Art alternatives in Covid
The McGuffey Art Center, where my studio is housed, has been closed since March. This means the galleries have been empty, the classes unattended, the life drawing sessions called off, and visitors to our studios non-existent. Itis the right thing to do. It is understandable, and in fact, the solitude (we artists are allowed in our private studios) has been better than I thought it would be. It has been a productive, if not solitary time for me.
This month two alternatives have been found. The life drawing sessions have resumed the last two weeks. We are outside and we are masked, but we are drawing again! This is also the best time of year (IMHO) for weather in Virginia. The sun is bright, the humidity is down, and the breezes are refreshing. All this makes for well attended and productive sessions! Here are some of my drawings from the recent sessions:
Social Distancing in Pictures
A while ago I posted a series of photos on Facebook. They were photos I have taken over time, many if not most before Covid. I was struck at how many pictures I had taken of solitude ... or as we now think of it "social Distancing. I though I should add them here on my blog too.
Generally, I am an extrovert. I actually find it easier to address large crowds more than I do small intimate settings. I guess that would be whatever the opposite of Stage Fright is. Knowing this about myself, I really figured that this whole "Shelter in Place" idea would get to me quickly and harshly. Much to my surprise, I have quite enjoyed the solitude, lack of urgency and freedom to take each day as it comes.
I miss my grandkids, and being with my friends - especially those who have experience life crisis or celebrations during this time. I especially miss the hugs and laughter, but for the most part, I have allowed myself exploration time and even some video game time! (Animal crossing if you are wondering!)
So, back tot he photography... here they are. hope some of them speak to you.
Drawing in the time of Covid
It is good to be reminded that the true talent of an artist is in their eyes, not their hand.
The facility of the hand is just hard work.
As a kid, I remember thinking that I so wished I could just take a picture with my eyes, because then I could show people what I saw, but instead I had to figure out to use a medium to record it. If I could have any object from my past restored to me, it would be my moose. At the age of five, I drew a moose that was then confiscated by my teacher for a school art show, and never to be seen again. In my mind's eye it was a perfect rendering. I would love to see what my 5 year old self thought said "moose" so perfectly.
I have drawn and rendered thousands of things since that time, but a few life drawing examples still stand out; A gestural life drawing of a 5 second pose, that still gives me an "artgasm" when I think of it, because it perfectly captured the move I saw for just an instant. And the life drawing, where my teacher finally got me to understand that looking at the negative space was equal to looking at the positive space. There are many more, and many more that were just practice! A third was when, after weeks of short poses, the model was told to pose in one pose for the entire 1 hour class. We were ecstatic. We spent the hour working hard to make the best drawings we ever did. On our way out the door the instructor took our drawings and ripped them up. Then asked, what we had seen and learned during the past hour that would last longer than the drawing. That was a particularly hard and strong lesson. We were to see, learn and grow; not just produce.
Seeing has always been the highlight for me. I have never understood boredom. No matter where you are there are things around you to be astonished by. A photo group that I am in had people lamenting that they had no great vistas or interesting things to shoot. So for the next month, I only took pictures within a one block radius of my home. They are some of my favorites. Here are three from that month.
I have drawn waiting for the dentist, DMV and prescriptions to be filled. Now I draw at outdoor cafes a lot. These are all observations; to train first my eye, then my hand. Photography is the media I choose most for observing. One has to think about the focus, the composition, the lighting and everything else in a very short time. I like that. My photos may eventually become fiber work, but that is a whole other round of sifting and winnowing through the observations to find one that will then go on to speak to others as the layering and textures get added.
Last week I was drawing with my grandson. We were drawing a coffee cup and other household items. I tried to explain that he is not drawing a cup. He is not drawing the circle that he knows is the top of the cup. He is drawing the oval that he sees as the top of the cup. He is not drawing the hosta flower, he is drawing a unique shape (that happens to be a flower) and he is drawing the shape of the space between the edge of the flower and the edge of the vase!
I love seeing. I love drawing. What the eyes sees the hand can draw.
A symbiotic relationship
I was reading a book on Wayne Theibaud's work last night. And a quote really struck me.
"What sort of Medium fits your image. Is there a more legitimate medium for that?"
His question was directed to choosing a drawing media, and it is a legitimate one, but many of us have chosen a singular medium to work with, so I think there is slightly different question that should be asked:
Does your image NEED your medium?
Looking at Theibaud's Gumballs, it is evident the paint brought something a photo wouldn't; enhanced lighting, composition, graphic-ness, and juicy texture all taking them beyond reality to a unique statement and intent!
