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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.

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.

Adding more collage pieces, but not finished yet - mixed media artist
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Collage painting as a mixed media artist means sometimes adding, adding, and adding more!

One of the perks of being a mixed media artist is that when I am creating my mixed media collage paintings there is a definite step-by-step process - a layering of material that alters the piece. In the next 2 steps of my newest creation - Languorous I delve into the nuanced touches that I place on the collage painting.

In the next 2 steps of the creation of my mixed media collage, I start adding new collage pieces and try to see how they fit - like an imperfect puzzle. First I rotate the painting clockwise 90 degrees. I do this after experimenting with various angles rotating 90 degrees is most satisfying to me. After I rotate my mixed media collage painting I now see things from a different perspective so I add more collage pieces to give it even more texture than it previously had. In addition to adding more collage pieces to my painting, three dimensional white pieces in crescent shapes were also glued down.  Once I take a step back I take a look at the evolution of my collage painting and add netting and other materials to solidify the texture. I am finally becoming pleased with my painting.

Even though I think I am finished, I am not.  I return to my original black and white sketch. Here I can see evidence of an irregular square shape superimposed on the canvas. I want to include that and continue the corners of the square onto the sides of the canvas.  With a 4 foot long ruler, I measure the boundaries of the square and mark with a pencil, then I begin to paint. After painting 2 corners I stop to see how I am progressing and I like the initial work.

The creative process of a mixed media artist is one of trial and error and adjustments. As Languorous evolves into a finished pieces this process of collage creation once again repeats itself!

Taking my mixed media art piece "Languorous" in a new direction - steps 11 and 12
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Sometimes a mixed media artist finds inspiration in unusual places, after a supernatural dream I decide to take my abstract collage piece in a new direction

I had a dream last night. My mixed media collage painting saw a ghost and turned white. I was led into a discussion with myself about the pros and cons of doing something I had never done before as a mixed media artist. What did I have to lose? Why not? Oh, go ahead and do it. If I ask the question, then why not answer affirmatively? Like it or not, the ghost painter was on a mission - to reinterpret what this mixed media artist had already done. So, I mixed some heavy gesso with lots of water to make a thin white paint. Then I white washed the entire abstract collage painting from top to bottom, by carefully painting over the mixed media art piece in sections, sometimes blotting up excess paint with a paper towel. I quickly finished my ghostly deed. I liked it. Subtle and expressive, the details showed more than ever before. My original concept for this mixed media collage had changed, but I didn’t care. I liked the new concept of slowness.

I add circles with thick white paint. Some have well defined edges and others have edges which blend into the background of the abstract collage. I enjoy making these circles and filling them in with white. I rotate the collage painting 180 degrees to see how that orientation might look.

My Mixed Media Collage Painting - “Darting To and Fro #2”

As a mixed media artist there is a story behind every abstract collage.

Darting To and Fro #2,  2018 ,  acrylic with combined media on canvas, 36” x 24”

Darting To and Fro #2, 2018, acrylic with combined media on canvas, 36” x 24”

In the next installment of my mixed media artist blog series about the inspiration behind specific collage art pieces I describe my interpretation as the mixed media artist of the abstract collage art piece “Darting To and Fro #2". While the overall theme behind my mixed media collage is highways and how they mirror moments we encounter in our lives each specific collage art piece has its own meaning that I tried to capture as a mixed media artist.

This next mixed media collage painting, “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 using varies mixed media. I made the decision as a mixed media artist for it to be colorless in order to show no favoritism for any one of the arrows. No color becomes more important than another in this abstract collage piece.

Adding acrylic color to my newest Mixed Media Painting
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As a mixed media artist there are many steps in painting a mixed media collage. In the following I discuss adding color to my abstract mixed media painting as well as determining the next steps to take. Enjoy!

In creating this mixed media collage painting I added additional blues and orange/yellows. I wanted to create an abstract collage impression by adding less of the orange colors in the outlying areas.  I then added lighter yellows and peach colors are added to the three large orbs to bring the viewers eyes into a concentrated area. As with many abstract collages it is important to direct the viewers eyes to segments of the painting to create a flow of the artwork.  

