The Abundance of Images

December 13, 2017


I live in Metro NYC and see a lot of contemporary art. I also find images online. You can too. The Internet is a great resource for information and images.

Yayoi Kusama flower painting

The image above is a flower painting by the Japanese artist Yayoi Kusama (born 1929). Notice the colors are red, green yellow, black and blue. It’s a stylized flower with stem and leaves and a crackle-texture black on red background. Notice the detail and pattern. You may think it looks like a simple flower painting, but probably also think it is very appealing.

Kusama is known for obsessive, dot-covered art and pumpkin motifs, as well as the use of mirrors to create mystical “Infinity Rooms.” The image below shows the artist in a saffron orange and black polka dot dress sitting on the edge of a platform installation with walls and floors in the same color and polka dot design with a pumpkin sculpture behind her in the same colors and design. The artist is part of the installation. The image was reproduced in an Artsy article titled The Top 14 Living Artists of 2014 and was taken at the Louisiana Museum of Modern Art (2010). I have the image, on a Pinterest Board titled Yayoi Kusama. I have 117 pins that show Kusama and her art. It is the most popular board of all (image of Yayoi Kusama courtesy Artsy, published January 18, 2015).

Yayoi Kusama in front of her pumpkin sculpture

Kusama says “My artwork is an expression of my life, particularly of my mental disease.” She has been plagued by mental illness and hallucinations since childhood. She uses her hallucinations and mental illness as material to stimulate an incredible artistic output in every discipline. Her colors and patterns are opulent and decorative. At the age of 88, Kusama is one of the most unique and famous contemporary female artists alive today. Her works include paintings, sculpture, photography, installation, performance and Conceptual art. She lives in a mental hospital in Japan and works every day in a nearby studio.

Yayoi Kusama Infinity Mirrors at the Hirschhorn Museum

The image above is a view of Infinity Mirrors, originally at the Hirschhorn Museum, Washington, DC. Read about Infinity Mirrors. The show is currently at the Broad Museum in Los Angeles, CA (closes Jan 1, 2018) and will travel to the Art Gallery of Ontario, Toronto (March 3-May 27, 2018), the Cleveland Museum of Art (July 9-Sept 30, 2018) and finally to the High Museum of Art (Nov 18, 2018 – Feb 17, 2019).

There are plans to build a museum for Yayoi Kusama’s art in Japan this coming year. Read more about Yayoi Kusama life and art here.



In a previous post, titled Connections, I wrote about an art project I organized and took to Albuquerque, NM in September 2017. The project included 21 mixed media collages by regional members of the Society of Layerists in Multi Media (SLMM). I am a regional coordinator for the Society.

I got email from Sharon Eley. She is a Midwest regional SLMM member and participated in the SLMM group exhibition I organized. She asked me to edit the post because I didn’t mention that her twin sister, Shirley Nachtrieb, was the person responsible for an exhibition I mentioned in the post. Shirley is the regional coordinator for the South Central SLMM membership. I edited the post and gave Shirley credit.

I was curious to see Shirley’s art and visited her website. She is an amazing watercolor artist. I saw flower images and it made me think about writing this post to show (and share) the images of Yayoi Kusama’s art and include images of flower collages by my students at the Pelham Art Center. See the images below. The student collages don’t look like Kusama’s flower paintings. They’re interpretive and personal. They are collage paintings because they include cut and pasted flower images  (from flower magazines) and painted papers on a painted and embellished  Bristol paper substrate. My students loved the flower collage project because it included so much mixed media. But, they also love other collage projects we do. Not everything is a flower.


Lynn Evansohn Flower Collage

Lynn Evansohn did the collage above. The flowers are cut from a botanical catalog I brought to class. Some of the papers are painted. Lynn painted the background with black acrylic and etched spiral twirls into the wet paint. The vase is all paper collage. Notice Lynn cut and pasted green painted paper dots at the bottom edge. I remember she said it was a tribute to the polka dots in Yayoi Kusama’s work.

Patty Towle did the collage below. She painted the background with black acrylic embellished it with tiny dots of various colored painted papers. The flowers and stems are cut and pasted decorative papers. Some flower petals have polka dots. She cut flowers and leaves from images in a flower catalog. Notice the dots that decorate the blue vase. Notice  the blue painted paper tiles Patty used to create the table, and notice the black spaces in between. The design mimics the black on red in Kusama’s flower painting seen above.


