Creativity by the Hour

stop-watch-396862_1920I’m a master of avoidance.  Once I’m in my studio I”m ready to roll but getting there past all the distractions and excuses can be tricky business.  Really, does laundry need to be folded and put away first? The “Thing” that needs to be manifested from your psyche in words, paint, ink, or whatever medium you work in is the priority.  Here is a system that works well for me…

  1. Make an appointment for an assigned studio time. The earlier in the day, the better. Your cell phone is not invited.
  2. Enter studio, close door set timer and say to yourself “for one hour I will focus on nothing else but THIS.”
  3. Do not answer the phone, check email, or do anything not essential to your project on your computer- NO EXCEPTIONS!
  4. Work, work, work for one hour and then STOP. Continuing for more than this often leads to overworked material.
  5. Take a break for at least a half an hour and do something mindless like weeding or doing the dishes.  Stretch and get outside for a breath of fresh air.  This acts as a reset for the creative part of the brain that’s been working hard.
  6. Repeat steps 1-5 if needed

Most of the time I can get an amazing and satisfying amount of work done in a focused 60 minutes and I’m good for the day. If I have more to do, I find that by taking a break I come back to work reenergized with “fresh eyes”.  I also use the timer method for unpleasant tasks around the house in 15 minutes increments (ex. cleaning out the fridge- ugh).  You can accomplish great things in a small measured amount of time!

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Your Home is Your Canvas

Several weeks ago a friend apologetically said that she could not join me and friends on our annual creative trek to Ghost Ranch Retreat Center in N. New Mexico this July. I started this tradition about 9 years ago when I felt I needed to escape my daily life and focus on just art – no other distractions.  Since my initial trek, numerous pals have joined me in the fun.

This particular individual, who had not been there previously, remarked that she had too much work to do on her house, specifically remodeling a bathroom, to take up an artistic pastime at this point in time.  I remarked to “Honey, your work on your house IS an artistic pastime and to recognize it as such!  Your house is your canvas”.

Too many people separate ART from their daily lives ( I wrote more about this in my post There is “No Word for Art in Their Language”.  It does not have to be a sanitized framed rectangle celebrated with appetizers and wine.  Anytime a room is decorated, an outfit is planned, a garden designed, or a tasty meal is prepared, one has to think about combining different colors, shapes, textures, (and tastes in the realm of food), creativity is being expressed.  There is art in all of those endeavors.  I have to say that after remodeling two bathrooms, one kitchen and redecorating my living room, this is some of the work I am most proud of.

No Ideas?  Simple…just go on Pinterest, Houzz, or similar websites and steal a few!  Below are some of the touches I’ve added to my home “canvas”.

 

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Backsplash created with a stamp I cut out of foam rubber stamped on manufactured bisque tiles and then glazed and fired.
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Interior bathroom door.  I use masking tape, gray and white interior house paint, and the same foam stamp I made for the tiles.

 

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Kitchen backsplash of tiles I made myself.  I used a crazy quilt pattern with scenes around my home.  This was the project from hell but I love the results.

 

 

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Of Black Lines and Colored Water

Although I consider myself primarily a printmaker, I like to do whimsical illustrations from my imagination with black India ink lines and brightly colored watercolor. It’s like creating my own coloring book without the concern of color splashing outside the lines. These little paintings are usually based on something out of my life. The piece below is a composite of fond bath time memories. Emmy Lou, my beloved long hair tabby (RIP), would often come sit on the edge of the tub and watch me as I languished in the water. Then we would be joined by a dog, or perhaps two who would take a nap on the rug beside me.

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Another example of ink line and watercolor is the piece below I recently published in my post, “Daily Visitor”. It is of the stray cat, Lizzie that comes to the door every night to be fed.  I like to exaggerate the features of animals and people to add to their personality

Simple pleasures recorded with ink lines and colored water.

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The Joy of “Breaking the Rules”

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“Whatever you choose, however many roads you travel, I hope that you choose not to be a lady. I hope you will find some way to break the rules and make a little trouble out there. And I also hope that you will choose to make some of that trouble on behalf of women.”
[Commencement Address, Wellesley College, 1996]”
― Nora Ephron

As a child, I tried to please to gain my mother’s attention.  I colored meticulously in the lines and got straight A’s.  As a teen, I strove to have a perfect body but did not have good material to work with.  As hard as I tried, I was not beautiful nor popular.  It all was for naught.  Trying to be perfect did not curry affection.

