Saturday, September 22, 2012

The “Exquisite Doodle” Artist Project, Post 22

Mary Lou Zeek - Dream harvesting.

Today I’m going to share with you Mary Lou’s Exquisite Doodle box.  This is a very special post because without Mary Lou and her gallery there would be no Exquisite Doodle Artist Project.  She runs her gallery out of Salem, Oregon, and has the most amazing group shows.  The current show is called “UpCycle.”  Photo: ©William Skrips (group show “UpCycle,” Mary Lou Zeek Gallery)
Of course I had to invite Mary Lou to be one of the Players, not only for her to see firsthand the way the project develops, but because I knew she’d really enjoy it and create something wonderful.  As you can see, I was right!

The whole idea behind the Exquisite Doodle Artist Project is to continue where the gallery’s annual “100 Artists Group Show” from last February called “The Art of Communication” left off.  The proceeds from that show are being used to support projects which are documented on this blog with the intention of setting examples of how art can be used to stimulate and inspire communication between artists.  These examples can then be used to create workshops led by artists for the community.
My point of view about participating with Mary Lou on this blog stems from my conviction that we are all artists at heart with something meaningful to contribute to the world.  Photo: “The Universe Conspires,” ©2012 Alex Mitchell
To get a good idea of Mary Lou’s passion for art and commitment to her community in Salem, visit her blog:  There is a wonderful story up right now about her son Adam who is helping preserve Salvation Mountain in Niland, California.  Photo: ©Josh McNair,

“Leonard Knight (b.1935) decided to build a monument to God on a desert ridge (in 1986)… Carving and moulding the surface, using thousands of gallons of donated paint, he covered hundreds of meters of the ridge with evangelical messages and decorations.  “God Is Love” flourished amidst fields of flowers and cascading waterfalls.  After three years work the mountain collapsed, but instead of quitting, Knight learned from his mistakes, switched from using heavy concrete to lighter adobe to shape the mountain, and started over again…”
- Excerpt from “Fantasy Worlds,” ©2007 Taschen GmbH, text by John Maizels.
I’m a fan of outsider art myself, so I knew about Salvation Mountain from my books.  Within the category of outsider art, this creation is termed a “visionary environment.”  And truly, Leonard Knight had a vision that impassioned him to dedicate his life’s work to its fulfillment.  Photo: ©Josh McNair,
Here is the way the scroll turned out after Mary Lou doodled in the white spaces I left for her!  See Post 10 to compare.  Scroll pic 1 of 3,
scroll pic 2 of 3,
and scroll pic 3 of 3.
Read about Mary Lou’s visit to Salvation Mountain and Adam’s efforts on her blog.  Here’s a photo of the both of them.  It is clear that Mary Lou has passed on her passion for and perseverance in the arts.  Photo: ©Mary Lou Zeek Gallery
I had fun painting the interior of Mary Lou’s box!  She had started by outlining a few shapes in pen and I took it from there.  I hope she likes it!
Mary Lou’s drawings on her scroll made me very happy.  It looks to me like the blossoms of a dream being harvested… the result of believing, striving, and keeping the faith.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

The “Exquisite Doodle” Artist Project, Post 21

Kristine Suhr - The butler did it!
I was very much looking forward to Kristine’s Exquisite Doodle box arriving from Denmark.  She is always full of surprises just like her mechanical paintings!  Photo: “A Dive in the Sea of Books,” ©Kristine Suhr
I was delighted to find that Kristine had doodled and pasted on her scroll, and also painted the interior of her box.  I had left her a few “clues” on the scroll which she immediately used to create a little murder mystery of her own…  
As children, Kristine and I were convinced that we were born to be special agents. We ended up being artists instead, however we keep our detective skills sharp by writing each other “Top Secret” letters in code or with invisible ink.
Kristine is the pop-up queen par excellence.  People call on her to make pop-up books where she does the paper engineering, printing, compiling, and even the bookbinding.
Photo: “The Pop-up Book,” ©Kristine Suhr
Does this boring meeting feel familiar?  Kristine has a knack for taking an all too familiar situation and then giving it her signature touch - a funny twist or a bit of nonsense.  It’s amazing how sometimes half a dozen parts of a mechanical painting will move by the turn of a crank.  A great way to see how her works transform is by watching her mini-videos on YouTube:
Photo: “Meeting,” ©Kristine Suhr
In honor of nonsense, I can’t help but share an old painting I did where the little birds can be moved around on the painting via velcro.  It’s something I created  “just because.”  Photo: “Nonsense,” ©2006 Alex Mitchell
Here is the way the scroll turned out after Kristine doodled in the white spaces I left for her!  See Post 11 to compare.  Scroll pic 1 of 3,
scroll pic 2 of 3,
and scroll pic 3 of 3.
Kristine’s website is quite clever.  By clicking on a little camera icon to the left of each image a short video pops up to show what happens when Kristine turns the crank or pulls the handle.  You can watch how a bowl of fruit changes into a bowl of heads, for example:
Photos: “Nature (almost) Morte,” ©Kristine Suhr
See, I told you she painted the interior of her box!  I don’t know about you, but I am very suspicious of that “finger” gun…
Oh, and if you haven’t solved the murder mystery yet, I’ll save you the trouble… The butler did it!

Saturday, September 8, 2012

The “Exquisite Doodle” Artist Project, Post 20

Keith Newstead - Learning to fly.

All the way from England came Keith’s Exquisite Doodle box.  He’s my automata superhero, a true wizard at creating moving sculptures made in a variety of materials ranging from small paper kits to gigantic metal robots.  Photos: “King Kong,” ©Keith Newstead
Keith’s scroll tells a story which begins where my doodles left off...
about this lovable little character that figures out how to fly.
And this flying pig is one of Keith’s paper automata kits which are for sale in shops and galleries, or wholesale through Keith:  Photos: “Flying Pig,” ©Keith Newstead
Of course I can’t resist to add my own King Kong sculpture to the mix after seeing his!  Photo: “Operation King Kong,” ©2006 Alex Mitchell

Here’s a donations box Keith was commissioned to make by the Exeter Museum earlier this year.  These are process photos from his blog.  It’s amazing to see his sculptures in the making:  Photos: “Exeter Museum Donations Box,” ©Keith Newstead
Here is the way the scroll turned out after Keith doodled in the white spaces I left for him!  See Post 12 to compare.  Scroll pic 1 of 3,
scroll pic 2 of 3,
and scroll pic 3 of 3.
Here’s another collection box Keith made about ten years ago.  This one is driven just by the weight of a coin dropping down.  To get a true sense of Keith’s work it’s essential (and lots of fun) to watch his short videos on YouTube:
Photos: “The Fisherman,” ©Keith Newstead
Inspired by Keith’s drawings, I had fun painting the interior of Keith’s box.
So, I’ll leave you now to your star-gazing and dream-making… and remember, it’s never too late to learn to fly!