An Artist's Quest

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Plein Aire drawing with Twenty-six 1st graders!

1st graders on Plein Aire drawing field trip to historic Felta School House outside of Healdsburg, CA

1st graders on Plein Aire drawing field trip to historic Felta School House outside of Healdsburg, CA

I couldn’t pass up a quick post about my morning plein aire drawing with twenty-six first graders today. We walked down to the historic one room school house just down the lane from their school and with clip boards, pencils, pens and crayons. I did a little demo pointing out all the shapes they know and then set them loose (after taking away my demo of course). Here are some pics of them working and then a few examples of their work.

Siena 1st grade

Siena 1st grade

Eddie 1st grade

Eddie 1st grade

Alitha 1st grade

Alitha 1st grade

People, Pages, and Pantoums

A montage of some of this weekends partipants.

A montage of some of this weekends partipants.

I lead a great workshop this weekend here at The Bishop’s Ranch. It was a wonderful weaving of words and images, to create both visual and verbal poetry. I worked with writer and poet Laurie Glover, and we took turns guiding the group. I had laid out bins of papers, books, photos, cards all kinds of visuals I have gathered over the years. I had everyone choose between 15-20 pieces, I encouraged them not to judge or plan just pick up what ever they were drawn to and not question it. Then they edited those down to 10 things. Laurie then led them through the first stages of writing the poem using the images as the starting point. She had everyone write a list of ten simple lines jumping from the images such as “I am a cloud”, or “I am the grass” then the list was rewritten with a verb and again with an adjective and then a prepositional phase. We wrote our list of lines right on the white paper covering the table to keep it from being too precious. We circled favorite lines then Laurie led us in arranging them in the pantoum form. A pantoum is a form that originated in fifteenth century Malaysia and prescribes a certain order and repetition of lines. Intermingled in writing of the poem I guided people through making the collage pages using some of the images gathered, adding, pockets, and curtains and embellishments to make a rich visual to go with the rich writing. Each person emerged with a 4-8 page accordion book of collage pages with an accompanying pantoum poem. It turned out to be a wonderful almost magical process. It was lovely to see each person’s poem book emerge. Above are some of the fourteen people gathered in a creative flurry this weekend, below are some of the books and pages that emerged. I wish you could see them in person. We plan to offer it again so maybe you can come next time!

Just a small collection of the wonder works that emerged this weekend.

Just a small collection of the wonderful works that emerged this weekend.

A Stitch’n Week

Quilter, friend and blog follower doing some hand work - A long shot of the Pavilion with machines and fabric everywhere!

Quilter, friend and blog follower doing some hand work – A long shot of the Pavilion with machines and fabric everywhere!

I spent the last 5 days stitching till I dropped. The Bishop’s Ranch hosted it’s 4th annual Quilt Retreat and the place was packed with sewing machines, fabric, thread, creativity and inspiration. The retreat is designed so folks come and work on any project they want there aren’t any instructors or product pitches each person does their own thing if you want input there are lots of skilled women to give their two cents worth but if you just want to stitch and do your thing no one tells you you’re doing it wrong. For the 3rd year in a row my mom came to sew, she worked on a quilt top of beautiful batiks I of course brought a huge stack of things to work on. Those of you who have followed my blog for a while may have seen some of these images. In the last year I have had the chance to fly an number of times and started taking photos out the window at take off then I spend the flight drawing the aerial view using the Brushes app on my iPad. These I had printed on lovely cotton Sateen at Spoonflower.com, then I stitched and stitched and stitched……they are about 30×40 inches and I think they look great. I need to block them, all that stitching made them a little warped an wonkie (if any one has some tips on blocking please, please share!) When I have them flattened out I’ll trim and bind and make them ready to hang. I have about 4 more aerial images I plan to have printed up large….maybe even bigger I’d love to show them somewhere so if any of you have ideas on that too let me know. I’ll post some pics when I have them all done. I’m so glad I gathered with all these wonderful women for the week and got a surge of stitch’n energy!

Aerial View of Alexander Valley - Close-up of stitching

Aerial View of Alexander Valley – Close-up of stitching

Aerial View of Willamette Valley - Close-up of stitching

Aerial View of Willamette Valley – Close-up of stitching

Aerial View of Salt Flats in SF Bay - Close-up of stitching

Aerial View of Salt Flats in SF Bay – Close-up of stitching

Seizing a Golden Moment!

Driving across the Golden Gate Bridge yesterday I snapped this golden pics!

Driving across the Golden Gate Bridge yesterday I snapped this golden pics!

Yesterday afternoon I was lucky to be in the passenger seat crossing the Golden Gate Bridge, the sky was blue the bridge was orange and my phone was in my hand. I turned the camera on as we pulled out of the tunnel on the north end and started snapping. I wasn’t sure why – but once again I was trying to put myself in the way of beauty, in this case, to acknowledge the moment and capture it too! Today I opened the photos up and played with them in several photo manipulation apps (If you’re interested I ran the photos through Photoshop for iPad, Photo Toaster and Snap Seed). I love the power to capture and then manipulate a moment all right there in the palm of my hand! I already uploaded this montage to Spoonflower fabric printing service and my fabric will be in my hands in a few weeks…..I promise to post after I sew a fabulous dress or bag or whatever this fabric becomes!

