Category Archives: Art

Self-Portrait in Moss…

A facebook post…

This morning as long awaited rain shows up as a lightly tapping symphony on my roof and the natural land bows its plant heads in a beautiful hush of prayer and gratefulness, I tumble down the fb newsfeed listening to the amazing voices who have joined my circle of friends here. I see a warning from an artist in the Ukraine (Vasil Woodland) who warns everyone that “ATTENTION!!!! I stop printing my pictures, due to the imposition of martial law in Ukraine. Please do not make a money transfer. All money transfers in my name are blocked and are subject to return to the sender. I hope that these are temporary difficulties … I hope that there will be no war and that the incident will be solved by diplomatic means. Thank you for understanding!”. Another amazing artist from Iran (Naeemeh Naeemaei) laments her dirty dishes and a deepening distress not quite clear to me with the awkward fb translation with these words jumping out at me “I can’t believe that the moments of drowning in joy and discovery of life have been tied to big lies.” The rain drops pound a little harder as I type these words about drowning. And, a minister in Mississippi (Hugh Hollowell Jr.) sends a message to critics about the runoff election that happened yesterday where hate won out, “The election was hard fought. That we even had to have a runoff in a race where a Black man was running against a white woman is remarkable, and a sign of how far we have come, and the result of so much ground level organizing. I am very proud of the work we all did, and will continue to do.”

As we notice how our world stretches and moans, trying to break through the oppression and lies that know no boundaries, only to seemingly revert back to old, rigid patterns of separation and non-loving, we must continue to gird ourselves for more hard work while we wipe the slime of grief from our hearts and faces. Today I will raise my face up into the rain falling from the sky when I go outside to dig the small ditch on the uphill side of my house so the kitchen will not flood (water seeps in when one wall of your house finds itself buried into the earth itself). And, I will transplant the sacred jimson weed native plant seedlings, gathered from my sister’s small farm in Woodlake, with the hope they survive in the drought-dry, vole-invested and deer-pruned landscape around my home.

And, I finally bow my own head in praise of poetry with the early morning words (amazingly found in the fb newsfeed scroll this am) from Dry Crik Journal Dofflemyer:

No worn path home,
we make circles
following the seasons
in the shadow of the moon—

to the coyote’s yip
and canyon conflagration
finding perfect pitch
to make a chorus.

Our dreams are wild
enough to need
no fuel, no accolades
to draw a crowd

any closer. We pick
our way, break no stems
on the eternal scent
of heading home.

[“Self Portrait in Moss” photo © Elsah Cort, taken along the Crescent Meadow Trail in Giant Forest in Sequoia National Park on 11-26-18 on an unusually quiet walk with my nephew, meeting only three other people and where we heard no yelling human voices as I usually do on that trail, but only the loud US Navy jets that now fly over the high sierra mountains from Lemoore Naval Air Station, preparing for more unnecessary wars)

Marking time…

For the first time, a calendar made of mandalas shows up….

calendar © Elsah Cort

Made from twelve digital mandalas, the calendar measures 8.5 inches square. I love that I found to print the calendars, using soy-based inks and 100% post consumer waste recycled paper (called Reincarnation).

Here is the back page that shows you the twelve mandalas:

Calendar © Elsah Cort
See them at Le (très) Petit Noël on December 3-4, from 10 – 5 pm.
Held at my studio in Three Rivers and featuring other artists.

Call me at 559-561-4671 if you want to make a phone order.

$15 each, plus 8% sales tax. $3 for shipping.

Order calendars online here and I will mail them to you.

There is only the dance…

I make mandalas because they ask to be made…
and the summer heat just knocks me down and out.
The computer takes the helm and I follow without effort.

From a photograph of a mixed media one on canvas that I have on my wall.

"There Is Only the Dance" digital collage mandala © Elsah Cort

“There Is Only the Dance” digital collage mandala © Elsah Cort

Going to Seed….

Mandala born today…it’s name told to me
“Conception: remembering the time when we were…each…just two cells old”.
In our memory bank, buried deep in that wordless space,
we change the world when we acknowledge every single human has been there.

"Conception" digital mandala © Elsah Cort

“Conception” digital mandala © Elsah Cort

A few hours later, watering the garden…going to seed.

