An Artist's Quest

teaching art

No Plans…a Hard Thing for a PRE-crastinator

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This collage in my Art Journal is the result of a morning of monoprint madness

I’m a pre-crastinator – that’s not a typo – I am the opposite of a pro-crastinator. This has its pluses and minuses. When you are a pre-crastinator like me you are always prepared and you always have a plan, and lots of times that is a great way to be. It can cause anxiety when a plan isn’t forming with others in my life or when I don’t have all the pieces together to get everything done. In terms teaching it is great because I always have the materials all set, my lesson plans printed, demos made hand outs ready etc all well before the class. But sometimes in art making, pre-crastination can block inspiration in the moment. So because of my proclivity for control I have forced myself to loosen up by working in mediums that have a life of their own. One that I have been re-exploring is mono-printing.

Mono-printing is where you ink up a plate (traditionally it was metal but I use a soft rubbery plate called a Gelli plate) then you create texture and interest with a variety of techniques. I have been using a tiny 4×6 inch gelli plate and creating a bunch of small prints in a color or textural theme. The size and the ease of the printing helps me break out of the plan and lets my inner pre-crastinator take a break. It’s easy to experiment and make 20 wee prints in a couple of hours. I have been printing on rice paper, tissue paper and book pages to great effect and when I’m done I have a stash pile of papers to play with – NO PLANNING REQUIRED!

Above is an example of play date I had with my gelli plate not too long ago. I took those pieces and cut them up to create this collage in my art journal. Pretty cool –right?

I guess the lesson is that it’s good to push up against your nature – your inner urges a little bit and make them uncomfortable, sometimes, something wonderful will come of it.

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this collage uses more mono-prints printed on old letters, phone book and journal pages

PS. I’m teaching a Gelli print to Collage class and an Encaustic Collage class at Pokey Bolton’s Craft Napa event in January 2018 here is a link to info and registration. Sometime in July I’ll  post my fall 2017-2018 teaching line up for The Bishop’s Ranch – I hope I can meet you at one of those classes where you’ll meet my pre-crastinator self and maybe my inspirational pro-crastinator will come along for the ride too.


The Presence of Absence Revisted

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Buttercup prints

I went for a hike along the trails here at The Bishop’s Ranch yesterday morning. The sun was bright and warm, tempered by a brisk spring wind. As I walked through the heirloom apple orchard the nearly century old trees, twisted and bedraggled with dead branches, persisted in blooming, they resist the urge each year to give in to winter and choose instead, with what energy they have, to embrace spring. Thanks to the abundant winter rains this year the trees are surrounded by carpet of green dotted with delicate, bright yellow buttercups. As I bent down to pick a few a sweet memory flooded through – forty-five years or more ago I bent to pick these same buttercups. That day I stood in a meadow with my sister. The meadow had a little creek that ran through it and housed two fat ponies and a burro. While they grazed idly by we picked buttercups. We picked buttercups not by the handful but by the armful. We truly filled buckets with buttercups to bring to the house. We filled every nook and cranny with buttercup bouquets.

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Left is the negative space print from around the buttercups on the right is the ghost print

Yesterday I brought my bundle of buttercups to my studio. I am preparing for a mixed media nature journaling class I’m teaching in May here at the Ranch (class info). I have been experimenting with printing organic objects. So I inked up my printing plate and placed my buttercups down, laid the paper on and rubbed. When the print is lifted what showed is the negative space around the buttercup. Then I gently peeled up the buttercups and made what is called a ghost print of what was left behind under the buttercups. I found these negative space prints and their ghosts to contain a simple quiet beauty and while I was making them I began to think of my father who passed away last fall. I have been working on a slide show for the celebration of life we are having for him next weekend. While I have done the best to find images of him throughout is life from birth to death, to somehow encapsulate who he was in one slide show, I know is folly. There are gaps of course, missing pieces things he loved not captured in film, people whom he loved and loved him not pictured. The gaps and missing pieces in this slide show are like the negative space buttercup prints- they depict the presence of absence the space around the life. And like the ghost prints it is just a whisper of the vibrant life he led. I am grateful that his memory comes to me in many ways through photos and celebrations, and quiet buttercup prints reminding me to leave space for the presence of absence.


Time is Racing

Somehow I can’t keep up with my life these days; well that’s not quite true, I’m keeping up but just barely.  Workshops are happening, my work at The Bishop’s Ranch is happening but I feel stuck in quick sand, I’m running but it feels more like slogging.  I keep thinking I’ll get caught up – today is the day – and then the next day is the same. I’ll keep trying – I promised to blog more but bare with me.  I want to keep you in the loop about what I’m up too so….

This weekend I taught this weekend at The Bishop’s Ranch my Winter Creative Workshop. It was all about making art papers and making personal, artful gifts and cards with the stenciled, stamped and sprayed papers, take a peek:

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But wait there’s more! I’m having a Studio Sale December 1st-3rd, here is a preview and a link to details STUDIO SALE… PLEASE COME AND INVITE FRIENDS:

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Still MORE! Commit to your creative self in 2017 come make art with ME! WORKSHOP INFO

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Art-filled Weekend

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Encaustic Collage Weekend: my crew – all smiles!

