Quiet

This is what is on my mind lately. Trying to settle in to my summer routine makes me realize my mind is going a million miles an hour. Summer for me is ideally a time of working in the studio. It’s a time to explore, do some research, and let the work find its own path, but deciding to take part in the open studio tour and do an evening art festival meant the beginning of summer was filled with scurrying. Of course scurrying is essential to financial well-being but not an ideal state of mind for reflection or for new work to emerge. This week life finally slowed to the syrupy pace which signals summer to me. In fact, I had to look at my calendar to figure out what day it was this morning!

Last week I attended a NYFA event in Auburn, a long drive from my home, but worth it. I was working as a sort of mentor, a safe place for artists to express their dreams and someone to run their ideas by after a weekend of intensive business boot camp. I gave them feedback and ideas of places/people to look to for help. (Long time readers may remember I attended a boot camp myself and it rocked my world!) I also got to meet D. Chase Angier, a choreographer, and a conversation with her gave me a radical mind shift and convinced me to slow down and rethink a project I am working on, and to DREAM BIGGER. I realised I have been limiting the kind of work I was thinking about creating based on opportunities I currently have to exhibit the work, which of course is totally backwards! Just because an opportunity for a larger or more complex work doesn’t exist right now, doesn’t mean I won’t be able to find somewhere for it to be seen in the future. Meeting Chase was a gentle reminder from the universe to just do the work.

On a more prosaic note – I needed something to wear to the event, so I made a new pair of trousers, I like them so much I made a second pair and bought fabric for a third pair! I used a great pattern from vogue, by a designer whose work I wasn’t familiar with – Marcy Tilton. I also bought a blouse pattern by the same designer, which came out nicely too. I forgot how satisfying it is to sew for myself! While I was in a practical mood I also did some mending that had been cluttering up my work area for at least a year – mending always makes me feel virtuous, and of course it restored some favourite clothes to my wardrobe.

This is turning into rather a newsy post – so the other big news in my life is my quiet new car. I have been driving a 2003 Impala for a while, it is functional, but not so pretty and it was reaching the point of no return. As our youngest daughter has graduated from college we could finally afford to replace it. We have been looking for a while, and then this week we found the one. I am so excited because we were able to afford a used hybrid! It is so quiet and luxurious, I am a lucky girl! I can’t wait for upcoming workshops out of town, as it will give me a chance to test all the bells and whistles.

As I work in the studio right now I am listening to “Quiet” by Susan Cain. The book is about introverts. I am an introvert. I am not shy, or afraid of leadership, but I find people exhausting. It took me a long time to realise this. As a child I spent most of my time ramming around with my sisters (I have 4) and kids from the neighbourhood on our bikes, but I also spent a LOT of time reading by myself. As I got older I realised this wasn’t true for everyone. I envy people with easy manners and the ability to make small talk. I often come across as aloof because I find small talk agonizing and so default to saying nothing at all. This can be a bit of an impediment as a teacher. I am perfectly happy to lecture; I am not particularly afraid of speaking in public as long as I am well prepared, but I find it hard to form bonds with my students by casually chatting. The students I do form bonds with tend to be serious about their work, and that is the way we connect, through sharing ideas and knowledge, not with small talk. I find teaching workshops really intimidating until we begin working. The “chatting” before the workshop begins is excruciating for me. I never know what to say! So if you take a workshop with me help me out! Again I find it easier to connect with people once we are talking about the work. And inviting a curator to my studio is a 10 on my discomfort scale!

I realise now that introversion is one of the reasons this blog is so valuable to me. It allows me to put my thoughts and ideas out at a distance. To have a safer conversation with you. I wonder how many of you this is also true for?

Well time to go back to my quiet studio and get to work. As always, thanks for sharing my journey.

Summer, week 3, part 2

Yesterday was a wash, another day of driving and hospitals and I spent most of today working on the next exhibit at the gallery. Then I headed out to an opening at the college where I teach. It’s a great show of art department alumni, so I got to see some artists I studied with as a student there, and some of my past students, as well as colleagues and friends. It really brightened up a grey rainy day.
I did squeeze in a little late night work in the studio. Like many of you this link came across my news feed several times this week. The image of the “love” binding stuck in my head, and then today I ran across some variegated rainbow crochet thread, so I had to try making one! I just used a paper cover while I worked it out, and I am pretty happy with it!!