I take a lot of pictures. Maybe one in 100+ ever get made into art quilts. When I search for the photo that will be the basis for my next piece, it can not feel "complete" already! It has to NEED fabric (surface or layers) and stitching to be complete. It can not be an image that can stand alone without being pierced by my needle! I am not always successful at this, but that is my goal.
I love using fiber as a media. It has qualities that no other media does, and I try very hard to remember those when picking my imagery. FOR ME (and it might be different for others) The image chosen, photo or not, must not be complete without the addition of the fiber and stitch, and the fiber and stitch needs the image for them to be complete.
This is also why the National Portrait Gallery is one of my favorite museums. to see the same basic imagery (human being) expressed through so many media and artists, is a wonderful schooling on how art is not replication, but is something beyond that; it must be a symbiotic relationship between the image and the media.
Above is an example of my original photo (left) and my finished piece (right)
"Where the Sidewalk Starts"
On the Scent
I just watched a Netflix show "Empire of Scents". As I watched it it dawned on me that maybe there is something disappearing from our world, and we haven't thought much about it.
I was a graphic designer back in the dark ages.
I remember when cut and paste required sharp and sticky things. Back when you would construct mock-ups using what ever materials you needed to simulate the finished product. When you often had to open the windows or turn on the fans because of the vapors!
My mind reels when I remember those smells. Then sweet vanilla of Rubylith and Amberlith. The warm smell of the hot wax. The difference between the smell of newsprint, coated stock, and Bienfang marker papers. There was something between fear and potential in the smell of the markers as you started rendering. There is not a graphics person around who couldn't identify the smell of rubber cement from a room or two away. And even the metallic smell of the rapidograph ink pens was a daily incense in our studio. Those are only a few of the odors that rose - for good or for ill - from our tools.
When computers came so did sterility. There is no smell to the keyboard (well there shouldn't be anyway!!) you can not smell the marker or glue residue on your fingertips. We lost the touch of the paper and the physicality of the construction. But until now, I hadn't thought about the loss of smell and how devoid of that sense the computer process. For me (insert "Ok Boomer" here) much was lost. The visual aspect of design was still there; The process was, in many ways, freer; Efficiency was enhanced. But it was like moving into a new building - shiny and beautifully functional, but without historic memory.
Now I sew.
I have long thought that I chose this medium because of the physicality and how it echoed those "good old days" of design. I fondle my cloth as I choose it and push it through its paces. I cut, slice, slash, poke, and iron my cloth, just as I did paper in "the good old days". That is where I though my joy came from.
But now I think maybe it is also the smells. There is a distinct difference in the smell of cotton vs. poly vs. linen. I realize that I am smelling the fabric as I fold it or rummage through my stash. The mixture of fear and potential is back every time I open a package from Spoonflower and smell that newly printed fabric. My bag of yarn scraps smell of sheep and hemp, and cotton, and mustiness. The slight oil smell that my sewing machine emits. When my iron hits the damp fabric there is a vaporous aroma that is sweeter than any perfume. The glue scents are there in the fabric spray and the glue stick. Once in a while the marker smells enter with the fabric markers or when I am addressing a box for shipping.
I often am jealous of my dog when we are on walk.
Her world is a completely different one than mine is. Mine is one of sight and I am thankful for that, but hers is one of scent. Sights can confuse her, distract her and even scare her, but scent is her reality. I would love to have a moment of that reality to see what I am missing.
I wonder, as we become more and more technological, if we are forgetting how much that sense of smell has meant to humankind. Will we remember video games in the way I remember the smell of Monoply money or the metal of the pieces. Shopping on line is efficient and I embrace it, but it has been a long time since I took an olfactory lap around the perfume counter at Macy's. Our quest for clean sanitized surrounding and concern for the environment has eliminated the smell of leaves burning in the fall. I am no Luddite. I am happy with the advances in technology, but this was just one of those things that (as Arsenio Hall used to say) make you go "hmmmmmm?!"
Quilt National '19
Just came home from the whirlwind weekend at the Quilt National Show. This was my first time entering and first time accepted and for that I am honored and grateful. It turns out that about 30% of the entrants were first timers. I would love to know the reason for this (even I like statistics now and then!) Is that normal? Did the more experienced not enter? Is there that much of a surge in new art quilters? A fluke? Judging criteria? Just one of those things that makes you go "hhmmmmmmm"
I must admit that after seeing the show I kinda wondered how my piece [stylistically] got/fit in! I think in the whole show of 90+ pieces there were about five "figurative" pieces, surrounded by colorful (and beautifully done) abstracts. There was one 3-d piece. Again, please understand I am not disparaging either the judging or the accepted entries, but I am confused about the ongoing intent of the show. There are so many wonderful directions that Art Quilting has taken recently that I was a bit confused about the lack of diversity in styles, medium and content. Is it a showcase for the trends that happened in Art Quilting, or is it an inspiring showcase for possibilities! Each show venue lives with a reputation and expectations. QN is grandmother of them all, and as such has both a history to live up to and laurels to ride on.