"Going to Seed" photos © Elsah Cort

Love-in-the Mist and Rose Campion going to seed underneath the blue oak canopy.

The story of the days of my life lately. I return to a seed.

[photos © Elsah Cort]

New Year Mandalas

Almost every January I make one mandala a day for the first twelve days of the year. The mandalas become a prophetic and inspirational image for each the twelve months to come. Digital mandalas showed up again for the second year in a row. Using the photograph of an acrylic mandala on canvas (that hangs in my living room) in a layer or two, I made these mandalas below using photoshop.

They are for sale in limited editions of twelve as digital prints.

The Heart Knows © Elsah Cort  "Landslide" digital collage © Elsah Cort  "One Layer of Reality" digital collage © Elsah Cort  "Love Returns" digital collage © Elsah Cort
"Soul Compass" digital collage © Elsah Cort  "Guardian" digital collage © Elsah Cort  "Mind Field" © Elsah Cort  "Listening" digital collage © Elsah Cort
"I See You" digital collage © Elsah Cort
  "Lucid Dream" digital collage © Elsah Cort  "The Movement of Now" digital collage © Elsah Cort  "The Bliss Trail" digital collage © Elsah Cort

All images © Elsah Cort
All rights reserved

Pixel Impressions: group show at Arts Visalia from September 30 – October 30, 2015


"Nine Patch" © Elsah Cort“Nine Patch” featuring nine dress quilt digital collages © Elsah Cort


Arts Visalia is proud to present Pixel Impressions, an exhibition of digital art by six Central California artists. Featuring works by Joan Constable, Elsah Cort, Robert Mertens, Brent Mosley, Wayman Stairs and Susan Thompson, this exhibition highlights the diversity of approaches to digital media each of these artists employ in their creative output.

While Photoshop has long been the standard software utilized by digital artists over the past twenty years, the past few years have brought major new opportunities for creative output as digital cameras have improved and as software developers have produced a steady stream of new applications.

In fact, three of the artists included in the exhibition, Brent Mosley, Wayman Stairs and Susan Thompson, work exclusively with Iphone and Ipad applications. Thompson, who stands among the first generation of exhibiting Photoshop artists, produces work most directly related to traditional photography. Mosley and Stairs produce work of a distinctly surrealistic bent. It is safe to say, however, that in viewing the quality of the the work each of them present in this exhibition, it is almost unbelievalbe to think that it was was created entirely on a phone.

Mertens brings his experience in the arena of commercial textile design into the production of his personal work wherein he uses digital cameras, photoshop, scanners and other digital tools to create images which blend elements of photography, collage, painting, and design. Similarly, Elsah Cort, approaches the digital image with a collage sensibility. Her works impart a sense of richness of history and narrative bound up in the complex layers of visual material. Playful and experimental, Joan Constable also brings a photographic background combined with a collage aesthetic to her works.

The exhibition will be on display from September 30 through October 30 with an opening reception to be held on Friday, October 2nd from 6 to 8 pm. Arts Visalia is located at 214 East Oak Avenue in downtown, Visalia and is open the public Wednesday through Saturday from noon to 5:30 pm.

The Mystery O fReincarnaton" digital collage © Elsah Cort    "Self Seer" digital collage © Elsah Cort

  Digital collages to be shown in this exhibition… © Elsah Cort



Coming back to writing here…we’ll see. Might need to do some editing.
But for now, I return.

"HandMade" digital collage © Elsah Cort
“HandMade” digital collage © Elsah Cort

This one was made to honor the spirit of the Wesak full moon that rose
directly centered over Case Mountain last night.


Making digital paintings to use as a background for new mixed media collages, I find myself diving deeper into the process and it’s getting harder and harder to know when a piece is done.

The next layer to this work will take place in the studio, when I play with some hands-on work….

© Elsah Cort

© Elsah Cort


© Elsah Cort


Here are the three photographs that made this digital painting.
All these images were taken at the Chris Sorensen Studio in Fresno.

© Elsah Cort © Elsah Cort © Elsah Cort


[all images © Elsah Cort]

I See You

So I was reading a description of an art journaling workshop and how anyone can learn to draw but I am not sure that really pertains to me and my mind was trying to visualize me drawing something but I ended up photographing mundane images found in my bathroom like the bamboo leaves and stems back lit from the sun in the shower window and I used several of these images and I made this collage.

