Cut and Paste

I’ve been making a lot of figurative paper collages these last 6 months or so. Cutting out images is relaxing to me, almost meditative. I like to do it while listening to podcasts and audiobooks. I fill up shallow boxes of cut images before I eventually work out compositions (unless something is really obvious to me as I’m cutting and I don’t want it to get lost in the pile). Awhile back, I set up a second instagram account dedicated solely to this body of work. I felt like it warranted its own space and didn’t want it to take over my regular feed. Follow along with me @offthedeependcollage for frequent collage posts.


Intermezzo Gallery, Show and Workshop

I'm currently in a group show at Intermezzo Gallery in Comfort, Texas. The show, entitled HeART by Hand was curated by Artist in Residence Jeanette Macdougall. I'm happy to be included in such a wonderful group. Join us for the artist reception this Saturday, April 14,  1-4pm. The show is up until May 6.

Earlier this month, I taught a basic collage workshop in the gallery and it was so much fun! We had a great time ripping and gluing. I emphasized the idea of loosening up, not overthinking it, and just going for it. If your collage doesn't work, tear it up and make a new one. I think the participants had fun and were excited about this way of working. They all made some great stuff. Here are some photos of my work up at Intermezzo and from the workshop.


Oil and cold wax landscapes

“I have said that Texas is a state of mind, but I think it is more than that. It is a mystique closely approximating a religion. And this is true to the extent that people either passionately love Texas or passionately hate it and, as in other religions, few people dare to inspect it for fear of losing their bearings in mystery or paradox. But I think there will be little quarrel with my feeling that Texas is one thing. For all its enormous range of space, climate, and physical appearance, and for all the internal squabbles, contentions, and strivings, Texas has a tight cohesiveness perhaps stronger than any other section of America. Rich, poor, Panhandle, Gulf, city, country, Texas is the obsession, the proper study, and the passionate possession of all Texans.”  - John Steinbeck

I grew up in Louisiana but moved to Texas 10 years ago. When I first moved to San Antonio, I was a little underwhelmed with the landscape. I was used to green lawns, lush foliage, and giant oak trees dripping with moss. You don't need a green thumb to get things to grow there, and digging a hole in the ground is easy-peasy.  Our first house in San Antonio had no grass when we bought it because there was no sprinkler system. Instead, there were giant cracks in the dirt and a view of scrubby mesquite trees in the park across the street.

Over time,  I came to appreciate the landscape here in South Central Texas, the Texas Hill Country, and West Texas. I love the topography of limestone and granite, wildflowers, cacti, and rivers you can see your feet in.

We have fun exploring the small towns of the hill country, visiting state parks, and Big Bend National Park. I'm a city girl through and through, but I was raised in the country, so it's always nice to get back to nature and taking it slow every once in a while.

This discovered love of the Texas landscape has inspired my work in the past 2 years, both in my mixed media landscape collages and my work with oil and cold wax. I've been playing around with oil and cold wax medium off and on for a few years now but really started to focus on it last summer. I started painting landscapes on vintage book covers because I have too many of them laying around and didn't want to buy panels. I love the way the way the book linen is visible around the edges and it's a really fun substrate to work on. I started painting them on panels after I attended a workshop with Lisa Pressman in the fall and came home inspired to work. Some of these pieces are currently hanging at the San Antonio Art League and Museum in the member's gallery until April 25th. It's always fun for me to see a cohesive collection hanging together in a lit space.

San Antonio Art League and Museum, Members Gallery

San Antonio Art League and Museum, Members Gallery

Oil and Cold Wax on vintage bookcovers at Mockingbird Handprints

Oil and Cold Wax on vintage bookcovers at Mockingbird Handprints

The River that Remembers

I currently have work in a group show at the University of Texas, San Antonio. I'm happy to be included in such a wonderful group of artists. Here's a description of the show taken from the UTSA website:

Curated by Taylor Bates (the director of Exhibitions at Artspace) and featuring artists Justin Boyd, Carol Cunningham, Ana Fernandez, Emily Fleisher, Bobbie Markeson, Amada Miller & Nicholas Frank, Jorge Purón, Hiromi Stringer, and Michelle Trahan Carson.

The Department of Art and Art History is pleased to host a 5-part “Tricentennial Arts and Culture Series” throughout 2018. Featuring local and regional artists, exhibitions and programs include creative work produced in a full range of traditional and new media. Guest curators have chosen artists whose work engages with themes that consider the histories and legacies before Texas independence, the relationships between natural and built environments, the unique character of San Antonio urban and suburban life, Mexican American and Latin American heritage, and new directions in artistic experimentation.

