Mail Art – January 30, 1990: Larry Angelo


Mail art from Larry Angelo Mail art from Larry Angelo

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Mail Art – April 16, 1987: Jon Held, Jr.

Jon Held, Jr. was something of a big-shot in the mail art world. It was just a coincidence that he lived in the same city I did. It’s interesting to note that Duchamp became one of my favorite figures in Art History, and I now live in Philadelphia, where many of Duchamp’s most famous pieces reside (including his Large Glass, which can be seen in the stamps Jon sent me.)


Mail art by Jon Held, Jr.


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Mail Art – January 5, 1985: Rosalie

Mail art from Rosalie to Mr. X

For a short time before I was known as The Lava Guy, my mail art pseudonym was “Mister X”. Continue reading

Archive Dive: Exquisite Corpse, circa 1996

1996 Exquisite Corpse

Exquisite Corpse

circa Spring, 1996

Exquisite Corpse is a drawing game invented by the Dadaists, in which a piece of paper is folded into thirds. Each artist is tasked to draw one third of a figure without looking at what the others have drawn. It’s one of my favorite things to do in small groups or at parties.

This is one I participated in (I did the bottom third), while I was in The Netherlands in the first half of 1996. The other two artists were: Erika Atwood (American, top third), and Richard van der Berg (Dutch/New Zealander, middle third).

I have no idea what the context of this drawing was, but the three of us were thick as thieves for those few months together. There was always drinking and eating and drawing and painting (and much more than I can write about here) going on around us. Erika and I shared a studio, and Richard and I shared a flat together.

Aluminum Casting at Philadelphia Sculpture Gym

Aluminum Casting at Philadelphia Sculpture Gym

Yesterday I was fortunate enough to spend the whole day casting hot molten metal (aluminum) at a workshop I took at Philadelphia Sculpture Gym, with about 8 or 9 other people. That’s me with my hot-out-of-the-mold sculpture of an african mask medallion. I had a blast, and so did all the other sculptors there. Some of them had some prior experience (as I do), and for some this was their very first attempt at sculpture (way to go, public relations-specialist Colleen!) Darla at PSG says they’ll run this course frequently (monthly?), but if you’re the type who’s bothered by working all day in an unheated space in January, you might want to wait for warmer weather.


Beech Hedge Drawing (1998)



Beech Hedge at Hospitalfield House. 13" x 17", oil pastel, soft pastel and charcoal on watercolor paper. © 1998-2012 J. Thomson

Beech Hedge at Hospitalfield House. 13″ x 17″, oil pastel, soft pastel and charcoal on watercolor paper. © 1998-2012 J. Thomson

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Untitled Drawing #1 (1998)


Untitled drawing #1, 1998 © J. Thomson Here is another untitled “automatic” drawing I made when I lived in Scotland in 1998 that I found today while organizing my studio. It’s approximately 5″ x 7″, and I probably intended it to be a postcard, but I never sent it to anyone.

I’ve posted this drawing on my Zazzle site, where you can buy high-quality reproductions.

Untitled Drawing #2 (1998)


Untitled drawing #2 (1998) © J. Thomson I found this drawing (and one other, shown in the next post) today in my archives while organizing the studio. It’s one of a small series of drawings I made the year I lived in Scotland. I remember making this drawing sitting in my studio at the top of the tower at Hospitalfield, around April I think. The sky was bright but overcast, and evidence of spring was all around.

These abstract drawings were made in the same manner as automatic writing… I just started drawing without any pre-conceived notion (except for colors, of course) of what form would appear. It was a very meditative thing to do, and doing it seemed to calm me down from some of the frustrations I had while living there.

I’ve posted this drawing on my Zazzle site, where you can purchase high-quality reproductions of it.

How to listen to what a fish is trying to tell you

Last Friday, at approximately 4:27 am, my water heater decided to commit suicide. As luck would have it, I suffer from occasional insomnia and I happened to be wide awake at my desk which is next to the water heater in my loft. So I heard the telltale dripping and investigated before the deluge got to biblical proportions.

Zoe Strauss: 10 Years So, instead of spending a relaxing day immersed in artwork and a visit to the Philadelphia Art Museum to see the new Zoe Strauss exhibit, I toiled away at plumbing. This of course is much harder than it sounds… I had to make room to do the work by removing a huge metal legal-size filing cabinet that weighs about the same as a small Volkswagen even when it is emptied of all the files and drawers. Of course, I had help too. I hired some friends of a neighbor to make the connections, but I had to go and buy the replacement water heater, and somehow get it up to my loft by myself. You should’ve seen me trying to wrestle a 40-gallon water heater up the spiral stairs to my loft.  But I did it. Never underestimate the will of a poor artist who really likes a long soak in a hot tub.

And now, the weekend is over and I can finally take a hot shower again. I still have to dispose of the body, by which I mean the now superfluous old water heater tank. Which again, is much easier said than done. First, there’s the task of lowering the hulking beast to the ground level. The old one is much too big to go down the spiral stairs. I’ve bought some rope and pulleys and I’m going to construct some sort of rudimentary dumb-waiter for the task. But for now, the carcass is sitting between my desk and the new water heater, in place of my filing cabinet. Like a warning to the new recruit: the proverbial head on a spike. Or like the carcass of a giant dead whale…

But that’s not what this post is about… Continue reading

The first word

NOTE: This is the second in a series of posts documenting my process of creating an installation entitled “Lorem ipsum…”. You can see all the posts about this project using the navigation buttons above. Look under Fine Art > Installation Art > Lorem Ipsum.

"a" from "Lorem Ipsum..." © 2012 J. Thomson, all rights reserved I received the test print on fabric on Saturday, much sooner than I expected. These were printed on 100% cotton “quilting weight” fabric, which is the cheapest Spoonflower offers. It looks okay, but I think in the end I might go with something heavier and tighter, something like the organic cotton sateen or linen-cotton canvas.

Since this is just a test, I only ordered a single fat quarter (which is 18″ x 21″). The largest size hoop I can fit on that is a 16″ word, so I chose “indignation”. Continue reading