An Artist's Quest

The Bishop’s Ranch

My Life is a Wagon Wheel

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Huginn & Muninn mixed media on wood panel 24×48″

My life is a wagon wheel. What? A wagon wheel? Now hear me out. Those of you who have followed me for a while know, I am an artistic nomad – mixed media, encaustic, collage, painting, fabric art, quilting, clothing design. Sometimes I wish I could just stick with one thing. Maybe if I stuck with one thing, I would get really good at it, right? Focus for heaven’s sake! Find my inner Monet and paint a lily pond or hay stack over and over. I guess it’s obvious I’m no Monet, but I do love to make and create. If I don’t have a creative outlet, I’m a bear to live with, just ask my family. So here is my wheel analogy. Creativity, creative forces (perhaps God even?) is the center of the wheel. I am on the outer rim and each spoke of the wheel is a way in. I have to think and problem solve and imagine and create my way to the center. So each endeavor gives me another slice of my creative center, each attempt gets me closer to the whole or at least I’m betting on it working that way because that is who I am. Even if sometimes it is crazy making to juggle all these balls maybe one day one of those balls will plop down on my head and say “concentrate on me, go down my spoke only” but until then I will keep rolling on my wagon wheel theory of life.

This is a way to show you some of the things I’ve been working on – you may have noticed that I’m not walking down the blogging spoke of the wheel as often as I used to, here are a few reasons why.

Teaching:

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 workshop making icons for All Souls day at Incarnation Church in Santa Rosa

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2 day workshop creating Guardian Angels at The Bishop’s Ranch.

Writing:

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My latest article in Quilting Arts Magazine on creating fabric by the yard from small mono prints. Purchase magazine

Making: (see ravens at top of article)

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Mother Bear mixed media collage on canvas panel 11×14″

5.Home is where the heart is small

Art quilt part of a challenge donation put out by Quilting Arts magazine to give as gifts to homeless folks transitioning to permanent housing. 14×14″

Entrepreneurial endeavors:

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My work at Gallery 300 at The Barlow in Sebastopol CA

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Me, my print maker son Ivan, and blacksmith husband Jack at our Family Art Sale at The Bishop’s Ranch

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My line of Cashmere and Modal Scarves go to my website to see detail pictures and to purchase – Website

WOW- that’s a lot even for me! I’m always looking for new places to teach and share my creative energy so if you have any ideas for me let me know. Soon I’ll catch you up on my workshops in 2019.

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Still Life

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I have been busy, I feel like I’m always busy – I am in perpetual motion and while I proport to be an artist not enough of my time is spent making art. By far I spend more time promoting my art workshops, designing new workshops, writing about new techniques, and teaching than I do making. I am forever in an internal conversation about the balance of teaching and making. I do enjoy both and to be frank I couldn’t make a living on just the art – people hunger to open up their creative hearts and I love to help them through my workshops. But sometimes I want to make for the making, not because I’m going to teach a workshop and I need a sample, not because I’m going to write a magazine article and need to pitch an idea – just make. So, this week despite an anvils weight of anxiety about all the things I need to do for an upcoming workshop and art sale, despite the fact that there are always contacts I should be making and connections I should be deepening, and despite the absolute mess in my studio, despite all this I chose to make. And what do you suppose I chose to paint? A still life. What a wonderful term – Still Life.

Stillnoun -deep silence and calm; stillness – Synonyms quietness, silence, stillness, hush, soundlessness, noiselessness, calmness, calm, tranquility, peace, peacefulness, peace and quiet, serenity

Lifenoun – the condition that distinguishes animals and plants from inorganic matter, including the capacity for growth, reproduction, functional activity, and continual change preceding death – Synonyms existence, being, living, animation, aliveness, entity, sentience, creation

What an interesting parring – perhaps that is why artists are drawn to create a still life. Something in the tug between stillness and animation the juxtaposition of tranquility and change. A still life is capturing a quiet moment in the act of changing. The fruit will wither the flower fade the moment in between is caught up in the still life.

