There are studio days that are incredibly productive. Correspondence is answered, artwork is shipped, pieces are finished and at the end of the day the studio is tidy. Then there are days like this past Monday . . . where I take two steps forward and four steps back – little is accomplished, the studio’s in chaos and I bounce around from idea-to-idea, leaving half finished projects in my wake.
I’m often asked “How long did it take you to make this piece?” Frankly, it’s the one question I really hate and giving an accurate answer always stymies me. Funny, huh, since it’s the actual process of “making” that fuels my creative soul. Does the person want to know all the little picky time-consuming details? (How many times I gessoed and sanded a birch panel, how I scraped away images, beeswax and oil pastels ’cause the work just isn’t “getting there”? How I can only feed one sheet at a time of Sumi rice paper into the printer because it’s temperamental and chews up the paper?) I think not. I wonder if the questioner is asking for “time = difficulty of process” or “time = years I’ve been creating art” or last, but usually not least, “time = money per hour” information.
On days like yesterday when asked the “how long” question, I feel like tearing my hair out and yelling “I have absolutely no idea!”
This is my third Portland studio in as many years, and by far the largest and most unusual. I occupy the 2nd floor sunporch of a former 4-plex apartment building, built in the 1920’s, which also is home to therapists and counselors. No one else was interested in the space and for me it’s perfect.
Even on my least productive days, time spent in this studio is the best! Favorite tools live there, the north light is perfect, my collections clutter the windowsills and books and materials overflow the shelves. I’m close to good coffee and the activity outside my windows gives me visual breaks when moving forward just isn’t happening.
While I strive for good work days, inspiration and a sense of completion; it all comes down to one simple fact: I love my studio – it’s where I’m most at home. I’m fairly certain that most artists feel this way and cherish the time spent making. What’s your studio space like? I’d love to hear about your “creative home.”
Been working on this (along with encaustics and more) for the last month. This nine page pattern comes in a resealable ziplock bag and contains the following: 10.5 inches of woven ribbon, materials list, pattern pieces, stitch tutorial, color photos with written instructions and resource list. Cost is $10 (includes shipping). You choose your ribbon. Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org as I’m in the process of setting up a shop and the patterns are available now. Check/cash, credit card orders OK too, (credit card pattern cost is $10.50). Here’s to Happy Sewing friends!
Renaissance® Ribbons are woven and artist-designed. (From top-to-bottom): Purple/green leaves, Happy houses, Autumn color, Summer flowers, Orange slices and Morning glories. These ribbons come with blue painters tape on the cut ends (to prevent unraveling).
Midori® Ribbons are these are double-sided! (From top-to-bottom): red/black, spring green/white, purple/white, orange/white. These ribbons come with blue painters tape on the cut ends (to prevent unraveling).
One of the many color photos included with the written instructions. This pattern is easy to follow and you’ll learn several useful embroidery stitches, too! I’ve taught children as young as 6 and adults as well. Once you’ve made one Sew Happy Pincushion® you’ll be hooked!
Standard by Ed Ruscha
Lake Light by April Gornik
The Chess Game by John Singer Sargent
A Bigger Grand Canyon by David Hockney
Seeing Nature at the Portland Art Museum closes tomorrow (Sunday, January 10) and I finally viewed this amazing exhibition this morning. Better late than never, but how I wish I’d gone sooner and then gone again and again and again. 39 landscape masterworks spanning five centuries, a portion of the Paul Allen Family collection. Paintings by Monet, Klimt, O’Keeffe, JWM Turner, Cézanne, Hopper and more, thoughtfully displayed in three galleries. It was wonderfully overwhelming and deserving of so much more time than I could spend today. If you live in Portland and haven’t seen this show – go tomorrow and you won’t be disappointed.
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.)
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.
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!
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.
Everything 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. Collaging 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. The 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.
Foggy 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.Our 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.