Thursday, August 25, 2016

Sidebar Survey in Progress

I am thinking about doing more how-to/instructive posts, perhaps as just part of the regular blog or maybe as mini online classes (either here or on a separate, private blog.) This content might be delivered in the form of my usual photo/text posts and/or short, simple videos. First though, I need to know what media/technique/topics you, my dear readers, are most interested in learning about from me. So think about the kinds of thngs you've seen me do here on the blog and pop into my sidebar for the poll. You can also leave comments on this post. Remember, consider your answer in terms of what I do; for example, if you really want to know about encaustics, you'd be out of luck because that isn't a medium that I work in. Think about my interests and style (I'm not big on a lot of collage for instance but I do a lot of original drawing/painting.) I've listed a few things to choose from in the poll; you can choose more than one. If any of those things happen to be something you'd like to learn about, let me know. And again, if you want to provide a more in-depth answer (or the poll doesn't work,) leave a comment.

Other things to keep in mind:

  • Single instructional posts or a short series of posts would probably run here on the main blog. You could drop something into my tip jar if you felt motivated to do so but otherwise, free for all to see.
  • More complex/in-depth/lengthy instruction would be probably be on a separate private blog; you would send me your email and I'd send an invite back to you to join the blog. These classes would be low cost and/or by donation and you'd have lifetime access. My only firm stipulation would be that you not pin anything from that private blog/online class.
  • My video/editing skills are still in development so any videos would probably be in a "watch me work/listen to me talk" style. You'd have to be OK with that. I have a decent camera and a tripod but I don't have the brain power/computer program/time/energy right now to whip super-duper uber professional videos...

Nothing is set in stone right now. In fact, I haven't even gotten the chisel out of the toolbox yet. For now, I just need to get a sense of what you all come here to see and learn about. Baby stepping toward online teaching...

EDIT: Thank you to everyone who took the time to vote! In the end, most people wanted more information/instruction about art journaling followed closely by watercolor and drawing from imagination. This gives me a place to start when developing blog/teaching content which I hope will arrive in this space early 2017 (I've got to get through this first insane semester at work. After January, my student load will drop by half and I'll have much more free time for my own stuff.)

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Show Work Wanes; Teaching Looms

I've had my head down the last couple of weeks, tinkering away on my wall doll sculptures for my October show. I have 17 complete; I'm aiming for 21 in this series. I have the makings for a small side series (same technique/different characters) but we'll see how much I have time/interest for in the upcoming six weeks.

The new school year is here and as I've been working on the show, I'm beginning to feel the familiar pull of other projects that need my attention. Bulletin boards, lesson plans, and the school library are calling my name. Outside of work, I am also practicing with chalk pastels to prepare for an annual hometown event called "Pastels on the Plaza." I've always wanted to participate but most businesses already seem to have artists that they call upon year after year. However...remember when I said that I was excited to hang my art at the local library because it meant new eyes and perhaps new opportunities? Yep. That's what generated the invitation to do a square representing the library. Anyway, "Pastels" is happening Saturday October 1st and the show will go up the next day. The show reception is the following Friday evening...lots to do before then.

I also have several other art projects that have been piling up and as my attention to show production starts to wane, it is only in the last week or so that I've actually started to see those things in my peripheral vision. This is a very typical work pattern for me when it comes to shows; I spend a couple months caught up in white-hot concentration and then the rest of the year, I do other things. I am forever trying to change this habit as I'd surely get more done if I worked year round but school usually dominates my time mid-August to mid-June. I rarely have enough energy leftover for such an intense process as making work for a show.

In about four or five more weeks, I'll concede (reluctantly) that I've run out of time for making new pieces and I'll turn my attention to the nitty-gritty details of the show such as labels, pricing, advertising, and signage. That stuff always takes much more time than I anticipate, mostly because it is so much less exciting. It is important though and I have found that my shows are more successful if I really make an effort on all those small details that bring the show together. I'll post on that process once I get there.

