A knowing look, a knowing smile…. the older I get the more I know I don’t know much. I don’t know the depths of someone’s pain, the meaning behind the smile, the gesture, the tone. The more I know the less certain I am of my certainty. That’s a good thing, I think. I’m teaching myself to be less judgmental, reminding myself I don’t really know what is behind or underneath the surface, that I can’t really walk in anyone’s shoes but mine. This painting is about the idea that the only way to know anyone or anything I must share myself – a laying bare, a nakedness, an openness. I’m thanking Eve in this painting; she is sharing the apple with me, telling me that to know any true thing at all I must share my true, naked self. I’ll try – the first bite is crisp and tart, sweet and juicy – like life, like love, like living.
Check out my schedule of workshops for the next nine months – I hope you can join me and get your creative juices flowing. Creative Workshops
I just realized I jumped the gun on my Stencil Girl link. My post doesn’t go live until June 15th…. So check them out NOW but remember to go back on the 15th to see my Stencilgirl Talk. My Etsy Shop is ready to go so click on through to see all the new work…. Oh yeah and don’t forget to breathe…
Hello dear readers, I promised I would get back to blogging more regularly and here I am! I’m excited to be the guest blogger for Stencil Girl stencils this week and I want you to check it out at stencilgirl talk. They gave me 4 stencils of my choice from their vast collection and asked me to cut loose and produce. The post walks you through all the steps of making my latest expressive paintings – not a surprise I revisited a theme that keeps popping up in my work – BREATHE.
When I’m working on these expressive paintings I like to have a whole bunch of canvases and wood panels to work on at one time. I think that frees me up to experiment more with pattern and color combinations so no one piece gets too precious. I really can “mess it up” because if I do I just add another layer and push the composition to a place I like, if it doesn’t work – no worries I have 10 other canvases that I am experimenting on. This time I used my stencil girl stencils for pattern then cut my own stencils for the figure and the lotus to create my focal point. I have made that stencil in 3 sizes so I can experiment with scale and repetition. I am happy with what I came up with.
I just posted all these paintings on my Etsy Shop. I have painting in these series and others for small 6×8” pieces for $20 up to 18×24” pieces for $275 and everything in between. I hope you’ll check out my shop and see detail photos of this entire series and my guest blogger post on Stencil Girl Talk to see all the steps in making the work.
Until next time – be well.
I have been wandering and wondering both artistically and spiritually for a long time – probably my whole life. I am always working out a new puzzle trying a new technique and making it my own. In some ways that makes me a nomad in the art world. People ask “What do you do?” – what they want in reply is something they can get their head around like, landscapes, or still life, or abstract, or some medium they can pin me down on, but I never have a good answer. I am always trying new things and by the time my audience gets used to where I’m at I’m usually moving on. I don’t think this has helped my art career much. People here at the Bishop’s Ranch still tell me they miss my landscapes – and sometimes I’ll still paint a landscape for them – but after some 100 plus landscapes of the Ranch surrounds I was itchy to move on. Over the years I’ve explored printmaking, collage, encaustic, watercolor, fabric art and I have enjoyed them all and dug in deep enough to teach a class and share what I’ve learned. Right now I like the loose label Mixed Media artist. I doesn’t really mean much to anyone and that suits me fine – that way I’m never in a box I can’t paint my way out of!
Spiritually my trajectory has been more a meander than a direct path as well. I consider myself a Christian (I got baptized at the age of 23, a young adult wandering and wondering). I am a nodgie, scab-picking Christian – full of doubt and wonder at the same time. Over the years yoga and tai chi have offered me comfort in my times of need and I have come to enjoy what Buddhism has to share though I have barely scratch the surface of it’s depths. So when I stumbled upon Stephen Batchelor in a interview with the amazing On Being host Krista Tippit, his wandering and wondering spoke to me. He has published a number of books including Buddhism Without Beliefs and Faith to Doubt. In this interview (OnBEING interview with Stephen Batchelor) he spoke of the Buddhist core concept of the Eightfold Path. The Eightfold Path was taught by the Buddha and are as follows: right view, right aspiration, right speech, right action, right livelihood, right effort, right mindfulness, right concentration. While I was listening to the interview I began to doodle a folded roll of cloth, eight folds on top of each other, eight birds, eight growing plants. Later when I googled, eightfold path images they all came up as compasses with 8 crossing strands and ships wheels with 8 spokes. It’s funny how I didn’t see it as 8 crossing concepts but one concept folded in on itself, anyhow that is the origin story of this painting in my new series of work I’m calling Signs & Symbols. Like all the other artistic wanderings I’ve done I don’t know how long I’ll stay here but I feel like I have lots to learn and explore and I am excited to share that exploration with you.
