Monday, January 28, 2008

Every Darn Day

Keeping up with these daily collages is challenging. I'm still having fun making them, but squeezing in everything else I want to accomplish in a day is HARD. Not that I don't have this same trouble WITHOUT the collage practice to blame. So okay, I guess I can't blame the collage project at all. Darn.





#23 - SOLD

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Collage Mania

Five days of daily collages, coming right up:



#16 - SOLD



Saturday, January 19, 2008


My daily collage project, for anyone wondering, is NOT abandoned. I'm collaging right on schedule, but I'll be posting them in batches from now on - three or four (or seven) at a time. I wanted to give myself a break in order to squeeze in a few other pieces, like this painting (gouache and ink and watercolor on bristol paper, 17" x 14") which I call Aqueduct.

Looking at this painting again, and recalling the optimism I felt making it, I find myself thinking of water as a symbol for energy, for chi (or Qi), the life force. Just as the earth contains and channels water, our earthly bodies (and spirits and minds) contain and channel energy. Like plants and trees, drawing water up from below, so do we draw upon our stored resources as we plant seeds in our lives, as we allow ourselves to dream and move toward our dreams.

And no energy is wasted! The trees put moisture in the atmosphere, which feeds the clouds, which feeds the rain, which feeds the earth, which, in turn, feeds the trees.

Put your energy into the world!

Thursday, January 17, 2008


In my studio, I have two computers: an old PC that I turn on only when I want to use my old scanner and a few obscure old programs, and a newer Mac, with internet access and all my image- and word-manipulating software. To show you my daily collages, I must boot up the scanner and that old machine, then burn the image to a cd, transfer the file to my Mac, crop it, sharpen it, re-save it, and upload it to the web. It's tedious and time-consuming, is what I'm saying, and I'm considering a more efficient plan: Maybe I'll let two or three days' or a week's worth of collages pile up before I scan. I can post them all at once, and in the meantime, post other artworks, the framework of stories weaving themselves in my mind, more links, other projects-in-progress.

Daily discipline is like juggling: Start with tossing one burning torch up and down, and when you master that, add a second, a third. Yes, I've found my rhythm with these daily collages, and they are by far not the only burning torches at my side. I'm ready to move forward.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

#12 - Vitality

Today's collage, inspired by the desire to send good healing vibes to a dear friend in the hospital. And to myself. And to everyone.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008


The other night I found myself sitting in front of the computer, deep in the maze of PayPal, trying to create a simple path for the buyers I imagined would one day be knocking down my door, wanting to purchase my artworks. I was tired. I was cranky and cynical and suddenly I hit a wall: Who are you kidding? I asked myself. No one's going to even SEE this blog, let alone BUY anything! I recognized that inner voice, and dismissed it easily. But still, I sat up for a moment, acknowledging that I was tired, and posed another question to myself: Is this really what I need to be doing right now?

Just then my computer alerted me to a new email. It was from someone who stumbled upon my blog and wanted to know if a certain drawing was for sale. Long story short: my first official sale is complete.

As for the question I posed to myself: I guess I'll take that email as a yes.

To today's collage, the eleventh in my daily collage series, I'll attach my first of what will be many links to make purchasing my works as easy as possible. So so so much more to come.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Charted Territory

"There is a vitality, a life force, a quickening that is translated through you into action and because there is only one of you in all time, this expression is unique. And if you block it, it will never exist through any other medium and will be lost. The world will not have it. It is not your business to determine how good it is nor how valuable it is nor how it compares with other expressions. It is your business to keep it yours clearly and directly, to keep the channel open. You do not even have to believe in yourself or your work. You have to keep open and aware directly to the urges that motivate you. Keep the channel open." – Martha Graham

In keeping with my thoughts on maps and mapping, it occurs to me that calendars are maps, maps of time, and that personal calendars are sketches of the landscape of our personal days. As I built today's collage, affixing layers of transparent tissue paper over a month of my life, I struggled a little with how transparent I wanted to be with an audience of strangers with my personal landscape. How much do I want to expose of myself? Because who am I but the sum of my actions, my thoughts, priorities, feelings, sensibility? I usually strive for complete transparency, not because I'm an exhibitionist, but because I want present myself – to myself – as honestly as possible.

Which leads me to this admission: I don't think much of today's collage.

But I'm beginning to understand that if I'm unwilling to mess around in the murky area, to be transparently awkward and risk falling on my face, I'll never break through to anything truly new.

I believe we all must stand smack in the middle of the no-man's-land between future possibility and "been there, done that" – in other words, be present with our limitations – before we can find our growing edge and push against it.

I ask myself now: should I have pushed this collage until it became something I'm proud of? Am I abandoning it midstream? Is this lazy? Is this a cop-out?

I'll answer with a question: Who am I to judge?

