).

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Reworking the studio space — the saga continues

It seems to be taking an inordinate amount of time to move everything back into my newly rehabbed studio spaces. I’m sifting, sorting — and evaluating whether I will ever use some of the potential collage papers and art materials that I’ve stored for a long time. I’ve gotten rid of stacks of magazines, a behemoth of a flat file, and a worktable in an effort to keep more open space. I’ve only been in the space a couple of weeks and I’ve already rearranged the furniture a bit! I’m pretty sure I’ll want to do more tweaking when I understand better how the spaces accommodate my process and workflows. And there is still a lot to resolve. And it feels like it should be DONE by now.

So it was a gift to stumble across a timely blog post, “Tidying Up,” by Austin Kleon today…

“The best studio tidying is a kind of exploring — I’m re-discovering spaces as I sift through the objects that occupy them. The reason I tidy is not to clean, but to come into contact with something special that I’ve forgotten that I can now use. This is a slow, dreamy, ruminative, reminiscent form of tidying.”

Really, I’m clearing space for future work / possibilities… plus making new discoveries and connections.

“…creativity is about connections, and connections are not made by siloing everything off into its own space. New ideas are formed by interesting juxtapositions, and interesting juxtapositions happen when things are out of place.”

Meanwhile, glimpses from the process…

 

 

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Studio re-do

The old family room… now officially integrated into the overall studio space.

Like a glacier, I’ve slowly been creeping into adjacent spaces at home to expand the studio… it now includes all the original studio space (that I used to share with my husband), plus the family room, and extends to the back porch on especially nice days! The two adjoining rooms had never had the same paint or carpet colors so this fall I had the entire space re-carpeted with industrial gray and painted an art-friendly white. What a huge difference. While this project was going on, all the studio furniture and art-making gear was moved and somehow compressed, stacked floor to ceiling, into our dining room.

All this upheaval gave me the opportunity to get rid of things that weren’t serving me well, re-integrate items that had returned from my previous out-of-house studio, and re-think how I store the somewhat shocking amounts of paper that I like to have on hand.

I’ve slowly been moving things back into the studio space and am now almost finished, with my deadline being asap, so that we can dine without debris for Thanksgiving!

The original studio, now intended as a design/business-focused office, being reassembled.

Switching up the way I’d previously used the rooms, plus a new furniture arrangement seems more efficient and allows the luxury of being able to get farther away from my work for the long-view perspective. I’ll post some final photos/video soon. Unseen in these photos, right now the detached brick garage outside the windows is also under construction (a whole other story).

I am so excited to begin working in this “new” space. Even so, I’m sure that I’ll also spend some time at the Art Gym each week just to get out and be around other artists.

Speaking of creative spaces… this morning I was re-reading a lovely essay by the poet Mary Oliver about the time, space and focus usually required to keep the thread of an idea moving forward.

“No one yet has made a list of places where the extraordinary may happen and where it may not. Still, there are indications. Among crowds, in drawing rooms, among easements and comforts and pleasures, it is seldom seen. It likes the out-of-doors. It likes the concentrating mind. It likes solitude. It is more likely to stick to the risk-taker than the ticket-taker. It isn’t that it would disparage comforts, or the set routines of the world, but that its concern is directed to another place. Its concern is the edge, and the making of a form out of the formlessness that is beyond the edge.”

The whole essay, titled “The Artist’s Task,” is here… a good read and applicable to most any creative pursuit.

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Standing in the shadow of the moon

I was vacationing with my family in Oregon during the total solar eclipse this summer (08.21.17). We took advantage of an eclipse-related festival and attended educational / cultural events at my alma mater, Oregon State University, for a couple of days.

It was wonderfully nostalgic — here’s a photo of me in front of Fairbanks Hall, the art building, which seems almost entirely unchanged since I graduated. The atmosphere, with smells of paint and views out the old glass windows, is just as I remembered. The gallery inside was hosting a really well-conceived show, titled “Totality.”

On the morning of the eclipse, we positioned ourselves in an open plaza area where we could see shadows cast by the trees and watch the sunlight project the eclipse through those openings and onto the ground, as if through a pinhole camera.

I was totally enchanted by the cast shadows that were the reverse of what we were looking at in the sky (with our special glasses on, of course).

Adjacent to the plaza was a sports court with a smooth blue surface. The images were even more distinct there, some of them looking like marbled paper. Even our shadows began to have some of those eclipse shapes in the negative spaces.

I was alternatively looking at the sun with my glasses and then taking them off to see what was happening on the ground. All the while the air was cooling as the sunlight diminished. (The white stripe bisecting the image with blue/green background is boundary line on the sports court.)

Below is a photo taken right before totality, when all the shadows of the trees went away as darkness fell mid-morning.
Just before the eclipse became total, shadows on the ground appeared that wiggled like snakes, kind of like the heat wave you see over the road when driving on a hot day. It was the glowing activity of the corona very briefly projecting itself onto us and the ground… an odd, almost dizzying sensation.

Suddenly it seemed like the moon snapped fully over the sun. I felt that I heard a sonic boom. Then it was dark above, with a glow 360 degrees around the edges of the horizon as if the sun had set not long ago… simply gorgeous. We were able to look up without the glasses during that time and try to absorb what we were seeing.

The image of the moon in front of the sun was so powerful. We were awe-struck. I feel like the image is imprinted on my brain — I can be recall it in a very clear way. The eclipse tinted us and everything around us a metallic gray color. The shimmery glow around the moon was beautiful. Totality lasted less than two minutes and then the moon began to move off the sun. We put our glasses back on and watched the remainder of the eclipse until the sun shone fully again. I have a whole new recognition of the three dimensionality of the moon and sun in space now.

I’m wondering how experiencing the eclipse might affect my work in the future. I’ve always loved circles and have taught myself how to rip pretty good ones, if a little ragged, to use in my collages.

I was struck when I got home from the trip and looked anew at this collage, “Replay,” made in 2012, which hangs over my desk. The correlations are rather interesting… it has a painted background with salvaged and painted papers applied on top. And yes, I ripped all those yellow-gold circle shapes and the half circle negative strips.

“Replay,” 2012, 36 x 24 x 2″, salvaged and painted paper on wood panel. ©Janice McDonald.

While the rest of the family has declared themselves to be total umbraphiles, I’m still processing this stunning experience… not sure if seeing another would diminish or enhance the power of the first experience. If you’ve never seen a total solar eclipse though, I believe it’s worth making the effort to get a location where you can experience totality… as my favorite commemorative t-shirt read, “Totality Worth It!”

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Portable collage works

While I settle back into my home studio, I’ve been pretty content working on abstract collage compositions in a large Moleskine journal/sketchbook (8.25 x 11.75″). Despite my rather huge paper collection, I aspire to have a more minimalist lifestyle (eventually!) and working like this feels particularly right for the summer season.

These analog collages are made with elements ripped from discarded magazines. They do not include any added drawing or painting, just glue. Some imagery is just destined to be salvaged, connected, and transformed.

I’ve been posting these small collage works on Instagram. To see more, follow me there at janicemcdonaldart. In the meantime, here are snapshots of a few of the collages… including one in progress on a work table at the Art Gym.

Sketchbook collage {06.01.17}

Sketchbook collage in progress {06.02.17}

Sketchbook collage {07.06.17}

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