Now for the good part! My absolute favorite of the show was Jean Wells Keenan's No Stone Unturned. It was the epitome of that which could not be done in any other media. The colors are cloth colors. The textures are stitched textures (both hand and machine), The concept is both universal and intimate. It hit every tick box for me!
Betty Busby continues to be an innovative and positive force for the Art Quilt world. Never resting on a style or technique, she pushes ahead with obvious joy and skill! One year a quilt, one year a vessel, this year a wall sculpture. BUT all recognizable on some level (color? whimsy? craft?) as a "Betty".This year it was Coloratura. A piece inspired by Opera. Thanks for all you do, Betty!
Of the prize winners, I was so happy to see Dinah Sargeant's Riverstrong get recognized. This was another piece that took joy in fabric. Each surface considered. Each stitch meaningful. One of those pieces that is not "Art Quilting". It is simply "Art".
Here are a few details of some of the other award winners. Best in Show, Karen Schultz. Upper left: Emerging Artist, Irene Roderick. Upper Right: Heartland Award, Daren Redman. Middle left: Persistance Pays, Gabrielle Paquin. Middle Right: Quilt Award Japan, Dana Ziesemer. Bottom Left: McCarthy Award: Valerie Maserr-Flanagan. Bottom Right: Outstanding Machine pieced, Pamela Loewen
You know from the minute you see the gleaming mosaics on the outside and then the giant Icarus flying in the stairwell (shown on the left) , that this is not your usual museum. The exhibits right now were themed "Parenting" and the stories told were from all sides of the coin - parent and child. Recounts of childhoods spent in danger or isolation were seen in all media. From a man who spent 30 years sculpting a "family" and then making detail costumes for each doll, to harshly scratched out drawings of a life spent hiding from addicted parents. An imprisoned father's depictions of life were shown in detailed embroideries made from the unraveled socks he could get. So many lives told.
Here are just two of her images with the accompanying texts that were embroidered at the bottom:
One of my other favorite displays ran along the spiral staircase. It was a ten yard machine sewn illustration of scenes sewn by a man at the suggestion of those who stopped by.
Here is his story, idea of what it looked like, and some details.
It was a heart-wrenching visit, saved from being overly emotional by the gift shop at the end. What a place of wonder! Every trinket, accessory and fun things you could want for yourself or to give as gifts... will definitely be back there for the holidays!
DC Art with Friends
I just spent two wonderful days seeing, talking about, and walking through art! I went to several museums with two of my fiber buddies, and we then talked art over good food, and while sitting in various transportation vehicles!
Monday we went to Washington DC. We decided to try out two of the smaller museums, the National Museum of Women in the Arts and the Renwick Gallery, before we hit the National Gallery.
The National Museum of Women in the Arts
As is often the case, we were too optimistic about how much time we would have, so it was a quick visit to the National Gallery. I decided to head over to the East Wing, and just say "hi" to the I.M.Pei building, and not worry about deciding what art to savor in only an hour. My next post will be about our next day at the Visionary Art Museum in Baltimore.... stay tuned.
in the meantime, here is a slide show are some of my shots from the national gallery, the Metro, and one from the wonderful deli/restaurant we stopped at for lunch.
Dabbling in the studio
After a few months of intensive "Get 'er done" pace getting ready for my show in Colorado, the upcoming show in Houston, and getting a couple pieces done to submit to Quilt National, I have been having a few weeks of "putzing" around. There is a real adrenaline drop off after FedEx sweeps away my work, and I need something different to regain my mojo. So it has been play time!
One of the fun things I do between projects is make earrings (and sometimes other things) from the little left over pieces of fabric and yarns. They are light, affordable, and fun and I have sold many through the McGuffey Art Center Gift shop. Now they are also available in the gift shop of the Visions Art Museum in San Jose, CA. So I have made a bunch of new ones for the upcoming Holiday gift-giving season!
Then it was time for a "remake". Early this year, I was in a show with two other McGuffey artists. We made many collaborative pieces with our three different mediums fiber, clay and wood. You can see the pieces, as they were exhibited here. The large wood and fiber wall piece was separated after the show, but I couldn't "give up" on the fiber part. so I added a few more elements to it to make it a totally fiber piece.
Here is one that I did, not sure it will ever see the light of day as a finished piecee, but I did have fun with all the hand stitching.
