Several people have asked me what the piece looks like that was accepted into Visions: No Boundaries. This is it. The piece works in my obsession with time and has other layers of personal meaning. The title has additional meaning because I have tried to get into Visions for years and years and have been rejected every time. It still amazes me that I finally made something that caught the eye of this show’s selection of jurors. The piece is a digital collage of a variety of images I’ve taken over a couple years that include various ruins, arches, clocks, and strange little things like a pile of books and a swan. It has an overlay of digital geometric pattern. The piece was printed on silk using pigment inkjet ink and further colored with Caran d’Ache Neocolor II painting crayons and textile paint.
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A few days ago I was visiting with my friend Beryl. She made me this wonderful heart! Love it. :)
The plan was making fabric and paper collages for use in other work. There was no particular goal in mind, just the making and hopefully the springboard to something else. This was a good thing for me, as I’ve been feeling in a creative slump. “Just work. It will come.” We ended up talking and talking, which is great. At one point she asked me if I started using my new printer. My answer: No.
That’s right, my brand new Epson Pro Stylus 7900 and the only thing I printed was a poster size print to confirm all works as it should. Otherwise, it has sat for a month. I had a 7600 and was lusting after newer models for years. And now I have it: the latest 7900 with HDR Ultrachrome inks, currently the best pigments Epson offers.
Beryl said “too precious.” Huh? Shen then told me a story of when she was taking classes. She had her Sennelier pastels with her. I know those pricey pastels well. I have two boxes of them, and each pastel remains in its foam bed to keep it in excellent condition. Her teacher asked her why she wasn’t using them. She explained, and I understood; I use mine sparingly, too. The teacher went on. “Are they too precious for you to use? Give me those precious pastels.” The teacher took each one and broke it into thirds. I gasped. Beryl told me she was horrifed. The teacher went on about how they are just tools, they are not precious. What you create with it is precious. “Now get on with making art. That’s what is precious.” And she did. My eyes were still widened, but with the water-in-your-face knowledge that her teacher was absolutely right.
A few days later an artist wrote me online regarding some printer help and a recommendation. One issue was her concern that the ink was past the expiration date and she didn’t want to mess anything up by using it. I replied: Epson says that you have a year past the expiration date. However, I’ve used cartridges that were many years past the expiration date without any problem. Just use the ink. It’s not going to hurt anything. If it really comes bad, then replace the ink. For the printer, I suggested she spend the extra money for the better model. She’d use it all of the time and will not regret the purchase. I then said in the letter, “This from the woman who has a new 7900 and isn’t using it because it was expensive, the ink is expensive, and she doesn’t want to break anything.” Yes, speaking in the third person. I’m almost longing for my 7600, which I bought used and would shove anything into it to print without any fear of breaking anything.
She replied, “Isn’t it interesting how the cost affects our responses? It still seems too precious to risk and yet you got it to push your art further.”
There was that word again, “precious.” Yes, it does seem too precious to use. Then why did I buy it? It’s a fantastic tool that should make the printing process easier. Then why aren’t I using it? Fear. What am I afraid of? Breaking it. What’s the worse that happens if I break it? I’ll have to get it fixed, and then I won’t be able to use it. But you’re not using it now. True. Not only are you not using it, you’re allowing it to stunt you into creative paralysis.
Beryl and I have been trading stories of what we’re doing with the collages. I told her I was making more. Her too. She spilled her various ideas. All I came up with was maybe using it as foundation for a journal. (Just one look at Beryl’s inspiring journals and I’m eager to make my own.) But what about something else? They are interesting looking. What could I do? Could they serve as something else?
Later in the evening I started studying the collages. I started discovering areas that were holding my attention. I photographed them. Studying the photos gave me more ideas. I painted more. I photographed more. I took the photos into Photoshop and worked with them more. Suddenly I have a series of designs going. I don’t have them photographed as I’m still working with them, but they hold promise (and I don’t want to show them for fear of jinxing and never working on them again – yes, I need therapy!). And, oh my goodness, I am finally feeling some inspiration. I want to create, and I need that printer to help get these ideas going. No longer does that printer seem so precious to sit there in fear of breaking something. It’s as though Beryl’s teacher is shouting at me: Now get on with making art!
