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Mixed media artist Helen Becker is thrilled to share with art collectors the details of her process as a collage painter and her insight into mixed media collage. Helen Becker’s artist blog shares information related to Helen Becker’s mixed media collage artworks and shares with readers information about her evolution to becoming a mixed media artist.

All Collage artists have stories behind their paintings.
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All collage artists have stories behind their paintings. From novice collage painters to famous collage artists, all who endeavor to create with multimedia materials have a ryhme or reason behind the placement of pieces and thoughts.

“Going to the Sun Highway” is titled after the famous roadway in Glacier National Park. After a recent visit to the area I was inspired by the way the sun appeared over the horizon and seemed to lead our road to infinity. The golden twine in this piece follows the road and is swallowed up by the sun which appears at the end of the highway.

As a collage artist I love to find inspirations everywhere I go. And I love to use everything (to a limit) to express these inspirations on canvas. Contemporary collage painting is a process and it all starts with an idea. Unlike conceptual paintings, my ideas are something concrete, something that I have seen and interpreted on canvas. I hope you enjoy.

Adding textures as a collage artist
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Collage artists have all been in positions of having to know when to stop the base layering and begin the textured layers that will be prominent in the final collage painting.

I, contemporary collage artist, find myself at this crossroad. I start adding layers and textured items to my new collage painting. As we begin to highlight segments I try to make use of different mixed media materials in differing sections of the new collage painting. Balance in important - otherwise the eyes will be stuck in one particular section and not wander - which, afterall, is the theme of my highway series.

During this process I try to add layers and materials that increase the amount of visual and textile textures. If there’s one thing I learned from the many fine art collage artists who I have studied under, it’s this - keep things interesting!

Self-made and manufactured collage papers are attached as well as colored papers and paper dollies painted violet.  A dark blue fluid acrylic is then used to make a spiral line around the center circle shape which goes out from the picture plane at bottom right.  Some of the sawdust protrusions within the center circle shape are topped off with an orangish red color, enough to add interest but not be distracting.

Additional light turquoise paint is washed over much of the painting.  Then a dark turquoise is added to two areas on the circle’s circumference.  Red-orange and orange fluid acrylic lines now travel around the circle. This paint is added in drops which often blend together into a solid line.  The tops of the ropes are lightly brushed with orange paint. It is more visible on the dark blue pieces. I try to maintain the lettering of “No Place To Go”.

In the close-up that I have placed in this blog you can see all the fun textures created from papers and colorful paints. A close-up view shows a lot more going on here than meets the eye from a distance.

As a contemporary collage artist - I’m still having fun. I hope you have enjoyed the read. Until next time!

Placing the Collage Painting pieces together
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As the collage painting begins to take shape I now have the pleasure of placing the mixed media materials onto the new canvas. Many fine art collage artists and contemporary collage artists use this period of assembly to define their edges and place the “story” of their collage painting on paper.

One of my favorite mixed media materials to work with as a contemporary collage artist is rope. Collage artists use rope to direct viewer’s eyes and to set the horizontal and vertical perspectives.

I have been looking at these huge pieces of rope which I acquired some time ago, wanting to use them in a painting.  Some of the rope is larger in diameter than a man’s thumb. It’s hard to tell what this rope might be used for. It might be used on boats and docks.  It couldn’t be for rock climbing because it is so large and heavy. Anyway, I decide to use it here. I collect samples of different rope sizes. I want to glue the pieces down next to each other in increasing rope sizes.  So this is what I have done on the left side of the painting. I begin with a very small diameter rope on the left and then continue to build up the sizes of the ropes as I moved towards the center of the painting. There are seven rows of different rope sizes here.  I also add a few rows on the right side of the painting in order to balance out the composition.

What a hard time I have glueing the ropes down to the sides of the canvas which is 2.5 inches deep.  The ropes do not bend easily at a right angle to the front surface of the painting. I end up slicing part way through the rope on the underside just where it begins to bend onto the side of the canvas.  After glueing with gloss medium and varnish, I tape down these ropes really well with artists tape. I let dry overnight before removing the tape. The result? Perfect.