(I could not draw a human face, so I used one I found in the public domain.)

"I See You" digital painting © Elsah Cort
“I See You”
digital painting © Elsah Cort

9 x 7 inches print, mat size 14 x11 for $55
13 x 10 inches print, mat size 20 x16 for $75
A fine art museum quality digital print hand printed by the artist,
using archival Epson Claria Ink supported by Museo Max 250 gsm paper.

The Place of the Heart: new exhibition at the Ice House Theatre

My press release for my new show….

Three Rivers artist, Elsah Cort, is exhibiting twenty digital paintings in a show called “The Place for the Heart” from May 3-19 at the Ice House Theatre in Visalia. The exhibition will accompany the performances of Force of Nature presented by the Visalia Community Players.

After reading both the play and the book it was based on, Elective Affinities by Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe, first published in 1809, Cort created new digital paintings inspired by her readings. The play is about the struggles and misunderstandings and intrigues that can happen with marriage. In the very first opening moments of the play, Charlotte, one of the main characters in the play, announces, “Marriage is not a sacrament––it’s a work of art.”

Solar Eclipse on Beetle Rock" digital painting © Elsah Cort“Solar Eclipse on Beetle Rock”
digital painting © Elsah Cort

Just like Charlotte asking in the play, “How is the heart made, I wonder?”, Cort adds that she is not sure how she makes these new digital collage paintings, which essentially come forth as collaged art forms made from many of her original photographs. “I play with them using photoshop, adding layer after layer, merging color, texture and form until I like what I see. It is fun”, she explains.

Over twenty years ago Cort began making collages using magazine cut outs and other paper textures. She announced at the time that she did not ever want to have one of those new fangled computers. Then she organized a group collage show and a friend brought in a new wonderful image that blended a photograph, words and a painting. She asked how was this collage made and was told it was photoshop. “I knew I had to change my mind and eat my words about not wanting a computer”, she says.

Now all these years later, Cort has embraced the computer as one of her collage tools.  She says, “I love collage as my art medium because it blends so many aspects together. It is like putting together a puzzle with no defined pieces or final image to achieve. There are strong serendipity and surprise factors that make the art work.”

Cort has lived in Three Rivers for 36 years and is the founder and organizer of the Three Rivers Biennial Artist’s Studio Tour, which comes back on March 21-22-23 in 2014.

For ticket information about Force of Nature, visit or call 559-733-9329.

More digital painting images from this exhibition:

IWannaHoldYourHandWEB     ThePlaceOfTheHeart7x9WEB

Historical Sofa Art

The annual Sofa Art Show at Arts Visalia this year had a theme that intrigued me…..blending the obligatory sofa image with influences from art through history.

I found a generic old sofa for sale online somewhere, and sifted through my iPhoto collection, finding a serene line of foothills against a clear sky, taken by me in Yokohl Valley. A wildflower photo from the road up to Mineral King floated across the leather sofa in a photoshop layer, a kind of reupholstering….and then a Buddha image, sitting still, was painted and repainted in several colors, leaving a purplish tint to the original gray stone.

digital collage © Elsah Cort, all rights reserved

“Advice to a Young Artist: Sit Still Near a Foothill”, digital collage 8 x 8 inches, © Elsah Cort

SOFA ART XVIII: The Sofa Art Time Machine, A Trip Through Art History

February 6 – March 1, 2013
Opening Reception will be on Friday, February 8, from 6 – 8pm.

Arts Visalia, 214 E. Oak Ave, Visalia CA
Gallery Hours: Wed-Sat 12-5:30 pm

“The first Sofa Art Show was held as a playful response to an unflattering depiction of Visalia’s local art scene as described by a local newspaper writer. Sofa Art Co-Founder Varian Mace, then an art instructor at College of the Sequoias, shared the article with her classes and challenged them to make some “real sofa art” in response. The resulting exhibition was a hit, to say the least, and has been an annual Visalia tradition ever since.” from

Now is the only time there is…

New work in the making for showing at the Redbud Festival on May 7 and 8.

digital collage  © Elsah Cort

In Love with a Tree..

