Saturday, June 15, 2013

Discovering Mail Art

Mail Art envelope - back

This week I discovered another art genre - Mail Art. This art movement centers on the notion of art as a message. Mail Art pieces were originally illustrated letters or stamped postcards, but today they include  web pages, email, anything that "corresponds". Designs can take any form - sketches, paintings, collages, photos...

I've had a lot of fun exploring this form of expression.

I created this Mail Art piece titled, "Memory and Vision" from watercolor paper. Then I used a collage technique, combining images from magazines, greeting cards, and invitations. The background is painted with watercolor, and gold ink is used to highlight areas of the design. I have included stamped messages as well.

Mail Art envelope - front

For the envelope, I wanted to tell the story of how memories are “painted” by people and place: where we come from, and the persons we have known. The cover depicts a head opening, and a brush painting memories of people holding hands. In the background you see images that represent my origin – a USA map, the colors red, white, and blue, an old stamp, and an official government seal. You also see a partial stamp of the word, “confidential”. This denotes our tendency to hide things about ourselves.

Mail Art insert

The insert takes the theme of memories and flips it around to consider how memories are made. They come from the visions we have for our lives and ourselves. Notice that my colors have changed – I have added green and yellow to the pallet. The earth opens up and waves flow outward, carrying an old house along. These images suggest a vision of who I want to be and where I want to go. (I have traveled the world for the last 25 years and I want to settle now.) I have stamped “special delivery” on the insert to denote the importance of our visions and dreams.

Mail Art envelope with insert

I hope I've conveyed a sense of playfulness and movement in the piece. The paintbrush, the use of watercolor, and the pattern of waves all suggest movement. The words, “confidential” and “special delivery” are intended to play with the theme of mail. Also, the lips on the back of the envelope are a play on the notion of “sealed with a kiss.” When the envelope is fully open the lips complete the face on the cover.

Who's your favorite Mail artist?

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Exploring Fantastic Art

Pencilscape - watercolor and ink

In the midst of planning for an international move, I'm indulging in another Coursera course. (Makes sense, right?)  If you have not visited this MOOC site, and you love learning, get over there now!  (btw, MOOCs are Massive Open Online Courses.)

This latest class is Introduction to Art: Concepts & Techniques, taught by Anna Divinsky out of Penn State. We've been discussing 20th century Fantastic art, and looking at some of my favorite artists - Rousseau, Chagall, Miró...

Not only are we examining works of art, but we are creating pieces as well! This is fun and challenging.

Above is my first piece titled, Pencilscape. Here's a close up...

Pencilscape - close up

There's a story behind the painting. I had as much fun imagining the story as painting the piece:

I am dreaming. I’ve traveled by ship across the sea to a new land, where my future lies. As we approach, a magnificent city comes into view. I see buildings of all sizes and shapes – tall, short, thin, stout – reaching upward. The sky is filled with clouds, and perhaps a storm is coming.

Our ship closes in, and I notice that the buildings are not buildings at all, but giant pencils, and the clouds are plumes of colors, that flow from the pencils. The sea is cool and clear, but my future city is a chaotic and frenzied unknown. I see possibility, but I am afraid.

If you know me, you know what's behind this story.