Once the rope pieces are placed and dried I commence filling in the background with turquoise. The main circular shape is painted with a light turquoise, then warmed up with yellow and apricot colors.  The background is also warmed with a dark, rusty red. Black lines define the inner track running horizontally across the painting.  Finally the thinner ropes are painted a light turquoise and the larger ropes are painted a dark turquoise.

Collage art creation has sped up and now the new piece is starting to come together!

Collage artist completes the base layering
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As I move onto the application of base layers on the collage painting I cross the threshold of where we see the underlying areas of canvas and enter the phase of visible collage painting.

Before I can begin this phase I have to consider the various colors I want to emphasis on the base layer. Contemporary collage artists use this base layer to set the foundation of the collage painting. Because of the importance of the base layer in collage mixed media I take this step slowly.

One of the most intense blues there is, phatholo blue (or turquoise), is applied in certain areas using a fluid acrylic. In some areas the fixative resists coverage with the fluid acrylics. I will need to add more opaque painting to these areas.

Most of the base underpainting is completed in this step. An intense black is used in the background, while the area where the title is, is kept clear of most paint colors. I am debating exactly how I want to handle this important area. I decided to leave it clear of color right now.

After this is all finished I am excited to start one of my favorite stages of collage painting - rope and fiber. Check back for updates!

Contemporary Collage Artist begins to paint
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Once I have laid out the bare layers of my new mixed media collage art piece I begin the fun of layering different parts of my painting. As a contemporary collage artists, I find this part very exciting. The layering allows me to just be free and place items on the canvas that might get covered up and never revealed.

Famous collage artists like to hide pieces within their collage paintings. I always reveled at trying to identify the many pieces that were meant to be hidden. I take this one step further by scribbling saying and phrases and covering them up forever - making them a part of the painting - unseen, yet integral.

Sawdusting is usually an important early step in the progression of my collage painting.  I glue sawdust down with gloss medium and varnish. I wait until it dries before beginning the next step.  Doing this glueing down of sawdust is a difficult and hard process. The brush gets exceedingly dirty and is hard to clean afterwards.  But the great effect outweighs the nuisance and so I continue to sawdust most of my work.

Many collage artists I have spoken with have the same feeling about certain materials - the end-result outweighs the effort.

After a layer of sawdusting on my new contemporary collage painting I begin writing and scribbling all over my painting.  I use a stencil to block in, with charcoal, the words, “no place to go.”  I mark down spirals and other words which come to my mind relating to the title.  I spray all these graphics with fixative. There will be many options later on in the development of this painting.  I can choose what I want to reveal or not, after I cover these areas with paint.

I hope you enjoyed the next two steps of creating my newest contemporary collage painting. Be on the lookout next week as I begin the base underpainting.

The Beginning of a Collage Artists creation
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In creating a new collage artwork I always like to visualize the layering of the mixed media materials before I place them on canvas. Painting in contemporary collage art allows me to utilize my creativity and spontaneity from conception to execution.

A simple value study is created with compressed charcoal, charcoal pencil and white charcoal pencil.  I like the lines and shapes and think it is simple enough to be a good candidate for an interesting contemporary collage painting. I decide arbitrarily to make this painting 24” x 36”.

After i have decided on the basic format of my new mixed media collage painting I begin to draw out the primary sketch on canvas. Flowing and easy-going lines and shapes are achieved in this step. I want these elements to be free and easy to look at and not stand out in an unusual way.

There is some overlapping of shapes and there are 3 stacks (or layers) in this particular painting. The 3 stacks look very much like highways stacked one upon the other. In real life, some highways can sport 5 stacks, but that is about the limit on the number of layers in a highway system. Three stacks is probably the limit in what I can successfully do in a painting. I want my painting, to have simple, yet bold shapes without being too intricate. I think this drawing will achieve this.