Unbeknownst to me – in the chaos of my week, my month, my year – still life called. Despite that fact that I didn’t have time for making this week, I didn’t have room for making this week- still life called. I’m so glad it did and I’m so glad I listened. The making of these two paintings calmed me, readied me, revived me. The stillness in the action brought me back into my body and breath and made me ready for this weekend’s teaching – this month’s selling and showing.

I give thanks to the universe for showing me this perfect persimmon, this fecund pomegranate and whispering in my ear to stop, to make and observe this quiet, abundant moment – to allow and honor – Still Life.

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Feeling Scrappy

scrap·py –(ˈskrapē/)

adjective: scrappy – consisting of disorganized, untidy, or incomplete parts. Synonyms – feisty, tenacious, determined, persistent

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Table full of giveaway plaid and two of ten scrappy plaid, wonky circle blocks

This week I sat in with one of the many quilting groups that sets up shop at the Ranch. This group calls themselves “Ranch Hands” – they are an eclectic bunch of traditional, modern, and everything in between, quilters. Usually when I join in I’ll have a project I want to finish or a particular goal in mind but this week I didn’t have time or inclination to figure anything out so I just brought my sewing machine and some thread and decided to make something from the scrap table. For the non-quilters out there – quilters love their fabric, they buy it, store it, save it, use it then there is always some left over. Generally, not being a wasteful bunch, they don’t want to throw out their beautiful scraps, so they bring left over fabric in all sizes and place on the give away table. So the scrap table was my inspiration. Someone had brought an array of plaids. None of the swaths of plaid where larger than about 12 inches square– but there where a lot to choose from so I got busy picking my colors. In the mix there were just a few reds so that became the middle of my wonky, scrappy, blocks. I created 5 improvisational log cabin blocks using yellows and golds, and 5 more using greens all with a red square in the center. Once I had them all laid out I thought I should break from the plaid grid of the whole thing and put in some improvisational curves. The result was 10 squares part gold part green. Now a purpose emerged – I would put these all together in a long autumnal table runner. Going back the the scrap table I found strips of green with a circle print and they were already cut 3 inches wide! Onward I went backing, quilting and binding all from the bounty of the scrap table. My scrappy improv quilt fits the definition above: a bit disorganized and untidy but also wonderfully feisty and determined to become something from nothing. It was a pleasure to step away from a plan and just let inspiration rule the day. A good reminder that sometimes not knowing what you’re doing can lead you down an interesting path.

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Finished autumnal table runner


This is Now

This is Now 2 panels 48x48"

This is Now – 48×48″ paint on wood panel

It is Tuesday morning and I’m enjoying the rain that continues to fall outside my window. I donned by rubber-boots, raincoat and rain-pants and went for my first rubber-boot walk of what I hope will be a nice wet rainy season here in parched Sonoma County, California. Fully protected from the downpour, I could rejoice in the sound, smell, touch and even taste of the rain. I found myself fully in the moment, relishing the plopping sound of the fat raindrops as they accumulated on the bay laurel and released to the leafy forest floor below. Oh and the smell, the smell is divine, a mixture of the spicy smell of the bay trees and the licorice smell of the wild fennel tall and dry along the road as well as a smell that is all its own – the smell of fresh rain on dry ground – to be more precise petrichor. I didn’t know this word until my friend Jennifer shared it with me. Petrichor means “the earthy scent produced when rain falls on dry grounds”. A pair of Australian scientists coined the word in 1964 and I found a surprisingly beautiful video that shows how this aroma is released into the air here is the link.

So I am blessed this day to have experienced this feast of the senses this morning and to be reminded once again to observe this brilliant moment. That phrase has become a bit of a mantra from me and I hope it will remind you to seek wonder every day.

The painting above is a new one. It is titled This is Now. I finished  the painting last week and hung at Gallery 300 in Sebastopol CA, yesterday. The inspiration for this piece came from an entry in my sketchbook from some time ago that said only this: This is Now, this is Today – Yesterday is gone – Tomorrow is not yet here – What shall I do? – Who shall I be?


