Hanging at home

Like many of us fortunate enough to have food on the table and a place to live, I am simply getting restless.

Alone Together with Too Much Chocolate

Here’s the same imagery for a “cut out page” I submitted to a special addition of Kolaj Magazine. Collage artists everywhere look forward to getting this issue so they can cut it up and make art on World Collage Day (May 8, 2021).

Get ready to cut and glue some stuff this spring! It’s easy and fun.

Hanging out and hanging on, still trying to get vaccinated, like most people I know. Feeling fortunate I have some place to go.

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A Year of Wonders and Woes

It’s been several years since I’ve written posts. But the past year gave me a new sense of artistic direction. A pandemic can do that for certain creative types. Rather than add much here, I’ll direct you to:


There’s lots of my work for March through October 2020, and some text explaining it.

Viral Debate

Hopefully, there’s more on the way. Also, check out Kolajmagazine.com for some great collage inspiration.

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In March I’ll ramp up efforts for an exhibit in July and a class next October. But for the past month I’ve processed my disappointment in and frustration with the new administration. Time will tell whether policy becomes more thoughtful, whether we are made “safer,” and whether any money is saved.

I have started writing my Senators. I designed a set of post cards and a sticker that I enclose in letters. These are for my benefit. They make writing fun. My key image is an Angry Guy.  He’s a symbol not a portrait.

He could be any Angry Guy, or he could be Trump, Stalin, Nixon, Bannon, you can take your pick. The very day we heard about the “well oiled machine” I was creating my own version of the Machine (below).


These are all attached here (angry-guy-stickers-copysay-no-talk-backwell-oiled-machine ) I copyrighted the Angry Guy, so be my guest. Print him out and send him to anyone you’d like. I’ve also put him on Redbubble. There’s even some (not-by-Ivanka) clothing to wear to rallies and so on.

Last weekend, I attended an exhibit of fifty spectacular examples of the Qu’ran on loan from Turkey to the Sackler Museum in Washington DC. I have never been in an exhibit so packed with all kinds of people, ranging from folks that looked just like me to women in full burka. I’ve attached a few pictures of the children’s events held that weekend. This was uplifting and it gave me hope.




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Wandering in 2017

In the wake of the presidential election, I plan to spend the winter and early spring NOT making new art. I have my own plan for artistic rejuvenation, and I look forward to the process.  The end result should be some new artwork by July, when I’m scheduled to exhibit again, but I’m not clear as to what it will be. Please check back in late spring for something more concrete. I’m not going away but I may fall silent for a while. Here, just for the record, is my plan of study, or rather my gut reaction as to what I need to do.

Among other things, I’m exploring the latest in board games. This is somewhat painful for me as some of them are fairly complicated.  This one, Dead of Winter – Longest Night, takes up my dining room table.  It has strong narrative, elegant graphics (even the zombies) and secret betrayers, making it an asymmetrical cooperative game.  That is just my cup or tea.



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Telling a New Tale

I took a break in November, following a class called “Every Picture Tells a Story” taught by sculptor and collage artist Melissa Stern. I’ll write more about that class later;  it was excellent.

For now, I’m posting a few pictures (from that class) because they point me in a new direction.  I’ve turned from paper cutting to collage: some torn paper and Tyvek along with hard-edged cuts, and some found imagery (Dover bugs, lizards, snakes) combined with some free-hand cut imagery (“drawn” with scissors).

Here’s a figure from “Slovenly Peter” (a 19th German book of manners for children, reissued many times) that I integrated into a class exercise based on “a memory about eating cake.” Perhaps Augustus Gloop, the little guy seated at the table (a cut out from an illustration in S-P),  ate more cake than was good for his digestion.

Lillian Trettin_artwork

Most stories in “Slovenly Peter” (as in the original “Grimms Fairytales”) do not end well.  Today’s parents might call them “politically incorrect.” But they are catchy, and the illustrations are charming.  The dissonance is  rather fascinating. Working with this material could be my next literary-art  challenge.