While doing the “big clean” — my delusion of some order in my life — I found myself looking at some encaustic pieces I did a couple years ago. These pieces incorporate a mixture of waxes (beeswax, parafix, and soy wax, which tends to give me a headache) with acrylic paints and various other bits like netting and string and digital prints. I had taken a workshop and, a result of it, loaded up on various supplies so that I could experiment. Working with encaustics is a great way to blend various media into lots of layers and textures — something I’m very drawn to and yet feel I don’t have enough of in my work.
Here’s a close-up showing more of the texture.
And a bit closer still.
I’ve also been in the sketchbook mood lately. While flipping through the pages of what I’ve done these past couple months, I stopped at this page when seeing the relationship between the strong vertical lines in this watercolor/gouache sketch with the earlier painting. If it were allowed, I’d post an image of the quilt I’m frantically working to finish for entry into the upcoming Visions show. It, too, is right up this alley — verticals, layers, mood.
Here’s a different piece.
And another. This one includes a digital print. I really like playing with wax on digital prints; fun stuff.
My journals have various notes — try this, try that; add more texture; work in ghost imagery, incorporate obvious line. It’s good going through older journals, comparing the ideas then with what I am doing now. It seems there is something to writing these things down. It’s possible the ideas do seep in and eventually flow into new work. I’ve notes on putting wax onto digital prints on fabric, rather than only on various types of papers. One of these days!
If you’re interested in encaustic work. here are two books that will get you started:
Encaustic Workshop: Artistic Techniques for Working with Wax, by Patricia B. Seggebrush; and
The Art of Encaustic Painting: Contemporary Expression in the Ancient Medium of Pigmented Wax, by Joanne Mattera.
Besides seeing Coldplay, most of the day was spent at the Victoria & Albert Museum. I love the V&A.
I love the architecture of the building.
The drama in the foyer. But most of all I love the art. I visit this Museum every time I’m in London, and I never get enough of it I am seriously envious of those living in the area who can visit on a regular basis.
“The links between contemporary design, history and the imagination form the background for this beautiful and unprecedented exploration of design art.”
The Telling Tales exhibit runs through October 18th. If you’re in the area, go see it. It’s free, as is admission to the Museum, and it’s provocative.
The designers are primarily from the Netherlands and most are under 40 years of age. The work showcases furniture in the spirit of story telling, something also being described as “design art.” Objects included The Honeycomb Vase made in a hive by a swarm of bees that built their honeycomb over a wire frame provided by the designer. A chair that rotates around a central axis to stretch one chair into another. The chairs are cast in bronze and uses digitally designed embroidered upholstery. A huge skull called “Senosry Deprivation Skull” made of fibreglass and sheepskin. It opens and provides a space for “introspection and medition” or “a place to get inside of your head.” I found myself absorbing the art prior to recognizing the form’s function.
There are three sections to the exhibit. “The Forest Glade is inspired by fantasy and nature evoking the spirit of fairytales. The Enchanted Castle exaggerates and parodies historical design styles often associated with displays of status. Heaven and Hell is concerned with themes of mortality and the afterlife.”
It was the Heaven and Hell exhibit that particularly grabbed me. …”works that evoke the universal conflict of life and death, heaven and hell, judgement and salvation … agitated designs that explore our anxious state in troubled times.” It is in this exhibit where the huge skull sits. I found myself stuck on “Buildings of Disaster,” pondering the inclusion of certain buildings.
Intrigued? Learn more about the exhibit here. While photography isn’t allowed in the exhibit (it is allowed nearly everyplace else in the Museum), you can view all of the works from the exhibit, including a description of each.
A new area we discovered is the Theatre and Performance galleries. Then we learned it was opened earlier this year. It includes costumes, posters, photographs, and various ephemera related to the performance arts. Above are costumes worn by Mick Jagger, Adam Ant, and Jimmy Page. I suspect you can guess who wore what.
The above two images are a replica of Kylie Minogues’s Wembley dressing room for the Showgirl: Homecoming tour 2007.
