Sunday, March 30, 2008

23 years - It Cannot Be True

I was talking with Cindy O'Leary about computers today (she just got a new MAC). And I realized that I have been working on a PC computer for 23 years. That fact right there makes me feel so old. I think of my computer days as starting when the Internet became the WWW or World Wide Web in the mid-90s. I remember another conversation I had with a fellow artist Lynne Oakes. Back in those early days she asked if I thought people would ever buy art over the Internet. I answered "no", thinking it was too emotional a purchase and that art is too tactile to appreciate on a monitor. Then I went and created my website in 2000 and proved myself wrong big-time, for I sold my art left and right, hundreds of Fragments through that website...back in the days before Ebay, Etsy and Blogs.

And now it has all changed and I am an old-timer. My website is old-fashioned, my HTML lacks CSS, my graphics are tired and my website traffic is down. Well of course all my efforts go into this blog now too, but even that is tired looking compared to what's out there now. I have always been one to focus more on content that bells and whistles. A few good, meaningful photos should accompany every post, but beyond that, do you need to see my Flickr account, my empty Etsy shop, links to fantastic blogs I've found, or blogs of all my friends who seen to have way more to say and way more visitors than I do, whose blogs appear as links on way more other people's blogs than I do? Should I care? Do I care? I don't even know. I do this for me but I want you to listen, or be interested in what I have to say. Pamela Allen said it best in her post on Motivation, "I make art for the rewards of being part of something bigger and richer."

Did I peak too soon back when I was one of the few with a cool website? Who is my audience? Should I continue to be "the Buddha", the wise one, as my friends call me, or redesign myself as more trendy and hip and try to become one of the "in" group? What is this drive to drive traffic to your blog, to "sell" yourself, to attract attention? I am the last person to seek attention in person yet I want it here. I don't want the crown of Miss Popularity, but I do want to know that what I have to say is meaningful in people's lives. I want to make meaning. Yes, that's it. I, who am constantly searching for meaning in life, want to share what I figure out.

Do you ever read a book or a blog entry and go, "Yes, that's it, that's how I feel." That aha moment when someone puts into words the very thing that you needed to know, that bit of wisdom about life that was, to you, still a puzzle with the few most important pieces missing. That's what I want to do. I want to do it through words and art and most of all I want to make your life easier and/or better for having found it out. The mass media has created a society that needs constant stimulation, the next new thing, 1/2 second visual bites pop, pop, popping with no chance to really see what's there. I don't think that's who we are, we, meaning you, the readers of this blog. We want to see, we want to know and we want to understand.

As usual, I had no idea I'd end up here when I started this entry. I can't help it. It's in my nature to make meaning and once I start writing, I go looking for it. Now that I've written this I do know what I want to do with this blog and my website. I still want to give a fresh look to them both but the content will remain the same. It's who I am. And if no one else is listening or looking, at least I know one very important person always

Sunday, March 23, 2008

The Self-Portrait Collaboration

(If you mouse over the image, the artist's name will appear)


"What is the Common Thread that we as artists share? What are the ties that bind us together? We are not like one piece of unbroken cloth, the same color, the same texture, the same size. Artists are more like a collage, many patches, many pieces, many colors and sizes bound and held together by a common thread."

I sent a bag of 'threads' along with the book, asking each artist to incorporate one on their page. Many chose one of their own, others none. The beauty of a collaboration is in how each artists interprets the theme. As we worked over the years, even the concept of self-portrait became stretched and re-interpreted. Isn't any artwork a portrait or snapshot of the artist at any given time?

My book was constructed in such a way so that the artists could work on their page freely, whether painting or stitching, and not interfere with page behind it. Two gessoed canvas pages were bound together with grommets (patinaed in a flame) and vintage bark cloth, but left open on all of the other sides for easy access. It was my intention to stitch them closed when the book was returned, but so many artists used the inside area to write me notes or even add additional artwork, that they will remain open.

I didn't ask, nor did I expect everyone to sew their page, but many, including those who did not sew, wanted to rise to the challenge. What you see above are the gorgeous and varied to my Common Thread theme. If the slide show doesn't run well on your slower computer connection, you can just click on it and you will be taken to the page to view it as stills.