Finally, my last dabble, is with upcycling. I walk to the studio everyday, and have noticed a wonderful variety of things in the gutters and sidewalks. Another McGuffey artist, Brielle Duflon has done some fabulous work with trash and inspired me to try. So I am making an ongoing project of recycled work. The backing for each piece is leftover felt or batting from my work, the top "fabric" is various plastic bags. and the found objects are embellished with hand stitching. I hope to make the squares for three months.
O am assembling the rows with embroidery stitches, and have yet to figure out how I will connect the sashing (or what the sashing will be!) between the rows. It is about time to get back to "real" work though!
Shall we try this again?
So it has been about five months since my last feeble effort, but now that fall approaches and life gets a bit slower and more cozy, maybe I can do this blog thing!
The little rascal above has been part of my distraction. This is Kettu, my constant companion for the last two years. For those of you who may have a dog, you realize that those first two years are kind of busy - not unlike the first two years of having a kid! She is wonderful and is with me at my studio, so she will show up in here often I am sure.
Some other things that have kept me busy...
I have been getting ready for a number of shows lately. I had two solo shows and a shared show to send out in the last couple of months.
Jill Jensen, a fellow Virginia fiber artist and print maker had a joint show in Lynchburg . The Academy of Arts is a great venue and our work showed well there.
Then I sent our a couple dozed of my piece to Golden Colorado. Last year I was awarded "Best of Show" in the Rocky Mountain Quilt Museum's annual show, and as a consequence I was awarded a solo show there this year. The show was in 3 parts; one wall were pieces from my "Walk in the Park" series, one wall was my "Studio" series, and the third wall was quilts from my "General Gallery".
The museum has two galleries, and in the second gallery was a show of quilts from Russia. (examples below)They were absolutely wonderful and a great counter part to my show. They had all the bright colors and traditional quilting that mine work usually does not, so together, they made a full look at the possibilities of quilting!
While this was happening I also was getting another couple dozen quilts ready to ship to Houston for this fall's Quilt Festival!
They contacted me and asked me to be one of the "Rising Star" artists at this year's show. Of course I said yes. The exciting part, is they didn't want all new quilts. They wanted to make sure that I included a range of quilts that I have done over the years. This means that some of my work that has never been "on the road" before will be in Houston. I have also made a couple of brand spanking new quilts for the show.
This image on the right, is one of the early Excel spreadsheets that I used to try and visualize what the show will look like.
I hope that if you are at the show this November 8-11, that you will stop by and say hello. I would love to talk fiber with you!
Today I visited the Chrysler Museum in Norfolk Virginia. It is a great museum. Small enough to not be daunting, but large enough to have a comprehensive and high quality collection. First, I went back to see the glass collection. It is well curated collection that will give you an overlook of glass through the ages.
I blogged about the glass before click here if you want to see that post and a whole lot of pictures.
Sometimes, at a museum, I want to visit the "old friends" but other times I search out areas with which I am unfamiliar. That was today. These three gentleman were three of the "new friends" I made. I love these three completely different takes on the human form. Artists from a thousand years apart, taking inspiration from the same form.
Down another hallway was a captivating new piece; Daniel Rozin's "Mirror No. 10 (Sketch Mirror). As I walked into the room this framed image changed and redrew me with a zillion lines of shapes and colors. For those of us who don't spend a lot of time in front of Nintendo or other dance programs, seeing yourself on screen is oddly compelling. Renee, who was with me, and I spent way too much time goofing off in front of this!
To see a video of the fun we had, go HERE
All and all a fun day in a great little museum. Great Collection, Free Admission, and a working glass studio with demonstrations (and comfortable bleachers!)
Last week I attended a symposium put on by the PA group of SAQA (Studio Art Quilters Association). It was a well-attended and lively event! It coincided with the opening of the Elements Quilt show at the Wayne Art Center. I was one of the four speakers at the event; here is a synopsis synopsis of my talk .
We moved to Charlottesville about three years ago. When we moved, I left the communities I had built back in Wisconsin. It has been an adventure developing new communities of friends and support here in C'ville! The talk I gave at the symposium was about that search, the many places I have found community, and the different benefits of each of them. The four communities I addressed were the "Remote Communities" I have plugged into through social media or mass communication, the "Community of Self" which I found during my stint as an artist in residence at the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, the "Community of (non-fiber) Artists" which I have found at McGuffey Art Center, and the "Community of (local) Fiber Artists".
These are the communities that I first sought out after relocating. They are on the web, in Facebook Groups, on the magazine rack at Barnes and Noble, and in national and international organizations. I found information about shows and exhibits both to enter and to attend in many of the magazines, and artist call websites.
