Decisions, Decisions…



One of the things I’ve been wondering about lately is how we make decisions.

Actually, one of the big questions for me is how we decide what we’re going to believe, but that’s way too big for me to take up here.

The much smaller, but still very interesting, question I’ve been thinking about when I’m in the studio is how we – make that ‘I’ – make decisions in a piece of art. So here I’ll try to go through the decision-making process for what I’ve been working on lately, which are collages.

I refer to these as ‘water collages’ – because they’re about water, and they’re collages. Simple enough.

The reasons I decided to start making them are:

  1. I like making collages, and I like water.
  2. I have a small indoor studio space and I like to make small art and collages are not very messy and the weather has gotten cold so I’m not using the space outside these days.
  3. I had a lot of extra paper lying around that I wanted to use up for reasons of ecology and obsessive-compulsivity.
  4. One day while I was making some collages I must have gotten tired of concentrating on juxtaposing images and also probably noticed I had a lot of blue paper, so I thought I could use up the extra paper faster if I just concentrated on making blue collages – and hence water.

Like this:

Water Colalge 3Water Collage No.3 (25x25cm – about 10″)

And this:


Water Collage - weird landscape

Water Collage No.4 (25x25cm – about 10″)

And this:



Water Collage - Island Landscape

Water Collage No.5 (25x25cm – about 10″)

OK, so that explains why the ‘water collages’ in general, but what about the process of making decisions for each collage? That’s a much tougher question – deciding what should go where. I suppose the first reason is:

Because it looks good. That means ‘composition’. I’m paying attention to how the image is balanced – which directions lines are moving, where the darks and lights are – stuff like that – and then if it’s not just abstract color and shape, but a more defined image (looks like an island, looks like a tree, for example), then the ‘meaning’ that comes out of the relationships between the objects (tree on island, tree floating over island, etc.). Sometimes, in fact, it comes down to expediency – i.e., laziness (‘Got a big piece of blue paper cluttering up the worktable? ‘Glue it down!’)

But as far as all that goes, there’s always more than one possibility – always ‘more than one right answer’ – so this really hasn’t explained anything – why decide on one thing from all among all the other possibilities?. Thinking about this reminded me of my favorite art writer – who in fact happens to be a sociologist.

Howard ‘Howie’ Becker, author of ‘Art Worlds’, is one of the editors of ‘Art From Start to Finish’, a lovely book filled with essays about things that get made by artists.

Basically, a lot of decisions just comes down to ‘what feels right’. But why they feel right is a whole ‘nother question…

(By the way, pictures of the Water Collages 1 and 2 are in an earlier post here)


Water Collages

Water collage 1

So, here we are, quite in the Throes of Summer, and my plans for hanging out in the ‘outdoor section of my studio’ and working on more of the Water Paintings have been thwarted by a. computer problems; b. developing a project for the ‘2015 Bodrum Biennial’; c. doing menial labour to raise funds in re: ‘a’; and d. covering my large outdoor drawing table with mounds of cut tiles for a ‘concrete camouflage’ home intervention, which makes it rather impossible to start any paintings at this time..

As an all-purpose solution, I embarked on a few ‘Water Collages’ – which I can work on comfortably in the ‘indoor section of my studio’ – while listening to the radio and avoiding ‘c’ from the above list.

The paper is all ‘leftovers’ – the final collages are about 12 inches (30 cm).
Who knew there was so much blue paper in the world?

Water collage 2

Mail me some Art!

Mail me some Art!

Well, I said I wasn’t going to do anything else in the studio until after I got back from New York, what with needing to prepare for my gig at Olana and such, but I just had to finish a little piece of mail art so I can get it to Argentina before the 31 October deadline. The landscape was ready, it just needed a couple of “barcos” (or is it “barcas”? They say ships are female, don’t they?)

Mail Art Mi Barca 1

Mail Art Mi Barca 2

Mail Art Mi Barca 3


The “Homesickness” Mail Art Exhibit we are organizing in Bodrum is coming up – “allow 2 weeks for delivery”, they say,  so I hope y’all have got your mojos and your P.O.’s working… can’t wait to check my mailbox (and I’m not talking google, here, either…) CLICK HERE FOR THE CALL FOR ENTRIES DETAILS



Not to be confused with “lokum” – also known as “Turkish Delight” – “lokma” is a fried dough dessert that looks like a doughnut hole and is frequently handed out as an “offering” food in commemoration for a person’s passing or other life-event.

Columnn 4 bottom

How many years ago was it that I took a photo of a village woman behind a vat of deep-frying lokma I don’t remember, but when I took the photo, my intent was to decoupage it on a tray for a painting/tray, a useful object that could also be hung up on a wall because it is beautiful. (There’s something you can contemplate: the ideology behind the division (?) between “art” and “craft”. But as usual, I digress…)

Column Collage 4 - top

As you might be aware if you have been reading these posts, I will be going to New York in about a week, so the “column collage” below will be the last thing I’m doing in the studio for another month. In the meantime, I’m messing with thousands of plastic bottles as part of an outdoor “garbage art” project before I head off to NY – with a broken ankle; Let them just set me down someplace with a view and a box of watercolors…

Column Collage 4 - Lokma





And One From Column Number Three…

And One From Column Number Three…

“Connection Lost” is the message I get, explaining why I can’t upload pictures of the latest “column collage”.

I fact, I have been able to upload a picture of the whole collage, but it is really so long and narrow that it is hard to take in all the details at once (hence the reference to “column”). Instead, you really have to ‘read’ it – although it is more like reading a map than reading a book. You can start wherever you want – and you don’t necessarily have to know where you’re going.

Column Collage 3

While it is frustrating to try and view these on a computer screen (unless you’ve got a VERY large screen), I suppose it does capture how the piece can really only be taken in in parts, rather than as a whole. On the other hand, when you are looking at the actual piece, you get to ‘choose your own destination’, so to speak.

