Thursday, January 6, 2011

The Very Fine Art of Assemblage

Quote from Picasso:

 The artist is a receptacle for emotions that come from all over the place;   from the sky,   from the earth,   from a scrap of paper,   from a passing shape,   from a spider’s web.
In 1961, the Museum of Modern Art New York MOMA held an awesome retrospective exhibition of Assemblage.
Some of the exhibiting artists of the past in this retrospective:

KURT SCHWITTERS - used wire, wood, mesh, paper, cardboard
PABLO PICASSO - used chair caning, painted wood pieces, upholstery fringe, sailcloth, nails
ARTHUR DOVE - used roof shingles, needlepoint, compressed flowers in a piece called "Grandmother"
LOUISE NEVELSON - boxes of many shapes, balusters, finials, arms, legs from tables, chairs, spindles
JOSEPH CORNELL - used astrological charts, uncoiled clock springs, apothecary jars, and went out   gathering in the streets.

Second Hand Rose
Assemblage - 27" x 15"
Carole Segal

a)   Assemblage is an artistic process in which a three-dimensional artistic composition is made from putting together found objects.

b)   Assemblage is predominantly assembled, rather than painted, drawn, modeled or carved, but may include all of these in the process of creation of a fine art Assemblage.

c)   Entirely, or in part, the elements are preformed or manufactured materials.  Objects or fragments, not intended as traditional art materials, but definitely are used as art materials in an eclectic, artistic way.

d)  Assemblage artists create objects by collecting and gathering, and is a specific of found art, which simply means art made from previously made objects found by the artist

Some exciting Assemblage artists of today:
PATRICIA NIX famous for her altars and icons
EVE DAMIE famous for her Egyptian Nefertiti Assemblages
LEO KAPLAN famous for his box art

I collect, hunt and gather for unique pieces in antique shops, flea markets, junk shops, and dollar stores. Seldom do I use glue only for joining.  I have learned to use drills, hammer, nails, screws, and clamps, and fabric bandaids.

A few of my finds

More finds

yet more finds

My assemblage work could be defined as feminist, avant garde, and modern day kitch.


Detail from "Femininity"
Carole Segal

There are no rules for creating assemblage. My work is based on design, composition, texture, colour and is very labour intensive.

They are pieced together and embellished with such elements as mirror, mosaics, carvings,  The process of gold leaf, paint,  fabric gives additional freshness to the quality of my work.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

My Obsession with Venice

You may have the universe if I may have Italy"
- Guiseppe Verdi -

"Venice is like eating an entire box of
chocolate liquers in one go"
- Truman Capote -

How to describe what Carnival in Venice is about?

baroque madrigal street musicians
masked costume balls in palazzos
la traviata at the Fenice Theatre
the music of Vivaldi
Commedia dell'arte: ie: harlequin, pulcinella, columbina in costume

Carnival in Venice - Carole Segal
Mixed Media on Handmade Paper
15" x 22"

Not too long ago, I was fortunate to be able to spend several days in Venice.
Although I was not in Venice during Carnival, the sights were awesome to say the least. No matter which way I was facing, what I saw was the amazing architecture of Venice.
Assemblage of Carnival in Venice
Carole Segal   20" x 20"
Traveling the Grand Canal each day, walking through the cobblestone streets in quaint neighbourhoods. Dining at outdoor cafes, and just being at Piazza San Marco at dusk sipping my limoncello while an orchestra played was inspiration enough.

in piazza san Marco

Shopping on the canal
Lobby of my hotel
Shopping in Venice

My hotel Palazzo Sant'Angelo sul Grand Canal, being a small boutique hotel of 24 rooms,a reconverted palazzo, designed in the grand baroque style was facing the Grand Canal. The hotel is situated right on the Canal between L'Accademia and the famous Rialto Bridge.
Carnival in Venice happens in February of each year during the period of lent. This year's Venice Carnival 2011 has some outstanding opulent events to engage the pleasure of the senses. Wishing I could be there and partake of the costumes, music, and of authentic Venice in the 14th century.

