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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.

And yet another… Salvaged Elements exhibition

Collage on flattened soapbox awaiting framing.

I’ve loved working on the ThroughLines series of collages and plan to extend that thinking to more work eventually but, for now, I’ve returned to working with ideas generated from the “Unboxed” collage series that debuted in a 2016 exhibition.

This next show is coming up fast so I quickly reset the studio, put away all those beautifully ripped strips of paper, and pulled out the flattened boxes that I’d been saving for just the right moment. I’ve made more than two dozen collages on flattened hotel soap boxes, along with other pieces that have been on my mind since the original show of Unboxed collages. I’m still finding it really intriguing to respond to the irregular shape and fold lines with found paper elements. The collages are currently in the process of being framed.

Soapbox collages in shadow box framing, each 10×10.” Shadows add so much!

The stairway at ReCreative gallery where the “black box” installation will go…

In the past, I’ve made collages on flattened boxes that were first painted black and that work continues… They are such interesting shapes on their own that I’m also working on a large installation of flattened and painted boxes to animate the space in the gallery under a black metal stairway. It’ll be a wall scaled collage, composed on the spot, out of black flattened boxes.

I’ll also be installing some experimental work on an arrangement of hangtags (the kind that typically describes clothing features). It’s inspired by the racks of formica chips I used to see hanging at hardware stores. My version will be a lot more varied and freeform, with each tag hanging from its own nail and combining to whirl up one wall in its own composition. At least that’s how I’m envisioning it… can’t wait to see how it turns out!

Paint patterns on the paper protecting my work table.

I’m totally enchanted by the the very graphic nature of the papers that are being created as I’m preparing the boxes and tags with black gesso… it’s bound to turn up in future work.

Black-painted flattened box with applied collage.

Salvaged Elements will be on view December 7 -28 at ReCreative Denver Gallery. I’m showing with fellow collagist Lili Francuz. If you’re in the area, please come by sometime during the run of the show — or for the opening on Friday, December 7 from 5-9pm when you can also enjoy the festive Luminaria event associated with First Friday in Denver’s Arts District on Santa Fe. (If you haven’t been to ReCreative before, note that you have to walk to the back of the Creative ReUse Store to access the gallery… assuming you can get past all the potential art/maker supplies you’ll encounter on the way!)


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.


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 :)


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…






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.






You may’ve noticed that I’ve been quieter lately… not so present on social media or here on the blog. I’m recovering from a total knee replacement and that’s been my priority project since the beginning of the year. Sessions of elevating, icing, rest, physical therapy, walking and stationary bike riding have punctuated my days and been my focus.

Ice with a view, after physical therapy.

Ice with a view, after physical therapy.

I’ve used our Botanic Gardens membership nearly daily for parts of the spring… lots of surface types to walk on, uncrowded, and so much inspiration in nature. What a luxury to be close enough to do my walks there!

Exploring the gardens, spring 2017.

Exploring the gardens, spring 2017.

Thankfully my recovery has coincided with a period of time when show commitments were negligible. And while I haven’t completed much work lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about collage, concepts for future works, and the place of art in my life. Not to mention reading, looking at art, and watching way too much political coverage.

Since moving out of the studio at 910 Arts on Santa Fe last fall, followed by dealing with my Dad’s death, I’ve not finished moving back into my home studio fully… and simply haven’t had the mobility to muscle boxes of paper around until now. So organizing the space is high on my list of summer priorities. In the meantime, I’m enjoying working a bit each week at Denver’s super cool Art Gym.

Work table at the Art Gym and one of my sketchbook collages ~ 12 x 9."

Work table at the Art Gym and one of my sketchbook collages ~ 12 x 9.”

Just beyond the studio, the about-to-fall-down, 107-year-old, garage in the back yard has been demolished and we await the building permit variance required to rebuild. I’ve resigned myself to having the family bike collection in the dining room with miscellaneous tools and garage stuff on the back porch. Meanwhile, my stationary bike is positioned in the middle of the art studio, soaking up the crazy, unkempt, creative atmosphere — as I ride to nowhere! But it’ll turn out to be somewhere, no doubt. I’m ready to get back to work.


Collect, Compose & Create — a collage workshop

There have been a lot of requests to learn more about my collage processes, so yes, I’m finally offering a one-day workshop! It’ll be happening on Sunday, October 16, 2016 from 9am to 4pm at my studio in Denver, Colorado. 

Demonstrating techniques at the Art Gym last spring... no microphones will be needed at the workshop!

Demonstrating techniques at the Art Gym last spring… no microphones will be needed at the workshop!

