Falling down and moving forward

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I recently completed a project for a favorite client’s event: designing and then creating 150 custom collage bookmarks centered on the conference’s theme of “resilience”. The participants were Nurses and PA’s working with children and their families at Seattle Children’s Hospital. Research lead me to many great quotations addressing resiliency, “bouncing back,” and recovering from adverse situations, and of course I started thinking about my own “bounce backs.” I’m definitely a “glass half full” kind of gal and generally handle adversities fairly well. However, this past weekend I received a rejection notice from a show that I was sure I would get into and was thrown for a loop. (Just to be clear – this in no way compares to what these children’s health care professionals deal with on a daily basis and how they learn to cope and move on.)

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To be so confident about an outcome and then get a different result caused me to fall down and go into high melodrama for an entire day. Grumping around, being unpleasant to my ever-supportive spouse, re-examening my past, questioning my work, my commitment, comparing myself to other artists and makers . . . when I wallow (which isn’t very often) I do jump in with both feet.

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Exercise and a good night’s sleep definitely contributed to today’s uplifted spirits and recalling Mary Chapin Carpenter lyrics, “Sometimes you’re the windshield . . . sometimes you’re the bug,” gave me the opportunity to embrace the bigger picture and cope. Do I think I should have gotten into the show? Yes. Am I questioning my art practice? No. Am I moving forward? You bet!

When photographs disappear . . .

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Upon entering S.M.U.T. (So Many Unique Treasures), you immediately encounter a row of lockers labeled Instant Relatives, 50¢ each. Wire bins are stuffed with silvered black and white prints, faded Kodachrome images and tiny curled-edge snapshots with spidery handwriting in the white margins chronicling long-forgotten events, people or places. On a recent visit, after much deliberation, I purchased $10 worth of “new family members.”

I wonder about all those abandoned people – some smiling, some not, some posed, others caught totally unaware with “deer in the headlight expressions.” Are they still on the planet? Did they have a good life? Are they missed? How’d they end up here? Another thought comes to mind: this type of photography is totally going to disappear. Photos are posted to Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, Tumbler and other social media sites, and while seen by many, are rarely downloaded, printed or saved. Those “uncomfortable” photos – double chins, bad hair, grumpy countenances, whatever … dumped in the virtual trashcan and never viewed, much less printed to paper. (I most definitely ‘edit’ photos taken of me, by family or friends – there’s nothing worse than having someone snap you from below the chin, is there?).

I think of this young man in the b/w photo as “Eddie.” Judging by his haircut, it looks like he’s in high school – probably in the 1950’s. A “boy’s boy,” a bit rough-and-tumble, but kind, I bet he owned a dog. Today while drawing (with felt-tip pens, pencils, ballpoints and finally Prisma colors) I listened to the final chapters of All The Light We Cannot See, by Anthony Doerr – selected because I liked the book’s cover art and title – and was rewarded with a wonderful story and a view into lives so different from mine. When “Eddie’s” smile beamed up at me amongst the hundreds of discarded photos I ‘adopted’ him, so-to-speak. Again I have the opportunity to be the recipient of someone else’s story even tho’ I don’t know what “Eddie’s” life was really like, but given that grin, I bet it was a good one.

Recycling art

allheartEverything that is old can be new again . . . that’s what I’m discovering as I fall deeper into the encaustic rabbit hole. I’m mining my photo files, revisiting favorite images, ink jet printing them on Sumi rice paper and finally incorporating them into collages.  fiveCollaging onto oversized baggage tags has been obsession. The size limitations (2.5 to 3 inches x 5 to 6 inches) are right in my comfort zone. I found these tags stashed in a drawer with collages on both the front and back of each one (don’t know why I did that). I enlarged and photocopied each one onto Sumi rice paper, torn it into several pieces,  “re-assembled” it and finally collaged all the parts with encaustic medium (a mixture of beeswax and damar resin) onto gessoed encaustic boards. Each board is the size of an artist trading card, 2.5 x 3.5 inches. thereandbackThe original tags are multilayered collages, composed of handmade and commercial papers, iPhone photos, paper ephemera and trash calligraphy (from my friend LeeAnn Clark’s studio recycle bin). The collage was glued and sewn to the tag along with a layer of transparent inks. This encaustic piece shows both the front and back of one tag. The transparency of the Sumi paper, when saturated with the encaustic medium and attached to the white background, makes the collages glow from within.