Groups like SAQA and Quilts.com were great places to see names, learn news and generally plug in.
The exhibit entries I first made were to the monthly calls in Quilting Arts magazine. As a graphic designer, I had a forty year history of meeting deadlines and being give a design problem to solve, so this was familiar territory to me. I have entered many of the IQF and SAQA shows because they gave me a stepping off place for a project. It was looking at these artist calls, that I found the art residency that formed my the next community.
Community of Self (or learning to commune with oneself)
During my adult life I have lived alone almost never. So finding myself accepted (very unexpectedly) to a 30 day residency in a national park was both a surprise, and a totally new experience for me.
This experience was valuable on many levels. Obviously it was beautiful - there is nothing quite like the Smokys in October! (and for day-by-day reporting on that experience just click on "Local: Smoky Mountain Residency" on the right of this page), but beyond that, it pushed me to think without structure. It set the foundation for my first work done as a series instead of one off. This is something that I now regularly do. It put me in an unfamiliar situation of total freedom and self reliance. And once you have experienced that, it is hard to put the genie back in the bottle! For a view of the work that came out of this experience click here.
Then it was back home to join my third community. That of a general art community.
As a resident member of MAC I am always under the influence of other artists. We talk about techniques, I see their subject matter, we have group shows and there is that general energy from the camaraderie of fellow creatives!
This past year, I and two other artists put on a collaborative show... not a show where we each showed out individual work, but a true collaboration of ideas and work on each project. The show was success and the experience an one that has expanded my thinking and will affect my work for sometimes. To see more of the work from this show click here.
This community has helped me to keep me going and strengthened my general artistic muscles, while the fourth community has helped me hone my fiber skills!
Community of Fiber Artists
This last group is my sisterhood! This is a group of six of us fiber artist who gather monthly for general check-in and also show together as a group or as parts of the group. We each have out own styles that are very different from each other, but because of that, we learn a lot from each other. We are all serious about our work, and some teach workshops, we all show regularly on our own, and some also work with other media. One is primarily an eco-dyer who then incorporates her dyed piece into wall and book art, one is a printmaker who incorporates her prints into her fiber art, and one is presently doing 3-d fiber sculptures. But we all use needle and thread and fabric. to see some of our work and bios, click here.
A couple of months ago, we spent a week together in a house on the beaches of North Carolina. It was so good to learn more about each other both personally and artistically. And of course, eat and drink together!
Here is hoping you can find your communities. Step outside your media, Take some time for self reflection. Peruse the magazine sections, and on-line groups, join some organizations, and and find local groups. Grow, interact. have fun!
Hello Again! Anyone out there?
Wow I haven't contributed to this blog for about two years Lots of reasons. Working very hard. Using Facebook to post most everything. Politics have distracted me. Not taking as many photos. Lots of stuff.
But being a frustrated writer, I kind of missed posting here, so I will try again! Actually, the other reason is that while Facebook is great for immediate posting, it isn't a good "journal" for when I want to refer someone to something, or when I want to reminisce .
I recently joined a (private) Facebook group that has some very thoughtful people in it. One of the activities there is the posting of occasional writing prompts. It was one of those that really made me think about writing here again. The prompt was "what is your comfort food?". The idea is to then respond for 5 minutes to the prompt... no planning, thinking or edits. This was my response.
It got me thinking about sharing, and what an important part of our life it is. How our sharing of information helps intellectual advances happen. Sharing sources and techniques can increase efficiency. Our sharing of thoughts can expand our ideas.
And sharing our hatred can erode our community and humanity.
I love Facebook. Without it I would not have the intimate knowledge of my far-flung family's lives, I would not see artwork from all over the world. I would not have the gaggle of 'friends' who I know but have never met. But sometimes it is just too easy to post and run, There is quite a bit of TMI, knee-jerk sharing, and it can quickly perpetuate misunderstanding and give credence to things that do not deserve it.
So I decided I would go back to this as a primary forum for sharing my thoughts (and just post the links on FB) Sure I may still post my photos and some of Jon's beautiful meals, and even an opinion now and then, but on here I hope to be more thoughtful and share in a way that will be welcome by some and can be easily ignored by others! And posting here makes me think a bit more about what is important to say... or not.
P.S. I have updated most of my pages on this site, so take a walk around!
One of the great things about having my studio at McGuffey, is the chance to meet so many new people. Our studios are open to the public, so people wander in fairly frequently. I have met many other fiber artist from the area. I have met art supporters, and the curious. Meeting the public at my art shows, was one of my favorite things about doing art fairs, so I welcome the personal contact and chance to talk art with both those who are knowledgeable and those who are seeking knowledge.
