In a previous post, Big Ideas, Small Spaces, I mentioned the thrill of collage as similar to that of editing a video.  I believe both are organic, intuitive processes, with exciting, in-the-moment discoveries.  Both collage and editing use colors and shapes to imply new artistic ideas.  To demonstrate this, I made a self-portrait from the different color skin tones I found in soon-to-be recycled magazines and catalogs.


First, a photograph was taken to display an emotion.  This photograph would be later used for a guiding pencil sketch and reference for the pasting of cut-out shapes and colors.


Next, a pencil sketch was drawn on fine charcoal paper.  I used the grid technique to blow up the image.  Rather than just outline the face, I shaded the drawing to show where the gradations occurred, and to help in the application of the colored magazine paper.


I cut out different shades of skin and separated them into groups.  I used school glue to stick down the abstract shapes that fit the gradations of shade in the photograph.  Starting with darker skin in the shaded area at the right, I moved left, layering lighter skin tones, to end up with the highlights.  For the ear, I used actual ear parts, since they were already the same texture, and sometimes the same shape.


For the mouth and lips, I cut out different colored lip shapes.  The tongue was an enormous close-up of a lower lip.  Up close, it is quite abstract, but by staying true to the shading in the photograph, I believe it worked.  The right brain interprets what that body part is, forgives the literal left brain, and recognizes it as a representation of the real thing.


For the eyes, nose and eyebrows, I puzzled together colored polygons where they best belonged.  Again, collaging, like editing video, is an imperfect, intuitive thing.  There is no right or wrong here.  Just the fidelity to the shading and skin tone.  Having the pencil sketch underneath helped to guide where the borders of tone ended and another tone began.  I cheated on the eyes, finding a pair with the same color as mine and I used wrinkles found in other places, like the neck and smile line, for the creases in the forehead and under the eyes.


Again, the finished self-portrait collage.  I could not resist using a woman’s cleavage for the chin cleft and the magenta colored T-shirt was the icing on the cake!





I reached for the ring

from our small apartment bed

and proposed to you



bass from my black car

stoned on the road I drove you

through the town street maze



I hung up on you

your small, far away phone voice

echoes and echoes



Above the turquoise swimming pool

breaking sunlight beneath

I hold my breath

and once underwater

flashes of a shopping mall

May D&F department store

hiding in the clothing rack

my mother takes me into

the changing room

I lay on the floor

look up at the woman

changing next to us

I can see

up her skirt

the price tag



She’ll hustle hard as you

She’ll hustle just as hard as you

Lady samurai will not only make money

She’ll shoot hoops like her daddy taught her to

Joy will sing from her notebook

Kissing moist and tongue locked wet

She shivers when you suck her full lower lip

Now closing in on a fat screaming jet

Filled to capacity with cream

She sits across the airliner aisle

Tiny gold bracelets wrap her wrist

And you’ve seen them before

Because this was your dream

And just as she asks you what you do

She’ll remember this dream too

And know this was for you

And know this was only and all just for you



To his grandma’s house when she was alive

Later Jan Hammer stereophonic

Eight-year-old head resting on chin, eyes wide

Loyal partners, vintage white Ferrari

Low-slung shoulder holster pistol chest hair

Poolside diamond heist Cuban drug lord

Miami prostitute thrown overboard

Naive black youngster killed wearing a wire

Turquoise ocean and magenta sunset

Television cop show changes boy’s life



Out the window, I too see the clouds

See the amber light to eternity

The sight is so bright, so much like a shroud

Never would I think it was meant for me

Too fast youth, golden seasons left behind

All of those memories lost in the blaze

In those landscapes painted upon God’s mind

Gave up searching for your face in the haze

Flame to be relit, the heart is no liar

My dumb clumsy traipsing gait cobbled right

I tried rescuing reason from the fire

My bed was cold and I clicked out the light

But far away I could still hear your voice

Soft, heaven sent, and for that I rejoice



My dream to tie with you my lonely rope,

Has turned to hell, into a life I hate

I fell for you, my love, we did elope

Now stuck with you too long and much too late

Forgive me, but to read this will be tough:

You are a hippopotamus, my queen

To share the labor would have been enough

To work all day just like some hard machine

As you lay languid fore your flick’ring screen

You say you may bring child along the line

A winning husband all you thought you need

You’re wrong to think we need more of your kind

You once did thrill me with your languid life

But here we split, my late and lazy wife



Divorced those years ago.

Never expected to talk to you again.

Not until last week, editing old video footage

Of our trip to Baja.

The magenta bougainvillea

Nostalgia’s wicked film burn,

Dialed your number, one digit different from mine.

No one picked up.

Next morning, you called back.

We talked my entire drive to work.

You moved to Iowa with your new husband,

Organic farmer.

But you were bored,

Alone in a town of one thousand

No restaurants and you cooking every night

I heard your baby talk in the background

And I felt for you,

That child could have been mine.

I hung up before leaving to teach third grade.

I’ll always have the Baja video,

You, happy, hiding behind the mosquito netting

I’ll have the scars, too.

But I’ll never have you.

No, I know, I will never have you.



Like a single tear in the endless sea

His feral laziness legendary

He never lift a paw, she let him be

Lion underneath the acacia tree

Only let the females prowl so closely

Like a single tear in the endless sea

One afternoon, the pride moved on, you see

That raving bitch of age caught up to he

He never lift a paw, she let him be

Desperate solitude, he was so lonely

His release was to find identity

Like a single tear in the endless sea

She showed up one day unexpectedly

A calico of varied pedigree

He never lift a paw, she let him be

She was afraid, she thought he just might leave

He thought she would flee like everybody

Like a single tear in the endless sea

He never lift a paw, she let him be