As the lines and shapes begin to take rudimentary shape on the canvas I get excited about the new contemporary collage artwork that I am creating. Fine art collage requires a step-by-step process of creation and I am thrilled to begin this process once again!

Collage artists' mixed media piece On the Straight and Narrow

Collage Painting Inspirations by a Collage Artist

“On the Straight and Narrow” speaks about falling into line, staying there, and not getting off track. It’s easy to veer off the beaten track and lose sight of where we are going. In this piece the dotted magenta lines show the way while large dark green “bushes” line the roadway.  There is no break in these bushes. All the more reason to stay on the straight and narrow.

Creating the mixed media imagery behind this collage artwork was an interesting experience. One of the questions I had to answer as a collage artist is how to incorporate abstract art lines while maintaining the perspective of a dotted line along the road.

I used circular lines contained within mixed media art materials to create the “bushes” and placed these “bushes” at intervals beginning in the front of the collage painting, working backward slowly, shrinking the “bushes” with each circle until I developed an perspective of retreat.

With this my collage painting had perspective and my dotted line keeps the viewer centered “on the straight and narrow”.

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Merging Heart and Soul - Collage artists' painting inspirations
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Using mixed media materials to create my collage art allows me to express feelings and how I seek to interact artwork with greater ideas of our existence.

Collage artists have the unique opportunity to use various materials to create their vision and statement on canvas. I limit myself to a handful of items that I like to incorporate into each mixed media collage. These include but are not limited to string, acrylic paint, twine, and paper.

“Merging Heart and Soul” is a blend of blue hearts and one pink heart amongst the blue spiral representing our soul.  The hearts appear to be drawn in by the soul because that is where they need to be. The heart and soul need to be together as one.  Why? It is the same as trying to separate the body from the mind. It can not be done. This painting gives permission for the heart and soul to combine.

I hope you enjoyed reading about the inspiration behind my collage art piece!

Collage artists' thoughts on a mixed media artwork
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Passages through life, through experiences, and through everyday tasks never go as planned. Wouldn’t it be nice if the way could be free and clear to pursue our desires and dreams. We could slip past all of our bad and unfortunate moments.

Being a collage artist allows me to construct artworks that speak to my desires and speak to my thoughts. Using mixed media art as my genre of collage art has enabled me to not only delve into thinking about the “greater things”. but it has also allowed me to have fun.

“Right of Way” shows a road passing by a circular path of multiple red colors. This blue-green road has the right of way and simply goes past all of the rest. In this collage artwork I chose to use string and contrasting colors to emphasis the “right of way”. This use of mixed media materials in my collage painting has allowed me to explore different avenues of expressing my thoughts on canvas.

All finished - Shortcut to the Party

A collage artists journey to creating a new artwork!

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The final steps of creating a collage painting is always interesting. As collage artists, this is when you place the finishing touches of mixed media materials. These tend to be the looser items that create the collage painting’s final texture and “feel”.

These can also be any mixed media materials that were left lying around the studio and were not used up during the earlier stages of the painting’s creation.

In this particular collage painting I wanted to add fringe to create a 2D/3D texture. To make the frilly fringe, a piece of kite string painted light purple is strung with strong, gold-colored thread. A crochet hook is used to loop the thread onto the purple string. The fringe is securely attached with gloss medium and varnish.  It is fun to swish this around with one’s hand, truly making this an interactive piece.

Another line of shorter fringe is added on the right side, by securely attaching it in the same manner as above. Short strands of orange string are scattered and glued down here and there.

Finally, a small party hat with diagonal, bright, yellow and blue stripes is attached to the surface. It is made with painted canvas and is trimmed at the bottom with a strip of blue painted canvas. This hat even has a small tassle on top.

It’s a Shortcut to the Party! This painting is ready to take you on a speedy shortcut to the party where confetti, fringe and hat create a festive mood. Have a party and please touch the fringe!

Collage artists have all the fun!