A Sunday trek to Fresno for an art fix and some Trader Joe goodies, led me to this tree in the courtyard of the Fresno Art Museum and my camera and I caressed the bark. Now a new series of collage work is showing up.

from the Bark Series

The natural world does not call itself an artist, yet in every aspect of its existence, art is living. This tree stood very still for me as I made hundreds of photographs of it. It was hard to leave, but I will be back.

New Work: The Hatchery Series

The Hatchery Series images were photographed during a one day art exhibition in the small Sierra Nevada foothill community of Badger, California. The show was called “Free Range” and included a wide range of art, some installation work as well as monoprints, paintings, collage, photography and video. The building was actually a series of several large Butler buildings joined together. It was originally built by the group called Synanon which lived on the property many years ago. The huge structure had been used briefly as a charter school, then abandoned to the cows and ghosts.

It has been re-invented as The Hatchery.

The Hatchery artists pulled up some of old carpeting, tidied it up but not too much, and used some of the found materials and walls to create new art. I was literally mesmerized by the space, and my camera lens attached itself to scene after scene. I could not stop making photographs as I meandered through the immense “rooms”.

This one day experience came about with some elbow grease, an organic vision via a handful of gifted artists (some local, some from the Bay Area) and showed how creative expression does not have to be a big production. I look forward to the next hatching from this group (they call themselves the Shadequarter Artists Initiative) and another breakthrough look-see.

Images © Elsah Cort


Finally, I am diving deeper into photoshop. I took a fun drive up Dry Creek Road yesterday for a wonderful tutorial with Badger artist, Robert Mertens. He kept saying, “I’ll show you a little more magic.” Taking notes and inwardly telling my brain synapses to remember…get it…don’t panic, I learned a few things in the photoshop realm. What an incredible (and overwhelming) software it is, just as we humans are. We have creative magic in us, intricate tools, untapped and invisible most of the time. We miss this immense beauty when we don’t give ourselves time to dive in and play.

“Be Crumbled” digital collage © Elsah Cort
[first attempt…it’s all process]

PS.  I used Indesign to make the final image.

Doing not much….

Studio time versus just every day living time.
My studio is upstairs, I pass by it every time I come in my front door.

I don’t go there every day. Not a good sign for a so-called artist.

My real studio is non-local…
could be said to be in my head, which is also non-local.

I don’t make “stuff” art every day.
I muse art every day, seeing it in my mind’s eye.

I am a-mused today, thinking about the how to integrate the doing of art in a daily life, so that doing itself is the art and not the art itself being the art.

It’s Happening…

The last push, getting ready for the Studio Tour next week. It always seems that the art shows up in concrete form at the last minute, after being in my head for a long while.  Reminding myself how much fun this is!

You are cordially invited to visit me on the Studio Tour.

inside studio view:
hand collection on cabinet door

outside studio window view:
Case Mountain with snow on top,
tree preparing to leaf out


I am redesigning The Other Shore cards.
The original set of 64 is being pared down a bit.
They are collage images with poetry.

card close-up, taken on the floor of the studio.

And new cards are showing up, a bindu series,
named after the center of a mandala and in square format.

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

Listened to an intriguing talk by David Wilcock, at the Awake and Aware Conference last September in LA, while I worked in the Studio today.  The talk was split into 15 segments on You-tube.  It is the story of now, the major shift that is happening to all of us, whether we want it or not.  I love how people like David are researching the science and are open to the invisible realm.

Mandorla Making

After twenty plus years of making contemplative mandalas, I am drawn to the intersection of circles and the overlapping form called the mandorla.

  circles are screwed together

acrylic  experiment begins

 mandorla is defined, sort of

bronze-gold trim appears

Title: Alignment (at the center of the Milky Way)

This mandorla, and two others, are on exhibit at Arts Visalia January 6-29, as part of the Studio Tour artists’ group show called “The Creative Life.”

Tree Bark

© Elsah Cort
This is a new collage from photos taken in Crescent Meadow last week,
visiting the monarch Sequoia tree that burned on my birthday in August,
which now has 50% of its original substance fallen to the ground.


I know
it is time
for me
to show
of my own work
(on this blog.)