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”.
As you all probably know if you have been following for awhile I have been spray painting everything I can think of; fabric, wood, paper anything and everything is fair game for my spray paint experiments and I am in love with the results. Now I have a new amazing tool in my toolbox that I have been lusting after for years. For my birthday a while back my husband got me a serger also called an overlock machine. It is what makes a finished edge in most manufactured clothes and can create a rolled hem…for you stitchers out there you know this is an amazing tool. Don’t worry faithful Bernina sewing machine you will always be my first love but the Juki serger can do things you can’t. So now I have combined my obsession with spray paint and the wonder of a machine rolled hem and created these, if I do say so myself, fabulous napkins. I am getting ready for a studio sale in a few weeks and I’m in frantic maker mode. These little beauties with be one of many creative wonders for sale. The sale is November 19th-20th from 3pm-7pm both days. If you are local I hope you will come by and bring some friends. The sale is in my studio at The Bishop’s Ranch directions. For those of you far away I’ll be putting the napkins on my Etsy shop soon (not there yet – no time ugh I need an assistant!) here is a link to that anyway because there is some sweet stuff that will be out to view at my studio too.
Those of you who have been watching my blog know that I have been loving the spray paint these days! I’ve been using it on fabric and encaustic collage and enjoying the layered results. So when my son wanted to design some t-shirts he was inspired by what I’ve been doing to try spray paint and stencils. He leafed through his sketchbook and found some bold images that would work great. Then he cut his stencils using a heat pen on clear acetate and was ready to spray. All summer he has been spraying and making cool stuff using his designs layered over some pattern stencils from my stash. For his birthday all he wanted was to have some friends over and have a t-shirt spraying party! I love that I could share the creative process with him and I’m blessed that I got to watch and learn as he tried different color and pattern combinations – inspiration coming back at me. Pretty soon my demi-adult will be back at college diving into his visual studies major- WOW – I can’t wait to see where the inspiration goes!
I taught and encaustic collage workshop this weekend and because it was a small group I was able to set up a work station and do some creating also! And because it was a small group I decided to share with them an encaustic technique that I’ve been exploring that combines paper collage and the encaustic wax with the spray paint techniques I’ve been using with fabric. It was a lot of techniques for them to wade through but they had the time and space of the whole weekend and the lovely, supportive hospitality of the Ranch to allow them to create and explore. One of my students has worked extensively with encaustic but not so much with collage and she shared some techniques and tools she has picked up along the way, including using silk in her pieces. I was inspired by what she had done and got out some silk organza I had stenciled a few weeks ago. It acts a bit like tissue paper would be gives a different texture that is lovely.
Combining the collage techniques with the stencils spray paint on the encaustic creates an amazing effect. Each thin application of wax is a distinct layer. In these examples I have both spray painted and glued papers to the base wood, then applied a layer of encaustic wax – stenciled pattern with spray paint on that then add tissue paper or silk organza that had stenciled patterns and images. All these thin layers of pattern and color creates a piece full of depth and intrigue.
I hope to play around with all these mediums more this summer, combining and sharing what I know and gathering new ideas from others willing to share.
I will share more from the workshop later in the week – I have put these little beauties up for sale on my Etsy shop for under $50- hope you’ll check them out! NEW WORK
About a month ago I shared a series of peace quilts I’d made. With the scraps from the fabric that I had created I made some 5×7 mini quilts that I stitched to card stock and made into mini quilt cards. I stashed the cards away in a box ready to send. I found myself reaching into that box numerous times this month, two dear friends had close family or friends pass away this month, another friend is going through chemo treatment. Sometimes it’s hard to find the right words to send to a friend in need and what is most important is to just let them know they are in your thoughts. I found these cards hit the right note. They are a little piece of me- my art and my heart.