Movies that I have enjoyed, filmed in Venice:
"Summertime" Katherine Hepburn and Rossano Brazzi
"Roman Holiday" Audrey Hepburn and Gregory Peck
"The Wings of the Dove" Helena Bonham Carter
"Artemesia" Valentina Cervi and Michel Serrault
"Casanova" Heath Ledger, Sienna Miller, and Jeremy Irons
My artwork and photography, which are presented here grew out of an obsession with Venice. For years I collected Images, found objects, learned polymer clay techniques in Molding and finally the artwork grew and thrived under the Venetian influence.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

The Amazing Art Challenge

A good philosophy for artists to follow”

“Great Painting is never Perfect,
and Perfect Painting is never Great”

The Art Challenge started as an experiment, with three painting friends. The intention being to paint from the same photo. Three more have since joined. So that we are all on the same page, each artist gets a turn to send a photo to the others.

The challenge is to produce paintings that push beyond the comfort zone using different approaches. Believe me it’s a struggle when you receive the photo, and you say “what am I going to do with this”? We each have our own personal style, and there is no perfect way to do art. The idea is to not copy the photograph slavishly, but to interpret. I am even suggesting using two photos together, ie a figure photo, together with a landscape, or street scene.

The medium: oil, or oil with acrylic underpainting, or mixed media. Size of surface, and style of painting is up to each person. There needs to be structure so I am suggesting deadlines for each challenge. We are trying to stay on course, and stay focused if we are to accomplish a good strong cohesive body of work for our group. There should be no sense of competition, as this leads to frustration and blocks creativity. We will review strategies for the future. You never know if and when we will be asked to do some publicity.

"Cintas en el Viento"
(Ribbons in the Wind)
Oil on Canvas
24" x 30"

Photo taken in Oaxaca, Mexico

Thursday, March 19, 2009

The Human Form - an unending challenge

I have taken several workshops from a wonderful French instructor by the name of Jacques Clement of Montreal. Most ateliers work in charcoal, pencil, in Jacques Clement's workshops we work in a studio situation with oil sticks, oil pastels, and oil paint directly from the model.

Why do artists continually paint from the live model.  I must tell you that I do not exclusively paint from the model - I create in other areas as well, but none are as challenging as being confronted with the model posing in an atmosphere of drama of light and shadow.  The technical difficulties of working with the oil sticks, are endless, but the possibilities of expression are great.

When confronted with the model,  you are communicating with your model and her gesture. Your drawing will be an experience that is unique to you.  If you are successful, your work with the model will evoke an aesthetic that a good painting should bring forth, whether the subject is the human figure, a bouquet of flowers, or a plein air landscape.

Jacques emphasizes organization of pictorial space.  How you place the model on your paper can determine success.  You start with one big shape on your surface....and do not think too much...just do it.

The above photos are beginning steps for placing the model and first brush strokes of colour. Permission and photos taken by Libby Krul another of the workshop participants. 

An ochre background (light value) with a terre verte shape (dark value) for starters will work, making sure that you have interesting negative shapes and at the same time creating movement and beautiful color.  Here we work with oil sticks, graphite, and solvent, and wipe off with solvent soaked paper towels.  You can then draw a bit with oil pastel.  The rules of contrast come into play ie without a subdued part, the emphasized part will not be as brilliant.  

 Work with light and shadow.  Mystery in a painting is a powerful force.  I don't want to tell the whole story, a general mood will make me happy. I don't want to make anything that resembles a photograph.   For finishing techniques, you can scratch into your work for interesting effects.

We are very fortunate to have Jacques Clement here in Montreal, I invite you to visit Jacques Clement's most interesting website:   If you e-mail him at, he will let you know when is the next live model Atelier.  I'm sure I will be there.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Inspired by Negative Space

I was fortunate to attend five separate workshops with Robert Burridge"Notable Wow" artist from California, which were held in Colchester, Vermont, the week of July 29 to August 02, 2008. Accommodations and workshops were sponsored by The Holbein Company and held at the Hampton Inn.

My absolute favorite was:  "Abstract Florals from Colorful Loose Splatters"..this certainly was not your ordinary vase of flowers placed on a table.  Here the technique of negative painting came into play after you splished and splashed with the paint.  What fun!  Still and all, you needed to design your bouquet according to good basic design principles.  Not a boring class to say the least.

Here are some thoughts and ideas from Robert Burridge:

Paint meaningful and believe in yourself.
Try communicating an idea in your painting and take risks.
Kiss of Death is when you worked the painting too hard.
Tip for finishing.  Stop painting at 90%.
A painting is never finished, it stops in interesting places.

