Mixed Media Assemblage Artist

J J Worden

I want to make Things Even if Nobody Cares

About me

Heya!

I'mJen Worden

Maker of Things

I am a self-professed Hermit living in Rural Nova Scotia. My first love is rusty metal but I've recently discovered painting. Mostly abstract. I get bored [read: distracted] easily. Altered books, collage, assemblage, mixed media, encaustic, plaster, wire and of course, rusty metal are just a few of the media I work in. I love collaborations. I thoroughly enjoy sharing my processes and techniques. (have any questions? just ASK!) My trusty sidekick is Stella the Jack (Russell Terrier). You'll see more photos of her than me. I don't always advertise my work, but most of it IS for sale so if you see something you like? Contact me!

Current Work

Blog

Been awhile OR Things I have learned while Building a House



  1.  Building a House is not for sissies.
  2. The euphoria is equally matched with the devastation. (this may be overly dramatic)(or not)
  3. Choose your builder wisely.
  4. Get used to everything being more expensive and taking twice as long.
  5. Remember YOU will be living in this place. Not your builder, not the painter, not the electrician. YOU. This cannot be repeated often enough.
  6. Take time to sit in each room. Preferably alone and in silence.
  7. Not everything has to be done before you move in. But anything done by somebody else should.
  8. Put your money where it's important to YOU. (ie bathrooms are not my jam)
  9. If things take a bit longer toward the end? Remember a few days will NOT make a big difference in the Big Picture!
  10. Enjoy the journey!



Absorbing the new


One of my very favourite studio activities is The Tidy or (as in today's case) The Absorption of Acquisitions. When I'm not in the mood for starting something new ... or finishing something already started, there is always time for organizing bits'n'bobs.

I've been lucky to acquire some coolio stuffs of late. Not that I have room for it in my current studio but more, in anticipation of my NEW space. (Yes. At some point I will have to write about our new house build but until then, I am SO excited about this studio space.)


My latest score was a box of trophy finials ... mostly majorettes, mostly plastic... but some gorgeous metal ones. My favourite being the Monkey Girl Bowler ...


She's solid brass and HEAVY and while I'm not sure what I'll do with her (or any of them actually), I love just having her. (ruh roh. can you say hoarder?!?)

Also ... I had no idea there were so many variations and permutations of majorette trophy toppers ... a dozen in my small collection. And that's just the metal ones. Including one solitary dude.



My general modus operandi of adding something new to the established collection...


  1. Clean ... most stuff has been housed in less than stellar condition and needs a good wipe down
  2. Sort ... this is  equal parts fun and 'lunch bag let down' part of the process. Fun because each piece holds the possibility of something Great. Something New. 'Lunch bag let down' because once I'm finished, the possibility sort of leaks out and down. I dunno. Maybe this is just me. But if you know what I'm talking about, I'd love to hear your version!
  3. Find a place for the New Stuff. This is kinda fun but also can be stressful particularly in my current digs. So much stuff. So little space.
  4. Put away.
And that last one is where I'm looking for input ...a change... something. 

I'm very much an out of sight, out of mind kinda girl. Once something has been sorted and categorized and safely tucked away, I totally forget it exists. (and likely the major reason I keep acquiring stuff. I don't know what I already HAVE!) I need to find a way of organizing things ...I don't function well in a messy space... but can SEE things. Or easily access them. Or ..ugh... I dunno. Help???

In my new studio I'll have a long El-shaped bench ... one side will be desk height (under the window looking out at the lake), the long side will be a standup bench with shelves behind reaching to the ceiling approximately 12" deep and shelves underneath that will be 24" deep. I figure the lower shelves will have plastic bins to hold my heavy stuff. But the upper shelves? I need to find something that, while stashed, I can access easily. Initially I'd thought of those clear(ish) plastic shoe boxes. But I don't know if that will give me the visual I'm looking for. If you have some ideas or what works for you, I'd love to know! Please!!

The Possiblilites of Detritus


It's been a crazy stressful few weeks on the home-build side of things. Without getting into too much detail suffice it to say we have turned a corner and are back once again full steam ... and infinitely more important, full ENTHUSIASM... ahead. Part of reclaiming the build-site was going in and doing some tidying up. And really, this post's gist ... do you get excited with reno/build leftovers?


Do you see some old sheet metal, HVAC hole cutouts and a bit of rusty metal? Or are you like me and think, "Free Metal! Wheels! What could I MAKE from that?!?" Tom shakes his head as I squirrel away my newly found ART materials, brain already spinning with possibility.

There's a bag of blue insulation styrofoam that I will be lugging up to the studio tomorrow that I want to do some more animals. And those "wheels" would be perfect to make it pull-toy base, don't you think?


As you can see I've already used some of the HVAC sheet metal. It wasn't quite thick enough so I just riveted a few layers together. Bonus:

  1. Practice rivets
  2. Cool layers
  3. A new shape for me
Wins all around.
As an aside ... I do not consider myself a religious person. Spiritual, yes. But indoctrinated faith? uh uh. And yet, I'm often drawn to religious symbols ... crosses, angels, reliquary, shrines. What's up with that? I was brought up with a reasonably strong Anglican background, my parents were both involved in the church for years. Until they weren't. During a particularly hellish time in my teens, I even went back to church on my own volition. Studied and went through confirmation. And when I think back on it, kinda boggles my mind. Cuz I am so NOT organized religion. Regardless. I continue to be drawn to the symbology less for the specific meaning, I think, than the safety and comfort they invoke.
I can't wait to scavenge more building/art supplies as our house build continues. (more about THAT later!)