Maybe Martha Graham is right when she says it is not the individual's business to assess their own creative expression. Or maybe the edge I'm pushing against right now is simply the "stop worrying about it" edge. Maybe I have to trust that nothing will collapse if I make a boring collage. Maybe I have to take that risk before I can move into uncharted self-discovery, into new artistic growth, before I can move – unselfconsciously – off the map.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Central Falls


Saturday, January 12, 2008


Today's collage:

Hand-made papers. Seed Savers Exchange Catalog. Black and white photography and photograms left over from photo class, 2003. Random snips from an old dictionary. Memories of the cemetery beside the partially defunct mill building in my old neighborhood. I recall the expanse of moody sky, my moody walks through this – the biggest patch of earth not cloaked in concrete or asphalt for miles. People walked their dogs here, a few came to grieve, but mostly, it belonged to the birds.

Something else is surfacing in this piece, brewing up from down below, something besides this haunting lonely memory: an idea of community, of people coming together to build something... I did not consciously pick the word co-op. It simply appeared in the sift of paper on my desk.



Friday, January 11, 2008

Rainy Morning

I'm less than a week into this project and I'm already being told repeatedly that I'm not asking enough for these daily collages. I've raised the price once, from $20 to $45, and still, I hear the same thing.

I take it as a complement, of course, but I am also giving this criticism serious thought, considering the time it takes to complete each work, materials, my long- and short-term goals. I've consulted Cay Lang. I've browsed I'm researching what other artists are asking –and getting– for comparable work.

This is what I know so far:

I want to make collages. One every day for at least the next two months. I want to learn something from the process – about myself, about art, about myself making art. I'm already learning. For instance: I've learned that I need to do some critical thinking about how I price my work!

This project is effecting everything in my life. I go to bed curious, wake up excited. Right now, in this moment, I'm already eager to see tomorrow's collage. I have no idea what it will be.

There are underground shifts in my creative life as well. In the week since I began this project, a long-anticipated much-avoided series of shadow box assemblage pieces has finally seen the light of day. For years I've been collecting materials, in turns feeling urgently and forgetting entirely how much I want to make them. And suddenly, in the last two days, four pieces have emerged. Plus, yesterday I submitted one of my short stories to the first of what I'm sure will be a string of literary magazines.

These may seem like baby steps, but to me, they are huge, and just the beginning.

Years ago, I put on a one-woman show: music, video, slides, spoken word, and a gallery show of my art - all of which I had to price. My goal at that point was to pay off the last of my college debt and to free myself of a stockpile of artwork that discouraged me from making anything new. But I worried that selling beloved pieces too cheap might also dampen my enthusiasm. As I agonized over pricing a favorite collage, an artist friend waved off my worry like a stray mosquito. "Just sell it and make another one," he said. "There's no mystery. It's not magic. Just let it go. And make another one."

I struggled for a long time, trying on numbers like high heel shoes - going as high as I dared, which is actually quite low (and true to the metaphor - I never wear heels). In one night, I sold just about everything. People were literally running to claim their purchases before someone else got to them. It was chaos, and such a rush! Between admission to the show and sales of my art, I netted exactly the outstanding balance on my college loans. Maybe I priced too low, but I felt great. And the new pieces I whipped out to restock for the next show were some of my best works of that time.

Yes, I'd like to sell these collages, but not for so little that it hurts to send them off. Twenty dollars, I realize now, isn't enough. Forty-five feels better. Sixty-five would probably feel good, too. It's more in keeping with what I make as a graphic designer, though on the low end of my hourly spectrum – in other words, still humble. But humble feels right. I'm just getting started at this, after all...

I'm clearly not finished thinking about this, nor have I done enough comparison shopping to have an idea what is truly appropriate to the market. Leave room for your star to rise, Lang suggests, and so I will: No price changes today. Forty-five dollars is it.

The humble truth is that I'm having fun making these daily collages. The process is valuable to me even if I don't sell a one, and I'll keep at it as long as this is true. Also, the thought of a growing stack doesn't bother me. It's a body of work, and that, in and of itself, is a valuable thing. I'd love to see a long row of them, all decked out in mats and frames on a nice clean wall. I want a show, is what I'm saying. At that show, after I've breathed a good deep breath surveying my day-after-day labors, make no mistake about it, the not-humble truth is that I'd like to sell every one of them, for enough money to keep the wind in my sails.

After all, the more I sell, the more I'll have to make another one.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Even the Trees Seem Confused

What can I say about today's collage?

Maybe it has something to do with the unseasonably warm weather we've had the last few days: Sixty degrees in mid-January? In Connecticut? That's not right.

Even the trees seem confused, as if stumbling awake in the middle of the night to discover bright blue sky, the full light of day.

Spring is in the air, but it shouldn't be. The earth doesn't want to believe it, and neither do I. But we're all such huge suckers for warmth – it's hard not to enjoy the weather.