I used so many that I made a whole stack this week to have at the ready to express my affection and concern and hopefully give a little bit of inspiration to someone I love.
In my last post I shared with you some of the pieces I did inspired by the phrase “peace be with you”. As the week went on that became something of a mantra. I kept cutting and stitching and reflecting the idea in different ways, until a series emerged. Some time while I was working the Sheryl Crow song, “Peace Be Upon Us” kept tunneling through my brain not so much an ear worm as is sometimes the case when songs won’t leave you alone, no this song wove itself into my Peace series lifting and lilting like a hawk on an up draft. I found myself humming at my sewing machine making my efforts into something of a meditation on peace as well as a creative endeavor. I want you to get a sense of my mental space so click this link to get this lovely addiction wandering in your brain too! PEACE BE UPON US ALL – Sheryl Crow listen to the whole song I think you might me humming this through your week – and if your going to have a song stuck in your head well, I think one about peace is a good way to go.
I’ve got a few more pieces to show you from this series- I want to spread the peace around a little bit!
PEACE be with you….peace BE with you….BE peace….peace be with YOU….this phrase with all it’s possible inflections has been rolling around my head since last Sunday when I went to our regular episcopal church service here at The Bishop’s Ranch. As is the custom of this service there were several readings and then the congregation can share thier reflections. There are a lot of wise and wonderful people who come regularly to the service so I almost always get a little gem to take home with me to reflect on. Last weeks readings talked about Jesus coming to the disciples walking with them, eating with them and talking with them. These are the same guys who just a few weeks before had betrayed and abandon Jesus in his darkest hour. Pat Moore, the Ranch chaplain, reflected on the fact that in each encounter with these scardy-cat disciples Jesus says “Peace be with you”. No anger or accusation, no demand for repenting or apology just “Peace be with you”. And if you really think about that simple phase there is a lot packed in. It seems to me to be a universal message, no matter ones religious affiliation or lack there of. If we can find peace in our mind, our life, our relationships and if we can truly greet one another with an expression of peace in our hearts, well I think the world would be a better place. So as I left church with that refrain reframed in my mind I went down to my studio and got busy. I spread out some muslin and organza and tulle outside on some tables. I pulled out some stencils and stamps; spray paint and inks and began creating with peace in my heart and nothing but experimenting in my mind. Later that afternoon I had the opportunity to join a quilting group that was here for the week and although my to-do list told me you can’t – my peace filled heart said follow this thread. So I cut up my fabric into panels and with great abandon began quilting these small wall hangings. It was so wonderful to work with no plan, no agenda just tugging on the thread of peace that I had be given to see where it took me. It took me quite far – today here are two of the pieces I made this week. I’ll share more of what I did in future posts. PEACE BE – BE PEACE
Today I had a rare day to go to my studio and just experiment. I’ve taught quite a few encaustic collage classes over the past couple of years but I have just played with the medium for a while. Today I pulled out some materials I haven’t used with encaustic before; alcohol ink, tint spray, stamp ink, charcoal, and tissue paper. On the first one I played with 4 panels using charcoal to make some marks then dripped and brushed alcohol ink and layered the encaustic wax with tissue paper and topped with a word transfer. The second piece I tried out a new spray paint called Tint It. It’s says it’s a dye spray good for wood, fabric, paper I thought I’d try it with encaustic wax. I laid down some stencil spray patterns the put a layer of encaustic wax. Then I painted on some alcohol inks, wax then more spray, I stamped letters with solvent inks and a final layer of wax.
I really love how these turned out and it has inspired me to include these techniques and materials in my next Encaustic Exploration Weekend this June. It’s always good to shake things up a bit and break out of the tried and true. Maybe you can join me – June 20-21 follow this link to find out more – registration and information
The rain took a break this weekend here at The Bishop’s Ranch but a group of creative souls and I hunkered down inside the Art Center to experiment and create for 2 fabulous days of color and collage. On Saturday everyone created a large sheet of art paper experimenting with stencils and carved stamps. Spraying, stamping, spritzing, making and marking. In the afternoon we cut up our creations to make little collages to use as cards, small art pieces, bookmarks and more. I stopped at 4pm but this intrepid band of creators, spurred on by a glass of wine stayed in the art center until dinner and some stayed into the wee hours of the night and others came early in the morning to continue making that’s how energized they were to create! Sunday the fun continued with more collage and making of paper lanterns. I learned a lot from my students and they were all thrilled with their weekend. I look forward to leading this retreat again next year – the first weekend in December – mark your calendars.