A close-up of the work in a stage costume.
A full version of that costume.
The V&A’s website has an excellent guided tour of stage costuming selected from the collection which “demonstrate the art and expertise of the theatre designs and costume makers.” You can view it here.
A Peter Townshend broken guitar.
A very happy me!
Next up, some images of London at night.
I’ve a thing for clocks! The above clock that is in front of the Dali Museum has found its way into several of my quilts.
Last night I watched this video, Elizabeth Gilbert – author of a favorite book, Eat, Pray, Love, on nurturing creativity.
Elizabeth Gilbert muses on the impossible things we expect from artists and geniuses — and shares the radical idea that, instead of the rare person “being” a genius, all of us “have” a genius. It’s a funny, personal and surprisingly moving talk.
She talked about the success of her book and people now asking her “Aren’t you afraid that you’ll never live up to your prior success … that you’ll be a failure?”
She goes on to discuss how creativity was originally looked upon as an outside entity that visits one and graces it with a bolt of inspiration. The Romans referred to creativity as genius. Again, an outside force that would possess one with inspiration. At one point things changed. “We went from having a creative genius to being a creative genius.” And with that comes a lot of pressure, suffering, and despair. She talked about the “painful reconciliation” people go through when success comes along and then wanes.
Immediately I could relate to the despair. In honesty, I was beyond thrilled to win two major awards this past year – Master of Innovative Artistry in Houston’s IQA ’07 show and Best Wall Hanging in AQS’s ’08 show resulting in a purchase award by the National Quilt Musuem — just in case you’re wondering and because I like repeating it once in the while as I still am stunned they happened. But with that thrill came the heavy feeling that that is that. I’ll never hit that high again. My best is now behind me.
Some years ago at Quilt Market, an amazing quilt artist and I were sharing a table at the C&T booth promoting our books. The following Quilt Market I had another book to promote. She was at Market and came up to me saying she felt like last year’s news because her book was relegated to the back shelf. She no longer felt important, and she even commented that she felt invisible. I remember telling her she certainly was not invisible and, besides, my books will be on that shelf soon enough. Things cycle. And it didn’t take long. All 13 books in the Free Stuff on the Internet series are out of print (although I’ve boxes of each in my basement, if anyone is interested). Does it sadden me? At times it did. At times it still does. But on good days I’m simply proud they happened to begin with.
On good days I truly am happy for others who get the awards, who have the new books out, who create inspiring works of art. On good days I see everyone’s successes as knitted together, and I feel pride for someone I know doing well (I can feel pride for complete strangers). On a bad day when I stare at a blank monitor or piece of paper, trying to work out a new design, I find myself wondering if I’ll ever be creative again. It is painful. It can feel like torture. I can beat myself up like no one can. I can even get to the point where everything I create looks like junk and I throw things away. As a matter of fact one of those big award winning pieces was in the garbage. It was my partner who encouraged me to carry on. For that matter, he’s taken more than creation out of the garbage.
In short, Elizabeth’s talk was a good one. It came at a good time. For the downtime, when nothing is coming together, she suggests just showing up and doing the work (is that why they call it “art work”?). And that’s what I’m off to do – I’m here and I’m ready to work. And, when I get stuck, as I know I will, I will try (“try” rather than “will” – is lingering doubt nearby?) to stay busy and wait for the design gods to visit.
I am currently at Quilting By the Lake being held at Onondaga Community College in Onondaga NY. I’m studying with Fran Skiles, a warm, sharing person with a relaxed, approachable style who made a point of stressing that she is not teaching a quiltmaking class, nor will we be making any quilts. Instead, it is a painting, printing, and collage class.
Today was about creating six cotton duck fabric bases containing texture and line created with mock French seams, reverse applique, and crude embroidery — meaning large, quick stitches using heavy threads. Thus far the palette is white and black. Color will be introduced later. We also seamed together paper photographs (black and white) to create a collage that later in the week will be incorporated into the work. I love using photographs in collage, do digital collage practically daily, and have been wanting to incorporate more of such work into my textiles. My latest work, Witley Decay 1 and 2, uses my photo imagery. One of my hope is that the class experience pushes me further in that direction – if even by creating a new body of work entirely separate from “quilted” textiles.