In the outlying areas of the mixed media collage I added more blues and blue-greens to intensify the outlying areas. As I add these colors I am beginning to hunt for some direction to take this mixed media collage painting - I cover up more of the oranges in the outlying areas, but bits of that color can still be seen.

As the painting begins to develop the line around the three circles or orbs is painted dark purple. Then a blue is dabbed over this in order to make it more pronounced.  The colors in the orbs are lightened a bit and a circular motion is developed in each of those spaces. I sit in my studio late at night and ponder what I have painted and become quite dissatisfied with the results I see. Where am I going?  I ask.

A Mixed Media Artist's Inspiration - The Meaning of “Around About”

The Story Behind my Mixed Media Art Piece “Around About”

Around About,  2017 ,  acrylic with combined media on canvas, 48” x 24”

Around About, 2017, acrylic with combined media on canvas, 48” x 24”

In the next installment of my mixed media artist blog series about the inspiration behind specific collage art pieces I describe my interpretation as the mixed media artist of the abstract collage art piece "Around About". While the overall theme behind my mixed media collage is highways and how they mirror moments we encounter in our lives each specific collage art piece has its own meaning that I tried to capture as a mixed media artist.

The mixed media collage “Around About” shows a very prominent blue-green spiral dashing through an intensely thick, dark red and blue field. This shows how it feels to be flung into the round-about and to not know where and when the road that is desired will appear on the perimeter of the circular road. The thin white line (I used string on this collage painting) exaggerates the feeling of being tossed into the air and the dizzying effect on the eyes and mind.

How a Mixed Media Artist Creates: My Mixed Media Art Piece "Languorous"

The Creation of my Mixed Media Collage "Languorous" Steps 7 and 8

Step 7

Step 7

Step 8

Step 8

Focal colors are added. The colors that I chose as a mixed media artist are yellow/orange for the focal area and violet/blue for the dominant areas of the collage painting. I try to paint as much of the focal colors as I can in the central areas of the big orbs and keep the paint transparent so that some collage materials show through. Putting some of the orange paint in outlying parts of the abstract collage painting are merely to distribute more of this color in the dominant areas. Very little of it will show through when my mixed media collage is finished, but there still will be enough to add some texture and bring unity in color.

Dominant colors are added to the abstract collage painting. The different blues are added to the background areas of the mixed media art piece. Directions on the flow of the different colors of blue are indicated here. The line that wraps around the large circles is outlined in a blue so that it is more visible against the collage painting. Some drips come down, later to be covered with more paint. I put hot fluorescent orange/cadmium red in the two small areas in the center of the mixed media art piece which are outlined in blue. Some of the collage papers can still be seen.

Thank you for taking the time to read the fourth installment of my mixed media artist blog on the creation of my collage painting, "Languorous". Keep reading to find out how this mixed media art piece progresses.  

How a Mixed Media Artist Creates: My Mixed Media Art Piece "Languorous"

The Creation of my Mixed Media Collage "Languorous" Steps 5 and 6

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Sawdust is gessoed. After the sawdust dries on the mixed media art piece completely I gesso it. Gesso is like a white house paint. It is used as a primer for collage art canvases in preparation for oil or acrylic painting. I try not to cover up any of my guide lines and marks. At this point I am ready to start the collage part of my mixed media art creation process.

Collage material is glued down to my mixed media art piece. To glue down all my collage materials and papers, I use my go-to-glue — gloss medium and varnish. It works quickly and efficiently on the collage painting. One interesting material I discovered over the course of my mixed media artist career is gesso skins. This is dried gesso stuck to the inside of the gallon can. I peel it off and it becomes three-dimensional, hard pieces of white paint. What fun to use in the collage painting. I call it skins, because it peels off like a section of skin would. Often paint skins make the same sort of thing and using them in a mixed media collage is fun.

Thank you for taking the time to read the third installment of my mixed media artist blog on the creation of my collage painting, "Languorous". Keep reading to find out how this mixed media art piece progresses.  

