“In my mind” art journal page

“In my mind” completed 1/2/17.   Asian ephemera – printed calligraphy and map, “Hell money” pieces.  Gesso tinted with Distress ink.  “in my mind there are mountains”  – letters printed with “rusty hinge” Distress ink pad.  Stamped images – deer and Celtic. Gel pen. Includes art from Lilian deMello called “Ghost Dance” in bottom left corner.

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Detail –

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When do lines mean words, and when do they mean places?  What if they are the same? Can words be maps? Can maps be words? Are wrinkles small mountains? Hide and reveal.

None of the above.

Art journal page made 11/12/16.  It is time for each and every one of us to wake up.

none-of-the-above

Our “leaders” aren’t our leaders.  They don’t care about us.  They don’t work for us.

This is a game to them.  This is a puppet show, and we are the puppets.

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Turn the TV off. Put down the smartphone.  Don’t look at the news.

Take care of yourself – go for a walk, eat healthy food, read a book to learn something – not to escape.   Now is the time to awaken, not to escape.

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We are waking up to the game that we are in.  we vote, but “they” pick the winner.

How about we all vote, but leave every slot on the ballot blank?  This way “they” can’t say it is voter apathy.  We didn’t forget to vote.  We didn’t just stay home.  We showed up, and we said NO.  No more of this.  We are tired of the game because “We the People” always lose.

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God is in charge, not any man or woman.  Not any elected official.  God was upset with Israel when they insisted on having a king over them.  God allows us free choice, and watches, hands tied, when we make bad choices.

We will always lose when we put people over us to rule us – when we forget that God is the supreme authority – not any person.  Time to look for other ways to support ourselves, rather than relying on “The Man”.

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Time to break up with government.

Time to say “It’s not me – it’s you, government.  It just isn’t working out.”

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Background and construction –

Base – the back of a sample ballot – the back was printed with “Page Left Intentionally Blank”.  When I first saw this (this is from a ballot from the Spring of 2016) I thought it was funny to make the page not blank by writing that it was blank.  But now I see something different.  I turned it so “Blank” – nothing  – is up.  You can see the printing of the sample ballot through the page, so it shows that this is about an election.

I included stamps related to America – personal freedom.  Native American.  Statue of Liberty that is Blue and Red and White – not divided, but all three – so not Blue (democratic) States or Red (republican) states, but all of the Union, together. There is even Green, for Independent.  Stamps about war and liberty, about “A common Determination”, about “Industry and agriculture for defense”, about “Security, education , conservation, health for defense.”   Dog tags saying “never forgotten” and a military medal saying “Honoring those who served”.

Ephemera about quality, creativity, unique expressions of each person, of the various and unique cultural and religious traditions that make this country so great.

This is OUR country.  It is time to reclaim it as the great country of individuals who choose to live in freedom – as wide and varied as that term means.

The card game

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The card game was rigged, Pat was sure of it. The cards didn’t look right. How could Pat know anything anymore? The queen of diamonds – was that a queen? Pat was sure there was a shadow of a mustache. Was that a crown or a helmet? Was this an omen of a fight?

The dealer smiled and shrugged. “Them’s the cards. You gonna study them or play them? ‘Cause I don’t have time for art dealers.”

Of course, he didn’t say any of this in English. But even Mandarin has dialects like backwoods Alabama does. Every language does. It doesn’t matter what the phrasebooks say – there’s always a casual under-language, a side-speech. People use it when they get comfortable, switching into it the same way they switch into pajamas when they get home. Just like with pajamas, they don’t do it around strangers or those they want to impress. You have to be in, like family or a close friend to see a person’s real side.

Pat wasn’t sure why the dealer was talking like this.  They’d only known each other a week.  This dialect that was meant to make someone feel more comfortable was making Pat feel more and more nervous instead.  This wasn’t a good way to start. It could very well be the end.

“It’s just that I don’t recognize the cards, that’s all. I’m distracted. Do you have another set?”

Pat didn’t want to be distracted. Return-home money was riding on this game. Play it well and Pat was gone. Play it badly and Pat stayed, a slave. Sure they treat their “visitors” well here, but certain freedoms would disappear, along with Pat’s identity cards. Only the spirits knew what could happen when someone has no name, no birthdate. They weren’t telling, as usual.