My next creative retreat offering is Creativity Bound – February 21, 2015. For this creative retreat I team up with friend and poet Laurie Glover. Laurie will lead us through the process of writing a poem in a very non-threatening process guaranteed for success, and I’ll lead the making of the collage accordion book. We came up with a process where the collage elements inform the poem and the poem informs the collage. The day will unfold just like the accordion book. All the instruction happens Saturday but we are offering Sunday as an open studio day with all the materials out for those of you who want to extend and continue your exploration. I hope you’ll join me. Creativity Bound workshop signup.
Here is a bit of shameless self promotion but a number of you blog followers expressed an interest in the seminar about making the little luminaria and string lights but you couldn’t be there for the live event last week. Well you are in luck the seminar is available as a download along with 2 patterns to use. It is a great price of $10 so down load now then watch and make at your leisure. Here you go,Web Seminar to download.
By the way thanks to all of you who were in on the live seminar, it was a great session with lots of good questions and interaction! You should have received your download and patterns yesterday.
Have a wonderful feast day this week I am grateful for your support and interest,
I am excited to share my latest article in Quilting Arts Magazine. This is a great issue about artist giving back. I submitted the art quilt of the bra and the words supported back in the spring. Earlier in the year I had donated a wooden art piece using this image to a Cloth Paper Scissors auction designed to raise money for breast cancer research. As it happens the editor of Quilting Arts magazine bought that piece. She told me later that she had intended to give it to a friend with breast cancer but then soon after found out she herself had breast cancer. She found this image to be a powerful reminder that she was not alone in her struggle. I was gratified hear this story and humbled to know that I could help comfort through my art in some small way. I love the bra image and decided to play around with it and the “supported” message in fabric. This exploration lead to the magazine article I am sharing with you today. The editor (cancer free now!), of QA had the idea of offering a the bra image as a stencil to the public as a fund raiser for breast cancer research. I collaborated with Stencil Girl, a fabulous art stencil company, to make the mass-produced stencil of the bra image. The stencil is available for puchase, all the proceeds go to breast cancer research. I hope you will consider buying a stencil and find new ways to use it and support those in need in your world through art. Purchase Supported stencil here.
This project has shown me that casting artful seeds throughout your life can lead to an unexpected harvest. Live and love artfully you never know where it might take you. xxo Lisa
This issue of Quilting Arts Magazine is on newsstands today or you can pick up one up in actual or digital form here. If you buy an issue via my link I get 10% of the purchase price!
Well this week has been a bit rough for my little family. My son Ivan, who is 16, applied this winter to the Untied World College. The UWC, if you haven’t heard of it, is a two-year international program. Students from all over the world are chosen to get a full scholarship to study together, collaborate together, live together all with the aim of creating world peace one person at a time. My son and 119 other kids in the USA were chosen out of 600 applicants for an interview. Of the 120 kids interviewed 50 were chosen. We found out this week that our wonderful, generous, smart, delightful son was not chosen. Of course all of us who know and love him from Bishop Marc of the Diocese of California to his loving grandparents and everyone in between thought Ivan was a shoe in. But of course the other 119 kids who were interviewed had family and friend just as sure of their place in this wonderful international adventure. And so my sweet son’s heart is a little broken and of course my heart is a little broken for him. I know in my intellectual self that rejection is not failure, and that trying is important. I also know that other doors will open and other adventures await; but this week none of that is available to the 16 year old heart. My heart was pinched as well to feel his hurt but also by a little note at the end of the rejection email. The letter stated that there are a few spots left at the Wales campus (his first choice) for those who applied and who can pay $60,000. Both he and I know that is not possible but a surge of guilt for this non-profit life my husband and I have chosen reared up and grabbed me by the throat. We have lived a wonderful life at The Bishop’s Ranch in a beautiful place with wonderful people. This has been a dream job for my gregarious, extroverted talented husband, a wonderful place for me to grow my art and my audience and of course a sweeping open place for our son to grow up. But here we are at the launching place for him and we have very little in our bank account to show for it. The little devil on my shoulder is whispering in my ear that I have failed him, that in my own selfish pursuits of creative living I am keeping him from his dreams. That red-tailed whisperer reminds me that my own parents worked tirelessly at things they didn’t love to make sure my siblings and I could go to college and provide us with opportunities to flourish. Of course I know what you are thinking my little angels out there, you and the white winged messenger on my other shoulder are whispering, “Lisa you have provided Ivan with a creative environment to live and grow and flourish and he will find his way”. I know this to be true but still my throat is clenching and my eyes welling with tears as I listen to the dueling voices in my head.
