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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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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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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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…

Staying Tuned to The Muse

 

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“Wild Birds in My Head”  by the author

I’m always staying tuned for ideas (see my post “Where my Ideas Come From”  ) but sometimes they pursue me- relentlessly.  Think about wild birds flapping in your head endlessly or like someone tugging on your apron strings constantly.  Yes, the ruckus will go away eventually, but not entirely.  The inspiration will just go to someone else to be manifested and then pretty soon your muse will give up on you all together and you will be very lonely.

WRITE ME

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The poem tugged on my apron strings

Begging for attention

When I ignored it

It crept into the kitchen of my mind

Rattling the pots and pans with such a clatter

I could bear it no longer

“Stop!”I cried

“Don’t you know I wasn’t an English major?”

“Find someone else to write you!”

But the poem persisted with such a fuss

That I relented,

Sat down and wrote it,

Then kicked it out the door to the internet

Sighing with relief

Until I felt another tug

on my apron strings.

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”