Patricia Towle Flower Collage


Mimi Wohlberg Flower Collage

Mimi Wohlberg did the collage above. She painted the background with black acrylic and embellished the surface with dots and circles. She painted the flower papers and stamped them with more dots. Notice the stem and leaves are cut from patterned green painted papers. The design is layered and all the pieces overlap with a sense of dimension.

Sylvia Lien did the collage below. Notice the landscape imagery behind the cut and pasted flower in a vase. Sylvia was inspired to create a collage that quoted a Kusama flower sculpture in a landscape setting. Notice how Sylvia’s flower petals and leaves are made with various papers from a flower catalog. Notice the flower stem. Sylvia cut and pasted yellow painted papers to shape a curved stem. I like the vase. It’s a simple rectangle shape, cut from a page in a flower catalog. This collage juxtaposes decorative papers and photo images to create abstract and natural elements.

Sylvia Lien Flower Collage

Sandra Graciadei did the collage below. She painted the background with black acrylic and  etched the open dot design into the wet paint. The vase was cut and pasted from a  magazine image found in ArtForum. Sandra painted papers for the leaves in the vase. The tiny flowers are cut from a flower catalog. Notice how Sandra fitted all the leaves and flower stems into the vase and how the flower stems extend beyond the edge of the black painted background. Notice how the stems mimic the width and abundance of the lines in the design on the vase. Details!

Sandra Graciadei Flower Collage

Estelle Laska did the collage below. Her collage is an interpretive quote of a  Kusama flower sculpture in an outdoor setting. Estelle painted the collage background with blue acrylic and used a palette knife to build texture as she painted. Her leaves and flowers are large papers cut from a flower catalog. Estelle added red and green painted paper polka dots to a rich golden yellow leaf shape at the bottom. Notice how the leaves extend beyond the borders of the painted background.

Estelle Laska Flower Collage

Harriet Goldberg did the collage below. She painted the background in black and green and added yellow and green polka dots. The yellow dots are press-on papers you find in stationery stores. The flowers are cut and pasted from painted papers and images from a flower catalog. The vase is decorative paper with dots. Notice how the flowers extend beyond the painted background. See all the patterns, colors  and layered papers. This collage is a riot of dots and definitely Kusama-inspired!

Harriet Goldberg Flower Collage

Leslie Cowen did the collage below. She painted the background with acrylic in blues and greens. There is a sense of diagonal movement as well as decoration. She etched into the paint with a palette knife. The large pink flower at the top extends beyond the painted background. Leslie cut and pasted her papers to make the flower image look dimensional and realistic. Some of the leaves and flowers are created with painted papers and some are images cut from a flower catalog. Realistic and abstract imagery is juxtaposed in this design. Notice how the leaves also extend beyond the edge of the painted background.

Leslie Cowen Flower Collage

Ilene Bellovin did the collage below. She painted the background with black acrylic and created her flowers with papers from a flower catalog. Notice the variations in color in the pink, yellow, red and violet flower petals. Ilene created the leaves with green painted papers. This collage is almost realistic. The flowers are cut and pasted papers arranged like a beautiful bouquet.

Ilene Bellovin Flower Collage

My students include adults at all skill levels. Beginners quickly become highly skilled collage makers. We work with fine art papers, everyday media, art magazines, including ArtForum, postcards and found papers. We embellish collage with drawing. We paint papers.

The flower collage project is a favorite. We’ve done it more than once. All the flower collages above include painting and mixed media collage on 14″ x 11″ Bristol paper substrate.

Sometimes I get resistance to projects that quote a famous artist. I argue that there is no way anyone can copy. Everything is an interpretation. And, more important, the process is an exercise that teaches you how to look carefully and study what you see. You notice colors, relationships, scale, proportion, and other design elements.

Question for YOU: Can you be inspired by an artist and make collage that quotes but doesn’t copy? Send me your comments.









October 19, 2011

I love the Southwest United States and any excuse for a visit is fine.

The image nearby shows the bright blue skies of Albuquerque, NM. It’s rare to see clouds and there is not much rain. Image: the Internet.

My trip to Albuquerque, NM was for art and business and to attend the Board of Directors meeting of the Society of Layerists in Multi-Media (SLMM).

