Sunday, June 28, 2009

Paper Group

Right up the alley of 2-dimensional artwork, comes the mission statement of an art-group that likes to work exclusively with paper:
"Paperworks Mission Statement"
"The...Collective for paper-artists provides educational and creative opportunities for all who work ...on paper, and promotes the appreciation and enjoyment of the paper....arts........"

The nature of paper is that it is, of course, two-dimensional, and thus fits into our study of the two-dimensional arts in this world. (I went to a paper-making class the other day, and while it was definitely not a two-dimensional process, the final product that I turned out, paper, was two-dimensional, and ready to be worked with, drawn on, used in collage, cut up or not, dyed, traced around, glued, scripted on, etc!)

I am excited to discover this local Collective, and since I have always been a paper-freak, since I was about 6 years old, I am looking forward to "join up" with them. Will keep you posted!

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Pressed Flowers

OK, I have now attended my first flower-pressing group - or actually it is a crafts group that makes greeting cards (two-dimensional art work) using pressed flowers. (Everyone gathers and presses their own flowers at home, and then brings them to the group meeting.)

Originally I had thought that such a crafts-person would simply place one pressed flower, complete with its foliage, in the center of the blank card, and then do the final touches by affixing it to the card with the provided clear contact paper. "Voila."

But no, these artisans often separate the petals and then press them, so that many more varieties of artwork are possible: many more slants on composition, color combination, and contrast are presented, as was evident to me today by their cards. They also press varieties of foliage from weeds, shrubs, flowers, bouquets in-a-vase, ferns, leaves, etc.

They even gave me a huge gazania flower-head from which to remove the petals and press in my very own telephone book at home, plus a likewise dissected chrysanthemum ! Here goes!

Friday, June 26, 2009


As has been mentioned, photographs are obviously 2-dimensional art. Still photography is a huge and varied market in today's world of news and beauty.

One type of photograph I like and even insist on in certain circumstances, is the photograph of the meal itself that accompanies the recipe in a cookbook! I don't know if it's that I'm dyslexic in this area, but the photograph adds so much to the whole idea of preparing the meal.

If I am looking for recipes of say, ways to cook chicken, I am already focused on a sound idea, and I may not need a photo, but if I am just browsing, seeking to be inspired, seeking to expand my cooking horizons, I need a photo. And these cooking photos are always a lovely close-up, suggestive, in mouth-watering color, with an interesting composition, good lines, nice background, etc......going right along with the artistic guidelines of a good photo....

And it makes one wonder who got to consume that luscious meal after it was photographed!

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Pressed Flowers

I've been invited to join a charity group which makes greeting cards with pressed flowers.

Now, this is no attempt at fine art.

However I have to expound on how I used to make greeting cards with pressed flowers some 40 years ago, all on my own. I remember during a drought in northern California I scavenged for lupines and wild sweet peas, because nothing much else was blossoming. Here and now in the desert we have the Mexican Firebird, which everyone knows, blooms all summer long and well into the fall. I am sneaking peeks already at these colorful shrubs in the wild, where I would hopefully not be apprehended for accosting the landscape.......these beautiful flowers must somehow find their way into the pages of my flower-pressing telephone book......

The result will be 2-dimensional pressed flower greeting cards, with matching envelopes, though I have yet to attend my first meeting! .....

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Primitive Interior

We're going to go on a little tourist attraction today: about 20 minutes from where I live in southeastern Arizona there is a large Spanish Mission from the 1600's, San Xavier Mission which, you guessed it, is chock full of ancient paintings done on the interior walls, throughout.

Its location is just south of Tucson on Interstate 19, off the road about a half-mile: you can easily see its inspiring spires from the Freeway.

From the outside San Xavier architecturally resembles any other gorgeous Spanish Mission (and very well kept up), all in white, with the arches and the domes, and the steeples, and the palm trees and cactuses, but it's the interior walls that present today's 2-dimensional subject.

All this artwork is like decoration, in the sense that all the painted lines run into each other, and all pictures, and designs, and borders are juxtaposed, one thing right next to another, from the interior top of the domes and steeples, down to the floor, and also on the walls from side to side. (It is a huge photo-op!) It actually reminds me of being inside a wedding cake, with all the cake decorations somehow projected onto the retinas of my eyes.....

Monday, June 22, 2009


Another piece of two-dimensional art from Medieval times is the icon. These days, the word "icon" has been used to represent celebrities, and even people who are famous for being famous..... :-) ......but I digress....

Icons from the past were often painted with gold highlights and painted on wood, or wooden 2-part screens, or (3-part) triptychs. Many of these were only a few inches high, although many were depicted on large pieces. These were usually of a religious nature, and represented personages, or popes or saints or the Virgin Mary with Child, or represented an event or a story, like the "illuminations" of last entry, and many times from the Bible. These icons are usually placed in ancient churches, and cathedrals (we're talking Europe) or museums of modern times. They are not hard to find actually, and I have bought several from shops, quite reasonably, just to decorate the entertainment center in my home. They sit quite nicely on top of the TV, for example.

I have to report that the shops I have frequented for these purchases are often in Mexico.