The first in this series, "The River That Remembers: Visions of San Antonio’s Landscape," curated by Taylor Bates, includes artists whose work reflects the diverse character of San Antonio’s natural and cultural landscapes. Drawing, painting, and sculpture focus attention on how current landscapes reflect historic change, serve contemporary needs, and inspire conceptual investigations.

The title of the show comes from a poem by Carmen Tafolla in This River Here: Poems of San Antonio. Also, one of my paintings was chosen to be on the promotional materials, that's always fun! If you're local, celebrate San Antonio's 300th birthday and check out the show before it ends on February 9th. It's even in Glasstire's Top Five.

Show Pics

Here are some photos of my Layered Landscapes show up at Mockingbird Handprints. I love being able to see all of the work together. This series is a little bit of a departure for me, both in color, technique, and materials. I started it when I was pregnant with my daughter,  and found myself drawn to pastels and pink! I'm really happy the way it all came together. Thanks to everyone who has made it out to see the show!

Layered Landscapes

My upcoming show at Mockingbird Handprints, Layered Landscapes, was inspired by the terrain features, big sky, and lakes of the Texas Hill Country. I live in the city, but I love to spend the occasional weekend in the Hill County with my family. It's a joy to see my son marvel at the rocky hills and get excited about using a fishing pole.  I've interpreted this landscape using a variety of colorful mixed media materials. I collaged painted papers layered on top of vintage letters and postcards. I also painted vintage book covers using oil and cold wax medium layered with a palette knife. Finally, I made little "Lake Houses" using re-claimed wood, encaustic wax, and oils. The show is up through November. The opening reception is November 1st 5:30-8:00 pm. Please come!


2017 Mail Art Exhange

I've been quiet on the blog front lately (lady with a baby here),  but I've been itching to write a post about my 2017 mail art exchange group, especially since we are half-way through it now.  Late last year, I was contacted by two artists asking if I wanted to participate in their yearly mail-art exchange.  Um, YES! There are four of us in the group, and every month we send each other a decorated envelope with some some of art inclusion via the U.S. Postal service. I get three original works of art in the mail every month, and I usually send one to myself so I can remember what I made.

I had never made mail-art before but I have long admired the art of Nick Bantock. I own his Griffin and Sabine book trilogy featuring his elaborate designs of faux postage stamps, handwritten documents, passports, postcards and other ephemera. Each story is told through a series of letters and postcards between the two main characters. I also love the book Lenore Tawney:Signs on the Wind; Postcard Collages. Tawney was a well known fiber artist but from the 1960s on, she also created whimsical postcard collages and sent them to friends and family members through the mail. I first saw this book, a compilation of her postcards, in a friend's art studio and knew I had to own it for myself. I have been a stamp collector since I was nine years old, when a stamp collector came to talk to my third grade class. I have also collected old letters and postcards for years but wasn't really using them much in my work.

This was pretty much the extent of my mail-art knowledge. So I did a little internet searching to learn more about it. Here's what Wikipedia has to say about it:

Mail art (also known as postal art and correspondence art) is a populist artistic movement centered on sending small scale works through the postal serviceIt initially developed out of the Fluxus movement in the 1950s and 60s, though it has since developed into a global movement that continues to the present.

Media commonly used in mail art include postcards, paper, a collage of found or recycled images and objects, rubber stamps, artist-created stamps, and paint, but can also include music, sound art, poetry, or anything that can be put in an envelope and sent via post. Mail art is considered art once it is dispatched.

Mail artists appreciate interconnection with other artists. The artform promotes an egalitarian way of creating that frequently circumvents official art distribution and approval systems such as the art market, museums, and galleries. Mail artists rely on their alternative "outsider" network as the primary way of sharing their work, rather than being dependent on the ability to locate and secure exhibition space. Mail art can be seen as anticipating the cyber communities founded on the Internet.

The most amazing part of the exchange is that I love the work of the other three artists. I have been following their work online for years, pinning them on my inspiration boards, and following them on instagram, but had no idea that they even knew I existed. The internet is an amazing place for artists ya'll. How great is it that we discovered each other on the internet but exchange art the old-fashioned way?! Also,  mail-related ephemera has shown up more in my work lately. I've finally been using my postage stamp collection, using old post cards and letters as collage substrates, and it has greatly influenced my latest body of work entitled "Mail Landscapes," I'll talk more about these in a later post, but you can see some of this new work on my instagram @michelletcarson feed.