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Summer Week 3

Week 2 was interrupted by camping. A couple of days in the woods with a good friend. And then a host of international counselors came to stay for the holidays. I did a little dabbling, but no serious work. On Sunday there was a lull, so I broke out a new Keith Smith book and decided to spice up making functional books for festivals by expanding my repertoire.

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Dot-dash

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Bow-tie
I got to use some handmade paper, some hand dyed paper and some paste papers, and lots of paper from my leftovers box. It was so much fun I am going to keep on trucking. I completed all the one section options with variations, so I am onto two section sewing.
Today I had to spend a few hours hanging out at the gallery waiting for artists to pick up and drop off work. I took along supplies to do some page meditations.

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Summer- week 2.

Yesterday I took a day off, I went for a walk in the rainy woods with a friend and spent time at home eating and chilling with my family.
Today was one of those days eaten up by the less creative side of being an artist, returning emails and phone calls, working on a poster and other publicity for the next show I am curating, arranging pick ups and drop offs for work, yeah, all those kinds of things. I also had a mind numbing headache that lingered all day. Gah!
After a trip to the library and dinner I did manage to finish a couple of little pamphlet scrap journals. I also made this recycled Coptic journal. The cover came from a box of things left on my porch this morning by one of my library fairies. As soon as I saw it I knew I wanted to use that variegated cotton crochet thread, its like they were made for each other.

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Now I am taking my headache to bed. Hope it is gone by morning!

Summer day 7

Yesterday I decided to work on some mini books, just in case a local festival would go on despite the torrential rain. I also put each book I was planning on taking in a protective plastic sleeve. I don’t like to do this as you can’t experience the books in the same way but I also didn’t want my entire inventory to get soaked.
This morning the festival was cancelled, it is still pouring here. I was fully prepared to go stand out under a soggy tent with few visitors, but I am glad I can stay home in the warm and dry.

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Summer, day 5.

I had a hard time getting started today, the general anxiety of family worries hung over me. Eventually I sewed the binding for half a dozen more little brown lunch bag journals before starting the project I really wanted to work on, the finished incarnation of the Berehinia binding.
It took most of the afternoon to very carefully punch all the holes, and more time to set the tension with a double row of kettles at each end of the book block – slow going. I was using some beautiful antique Irish linen thread, but it had been wound tightly for a long time, so sewing with 4 needles involved several tangles!
By dinner time I was ready to start the fun part, sewing the exposed embroidered design. I designed the pattern and sewed the model 2 years ago, so even deciphering my decisions has been slow going. By late evening I am about a third of the way through the pattern.
Hopefully I will finish it up tomorrow.

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Summer, day 4.

Last night I watched some you tube videos recommended by an artist friend across the pond from a series “what do artists do all day?” It was motivating and reassuring to see famous artists dithering in front of the blank canvas. So less freaked out today, although no new ideas have come to play yet. A couple of older ideas hinted I should revisit them, stay tuned.
I began my day today with a road trip to Chautauqua Institution, to fix a small problem with a chalk board menu I delivered last week. It was a glorious morning, summer in western NY can be so beautiful!
Back home in the studio there was a lot of prep work again, getting covers ready to sew,  tearing paper. A lot of hours and little finished to show for it, just these 3 little guys.

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The day ended with an urgent care visit for my poor hubby who tore his lower bicep tendon, ouch. And a drive out to drop off forgotten things to our daughter at camp. Again a beautiful trip. Dinner at home with the poor invalid, an unusual treat for us, a good bottle of wine.
A good day I think.

Summer day 3

Today was one of those prep days, lots of cutting and glueing, resulting in this stack of drying covers

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And some lino prints, now drying…

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And two little finishing touches to books that were almost finished yesterday

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I could sew on goat skin all day, of course that would make the books so ridiculously expensive I would also get to keep them all!
It was very stormy here last night, the thunder felt like a manifestation of my stress, still no word from the muse, so I am going to dive in and experiment, make some marks, see a few lines, see if she shows up.

Summer, day 2.

Today I have been pottering, I have the sense of a new work lurking, but when I turn to look it vanishes like smoke. I am hoping by keeping my hands busy with practical things, measuring and folding and sewing will give that idea to coalesce. So I sewed a few more books from scraps of paper, vellum and book covers made from the brown paper I cover the tables in the studio.

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I also finally worked up the nerve to finish my final simplified binding, left over from PBI. I wanted to add veneer wooden covers, I am not completely happy with it yet, but maybe I can resolve it tomorrow after it dries under weights tonight.

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The idea is there for the new work, I can feel it. Hope the muse is about tomorrow!!