Saturday, December 27, 2014


For several months, my plans for various blogs went well. I had lots of fresh ideas, organized plans, motivation and discipline. These plans were completed on a fairly regular schedule. I am thankful for the period of time when these plans were met.

Then life intervened as it sometimes does. I had a series of failures of many kinds of computer equipment. My scanner went down, and my intention was to use my camera to put images into my blogs. This did not work as well as I thought it might. It seemed that trying each new idea to work around the barriers didn’t go as well as I hoped.
Meanwhile, I  was “blessed” with a bumper crop of apples in the back yard.

I tried to repair the scanner, and eventually got it to work. Then getting my images from one older computer image format onto a newer one failed to work. For a while I was moving images via CD discs, with translating between program versions. I kept losing images using a thumb drive. It seemed to lose and even release information into the biosphere. That eventually seemed to have been caused by a faulty hub, but maybe not.

The next thing that emerged were problems with my newest computer, and strange documents I had not created would appear on my desktop, and finally the computer would freeze up altogether, and would not restart or accept my password. I took that to be repaired, and it seems to be working better now, and the repair place found 9 incidents of attempts to get information off my computer. I don’t leave personal info for anyone to find, other than art, email and internet-related material. The problems caused were irritating but not devastating.

During this time, when I could not depend on my computer as much, I tried to work more by hand. But the frustration took its toll in spite of this. Personally I lost momentum and had much less energy for being creative. I lost touch with the former projects I had started. I am not as connected to the flow of information, and materially lost some documents I had saved. At this point I still do not have all my digital imaging capabilities up to speed. I will need to recover a lot of old art and reorganize the work to make it accessible again.

What I have learned? I guess I must not assume I am in control of everything. Another is to make records every day or so and to save them both on CD and on paper, in the right order. I have learned to be grateful when things do go right. Part of letting go of being in control is to enjoy each part of the creative process. Maybe the last thing is to plan projects that are more short term and spontaneous and that come in their own time rather than on a specific schedule.

I just hope that any followers who keep track of my work will understand and accept my more relaxed philosophy in regard to my blogging schedule, as well as toward my art making.

Friday, October 31, 2014


Since the present focus here is on collage, these many approaches will be applied to making a collage that may work very well without having a formal understanding of composition at first.

Often children have an intuitive sense about composition, that comes from observing the world around them. When the analytical side of awareness develops, many children become obsessed with details, concern over realism and lose that natural artist that they once possessed.

I would like to encourage people to enjoy their inner child in the process of making a collage. There are multiple approaches and different examples for creating art work. A person can follow some basic steps, without copying the example shown, or trying to mimic someone else’s work.

Exposure to these options will allow the collage artist to recognize the approaches which are appealing enough for him or her to try. As this process unfolds, I may include comments about why a piece works as a composition or why it fails, as well as how to improve upon the problems.

This in turn will become integrated into the artist’s understanding of why (or not) their process is achieving what they wish. In time, the artist’s preferences will govern his or her choices. Eventually an awareness about composition will evolve out of the process.

My intention is to show various ways of presenting a subject, which I think of as Approaches. I will probably include several individual Subject Treatments and Approaches for a month or two on this blog.These should be suitable for collage. I may include a list of more treatments and approaches at the end of the allotted time, and then in future, feature Approaches more periodically on this blog, Labeled with that name. 

The approaches I explain will hopefully be presented in a sequence that builds upon previous approaches.  If I present them out of sequence, please forgive me.
I will try to put them back into the correct sequence in the future.

Please Note. My Scanner stopped working about a month ago, so transferring images to my blogs means I must use a camera which does not have high  resolution capability.  I may get things working again, and could potentially scan actual work for illustration of these techniques after the fact.

Tuesday, September 30, 2014


Cut out objects from magazines. The objects are shown in different arrangements. Lighting was not ideal for illustrating this.

This was an exercise for creating a still life, planned for earlier this summer.
The steps to follow were explained previously. I will try to create a collage still life using these steps in the next post. 

Writing is the Copyright © of Ruth Zachary.

Monday, September 15, 2014


Nature's Bounty                                                                      © by Ruth Zachary
Hi Blog Followers!