Now we start painting the mixed media collage. I always relish this stage in the process. As an collage artist that uses mixed media materials, once the foundational materials have been laid now I get to have fun playing with colors.

But don’t be dismayed! We are not finished adding materials! We’re simply using paint and materials together.

Green and yellow-green are added to the remaining parts of the paths within the collage painting.  Then twine is carefully painted with a light purple, a color with little chroma. Now that we have some paint on the canvas lets add some more fun mixed media materials.

Confetti dots are made by punching holes in different colors of yellow, orange, and red-orange papers. Shiny gold and metallic red papers are cut into small pieces with scissors. To adhere these small pieces to the canvas, a coat of gloss medium and varnish is spread over the areas to be covered with the confetti. It is then sprinkled randomly around the canvas in the glued areas. The dots and pieces are gently pressed onto the surface to make sure they stick well.

We’re making progress and having fun! I love being a mixed media collage artist!

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Collage Painting adds color and starts to take shape
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Once we have set our foundation to the collage painting I feel as if the mixed media art is beginning to form into its own unique work of art. It is at this time that my collage artists instinct kicks in and I decide what and how this collage painting will be colored.

Creating mixed media art with collage is more than simply adding mixed media materials to canvas and calling it a day. Collage artists have to envision how untraditional materials will interact with traditional materials such as paint and canvas.

In the next two steps of creating a mixed media collage I begin the process of adding my color scheme. An analogous color scheme is planned of blue, green and yellow.  A dark blue is first painted in the areas marked with xxx’s. I use these x’s to demarcate areas that will receive particular paints.

Next I add the contrasting colors to the collage painting by mixing cadmium yellow with sun gold to dilute the intensity of the yellow. It is then painted on some areas of the pathways.

With these two steps I have began the process of paining the collage and creating a collage painting!

Collage Painting begins to take shape
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Collage painting starts to take shape as mixed media materials are added

As I begin the process of laying the mixed media materials on my collage painting, I can begin to see the painting take shape. One of my goals as a mixed media artist who paints collage painting is to ensure that the layers of materials are placed in such a way as to create a flow around which the viewers eyes can navigate the painting.

This flow and navigation is even more important as my themes surround highways and the ways in which we travel.

STEP #5 - Close-up

A close-up of the extra materials added to the canvas - burlap, twine, gel medium and rubber mat.  My purpose in adding these mixed media materials to my collage painting is to create a texture that protrudes from the canvas.

STEP #6 - White gesso

After the materials are placed I cover the entire canvas with white gesso so that paint can be applied with less difficulty.  The of applying gesso is to preserve the shapes and texture after I apply the paint.

We have now graduated from placing the foundational mixed media materials onto the canvas and have set a good base of gesso onto which we can apply paint.

Painting the collage is to come!

Collage Artist discusses next steps in my new painting
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The key to creating a collage piece is layering different textures to create a flowing movement. Creating collage art in the mixed media format is fun because I get to use different materials to create my collage artworks.

STEP #3   Close-up

This is a close-up of the burlap. When first applying burlap I am aware that the viewer has to find purpose in all the collage art pieces I have placed. The small pieces of burlap are glued to the path with gloss medium and varnish and the two spaces between the burlap are the deep tracks made by a car driving through damp soil. The car leaves tracks in the mud as it tries to make its way to the party event.

STEP #4  Other Textures Collaged

Other textures are added to several more pathways for the art viewer to follow. A white gel medium is added to one path with a palette knife. Then it is spread with a piece of cardboard to leave peaks of gel all over the area.

Another path on the far right is covered with a bumpy, rubbery material often used under throw rugs to keep them in place.  This material is measured and cut to fit the path and the excess is glued to the sides of the canvas. More twine is glued in place.

So far I have just started my media media artwork. As a collage artists I can’t wait to continue placing new materials and advancing the artwork to showcase the journey, both figuratively and literally.

Mixed Media Artist Creations - Shortcut to the Party
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Well - I’m back at it again - creating mixed media collages from scrap, sometimes with scrap!

