time flies

Where has the time gone? Well honestly a lot of it has been spent in doctors offices as our Youngest, and my father-in-law have been having some health issues. Things are starting to turn around slowly for them both, but “normal” life (whatever THAT looks like) has been a bit disrupted by it all. I have been working in the studio, but my lack of posts here has begun to weigh on my mind lately. Sharing my work on this blog helps me keep track of where I have been and get a glimpse of where I might be going. So as today I have an extra hour courtesy of daylight savings time, and November is AEDM it seemed like the universe was telling me to put my butt in gear and get back on track.

Yesterday I spent most of the day driving as I went to see the Youngest in a production of The Green Room at SUNY Brockport. That counts as art right?

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In the studio I have been working on some commissions generated by my solo show and on some projects generated by playing with the materials I use for those commissions – like this sheet of Canson I embroidered for a memory book for a new mother and for a second book which is now available (along with others) at the Burchfield Penny’s Gallery Store.

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a very girly book for a new mother

a very girly book for a new mother

I am still plugging along on some big projects, trying to wrap up the “women’s work” book and prep some samples for upcoming classes at WNYBAC and The Center for Book Arts in NYC. Maybe I’ll see some of you at a class. OK back to the studio – more posts tomorrow!

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a REAL studio

I am sure many of you read THOSE magazines – you know the ones I mean, where you get to look inside an artist’s studio, well most of us know – they tidied up a bit before the photographer came! I do the same if a curator or customer is coming to my studio – but the dirty secret is out thanks to Seth Apter at The Altered Page! Today artists of all stripes, from all over are posting pictures of what their studios look like RIGHT NOW, today as we are working!

So here goes nothing I guess!

I am very lucky – I have a whole floor of my house as a studio, which you would think means the mess would be contained – sadly this is NOT true. So the chaos actually begins outside my office door on the second floor

the floor outside my office, filled with boxes of studio supplies

And continues on up the staircase to the studio

boxes on staircase

And finally having navigated all that stuff you arrive upstairs in my ACTUAL studio

view of an attic studio

This is the view from the top of the stairs – you may notice things are precariously balanced across the staircase

stamps, ink, grapevine, book art

The first area you enter is my sewing space, which is tucked into a dormer space

sewing 1

sewing 2

and the one relatively clear space so far – my sewing chair – complete with childhood friends

sewing chair

In the largest open space are my tables and storage areas – lots of shelves and dressers full of paper

shelves

and here is my main work table

table 1

which look pretty tidy – but that is because most of the mess has been swept off onto the floor to make way for the last book I was binding!

studio floor

see! And if I swivel around in my chair this is the view

view from work space

Yep! When I am working I make a lot of mess – this is what creativity looks like for me! Don’t judge me too harshly – it is not a glamorous magazine spread – but wonderful things happen here – like this guest book I recently finished for an upcoming wedding.

just learned this french stitch - so pretty!

just learned this french stitch – so pretty!

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Setting the goal posts

  I have been thinking about the MARK experience again as I spent all day yesterday working on my homework – setting my goals for the next two years. Well actually… let’s talk about procrastination first! I had every intention of spending the whole day working on finishing up my goals and getting together the required presentation for my peers, but, as is usually the case when I have something really pressing I have to do I turned into some crazed 1950’s housewife! (without the stilettos & pearls but you get the idea).

The 4th may seem like an odd day to set aside to work, but as I am British (and we LOST), and especially now my kids are grown with busy lives of their own, the hubby and I usually opt for a quiet day of pottering at home together. I really did plan to get right down to work on those goals, but first I had to figure out what was for dinner. Because I was really just procrastinating I decided we needed a fancy meal with dessert – so I cooked for a while. Then as I was putting away some glasses I discovered that the dinning room china cabinet really needed to be cleaned, so I cleaned it. Cleaning china cabinets isn’t usually high on my list of things to do (as you would know if you had seen it) and if I hadn’t had goals to write it would still be dirty now. Clearly some members of my family don’t see this behavior, elaborate meals from scratch, baking, cleaning as a problem… but those goals were still nagging me and I was getting a bit testy.

Eventually by mid afternoon I was beginning to make some headway, the dining room table was stacked with inspirational books and some of those blank pages were filled with scribble and then the hubby had to drive to a parts store in another town and invited me along for the ride (in air conditioned comfort) – how could I resist? Besides – I needed to mull for a bit – right?

By the end of the day I had finished roughing out all of my plan and tomorrow – I mean later today –  I will be finishing up my presentation for the group. If I don’t find something that needs cleaning first!

a little crazy

I am longing for a carefree summer right now. When I was a child during the summer holidays we would get up, eat breakfast, get a sandwich from Mum and take off on our bikes, or on foot and just hang out all day. We climbed trees, paddled and fished. I really had the kind of idyllic childhood you read about in books. I always felt safe, and free. Of course my favorite memories involve books, laying in a cornfield, or up a tree, with a book, sometimes reading, sometimes just listening to the stories in the wind. We came home when we got hungry. Often we went right back out again and played into the dark.