I am sorry I have not kept up with my usual schedule for blogging… about four times per month.

The above photograph of apples has taken priority over my planned discussion of creating a still life.

I have been “blessed” with a bumper crop of apples on my two back yard trees. Usually having an organic approach to harvesting my back “forty,” meant the apple worms got about 90% of the apples. This year, cool Weather not only went just right for only minor freezing, and also eliminated a lot of the worm problems. Rain also filled the branches with glorious fruits, that clung to their mothers tenaciously, until several branches broke off from the trees, and fell to the ground, branches, apples and all. Other branches weighted by fruit hung down to the ground, so that I could mow the grass only with a careful strategy.

I pruned the low hanging branches and salvaged the apples. First I rescued the apples from the fallen and drooping branches, sorting the good from the bad, until I had filled 23 recycled grocery bags with mostly pre-ripened apples.

Not wanting to waste good food, I looked for places to give all these delicious sweet apples, I called the local Food Bank, but they were deluged with apples from other sources, people who had experienced the same sort of blessings. Finally the Salvation Army, which maintains a kitchen picked up my first shipment of apples.

"First shipment", because the job is not yet complete. There are more apples, now nearly ripe, that I hope to distribute to Orgs that help the homeless and needy. Plus, there will be some for home use,and to give to friends and neighbors.

So I will post my blogs as I am able, and you will know why I have missed a few dates before and after this post.

Writing and Image are the Copyright © of Ruth Zachary.

Thursday, August 28, 2014


Still Life, Composition in Oil.                      © By Ruth (Wagy) Zachary

Different approaches to learning composition are taught by different teachers. Eventually
I will list the Principles and Elements of Composition and Design, but because the subject is
complex, I believe artists will integrate the concepts by experiencing the process of creating
compositions, and that being able to articulate them will come intuitively in time. 

The success of abstract art depends directly upon the execution of good aesthetic characteristics, and the study of composition at an early stage of abstract work is more neccesary, than when the artist is using recognizable imagery in creating a piece of art. With realism, familiarity with a subject often includes experience with, and an intuitive sense about compositional principles. The study of composition while dealing with realistic subjects can be delayed, or absorbed intuitively by certain approaches..

 In my own experience, because non-objective abstract work requires an immediate understanding of design elements and compositional principles for the process to work well, it is more logical to learn about composition earlier in the abstract creative process, than if honing one’s representational skills.

Working alternately with realistic subjects with abstract imagery may build upon the artist’s accumulating experience and awareness, even more rapidly than working exclusively with realism or with abstraction.

I will try to use realistic examples of compositional approaches on this blog (Montage) and abstract examples of composition on my other blog, Mixed Media Abstract Art.

Whether sketching thumbnails of realistic subjects, arranging shapes within the picture plane while making a collage,  focusing on a picture with your camera,  or doodling a pen and ink design, you may create arrangements to learn about the compositional relationships and the interactions between various elements, both realistic or abstract.

Exercises to build compositional skills:
Note: If you are working with Collage, by doing these exercises using cut out shapes, you will also be learning about composition, even if you feel you cannot draw.

Arranging cut out objects in different layouts is a good way to create a still life composition.  The artist makes the choice.
Exercise- Arranging and Rearranging:
Arrange several shapes of different sizes into groups of overlapping shapes. When you
overlap objects, often they are seen by the eye as a sub grouping making one shape, which simplifies the layout more than if the objects were separated. Ultimately strive to create uneven numbers of shapes or groupings, as they are more interesting. Try to avoid placing one dominant shape in the center.

Since the above images were cut from magazines and arranged so that the perspective in the pieces remained relatively accurate, in terms of the viewer's point of view, consider this when you experiment with various layouts. Photographing these cut outs was not easy with my poor lighting, but you can see how this method could work as a way to plan a painting or composition. The cut outs could even be made into a collage if one chose.  

You might prefer to work with photographs of objects, arranging them in various groupings before deciding on your favorite layout to work out as collage, painting, pencil drawing, etc. Do not feel obligated to paint or draw the objects as completely realistic renditions. Be creative, as with the still life above, with some objects having more depth and some as flat silhouettes. If the pictures of multiple objects are taken from one viewpoint the illusion of perspective will be more accurate, if you want to convey that. You might choose one or more of your photo arrangements to develop into a finished composition.

