Quick update

Well final grades are in and studio renovations are moving along. The open studio tour is next weekend! I want to encourage those who live locally to come out and see the artist in her natural environment so I am only going to post a couple more in progress shots. I’ll save the big reveal until next week. Of course it will still be a work in progress, but prettier!

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Now back to work, lots to clean and tidy before Saturday!!

end of another semester

I had hoped to post more often, but life has been getting in the way at lot. The end of the academic year is always busy, lots of papers and exams to mark, wrapping up, longing for it to be summer already. But this year has been additionally complicated by a sudden illness, and a trip to the hospital. Although I am fine now the 5 days I missed laying around in bed have really thrown me for a loop.

Things are gently ticking along both in and on the studio, which is being renovated right now. After 20+ years of working in a largely unfinished space, my long suffering hubby is helping me frame out some walls and hang sheetrock. This was largely motivated by my decision to be a part of an open studio tour at the end of May. Here’s a picture of my lovely bright space now shaping up, this was taken a few weeks ago, so we are further alongand should be at least halfway done by the time the tour comes along. In the meantime every previously empty space in the house is filled up with my relocated art supplies while we work!

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It is hard at this point in the year to find long blocks of time to work on anything but I am still keeping up with my weekly color me positive journal page, and because these meditative pages are so relaxing for me I am also adding a daily quote related challenge for the month of May. I realised I have been doing these blackout style pages for over a decade now as part of my daily studio practise. Here’s a blast from the past

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Here are a few new images to enjoy.

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This weekend I will be at an Antique Book and Paper show – next weekend our youngest graduates from college and then I Have to deal with Finals for my own students. AND then I have to really buckle down to get ready for the open studio tour and summer festival season. And I REALLY hope a more regular blogging schedule. It may remain a bit quiet here for the next couple of weeks, but please stay tuned.

 

not much studio time…

Those of you who have been reading my blog for a while know that I am the co-founder/creative director of a women’s art biennial. Last week I was busy installing the huge show across two galleries, and Friday we had another amazing opening which was well attended. Of course while that is really fun it does keep me out of the studio, especially as my students are also expecting me to say something intelligble during lectures! I have been trying to stay on track with my blackout journaling project, and do a little catching up to the group. I find the blackout pages are really relaxing when I am stressed. Here’s one I really like from last week. I started out drawing a path to my dreams, but then it sort of looked like a tail to me, so I made it into a dragon instead. I am loving adding the coloured pencil to these pages too. Maybe they are not works of art, but they are so much FUN! This is not a great picture – I just snapped it quickly with my phone, but I hope you enjoy it. I think it looks a bit like a story book illustration.

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A little process tutorial

I thought I would share a step by step of my page meditation process for the owl page. As each page is different, this isn’t really a tutorial, more a look behind the scenes.
Step one for me is to hold an idea or thought in my mind and then wait to see what words float up from the page. This is the meditation. Just being with my own thoughts, waiting for what each page has to offer.

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The prompt for this week’s journal page was to incorporate an animal. So I added a very simple stylized drawing of an owl, my spirit animal. Solitary, thinks too much.

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Then I start blacking out the words I am not using. This goes slowly if I am incorporating a picture as I decide on the fly where the divisions go between areas.

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I decided the owl needed to look a little more spunky so I added some spiky hair/feathers. I gave the owl hybrid human/owl eyes.
So here is the page completely blacked out. Next step for me is to add in white doodles and details. I use sharpies to black out and white gel pens to doodle over the top.

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Here I have added details to the eyes and feathers. Again, this is not a planned process, I just try to feel what the image needs as I go along.

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The last step is usually a quote stamped on. I love the quirkiness of hand stamped text.

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I am enjoying the challenge of using only really limited materials to work with the journal prompts.
Here are two more catch up pages I finished up since my last post.

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Thanks for visiting!

Looking for a new direction.

It’s been a day around here. When I first started writing this blog I promised myself I would try to be honest about the bad days too. I’m currently trying to figure out what to do next in my life. The college where I teach is restructuring some things, which will mean next semester I will be paid even less to teach the same material in less time. And I am struggling. I just don’t think I can take a pay cut and I feel the students are also getting shafted. So I am looking for new work. It’s pretty demoralizing to realize I am unqualified to adult.
So I am thinking about ramping up the more commercial aspects of my studio practice, which means there would be less time to focus on an upcoming gallery show. I could also get more serious about workshop development and marketing. I could apply for some residencies, look for some grant funding maybe.  I feel like I am standing at a crossroads here.
So I did what all artists do. I went to the studio and pretended everything was okay. Well sort of. Actually thanks to Seth Apter’s blog, I discovered a new source for free journaling prompts. Even though the site is called colour me positive, I decided to go back to basics and work in black and white and do blackout style pages, hoping some insight will appear. Obviously I am behind, but as this week is spring break for me I am doing a prompt daily. Here are the first 3

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Journaling left me feeling more centered, so I played with some gelatin printing for a couple of hours. I’m still under employed but I have a roof over my head and a studio full of supplies. Life could be worse.

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Being a student

Last weekend I took a workshop at WNYBAC with Jill Kambs. I have done plenty of printing and book binding, but never any gelatin plate printing, and I rarely make books with words, so I thought it would be great to try a new way of working.
I really tried hard to work fast and to pick materials I wouldn’t ordinarily choose, although I did cheat and work mostly in black and white. I swapped colors with others at the workshop, picking colours like peach and pink I would never usually pick. I was amazed by the delicacy of the prints, the texture. After about an hour I had a heap of prints, that looked as if they had been made by someone else, but sort of like me.
Once the prints dried, we selected and bound them into little pamphlet stitched books. Since I had worked in such a random way it was a challenge to make any sense of the images I had created. Deciding what went with what was a tricky process, mostly accomplished by eliminating the ones that didn’t fit. I managed to make 2 reasonably sensible compilations but I also had a lot of extra prints that made no sense with each other!
The last step was to do some simple Xerox transfers of text selected by Jill. Again working with someone else’s choices was hard for me. Words that speak to other people’s practice don’t always speak to your own.

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Here’s the final product, I keep taking it out and looking at it. I can’t believe I made it honestly. It is subtle and delicate. Needless to say I’m pleased!

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I’m so glad I took the workshop, and I can’t wait to try more gelatin printing. I hope I can keep the freshness working in my own space.

Botanical inspiration

I have a show coming up in November. Trying to come up with a new body of work can be terrifying! I keep reminding myself that if I go into the studio and keep working then something will show up. So I have been trying hard to safeguard my studio time, and stop my teaching from eating up all my spare time. I have been setting a timer and when time is up I set my school work aside and get back to my “real” work. It’s working in terms of getting something done, but until this past weekend nothing terribly new or exciting was really happening. Things were feeling forced.
Then this past weekend, as part of our anniversary celebrations, hubby and I went to the Buffalo and Erie Botanical gardens. Not our usual kind of outing, but wow! First the building itself is magnificent.

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And then just a few minutes in the cactus room, I was smitten with the sculptural shapes and textures. Instant inspiration!
Yesterday I pulled out some paper I made earlier in the year with my students, a combination of hosta, day lily and abaca. It smelled fresh and green and summery. I folded half sheets into accordions and bound them using a Coptic stitch on the valley ends to make this barrel like structure.

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Then I embroidered the folded outer edges in red.

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Then I sewed the loose ends of the accordions and folded back the raw edges

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For a first crack at a cactus book, it’s not so bad! And like all interesting beginnings it just sparked many more ideas. It feels good to be working sculpturally and letting the materials speak and shape the object.

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Looking forward to playing around with these ideas some more.