In the meantime, you'll see my post content start to shift to other topics and (fair warning) my post frequency might also change. Due to a staff member's maternity leave, the middle/high school English/art classes are HUGE this fall; We'll be breaking the group (about 85 kids) into many small groups and projects but it still means a lot of squirmy bodies per day that I'm trying to wrangle into art-making. I'm a little exhausted just thinking about it but it always seems worth it in the end.

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Bear Feet & Bear Belly

It's been a while since we've had some Marley Mania around these parts so here goes...

Because I'm sure you've wondered, Marley will show you how a Bear washes his feet:
1) Back support is particularly important. Bear feet are big so get comfortable.
2) Grasp the dirty paw with a clean one to keep it steady.
3) Lick enthusiastically.
4) Surrender your modesty because Momma is going to grab her camera.

aaaaand...one more thing...here's a bit of Bear belly love to soften the edges of your day:

Monday, August 8, 2016

Using Every Last Second of Summer Vacation

Soon I need to start turning the bulk of my attention to preparing for the new school year; this is the last full week that I can focus almost exclusively on work for Figmenta. It took a while but once I found my groove, the summer days flew by. I have lucked upon a great source for the perfect-sized wood blocks I need to create these "wall dolls;" a good friend with a large collection of lumber is cutting and sanding blocks for me for free. With this fortuitous development, I have decided that my show will feature my assemblage works only. It is a huge departure from hanging paintings for nine years and I'm sure it will take many in the community by surprise. I hope my audience will be as delighted by the final product as I have been in the creation process. I'm confident that I'll come back around to painting; my ideas just need some time to percolate and mature before I approach the paints again.


Meanwhile, I'll keep constructing these characters, trying to get as many done before October as possible. The space I show in is huge. My "Cyborg Relations" are long (approximately 18") but they aren't wide so it will take more than a few pieces to make to wall space look full. The venue (a local furniture store that participates in our monthly art walk) has two levels so I could hang paintings in other parts of the store. However, my town's library offered to host my work on its walls and since the library is a new venue for me, I am going to take the bulk of my painted work there for display. It is always fun to push out into a fresh space that taps into an entirely different audience. The more eyeballs on the work, the more chances for opportunity to knock. 

Thank you for your warm encouragement throughout this process! As I start back to work (and thus diversify my art-making again,) my blog content will become more varied. I actually have been doing other art aside from the assemblages but I haven't taken pictures of anything but show pieces this summer.

Thursday, August 4, 2016

When a Spark Becomes a Firestorm

Although I've been quiet here at my blog, a creative fire has been raging in my studio as I continue to bring parts together for this crazy sculpture/assemblage project that has gripped my attention for the past several weeks. As usual, once I decided to trust my instincts, a small spark of an idea became a firestorm. I am gleefully buried beneath a mountain of bits and baubles: beads, charms, spools of wire, pipe fittings, springs, buttons, screws, nails, nuts, bolts, keys, game pieces, jump rings, and gears. What grand, silly fun I am having! I can now say that I spent an entire two hours of my life building a miniature ray gun. Last week, I whittled a peg leg and constructed a hook hand. I have giggled and whooped in triumph.

Interestingly, as I work on these sculptures, my normally unsteady hands do not shake. This is a phenomenon familiar to people with Parkinson's: projects & processes that require intense concentration and skillful manual dexterity often calm tremors. Dopamine, the neurotransmitter in the brain that PD patients lose (which in turn leads to lack of muscle control,) spikes during rewarding activities. I am quite literally high on art right now.

At this point, I am approximately 95% sure that my show will be comprised entirely of these three-dimensional, wall-hanging characters. I simply cannot deny my heart's desire and I have to see this project through until the embers of madness and delight begin to cool. I hope that doesn't happen any time soon as I feel like I have just begun to explore where this inferno of inspiration and joy might take me.
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