The good news in all this (I guess this is selfish too) is I get to have my son home for one more year while he completes his senior year of high school. I cannot open all the doors for him that I wish I could, and I know there are other disappointments ahead, but success and accomplishments await too. Through it all my husband and I will be his home, his comfy chair, his warm hug and always his biggest fans. GO IVAN!
I worked on this quilted fabric chair piece this week at quilt retreat here at the Ranch. I used self-made stencils to create the chair pattern for machine appliqué and for the painted details. I’ll put this on my website soon.
The old proverb “a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush” took on new meaning for me this week. Typically the idiom is described as meaning its better to have something that is certain than take a risk to get more and lose everything. I’ve always thought of this phrase as having a bit of the coward in it, a fear of taking the leap into the unknown but this week I turned this little nugget upside down to find a deeper wisdom. You remember, dear reader, from last week’s post that I was kvetching about a challenge I’m doing for Cloth Paper Scissors magazine. I was given packet of Grafix materials and asked to feature them in a piece of art. For several days I was struggling “what to do, what to do?” pulling my hair out. So last Friday I decided to leave the slate blank and let it filter in. On Sunday I reread the email from Barbara Delany (assistant editor at CPS) in it she says “We are asking you to create artwork in your signature style, using the Grafix product”. Somehow this spoke to me in a different way. Use your signature style she said, be you, right then the phase a “bird in the hand” popped in my head. It came to me that there is no cowardice in digging down and doing what you know, there is wisdom in looking inward, taking stock and making something new out of what you have. This little fissure in my creative clog was all I needed to have productive, invigorating, satisfying studio day, a day unlike any I’ve had for months. And so I beseech you to turn inward when you find yourself flailing, grab hold of your greatest gifts, the birds flitting by are so bright and beguiling we forget we’ve been building a little nest in our hearts all along, each little stick of life experience tucked in to hold a rare and beautiful bird.
I got so inspired I made two very distinct pieces with the Grafix materials I’ll show the other one next week.
Another random summer post: While I was procrastinating doing my June painting (in progress, I know, I know it’s July you say but I started it in June) I got a call for entries for a local show called “Go Figure”. It got my wheels turning about how I would do a figurative piece in my current spot on my artistic trajectory. In the past I did a lot of figurative pieces, large canvases and small dioramas, so I wanted to look at the figure through my NOW lens. As you know if you’ve been reading my posts for a while I have been playing around with stencils on both fabric and wood (see Vintage Moderns and You are My Cup Of Tea). I decided to try a large stencil piece with the figure as my jumping point, I love what I came up with and I’m intrigued by the idea of trying this same image out in fabric. I won’t tell you what I think the meaning of this piece is I’ll let you ponder that for yourselves.
This piece and the “Supported” piece below will be submitted to the juried show next week and if excepted will be on display at the Healdsburg Art Center for the rest of July and the whole of August.
I know it’s a rare thing when I don’t have much to say but this week I’m going to say it with pictures. I spent the week with 51 quilters here at The Bishop’s Ranch. The room was abuzz with the whirring of sewing machines and the swoosh of steam irons. Everyone was at her table working away, with breaks to wander the large pavilion hall to kibitz and admire, share and learn. It was a lovely, industrious week. Prior to Sunday’s start I had made a number of teacups and mugs using scraps of fabric from my stash as the base shape and then stenciled the defining detail on top. When I was all done I had about 25 cups to play with during the week. I made a table runner and placemats for my home and then this banner to offer up to the world. It will be posted on my website as soon as my fabulous, busy husband and web-master has time…. keep checking in http://lisathorpe.com/mandala.html. I promise to be more loquacious next week.