And of course there are my fellow artists. The sculpture pictured here is by Jim Respess, my studio neighbor. It is a monumental scale public art sculpture in Charlottesville. Jim is both a philosopher and an artist, and we share a love of mid-afternoon tea with a dash of discussion! Another artist and I are talking about offering 'open studio' or 'fiber funday' classes next fall. Michelle is a mixed media and book artist, with a background in printing, so it could be a fun partnership.
Then there are tours!
Last week I had three groups of third graders come tour my studio. They were wonderful! The first group was so attentive and asked great questions. The second was a challenge; all over the studio but enthusiastic. The third group was right in between. A little girl stopped on her way out and said "will you please teach me?" So I said maybe in a few years, but she could come visit anytime, and she immediately looked at me and said "FRIDAY??!!" I really expected her to pull out a Blackberry to book a time!
One of the things the kids wanted to do is touch... I totally get that...it is why I have textured textiles instead of flat photos. So I told them, to never touch in a gallery or a museum, but it was MY studio and MY rules, so go ahead and touch. They did! And really got into the textures. One little guy wanted to know how many beads were on one piece and, when I said I didn't know, so he spent 10 minutes counting them and announced "153"!!
The following day, the touching got better.
Sarah, a confident and out-going young woman came into the studio Thursday. She was looking for part time work or even to volunteer to help in the studios. This is not remarkable in itself, but she was blind so it was pretty remarkable! She was asking many questions about my work, so I invited her to see/feel for herself. Her fingers traveled from stitch to stitch, and found the frayed parts and the smooth parts. She wanted to know the origins of the textures. As an artist, it was wonderful to see my work appreciated on a totally new level.
What are we missing by instituting a "no touch rule"?
The kids and Sarah really made me think about a feeling I have long held about art. I think we make it too precious. Would Rodin or Michelangelo really never have wanted the surfaces of their work to be enjoyed? Didn't they choose their materials for the feel as much as the look? Would we have even more admiration of Amsel Kieffer if we could experience the sharp and rough with our fingers as well as our eyes. Textile art is, in its very essence tactile, so why can we only touch with white gloves? As an artist, I find the term "visual art" a limiting misnomer. Art might be a far deeper experience if enjoyed with as many sense as required.
Okay, I get it, we are preserving our art for the ages. What if we didn't care about that. What if we feel that a few generations ability to experience 100% was better than eons experiencing only a portion? Should artists be able to tell museums and galleries, that [respectful] "hands on" is okay for their art? Almost every artist I know (including myself!) has been chided by guards for getting our noses too close as we struggle to see brush strokes and textures. I bet if you actually touched a Van Gogh, there would be some powerful vibes still in those strokes!
The Blue of the Sky and Mountains!
On Monday, in the Shenandoah Skyline Drive, we stuck around until the sky rewarded us! The clear winter sky and the lack of foliage, make the mountains appear even bluer than the Blue Ridge normal look.
The blue just got more and more intense as the sun started to set. Click on any photo to see it larger.
And we saw a couple of animals too!
The deer were out in full force, finding the food, and then we saw the owl.
Show Me the Green!
So, I am still talking about the day trip to the Shenandoah Skyline Drive (if you missed yesterday's post about ice, check it out!). It might be winter, the trees may be bare, the temperature below freezing, but some green things are thriving! Under, in, and around the icy rocks were so many mosses taking advantage of the lack of competition and canopy.
Any spot that gets sunlight and melting ice was covered with the most Kelly of greens.
These little habitats are so hidden and overpowered during the warmer months, but are the stars of the show now. The shapes are amazing, and so very sculptural. These photos show the mosses, but the lichens were equally prolific, if not as showy and photogenic.
Also enjoying their time in the spotlight are the pines. They are especially bright set against the grays of the bare trees and brush surrounding them. The last time I photo'ed these mountains, they were sporting the hot colors of fall, now they have let those leaves drop and the green pines bask in the sun.
Stay tuned tomorrow for the sky in all its glory! (here is a taste of things to come!)
Ice Ice Baby!
A year and a half ago, we left the beauty of the driftless area of Wisconsin and moved to the mountain area of Virginia. It has been a wonderful move, and the beauty that surrounds us in Virginia is amazing. But the winters are different; No shoveling, less precarious ice, my nostrils no longer freeze shut, scarves are more decorative than necessary, and fingerless gloves almost make sense. On the other hand, it has been a long time since I have seen a lavender-blue shadow on powdered snow, heard the silence of a winter morning or the crunch of frozen tundra under my feet, I no longer can tell who visited during the night by the tracks in the morning. But yesterday I found some real beauty in the Virginia Winter... the ice.