How fitting that this piece contains a rabbit (iPhone photo of a little iron bunny that I discovered hidden in a grassy curb strip on a Valentine’s Day walk with my sweetheart)as I do feel a bit like Alice embarking on a wonderful art journey.

fog/sun . . .

IMG_5323Foggy and gray are the words that best describe our weather these days . . . Portland in late January. Sometimes the sun breaks out late in the day and the light is amazing . . . It comes streaming through the back doors (which face west) and makes everything glow.IMG_5328Our Sunday morning walk was lovely. Fog enshrouded us: sounds were muffled (it’s like being in the snow), bejeweled plants and garden ornaments silently glistened and it felt like we were the only people alive.
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Remembering what I’d forgotten

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI’m often asked what kind of camera I use and usually respond “iPhone.” It takes great snapshots and recording daily encounters of cool stuff, good friends, cats, delicious food or whatever is effortless (and inconspicuous). During our October trip to New Orleans I had my Olympus digital SLR as well. This morning I needed higher resolution images of some recent encaustic pieces and brought the SLR to the studio. After the computer download I was pleased to finally see the New Orleans pix (yes, I saw them on the camera’s digital screen, but on the MacBook Air they look so much better).OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAPhotographing with the SLR camera allows me to “focus in” and I tend to be more selective. Viewing these pictures took me back to my college photography classes – not for the process (WAY more involved with structured assignments, TriX and PlusX film, many hours in the dark room developing, printing and more) – but for the joy of seeing, looking at the world my way – and recording a moment.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERASo I think I’ll be putting the SLR in my bag, it’s not that heavy and when I want to slow down to look closer, I’ll be ready.

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OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

 

 

 

 

Almost done . . .

resting reindeer at Swanson's in Seattle

resting reindeer at Swanson’s in Seattle

I have a love/hate relationship with December. I love the lights and all the other trappings of the season: the gathering of family members, the baking, the eating, the drinking . . . I love/hate the last minute production of work for holiday shows, the late nights, the darkness that sets in at 4:30, the chowing down of forgotten meals. Bits and pieces of cashmere sweaters litter the studio floor as I finish up 20 more pairs of finger-less gloves.

However relief is in sight! Saturday, December 13 (12.13.14 – I love it) marks the end of my selling season. After a day of rest (Sunday) I’ll start creating our holiday cards and finishing up gifts for family and friends. Lucile (my trusty Bernina) will go to the shop for a software update and tuneup. Our sweet daughter will be coming home, family will arrive from hither and yon and all will be right in my world. January will come soon enough and I’ll begin again.

finger-less felted cashmere gloves

finger-less felted cashmere gloves

 

Save the Date!

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Saturday, December 13! (12.13.14) 10am to 5pm • 4915 NE 26th  – Head on over to Portland’s Alberta neighborhood to join me and six fabulous artist pals at our one-day POP-UP Shop!

I’ll have felted potholders, cozy cashmere fingerless gloves, travel sewing kits, collage journals, pretty pincushions & more. Robin May will have her charming needle-felted animals, delicious cooking rubs and potted paper whites.

My studio mate, Naomi Abrams Reinstein’s calendars, clever paper collages and art necklaces will delight you. You’ll want to adorn yourself with Cheryl Cook’s unique jewelry made from precious and semi-precious gemstones. Abby Roth is creating delightful hand-stitched nature-themed mobiles.

We’ll have two Seattle artisans as well. Jeanette Deary’s handmade cold press soaps are made with natural healing soothing ingredients and smell so good! Tami Johnson’s pottery made by hand is sure to make you smile.

Bring your friends. You’ll be able to “shop local” by supporting artists AND sign up for some way-cool door prizes. What could be better?

PS – check out the new tab Recent Work at the top of the page. I’ve been busy.

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