I love sharing my creative process as I feel it connects art collectors with the artwork itself. To see the mixed media artwork evolve and come into being enhances the understanding of how collage and art mix together.

Over the next few weeks I will share my creative process as I create my newest mixed media collage artwork - Shortcut To The Party. Enjoy!

Everyone wants to get to the party on time or even earlier if possible - not wanting to miss out on the fun. This painting takes one on a shortcut to the party where there are frills and flashy confetti and a party hat for those who dare to wear it. This mixed media painting allows participation in the party by encouraging one’s interaction with it.

STEP #1  Charcoal Drawing on Canvas

This first step is to show multiple pathways in and around the painting. I enjoy using multiple mixed media art materials to accomplish this and as I develop this collage painting these will come out in greater and greater numbers. One pathway may be a shortcut or perhaps all of the pathways can direct a party goer quickly.

As I start to lay out the patterns of my new collage painting, these paths are drawn with a charcoal pencil. The background areas are marked with triple xxx’s.

STEP #2   Collaging Begins

Now the fun starts as I being using mixed media materials to lay down the foundations of my new collage. The first pathway is completed with pieces of burlap. It defines this road with tracks following the curve up and around.  Twine is also placed parallel to another path.

That’s it for now! Be sure to follow my social media and check back in with my blog to see how this new mixed media collage painting evolves!

Mixed Media Artist Inspiration - Collision
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Collage painting involves planning, vision, and methodology. Placing the right mixed media pieces together at the right time determines the final product and how that product relates to an artists’ original inspiration. In sharing the inspirations behind my mixed media artworks I hope to shed light on how these pieces became a final work of mixed media art!

“Collision” is a colossal impact of three orbs of different sizes and strengths.  The jute which defines the centers of these orbs tries to keep the impact from happening.  But it is to be. The impact takes place. These orbs are so strong that none split apart nor absorb the other ones.  They remain whole and do not lose their shape. None of them are compromised. Yet this is what is necessary when forces or opinions or cultures collide.  There needs to be some compromise, some way of coming together and softly molding each other to fit the others’ shapes and desires.

Mixed Media Artist Inspiration - Darting To and Fro #2
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I consider being a mixed media artist a blessing. Visualizing artworks that only I see is an incredible experience. And putting these visions on paper is even better! I have many inspirations for my mixed media collage artworks. Many of my current acrylics revolve around pathways and journeys.

“Darting To and Fro #2” has four pathways darting about the picture plane. They all point inward because the reachable goal is the same for all the arrowed paths. Each way can dart about the field searching. Interesting collage work decorate each one with textures of circles, spirals and crescent shapes. It is colorless in order to show no favoritism for any one of the arrows - no color becomes more important than another.

The Finishing touches of my Abstract Collage "Languorous"

At Last I add the Finishing Touches to my Mixed Media Art Piece and Declare Languorous Complete

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My collage painting’s journey from blank canvas to mixed media art is complete!

Picking up from where I left off I continue by painting the last 2 corners of my abstract collage piece. I want to keep the numerous white circles on the 3rd corner. I discover the circles need to be reestablished a bit. No problem. After finishing the corners of my mixed media collage, I take a dry brush with white paint and lightly run over the tops of the textures created by sawdust and collage art papers. This creates an array of white spots which makes the texture more visible.

Nearing completion of this collage art piece, I decide to do several things as a mixed media artist. First, I put down a pale yellow-orange wash on the four corners I painted in the previous steps, followed by stumbling with a dry brush with white paint. I also add the accent colors of yellow-green and lavender to a variety of areas of the mixed media collage. Third, I partially outline the corners with white. And finally, I darken the center area with a medium apricot orange and fill in the small squares created by collage paper.

I call this painting, “Languorous” because when I look at it as a mixed media artist I feel like I am moving through a gentle and ghostly space filled with soft round shapes. They slow my travels and allow me to contemplate whatever is on my mind. The abstract collage painting has become what it is - c’est la vie.

