Saturday, June 30, 2012

Expanding our Minds

Expanding our Minds is what we do when we are trying something new. For me , it is the way to grow as an artist, to push the envelope so to speak.
There are other benefits as well .This  is a method that science tells us will help to keep our  mind functioning. Try doing things in a different way. Follow a different path from where you always go. Use your other hand. Art gives us lots of new choices every time we are on our creative path. So does life, doesn't it?
 This is a page from my book I created at Ghost Ranch, New Mexico. There I took a class from Nancy Culmone and believe me, it was a lot of new experiences for me. This particular exercise was in contour drawing. What is that, you might ask? Well I didn't know either when I started. 
Contour drawing is when you look at the object only and not at what your hand holding the instrument is doing.
 In other words I am observing  the tiny branches on the dried flower I chose to draw in my left hand. My right  hand holds the drawing pen on the paper and I never take it off, and I never look at what I am doing. My lines are  all connected and I do not have a clue what it will look like. I must  leave the  rules of representation behind . The nice thing about drawing contours is there is no right or wrong, there is only what is. So that is a mind expansion right there for me. Comments?

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

A New Medium

I have returned. A most glorious week at Ghost Ranch in Abiquiu, New Mexico, made all the sweeter by the sharing with my sister, who came in from  far away .This was my first visit. I have wanted to attend for 20 years. Finally, I achieved my dream.
    Here I am with my teacher, Nancy Culmone.The course was titled Observation and Memory: Conveying Depth with Calligraphy, Marks, and Images.  She is demonstrating her technique of  using paste paper and acrylic paints. This is a new one for me. Well, I did it once before on end papers to make a book, but this was different.
 We covered the entire page, sometimes with marks; sometimes with contour writing; sometimes with actual writing, usually my own scribble, hardly calligraphy as I was formally trained.  I do see myself adding the formal writing later. Besides, there wasn't time.There is  always the time crunch the last day to complete your project in most workshops, I find. 
Really   I consider this was a painting course and what  a new medium and glorious adventure  that was for me.. We used Arches text wove, a lovely handmade paper I wrote on years ago when I lived in a city and such things were easy to buy. We mixed our colors, Golden brand acrylic,   with a handmade paste, Then came the adventure of spreading it on the page. Speaking of which, I  think I have completed enough for today on this page. More to follow..

Saturday, June 23, 2012

On the road

I am on the road, as you read this . Off in the mysterious desert landscape of New Mexico, where I will be immersing myself in the creative process. So, that means that  you, my faithful readers, will have to wait until I return to continue our ongoing literary path. I am sure I WILL HAVE MUCH TO TELL when I return 

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Yin , Yang

 "Yin Yang"is the name of this ceramic wall hanging . It is a symbol I think we have all seen, and maybe wondered about.
 In Chinese philosophy and art, the yin is the female element, which stands for darkness. The yang is the male element , the source of life and heat. The two sides are curved and the circle cannot be complete without the other half. Also, you can see a smaller circle of the the opposite color inside each half. Very harmonious, isn't it?
 There is the obvious  interpretation of male and female fitting nicely together. There is an element  of  each of us inside the other, those x and y chromosomes I guess.
Artistically is seems to me to be a really lovely form. Curved lines bring the eye in and out, always going around to where we started.There is that little element of the dark in the light to jar us a bit and make us take notice .
 This piece measured about 10" across.I chose to use a low fire technique so that I could get the white to have that lovely crackle effect. It is achieved by taking a very hot piece out of the kiln, and  quickly into a container with paper or wood to sort of shock it. If it doesn't break, then voila, you have the glaze forming tiny cracks which fill up with the black smokey color. This creates a more exciting look than just a flat white glaze, I think.  Looking at my creation I am reminded about how everything is interconnected, and how very intriguing that is in both life and art.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Art is Like Love

This is an original  calligraphy piece entitled "Art is Like Love". Then you read the next line. You have to be willing  to make a fool  of yourself. Therein is the challenge. It is all about taking a risk, facing the possibility that you will fall flat on your face, either with the person you care for  or the creation you are working on. 
Some of the risks  you can  calculate. On the art side it would be  what colors  I choose to use; what is my background going to look like;  my  letter and linear spacing. Going off the edge of the paper onto the mat with watercolor was a bit of a risk.This  is not the way one "usually" presents a finished piece.The  norm is to have the picture neatly inside the mat and frame. I wanted to get out of the box here to make my point, to push past the boundaries and take my viewer with me, even though it did not have  to be obvious to them why I took that approach. By taking the  risk of looking foolish, we often can create  our heart, or art's desire.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

