Friday, September 2, 2011

Vintage Signs Inspire 12x12 Artist Caryl Morgan

Caryl Morgan, Newkirk
Caryl Morgan, Neon in Antiquity, Photo transfer, watercolor & ink, 12"x12"
Tell us about the inspiration for your 12x12 Art Fundraiser piece:
I have been working on a body of work based on vintage signage. I have been taking photos of classic neon signs and signs with interesting messages for several years. Most people pass by these signs and pay little attention but to me they are icons of American. It is getting harder and harder to find these signs. Most of the signs I photograph are from hotels and restaurant. Bars and liquor store neon signs are plentiful but rarely hold my attention long enough to stop and photograph the image. My studio is across from the local bar and I love the way the light from their sign colors the building at night. I have been creating collage compositions with neon signs and art history subjects so I thought it would be fun to take neon back in time, hence the title of the piece, "Neon in Antiquity." 

How did you execute it technically?
I love making cut paper collages. I use to use them to teach painting composition. I give students magazines and tell them to create a composition that would make a good painting using images, texture and colors only, no words. My cut paper collages have evolved into a printing/mixed media process. For this piece I searched my art history books for examples of Greek and Roman bas reliefs from the classical period. I made black and white photo copies of things I thought would go together and that would look good illuminated by neon light. I pieced together the collage to make it look like the images were having a party inside a Greek temple. Below the temple are party goers on the way to the event. Naturally wine seemed to go with sculpture depicting the Greek god of wine Dionysus and a Roman Bacchanalia festival. When the cut paper collage was complete I scanned it, reversed the image and printed it out on a laser copier in black and white. I applied the image by spraying the back of the image with Xylol laying it down on BFK paper that I had soaked in water then squeegeed off. I used a rubber brayer to apply pressure and transfer the image. When it was dry I used pen and ink to emphasize the images then painted it with watercolor to achieve the neon lighting effect.

In what upcoming venues might audiences be able to see you work?
I have several scheduled upcoming solo exhibitions:
Northern Oklahoma College, Tonkawa, OK October-November 2011.
North Gallery, Oklahoma State Capitol Building, December 5, 2011- February 5, 2012.
Birger Sandzen Memorial Gallery, Lindsborg, KS, July-September 2012.
I am also represented by Nault Fine Art, Midtown OKC.

View and purchase artwork by 150 Oklahoma artists October 1, 2011 at the 12x12 Art Fundraiser.  Buy tickets, read more and see pictures at

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