25 Participating Artists

Lesley Riley
Nina Bagley
Jeanne Minnix
Claudine Hellmuth
Anne Bagby
Lisa Renner
Lynn Whipple
John Whipple
Keely Barham
Pam Garrison
Syd McCutcheon
Teesha Moore
Tracy Moore
Lesley Jacobs
Beth Black
Sarah Fishburn
Lisa Hoffman
Anne Grgich
Shirley Ende-Saxe
Lynne Perrella
Karen Michel
Michelle Ward
Judi Riesch
Bee Shay
LK Ludwig
+ one mystery artist! (no one has come forward at this point)

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Happy Easter~

Whether you celebrate the Easter holiday or not, it represents a time of renewal, of new life, new beginnings, of hope. Vernal Equinox, Spring, it is a time for planting seeds, for looking forward, for expectations ~ a time for creating. May this day of beginnings be a day for you to celebrate the creative seed inside your heart.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Pen, Paint & Mary Oliver

My workshop with Laurie Doctor was just what I needed. One cannot rush through calligraphy. You have to be fully present, relaxed and in the moment. And Laurie made sure of that. Each day began with stretching, balancing and relaxation exercises. Mindfulness. Silence. Shifting from the outside world to the inner space within ourselves, the space from which we create. If it had only been a one day workshop, I would have not made the shift, but as early as day 2, I was "in the zone." And poetry! Laurie can recite poetry from memory and loves a stage, so we started each day with poetry. For the workshop, we focused on one by Wallace Stevens, but of course Mary Oliver was in the classroom as well. (You can listen to Mary her read her poetry here.) Poetry is a wonderful inspiration for art. Many of us use music to relax, energize and/or inspire, but the visual images contained in poetry revealed a door to visual art that I had not yet opened. Laurie (and Wallace and Mary) provided the key. It wasn't important to me how well I did, I just wanted to create. I was able to leave that pesky critic back here in DC and just create.

As you might imagine, there is an enormous difference between being the teacher and being the student. Now I truly understand why you all take so many classes. There's nothing better than uninterrupted time creating art with like-minded souls, and even better when you are with friends. The group I met when I taught there last September took me into their fold and Peggy, my hostess, was a Mom and a sister all rolled into one. I even got to attend her granddaughter's 1st birthday party. I was one of the family.

Then no sooner did I get home, it was back into left-brained mode, packing and preparing to tape 2 classes for the Quilting Arts Festival. I was up before 4am Tuesday to hop a 6:40am flight to Boston and then back in my bed by 10 pm the same day. Yesterday was recovery day and lunch with Dad and today...what will today hold. I hope it's an art day, the ideas and inspiration are flying, whirling, ready to fly off my fingertips. But the cupboard is bare, bills to pay and Easter is upon us. I'm so used to hopping between the dual sides of my life, forever the multi-tasker, arting on the run. I am fortunate that I can be 'in the zone' at will. But I sure would like another 4 days of uninterrupted art time. One of my favorite quotes comes to mind - The object isn't to make art, it's to be in that wonderful state which makes art inevitable. ~ Robert Henri. I'm there, I'm there.

For those of you waiting for the Common Thread Self-Portrait photos, sit tight. I should have them up by the weekend.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Sneak Preview

Back in 2005, 25 amazing artists got together to do a Self-Portrait collaboration. Many (most? all?) of the artists that you know from True Colors and Alphabetica were included, along with some talented, and at the time, newcomers. With 25 artists, we thought that it would take just 2 years to circulate the books. But as we all know, life often gets in the way of plans. But something good is always worth waiting for. I am one of the lucky completed journal is one of the ones now back home. The rest will be arriving back in each artists hands over the next few weeks, almost 3 years from the beginning.

As with the other collaborations, we each created a journal that set our theme and was in a way, a self-portrait in itself. Mine was made of fabric of course and my theme was The Common Thread - the thread that binds all artists together. Stay tuned, as next week I will present to you the the artists of the Self-Portrait collaboration and the pages they created in my book.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Do You Subscribe to Embellishments?