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8 WARNING SIGNS of AN ART SCAMMER
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8 WARNING SIGNS OF AN ART SCAMMER

and 6 Words of Advice

Briefly the scamming scenario goes like this (I have received 2 versions of this scenario): Scammer wants to buy your art piece. You are excited to sell. Scammer can only pay for it with a check and must use the delivery services of his/her specified person. After you (the artist) receive the check which pays BOTH you and the specified delivery person, you are instructed to write a check to the delivery person for doing his/her part in this transaction.

Follow the 8 warning signs below to gain a deeper look at the intricacies and implications of completing this transaction.

  1. Email which the scammer uses to make contact with you, contains a lot of awkward English and improper use of words and phrases in English.
     
    1. Examples (these come from actual emails):
       
      1. “I intend to give my husband a surprise with the immediate purchase of the piece”, instead of “I’m surprising my husband with this piece.”
      2. “I am buying the piece as part of gifts to him”, instead of “I am buying the piece as a gift for him.”
      3. “I’ve contacted my Boss to issue out the check and have it sent to you”, instead of “I’ve asked my Boss to write a check and have it sent to you.”  (Who is this Boss anyways???)
      4. “Now I’m concluding you’re a responsible person and I can therefore entrust you with this arrangement.  I’ll let you know immediately the check has been sent to you,so you should be looking out for it,” instead of “……..”Oh, you get the point!
         
  2. The scammer is out at sea, either on an oil rig or on maneuvers on the North Atlantic Ocean as a Civil Marine Engineer or somewhere in a place where he is not able to return home soon or easily.
     
  3. The person is having his “home base” moved soon to another location such as to Dubai or Canada or The Hague. That last one should send red flags a’flying.
     
  4. Because the scammer is moving soon, he wants his “official” mover to handle picking up and delivering the art piece to him.
     
  5. The person wants to pay for the art piece by check, because the gift recipient takes care of the credit card and PayPal accounts and would discover the gift transaction before receiving the gift. The check would insure that the recipient would not discover the transaction.
     
  6. The transaction needs to be handled quickly because the anniversary or birthday or Xmas (the reason for the gift) is going to happen soon.
     
  7. What is expected of you is to deposit the scammers check and immediately write another check to the “bogus” mover for his cut in the deal. In reality you lose the amount of the check you write to the mover. And if somehow the art piece is shipped by you to the mover, then you lose the art with no payment for it.
     
  8. The scammer is highly complimentary of you, the artist; and you easily become enamored by all the good things he is saying about you.

Words of advice in order to not be scammed:

  1. Do not accept checks from anyone, unless you actually know the person or know how you could physically reach him/her - like he lives next door or on the next street. 
     
  2. Be wary of emails with broken English which sound like the assembly directions to the latest gadget or piece of furniture which you have to put together at home.
     
  3. Never rush a transaction for the benefit of the customer. Take your time and be sure it is done correctly. Be sure that the money is in your pocket or bank account, without a doubt, before letting go of that art piece.
     
  4. Never let your ego become inflated by anyone’s compliments unless you can determine that they are real and authentic.
     
  5. Never reply to the scammer. Do not even reply that you are not dealing with him. Let him wonder.
     
  6. Always, always, trust your initial gut feeling. If there is a tinge of suspicion, such as a convoluted and detailed transaction,listen to yourself. You are about to be scammed. Don’t be the latest victim.

Have you had this experience?  Pass this Blog along to your art friends. Let’s spread the word and put these scammers out of business!

Come see my art during the Annual Moab Artists' Studio Tour
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Dates: Sat. Sept. 1st; Sun. Sept. 2nd and Sat. Sept. 8th, 2018
Times: 10 am to 4 pm Each day
Artists participating: 12 in Moab and Castle Valley, Utah
Our 15th Annual Studio Tour
For maps of locations of studios go to moabstudiotour.com.

Come see my latest mixed media collage paintings during the three days of the Moab Artists' Studio Tour.