Whirlwind weekend

Wowsers! What a week that was, the unveiling of the Chautauqua Prize would have been enough for one week, but hot on the heels of that came the grand reopening of the gallery where I am the curator, 3rd on 3rd, part of the Reg Lenna Center for the Arts. It was jam packed as this coincided with Lucyfest and the opening of the new national comedy center. The exhibition is a fun one, images curated from an Instagram contest of images of Jamestown, NY.

Then on Saturday night I finally got to share this Summer’s studio work with my guests at the Crary as I opened my own show. Here’s a picture of me taken during my artist’s talk

That’s the work of Paige Kleinfelder behind me on the wall.

Then on Monday there was a rededication for mural I have been relocating and restoring since last summer. Here I am looking scholarly in discussion with some of the family and friends who helped in the campaign to save it

Then Monday night I taught a workshop at the Springville Center for the Arts where we made these adorable little chunky journals

Then today I taught a blackout meditation group, here’s some student work from that

It’s exhausting just making that list! Tomorrow I am going to clean my house and studio!

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An aha moment

Last week I was teaching a blackout meditation class in a hilltop pavillion at the Pfieffer Nature Center. It was about as blissful a situation as one could hope for, which is probably why it happened.

The participants were busy making their blackout meditations, and we were talking about using stencils to add images if you are intimidated by drawing pictures. I grabbed a leaf from a nearby tree to illustrate my point, resulting in this

As I was driving home it occurred to me that maybe I could do some botanical contact prints on found text and use them for meditations. And I love them! The botanical print adds a random element to the page and narrows down the amount of page for meditating on.

I decided to use coloured pencils to do the “blackout” part of the process, and then I added in some slow stitch. (I’ve used stitching to make blackouts before).

Here’s the result

Serendipity at work.

Back to the studio!

Clearing the decks

I can’t believe winter break has already been and gone. Somehow I always have more ambition than time, and this year was no different.

The first week of classes usually has the potential to run off the rails, this semester it was technology, or the lack of it, which caused the biggest hurdles. It didn’t help that my classes weren’t confirmed until less than 2 days before classes started. Luckily I am not teaching anything new, so it was just a matter of brushing things up. I am also auditing a printmaking class so I can learn Japanese style wood block printing, which will hopefully get me in the studio a bit too. By the end of the week I was starting to get my feet under me and fingers crossed all goes well from here on out!

During the week I embroidered some leaves, because my umbrella plant always drops leaves in the winter, and they are great to work on. Here they are fresh

And here they are again a few days later.

I love how ephemeral they are, the process makes me think about manicured gardens, about trying to control the natural world, possess it, and how nature resists our desire to order and control it.

I spent the weekend trying to clear the decks in the studio, I still seem to have a stack of unfinished projects lingering. Some things just needed a little work, like this stack of journals, which just needed the covers

Glad to have those finished, and they will be heading out to local galleries in the next few weeks.

These brown bag lunch journals have been knocking around partially completed for months, today I finished all the decorative sewing on the covers, now all that’s left is sewing in the signatures. Hopefully I can get these buttoned up this week.

I’ve also got a stack of mending, alterations that need my attention, and then there’s the 3 pairs of trousers I cut out but haven’t sewn yet! I really want to get all that done before the grading starts piling up. So I guess less talk, more action is needed here. Back to work.

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.

Local arts showcase

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I’ve blogged about Infinity before. What happens there is the best of the arts. Young people are mentored and inspired. With the help of local artists they craft their own goals and get all the support they need to make them happen. We all know the arts make better people. So I am happy to be participating in this year’s local artist showcase. In addition to hawking my wares I am also donating an art guitar to their auction.
Here’s a shot of the work in progress.

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Hope that if you are in the area you will take the time to come and see the marvel for yourself!

And just like that summer is gone

The last official week of summer was spent helping our youngest get ready for school while recovering from another surgery. Here’s hoping that sets her up for a better year ahead.
This week was the first week of classes. This semester I have picked up some extra work, so I am teaching 5 classes at 3 different colleges. The college i usually teach at treats their adjuncts very well, but one of the new colleges has pretty much abandoned me to sink or swim. I am glad i have so much experience under my belt or it could have been disastrous rather than just stressful. I also scheduled a workshop one evening this week. I survived, but it was a pretty foolish thing to do to myself!

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And around packing and hospitals and teaching I also squeezed in time for the last festival of the summer

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And to finish up a new installation for the faculty show at the college where I usually teach. The curator took this nice picture of me at work.

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Actually the weather is still very lovely, summer is not really over quite yet, so I am hoping I might be able to make some paper from plants from the garden before the sun slips away. And I have some new projects on the go in the studio.
But first, coffee in the sunshine on the porch.

Summer week 7.

Firstly, eek! Where has summer gone? It seems like suddenly it is time to write lesson schedules and plan for a new term. It also means it is almost time to install a new work for a faculty show at one of the colleges where I teach. So that’s mostly what I have been tinkering with this week. Having thought about this work all summer and procrastinated, I am now nervous and uncertain about whether it’s going to work. Stay tuned I guess!

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