Friday, October 29, 2010

Impossible Garden: Core of the Vision

The Garden I want
At last, my garden welcomes me! After months--years-- of brown thumbing it, fighting going into the garden even though I love the look of it growing and even enjoy working in it, I've finally made a shift. It's as thought a door has opened!

It's not as though I heard anything new today in my coaching session with Victoria Dzenis. I've heard before, "my garden is my palate", and even "I approach the garden like a painting". Yet, somehow, today, when we were examining the core reason, the vision of our creativity, the legacy we want to leave behind, somehow things clicked into place. 

It's the beauty world I want to help people step into. Years ago, when I was a new mother with a three month old son, living in an abusive situation, I was naturally quite depressed--until I saw the "Burning Bush". It was the way the light shone through a blackberry leaf, a common blackberry leaf, that lifted me out of the gray/blue worry world and into a world of beauty. I learned that I can step into that world of beauty any time, let in the fresh air and sunshine, like rolling down a car window. 

I live mostly in the beauty world now. I do it through gratitude for the beauty around me, and I do it through art. I create beauty with my brush. And I can do it in my garden. 

The garden I have now
And then, the core of my vision, I want to share this beauty, this joy. I want to make it manifest in this world so that everyone can step into it. So that you can step into it.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Focus on the one thing

Here's some food for thought. It ties in with Kelly Rae's advice on "finding your own tribe". It is encouraging me to think about what it is, what it really is, that I want to say with my work and with my blog. What message do I want to get out?

Monday, October 25, 2010

silk painting class

What fun teaching silk painting yesterday! Here is some of my student's work before steaming. We used a few techniques here. We used embroidery hoops from the thrift store to stretch the silk tight enough to paint.

This demo piece shows butterflies done in two ways. The top one is contained with lines of resist, the one on the bottom is outlined with resist then coated with No-Flow. Notice how the color in the top butterfly is difused where there is no resist line separating the yellow and red (in the middle), while you can see the brush strokes on the bottom butterfly.

The background was painted with dye and water to give the soft edges on the blue. Then it was coated with No-Flow and the red, yellow, and purple were painted on. Notice how these brush strokes kept their shape.

Ann's ginko leaves were done with resists (pebeo water based gutta in tubes), then painted with Jaquard dyes. She textured the green by sprinkling rock salt on it while still wet and letting it dry.

Brem painted her birds on silk coated with Jaquard No-Flow resist. No need for gutta lines, and a very different effect!

Next step is to let the dyes dry and set for 24 hours, then steam the silk to bring out the color.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Old Woman/Wise Woman: Carolyn Price Dyer and Finding Direction

Who knows where our fascinations will lead? When Carloyn went to Asia, she brought back a large collection of Asian papers, and saved them, with no idea what she wanted to do with them. Caroylyn is a weaver, but it wasn't until about ten years ago--at about age 70--that this inspiration hit her.  Needing a new theme for an upcoming show, that she decided to cut the papers into strips and weave with them. Her resulting work has a dimension not found in any other artist's work. I wish you could see the tiny Chinese characters on the paper "threads" that give this work it's unique quality.

It's good for me to keep this in mind, as I develop my own work, wondering where it will end up, where to focus my energy. Silk paintings for the wall? Home decor? Wearable art? Illustration? I feel as lost as I did in February. I wake up in the night  wondering "what AM I supposed to be doing? How does my work feed the world? How can it feed me?"

Does anyone else have these questions gnawing at them?

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Art in the Schools: Monster Friends and Dragons

I have so loved working with the children in the schools, doing art and using art in an integrated curriculum! While I wasn't accepted on the Washington State Arts Commission teaching artist roster, I was accepted on the Vashon Artists in the Schools Roster. I guess it's good to start locally.

 The year before last, I worked with first and second graders on creating their own monster friends inspired by photos I took in Thailand of mythical creatures adorning palaces, temples, and parks. The banner we made with the silk squares was auctioned off to raise money for the school.

Last year I did a project with third graders around the Hundred Family Coat, from a Chinese folk tale about a boy and a golden pheonix who rescue the sun. We made a Coat of Many Strengths; each child identified a strength of theirs and created a design for it. We used fabric markers to put the designs on silk squares, which were then sewn onto a coat. Just like the coat made with little scraps of cloth donated by the people of the village to the boy in the story, our coat respresented how all the children's strengths combined to make the class room communty.

This year, I have been talking with some teachers I know and have worked with about doing something around Dragons, as a paid artist in residence through Vashon Artists in the Schools. I am excited!

Monday, October 18, 2010

Shibori Technique

Sunday I taught two very creative ladies to do shibori dying on silk. The class didn't fill through the local Allied Arts, so I taught it in my studio. We had such fun!
Here is how we did it:
1. We used silk satin scarves about 8" x 54" .
2. We wound them around a dowel:

3. We put on gloves to keep from dying our hands, and placed the scarf and dowel in a pie pan to catch drips.

4. Using eye droppers, we dripped dye onto the silk, holding the dropper in place to let the dye soak in.

5. Once the dye covers the silk, we let it set to soak in throughly .

6. We can't wait until it dries on the dowel (takes days!) to see what it looks like, so we carefully unrolled the silk and hung it up to dry. TaDa!!

7. The next step is to steam them. That will be next week when the class meets.

Friday, October 15, 2010

A Handmade Christmas

Christmas card inspired by
 How Six Found Christmas
One of my favorite Christmas stories is Trina Schart Hyman's "How Six Found Christmas". The last line is, "Christmas is not only where you find it. It is also what you make it." There were many times as a single mom, when the Christmas we had was the Christmas we made, and what fun we had making Christmas!