My Inspiration as a Mixed Media Artist - The Story behind "Straight Street"

The inspiration behind my mixed media art piece "Straight Street"

Straight Street,  2017 ,  acrylic with combined media on canvas, 36" x 36"

Straight Street, 2017, acrylic with combined media on canvas, 36" x 36"

In the sixth installment of my mixed media artist blog series about the inspiration behind specific collage art pieces I will attempt to describe the inspiration behind my abstract collage art piece "Straight Street". While the overall theme behind my mixed media collage is highways and how they mirror moments we encounter in our lives each specific collage art piece has its own meaning that I tried to capture as a mixed media artist.

My mixed media art piece “Straight Street” is titled after a jazz instrumental by John Coltrane. As a mixed media artist I find that travel is sometimes needed along a straight course with little interruption or change. It is less confusing and distracting if the  goal or destination is easily and quickly obtained or arrived at. In this mixed media collage I try to convey that no matter how many distractions of circular paths and circular reasonings, the straight path is the way to go. Even the yellow orb in the lower part of the collage painting tries to disrupt the straight path, but definite and solid lines through the layers of this orb chase it away and make it less influential. The Straight Street is preserved!

How a Mixed Media Artist Creates: My Mixed Media Art Piece "Languorous"

The Creation of my Mixed Media Collage "Languorous" Steps 3 and 4

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The local hardware/lumber company keeps my mixed media artist studio stocked with lots of sawdust. They gave me 2 large containers of it free of charge. I tried to explain what I was doing with my latest collage art piece but I think the explanation got lost in the translation. The fella who operates the saw that makes all the dust commented, “Oh, you’re one of THOSE artists.” I don’t know what that meant, but I thought better about asking.

The sawdust is glued down to the mixed media art piece with “gloss medium and varnish”. Several manufacturers make this product and it can be purchased in store or online. Since I use it often as a mixed media artists I buy it by the gallon. Don’t spill it like I did in the bottom of the trunk of my car. It is like decoupage material and when it dries it is very glossy. Yikes! What a mess! In this step, I also put on a heavy application of Spectra Fix fixative on to the mixed media collage. It blurs the lines and creates interesting smudges and marks on the abstract collage art. I buy this fixative in concentrated form and then prepare it by mixing it with vodka. That’s what the bottle of concentrate says to do. Honest. It takes about several hours for all of this to dry in my dry climate. It would take much longer if I were a mixed media artists in a humid and/or cold climate.

Thank you for taking the time to read the second installment of my mixed media artist blog on the creation of my collage painting, "Languorous". Keep reading to find out how this mixed media art piece progresses.  

Mixed Media Artist Inspiration behind my Mixed Media Collage Piece "Exit"

How I find inspiration in my collage art pieces as a mixed media artist

Exit,  2017 ,  acrylic with combined media on canvas, 40" x 30"

Exit, 2017, acrylic with combined media on canvas, 40" x 30"

In the fifth installment of my mixed media artist blog series about the inspiration behind specific collage art pieces I will attempt to describe the inspiration behind my abstract collage art piece "Exit". While the overall theme behind my mixed media collage is highways and how they mirror moments we encounter in our lives each specific collage art piece has its own meaning that I tried to capture as a mixed media artist.

This mixed media collage piece, “Exit” shows a dark pink path exiting the picture plane through a green passageway. The path is lit with small yellow lights to define how the path needs to travel. The black string on the abstract collage art piece tries so hard to pull up on the green passage to prevent the exit.

But aha, there is deeper meaning behind this mixed media collage. Sometimes there needs to be a way out, a way to excuse oneself from something embarrassing or too painful to endure or that merely is not suitable to the time or culture. So exiting is pardonable and OK.

Ghost Artist: The Creation of “Languorous” Steps 1 and 2

When I begin a collage painting, much has been decided before I start. Composition and concept are identified. Colors are chosen and I am determined to commit to the plan I formed for my mixed media art. Sometimes after all the “C’s” are known another “C” creeps in —- c’est la vie. In the case of this abstract collage art piece, its fate is already known. It is what it is. I, the mixed media artist, just don’t know it yet. And I don’t know I will become the “Ghost Artist”.

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I create my black and white study for my mixed media collage on greyed paper after I chose a word for traveling fast. This word, “Expeditious” is the title of my collage painting at the moment. I use charcoal pencil and white pencil with a soft white pastel stick in some of the lightest areas on my mixed media art study. I am satisfied with the shapes’ sizes and placement.