Getting Graphic in the New Year

Well the New Year is almost 3 weeks in and I haven’t gotten much time in my studio. I have lots of ideas and lots of inspiration but time hasn’t been on my side these past few weeks. So I decided I should show you a little bit of work related art. As many of you know I am the resident artist at The Bishop’s Ranch retreat center in northern California. In my role I teach some classes, but mostly I do graphic design work. There are invitations, cards, flyers, posters and mailers, but in January I get to do a bit of logo/image design which is always fun and sometimes daunting. The way it works is a committee comes up with a theme for the year then they hand me a slogan for both the Annual Fund drive and Summer Camp and cut me loose. Sometimes I’m stumped for a while but then in some quite space (usually on a hike or in the shower) it comes to me, an image to illuminate the words. Sometimes I have to take a few stabs at it but usually it moves pretty quickly once the idea comes. These past few weeks I’ve been working with this year’s theme; here they are. I’m pretty pleased with them.

summer camp 2015 logo- I love the retro feel with the colors and font

summer camp 2015 logo- I love the retro feel with the colors and font

Logo for Annual Fund - I feel good about this star map with a little constellation of the Ranches beloved Chapel of St George in the center.

Logo for Annual Fund – I feel good about this star map with a little constellation of iconic Ranch chapel in the center.

I hope to get in my studio next week and have something to show you but until then check out the link to the retreat I’m leading at The Bishop’s Ranch in February. Creativity Bound class info and registration. I’m working with poet Laurie Glover and we will guide you in writing a poem and creating a collage accordion book. It will be a wonderful process where images inform words and words inform images. Hope you can join us. If you are coming from far away arrangements can be made to stay over at the Ranch for extra nights, hope to see you then!

Put Yourself in the Way of Beauty: Moonrise to Sunrise

Friends gather around the fire and watch in awe as sparks fly.

Friends gather around the fire and watch in awe as sparks fly.

Last night my family and some hearty friends continued an 18-year tradition. We gather annually on January 6th no matter the conditions or day of the week to burn our Christmas trees and to recognize the beginning of Epiphany. I’ll give you the dictionary definition of epiphany here to chew on for a moment:

epiphany -noun, plural epiphanies.

  1. (initial capital letter) a Christian festival, observed on January 6, commemorating the manifestation of Christ to the gentiles in the persons of the Magi; Twelfth-day.
  2. an appearance or manifestation, especially of a deity.
  3. a sudden, intuitive perception of or insight into the reality or essential meaning of something, usually initiated by some simple, homely, or commonplace occurrence or experience.

Definitions 1 and 3 (and possibly 2) were certainly in play last night as we gathered around the fire pit in our yard – hot coals from the fire we started late in the afternoon were ready to received the first greenery. We started off slow with some wreaths and cedar swag then moved on to our pile of Christmas trees. As the sparks began to fly on our little ritual, a daily ritual began in the sky; a golden orange melon-shaped waning gibbous moon began to rise over the hills directly to the east of us. This nightly celestial miracle, that often goes unnoticed, rose last night inline with our humble fire pit and as we threw another dry tree on the fire we watched amazed as the sparks reached up as if to join the moon’s glow. Last night’s tradition and friendship put me in the way of beauty – Thank You! This morning as I performed my morning ritual and rolled out my yoga mat, the sun began it daily celestial miracle and rose with glowing edges of deep orange emerging through a peachy golden mist. This morning bleary eyed and grumbling at the chill I was put in the way of beauty once again – Thank You! See if you can put yourself in the way of beauty – today and every day.

“Put yourself in the way of beauty”- Cherly Strayed from her book Wild.

Making Order Out of Chaos: and checking it off my list!

This 24"x18" piece was made by cutting a rearranging - order in chaos

This 24″x18″ piece was made by cutting a rearranging – order in chaos, read below to find out how

I know I am not the only one immersed in merry chaos. This time of year is both overwhelming and wonderful. Parties, visitors, excursions, gift making and taking, travel and arrivals, menus and prepping all in the midst of regular work and life filled with the usual laundry and groceries and dog walks. Now as many of you know I am a list maker. I love my list and my clipboard; I love to make squares and write my tasks black marker then with my designated sharpie pen mark each square in. I feel most chaotic when my list is long and I am unable to fill in any blocks, and it drives me nuts when I complete a task that isn’t on my list while the list remains unfinished, what to do in this situation? Well as anyone of my personality type knows you write the thing just completed on the list then fill in the square, of course! I’m heading our to hang out with family at my folks for a week on Monday so my list is long but you can see my satisfaction with this one there are only 3 squares unmarked! I had to start a new list but never mind this one was almost fully complete – a minor Christmas miracle I’d say.

My almost completed list

My almost completed list

With this order to chaos frame of mind you will see why I found such satisfaction with these new art pieces. My process was fun; first create chaos then find order in it. Early in December I taught a surface design and collage class here at The Bishop’s Ranch (see December 9th post). I made a few samples for the class and demos during the class. I used stencils and sprayed watercolors, the carved stamps and printed, and printed bubble wrap and stenciled some more and created this lovely layered chaos. I didn’t plan or ponder much just kept adding until time was up (lunch). Such fun in just letting the surface evolve no preconceived notions no real agenda just adding and layering. So after the weekend workshop I had these lovely large sheets of design paper. What to do? Well I cut and colored and arranged with a quilters eye to create the piece above. I love the order and the chaos, the pattern and then jumbling the pattern. It felt very satisfying creating this work. It had been months since I created art for no reason at all – not a commission, or sample for a workshop, or graphic design for a client – just art for no reason at all – it felt good. The piece below is also using one of these sheets of paper uncut but the bare black trees and the flying birds bring order to the lovely chaos below. I love these pieces. It reminds me I need to break away from my list more often and make a jubilant jumble and merry mess more often then set my orderly self to arranging this beautiful chaos into art that embraces both the unruly and the orderly.

Surface design sample for December workshop.

Surface design sample for December workshop.

a 24"x36" piece made from also from workshop paper.

a 24″x36″ piece made from also from workshop paper.

Here’s hoping your holidays are filled with merry, messy, lovely chaos. See you in the New Year!

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