It reminds me of how easily I am taken in by a disingenuous smile, a false compliment. I'd like to be more discerning, but would I rather have my guard up? No I would not.

I am relieved. however, that this morning is colder.

Pull up that winter blanket, trees, and go back to sleep.

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

MA: Loosening Up

Color, line, boldness, hallelujah! Compare this to yesterday and – not to say one is better than the other – but clearly there is change afoot, and a potential new theme emerging in my emerging collage-a-day practice.

I've been saying this for months: I'm interested in exploring and exposing figurative and literal spaces, dreamscapes, the emotional landscapes we feel we inhabit alone, when in fact the terrain is familiar to us all.

So no wonder I'm drawn to playing with maps in my collages. And no surprise I was brought up short in front of a Paula Scher map of Manhattan in my latest perusals of New York galleries. And of course it resonates with me when Julia Cameron suggests (in Finding Water: The Art of Perseverance) that we be honest with ourselves about where we're at, specific about where we're struggling, where we're stuck. "Think of it as putting out your coordinates," she advises. "You want the Universe to help you, and, in order to help you, it needs an accurate account of where you are."

The truth is, I've been stockpiling maps compulsively, with the unspoken hopeful expectation that one day these pages would find their way into my work. "Someday," I am realizing, if I'm willing to take a risk or two, can very easily translate to right now.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Maintenance Schedule

I'm trying it on, this collage-a-day project, and I'm finding it has lessons to teach me. Like, for instance - how am I going to squeeze this into my day? And also: can I let go of the stiff and familiar, to risk making something, god forbid, ugly, or even worse, boring, or worst yet – to use the dreaded art school term – unsuccessful?

Today's collage seems to embody these questions, present these challenges. It tells me: Yes, Amy, this exercise will be good for you. Do it. Practice loosening up. Start putting yourself out there. This will help you quit worrying if your work is good or not, if it's worthy. It'll help you take risks, to follow those giddy impulses – to slop ink all over everything, to introduce ridiculous purple or flashy hot pink – into your typically sober palette. Remember that this project, that this blog– that everything – is for fun, for discovery, that this is what life (and play) is all about.

It'll be interesting to see where this takes me, what my collages will look like two weeks, three months, a year from now. How far can I go with this? Guess I'll buckle in and find out.

Monday, January 7, 2008


Inspired by Keri Smith's Morning Collages and Randel Plowman's A Collage A Day , I decided to start making collages more regularly myself. I may even do one a day. But I only just started yesterday, and I want to try it on for a while before I make any commitments.
My reticence is not based on lack of enthusiasm, but fear of enthusiasm. Actually, I'm afraid I might go on a collage-making binge.

I made this collage, choosing a color palette without any conscious association, and a random page out of an old dictionary because I got a jolt of pleasure out of the word "dainty" that concluded that page's listings. And then I went out grocery shopping with my husband, and realized I'd picked the exact color palette of the evening: a peachy-pink and blue and green sunset sky, the white and slushy grey, brown, black and piny green along the roadside. I glanced to the right, and found myself staring into a construction site, at a dumpster labeled prominently according to the company that owned it: DAINTY.

I made another collage last night, and another this morning. I might be hooked.

All of these (so far) are works on paper, 8.5" x 5.5" and yes, I'd be happy to sell them! How about $45 each, signed on the back, shipped promptly and for free (to the U.S. anyway)? Email if you want one, we can work out the details.

Collage 2:

Collage 3:

Wednesday, January 2, 2008


I just noticed I've been receiving comments. I hadn't thought to look for them. I didn't realize people are already peeking under the drop cloths to check out this blog. Not only that, two are asking if and how they might purchase my artwork! Hence the title of this post. And my big smile.

A quick and incomplete answer: yes, it's all for sale. No, I don't have it listed anywhere as such, but I'll get right on that. I'll do some research, find an appropriate venue, or create one. If you have any ideas: I'm open to suggestions!

In the meantime, you eager readers have inspired me to spiff up the joint, and think a little more about where I'm headed with this new venture. I've got ideas. Oh, baby, do I have ideas! And I do plan to get into them. But first things first: I've taken the drop cloths down, swept the debris out of the corners, tacked up some links, slapped up one more coat of fresh white paint. (I've decided I like these white walls. Who needs wallpaper? It seems more appropriate to keep this backdrop fresh and blank as a gallery wall.)

If this were a real space, I'd have snacks set up in the back. Wait a minute - this is virtual reality. There are snacks in the back - little mini sandwiches and cookies and chocolate and champagne and a great big fruit plate (all impeccably delicious and absolutely calorie-free)! Help yourself! Happy New Year! Make yourself at home! Feel free to nose around. Sign the guest book. And welcome to LifeCraft!

Oh, and come back soon. I promise, there will be more.