I definitely was inspired by Burridge, but, as usual my style seems to emerge, which is a good thing.  I painted over the originals which were done in the workshop, but then painted again with my oils.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Wit and Whimsy

This posting is about my explorations and experimentations in Mixed Media collage. I felt the compulsion to create the layers,
I used the Zen approach "Heart versus Head" to create these mini collage paintings. They are created from the unconscious in a meditative way. 

Starting with a pile of different odds and ends ie ephemera from my collection, I set out to design a series of mini collages. In the collection of oddments are: fabric, paper, and textured paper of different weights, very odd sizes, nothing regular My initial aim was to assemble these small artworks in a pleasing way using all my design knowledge of positive and negative space. I then placed and glued them down and embellished. A word about my selection in this series.....

I somehow drifted to the Zen and Orient for inspiration. There are six small collages in the collection and are named aptly.

Nirvana - is defined as a state of bliss and described as the perfect peace with the world. The state of mind is that of free of anger and craving.

Nepenthe - is described as a magical potion that quells all sorrows with forgetfulness. In literature the effects of Nepenthe are similar to those of opiates.

Karma - Karma means "deed" or "act". If one does good or spiritually valuable acts, one deserves and can expect good luck

Mantra - or "chanting" can be defined as a repetitve sound or group of words. Some purposes of Mantra have included religious ceremonies to accumulate wealth, and avoid danger or eliminate enemies.

Geisha - is described as a female Japanese entertainer, whose skills include performing various Japanese Arts, such as music and dance.

Edo Lovers - centered in Tokyo during the period between 1680 and 1860. They are part of the "Ukiyo-e" genre of Japanese Art - "Ukiyo-e" means pictures of the floating world

Monday, July 14, 2008

A Passion for Painting in the Garden

A water lily painting “Le Bassin aux Nympheas” by Claude Monet recently sold for more than 80 million dollars at Christie’s Auction House in London.

Quotes by Claude Monet (1840 – 1926)

“Gardening was something I learned in my youth when I was unhappy, I perhaps owe having become a painter to flowers.”

“My garden is my most beautiful masterpiece.”

“ I can only draw what I see.”

“ Everything I have earned has gone into these gardens.”
“ Colour is my day-long obsession, joy and torment.”

“It took me time to understand my water lilies. I had planted them for the pleasure of it; I grew them without ever thinking of painting them”

“It's on the strength of observation and reflection that one finds a way. So we must dig and delve unceasingly.”
A good book to read on Claude Monet….
Claude Monet at the time of Giverny, published by Centre Culturel du Marais – Printed in France by Imprimerie Blanchard, 92350 Le Plessis-Robinson. I did buy this book in Giverny at the American Impressionist Museum on the rue du Claude Monet.

Imagine painting in the garden immersing yourself in the fragrance of the lilies, the blue of the delphiniums, and the sheer beauty of it all. This experience will surely inspire your artistic expression.

The roses and delphiniums are a challenge for me to paint – I will usually set up my easel in the late afternoon, when the shadows are long and the colour of deep blue mauve.

I am excited to start mixing the luminescent paint mixtures that Monet used. According to a letter written by Monet, his palette comprised of the following: lead white, cadmium yellow, vermilion, dark madder, cobalt blue and emerald green. To quote Mr. Monet, “The real point is knowing how to use colours.”

Gardens have always been a passion for me, especially while painting the model among the flowers in a white Victorian dress.

One of the most dramatic areas of my garden is the pond, with my Buddha sculpture reflecting in the pond along with the blanket roses in pink and red and the water lilies.
My intention is to paint the water lilies in my pond as soon as they bloom.

There are times I am wishing to be in my garden painting, but just not feeling up to gathering all the supplies needed to paint in oils. I had read somewhere on the internet about a “cigar box pochade” being used by painters.

If you go to
Duane Keiser’s Blog, you can see exactly what I mean. It holds the squeezed out paint (limited palette), turps, etc. I started looking around my assemblage stash of cigar boxes – lo and behold – I have found exactly what is needed and will be outfitting my cigar box with a piece of glass to fit inside and experiencing this wonderful invention.

I think this might be the answer for me for painting in winter in my car.