Below are 2 details – think of them as the insets in the map that give a close-up of those ‘areas of interest’.


Column Collage 3 Detail mid

Column Collage 3 Detail bottom

To see another ‘column collage’, click here.




A Change in the Weather is Known to be Extreme

A Change in the Weather is Known to be Extreme

“A change in the weather is known to be extreme, and now I’m changing horses in midstream,”

says Bob Dylan, almost.

But with the wind and rain kicking up here on the Bodrum Peninsula, it is NOT the time to be doing oil paintings outside in the backyard. So, we are back to working on collages. You might recall I had been working on some collages in a ‘strange’ format (i.e. long and narrow) –

Column Collage 2

I chose the ‘column’ format because it was the size of the paper leftover after cutting the sheets to the size I wanted for oil paintings (another ‘strange’ format – a square). It turned out to be rather hard to work with: I’m basically working with a series of different images stacked up on one another that also have to work as a complete vertical image. I suppose in a way they are like totem poles…

I had planned on posting images of the latest one – the one done ‘since the rain began’ –  but the photos came out unacceptably blurry, so I’ll have to shoot them again. In the meantime, I thought I’d just put up some things from my stock of ‘postcard’ collages – more of which can be found here.



Climbing Goat Hill

Climbing Goat Hill

Pointy objects

Pointy Objects


Column Collage II: “Hey, can I steal it?”

Column Collage II: “Hey, can I steal it?”

This post really ought to go out to May Kawamoto, my friend and neighbor for the 3 years I lived in Oakland back in the early ‘90s before I hauled off to Turkey. We were in a live-work space housing artists and other misfits in a ‘borderline’ residential neighborhood near Lake Merritt. May lived upstairs, and I lived downstairs. Mostly, we hung out upstairs, because that was where the group kitchen was, but occasionally May came downstairs to see what I was up to and what she could steal. “Hey, I like that; can I steal it?” she would ask. “Sure,” I’d answer, “Stealing is free.” And then we’d go upstairs to her studio, and I’d return the favor: “Hey. Is that new? I want to steal that. Can I steal it?”

I think that pretty much sums up how ideas in art used to travel around.

Well, now it’s 20 years later, and guess what, Miss May?

I’m stealing from myself!

Column Collage 2 Detail bottomOr, as I prefer to think of it, I’m ‘recycling’. (Hey, maybe this post should go out to Erol Bey, who once tried to convince me – without a tinge of post-modern irony – that paintings of cats were a perfect (purrfect?) example of ‘environmental art’.

This is the second ‘column collage’ I’ve finished from the leftovers of my square paper being prepared for painting. (Note 1: I have a habit of taking ‘perfectly’ proportioned paper and turning it into odd shapes like squares and columns that are supposedly hard to work with and also don’t fit easily over a couch. Note 2: 2 or even 3 square paintings together fit quite nicely over a couch, and a long column solves the problem of how to visually balance that full-length mirror by the front door…)

Above is the bottom part of the collage. (By the way, it doesn’t have a name yet, and I am taking suggestions…)

The very bottom is a collage that itself is made up of recycled artwork – or, more accurately, photocopies of artwork. Notable are the “bones pillow” (that was the name of the piece that the “green thing” came from), and the corn – which is not really from an artwork, but was used to illustrate the “12-Month Bodrum Garden Guide” (the month of May, in case you’re wondering).

Now for the middle part of the collage…

Column Collage 2 Detail mid

It’s mostly left-over ‘pavement’ books (the brown pages had to be trimmed, and not all of the pictures made it into the books), but there’s also part of a sketch of ‘the bee-hive houses of Harran’ from a trip to Urfa back around 1995 or ’96…

And the top of the collage (and just to make it clear, there are no real divisions bewteen Top, Middle and Bottom – it’s just ‘cause the proportions of the piece make it too hard to see the details in just a single photograph), well,

Column Collage 2 Detail top

That’s an ink sketch from a photo of an olive tree in Havran, in Balıkesir.

A colored pencil sketch made sitting in the shade in Harran, in Urfa.

A photocopy (on colored paper) of one of the workers in the boatyard in İçmeler, in Bodrum.

And more pictures of pavement.

Altogether, they make this:

Column Collage 2


So it seems I have not been in the studio much this month…

I thought, and thought, and thought – but could not figure out where the time has gone!

Apparently, I have only made 2 collages this entire month!!!!

So, here is one of them…


(Yes, it’s fuzzy – but I am working with a replacement camera until I can replace the one that got eaten on the plane back from Erzurum.

So, where has the time gone since then?

Elementary school: doing “intro to archaeology” with 3rd-graders…

Housecleaning: unsuccessful; more time spent avoiding housecleaning by playing computer games and browsing facebook (can you relate?)…

Planting tomatoes: outcome unknown; got 1 tomato (on a total of 7 plants), 1 eggplant (at least there was a flower), a bunch of basil (small-leafed, mainly good for keeping away mosquitos), 2 black-eyed peas (not dead yet!), 4 “provenance unknown” (could be peas… ).

With an average of only 2 hours of sunlight a day at any point in our garden, I’d say this is hopeless – but I’m trying anyway! Next up: leaf drawings!


The Little Book of Dirt

The Little Book of Dirt

From “the psudo-science microbiology” comes…

“The Little Book of Dirt”

or, why we all need to remember to wash our hands,

and perhaps not head for that box of poison

to get rid of those pesky little varmints in our garden,

especially when (we read that) coca-cola will do the trick…

whos in my dirtWhos in my dirt accrdnWhos in my dirt 1 Whos in my dirt  2 Whos in my dirt  3 Whos in my dirt  4

The end.