I draw with charcoal on a large, blank, white canvas that is 36” x 36”. I play with spirals, arrows, and words. My lines for the main curved shapes in the mixed media collage are restated several times. I do not erase anything I have added to the abstract collage.

Thank you for taking the time to read the first installment of my mixed media artist blog on the creation of my collage painting, "Languorous". Keep reading to find out how this mixed media art piece progresses.  

“Rabbit Ears Art Place” Mixed Media Art Studio Construction Photo Journal - Part 1
Future location of my mixed media artist studio, REAP

Future location of my mixed media artist studio, REAP

This space in the field behind my home, is the future home of my mixed media artist studio. It is playground for rabbits hiding and hopping in the bushes, prompting me to call my mixed media artist studio - “Rabbit Ears Art Place” or REAP. I am so excited about having my own special place to do collage art. It is a 20’ by 30’ space contains a storage area, laundry tub for cleaning brushes, half bath, air conditioning, and heat. All of these conveniences do not exist in my current, makeshift collage art studio located in my garage.

I feel uniquely blessed to be able to build my own mixed media artist studio. To be able to create and play and grow in this new space is a dream come true. I worked with an architect who took my initial sketches of what I wanted the interior to be like. He added great inside features and also outside features. Because I wanted the new building to look like it belonged on the property, its exterior is going to mimic the exterior of the present home. In short, the roof and exterior walls will be the same materials and colors. A pergola will be constructed which is almost like the existing pergola. A patio of colored, stamped concrete will be built.

 

My current collage art studio/work space

My current collage art studio/work space

This is my current mixed media art studio in great disarray. It is a rumbling mess of paint tubes with no good place for safe keeping them; brushes of various sizes stuffed into oat containers and creamer containers; and a work area that is the size of a postage stamp and is covered with spilled paint in all the colors of the rainbow. I find it hard to create collage paintings here and must clean and put away supplies in places where I generally forget where I have put them. There are no logical storage areas. Sometimes feels like everything is melting together. Indeed it has melted together.

With my new collage art studio well under way, I question whether to clean or not to clean my old mixed media collage studio. It seems like I will soon be moving into a new one. Why put away when it will all be moved? But there is still a lot of work to do on the building. The bones are there - good ones, for that matter. But it is not close to being move-in-ready. So I guess I will need to clean one or two or three (or four) more times before I will get my Certificate of Occupancy. Once I get the CO, things will start to fly. Junk and useless stuff are toast. Here’s to the best supplies and equipment I own. Here’s to a good future for REAP.

Clearing the ground to make room for my my mixed media art studio

Clearing the ground to make room for my my mixed media art studio

 

Heavy equipment in the form of a backhoe has moved in and started to clear the ground of vegetation. The ground level needs built up a bit to satisfy requirements that the elevation of the cement pad be a certain height. Even though I live in a desert, there have been determinations by a core of engineers that a portion of the land may be in a flood plain, thus requiring the extra height. I live close to a little creek called Pack Creek. Even though it has not overflowed its banks in a 100 years, the time is ripe for another flood. Or so they say. And of course the dear rabbits are losing part of their habitat, but there is plenty of vegetation deeper into the boundaries of my property. There also are several acres of dedicated open space to the south where they can settle.

 

The outline of my abstract collage art studio is coming together

The outline of my abstract collage art studio is coming together

The outline of the size of my mixed media artist studio can be seen. Footers have been dug and blue insulation has been placed in these areas for added protection from cold weather. The areas where the cement pad will be poured is covered with gravel and the workmen have tamped down the ground to compact the soil evenly. Hopefully no cracks will appear much later down the road. Compressing the soil and gravel requires a heavy piece of equipment that literally pounds on the ground pressing it together. The workman controlling this piece of machinery needs strong arms to manage this gadget.

 

 

Installing utilities, a much needed addition to my new mixed media art studio

Installing utilities, a much needed addition to my new mixed media art studio

 

Instead of looking at the mixed media collage studio from the vantage point of my house, this photo looks at the poured cement pad from the other side. The perspective of the pad is exaggerated making it look soooo much larger than my house. The white pipes sticking up from the cement are utility pipes for water and sewer. They are buried in the cement as it is being poured. It was quite a job to get the utilities back to the studio. One trench was dug along the north side of my house for the sewer hook-up. Another trench was dug along the south side and east side of my house for the water hook-up. Pipes were laid along the path of the trench. Instead of having a man work down in the deep trench tamping down the ground, a robot was used to run across the dirt placed over the pipes being laid. This was much safer than having a man work down there where a cave-in might occur.