Sunday, June 21, 2009


An illumination is simply a colorful illustration found in a book. However, it usually has an outdated look, because many times these illuminations were done some 600 years ago, and tended to accompany the pages of text written and scrolled on by monks, who were often the only people who could read and write in those days.

These illuminations never fill the entire page, but are simply inserted into the beginning of the chapter, up on the top left.

The illuminations often are very poorly drawn, though they are colorful and have nicely done borders (there's that word again) around them. It is painfully clear that those who rendered these illistrations were by no means artists, and were simply instructed to draw something out, according to the contents of the chapter.

I think the illuminations merely have an historical value, if sometimes grotesque and not truly "cultural" in quality, but they are worth noting for the sake of historical (hysterical?) drama.

Saturday, June 20, 2009


Suppose we apply "borders" and "2-dimensional" but leave the rectangular item for a while.

If we go the craft realm we could look at say, a round or oval shape; for example: a plate.

This morning in my ceramics studio I moved from my customary ceramic square tile, to a circular plate which I wanted to decorate by applying glazes, with brushes and sponges. It's really not fudging to say that it is virtually a 2-dimensional format.

Around the round edges, of course, a plate gives one the opportunity to choose from among a myriad of borders. Withe the help of a couple of artsy-craftsy stencils I sponged patterns around the border of the plate, interspersed with the word "Believe", which is one of those current catchwords that seems to be popular at the moment, and it suited my fancy. And in the center of the plate one can paint a vignette, or a landscape, or perhaps a sunshine face, which is what I did. Now it's ready for the fire, and here's hoping it turns out sunshiney!

Thursday, June 18, 2009


Wallpaper is not something we usually think about ...but obviously it presents a great possibility for enhancing the atmosphere and artistic mood of our own homes. A good painting also looks good hung up on a wallpapered wall.

One of the things I like about wallpaper is the huge variety that is available out there, and one can see them in so many sample books, in the various "home box" stores. Not only do you see the endless variety of color schemes, but same for the designs, and the sizes of the designs. Some people like tiny teeny little vignettes - eg. carefully spaced moss roses - and some people like expansive and wonderful stripes - Coco cabana! - and some people even like still life's. I have to admit, grapes and grapevines are very popular.

Then there's the textured look, where the whole wall is simply an exercise in texture, often a reproduction of a pattern applied with a sea-sponge or a "rag," and in one color, or two colors, or sometimes in three colors, carefully selected of course, with a certain color-scheme in mind. And sometimes, the homeowner skips the store entirely and uses her own paints and sponges!

Tuesday, June 16, 2009


We see posters in store windows, stapled to lamp-posts, tacked up on bulletin boards, put up in libraries and living rooms, taped to to walls and windows (providing of course we are not talking about flyers!) published in books, and occasionally we see excellent posters framed and exhibited.

Posters are of course a 2-dimensional medium, and rarely is it, that a poster has not been reproduced in multiple numbers. This is not a one-of-a-kind art form.

Posters have a particular beauty in that they 'most always combine a picture, an illustration, a painting, or a photograph, with text of some description. Script. A Font. A Hand. An Alphabet. Calligraphy. This text can run right across the picture, or placed at the top, or there at the bottom, and in various sizes and/or colors, depending on the impact desired. This is not a medium that is rarely seen, nor which requires the viewer to enter a museum to see.

However the most charming posters - the originals - are only visible in the museums, and were done by Toulouse LaTrec during the middle of the 19th century, I believe it was in France: all his lettering was filled in and done by hand, and has a lovely elegant quality.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Fab Fibers in Grasscloth

Grasscloth wallcoverings are what I would call another form of wallpaper, and they showed up in the latest Phoenix Magazine. They interest me, because they are the epitome of a 2-dimensional art form - as is wallpaper - but have the added benefit of catering to the interior of the home, and of being made of natural grasses: "Versatile and chic, grasscloth wallcoverings take root in interior design" .....

"Such plants as jute, sisal, flax, and raffia....are being noticed for their aesthetic qualities as they take center stage in a new breed of grasscloth wallcoverings." Grasscloth offers such designs as screen-printed florals, embroidered patterns, and solid colors in flag-like "flavors", apparently available in 29 colors!

Wallpaper is of course susceptible to repetitive patterns, and vignettes, both of which I have always thought of as quite charming, as can be fabric design or surface design.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Etchings on a Metal Plate

Sometimes an etching - another 2-dimensional art form - is done by scratching through a "ground" that has been placed on a rectangular metal plate. This again will show up in two colors, when printed, like black and white, and thus is sometimes called a graphic art.

Even today one will see an etching that has been rendered in "crosshatch", and thus an artist can apply tons of shading, and to many and various degrees, unlike the woodcut.

Historically speaking many etchings were done, even for rough sketches, by some of the finest and most famous artists, say back in the Middle Ages; send me a comment and let me know if you have some of those famous names!