Each day will have a new objective, with each building on the prior. It’s a very intuitive, spontaneous work approach and, again, I’ve no idea what I’ll end up with. My hope is to enjoy the process and artistically grow from the experience.
On the Apollo front, I found these two links which are fun: Apollo 11 Live TV Coverage – you can watch it as it aired 40 years ago. This begs the question: Do you remember viewing it the first time around? I have a recollection of a black/white TV and “spacemen.” The problem is that I no longer remember if it’s my memory from the first time around or seeing it replayed over the years. The Apollo 11 Lunar Surface Journal by Eric M. Jones. The site contains a wealth of links, a one-stop site for nearly all things Apollo 11-related.
“In Google Earth, you can get close enough to examine a painter’s brushstrokes or the craquelure on the varnish of a painting. The images of these works are about 14,000 million pixels, 1,400 times more detailled than the image a 10 megapixel digital camera would take. In addition, you’ll be able to see a spectacular 3D reproduction of the museum.”
Here’s the link: http://www.google.com/intl/en/landing/prado/. What a time we live in!!
ColourLovers is a site about creative inspiration using color and design. It shows off a large variety of color palettes and patterns. I particular like the blog, with posts such as the recent called Vintage Color & Design: The Architectural Review. The articles sections includes pieces like Color Basics: Dos and Don’ts, How Color Influences Consumer Behavior, and more.
And, yes, I will be posting more images from Yosemite very soon!
If you’re into bumper stickers and buttons, StickerGiant.com has a good selection of art-related ones. I like this button: Never Apologize for Your Art.”
Incredible Art Department is one of those fantastic sites offering an “incredible” encyclopedic collection of art-educational resources. There are link collections for art groups, art resources, art periods/styles, school, stores, art-zines, artists, museums, galleries, and more. Textile Arts – Fiber Arts offers history of textile links, world textile, contemporary textile arts, lesson plans, and more. Art Museums is a one-stop listing to a collection of museums throughtout the USA and throughout the world. Art Careers provides a portal to more links exploring various options such as graphic design, fashion design, art teachers, and so on.
There is also a large collection of links to public domain art, books, and images. Some of the links go to collections of other links. Project Gutenberg, for example, is the largest collection of free electronic books (or eBooks). Read Print is a free online library. The Online Book Page offers over 30,000 free books on the web.
This site began in 1994 by Ken Rohrer. Later Judy Decker joined Ken to grow this site into the massive collection it is today. This site has a special bookmark in my collection – Love it!
In this provoking 27 minutes video, Tim Brown, the CEO of Ideo, talks about “The powerful link between creativity and play.” He discusses how the behaviors learned as a kid are useful as designers; how playfulness helps develop better creative solutions, rather than adult behaviors which often get in the way of developing ideas. He talks about children and their constructive play time – building and knocking down, building and knocking down – the working with the hands, doing multiple “low-resolution” prototypes very quickly to test ideas. It reminds me of the original concept behind the journal quilts and other quickly-made small projects to test various ideas without the burden of a large time commitment.
He also talks that play within the workplace isn’t anarchy, but more of a divergence and convergence — the divergence where the play is and the convergence where things come together and are more serious. He talks about role playing to develop empathy for the situation and authentic experiences.
The talk comes from the 2008 Art Center Design Conference held at the Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, California in May 2008. The video is another from TED, Ideas Worth Spreading
This video is an 18 minutes talk by Paola Antonelli, called Treating Design as Art. It was posted at Her bio in part states: “Paola Antonelli is on a mission to introduce — and explain — design to the world. With her shows at New York’s Museum of Modern Art, she celebrates design’s presence in every part of life.”
This talk was in the “Design Like You Give a Damn” section at TED, Ideas Worth Spreading. The speakers in the Design section “celebrate the power of design to enhance creative endeavors, unravel social stalemate and to save and enrich lives.”
TED encourages the sharing of their materials, and the videos are distributed under the Creative Commons license.