 

The sun came out as the workmen fortify my collage art studio against the Utah winds 

The sun came out as the workmen fortify my collage art studio against the Utah winds 

After the lumber was delivered, work began almost immediately in constructing the north and south walls of the abstract collage studio. The walls were hammered together while it laid on the cement pad. Once the whole section had been built, it was raised by the workmen and nailed into place. Large lengths of lumber are temporarily attached to the walls to give it some stability. We have strong winds in my location with gusts often reaching 30 to 40 mph. Some extra support was needed since I didn't want to throw caution to the wind (hah!).

 

 

 

 

All four walls are now up as my abstract collage studio comes together

All four walls are now up as my abstract collage studio comes together

The east and west walls have now risen on the scene and have been attached to the cement pad with bolts. A layered wood beam stretches across the length of the building, just over 30 feet long. The mixed media artist studio will be 10 feet high at its lowest point and 14 feet high at its highest point. A lift was required to place the beam onto the east and west walls. It was later determined that the beam had to be raised about 6 inches. That was accomplished by inserting and nailing down extra wood underneath the beam. Also, short round posts around the perimeter of the studio on the ground have been poured and formed with tinted cement. This is where the posts of wood will be attached in the building of the pergola. There are seven of these posts and while they are difficult to see now, once the pergola begins to go up, the cement posts will become more apparent.

 

Plywood is nailed to the sides of my mixed media artist studio

Plywood is nailed to the sides of my mixed media artist studio

Plywood is now being nailed to the frame for the initial placement of walls. Holes are left where windows will be placed later on. The rooftop has been constructed on top of a series of many trusses that originate at the top of the beam and come down to the top edge of the north and south walls. A lift was required to place those trusses. Plywood is placed on the rooftop, closing in the mixed media collage art studio. The edges of the roofline are finished with rough-hewn lumber which will be stained a cedar color and left exposed.

 

 

 

The sun sets as my collage painting studio is starting to look like a real building

The sun sets as my collage painting studio is starting to look like a real building

Now all the walls are covered with plywood. And the glass windows have been installed. This was a quick process to do nine windows. The openings were very accurate and so there were no problems placing the windows into each cut-out. Some of the windows open by lifting up and some open with sliders. The short cement posts can be more clearly seen. There are U-shaped metal brackets attached to the top of each one. This is where the wood posts will be attached vertically for the pergola.

Inside the studio, the small half bath has been framed in. There will be a lower ceiling for the bath rather than having it go all the way up to the beams and trusses.

 

 

 

This concludes this first installment of my photo journal for the building of my mixed media artist studio, “Rabbit Ears Art Place”. Check back later to see how much the construction of my collage art studio progresses!

Inspiration behind my Mixed Media Collage Piece "On the Road to Somewhere"

Continuing with my mixed media artist blog series about the inspiration behind specific collage art pieces I will attempt to describe the inspiration behind my abstract collage art piece "On the Road to Somewher". While the overall theme behind my mixed media collage is highways and how they mirror moments we encounter in our lives each specific collage art piece has its own meaning that I tried to capture as a mixed media artist.

This mixed media collage piece, “On the Road To Somewhere”, tells the story about being here and going somewhere over there. The are many paths to somewhere (which, by the way, is better than going “nowhere”) as seen through the multiple colored and black pathways found in the collage art piece which are thicker in the bottom part of collage painting than in the upper part. This is because it is more likely that the road is more exciting and expansive at the bottom and because the weariness slowly dissipates the size of the pathways as the traveling successfully nears its end at the top. The texturing all over the surface of the mixed media art alludes to the rough travel to be had by going this way. But the loops of rope carefully pull the traveler through the route.

