In the studio . . .

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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!”

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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.

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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.”

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Moving into fall and moving on

Fall – the best season. In my world, the year always begins in September, not January. Even tho’ everyone and everything is starting to hunker down in anticipation of the cool weather, there’s so much promise in the crisp air.

Autumn of 2008 heralded my move from our house to a workspace in the industrial section of Ballard. Adjoining 4th floor rooms with the best views I’ve ever had in my 20+ years in Seattle and all of my art supplies, books and miscellaneous stuff finally corralled in one space.

Four years have flown by, several thousand invites been created and it’s time to move on . . . to a shared studio at BallardWorks with my new friend, Leah. We’re almost settled in . . . this weekend’s studio sale has been quite successful and I have just a few more boxes to move.

The studio overlooks a plumbing supply building and wide window sills gave me the opportunity to display favorite treasures like these velvet pumpkins.

Late afternoon sun necessitated the use of blinds – especially on hot summer days. I love the patterns they create on the walls. The calligraphy sign is by artist Lisa Engelbrecht .

I will miss this sunset view but am excited to be moving on. Once again September is all about a new beginning.

Stuff I have / Stuff I create

As I begin to move my studio, I am overwhelmed with all the stuff I’ve collected. Three years here and the shelves are bulging. Some items are overage from various client projects. Often it’s cheaper to purchase 100 boxes wholesale even if I only need 60 . . . and who knows, there might be a future invitation that needs that exact box.

Art materials / media come in so many forms and inspiration arrives from various sources – books, photos, found objects and more. Even the juxtaposition of items on a shelf can trigger a new idea. Books arranged by color and size (courtesy of  my niece Hanna) create interesting visual patterns.

Paper – I LOVE it. It’s truly amazing what artisans worldwide are creating. The dotted magenta paper’s waxy smell reminds me of Indonesian batik fabric.

My daughter’s hand imprint is stitched on a pin cushion. This late 19th century Japanese sewing box is a new treasure and knowing that another woman used it for her supplies makes me feel connected to the past.

Tape guns, e-xacto knives, calculators, colored pencils, ink jet printers and scissors – couldn’t do my work without them!

Another addiction – ribbon – used in custom jobs and my own artwork.

Natural elements, papers, ribbons and studio ephemera come together in finished gifts for a client’s party.

These paper prayer flags were created using leftovers from several jobs. The calligraphy scraps were salvaged from a friend’s trash! Once again the prompt from 52 photos project – Elements – is the inspiration for this post.

P.S.  I will be having a studio sale in mid September . . . my trash can become your treasure! Stay tuned . . .

Fun & games in my sunny studio

The visiting sun and 4 students creating one-of-a-kind games made for a lovely afternoon in my studio. Not only are these women very talented, they’re also great company – two and a half hours flew by.

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Birds, butterflies and lettering were Nancy’s subjects for both of her games.

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An was captivated by vintage postcards and maps.

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Bonnie created her games featuring Paris, collage and bright colors.

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My game features a retro skeleton and garden veggies. Unfortunately Jan left before I brought out the camera. Her games were awesome as well.

This project looks deceptively difficult, but these games are easy to make and offer so many options. I’ll be teaching this class again in the fall at my new studio space. I hope you can join me!