I just wrapped up a great weekend with 16 adventurous creative women, who in two days learned a bunch of new techniques and made a vast array of interesting, personal, playful and insightful art. It is always rewarding to share what I know and then see the different directions that one medium can go. In just 2 days I could see each student find their voice and unique style.  I always learn something along the way too, a new twist on something I’ve been doing for ages or in answering a question I never thought to ask before.  So I give thanks to these women who trusted me with their creative hearts and dared to go on a creative adventure with me!

 

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Work to Do

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A demo page from my class at MAC on Mixed Media Art Journaling

A couple of weekends ago I taught a Mixed Media Art Journaling class at the Mendocino Art Center. The center is located in the quaint artsy coastal town of Mendocino in on the Northern California coast. It’s a beautiful little town and a lovely place to teach. On Saturday, after teaching, I made my way to the local bookstore and as I often do, I found myself thumbing through the poetry section. This poem of Mary Oliver’s spoke to me and I used it as my inspiration for my Sunday demonstration in my workshop the next day.

 I Go Down to The Shore

I go down to the shore in the morning

and depending on the hour the waves

are rolling in our moving out,

and I say, ok, I am miserable,

what shall –

what should I do? And the sea says

in it’s lovely voice:

Excuse me, I have work to do.

                              –Mary Oliver, A Thousand Mornings

The poem speaks to where I am right now- “I have work to do”. I had a summer with busy parts and lazy parts, visits, travels and guests. It is wonderful to get out of the routine, get out of the ordinary, to play with the rhythm of the day and the rhythm of the week. But at some point it is time to return to ordinary time. There is comfort in the return – the structure of rising early, exercise, and getting down to the business at hand. This week was that for me, doing Ranch work, making sketches for a commission, meetings, emails, even this blog, all of it. My to-do list has been sitting ignored for some time now and this week it’s boxes were checked, things completed new items added. It is both daunting and invigorating to return. So forgive me if I brush past you in my bustle, like the sea, “I have work to do”.

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Detail of journal page

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Rock On…

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Women’s Quest rocks this mandala meditation session

Lately I have been designing mixed modality meditation workshops with a variety of different groups that come to The Bishop’s Ranch.  This week I had the opportunity to work with Colleen Cannon and her Women’s Quest retreat (Women’s Quest Site).  Colleen leads women’s empowerment retreats and takes women all over the country to go on “adventures for body, mind and spirit”.  She asked me to design an art meditation for her group during their stay at the Ranch. Last night I got to work with this delightful group of women.  During the day they had biked for many miles around Sonoma county and after dinner joined me in a meditation session that lead to these beautiful intention filled stones.  Each color on the stone relates to an intention or goal.  I had them each make two stones, one to take home with them and one to leave in a little meditation spot here at the Ranch-  I plan to do this project with all the summer campers this year and as the summer passes the rock cairns of good intentions will grow!


OM….

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I painted this painting on Mother’s Day – time in my studio was my gift! This 24×24″ painting and a 24×48″ painting from this series both sold this week along with two art quilts!

I haven’t written in awhile… sorry….when I got fired from my teaching job in late March I imagined so much time and space to make art and blog with you and meditate and ponder the meaning of life.  But as Aristotle said, horror vacui, or nature abhors a vacuum, and while I was worrying about how to make money when my job ended I caste a fist full of seeds into the universe.  Well I guess a lot of those seeds found fertile ground and now I need to consider thinning my crop down to the things I most want to do. I saw a Venn-diagram recently with 3 overlapping circles; one reads what you are passionate about the next reads what you are good at and the third reads what people will pay you for…..and where they all cross over is the sweet spot – where talent, passion and marketability meet.  Simple enough in theory but harder to find on a day to day basis.  When I finished teaching April 1st I felt like this was an opportunity- I was just given some space to find the sweet spot- but in my fear of no income I have been filling up my every minute taking on every job that comes my way.  I have taken on more graphic design work, more work at The Bishop’s Ranch, more workshop teaching, more sewing jobs…. you get the idea. In some ways it feels good, I know I can make the money when I need to, but now I need to pull back and do that thinning of my possibilities garden I was talking about before and find the sweet spot in my personal Venn-diagram.  This week I got a little clue about which way to wander.  On Sunday I taught an Encaustic Collage Workshop for 12 wonderful women- they had a good day I had a good day and I felt financially well compensated.  Also this week, kind of by accident, I sold 4 pieces of art- big pieces- and when told the prospective buyers the price no one flinched.  So I think I’m beginning to zero in on my talent, my passion, and what people will pay for. So here’s to searching for the sweet spot and listening to what the universe is telling you!

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I painted this smaller 8×10″ piece at the same time as the Buddha above