Around 40 years-old I had had enough of being a perfectionist.  It was making me miserable.  I decided if you can’t be perfect, strive to be interesting. I started breaking free by doing small acts of rebellion. It began with my artwork…..

I quit practicing calligraphy.  Making perfectly proportioned letters gave way to altered, be-creative-2111029_1920skewed forms.  I gave up working on the wheel in ceramics shunning symmetry for wonky, sometimes smooshed,  handbuilt pieces.  The female figure became a lovely opportunity to distort and exaggerate.  There are often holes where breasts Mama Tilly front QEshould be, with huge hips & thighs going counter to what our culture celebrates.

I avoid drawing straight lines preferring to make them wavy or zigzagged.

img_0342.jpgWhen I began teaching (I started late), I changed the Ms. in my name to Mz. Pass.  When students questioned that choice I responded that I really liked the letter Z. It was a horribly underused letter of the alphabet and I thought it worked better in this application.  That explanation seemed to satisfy their 6th-grade minds.Garbo tilly QE

I use a “coffee name” at Starbuck’s or equivalent when I order.  This habit started out since no one could seem to write or pronounce my name correctly.  Zelda became my alias but I am having so much fun having a different name I am considering trying on others for size. Olivia or maybe Ophelia?

My latest is leaving the gender and marital status blank on forms when possible.  For race I check “other.”

These small acts might seem ridiculous to some, but for myself, a recovering perfectionist, they are oddly liberating.  I am always on the lookout for other creative ways to break the rules.  For more on my crusade against perfection go to my post, “Escaping Perfection.”

In the meantime, remember…If you can’t be perfect, strive to be interesting.

You’ll be so much happier!

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WP (un) Photo Challenge- Rise & Set, The First Sunrise…..

I’m fascinated by creation myths.  This is my artistic interpretation (with a little creative license) of the first sunrise..or maybe sunset??  Colored pencil, graphite,  and embossing.

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(Plenty of gorgeous photos posted and I have my share- but I enjoy a different spin now and again.)

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We Matter

img_0324.jpgHow did it happen that the U.S. government has forgotten the well being of its own people?  I watched the “March for Our Lives” rally broadcast this morning from Washington D.C. heartsick hearing the Stoneman Douglas student speakers express their pain from the mass shooting at their school.  Equally heartbreaking was hearing their frustration from the lack of response from leaders who have done virtually NOTHING after the myriad of massacres that have occurred in schools and public spaces across the US in recent time. I substitute teach part-time in high schools.  It’s sad that every time I walk in the door I feel I am not in a safe place anymore.  Students feel that every day.

There was a pivotal point in one student’s speech where he said we should “arm teachers.”  I sucked in my breath saying to myself “oh not this.”  The student went on to say, however, that teachers should be well armed with pencils, paper, books and good enough salaries to teach.  The crowd roared. As an educator, I know how underfunded our education system is in this country.  We fund wars across the globe, give tax breaks to the rich, but neglect the safety, education, healthcare, & mental health care of our own people.  WE MATTER.

If anyone can make a change in this country, these kids can.  They have started a movement and I am right there with them.  For now, all I could do was write a blog post & make a picture (but that’s what artist’s do).

 

I’d Rather Be Printmaking

I love making monotypes  These are one of a kind prints, not produced in an edition format.  Currently, I work on a gelatin plate that I made myself from Knox gelatin and glycerin.  It has the feel of a flat gummy bear.  The ink is rolled on and then I press the paper down on the plate.  Stencils and textures applied to the plate make interesting patterns and shapes.  At times I have a concept in mind- other times I work from my intuition alone.  When I see a composition forming, I apply finishing touches with stamps, stencils, and colored pencils.  Sometimes  I apply collage elements.

Every piece I make is an adventure.  There are no mistakes.  If I don’t like how a piece is turning out, It can cut up and be turned into greeting cards, bookmarks, or go in the collage box for use in another piece.

My particular process can be pretty involved.  I have tried to document most of the steps.

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I’d Rather Be…