If you work with cut out shapes, the same image may appear larger in some arrangements than in others, as they relate to other objects nearby. This is caused by the illusion of depth or perspective within the picture plane, even though on a flat surface, there is no actual depth.

Writing and Images are the © Copyright of Ruth Zachary.

Sunday, August 10, 2014


In Dreams Gone By, Mixed Media Collage Using Spray Paint, Color Copy Transfer, Colored Pencils. © Ruth Zachary.

If you started collecting images and textures and other subjects for collage, you may have noticed many of your choices are similar. (covered in the post of May 30, 2014) You may have been attracted to still life, or the opposite, choosing to collect textures showing up in beverage advertisements, which you arranged into abstractions in collage. If you did this you should have noticed you have a preference for certain subjects, or approaches. These subjects probably point to the genre you would like to interpret as an artist. Sometimes it takes years to decide upon one or two favorite subjects or ways of working.

Personally, I am an artist who never figured out what she wanted to be when she grew up. I was a printmaker for many years, but that was a medium, not a subject. Even then I moved between etching and collagraphs and various subjects, led by excitement for my experimentation and  process.

GENRE TYPES- To develop this idea about preference, I have included an
incomplete list of Subject Matter( Not defined by Media) Maybe one or two will
spark a flash of recognition for you… that a particular genre or subject matter is satisfying for you. If there is a concept or manner of expression associated with the subject, that may also be a quality you are attracted to, and wish to express in your art.

Realistic or Objective Art
         Ethnic or Cultural Context- might include Regionalism
         Figurative work- (human subjects)
         Historic Period with associated Characteristic traits
         City Scape
         Pop Art
         Still Life

Abstraction Applied to Recognizable Subject Matter: Includes some of the various kinds of abstraction of a realistic or objective subject. (to differentiate from totally non-objective art)
         Distortion and Exaggeration
         Expressionism ( generally not related to a subject)

Images and writing on this post are the Copyright © of Ruth Zachary.

Sunday, August 3, 2014


Scale refers to various aspects of size. In this case, Scale has to do with the relationship of the size of the art work in the space where it is shown. The painting is of a relatively large size and the red colors are dominant in the space as well.

Many abstractions are more dramatic if the piece is large enough to command attention at a distance away. This also is true of some Realistic Paintings. Scale has to do with size, and affects how a composition is to be seen in a room. Above, the large painting dominates the color impact for the entire space. Large is not always better, but here it is warm and dramatic in an otherwise neutral room.

Scale affects how details are conveyed to a viewer.  If the subject is  rather intimate, or is appropriately examined up close, a smaller size format  may be more effective. 

Is your vehicle large enough to transport the art work? Is it too big to put glass over it without it being dangerously heavy? Consider the practical implications as well as whether size will create an important statement. 

Proportions within the format will affect the impression created. Scale is sometimes a term used to describe the shapes within the picture plane, rather than actual size. Georgia O’Keefe  painted flowers in a larger than life size, but in a picture plane that was not extremely large compared to sizes used by other artists. Consider the implications of  Neutral vs Intense color, or Light to dark, Busy vs Quiet and Restful, as well as what you want to say by the size you choose..

With a realistic subject, the Perspective, or point of view of the viewer and of the artist will accurately communicate the eye level from which the image was or is being observed when created. This may help determine the level at which an art work is most effectively hung.

Writing only, © by Ruth Zachary.

Sunday, July 27, 2014



Picture Plane shapes  and  format shapes, as an Alternative Approach to the Conventional Square or Rectangle.

I would suggest a beginning artist try thinking about Picture Plane Shapes as an approach to designing a new piece of art. For practical reasons, most art work is rectangular, either horizontal or vertical. There is also the square, and the diamond, as well as the Circle and Oval. There can be other geometric shapes, rhomboid shapes, and irregular shapes with angles. Another option is to look at the picture plane itself as a potential for organic shapes cut out of plywood. Shields, of various types are possible as well. Not that you will want to try all of these many possible shapes. Just think about them. Once in a while the shape may convey a special idea because it is so unique, and worth the work.