What I am longing for is time to play. For undirected time. I am so busy right now. In addition to RealJob, I have taken on another design project for Chautauqua Institution which has an extremely tight deadline. Of course I did it for the money – but it is making me a little crazy. I know this because I am what my family politely describes as tetchy – translated this means I am biting off everyone’s heads. I NEED to be in my studio doing unpaid work for myself. It’s not that the project is not fun – it is. I am making these huge menu chalkboards, in a variety of styles. I love text, I love drawing. It is not torture. It is just that my head is overflowing with work I need to make, and here I am surrounded by chalkboards. And a deadline. But this is the reality of most of our lives. I’ll get over it. (Oh and did I mention – my daughter is getting married in just a few week’s time!)

Thankfully there have been moments of grace. Earlier this week I went to the studio of Diane Bond to work with her and a couple of other book artists, Carol & Wendy. Diane is a Roycroft Renaissance Master Artisan, her books are stunning, and her paste papers are so beautiful. Together we worked on one of my embroidery bindings. It was a much longed for moment of peace and joy in a crazy week. And of course Diane’s studio is filled with treasure and lots of tools and materials to drool over!

Today I am heading out to Syracuse for the NYFA Bootcamp. I am feeling nervous about this. As I look at the profiles of the other attendees I am awed by their work. And I haven’t finished my homework, or packed. I have to believe that I am going for a reason – I am trying to be in this moment. To listen, to stop pushing. I hope I will have something to say when I get home.

family life & frugality

This coming weekend I was supposed to be heading off to Saltonstall Art Colony for a weekend retreat – 4 days of glorious uninterrupted silence in a studio by myself.

Then a few weeks ago, my admittedly very old car blew up – a terminal head gasket demise. My hubby offered to rent a car for me to go, or even to let me take his truck but it seemed the last straw, too much to ask. So I am having a retreat at home instead. I am catching up on everything that needs to be done, so I can take a few days to really get down to work. My hubby says he can feed himself (and me). I am so unbelievably loved!

My hubby has given up a lot for my dreams – when we met he was planning to become a professional race driver (he is very good) and then we fell in love and he extended his tour in the Air Force so we could be married. By the time his career in the services was over we had two children, so he got a “real” job to give us a home and security. We always imagined some day down the road there would be enough money to give him his start – then we had another child. For twenty years now he has worked a job that doesn’t emotionally reward him so that we can have all the material comforts we enjoy – our beautiful home, food on our table, a choice of what to wear. He has helped to put two of them through college and this year he will be adding a third lot of tuition. He is such a good man.

I tell you all this because he also stood by me as I decided to go back to college. He juggled the kids and his job so that I could take a year in England by myself to finish my masters. He has supported and encouraged me every step of the way, and here I am living my dream. I teach at a college, I have a wonderful spacious studio, I have time and space and love. I have lots of love. All because of him.

This year our baby heads off to college, it is a new time in our lives together. The future suddenly seems wide open again. I am applying for full time teaching jobs all over and together we are dreaming of the next phase in our lives. I hope one of those jobs works out, that all the stars align, and then maybe I can take over some of his burden and he can begin to dream again.

A new house in the country, a BIG BIG barn – downstairs for his workshop, upstairs for my studio. Oh how I hope the universe is listening!

But back to now, I have no idea how I will afford a new car, or the summer of weddings, or the extra tuition bills next year. I  am just trying to count my blessings and hold on for the ride. Living your dreams is sometimes pretty scary! Lucky for me I have a good man to hold me when it gets too rough.

Faeries & egg shells

People ought to remember that eggshells are favourite retreats of the faeries, therefore the judicious eater should always break the shell after use, to prevent the fairy sprite from taking up his lodgment therein.” ~ Lady Jane Wilde (late 1800’s)

Sometimes art just takes one to the strangest places, tonight I have been cleaning up my oldest daughter’s room which had become quite the catch-all for household junk while she was away at school. Right now all her worldly possessions are in a trailer in my back garden waiting to make their way back into the house, but alas, so much junk! Anyway I came across a fairy book I had given her and started reading it randomly and discovered a Victorian warning against keeping intact eggshells around as apparently the wee folk like to take up residence there given an opportunity. Who knew? That prompted me to go on a short internet hunt for more evidence of this, which I couldn’t find, but I did find a story about changelings which features egg shells and then this slightly creepy art which features hatching faeries/angels by Nancy Farmer.