The dark recesses of childhood might also be responsible for this next sequence.

Lillian Trettin_artwork_collages

Run Away

Running for fun, running without aim, running to escape–maybe this work’s best understood as an exercise in interactive storytelling.  The less predetermined the visual story, the more invested the viewer will be in telling her own version.  The key is to provide clues and spark a viewer’s  storytelling process, without completely predetermining the tale.

Lillian Trettin_artwork_image

Lillian Trettin_artwork_image

These are “exercises” rather than finished art, and somewhat unlovely, but after scratching my head for a month while I looked at them, I have an idea what to do next.

It comes as something of a surprise.

But after a month, I’ve decided to try my hand at designing a board game, something  dark and swampy, with many potential paths to fruition and a few disastrous dead ends.




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Two Openings, Charleston

Here are a few pictures of the other two exhibits I participated in this fall. This is it for me for a while. My plan this year is to become more involved in community arts, and perhaps something in art education.

To that ends, I am taking a one-week class at Penland School of Craft with  Melissa Sterns on “drawing for narrative art.” Sterns is a New York-based artist who produced “The Talking Cure,” one of the Spoleto exhibits in Charleston that I wrote about last summer.

The Dark Edge: Art Inspired by Edgar Allan Poe (below) –  A solo exhibit

The Dark Edge_art work

On and Off the Page: Book Arts (below) – approximately 40 artists from multiple states

Click here for a review in the Charleston City Paper

Trettin_art work

Trettin art work

Trettin_art work_books

Trettin books


across from my work:  Kit Loney (left)  Mary Walker (right)


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Two Openings, Alexandria VA

Here are a few images of the exhibit  “Fire and Earth” representing a selection of ceramic and pottery cups from fine arts craftsmen nationwide and 2D artwork related to the exhibit title. This was the September exhibit at Del Ray Artisans in the Del Ray neighborhood of Alexandria, Virginia.  The last weekend of the exhibit  coincided with the popular event “Art on the Avenue,” also in Del Ray.


Fire and Earth exhibit – overview


Fire and Earth exhibit – opening reception

Lillian Trettin_art work

Fire and Earth marketplace – small items for sale


Washington Post “going out” guide featured the exhibit


Art on the Avenue in Del Ray, popular despite rain


The October exhibit at Del Ray Artisans is “Local Flavor.”  My work, Collectorama, was selected as the “visitors’ favorite” and  was also purchased on opening night–a nice surprise for me that I learned about later since I had already left Virginia and flown back to South Carolina just in time for Hurricane Matthew to hit.

Lillian Trettin_Collectorama_artwork



And my birdhouse is one of many on display during the month as part of a silent auction to raise money for community arts education.  It’s the only one of a political persuasion.


artists’ birdhouses

Donald Trump birdhouse_Lillian Trettin_art

Trump Birdhouse

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Local art and political afterglow

Unlike many, I chose not to watch the first presidential debate of the 2016 election season. (that was a debate?) But I have a comment, as usual, primarily visual.

Donald Trump birdhouse_Lillian Trettin_art

The impetus for this piece is a silent auction of artist-made birdhouses at the Del Ray Artisans (Alexandria VA)  in October as a fund raiser for their community art programs.  I wanted to produce a comparable Hillary birdhouse “PEEP@gov.com” but unfortunately I ran out of  materials.  It’s all cuckoo to me.

Along with the birdhouses, DRA is hosting an exhibit of art inspired by the local landscape.  This will be my last submission for the year.  It gave me an excuse to develop an approach to working with a cityscape.  This business on the main street of Del Ray, an old fashioned comics shop, is rarely open.  The store windows are crowded with faded old copies of comics and seedy looking house plants.  I liked the idea of super heroes and weedy plants breaking loose and hovering beyond the roof line.

Collectorama_Lillian Trettin_paper cut



Next up: the Edgar Allan Poe exhibit at the public library, and pictures of the City Gallery exhibit, On and Off the Page.


