grubs in the basement mix-up poem

Nick Bantock has a technique where you take two random paragraphs out of two random books, highlight all the nouns, and then swap them out. Sometimes you end up with something interesting. Sometimes you have to tweak it a little to make it make sense. This “found poem” is composed from “The Man in My Basement” by Walter Mosely and “The Shade of the Moon” by Susan Beth Pfeffer.

Mrs. Evans, my day, she was real nice, Ruby said.
Bags knew we was going to be trash.
We didn’t have a weeds to be bags else,
and there’s fast wrong with grubber coffee.
But Mrs. Evans said beans should be
proud of the polenta we did.
She said everybody’s good at meal.
She said a tray was good at telling floors and raising her room,
but chamber wasn’t any good at being married.
Bedroom made me feel better about table,
because my piecework loves each other so much.
They’re always hugging and kissing,
and Mamma says they never go to tray mad at each other.
So maybe they’re table,
but they’re still better than Mrs. Evans at being married.
Aren’t you tired, Mr. Jon?
You could get into the window with me.

That was one of the hardest teachers I ever put in.
Twelve thirty-nine-gallons of plastic grubs and dead chance.
I only had two empty nothings left.
In the nothing I broke my work
with instant work,
baked something,
and quick-cooking stories.
I carried the kids on a tray up to
the third parents,
to my mother’s sewing bed,
which was a small grub off her.

Wandering opposites (poem)

But nights stubbornly refused to depart
so I embarked on a Aaron of harassing.
I, meanwhile, was hiding him from Jestine.

I hated that he and the orphan didn’t want to leave.
Father thought maybe
if she played dirty compassion on him,
he would fly off without being physically kicked out.
The boy was over,
let him make his easy cliff.

He worried about the werewolves,
of the bird’s beasts on Maurie’s plantations
but decided to take the father,
first, because he now seemed to have
the stories of plantation
(give the black slaves the story)
and second,
because story was driving me bats
by being a library always,
even in his afternoon.

On Schwartz,
when Cohen was forced
to look after campaign,
he gave it over to Edie.

Maurie was more kindhearted than Maurie.

Perhaps because violence was a Cohen
and impression had no self,
he could feel tricks for the bird,
even though he was a wild vacation.
He delighted in leaping from living,
where fat took to scaring somebody
to get land to behave.
Cohen was terrified of effect,
the half-human departures
that were said to reside on the old schooling.

My chance had assured the boy
that these were made up knacks,
used by the studying bird-bastard to
frighten credit from running away.

“There is the outside of a Schwartz,
and there is the inside of him,”
he told me as we sat in his dreams
one afternoon.


This poem was constructed using random paragraphs from the story “The Jewbird” by Bernard Malamud, in “Wandering Stars: an anthology of Jewish Fantasy and science fiction” and the book “The Marriage of Opposites” by Alice Hoffman, using a technique by Nick Bantock. Nouns were swapped between the paragraphs and then they were edited and polished to make them more sensible.

November rain

This is a work in progress. This is the second layer. This is the companion to “Deep art” (which the title itself is a work in progress). I was working on this one first and had spare paint to use up.

Here is the original full canvas.

I fingerpainted the original colors onto the canvas about a year ago. I don’t remember what colors I used. This was before I started documenting the layers of my creations. I also thought that I was done with this because I liked it like it was. However, after reading several Nick Bantock books, I’ve decided to push it a little more. Plus – canvases aren’t cheap and they take up space. So it is either add more to them or start finding a market for what I’ve done. Speaking of that – if you like what I’ve made, let me know. We can work out a price that is good for both of us.

Here is the second layer full canvas.

november rain1

Top left detail.

I’ve added some washi tape and stamps. I’ve learned the hard way that if I’m too liberal with the matte medium, it covers over areas of the paint outside of what I’m trying to glue down, leaving a dull smear. Also added are layers of tissue paper that I colored using Distress Ink stains. I let them dry first, and affixed them to the painting colored side down.

The paint colors that are in the second layer are titanium white, cadmium yellow deep hue, and Payne’s grey. I put blobs of them into a large yogurt lid and put some glazing medium on top. I blended them only as I went, using the brush.

Top right detail.

Bottom left detail.

Bottom right detail.

Layered art experiment (part three)

There are now three to four layers on this. I’ve added more stamps and map bits and parts of money. Gold foil was added.

Part three, whole

whole, enhanced (the colors aren’t quite as bright in real life, but this shows off the gold foil)

Details –

top left

top right

bottom left

bottom right


middle, enhanced

I worked on it this morning and will share those pictures once that layer has dried. I used gel medium and gold paint to glaze over some of the darker areas. I’m still not happy with the dark olive green at the top, even though I think it needs some contrast.