Maybe I can attract a brownie to clean my house so I can spend more time in the studio, right now the whole house is in the kind of complete chaos that would make any self respecting brownie cringe (or housewife for that matter).

Watch this space tomorrow for a re-post from the past year as I am playing along with Seth at The Altered Page in the Buried Treasure Hunt

giveaway

I have been in a bit of a fog for a while now, not exactly spinning my wheels but just wrestling with my work. A new installation is slowly growing in the studio, but we are at logger heads at every turn. As the stress of teaching winds down into the open days of summer I am hoping that I will be back to work soon. In the meantime I have been making books. Just being immersed in the simple materiality and technical work of binding is a safe outlet for all that stuck creative energy. I am trying to remember to live in abundance, and to be grateful for the work I am given, and to stop being whiny and jealous of other artists. I am trying to honor the creativity that creates with me and through me and get out of the way with my silly ego and my crazed monkey mind.The universe is a big generous place, some days I just forget.

And speaking of generosity, I was just notified of this amazing giveaway, head over to find a generous soul hoping to foster YOUR creativity with an art journaling giveaway. I am so grateful to have a studio full of supplies and inspiration and a family willing to live with my vagueness when working and the insane schedule of an independently employed person! Sometimes I forget that not everyone has stuff to make art with, or a space all their own to make art in, or a family who understands that art is who they are not just what they do. In fact I am so full of gratitude for all my many blessings,( regardless of whether I feel lost on the road right now or not) that I have decided to join Kim. Leave a comment on this post by May 21st and I will give away a whole mess of ephemera from my stash, enough to fill a catalog envelope to the brim! Spread the word, share the wealth!

not a great start

I didn’t exactly hit the ground running this new year. The piece I started for Seth’s book turned out to be large and complex  (I know shocker-right?) and didn’t get finished by the deadline. I am disappointed with myself… great start to this new creative year, before day one has even passed I have missed a deadline. yikes!

Things are going on creatively, I have several opportunities to show work coming up this year, and have been busy making large gallery works, so not much to show here… one includes hundreds of those meditations in an eggshell that I used in awake, so that is typically time consuming, another work features multiples of something else, not an idea ready for exposure yet… so I feel it is going to be dark and quiet on the blogging front for a while.

So what will I be up to, apart from papering hundreds of eggs? I am teaching an online section of my visual survey class this semester, and I have been having fun working out the logistics of that. Of course it is Spring semester and that means 3d, my favorite class. I am always so excited for a new semester, new opportunities to improve on my teaching, new project ideas, new guests! And reading stacks of books. My usual. Oh and I am going to spend this new year acting as a creative mentor for a group of beginning artists as they take their first steps on their journeys. I am absolutely psyched for that! I will be plenty busy, but maybe there won’t be much to show around here for a bit. I am not really sure.

So happy new year readers, I hope it is full of creative joys and great nurturing relationships.

glaze firing

so, its been a long silence here… teaching has really been consuming most of my energy, I have been developing some new classes, more about those some other time, and busy making and selling many many new books. Its been a pretty profitable holiday season for me, which means we can eat in January when there will not be any college paycheck coming in!! I manged to struggle through the ceramics class and my work is all out of the glaze firing, so ta-da!! here it is

I’m pleased with how they turned out! I don’t think any ceramics masters have too much to worry about, but I think they are not too shabby after all!

on a different note, here are some great new additions to my personal collection

from left, small pot by Bethany Bjork (a former student), red vase by Paula, blue fish by Pat Eckstrom, fabulous photo by Jennifer Schlick and turned burl bowl by Terry!!

and one last newcomer, this fabulous bowl by Anne Mormile

the winner is…

Congratulations to Lindsey a faithful follower here for winning the upside down signature book, I promise to put it in the post ASAP.

On the home front my son graduated on Friday night, and today in a sudden twist all my kids are at work and I am at home playing!! This would be excellent and funny if I weren’t so worried about how I am going to pay my bills this month. I have two art fairs on the horizon, Art in the Woods and Art in the Park. But these things are uncertain, one could sell nothing. I am trying not to be anxious and to trust my decision to give myself this time, but with two sets of college tuition looming and a daughter living unpaid in NYC all summer, life is very costly around here right now. Added to that we are doing some work outside on the house and the studio remains unfinished from lack of funds. Being home all day I realize how shabby and old most of our furnishings are and I am frustrated that I can’t even afford a candy bar let alone a new couch. O well I am going to the studio to get some work done that probably won’t sell, but c’est ma vie!  Of course I live a comfortable cushioned suburban life and should just shut up, I can choose an outfit, I have a roof over my head, there is food in my cupboards, I am just plain discontented right now, and feeling like I am letting my children down. Sorry for whining, just how it is today.