Saturday, September 15, 2012

New Horizons Party

I've been silent for a while, figuring out my new direction and just fully enjoying the lazy days of summer.

A couple of months ago my art group made the big decision not to have our Dec. show anymore.  It was a hard decision because our shows have been a lot of fun and have been hugely successful, but to many of us, myself included, they took over our life and our art too much.  

 Our group has been adjusting to the idea of not having a show this year. Some of us felt a loss of not having the show to focus on and look forward to; others were thrilled with the idea of new possibilities, and most were experiencing a mixture of emotions.  We decided this would be a good time to have a party--both to acknowledge where we've been and to celebrate where we are going.

To map our journey, we were all given handmade, accordian-fold journals, covered in our choice of artful papers.

Suzie led us in a journaling exercise in which she took us through all the stages and events we experienced over the years in connection with the show, ending at what we are feeling right now.  Using a pen, we made marks to represent each of these stages.   Some used realistic images, others abstract ones.

We then added colors to our pages.

Some of our members in deep contemplation.

When we were done with the exercise, we went around the room and silently held up our journals one-by-one.  We didn't comment, we just silently witnessed each other's experiences.   And of course, the pages were all unique. 

We were asked to each bring 1" squares of paper that somehow represent us or our artwork.  We took these home to add to our journals and will share the final results at our next meeting.

 We each went around the room and talked about our new art goals.  Some wanted to learn new techniques, others become more proficient in ones they already know.  Some wanted to try new media, others wanted to work in series.  Some wanted to find new avenues for showing their work, others wanted to do more personal artwork.  We toasted to our new goals and support for one another.

Of course, there was lots of great food.

And party favors.  We each chose a bird with a word that resonated with us.

We've shared many wonderful events in our almost 10 years together, and I think this was one of my favorite ones.  As Stephanie said, "I love that the focus is now, not the show, but us."

Lorraine responded with this beautiful post:

"So often for us women the focus is outward, for others.  Now we get to check in with ourselves and ask, 'What have I been wanting to create?  What new art challenge do I want to take on without fear of failure or judgment?  Can I spend time in the present moment, in the process, with no concern for the finished product?  Can I learn something new?  Can I say goodbye to something that does not work for me anymore?  Can I give myself permission to release a tried and true art form and recreate myself as a beginner again?  Can I forgive myself for the time I will spend creating art just for me?'"

I am thrilled to have the opportunity to rediscover how to work from a place deep within my heart without concern for producing something to sell.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

New Mexico Journal

I've been away for so long that it feels overwhelming to catch up, so I'm going to jump right in with a recent trip and new journal love.

I made this journal to take to Mexico several years ago and never used it.  It was done in Mary Ann Moss's wonderful Remains of the Day class.

Luckily, it was a perfect fit for my trip to New Mexico.  I had enjoyed making it, but wasn't sure if I would like keeping a journal in it because I'm used to working on blank pages and these pages were already pretty full with collaged bits and trims.  But I loved working in it!

The pages added little challenges to find areas to sketch or write or collage in.


It pushed my sketching in new ways as I had to figure out how to fit things in.

 I didn't add as much to the pages as Mary Ann did.  I knew I wanted some blank pages for sketching such as these for sketches from the Museum of International Folk Art--one of my favorite places on the trip.

 I did put in quite a few pockets like Mary Ann does and they are now filled with gallery cards and other bits of paper.

 I enjoyed working in it so much that I came home and made another one for my upcoming trip to Los Angeles.  This one has a lot of my hand-painted fabrics on it and that gorgeous button I picked up in Taos.

 The back:

A few of the busier pages inside and many are blank with a little edge or two.

 And a few of my favorite shots from the trip:  Love the adobe architecture.  This is Mabel Luhan Dodge's house, one of the prettiest.

 The colorful shrines reminded me of Mexico.

 These wonderful masks were from a children's art center.

Lots of places to take in Folk Art.

And some quiet beauty too.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Painting Immersion

I've had two intense painting experiences lately. First, Flora Bowley's online class which I thoroughly enjoyed. She's fabulous about getting underneath all the stuff in our heads and helping with the loosening up process. I loved her spiritual approach to painting--that it is about letting go, not being attached, being in the moment. Many valuable lessons there, and things that I will continue to try to practice.

I followed that with another 5 day Bill Park's workshop. I had taken one several years ago and it was a real turning point in painting for me. His approach is very similar to Flora's in that he is totally focused on the process and letting go. He will paint for years on one painting just for the sheer joy of changing it and said he always feels sad to finish one, like finishing a good book.
Taking the two back-to-back helped me clarify what does and doesn't work for me. I found that I could not really use Flora's methods without ending up with imitations of her work. For some reason, it was very hard to find myself in that technique. Maybe more time would have brought me there, but I struggled with her use of pure color from the tubes and postponement of composition. I love what she does, but unless I copied it, it just wasn't working for me.

After Bill's class I came back and finished this painting I started in Flora's class:

Up close:
This is the one I posted several posts ago. You can still see some of the early bits, but most are gone.

I wrote about Bill's process last time I took the class, and you can read about it here, here and here if interested.

His building:
and the front door to his studio:

So now I have a bunch of canvases in process and will probably be changing them for years. But having lots of fun!

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

The Auction Project

The teens in my Art and Design class put together this fabulous piece of Portland with Mt. Hood in the background for the school auction. I divided a photo into 16 sections, and they each created one piece of the total collage. They worked with magazine pages and were told to interpret rather than copy the original photo.