“Sure. I saved these. I found them in an old junk store a dozen years ago. See? I’m helping you out.”   He fanned out the new cards on the battered wooden table.

 

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Pat studied the new deck. The images were familiar, but the shape wasn’t. Round? The image on the back looked ancient too.

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Surely these were marked cards with all those petals and leaves. A dot here and a missing petal there, and the dealer would know at a glance whether you were bluffing or winning. Best to try and conceal them as much as possible.

Pat was grateful for his large hands. It was his only advantage now. The dealer wouldn’t change the deck again, that was for sure. It was best not to push him.

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(This story was inspired by a pack of ephemera I bought from Etsy. It included some very unusual playing cards.  The story was limited by the size of the page I glued the ephemera to.  I didn’t use pronouns with the main character because I wanted the gender to be ambiguous.)

Real art versus copy

I really like Nick Bantock’s art in the “Griffin and Sabine” series. Something I like about it is it seems so dreamy and ethereal. He uses bits of photographs and stamps and other ephemera in order to create his art. There is acrylic paint, certainly, and tissue paper as well. But the most important part to me is that he uses objects.
I read his book “Urgent 2nd Class” about how he makes his art. He says to make color photocopies of everything you use and not use the originals. I felt cheated when I read that. I thought that everything he was using in his artwork was real. It gave it all a magical, totemic quality, a sense of risk. Now, not so much. Sure, it is beautiful, but it isn’t the same to me.
I’ve been making collage art, inspired by him and others. I’m torn as to whether to use copies or originals. I can see the points for both sides.
It might be easier to not use the real thing because then there’s not as much pressure. If I make a mistake with the real thing, I’m in trouble. There is no going back like with beads or with digital manipulation. Paint is permanent, and so are scissors. One wrong blob or cut and I’ll have to figure out a way around it or scrap the whole thing.
I could certainly play around with a copy first while I figure it out. Then I could make the final version with the real stuff. But I don’t really have time to make multiple versions of the same things, and I know from all my other forays into creating art that whatever I think it is going to be, it never is. So even if I get it “perfect” with the copies, it will look different when I use the real stuff. Plus, half of the reason I create is the discovery. It is nice to get what I see in my head, but it is also nice to be surprised when something works out better than I planned.
Well, I’ll be honest. It wasn’t nice at first to have things not come out the way I’d imagined. But I’ve learned to like it. At first I was pretty upset that what I was aiming for just wouldn’t materialize. I had all the pieces – how come they won’t go together like I think they should? But sometimes what results is far more interesting. Sometimes it isn’t, but then I just don’t tell people what I was aiming for. I act like I meant it to look like that. Even if it does look like what I was planning for, they wouldn’t know anyway.
Using the real thing could certainly be intimidating. It might make me not even start on the piece.
Sometimes when creating art you have to think about what will make the art happen. Sometimes having limits helps, and sometimes it hurts. Sometimes having limits on what tools or techniques you can use will actually make you more creative. Sometimes it might stop you before you even begin.
For now, I’m using originals, but I’m doing it carefully. I’ll try out something with a real piece (like a stamp, or a foreign bank note, or a fortune from a cookie) but maybe it isn’t “the” piece. I’m learning how that kind of paper works with the glue and the paint I’m using. Then I can use that knowledge for when I make a “real” piece, with more meaningful ephemera.
I can see another advantage to using copies – the paper is always the same. So there is no adjustment to be made for different textures or absorption rates. If the materials are all the same, it frees you up to work on composition and style.
But I still feel like that is cheating the audience. I like the idea that what they are looking at can’t be replicated. If there are copies of the ephemera being used, then another copy of the artwork can be made. Sure, it won’t look the same – that is part of the nature of art in general and painting in specific, but it will be close. Part of what I like about creating artwork is that each piece is unique.
A painting that has real things in it has an energy to it, like a shaman’s necklace. Each item has a story, a background, a history. Each piece adds to the song. They aren’t just images, but the actual thing. A picture of a shell isn’t the same as a shell itself. And just any old shell isn’t the same as a special one – say the one you found on your anniversary trip. It is that kind of energy that I’m talking about. You just can’t get that from a copy.

These are some examples of what I’m making.
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collage1

side view –
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