Embellishments is the weekly online newsletter on fiber and mixed media trends published by Cloth Paper Scissors magazine. The most recent one appeared in my mailbox today and there was my article, Stash Building - As Easy as 1·2·3 by Lesley Riley. I'll be doing a series of articles for this FREE newsletter over the coming months. I'm sure you don't want to miss any tidbits, so be sure to sign-up now.

PS You can view back-issues online. Look for my complete article in Issue #72.

Sunday, March 09, 2008

This Could Be The Start of Something...

A favorite theme of mine, more like a lament, is that time moves too swiftly. Oh to be a child again, where Sundays dragged on f o r e v e r. And to make it worse, the clocks really did jump ahead an hour today. Noon already? It's enough to make a girl cry.

It's been one of those weeks where you feel like you accomplish nothing, but you've been busy every minute. I know you know the feeling. I have to tell you though, cleaning up the studio and weeding out the unneeded, the unloved and the unwanted has become a very creative act. What I thought was random flotsam and jetsam is actually falling into neat little themed collections. I find it most creative to gather these items together, like one of those dried soup mixes - just add water and cook 30 minutes. I see little projects at every turn - "Wow, I could do THAT,"Aha, wouldn't that look good together," "Oh, there's the beginning of a great piece there." The temptation is great to keep it all, but I know myself. I'll never get around to all those projects that dance in my head. So I pass it on to you (or you, or you). The two boxes up for auction this week are 1)Black & White & Some Red All Over, and 2) Gypsy Lore. Check em out here

Here's how fast time flies. Riley will be one month old tomorrow, weighing in at 10 lbs. She's long and lean and the easiest baby I've met in a long while. She knows me, yes she does. She'll stare at me a while and then break out into a grin that says, "I know you!" Really. I've always known that babies can smile from Day 1.

Wednesday I'm off to St. Charles for my 4-day mini vacation in Laurie Doctor's class. I need some 'me' time, a creative push and some thinking outside the box. One way to expand your creativity is to take a class in something outside your medium or your comfort zone. Sure, I can paint, but I don't feel very comfortable doing it. Not like fabric, my old friend. My plan is to incorporate the painting and use of text that we will explore in Laurie's class into my fabric art work. I don't want to put too much meaning or importance onto this class, but I am hoping that it will be the start of a whole new body of work. No pressure there! I'll report back in about a week with lots of photos.

Saturday, March 01, 2008

Ebay Time!

Up for bid - two jam-packed boxes of mixed media fodder. As promised, I've listed the first 2 of many Priority Mail boxes of goodies from my stash. The top box is entitled Words & Letters, and is full of all things wordy and alphabetical ~ conversation cards, fortune-telling cards, and a load of letter and number tiles. It is all spelled out for you on Ebay in the complete listing, along with some close-up photos.

Box #2, Grunge, has less than pristine items made of metal, wood, and glass, as well as Tim Holtz's no longer available Distressibles book, selling on Amazon for $28 and up!!! There's gold in them thar boxes I tell ya.

If you don't see anything you like this time, keep checking back. I hope to get a box or 2 on Ebay each week until I'm done. Fabric will be the last thing to go, because that's what I have the most of and it's the hardest to part with.

A box without hinges, key, or lid, yet golden treasure inside is hid. ~JRR Tolkien


A tapas r TAfter my pity party post, I stayed home Thursday and did some arting. That's my new work for it. My daughter texted and asked me to come over and to be brief I said "I'm arting." When you have 4 daughters between the ages of 13 and 28, you do a lot of text messaging on your cell phone. Sounds stupid I know, but that's how young people communicate today and now I'm in the habit too. I digress.

I'm a big fan of Nike's motto, Just Do It. So I did it. I set up the dining room table for a stash building paint day. I use the layer system. After my protective layer of felt and plastic go do, I place a sheet of watercolor paper on the bottom, ten a yard of fabric and finally some Lutradur. As I paint the top layer of Lutradur, painted seeps through to the fabric and then onto the watercolor paper. I remove each layer as I am done and each underneath layer is already well on its way. The random patterning that the layering produces is better than anything I could devise on my own. I love the serendipity of it all.

I could talk about fabric painting, I could talk about studio space, but instead, I'll refer you to 2 other interesting and excellent posts on both and get my butt back to arting. It's Saturday and the whole day awaits me. So visit here and here.

PS. You too can create words with Flickr photos here.