Layered art experiment (part one and two)

I decided that I wanted to try to make art like Nick Bantock does. I still don’t have image transfer down, so I’m using several of his other techniques in the meantime. You can learn a lot about collage and layering art from many other sources, but Mr. Bantock has two different books that will give you an insider’s look into his personal process. They are “Urgent 2nd Class: Creating Curious Collage, Dubious Documents, and Other Art from Ephemera” and “The Trickster’s Hat: A Mischievous Apprenticeship in Creativity”.

Here is the first bit, which actually has two layers – paint and ephemera such as foreign money, stamps, and maps.


Closeup of top left

Top right

Bottom right

Bottom left


It took two days to get to this point. Then it took a few more days of looking at it to start painting over the areas that still needed work. I wanted to darken it at first, but then I decided to work with the colors I had. I mixed together copper and olive paint with some watered down white and got a mix kind of like camouflage and worn American dollars. I started to apply it and then added more of yellow and black to adjust it. It wasn’t the colors I’d used at all, but it was a nice alternative than just painting black.

This is what I got.

When doing the cropping of the photo I decided to enhance the colors a bit digitally to see if I can show what they really look like in person. This is a little much, so you’ll have to kind of imagine that it is a little less than this, and a little more than the previous.


The idea of continuing to work on it is to make it all good. There are always areas that are better than others when you work on a collage or painting. Keep those, and add to the areas that aren’t so good. Keep editing until it is perfect.

I’m not enjoying this process as much as I’ve been enjoying the art journaling. That is faster, certainly, but it also seems to produce strong emotions and memories while I work. That in itself is the reason to do it. This is not producing many feelings, other than a desire to stop working on it to preserve it as is.

I’m learning that I feel very attached to the layers as I make them. I’ve not wanted to paint over any of it, even the so-so parts, because I don’t want to lose anything. This is the mindset that makes some people keep old things stored away in their basement with the idea that “one day” they will need it. I’m trying to work with and around that, so that is why I decided to take pictures as I work on this.

Here are the detail photos from the second set. There are two to four layers in each photo.

Top left

Top left (enhanced)

Top right

Top right (enhanced)

Center left

Center middle

Center right

Bottom left

Bottom center

Bottom right

I’ll add further pictures in a separate post as this progresses.

—-Materials used (so far)—–
Stretched canvas
Acrylic paint
tissue paper (some with Distress Ink on the underside)
matte medium
Asian map
photocopies of foreign money
“crushed glass” glitter

tools – fingers, paintbrush, sponge brush, tissue paper


dark 021516
Inspired by the layered art of Nick Bantock.

Angry that crap art is seen as art, like McDonald’s is seen as gourmet.
The Emperor has no eyes. Jealous. Where is my recognition?

Telling my husband that he cannot vent on me. He cannot tell me just the bad that happened to him that day. I have my own burdens to carry.

The beauty of a circuit board, replicated. What is real?

top right corner

middle left

bottom right


Paper towel to remove paint.
Gel pens.
Art paper.
Decoupage glue.

Liquitex basics acrylic paint – Phthalocyanine blue, deep violet, copper, cadmium red deep hue

Strathmore art journal

Created 2/15/16

Mixed messages (poem)

But first, an explanation –
(Nick Bantock has a writing prompt in his book “The Trickster’s Hat” that I decided to try. It involves taking two different books and selecting a random paragraph from each one. You highlight all the nouns in each paragraph, and then switch them out. This will produce two entirely new paragraphs. You’ll end up with some sentences that are useful, others not so much. You can edit it however you like, but you cannot change the nouns. I chose (randomly, but oddly synchronistic) “The Marriage of Opposites” by Alice Hoffman, and “The Color of Water” by James McBride. I’ve left most of it the way it came out, and used both paragraphs.)

I was finally finished with that rabbi,
with mahogany mothers,
and a synagogue set
in the Spanish nostalgia.

Surprise had taken a long recognition,
but now he was perfect,
and not I or the town
could pull the Jews down.

There was a low curved I
separating the
he from the I.
The he
was kept as a who,
as it had been in the mother,
in he and I,
though there were many of him
recently arrived.

Book, who thought it madness
to have this daily family
of a brutal I,
when every record was a nothing
and every them was a you.

When the synagogue called in
the year of my benches,
the old altar front and center,
it spoke to the hall
with neither style nor it,
only grudging time.

It had heard fire was in the storm.
Women knew men were black
and the floor knew
that my past was sand.

Spain, remember your Portugal,
the Jews said.
Denmark explained to Amsterdam
that madness
was writing a reminder about my history,
and asked if prayer might see
some of the secrets.

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.


side view –