[I can’t draw,
so I cut out things
from magazines and such,
then paste them together like this one.]

reinventing the wheel…


There are artists, and then there are Artists.  The distinction seems to come from how much money someone forks over for something made by your hand or executed by others, directed by your conceptual mind.  Or, it just comes from your announcement to the world: I am an Artist!

Do you even have to make art to be an artist?

Artist Bruce Nauman, talking about art-making, described it this way: “I was trying to find out what art is and what artists do, and such a lot of that, for me, seemed to involve watching and waiting to see what would happen.  When I am desperate enough just to do anything, even if it seems completely stupid, it’s such a relief.  My dad once said, ‘You don’t have to reinvent the wheel every day,’ but I think you do.  Maybe not every day, but pretty often.” (interview with Calvin Tomkins, The New Yorker, June 1, 2009)

Reinventing the wheel is the crux of the modern artist. Can we make art that is never-before-seen?

Does it matter? And who will notice that we have done it? What about this wheel anyway? Does it need reinventing?

My art-making is curious to me.  I can’t tell when I am actually making it.  Sometimes it only shows up in my mind.  A thought gallery that could be seen, heard, noticed (and sold) could be an invention to create. Always helps to be in The New Yorker, too.

living room wall:  my untitled mandala, hanging baubles

claiming the life of an artist…


Never have I felt connected to the title “artist” or used it as a way to describe me.

I have been known to make stuff.

I have made an series of 64 collage cards with poetry for each one, this was first begun twelve years ago (they await a complete re-design in form, size and maybe even words.)  This card collection has been known as The Other Shore.

I have made mandalas, hundreds of them, with watercolor pencils and metallic gel pens. They came from meditative practices learned long ago. I don’t call the mandalas art, but rather a high form of doodling. I mostly love the process of the mandala-making with no real attachment to the result.

I have made photographs, also hundreds of them, now thirty years past.  After at least seven years of being buried in boxes in a niche under my stairs, the photographs are scattered all over the table in the living room.  I have awakened them to introduce the negatives to a new scanner that  is supposed to bring them to life in the digital world.

Re-making, re-thinking, re-vising—a RE-DO of all of it—is in the works.

Oh, and I now make blogs.  Several, in fact, for me and all the spokes in the wheel of my life.
I am consulting with other artists to give them a jump start in the blogging world.

I am emerging as artist.

(Please, forgive this boring, mundane post. This is the way things are at the moment.)

Mandate for an artist…

The story of the art, its biography or “provenance” or evolution into form, is what brings meaning to the work.  Not that art has to have a stated meaning, but what is it showing up for anyway?  As actively creative persons (all of us are creative in our nature) artists have a special responsibility when our art is presented to the world or even hung on the walls of our homes.  People may notice it and wonder about it.

So, this mandala has hung in the same place on the wall at the foot of my spreading stairs for at least ten years.  I pass by it numerous times in the day.  I have not looked at it closely in a long, long time.  And, the other day, I had bed and breakfast guests, curious about what they saw in my studio and home, and one woman stood in front of this mandala asking:  is that made from real flowers?

She wanted to know the story.  And, I realized, so did I.

flowermandala flowermandaleframed

I don’t even remember when I actually made this, but it was at least over 20 years ago.  All flowers were gathered from around my house and pressed in telephone books.  The center, or bindu point, is small purple bicolor lupine which grow very close to the ground.  The stems, dividing the mandala into quadrants, are from the local endemic poppy.  30 years ago I learned to call this wildflower by the name of frying pan poppy, because its pale yellow petals are splayed out rather flat from its center, just they are in the mandala itself.  The inner circular ring is made from fringepod or lacepod seeds.  A splash of watercolor hues are in the base.

The story of the art is my love for these plants which show up year after year without planting or seeding by human hand.  And these flowers used to be all over this town, but are disappearing rapidly as people move here and make their new homes and yards in the foothills look like their old homes in the cities with green lawns and oleanders and plants they don’t call weeds, like the local plants are called now.

This mandala is the story of grief.  Grief that can only come with the knowing of beauty.  No way to avoid this if you are living a human life that sees wildflowers growing on their own, especially on the hill that plows into your kitchen window.

Mandate for the artist:  live the life….make the art….share the story….and let others know they can do it too.