Next think about putting unusual shapes inside the picture plane. I will use the term format shapes  to differentiate between the outer shape or picture plane and the shape that falls within it. Sometimes the inner shape is defined by the subject itself, especially if it is silhouetted within the picture plane. Refer back to the post of July 18, 2014 to see a composition designed to be presented in a format shape.

There are many innovative ways to present your creation as a different shape, than simply to mat the art work within the rectangle you started with. The format shape may even be presented as an organic shape with no mat.  Although the above illustration is somewhat realistic, the arch and lower rectangle boundaries of the image do suggest the possibilities of using format shapes in your art work, whether non objective or realistic.

This topic was also covered on Mixed Media Abstract Art, another of my blogs. Also on this blogsite, published prior to this one, a collagraph print using a format shape was featured.

Images and Writing are the copyright © of Ruth Zachary

Friday, July 18, 2014


Collagraph Printmaking is a form of relief collage, which uses collaged materials adhered to a background or plate, and which is hardened to make print editions, using a press.

The above collagraph print started with making a casting of actual plants and leaves. They were covered with aluminum foil, and run through a press, to make the mold. The aluminum relief (where the leaves were) was filled on the back side with acrylic modeling paste until it hardened. The acrylic casting was glued to the masonite arch and rectangle. They were printed from the combined intaglio and relief surfaces by inking the different levels using the viscosity method.

This was shown in this sequence to introduce the next step- Picture Planes and Format Shapes.

Writing and Collagraph Image above is the Copyright © of Ruth Zachary.

Sunday, July 13, 2014


Atargatis, a Mature Goddess Figure Connected with The Sea. B & W Copies on Rice Paper,  Chine Colle. © by R. Zachary

Copies for Collage

This piece, created in the late 1980s, was planned to be run as a limited edition, and was adhered to Stonehenge Printmaking Paper using a press, in a process known as chine colle. Flour based paste was used to bond the wet papers as one. Artists were just beginning to try new technology, and I had a new Canon Copier. 

Chine Colle is a process very similar to Collage, and I am showing it on this blog in connection with this Collage Series, to remind people that it is still possible to extend the use of limited imagery by making copies, either with a copy machine, or with a computer. Note the ability to repeat images by making multiple copies, and how repetition creates movement and carries the eye as a compositional device. 
Once the copies were made on acid free rice paper, I cut the pieces out and they were arranged into the composition. Then the image was adhered to rag paper in the press, using the chine colle method.  Because images are brought together and adhered to one surface, it is both a collage and a montage
While you are at it, you might as well make the copies on good paper. I recommend using rice papers, mulberry paper, and for ink jet prints, Epson lightweight matte paper. Epson inks are more colorfast than many other printing inks. These papers retain images well when used with acrylic medium and varnish.
Some copy images are adhered to paper by wax emulsion and heat. This type of image will not run when wet.
Some rice papers will cause pigments to run because these are not treated to keep the inks in place on wet paper. Again an accident can be a bonus - I sometimes use this quality to create watercolor effects on collage papers. One way to slow down this runny characteristic is to spray the image lightly with spray varnish or lacquer. Let it dry in the open air before using it in collage.
Experiment first, by taking a small sample and adhering it to mat board. Prints on Epson papers don't move, but tend to turn more intense and dark, so the original used needs to be somewhat lighter in value to have the desired result in the collage. 

 The Scanner or Copy Machine Used as Camera:
Below is another limited edition print I made using the copier as a camera, I made copies of my printmaking apron, my  crocheted homemaker's apron, pictures of my lady shoes, and of my print maker's boots which I wore in my studio. 

I was torn between being a wife, mother, and artist, and wanted in some ways to cut the apron strings. The mother bird with the brood was symbolic of needing to care for family needs first. Although I love abstraction, I also love realistic imagery because of things I want to say, when images are used as metaphors. Note: This image was used previously on 2-28-2014 on this blog. The brown tones were a feature of the Canon Copier.
Apron Strings, 14x17". Chine Colle.  Using Copier as a Camera                                        © by Ruth Zachary

All Images and Writing are the Copyright  © of Ruth Zachary and are not to be reproduced without written permission from the Artist/ Author.