On the Road to Somewhere,  2018 ,  acrylic with combined media on canvas, 36" x24"

On the Road to Somewhere, 2018, acrylic with combined media on canvas, 36" x24"

Highways - The Inspiration Behind My Mixed Media Collage
Finger Prints, Highway Prints , acrylic with combined media on canvas, 36" x 24"

Finger Prints, Highway Prints, acrylic with combined media on canvas, 36" x 24"

  I wrote in a previous mixed media artist blog about my discovery of abstract collage art through a series of workshops I was able to attend. This bit of history behind how I came to do acrylic and collage art really points up the freedom I feel when doing abstract collage work. These special workshops allowed me the freedom to explore and experiment. I started to create from my own imagination as mixed media artist. No longer do I feel trapped by the landscapes I used to do in pastel.

But even though I had this freedom to soar as a mixed media artist, my collage paintings were grounded in something familiar to people - highways. I began finding metaphors, then phrases, then words to name my mixed media collage paintings. They are all about highways, traveling and motion. These three concepts are so intertwined in the mixed media art that I create.

End of the Line , acrylic with combined media on canvas, 24" x 36"

End of the Line, acrylic with combined media on canvas, 24" x 36"

I am amazed with the super highways I try to capture in my collage paintings. Their intersections, with on and off ramps strategically placed, remove the confusion out of traveling upon them. The five level junction, where multiple levels of highway spin and turn, looks like spaghetti noodles flung into the air. When following the course of the freeway, there seems to be no rhyme nor reason to how they are built, one on top of the other. Yet highways work.

Cars and trucks flow through the maze with only a few accidents at any one time. It is this layering of asphalt, steel and concrete on the road beds which interests me as a mixed media artist, as well as the layering of exit and on ramps which traverse across one another at intersections that I try to capture in my collage art.

My highway abstract collage paintings illustrate different ways of traveling; different reasons for traveling the way we do; different roads we travel on; and different goals for traveling. All these common yet often overlooked concepts I try to capture in each piece of my mixed media collage “Highway Series”.

Highways - How the Inspiration Behind My Mixed Media Collage Reflects the Journeys We Take in Life

I find highways to be my inspiration as a mixed media artist because highways represent what they actually are: roads to get somewhere physical, definitive. Highways also represent our life paths and the different kinds of psychological, mental and emotional ways we become involved in moving beyond where we are right now. We all go on journeys on the highways of our lives.  

Go with the Flow , acrylic with combined media on paper mounted on wood panel, 22" x 28"

Go with the Flow, acrylic with combined media on paper mounted on wood panel, 22" x 28"

Each of my mixed media collage paintings capture a different way a highway mirrors our lives. Sometimes we opt to ease out of the strain of traveling and “Go with the Flow”, instead. Sometimes our travels seem like we are on a merry-go-round, getting nowhere real fast.  In this case we are on a “Round About” unable to “Exit” from the maddening traffic that spins around on the asphalt. Sometimes we feel like we are getting somewhere with our life, but are unable to pin it down. We are “On the Road to Somewhere”, if only we knew where that somewhere is. Then we can also feel like we are “Circling Around” something, but what that is we do not know. Often when things get really frustrating we feel like an “Exit” from life would be the best option. Just to be able to stop the traveling and have a look around before we take off again.

As a mixed media artists I try to capture some of the more difficult parts of life in my collage paintings. Sometimes our traveling is not very successful at all and we emotionally hit a “Dead End Street”  We can only turn around and head back from where we came and start again. Sometimes the phrase, “End of the Line” expresses the same feeling. If only we could travel down the “Easy Street” we’d have it made. We could know what direction to head in and know what our goals are. If we could “Dart To and Fro” maybe we’d have our bases covered. We could travel down this road one way, then that road another way. Our goals would be varied, too.  

Dead End Street , acrylic with combined media on canvas, 24" x 48"

Dead End Street, acrylic with combined media on canvas, 24" x 48"

My abstract collage art is also inspired by when we feel like we are in a “Traffic Jam”. We started out on our mental journey just fine, but something happened along the way that just made us stop because we are in a jam. Our road is less defined than we would like it to be and there are too many people on the road we have chosen. Our goals are confused, too. We will never reach it or them because we are stuck on the highway.