Here are some photos of mail I sent out so far this year, carefully arranged to conceal addresses. Of course my favorite part of any mail- art only appears after the post office gets hold of the envelopes, cancels the stamps, and send them through the system. Snail mail patina.

Articopia 2016

Join me this Friday and Saturday at Articopia, the annual holiday art bazaar hosted by the Southwest School of Art. I'm honored to be among such a well-curated group of artists and makers from the San Antonio and Austin areas. I love buying handmade gifts for the people on my Christmas list (and for myself) and definitely plan on splurging a little during my bathroom breaks.  I will have a lot of those since I am NINE months pregnant! Come say hello and see my ginormous belly! 

Seven Artists ExHibition

I'm on a temporary break from working with encaustic paint and oils. (I'm pregnant and didn't want to be exposed to fumes/chemicals). So, these past months I've been going back to the basic foundation of much of my work - paper collage. I've been having fun keeping it simple with paper and glue and using my stash of vintage paper, photos, and books. I'm excited for the opportunity to exhibit some of these recent creations at the Seven Artists exhibition at Upstairs Studios gallery space in the Blue Star Arts Complex. The show is up through November 19th. The show is a fun, colorful, and eclectic mix of seven San Antonio artists.

Making Your Mark

Opening today, I have a piece in the "Making Your Mark" encaustic exhibition sponsored by both the Encaustic Art Institute and International Encaustic Artists. I wish I could make it out to Santa Fe for the show, especially since the artist reception is held during an encaustic retreat put together by both organizations in conjunction with the Artisans Materials Expo. Maybe next time? 

Incite 4 - The Best of Mixed Media

At the end of last year, I was selected to be featured in the North Light publication Incite 4, The Best of Mixed Media, Relax, Restore, Renew.  The book is finally out and you can purchase it on Amazon, the North Light website, and bookstores. It's exciting to be in the company of so many wonderful artists! I've been enjoying going through the pages since it arrived in my mailbox this morning. It's a beautiful book. 


Re-cap of the 100 Days Project

I am finally finished with the 100 Days Project. I started out with the intention of doing 100 paper collages on 8"x 8" paper but this started to feel limiting and a little boring after awhile so I switched to vintage book covers, and towards the end a few postcards. Looking back on my stacks of work I can see patterns. I guess I have a thing for vintage desserts, plants (especially cacti), dancing couples, and moons. I have a few ideas about where to take this project going forward and I'm really excited about it. Stay tuned!

*check out my instagram @michelletcarson for all 100 of my creations. You can also use the hashtag #mtccollageaday. 

Southwest School of Art Exhibition

 I have 2 pieces in the All-School Juried Exhibition at the Southwest School of Art opening this Saturday, July 23rd. . It was juried this year by Amy Moorfield, who serves as Deputy Director of Exhibitions at the Taubman Museum of Art in Roanoke, Virginia. Since I'll be out of town, I won't be able to make the reception, but I'm looking forward to visiting the show. It will be up until August 21st. It's always a great place to see and purchase local art. 

Here are my pieces included in the show. The first one is featured on all the promotional material for the show. It's fun to see my work on the posters, news articles, and postcard fliers. I've been experimenting with my color palette lately. Pink!

Greetings from San Antonio, 30" x 30", encaustic, oil, collage on cradled wood panel

Greetings from San Antonio, 30" x 30", encaustic, oil, collage on cradled wood panel

Beauty Parlor Parade, 8" x 8", collage and acrylic on paper

Beauty Parlor Parade, 8" x 8", collage and acrylic on paper

Fresh Paint Magazine

I am one of the artists featured in the June issue (Issue 13) of Fresh Paint Magazine, an independent international bimonthly digital and print art publication. The magazine invites a guest curator to select submissions from artists for each issue. The artists selected for publication in this issue were chosen by juror Rebecca Wilson, the Chief Curator and VP, Art Advisory at Saatchi Art.

Today I received my print copies in the mail and enjoyed seeing the range of work that was featured. There are many different styles, mediums, and artists from around the world, yet it all looks great bound together as a whole. 

The 100 Day Project

This past week, I committed to the 100 Day Project. The idea is to do something creative everyday for 100 days and share the journey on social media.  It started on April 19th and ends July 27th.