Guardian Angels

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Gaia- Mother of Life, Protectress of the Planet

When time are tough the tough get creative. A couple of weeks ago, if you could sift through all the other craziness, there was a Global Climate Action Summit held in San Francisco. This by all reports was a serious, inclusive, transformative, creative event. It was a powerful reminder that we can act even if our government isn’t. California Gov. Jerry Brown stood out as a leader in this realm as our federal government chooses to put its head in the sand. The summit was held despite our current governing body. The Summits success as a creative energizing force was an inspirational that when things aren’t going our way it’s not time to give up it’s time to get creative.

Lately I’ve been creating Guardian Angels and Spirit Guide “icons”. Some are serious others silly, some meditative others magical and some a mix of all. Yesterday I completed my Guardian of the Earth – Gaia. I was inspired by the Global Climate Action Summit to get in my studio and create this icon. A protective mother at once soft and strong. She holds the earth like a precious child, a fragile, delicate being. A reminder that we should all treat this planet, our island home, like a grandmother treats a crying baby.

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Some of my “icons” are more playful like my Floppsie Patron Saint to Productivity and Multitasking. As the oldest child of four (Floppsie, Moppsie, Cottontail and of course Peter) she has always had to take on responsibility in the family. She knows how to get things done and never procrastinates!

This next “icon” was once again inspired by current events. I created Whiskers Guardian Angel to migrants, refugees and all without claws this summer. She is a cheeky reminder that everyone deserves protecting most importantly the weak and the weary.

Whiskers Gaurdian Angel,-small file- Protector of migrants, refugees and those without claws

This week’s events are still sifting down – the repercussions still settling in. I’m not sure what kind of guardian angel can speak to what’s happening right now but I’m pretty sure she’ll be strong and brave, she might have some fangs and claws at the ready and I’m pretty sure she’ll be wearing her pink pussy hat!

I’m teaching a two-day workshop on creating your own “Gaurdian Angels, Goddessess and Spirit Guides” at The Bishop’s Ranch in Healdsburg CA. The workshop is November 3-4, 2018. Go to The Bishop’s Ranch website to see a full description and sign up!


Prepped & Ready

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Example of encaustic collage piece to inspire this weekends participants

I’m teaching a two-day Encaustic Collage workshop this weekend at The Bishop’s Ranch where I am the Resident Artist.  This class is one I’ve taught many times, so I have a good idea of how to organize the space and materials for success. One thing that I think makes everybody happy is to have things arranged and ready to get creative.  While the creative process itself can sometimes feel magical and loose, for me at least, the magic comes from having everything in order, so my mind is free to be inspired. I try hard to give that balance to my students too, I want everything to be at their fingertips with stimulating materials and careful demos to guide them to finding their genuine, creative voice in a new medium. Wish me and my 12 art adventurers luck!

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Examples and demos all ready and materials laid out in orderly chaos!

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Each student’s place is ready with materials and instructions to get started!

In the busy mix of the weekend I’ll try to take some action shots of my students at work to share at the end of the weekend. Hope you make some time for your creative self too!


Paying Homage to Serenity

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I used plants and some bird stencils i cut to create this quilt the result is almost as peaceful as the swaying redwood home where it will abide

I’ve been working on this quilt for about a month now and just finished.  I decided I wanted to make a quilt for our summer bed at our cottage in the redwoods.  I wanted to the quilt to fit with the environment so I set up to do some gelli printing printing in my driveway deep in the Redwoods of Cazadero. I used only plants surrounding the house; ferns, bracken, maple along with some bird stencils I made to invoke our flickering feathered friends. I made about forty 12×12 squares in indigo, teal and grey. A couple of weeks later I set up my sewing machine with a quilting group on retreat at The Bishop’s Ranch and got to stitching. This quilt catches the peaceful feeling of our beautiful redwood home, full of tranquil inspiration, making a functional art piece in a place of a place – serenity all wrapped up in a humble quilt!

PS. I wish this photo was taken in the redwoods instead of at The Bishop’s Ranch but I didn’t want to delay in sharing this with you!

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detail of printed quilt squares

I’ve been teaching gelli printing on fabric at The Bishop’s Ranch where I’m the resident artist- and I have some workshops lined up with several quilt guilds in the coming year- if you would like to arrange a print on fabric class here at the Bishop’s Ranch or wherever you are- contact me on to start planning!