 I have always been partial to homemade gifts, in spite of what the media so often tells us about how hockey they are. I've discovered I'm not alone! Check out Plain and Joyful Living: a Handmade Holiday, if you are of like mind. Although it is only mid October, it's time to begin thinking about Christmas, if one is going to actually make any gifts  in time!

I'm in an ornament exchange this year, and have begun researching ways to make beautiful ornaments easily. Here's an idea on making paper from scratch and using that paper to make ornaments, from Sippy Cup Central.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Paper mache Dragon

As a dragon lover myself, I was drawn to a flock of dragons in a
 window across the street from the Davidson Gallery in Pioneer
Square, Seattle, on First Thursday in October.

Blue Dragon, from Atom's Monster
by Suzanna Leigh
Don Reeder's Dragons (Gourmet Papermache) are beyond wonderful!! Their expressions, their body language, the detail, the color, everything about them just wowed me! If you are anywhere near Seattle, take time to stop and see them.

While they are not as well displayed on his blog, there are some wonderful videos there on how he makes them. Here is just a sample for your enjoyment.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Splash Out!

Right side/Left side division
Splash down, Splash up
Incoming! Incoming!
 Hard and Fast!
Splash out in Beauty

After months of barely leaving my island haven, I'm suddenly leaving almost every day for a week! Last Thursday I went to First Thursday Art Walk in Seattle, where I checked out galleries and talked art with a friend. Saturday I went with a group of friends to LaConner, to the opening of Caroyn Dyer's show at the Quilt Museum.  Today, Monday, I was in Tacoma all day taking my dad to doctors. Tuesday I may go to the SCBWI meeting in Seattle. Wednesday I'm starting a group coaching session with Victoria Dzenis. Whew! I'll need Thursday for a down day, but I have an application for a show at the Blue Heron Gallery due Friday!

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Celebration time! I'm going to be on the December Art Studio Tour!

I turned in my application to be on the Vashon Island Art Studio Tour in December!

After talking with several people about their previous success, or about the possibility of sharing space at their studios, I decided to do it at my own studio, alone if necessary. It is something I've wanted to do for years, and I am so excited!

Friday, October 8, 2010

Lesson from the pit

It's no fun being in the pit. Energy to create seems nonexistant. Nothing seems worthwhile. The nagging question, "What is it I'm supposed to be doing?" or " Why can't I rouse the energy to do the thing I think I should do?" seems to have no answer. One reaches out in desperation for any rope or ladder to climb out.

If only I would remember a lesson my intuitive drawing gave me years ago: sometimes the very pit of dispair is the earth that nourishes seeds of new energy, new life.  When I finally give myself permission to take a day or two to not think, not try to accopmplish anything, something inside me germinates, and I wake up ready to try a new angle. Or something clicks, and the feeling of uselessness evaporates, replaced by new purpose. 

For me the thing I was struggling with was the Dec Studio Tour. I have always wanted to do this, but now that the deadline to apply is approaching, lethargy set in. Thoughts like "I don't want my life to be about producing more things", and "It's too much work, I'll never sell enough to  make it worth while", and "I can't afford the entry fee and the cost of materials"  nearly stopped me in my tracks.

"The pit into which I have fallen
 has become the wings of my salvation". 
Then the people who had expressed interest in doing it with me backed out, and I thought, "I don't want to do this alone. Do I really want to do this"?

 I finally decided that the purpose beyond financial that made it worth while, was the opportunity to contribute to the spirit of celebration in the community. To light a candle in the dark. To lift the spirits of people who come to my studio.

This morning I woke up knowing I want to do it. I called people I know who have done the tour and asked what made it successful for them. They gave me good ideas and told me who to call for a possible studio share.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

The Blahs: a painting to lift the spirits

I guess I'm not the only one feeling the blahs lately; lots of people I've been talking with confess to feeling down. Maybe it's the season, fall and all. Chillier weather, days darker, sunset earlier, a sense of having missed something. Isn't there something else I should be doing? Oh man, I didn't get the winter garden planted, the quilt made, the promotional materials out, name it. Summer is passing, and with it the time to do so many of the things dear to our hearts. We are reminded that life, too, is passing.

Sometimes I have been able to step out of the blahs by creating a sunflower painting, or a painting of bright butterflies. Something about that happy yellow coming out of the dark background lifts my spirits. Thank goodness sunflowers bloom in September! I still had a few left for this painting. They have wilted now, but the painting continues to lift my spirits.

This painting isn't quite as cheerful as some in the past. Am I getting older, or are the questions I'm facing this fall deeper?

Monday, October 4, 2010

Keith Ghandi Jones; two time world mustache champion

Keigh "Ghandi" Jones
two time world champion
in the freestyle mustache class
I just realized I drew this man wrong; he was wearing an asymetrical mustache, twirled to represent the wind blowing!

He was our model in my life drawing class, and this wasn't the only place he was wearing a mustache! He was fun to draw, and even more fun to listen to. You should have seen his eyes sparkle when he told us about the world championship competition for mustaches.

Friday, October 1, 2010

A Strategy for Stepping out of the Blahs

Sometimes I get so stuck!! I get overwhelmed with possibilities, and all of them seem equally important--or none of them seems worth starting on. Or yesterdays new ideas have all gone into hiding. Or I don't have the right materials. Or something else is pulling my mind out of the studio during sacred studio time.

 Yesterday was like that.  Finally, in desparation,  I put my pen to paper and just let it go. Just started drawing with no idea where I would end up. This is what I came up with.

It seems to have done the trick. Today I started on a project that has been on my mind for a long time: a vest of silk paintings that didn't work, cut into strips and woven together. It's a different kind of thinking, to get the colors to work together this way.