Home is Where My Art is

When I am being creative I feel I am in my place in the world.  Be it writing a poem, printmaking, painting, or creating something out of clay that’s when I feel the most “in my skin” no matter where I am at.  This is my upstairs studio in my farmhouse in rural Oregon.IMG_0524.jpg

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Place in the World

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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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…

Just for Play, Just for Fun

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“You could sell those”

a familiar phrase

then watch my passion

turn to drudgery

as I turn out clones of my art

for a few shekels in my pocket

or I could continue to create butterflies

just for the joy of watching them fly

setting them free

without attachment

savoring the delight

as they land

in another’s hands

 

It takes a certain amount of energy to sell ones work- at least as much as making it.  After the New Year, I have given up such notions to just play and experiment with printmaking,  clay, and mosaics. It’s liberating to just experience a process without attachment to profit or outcome.  Play is undervalued in our culture.  It is so rejuvenating.

 

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Courtesy Austin Kleons Blog, “In defense of Hobbies”

 

 

 

The “Art” of Non-Judgement

mandalas-1485096In meditation the goal is to focus on the breath, observing thoughts with non judgement.  It is an exercise to become aware of one’s inner dialogue without criticism.  According to Yoga International….

” Meditation is a practical means for calming yourself, for letting go of your biases and seeing what is, openly and clearly. It is a way of training the mind so that you are not distracted and caught up in its endless churning. Meditation teaches you to systematically explore your inner dimensions.”

I decided to take the concept of meditation and apply it to my art making, meaning any creative task I undertake.  As a visual artist especially, I’ve noticed that I have a habit of letting a stream of negative judgement runs through my mind as I make art.  My inner critic tells me “this is not good enough” or “if I only I did this – or that” or some such chatter.  This is a perfect recipe for artistic block – and I have been there.

When toddlers begin to walk and fall down, they don’t give up.  They try and fail over and over again.   Parents cheer and don’t discourage.  It’s part of the process of learning. Too bad we give that child-like wonder as adults

As of the New Year I am making art with an attitude of play and experimentation rather than judgement of whether my work is good or bad.  If a piece doesn’t work, so be it.  I have learned from it.   I am mindful to my inner dialogue as I create.  When negative thinking enters my mind I say “You are not welcome here.  Let me play!”

This week I began an online class, Making Monotypes with a Gellatin Plate taught by Linda Germaine. it’s been the perfect opportunity to apply “The art of non-judgement.”

It’s so liberating.  I’m having fun.  I can hardly wait to get back to the studio…..

Experimenting….first try printing with a gelli-plate!

 

There is No Magic

fairy-2573105_1280During a little informal open studio I had last weekend at my home I found myself growing increasingly uncomfortable with the accolades some wonderful friends were heaping upon me.   “You’re so creative!”  “I could never do that”.  or “I’m not creative at all.”    There was no large boulder I could crawl under so I found myself getting increasingly self-deprecating to deflect the praise.  Granted, it’s lovely to be recognized, but this is just what I do.  Everyone is creative.  You just need to pay attention to your muse.  Here is my advice to the self-described “non-artist”…

THERE IS NO MAGIC

I just said

YES

Wild hairs sprouted

I chose to tend them

Now I have flowers.

Be still

Listen

Say

YES

and you will have flowers

too.

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