This card is entitled "Grandfather" and comes from an original calligraphy piece I did as an 11"by 14" framed exhibit entry. I used sepia ink and a real feather to emphasize its native connection.The words seems to connect to  a lot of people. It talks about  how a Native American Grandfather  has two wolves fighting in his heart. One is vengeful and angry, the other is compassionate and loving. When his grandson ask which wolf will win this fight in his heart, the Grandfather replies, " The one I feed".
Like everyone, I have those two sides of me, the loving and the not so loving  side. I guess it is a choice I face every day, how am I going to react to the challenges in front of me . Ever notice how it isn't the monumental problems that make us lose it, but the small everyday frustrations? The bad drivers in front of us; the painfully slow check out when we are in a hurry; the being on hold with an important call for what seems to be forever? 
 Which wolf will win the fight in my heart? The attitude I choose to take. I can choose to smile and go on, or not. Putting it in black and white is a nice reminder that, yes, my response Is  my choice, not the others' behavior .  What a creative process we live just by our reactions to everyday life. It is  the ultimate creation.

Sunday, June 10, 2012


This is a calligraphy card I created  entitled "Patience". It is another of my "ripped torn" collage series, with handmade papers,gold  watercolor, and ink on a white background. 
These aren't my words, but they could be. It makes me smile becasue of the inherent irony in the choice of the words. Patience is a hard one for me.The dictionary defines patient as meaning "capable of tranquilly awaiting results or outcomes". I think it is the tranquil part that often eludes me. I suspect  I go into my head, or into my story, if I do not get a response, engage with the other person, or get my outcome soon. Maybe that is why the wonderful world of texting has become  so popular. We get our answer Now.   
 Art can be  an excellent teacher of patience. It does no good to try and rush the time it takes the ink to dry. If I don't wait, it will smudge, and so I have to put it aside until it is the correct time to continue. I think artists become very good muti taskers, because we learn to do different things while we are waiting for the glue or the paint to dry. Sometimes we can even work on more than one piece at its various stages, really because the materials dictate proceeding to our next step. 
So am  I able to take these lessons and put them into my every day life? I am trying.
 Any helpful hints from my readers?

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

The Peace Before Us

The peace before us.The peace before us. This is a 5" by 7" card I designed as part of my "ripped  torn" collage series. I decided to use my own words instead of another's  on this design and hopefully, those yet to follow on my creative journey.
 I remember looking out on the red rocks and noticing how peaceful the image looked to me.Shades of reddish browns, glimmering in the sun; ragged edges of rock formations that tucked into each other; a sense of harmony that nature always seems to offer to me.
This of course becomes the artist's  first challenge. How to convey these impressions in the creation?  I chose a Canson paper with a pattern for the darker shade. The lighter shades was something I had in my paper file.  There is always the element of surprise when one is tearing paper. So there is always the element of going with the flow, a way I like to work.I think the words I chose here came to me this way.
The materials actually help give direction, and then I adapt..Less is more. Empty space actually brings attention to the image before us. The vast, western blue sky sets off the smaller silhouettes of the mountains.Our attention then focuses on what is in that space. 
  I notice when I am out in nature I find it easier to look inward. So, if there is peace in front of my eyes, can I take it inside of me? This is a journey I am still on. 
Your thoughts?

Sunday, June 3, 2012

A Time To Every Purpose

" To every thing there is a season, and  a time to every purpose...", so says this quote from Ecclesiastes in the Bible. I found it such an inspiration I used it for this calligraphy piece with the same name. I had these small pieces of paper  I wanted to use, and each of these thoughts seemed to fit nicely in a linear pattern. Start with function, then go to form. Art has many paths. 
We probably know it better as a song we all listened to. But what a great concept,  for thoughts, ideas, meanings. Isn't it true  that every thing does seem have a natural be a time period? It can year in our life; a moment of waiting for that anticipated phone call; word about a job or an acceptance to  a show. Sometimes it can seem to take forever to get out of our grief or pain. Yet that day of pure joy can go away in just a flash. 
There seems to be a natural rhythm to all things. I am looking at a quote from Winston Churchill which says " If you are going through hell, keep going..". In other words,  something will be waiting for you if you just keep going on". I guess we have to trust.
In an artistic sense , we could say our work progresses at a natural rhythm.We can try to rush it along, but the ink will dry when it is ready; the watercolors will bleed into each other when they are too wet;the clay will dry when it is ready; the piece will be finished when it is time.  My, I feel reflective today. 
Any thoughts to share on this?