It was so exciting to watch the piece come together. Since they were working on such small details up close, they didn't have a sense of how the final picture would look. They were all pretty stunned at the final unveiling. What I especially love about the piece is that you can see their individual styles if you inspect the piece up close, yet they came together beautifully into a very professional looking polished piece.

If you would like to bid on the piece, it's available in the online auction and the proceeds go to support a fantastic alternative school. The piece is matted and framed and very impressive, if I do say so myself.

Click here to see it and bid.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Working with What's Working

Entering the fourth week of Flora's class (I'm a bit behind on assignments), we have been adding more layers and now have an even bigger mess. Flora calls this the ugly teenage stage. She has a refreshing way of looking at things though. Rather than focusing on what isn't working at this stage, she tells us to look for what is working and do more of it.

Here's all the craziness in one of my canvases:

I can't say I'm finding a whole lot that I love about it, but I do like this shape:

And the freshness of this area:

So those will be my starting points when I approach it next time. It's funny that I always approach my students' work in that sort of positive light, looking for what is working in a piece, but when it comes to my own, my thoughts turn negative and I'm critical about what doesn't work. I'll give this a whirl.

I really love the spiritual quality of Flora's approach and the lessons that come through painting--acceptance, letting go, being flexible, staying present. Some days I'm much better at those things than others.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Wild and Crazy

These are my paintings from the end of week 2 of Flora Bowley's online class. It's been lots of fun doing layers and layers of paint, but I'm feeling the urge to tame them now. We will be working on these same canvases for 3 more weeks, so they should look radically different by the time I'm done.

Flora's class is so beautifully designed, a lovely cross between painting and The Artist's Way sort of thoughts and exercises, with a little yoga thrown in. Flora has such a lovely presence with a calm, centered quality--it comes through even online.

I have no problem throwing paint on canvas and letting go. It's the next stage--the turning all the joy and wildness into a well-composed painting that doesn't lose its energy--that is challenging for me. So my fingers are crossed that I can continue to stay focused on the process and not worry too much about the results.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Tag Tuesday--Happy Valentines!

I'm kind of killing many birds with one stone this week. Tag Tuesdays' last two themes were hearts, then Valentines. I made this Valentine for my art group Valentine swap, so I'll just check off my whole list.

This was inspired by Jude's cloth weavings, using some of my hand-painted fabrics for a bit of a graphic touch and both machine and hand stitching. I copied some of my painted fabrics on paper and used it for the background.

Happy Valentines Day!

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Tag Tuesday--Lace

The challenge for Tag Tuesday this week is lace. I've never been a lacy kind of girl, so wanted to see what else I could do with it. I decided to follow the lace pattern and do some chunky embroidery on top of it.

That might have more potential for playing with smaller lace patterns.

I was looking over my list for my personal "Just 30" challenge, which I wrote about here and found that I worked on, if not completed, everything I had on the list for the month. 30 days is so much more manageable than a year! So I'm going to jot down a few more things I'd like to do in the next 30 days.

Carve more stamps for printing on fabric
Make more fiber components, both hand and machine
Try deconstructed screen printing
Do some layering of printing on fabric, with dyes or discharge

It's a shorter list because I'm starting Flora Bowley's online painting class, so I want to stay open to however much time that requires or inspires.

Friday, February 3, 2012

Pilot Parallel Pens

I really like the line variety that dip pens give, but they are a little scary to take out sketching in public. I've been experimenting with a bunch of different pens trying to find something that gives nice line variety but can be thrown in a purse.

I'm really excited about the Pilot Parallel Pens. They come in different nib sizes and have replaceable ink cartridges that come in different colors.

This nib is the 3.8mm, about 1/4" wide:

I think it's my favorite--I used it on this bouquet and like the irregular line.

They don't have waterproof ink though, at least I haven't been able to find any. This was black ink, but when I put watercolors on top it bled a beautiful purple color. I love the effect.

This sketch was done with a smaller Parallel pen, 1.5mm, and the black ink bled gray on this one. Not sure why they differ.

I'm always trying for a looser, sketchier look in sketching, and these pens help me give up some control.

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Tag Tuesday--Vintage

I find it funny, and a little sad, that stuff I had in high school is now very cool to my teens because it is vintage. So for the vintage tag challenge this week, I decided to delve into one specific period--high school, California, early 70's--that time when the bright 60s colors were still around but earth tones were starting to creep in.

You can see other tags here. I'm still a week behind, and probably always will be. They are now posting for the new challenge--lace.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Tag Tuesday

I was catching up on some blog reading and found so many fun challenges/classes/themes for the new year that I could spin in all sorts of new directions. But I was especially drawn to Carolyn Saxby's Tag Tuesday challenge. Unfortunately it was full by the time I found it, but I decided to play along on my own.

Carolyn gives a theme each Tuesday for a tag to be created that week. The nice thing about playing alone is I can use whatever rules I want, so I decided I wasn't that interested in tags themselves, but I do like the challenge of experimenting on a very small canvas with a theme to challenge me.

So here is my non-tag for the challenge "White" this week. Thinking snowballs, using a variety of silk and other fabric samples/scraps.

Actually I see I'm a week behind and everyone is already posting the next challenge "Vintage," so I'll try to squeeze another one in before next Tues. and get with the program.