I cut 100 8x8 pieces of paper and plan to do one quick collage a day.  I'll probably bind the stack together as a book at the end and maybe do some machine stitching on the pages before I bind them. I'm using books, magazines, and my own painted papers. These are meant to be quick, fun, and inspired by things I love. To see my daily posts, follow me on instagram @michelletcarson.



Fiesta Arts Fair Recap

This past weekend I had a booth in the Fiesta Arts Fair, a juried event with top notch artists from around the country. Art fair participation is A LOT of work. Getting your stuff to the site, setting up, and interacting with the public all day long, and not to mention being totally helpless about the weather, is kind of exhausting. But, it's also interesting, inspiring, and when things are selling, maybe a little fun.

The weather was a concern all weekend. There were thunderstorms predicted and there was a giant hailstorm earlier in the week that made me nervous. We set up the booth on Friday and crossed our fingers that it wouldn't be a total bust. Saturday started off with a little sprinkling but was mostly dry the rest of the day.

Because severe weather was expected Saturday night and Sunday, fair organizers gave us the option to pack up Saturday night and some artists decided to leave because they didn't want to take the risk. After some serious back and forth, and after talking with our neighbor booths, we ultimately decided to stick it out and stay.  It also helped that our entire row also decided to stay. The risk paid off because while it rained during the night, the inside of my booth stayed dry and the rain held off Sunday until 3:00 pm. The fair closed 2 hours early because of the rain, but considering the circumstances, that wasn't too shabby.

Despite the weather, many pieces went off to good homes and I received great feedback about my work.  I enjoyed making new friends and loved seeing old friends and family drop by. Thanks to all who helped make it a success!

San Antonio Art League Exhibition

I have 2 pieces in the upcoming San Antonio Art League juried Exhibition. The show, in it's 86th year, opens this weekend with an opening reception on Sunday, April 10th, 3 -5 pm.  The juror was Peter Trippi, the editor of Fine Art Connoisseur Magazine. The show is up though May 28th.

The San Antonio Art League Museum is located in the King William Historic District in a beautiful old building with lots of character. The museum has acquired work from Texas artists since 1912 and admission to the public is free!

The San Antonio Art League and Museum                                    
130 King William Street
San Antonio, Texas 78204

Hours of Operation:
Tuesday through Saturday.
10:00 am - 3:00 pm
Admission: no charge - donations accepted

A Place of Creative Belonging

Lyn Belisle  is a San Antonio mixed media artist and teacher who has a fabulous studio that she opens up for classes. Early on in my art journey, I started attending some of her 2 - 3 hour Sunday afternoon classes on topics such as collage composition, origami related projects, mixed media papers, dyeing and more. She is always generous with her expertise, resources and materials. Her studio is like a Cabinet of Curiosities, beautiful objects and artwork everywhere you look. She is super organized and stays on track, and you always walk away with a finished piece. Her classes introduced me to products I was unfamiliar with (like walnut ink, Inka gold, sari silk ribbon, and Citrasolv to name a few). She calls her studio " A Place of Creative Belonging" and even though I am often the youngest person in the room, I have always felt welcome and like I "belong."

On Sunday, I attended her 3 hour Indigo dyeing class and had a great time making art with a friendly group of ladies and came home with some pretty pieces of indigo dyed fabric and paper. Here are some photos from the workshop and of Lyn Belisle's Studio, A Place of Creative Belonging.

Hot Wax / Cold Wax Exhibition

Last weekend was the opening of the Hot Wax / Cold Wax Exhibition at the Kerr Arts and Cultural Center in Kerrville, Texas. Kerrville is a charming Hill Country town about an hour drive from my home in San Antonio.  26 Texas artists were invited to participate in the exhibition and it was wonderful to meet the artists and see their work.

Hot wax and cold wax are two very different mediums, the only common denominator is beeswax. Cold wax is a soft paste made with beeswax that adds body, transparency and depth to oil paint. Hot wax, or encaustic, painting is the use of molten beeswax to which pigments may be added. Because I use a lot of oil paint/ oil pigment sticks in my encaustic work, and I've been an oil painter for a long time, I will probably work with cold wax and oil more in the future. I have experimented with cold wax a little but put it aside because I was busy with other things. Currently, there are a few unfinished cold wax and oil panels sitting in my studio calling my name ever since I saw the great cold wax work in the Kerrville show. I was particularly intrigued by the work of Doris Vasek and Chris White. I liked Vasek's moody abstracts and White's use of both cold and hot wax in her work. The show definitely renewed my interest in the medium.

The show is up until March 27th. It's best to see in person, but here's a few photos from the exhibition.