I’ll be discussing collage in general, collecting materials, and composition — as well as reviewing supports and adhesive techniques, including my signature wet working process. There will be plenty of materials to work with and finished examples to enhance our conversations along with ample time to experiment, work on collages, and discuss.

Attendance is limited to six people so there will be plenty of space to work and so that I can spend adequate time with each person attending. Workshop cost is $120. plus a $10. materials fee.  Information about what to bring will be provided to all registrants by September 20. Most materials will be provided however you may want to bring special items that are of interest to you.

I’m really excited about spending a day immersed in collage activities with some of you! For more information or to register, please contact me via the connect page on my website.

***9.21.16 Class is now full. However, please contact me if you’d like to add your name to a list to receive advance notice of future classes.***


Sequence / collage work in progress

Everyone is always intrigued with work in progress and the sequence of how a collage comes together, so thought I’d do a quick slide show documenting a recent work: “Honey,” a 36 x 36″ collage on wood panel. For whatever reason, this composition developed mostly from the center out toward the edges.

I am working with found and salvaged papers, including chunks ripped from old art posters… so anything that appears painted is appropriated from the poster imagery. When using bits and pieces of other’s artwork, I always try to rip/crop the elements in ways that take the color/texture completely out of their original context so that they become simply an ingredient to use in an entirely new composition.

Lately I’ve been trying to document work in progress on Instagram (along with other inspiration/adventures)… so if you are interested in how collages develop, please follow me there @janicemcdonaldart!


Happy New Year!

Somehow the last half of 2015 has escaped me… I actually haven’t quite regained my sense of work/life balance (if there is such a thing!) since the death of my Mom in May. I’m getting there though… and aside from that loss, so very many good things came to pass this year that I’ve not taken the time to post here.

Me and Mom, circa 2013.

Me and Mom, circa 2013.













So a quick recap is in order!
Accomplishments… woohoo!

—Completed a 11-piece series of nature/landscape-inspired collages for installation at a hospital in Nebraska.

—Made a large composed landscape for a lobby installation where an image of the original was enlarged and then printed onto 32 separate foot-square wood panels, then hung in a grid.

—Had a very successful solo show that featured my composed landscape series, titled “Paper Trails,” at Spark Gallery.

—Showed with my To Expand artist friends in “Here to There” at aBuzz Gallery this summer and in “Running Dialogue,” currently on view at the Lone Tree Arts Center.

With the "Expand" crew at the installation of our work at the Lone Tree Arts Center in December.

With the “Expand” crew at the installation of our work at the Lone Tree Arts Center in December.

—Completed my two year term as Co-Director of Spark Gallery. I currently have a large new collage on view there in the Annual Members’ Show, through January 9.

—Rented a studio in Denver’s Art District on Santa Fe. Opened the doors to celebrate First Friday in November, just a few days after signing the lease. I now have S P A C E to get some perspective on my work!

First Friday in October 2015 at Paper Trails exhibition, Spark Gallery, Denver.

First Friday in October 2015 at Paper Trails exhibition, Spark Gallery, Denver.

Just getting settled in new studio space... every day I take more paper ingredients down there!

Just getting settled in new studio space… every day I take more paper ingredients down there!

—Took beginning mandolin lessons, cleared and rented my Mom’s condo… and continued my half-time design practice!

Guess it’s no wonder I haven’t posted here in a while. As 2016 approaches, I’m hugely grateful for your interest in, and support of, my work this year and look forward to new artful adventures! Stay tuned. Happy New Year!

"Western," collage enlarged and reproduced for lobby installation at 250 Columbine in Denver.

“Western,” collage enlarged and reproduced for lobby installation at 250 Columbine in Denver.



You’re invited: open studio this weekend

Actual unedited image of one of my table surfaces, photographed just this morning... I won't be cleaning up too much so visitors can see what my process is like...

Actual unedited image of one of my table surfaces… I won’t be cleaning up too much so visitors can see what my process is like.

October 17th-19th:
Friday 5-8pm, Saturday 10am-6pm and Sunday 10am-5pm

Here’s your chance to visit my collage studio! See work in progress, check out the abundant paper stash, and peruse available collages, both small and large. I’d love to show you around…

Park Hill Studio Tour to benefit the Art Garage*
My studio address: 2212 Ash Street in Denver
A map to ALL open art studios in the neighborhood is available at
the Art Garage, 6100 E. 23rd Avenue, Denver, Colorado
Free event.
*10% of sales benefit the Art Garage.

Hope you can drop by! And for my far-flung friends, I’ll post pictures next week.