Sometimes the "ground" can be a SOFT ground, which means a person can "draw" through it with say, a match, from a book of matches - as I have done - instead of scratching through a hard ground on the plate. This can represent a much more casual or "free" mode of drawing.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Woodcuts and Linoleum

A black and white woodcut print has a particular quality. Not only is it only black and white only (IF it is printed on white paper!) but it has no shading: no grey areas. It is not like a drawing, say, a charcoal drawing, or a pencil drawing, with shading. A woodcut print has more or less broad areas of black, usually, juxtaposed with broad areas of white. With a certain sensitivity.

Or course one can render any subject matter that one pleases in woodcuts, but whatever it is, it will have that characteristic of being only in dark black, and white. (Or red, and white, or navy and white, or turquoise and white, you get the idea.)

An orange, for instance - the fruit - might possibly only work in a woodcut as a solid shape of an orange, or as the shape cut out from the middle with only a black outline. (More difficult to do.) A cut-out white crescent moon would work, for instance, but only if there is black left all around it.

Linoleum cuts are also made, using woodcut tools, and printed out exactly the same way. What is fun is to study different artists' renditions - or different illustrators or commercial artists - done in this graphic medium of black and white.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Speaking of black and white illustrations, let's talk about black and white in general, and of course we are talking about 2-dimensional black and white. When I was in college it was sometimes referred to as "graphics", or "graphic arts", actually!

One way to address black and white art is to think of etchings, and of woodcuts in particular, for now. Woodcuts are often implemented in a soft pine board, (medium-size, for the sake of handling) with special woodcutting knives, or tools. Sometimes people draw on the board first, to indicate where they want to cut, or remove, material. To remove material (wood) creates the area(s) which will become white, in the print-out. Sometimes people paint first - usually black - onto the pine board, and this will become the indication of where to leave the wood alone, as it represents where the artist wants the black to remain.

Other times, a person will simply start cutting, with one or more tools, and after a while, will take a print, to see how it's coming along: sort of a "from the gut" approach, for black and white.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009


Another form of 2-dimensional art is illustration. Illustration comes in many forms, including books (and children's books in particular), posters, murals (again), decoration, advertising, poetry, and even mapwork.

Comes to mind the memorable illustrations from my childhood, in Mother Goose: so many poems, and most of them had a skillful and charming line-illustration in accompaniment. There were long, puffy skirts, ruffly, broad-brimmed bonnets, excellent animals, some of whom who talked, pretty English-style trees on the horizon, and of course to top it all off, Mother, with her ringlets, riding on the bridled Goose.

Illustrations can also come in novels, to mark the onset of certain chapters, and can be simple but well-designed graphics in a woodcut style print, in black and white only. This spring I've enjoyed reading the novel "Cross Creek," from the '30's if I remember right, by Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings, (she was the author of "The Yearling"). This book contained a lovely bunch of these black-and-white illustrations, picturing the "swamp" country in Florida, and which additionally kept me enthralled the whole time!

Monday, June 8, 2009

This is about a little quail with checkerboard wings who is wearing red high-top sneakers.

Actually it is my rendition of plagiarized art from two different magazine pictures......and yes, it is 2-dimensional: a 2-dimensional quail in two-dimensional high-top sneakers.....

(Oh, the fun you can have applying art to a square ceramic tile!)

This tile was rendered by myself, with colored glazes, and then placed in an "06" cone kiln, to be fired to perfection.

For my next 6-inch tile I am going to apply three borders in a row, as is often done on a woven Indian rug (Native American). These borders will stretch right across the middle of the tile instead of being found only at the edges of the square. Thus one can think in only two dimensions, and turn out a nice little piece of glazed art!

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Thursday, June 4, 2009

You know how, every once in a blue moon they put out a movie in "3-D"? Of course you know that means "3-dimensional"......appearing to have height, width, and depth.

That's because every other movie is 2-dimensional!

No matter how big or how bright or how dramatic or how impressive or how 2-star or how 5-star or how "blockbuster" or how "old time", how gory or how excellent or how much action or how sentimental, or how loud, or how wonderful the sound track music, that movie is 2- dimensional. It just seems that the more I research, the more 2-dimensional projections (pardon the movie term) I see.

I guess it's time to expose the fact that this computer screen, whether it's a laptop or a phone or a PC or a Mac or a ........? that everything - every single thing - you see on it, whether it's text or pictures, is two-dimensional, and same with all the TV's in our communities and homes.
I say, if you think two dimensions is limiting, think again!

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Bubbles and Blips

I saw some radical borders recently. A border is at the edge of a 2-dimesional piece....the border can be all around the rectangular edge, or it can be at the bottom of a piece of fabric - as say, a curtain, or a drape, or a skirt or an apron - or, it can simply be at the top and the bottom, as in some tiles, or it can be simply at the top, as in say, a letterhead for your stationery.

Borders can be geometrical, or picturesque, colorful, or simply graphic in one or two colors, representational or abstract, or from a certain culture, or historical, or thematic, or simply technical and whimsical.

The borders I saw were done in fused glass, and they hung in a window, so the light could flow through the colors. In a rectangular shape about 8" by 4", they seemed to be a series of stripes interspersed with bubbles; definitely whimsical and evoking a certain mood. The whole piece was stripes, in fact, (see a previous entry) but they were obviously borders, placed all in a row, one on top of the other, as in a sheet of paper: definitely two dimensions!