art boxes

A few years ago a studio neighbour gave me some cigar boxes. I’ll be interested to see what you do with them, she said. And so they sat on a shelf above my studio door, amongst many other useful/useless things, because that’s what humans do when given things they know they know the why of but not the how.


And then, while on a collage tear (I’m starting to believe collaging is an addiction –– this white noise automation that takes over while one keeps adding and subtracting, smoothing and removing) one morning, I looked over my shoulder to see them up there, and within a minute they were down and being primed.


The thing with a cigar box is this: it’s already an imperfect object. Half industrial weight card, half light wood, all nicks and torn labels. So adding the stressed texture of collage just feels natural.

And there is something wonderful about images revealed, whether it’s by pulling back a curtain or opening a lid.


I think I’m done with these for now, knowing full well that I’ll return to the idea when that internal lightning strikes again. But they’ve been very enjoyable to do, and just knowing that I’m making one-of-a-kind things that people will always keep is more than enough for me.

You can see these and more art objects here. Good luck with Christmas!


and i look in the mirror like i did something wrong (make collage not war)

Is the dignity of the thing in the effort behind it? This is certainly the message we tell ourselves, or at least the lesson we want our children to know. Because it’s a nice idea, an elevating ambition for what it means to be human. But I have my doubts.

I spend a lot of time making failures. They are everywhere, all around me, all the time (and this is only speaking to my personal art, or the art I make by hand, leaving aside entirely the issue of graphic design, which is a wholly different kind of poisonous cognitive dissonance). In my studio, I can step in any direction and pick up a failure and hold it in my hands. I can close my eyes and feel the failure in it, these tiny vibrations of best-before-ness, either idea or execution gone sour.

There is nothing ennobling about this feeling.

Art, like Nature, does not care about effort, about how hard you tried, about how much you believed. Whole artistic movements have been resigned to footnotes in the annals of po-faced, fart-sniffing fuckery (although, historically, this kind of purposeful rankness has always increased your chances of getting an arts grant). And when it comes down to individual works, there is no gold star for just using lots and lots of paint.

The only rational response to this is collage.

Collage lets you off the hook. It lets you have fun again. It is mad-scientist time. Collage is pure experimentation under (some) formal restrictions, like calling a meeting with a six year-old enforcing Robert’s Rules of Order. Every idea is entertained with the tacit understanding that it is probably shit. But the things that click will do so most obviously, in that quick way that makes you snort and smile.

Anyway: I’ve been doing a lot of collage lately. Here are three.


don’t neglect winter chills / mixed media on masonite / 9 x 12 inches


an escapist picture of the universe / mixed media on book board / 7 x 9.5 inches


speaking in poems / mixed media on book board / 7 x 9 inches

so many i’s


so many i’s / an original painting on cradled wood board / 10 x 20 inches

an ink drawing on found paper

led to mounting that on the inside of book board (the entire cover, including spine, opened)

which led to cutting that book cover in half,

and painting something new on one half

and then mounting both halves on cradled wood board

and adding elements of collage

which led to painting and integrating and otherwise making it whole,

all these ingredients or personalities