Yesterday my "photo and phiber phriend", Susan, and I took a drive up into the mountains to explore. We have done this during the height of trillium season, during the bursting beauty of the Mountain Laurel season and other more hospitable times. Neither one of us was terribly hopeful about finding anything interesting, much less beautiful in the snowless, 30 degree, winter gray, but I am happy to report we were very wrong.
As the day progressed, the temperatures didn't rise much, but the sun was bright. By afternoon, some melting had begun, and the ice in the sun began to crumble noisily as the drips dropped and chunks fell off.
The most interesting ice of the day was the smallest. We didn't even notice it at first. We were hiking down a path, and while looking at the mosses and lichen, noticed some strange formations in the looser soil around us.
I have no idea what these crystal-like formations are formed, but it seems they grew up from the ground. Perhaps something about the water freezing and the ground contracting? If you know anything about it let me know! they we only about one inch long at the most, and often had a stone or pebble at the top of them.
So what we thought would be a mundane day, turned quite magical (I think that happens a lot if you let it!) and I haven't even told you about the deer, the owl, the waterfall, the sunset or the moon.... stay tuned more tomorrow.
Some Quiet Details in the Urban Chaos
Like I mentioned yesterday, my work has become more and more intricate and detailed. I needed a bit of a respite from that, so I took a "walkabout" in downtown Charlottesville. There is a building that has been left in a half-built state for about 5 years now. I am not sure of the story, but watching it degrade and change slowly over time is very interesting. I photo it often.
I was looking for quiet details. The light was soft, due to clouds and mist. So the colors, if there at all, were soft and muted too. The contrast of the worn or torn with the expanses of flat are very interesting. I am pretty sure that after my work on the lush and colorful nature of Smokey Mountain Park is finished, something like the simplicity found in these photos will be the basis of my next series.
The pieces I am working on now for my February show are getting pretty intricate. There is stitching, cutting, couching, beading, and more stitching. I have been thrilled with the pieces so far, but yesterday something started to tickle my brain.... When exactly does intricacy turn into obsession? When will I know if have crossed that line? Well after few hours of pondering and I came to a conclusion, or test:
If the ART WORK NEEDS
the element or treatment to complete the composition or statement,
then it is intricacy.
If I HAVE A NEED
to do the treatment or put on another element to support some inner itch,
then it is obsession!
I am not sure I will always be able to tell the difference (after all, that creative itch is awful close to the obsessive itch!) but this does remind me to stop frequently and take serious stock in what is going on as I work.
Working in my studio at the Art Center, has been so good for this type of reflection. There is art work - finished and in progress - everywhere. I stop. I look. I silently critique... and then I am set to critique my own work. There are artists everywhere. I have discussions about color or style, or other "artsy" things that may have been back-shelved in my brain for a while. They get dusted off and reexamined. There is time and space. My work can sit out over night while I ponder. My ideas can be posted on the walls for slow infusion into my brain. My previous work is at hand to pull out and remind me of things that were (or weren't) successful in the past.
Am I making this sound idyllic? Well it is. So far so good. I can already see the effect having the art, the artists, and the time and space is having on my work. I am grateful and excited.
Getting Ready for Showtime!
For the month of February, 2016, I will be having a show at the McGuffey Art Center in Charlottesville VA. The show will be mostly the work inspired by my Smoky Mountain National Park artist residency this past October (to see all my posts about that experience click "Locale: Smoky Mountain Residency" in the Categories)
The above photo show the start of some of the larger pieces. I have had my photos printed on fabric, then I start "auditioning" additional fabrics, fleece, and embellishments to go with each one. I am hoping to have about a dozen pieces finished for the show, as well as also showing some of the photography on its own. The pieces will range in sizes from small, 10x12, to 50+ inches. I have a few of them done, but it will be a very busy January for me!
One of the benefits of my new studio is the number of people with whom I get to talk about art each day. Some are the other artists, some are visitors, and even a few patron customers! For some this might be an interruption, but for me it is invigorating. I am not a good self-reflecting ponderer. I do much better thinking out loud while discussing and explaining. As I have these discussions, I think more deeply about my motives and process. They are helping me realize more and more about 'why photo?' and 'why fiber?' (I will try to blog about that sometime soon)
I will try to keep you updated on the progress, but if you don't hear from me it is because I am under a pile of thread and fabric!
Jill Jensen will be showing at the same time, so it is a "twofer" for fiber art! I am so excited to show along side of her. She is one of the wonderful fiber artists whom I have met since moving to Virginia, and who have made this move so inspiring.