Personal Symbols


Taking another online mini-course, Personal Patterns from Stephanie Lee.


Starting with painting, mark making on tracing paper ... when I did a course with Jane Davies a few years ago, we did stamping on tissue paper but I wholeheartedly agree that tracing paper is much more sturdy. And it disappears just as easily as tissue paper without the potential tearing. So. Keep that puppy in my arsenal!


Then we layer. Here I focussed on colour and form rather than any specific imagery. Again. A new thing for me and while the "finished" look kinda gives me the heebie jeebies I love the scope and freedom of this base. Another, trick I'll use over and over again I think.


Now we get into personal patterns and symbology. I looked for First Nations symbols for Seasons ... going through some stuff so I'm trying to remember that everything passes "to everything there is a Season" and all that. The balloons on strings on the left  bottom is actually the symbol of winter. The diamond divided in 4 = Seasons. As you can see, not a whole lot of the original collaged substrate is showing once the paint starts to get introduced. And yet? It's all still there.


As per usual it became a tad overwrought, something I'm trying to change. I want a much rougher or rawer final product. Which I didn't quite achieve. I stopped here. But knew I'd have to go back in the morning.



And this is where I stopped. I realized I'd gone too far and would only be treading the same bit of water if I kept on. There are bits I absolutely adore ... the background behind the 3 circles on the center left. And the triangles and scribbled red bits (using new-to-me Golden Fluid Acrylic pens ... OMG swoon!) have the rawness I'm after. Everything else? Giant "meh".

Onwards!

PS It's nice to be back and I apologize if you got a flood of old posts by email. Technology. *sigh* #amiright

Forest Assemblages

Back story

Late Summer, Fall and most of Winter this past year, saw me spend an hour or two walking in our woods. Tom, my husband, discovered his naturalist side in retirement and he's now listening when I say, "Oh. This is wintergreen. Smell!" or "Taste this!" as I hand him purslane or sheep sorrel. Only took 30 years. :)

Part of living in rural Nova Scotia is dealing with hunters and (worse in my mind) trappers being able to freely use private property to ...well... hunt and trap. As Stella is always with me on my walks, I carry wire cutters at all times. When I also started carrying wire, that was the start of my forest assemblages.

I like putting metal hearts (cut from cans) on my favourite trees. Mainly beech, as it turns out.
Stars go on trees that strike me as being stellar on any given walk.
I'll also pick up sticks and pinecones and stones that beckon; wrap them in wire and create mobiles hung in branches along the multitude of pathways.

Perhaps someday I will create a continuous marker system but mostly they are random occurrences on our 130 acre woodlot.





Making hay

One of the giant differences between assemblage/mixed media work and straight painting is the thought process during construction. When I paint and am stuck ... I tend to move to assemblage. The painting remains on my easel and while I'm working at my table, I can glance back and ponder what comes next. Often. I don't even THINK about it. It just pops into my head while I'm banging away.

Not quite so straight forward with assemblage.
Well. For me at least.

 Many months ago I created this doodle in my travelling art journal ... a copy of Austin Kleon's Steal Like An Artist which resides in my purse at all times along with a bag of Sharpies and one of my fave pens (Pilot G-TEC-C4 ... no affiliate. I just LOVE these pens!!)

Original doodle drawing ...
I always figured it'd end up being an assemblage and thought it would be a perfect addition to my "Home. Wish You Were Here." project.

With some modifications of course.

Working through the steps on paper ...
Like, I wanted  the box to be more ...erm... house-y to fit in the theme.
And how to deal with those balloons? (think packing tape!)
Other elements popped up that would work for the post and base.
But each piece needed to build on the other so to my working journal!
I keep this in the studio where I, y'know, work stuff out.

Starting the construction ...
The photo above shows my original roof structure on the left(ish). It didn't quite work out. So I've opted for a cardboard mock-up. I *think* I'm going to plaster it. Only. I really love the super smooth finish of the box. I also have to figure out how to attach the pole/post. Which is going to mark up the interior ... aluminium tape? Go rough (and then I don't have to worry about that smooth finish)? Hmmm. What to do? What to do? (did you notice the "balloons"?!?)



And herein lies the solution to figuring stuff out while assembling/mix media-ing ... I break out the wire, pliers and hammers, a few stashed elements (in this case teeth and claws ... cuz don't we all have a drawer of those lying about? Okay. So *I* have a drawer of those kicking around!) and make ...well... more stuff!

The one downside of working like this is I often get so excited about one of these "side paths" that I forget what I was doing and THAT project ends up in the "Finish This Shit" box.

Really though. Hardly the worst thing to have happen.
Am I right?!?
JEN WORDEN
#notaphoneperson
Nova Scotia . Canada

LET'S DO IT OLD SCHOOL