July 2022 Newsletter-Libby Fife Fine Art
Fraught With Danger
16" x 20" collage/mixed media
Town and Country
16" x 20"
I completed two collages in the month of June, as seen above. I am pleased with both of them for several reasons.
First, I have successfully begun to use colored copy paper in my collages. It's a big deal for me because I have always used my own painted papers. I like having control via painting. It's possible to get just the "right" color. We recently bought a different printer however and the printer ink does not adhere to the painted paper. Colored copy paper is an economical choice/solution and provides new and exciting possibilities. I feel the look of the brightly colored paper can be tempered with the more neutral browns and beiges. I am still learning how to use the paper in a way that will be visually pleasing.
The second reason that I am pleased with the pieces has to do with the use of photographs. It's a real challenge to put images together and to figure out how to use them. Just finding them is a chore sometimes. I am learning that it is better in some ways to have a collection of images and see which ones can go together and tell a story. Hunting for images to support a specific idea is much more difficult and requires a lot of mental flexibility. Both ways work but I want to get better at the process.
The final thing I am pleased with is the quilting references that I have begun to use. For the first piece, I wanted to reference a kind of "9 patch" quilt idea. The second piece references simple blocks. I did this in two of the pieces from last month as well. I like the idea of putting down a background first and then adding and integrating images and text. I really want the background though to blend with the figures and text to create one dynamic piece. That's my goal anyway.
So. The content of both pieces. Let's start with the hardest one (the first one on the left). Whenever I do a political piece, it's a gamble. People are not likely to get what I want to say, which is fine of course. Or people may be offended. That's OK too. I just have some mixed feelings about "statement" pieces. In any case, let me explain what I had in mind. The piece references the B-52's Private Idaho song. Not everyone will remember this song, I realize that. I never fully knew the lyrics myself or what the song was about but the whole thing seems very apt to describe the current political climate of paranoia and wild, unfounded lies and accusations. I am referring to the extreme Right Wing section of the country (and many, many moderates as well) that has seemed to go off the rails. I can hardly describe it. (And thank goodness there are people out there smarter than me who can.) In any event, the players in the piece are wearing colanders on their heads that receive messages from "out there". It's the only way I know to explain their behavior. The alternative is just too awful. From left to right we have the following fine folks: Ted Cruz (US Senator from Texas), Sean Hannity (radio talk show host), Glenn Beck (radio talk show host), Lauren Boebert (US Rep for Colorado) and Marjorie Taylor Greene (US rep for Georgia). Except for Sean Hannity and MTG, I didn't pick anyone in particular. Honestly, I just Googled "paranoid right wing" and this is what I got. I hope that I welcome all viewpoints, at least for a discussion. I don't welcome lying or scare mongering or shit disturbing. I don't like the lying. If anyone called me a liar I would be mortified. If I knew I was lying I would be embarrassed and shamed. I don't mean little "social" fibs that lubricate togetherness. I mean out and out lying. Lying. Lying. Lying. WTF? Look it up already and find out what is true even if you don't like it.
Now, the second piece is more cheerful. I love the idea of town and country and the blending thereof. When I saw the old timey Pepsi ad from the 60's I knew I wanted to use it. I put the other photos with it to make a story of two gals getting gussied up at the hairdresser's to go "out on the town", possibly to the county fair or the big city. And I wanted to pay homage to my own hairdresser, Jill Bottomley of Jillian Day Spa, who is a true artist and friend. I used the quilted background idea from an older piece of mine. The biggest challenge was the two ladies and how to "colorize" the piece. (I used colored paper layered on the black and white image.) It was a difficult piece to put together.
Alright, that's it for me. On a personal note, I continue to be challenged by IBS and the attendant frustration of trying to find care and to get a routine going. My father is in a care home at this point (he is 85), my husband is going to retire soon, and it isn't always easy to be positive. I haven't been able to hike and I am cranky. The earth keeps turning though and the clock counts down to some unknown time. What can you do? (Don't worry about answering that one. It's a rhetorical question.)
OK, thanks for reading,. Feel free to send me an email. (Unless you are defending those folks above and then God help you. I just don't know what to say.) Till next month.
PS> I get that I didn't choose any Democrats for the above piece. Or anyone from any other party. Things are not one sided. I simply chose what I found to be most heinous and destructive (and who represents that) and the idea of out and out lying which I believe will be our eventual downfall. Unless climate change overrides us first. We will see.
Left to Right: A Closer Look, Family Matters, On Any Given Day, Time To Fly
These are all "analog" or by-hand collages with the exception of the one in the lower right which is digital. I am reminded time and again that editing is of the utmost importance. And I think my ability to edit judiciously is directly related to my state of mind. That isn't negative but just truthful. If my mind is muddled or chaotic then the collages tend to follow those states. It's OK though because the collages are all just thinking on paper aren't they? Just my thoughts and ideas which are in the process of being worked out.
For the piece in the upper left corner, I wanted to work with scale. Scale of the images primarily but also of the text. The values of the papers are the other variable. It's a lot to juggle but I think this is the right direction.
The upper right piece could have benefited greatly from editing and simplification but I also wanted to work with the text and see it as a kind of background. I really love the figure in the circle though so that idea may come back.
The bottom two are most successful I think because of the simplification and the editing, to my eye anyway.
They are all just little experiments. It's a mistake to think that you can have a formula that gets it right every time. I try not to think that way.
The upper left piece is notable for the little figures leaning over looking at the Chicxulub crater. I am excited because I hand colored the black and white image with colored pencil. I think it's a great idea and something that I want to do more of. There's a whole genre of colored black and white photos which I am not interested in. I am wanting to use the method but not in that way.
Lastly, I made these little journals. They are about 5" x 7" and are very simply made with cardstock and blank colored copy paper. The images are a mix of my own photos and drawings as well as online images. The pages are stitched to the cover via my sewing machine and include washi tape on the binding. I meant them to be fun little "field" notebooks and had actually intended to offer them to a friend who is teaching a class. I chickened out on that though, feeling that they were to "homemade" to be taken seriously by a real naturalist. I am enjoying using them immensely however. I have been watching the moon and recordings its phases and comings and goings in the morning sky. I take them with me on my walks and am learning how to make fun and better observations of what I see. I had a good time yesterday learning about oak leaves. All of the oak trees look the same to me but once I started examining all of the leaves I could see that they were not all the same type of oak tree. Anyway, it has been a lot of fun to use these.
OK, thanks for reading and as always feel free to contact me with any comments.