I arrived on Sunday. On Monday, we had a marathon business session to discuss an upcoming conference in Taos, NM in 2012 with speakers, a panel presentation, workshops and a reception for an exhibition at the Millicent Rogers Museum in Taos, NM. It will be the 30th anniversary of the founding of SLMM.

The Millicent Rogers Museum includes historic Native American Arts, Hispanic Arts, the Maria and Julian Martinez Pottery Collection, Contemporary Arts, and Jewelry from Northern NM.

Read about the premise of SLMM and a recent book about SLMM titled Visual Journeys: Art of the 21st Century, co-edited by Mary Carroll Nelson and Nina Mihm.

The image nearby shows Native American jewelry from the Millicent Rogers Museum collection. Image: the Internet.

I planned a day-trip to visit Santa Fe galleries.


I wanted to stop by Zane Bennett Gallery and Charlotte Jackson Fine Art, both on South Guadalupe in the Rail Yard gallery district adjacent to Site SantaFe.

Site Santa Fe was closed for installation, The next exhibition is titled Agitated Histories (October 22, 2011 – January 15, 2012).

I wanted to visit the Karen Ruhlen Gallery, Handsel Gallery, and GF Contemporary on Canyon Road.


It’s a good thing I’m pretty flexible, because the plans changed.

Instead of visiting galleries, I joined my art colleagues and visited Santa Fe artist’s studios. I couldn’t say no to that kind of opportunity.

First stop was a visit to Paula Roland’s studio. She is currently showing encaustic on paper at William Segal Gallery, 540 South Guadalupe Street, Santa Fe through October 25th. It’s an impressive gallery and her work is gorgeous.

Paula Roland in her studio

I took the image nearby of Paula Roland in her studio. She is demonstrating her encaustic printmaking process.

Paula has instructional DVDs for beginner to advanced artists on the basics of encaustic and printing with wax.

We left Paula’s studio and went to lunch at El Charro, a popular restaurant in town.

At lunch I sat next to Sandra Duran Wilson, a member of SLMM, and the author of 2 books:  Image Transfer Workshop: Mixed Media Techniques for Successful Transfers (with Darlene Olivia McElroy), and Surface Treatment Workshop: Explore 45 Mixed Media Techniques (with Darlene Olivia McElroy).

Sandra Duran Wilson calls herself an abstract collage artist.  She says her mixed media paintings include printmaking, transfers and acrylic, and some have Plexiglas panels embedded into wood panels to add depth.

Read Sandra Duran Wilson’s Artist Statement. She says she paints concepts. You can also purchase her books at her site.

Art by Sandra Duran Wilson

The image nearby is titled Evolutionary Dance. It’s 30×30 inches, acrylic and mixed media. Image: the Internet. See her works online.


After we left Sandra Duran Wilson’s studio, we drove to Laura Stanziola’s place on the Old Pecos Trail. Laura collects and sells an incredible assortment of vintage papers, books, old postcards, doll heads, game boards and ephemera right out of her home. She is called the Queen of Ephemera. Read more about Laura at Darlene Olivia McElroy’s blog. Darlene is co-author with Sandra Duran Wilson of the books mentioned above.

I did buy stuff from Laura Stanziola. It was irresistible and it will all find a way into my collages (or other people’s collages).

The image nearby is my photo of wispy clouds seen outside Laura’s home. I was standing on the hillside and I think I almost stepped into a snake hole. It’s a good thing I remembered to look where I’m walking when I’m in New Mexico.

We ate dinner in Santa Fe, and drove back to Albuquerque.

The following day, Wednesday, I visited a fabulous exhibition titled Hispanic Traditional Arts of New Mexico at The Albuquerque Museum of Art and History (September 18, 2011-January 8, 2012).

The exhibition included masterworks in religious image making in wood, sculpture, tinwork, filigree, colcha embroidery, weaving, and straw applique, all from the permanent collection of the Albuquerque Museum dating from the Colonial era to the present by Hispanic artists in New Mexico,

In addition to historic objects, the exhibition includes contemporary works by many artists who work in the same traditional art genre.

Art by Monica Sosaya-Halford

The image nearby is by Monica Sosaya-Halford, Reredo, 1982, acrylic and gesso on pine, Gift of Anheuser-Busch Companies, Inc. Image: the Internet.

I will be back  in New Mexico next year for the SLMM conference in Taos and a return visit to Santa Fe. I can hardly wait.