Loco Driver , oil on canvas, 24" x 48"

Loco Driver, oil on canvas, 24" x 48"

As a mixed media artist I also try to capture some of life’s happy moments in my abstract collage. Sometimes we feel like we are headed for a rainbow. We are “Going to the Sun” on a “Highway”. We’ll reach our goal because it is well defined. Little do we know that following along a “Straight Street” will not get us there any more “Quickly” than we could if we went another way.  

There are crazy drivers out there trying to stop us from driving to our goals. There is the confused “Loco Driver” who impedes our progress because of his or her antics on the road which makes it difficult and dangerous to be out there. We head off in the direction of our goal, but then we must turn around and “Advance to the Rear” because we are losing the battle of life on our psychological highway. We are on a “Collision” course with something more powerful than we are. We “Wander” around searching and searching. We ask the question “Which Way to Go?”  do we arrive at an answer. Not so fast. We need “Acceleration” to pass through the emotional tests which confront us daily.

Are you on a “Detour?” are you “Sliding Off the Road” or do you have the “Right of Way?” These are questions that I try to reflect in my mixed media collage. Maybe we should join a “Caravan” of like-minded folks so that we can travel together and support each other. What a good way to travel - with the help of friends and family. They can help us develop healthy “Pathways” through our life and bring us out on top without having to make any ‘U-Turns” along the way. Wouldn’t that be good - to know where we are going and why. Life is as complicated and varied as a super highway. My work as a mixed media artist in this collage painting series is inspired by my desire to capture all these different facets of the journey of life.

Inspiration behind my Mixed Media Collage Piece "Caravan"
Caravan , acrylic with combined media on paper mounted on wood panel, 28" x 22"

Caravan, acrylic with combined media on paper mounted on wood panel, 28" x 22"

Continuing with my mixed media artist blog series about the inspiration behind specific collage art pieces I will attempt to describe the inspiration behind my abstract collage art piece "Caravan". While the overall theme behind my mixed media collage is highways and how they mirror moments we encounter in our lives each specific collage art piece has its own meaning that I tried to capture as a mixed media artist.

The collage painting, “Caravan”, consists of a number of different sized, golden colored orbs traveling through a deep blue space. Each orb in the abstract collage is textured in its own way to reflect the wide variety of people who can inhabit these orbs. Together they all travel the same road while it winds its way through the intense trail of living and follow each other up through the space. This piece of mixed media art would seem to suggest that sharing the road with others is an expedient way to go.

Inspiration behind my Mixed Media Collage Piece "Acceleration"
Acceleration , acrylic with combined media on canvas, 40" x 30"

Acceleration, acrylic with combined media on canvas, 40" x 30"

Continuing with my mixed media artist blog series about the inspiration behind specific collage art pieces I will attempt to describe the inspiration behind my abstract collage art piece "Acceleration". While the overall theme behind my mixed media collage is highways and how they mirror moments we encounter in our lives each specific collage art piece has its own meaning that I tried to capture as a mixed media artist.

This next collage painting, “Acceleration”, shows a wild, green/blue-green loop shooting through space. Green is for action and fast movement forward or acceleration. The multiple, smaller loops of rope I’ve included in the mixed media collage suggest something more tightly bound and ready to spin into the air much like a metal spring. This collage painting speaks a language of speed and suggests that traveling fast is the way to go, not slow. The other elements of the mixed media art fading into the collage painting suggest speed also. There is no braking their paths of traveling.

Inspiration behind my Mixed Media Collage "Convergence"
Convergence , acrylic with combined media on canvas with 175 painted strings attached, 40" x 30"

Convergence, acrylic with combined media on canvas with 175 painted strings attached, 40" x 30"

In this series of my mixed media artist blog I will attempt to describe the inspiration behind a number of my abstract collage art pieces. While the overall theme behind my mixed media collage is highways and how they mirror moments we encounter in our lives each specific collage art piece has its own meaning that I tried to capture as a mixed media artist.

This first collage painting “Convergence” suggests, in obvious ways, that lines that travel into a central hub are congested. But there is a way to travel upon these roadways. In the central hub of the abstract collage are black spirals, showing a way to spin around in an orderly fashion.  This mixed media art piece attempts to express that while it may be confusing and time consuming to converge upon the round-about, it is also clear that there is an organized way to exist with others who come upon the hub.