Viral Reading

It’s a good thing I had lots of reading material checked out of my local library before it shut down. I’m a compulsive reader who will read jar labels if nothing else is available. And thank heavens one of the books I have now is the last part of Hilary Mantel’s Thomas Cromwell series, “The Mirror and the Light.” It clocks in at 700 plus pages, but every word is worth reading.

Two of my books pertain to art: “Rex Ray” and “Landscape Painting Now.” As I wrote a bit ago, I’ve made three Rex Ray inspired pieces.

Ready to Split
Not All Black and White

Because Ray was so prolific with commercial and fine art projects, the book I have covers only so much of his work. It’s broken down into collage on paper, collage on panel, and collage on canvas work. Ray made at least one small collage on paper every day for many years.

This is a wall of Ray’s daily collages.
Ray at his collage work table
“Collage Number 2751” painted paper and resin on panel, 24 by 16 inches, no date
Ray beginning work on a panel. He used a kitchen sponge mop to apply his base color. You can see a wood grain in many backgrounds as in the piece shown above.
“Leptogium,” oil, acrylic, and painted paper on linen, 76 inches square, 2006. I see potential for paper piecing and applique here.

“Landscape Painting Now” casts a much wider net. The opening essay by Barry Schwabsky notes that landscape painting hasn’t gone away in modern times, but has been reinvented by contemporary painters.

I’ve chosen my favorites from the book, though I’ll note that one of the artists, Jordan Nassar, hasn’t painted his work but has used tatreez, a Palestinian mode of cross stitch embroidery. The book’s authors note his “works are more akin to art than craft – with his use of a needle and thread in place of a paintbrush.” I heard that sort of special pleading before. I know the book’s title is landscape painting, but I wonder why this one exception was made.


Filed under Books, Commentary

11 responses to “Viral Reading

  1. Wsh more editors could see art in stitches replacing paintbrush. Lots of inspiration in your selections, and you have the whole books!

    • Since the book is called landscape painting rather than landscape art, I’ll give the editors a pass, but much art is summarily dismissed because it’s not made with paint. And then when a fiber artist is discovered by the art world, it’s as if that fiber artist is the only one in the world.

      • Yeah, that singling out is damning with faint praise, to be sure. Kinda like in history when it is made to look like a leader sprang from nowhere, overlooking the movement of people.

  2. I’m sorry you have had to join the isolation club but it looks like you will spend your time wisely and joyfully. I finished a very small paper collage yesterday, it’s one of the examples for Visions Art Museum member challenge in April. I will be sticking to fabric! I especially like your first pictured quilt – the hard straight line backdrop to the movement of the curves, and the color, it’s striking.

  3. I think that Rex Ray book would be a great desert island book, and I guess we are all on virtual desert islands now. Your work “Oops” is just phenomenal. So many layers of interest, which is what I always find in your work!

    • Thank goodness I already had those books out when my library closed. They’re great to open at random and study whatever show up. Thanks for the kind words about Oops. It was great fun to make.

  4. Jane Herbst

    Joanna, thanks for sharing such great inspirations from Rex Ray and the landscapers (new group?)! I never tire of the journeys of possibility I find with your work and your posts. Keep on keeping on!

  5. Thanks for sharing. I Love Rex Ray. He shows that anyone can do abstract art in simple ways. It’s nice to do something out of our comfort zone once in a while.

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