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New exhibits and a little political play

Here’s the scoop on some upcoming exhibits I’m participating in that I hope will interest you:

On and Off the Page

The City Gallery in Charleston is hosting an exhibit of book arts with work by more than 40 artists from across the United States, primarily the Southeast.

You’ll see book structures, illustrations, and prints from both contemporary and historic sources (the latter from the Waring Collection at MUSC)

Opening Reception is Sept 16, 5-7pm.
Show runs Sept 17 – Oct 30. Gallery hours 10-6 Tuesday through Friday, 12-5 Saturday and Sunday.
The City Gallery at Joseph P. Riley, Jr. Waterfront Park is located at 34 Prioleau in downtown Charleston.




The Dark Edge

The Charleston Public Library is hosting my exhibit of cut paper works inspired by Edgar Allan Poe’s lesser known stories (some creepy, some not) and stories with familiar southern settings.

The exhibit is on view during regular library hours at the Main Branch from October 2 through October 30.

Lillian Trettin_Poe Wallpaper_art

Poe Wallpaper


Earth and Fire

Del Ray Artisans in Alexandria VA is hosting a show of fine art pottery and wall art for the month of September and accepted my first experiment with the scroll as a form of 2D art.
This exhibit isn’t local but I get to see my kids any time something’s accepted there, so that makes me specially happy.

The Kiln Queen_Lillian Trettin_art

The Kiln Queen


Art Series I – “Fluid”

On September 15th, 2016, Collective Coffee in Mount Pleasant will play host to a gallery experience showing several artists’ interpretation of the theme “Fluid.”

The art will be on display from September 15th until October 27th.  I’m not in this one but it is a great idea and should be an interesting exhibit.

New Work

I’m at that uncomfortable stage of experimentation in a new project when I have multiple versions of drawings and I’m playing around with different media and color combinations.

The image below shows some of my emerging characters.  Due to the presidential election hoopla  this fall, these became politicians in bipartisan agreement, though this has nothing to do with the story I’m fabricating.  They have put aside their blow torch and shears and decided to get along.  Maybe the birds are constituents, or lobbyists.  I guess the alligators have agreed temporarily not to eat the hare.

Great Bicycle Accord_art_Lillian Trettin

The Great Bicycle Accord


Mountain Storyteller_art_Trettin

Mountain Storyteller

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The Story of Two Storytellers

The framing device for my next art project is a trip taken by two travelers, one a storyteller by nature, who is not normally a person of action, and one a person of action, who learns how to tell stories.

My way of better understanding these two characters and their story together is to do portraits of them, full-front with a few props and simple backgrounds. I seem to need a time consuming element of repetitive work while I’m conjuring—so I’m doing paper cuts.

revising Jean

Cutting image

While cutting characters with a blade, I invariably change the drawing. Figures sometimes become more angular or jagged or intense, they look meaner or crazier or more tired or distraught. I may decide to add weapons. What starts out as something like a children’s book illustration gets a little nastier.





Here (below) are two versions of Legoe Matoe, the Devil’s Dressmaker, from Hell Hole Swamp (a real place in the Lowcountry of South Carolina). She starts out sort of cute and gets creepier (this is indeed part of her story)

Legoe 1

Legoe reverse


Here are versions of the other character, Janglin Jean. Unlike Legoe who progresses straight from cute to creepy, Jean just looks different in each case. Obviously I can’t decide if she looks like the Tin Man (woman) crossed with a skeleton, or Cher with plastic surgery and bioengineered parts. Actually, I’m leaning toward the latter, as this would fit her story (she’s done many things in her life and is feeling worn out and in need of a “lift”).


Mean Jean

Face Lift Jean


After finishing these exploratory paper cuts, I want to develop a strategy for reproducing sequences of images. I am thinking about cutting out black and white figures and arranging them on colored backgrounds. The paper cut helped me visualize how this might work.


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