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Piece of My Art

ae seaotterInnovative collage artist Anita Landon makes her Open Studios debut

Anita Landon grew up in rural New England with a mother who painted murals on their walls, a brother who dabbled in sculpture, and a grandfather who painted in oils. All told, five of her eight family members growing up were artists. Perhaps that’s why Landon, who is participating in her first Open Studios this year, strives to make the best use of the resources available to her while creating art.

Two years ago, Landon had been working in pastels when she decided to try something different. Her sister, who is a painter, called and urged her to enter an art contest in Alaska that only accepted artwork related to fish. With the similar subject matter, Landon figured it would be hard to make her own painting stand out. Since she had a spare mat board and a lot of materials on hand, she decided to try a collage.

After completing the fish collage, Landon was hooked. She’s been creating collages ever since. Her works typically convey her formal training as a painter and people often mistake her collages for watercolors. That’s because her style differs from traditional collages that combine images. Instead, she assembles materials based on their color or texture to form a new image.

“I call it painting with paper,” says Landon. “It’s not like traditional collage with (already) existing images.”

Landon collects paper scraps in her studio as well as old magazines, which she clips and uses to create her collages.

ae2realandimagined“I use mostly National Geographic because the quality of the paper is really good and the colors are very saturated and intense,” says Landon. “Now when I look at National Geographic, I don’t even look at the picture, I just look at the color … In years past, it was almost like sacrosanct: I wouldn’t rip up a National Geographic to save my life, because I just love those issues, but now I see them as a source of material. People give me their old magazines.”

Once she’s picked out an idea for her collage, Landon will make a line drawing of it on an illustration board.  The filling-in of the spaces between the lines is where her imagination and resourcefulness thrive.

“You don’t know what’s going to happen because you’re restricted by the colors that you can find,” says Landon. “I’ll say, ‘Well I need a lot of blues (or) a lot of greens,’ but you don’t always have a lot of one color, so things evolve.”

Just as necessity is sometimes called the mother of invention, in artistic endeavors, limitations or obstacles can often invoke an artist’s creative spirit. Landon finds that an imaginative solution to an imposed limitation can produce a pleasing result that might not have otherwise occurred to her. She also likes the economy of making good use of available resources. “The limitation sort of shapes the whole process,” she explains.

Landon takes inspiration for her collages wherever she finds it. She constantly carries a camera and takes photographs, whether she’s hiking in DeLaveaga Park, walking along the shoreline, or running errands in town.

“It could be anything,” says Landon. “I do animals; I do buildings, mechanical things. I have a kind of wide range—the image just has to be compelling.”

She was also inspired by the recent

Open Studios preview at the Santa Cruz Art League gallery.

“I think it’s great. There’s not enough time to see all the artists you want to see,” says Landon. “You see other people’s work and it gets you thinking about other ways of doing things.”

Landon will be showing 30 original collages and a selection of wraparound prints during the encore weekend of Open Studios, Oct. 19-20. She is both excited and nervous about participating for the first time, but thinks it’s an important event for the community.

“I think great civilizations are judged by the art they leave behind … the things they’ve created,” says Landon. “Maybe it’s mosaics, or public buildings, (but) there’s always some kind of artistic element to it.” 


Anita Landon and 250 other artists will be exhibiting at the 28th annual Open Studios during Encore weekend, Oct. 19-20. To purchase the 2013 Open Studios Guide for $20, visit artscouncilsc.org/open-studios. To see more of Landon’s work and view a time-lapse video of one of her collages being made, visit anitalandon.com.

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