Who Says Pink and Blue are "IN"?
There has been a lot of chatter on the internet about Pantone's announcement of the new colors for 2016; "Rose Quartz" and "Serenity".
To me and many others those colors hearken back to either baby shower wrapping papers or the geese, hearts, and ribbon decor of the eighties. Neither of which do I need to re-experience!
In one day there were several posting of sun sets or rises similar to this one that I took. Each poster noted the similarity of the colors to the ones that were forecast... maybe it was late in the day, the Pantone folks were tire and wanted to move on to cocktail hour, so they choose what they saw out the window!
The discussion reminds me of a conference I went to years ago, and I thought you might be interested in an insiders look at how some of this forecasting happens. The group I belonged to was the Color Marketing Group. This is an international group that is made up of creatives and product developers from many industries including auto, fashion, home decor, paint, flooring, etc.
If you think about it when you go to remodel your house, you want to know that there will be paints that will match your sofa and carpeting and window coverings (the industry I was involved with) . When you go purchase your car, it is nice if the seat upholstery color is in the same family as the carpet and the exterior. But all of these are made by different manufacturers so how does that happen?
At this annual meeting, we all brought three groups of information. First was the sales history, broken down many ways, of the colors that were selling now. Secondly, we brought information and samples of items that we were looking to release in the next season or two. Thirdly, we brought information and supportive evidence about colors and ideas we were just starting to look at now for use in few years hence.
We then got into groups of related industries to go over this information. The discussion were not just about color. They also took into account finishes (shiny, matte, metallic, etc), materials (natural vs. plastics, new technologies, etc) and processes. It was so very interesting AND I could see where this coordination is also necessary. If the lighting industry started focusing on bright blue metals, while the carpet industry was doing something totally out of sync with that, neither would sell much. Cohesively designing a car with parts from so many industries would be impossible.
After days of discussions, opinions, facts, looking at the economy and trends, we developed color boards using the results of these discussions.
The CMG committees would then compile this information, organize it and disseminate it to their membership. This information was just that; informative. It was not dictate of what any industry should or shouldn't do, but instead was cross-industry information that they could choose to apply as much or as little to their own product design as they felt was appropriate. Many just used it as a check and balance system against their own conclusions.
It was an interesting process, and on many levels an extremely productive one. The final color recommendations were certainly not always on target but they did suggest directions.
Next time you go into a store and can not longer find that royal blue you loved three years age, or suddenly the store seems awash in an orange you never thought you would wear or see again.... this is why! But if you can't find that royal blue, just go to Goodwill, and you will probably find loads of the colors that were popular a few years ago!
I Have Been Profiled!
The Studio is up and running!
First of all, Happy Thanksgiving! I hope you all have much to be personally grateful for, even in this time of world confusion and conflict. May we remember we are each part of a much greater whole, and help each other to find comfort and compassion when ever we can.
But now, about the studio; I have moved in and started working! The space is terrific, and the lighting is absolutely lovely. The above picture is me working in the morning sun. I have a great studio mate in the room next door. Jim make huge sculptures and I think owns every tool know to mankind! He and I share musical tastes, and so the studios are usually rocking away. Here are a couple of more photos of the space.
Before I get rocking on the pieces inspired by the Smokey Mountain Park, I decided to do a few "warm-ups" from some other Charlottesville photos. After Thanksgiving is over and "normal" returns, I will get down to business on the park pieces in anticipation of my February show at the McGuffey. Here are a couple shots of the work in progress:
If you want to see this piece FINISHED!! Click HERE!
Yesterday we drove across Missouri, Indiana, Kentucky, West Virginia and Virginia to get back home to C'ville! I must say we live in a beautiful country. The fields, the trees, the hills, and even the flatlands are all amazing!
Our trip was great, good times and good people. Our butts are sore from sitting, and our own bed felt pretty darn good last night!
Today will start organizing my new studio space at the McGuffey Art Center. So very excited to get it up and going. Feels like I have been off the machine for weeks.... oh ya... I HAVE!!!
So, while I am organizing, you can see more of my "Intentional Blur Photo Paintings"
The World Goes by in a Blur
We are on the road for about 2000 miles! As I watch the world go by I see the textures, that happen with my stitching, in the blur of the speed of the countryside going by. Last year, on a similar road trip I first tried this, you can see those on Facebook here. This year, after a lot of experimentation and testing, I finally have found a few combinations of f-stops, ISO, and shutter speeds, that replicated the look I was looking for. These blurs are pretty much as taken, with a little color editing, and I love the painterly look achieved, and am now ready for the ride home to try some more!
If you are really into history, click here for blog posts prior to 2014 !