I created somenew pages here on the blog which you can link into and find pics for miles. The pages are listed at the top of the blog. Check out the ones featuring friends’ inspiring homes (hey there, Mary Korfanty, Barbara Gold, Dwight West, Linda Goodwin, and Dr. Ladenberger).
(This is a new blog format/theme and I am having a hell of a time getting the fonts right. Apologies if it comes out wonky. It is very very late at night.)
After a year on the wait list for an apartment at the Juliette Fowler retirement community, the move happened all of a sudden at Christmas. Around that time we BA ’66 grads lost one of ou icons, one of our beloveds, to cancer. I was so glad to have spent a little time with Bobby Bassett over the last few years; mainly at art venues and then later in hospice. I sure hope I see you in the afterlife.
Bobby is on the left. Middle: Brent; right: BryanLots of artwork in various media going on here in my new home. It’s only 600 sq. ft. and I’m pretty used to living small, but I do have to have my art supplies, artwork and treasures! I’m comfortable here and the 2 big windows with expansive views plus high ceilings, keep me from feeling closed in. I’ve joined the artists’ group here, and have committed to the water aerobics class by purchasing a new swim dress. I was without Wifi for awhile, so couldn’t post. Today and evening I got caught up on blog posts by creatives I follow. That was cool.
Meantime, here are pics from The Lakewood Library 54th Annual Artists’ show on view all of May. I am thrilled to have 2 pieces in it; cardboard and fabric doll, and acrylic painting using the techniques I learned from Lynn Whipple during her online class, The Essence of Still Life. I will never paint the same old way again!
Here is work by a new artist friend Jacqui during our weekly art workshop here at JFCA:
Evolving Studio Reorganization
A few weeks ago, before launching into some new projects, I decided my living room/studio required another sort and rearrange. Besides gaining some wiggle room I found an old sketchbook with drawings from my foray into the Sketching in the Gallery events at Dallas Museum of Art in 2001. I thought I had lost them. My graphite drawings reminded me how much I used to love using charcoal. Now I get a thrill knowing I can seal these babies with my new spray fixatives (matte or semi-gloss).
Before and After –
Before and at the Point of Overwhelment:
And After, At Last:
Trying New Supplies and Techniques
In response to a call for entries for artworks inspired by the iconic Frida Kahlo at an upcoming curated gallery exhibit at The Bath House at White Rock Lake, I had an idea for a cloth doll posing with some of her (the doll’s, not Frida’s), self portrait sketches (done by yours truly). I wanted to experiment with some of my new art supplies, but it was also important to me that I use fabric, trims, and doll hair already on hand. And the DOLL selects the materials she wants.
I like to shop online. I HATE shopping in person. My vertigo kicks in and I always get a tummy ache. In a store, decision-making eludes me. I have been known to leave a store empty-handed. If I could order groceries online for cheap, I would. Anyway…..
The drawings are done on four different papers, approx. 5” x 7”, using a variety of tools including chisel tip pens, markers Pigma pen, pastels, acrylic, charcoal. Why had I been afraid to try new techniques? That’s an interesting line of thought, I think.. I found I love the soft pastels, especially on this new Yupo ‘paper’. So slick and smooth! Spray with fixative and you’re done.
I was uncomfortable using the calligraphy pens and lost control of my marking a few times. So much so that I cut out the boo-boo and pasted on a new piece of paper, and drew over that. Ouch. The damn chisel tips bleed when dampened by a dot of Elmer’s. That would never do with a wash. I’ll stick with my trusty Micron Pigma Pens. In the end, none of my sketches remotely resemble Frida, but why quibble over details? In any case, I changed my mind about using them with my Frida doll entry. They will turn up in a future project, probably.
Recent sketchbook drawings with new supplies:
Inspiring Studio of Artist/Writer Linda Garten Goodwin
Is it any wonder I like to hang out in my friend’s carefully collected and curated studio space?
My Frida Sketches
In Order to Execute One Task, I Drift Off Into Another In Search of the Elusive Muse
I was also playing around with piecing small scraps of fabric. Maybe use some on cloth dolls. Maybe just see what becomes. I was stuck in the select-and-pin phase; the thing was getting too big and pissing me off, when I happened to take a Pinterest break. A Pinterest “break” usually becomes a BINGE.
Luckily my Textiles-Fiber Arts Pinterest board includes work by Jude Hill and I happened to swoop into her Spirit Cloth blog . Serendipity! She was just starting a new online sharing project and soon I had segued into beginning my first cloth sampler. I’ll try a nine-patch soon, but it scares me because I have a hard time with measurements and squaring things up. Don’t know how much of that fear is due to mental block or mental handicap. **humphf** But for this first project, I want intuitive design, imperfection, and simple hand stitch. I love that Jude uses just a few simple but perfect, tiny embroidery stitches. The folk art feel appealed to me, but with the hope of producing something that is somehow primitive and modern all at once.
Meanwhile, My Doll Making Muse Butts In
So OF COURSE this stitch-play led to the dubious decision to stitch my Frida doll BY HAND. Which I loved doing, but it really slowed me down and I was only 97% finished with her in time to meet a contest photo-entry deadline, so I had to tack her clothes in place, pose and snap the photo, and wait until later to give her rings and embroidered shoes. I used my new pastels along with pen, fabric paint and spray fixative on her face. I’m pleased with her hair. It’s mohair + synthetic doll hair. She wears new earrings from Kalachandji’s Indian gift shop. She doesn’t look like the real Frida, but she FEELS like her to me. I enjoyed researching the real Frida Kahlo in any case, and remembered I want to add the movie to my collection someday.
Adult Coloring Books have become so popular, and friend Linda Garten Goodwin and I spent an afternoon at the Bath House at White Rock Lake indulging in a coloring event with folks from the East Dallas Creative Arts Center. I hope to take a class there someday. Anyway, while I enjoyed the outing, my colored page SUCKED. A four year old could have done better. I was duly humbled. Linda didn’t like hers either, but I thought she did pretty good considering her advanced age (ha!). She complained that her hand was cramping up. Excuses, excuses….
Speaking of child play……So the kids who graduated high school the year before me were in town for their 50th reunion. Lesley Ivy stayed with Linda and Mr. G, (who live just a couple blocks from me in the White Rock area), and I was lucky to get a play date with her and Linda before Lesley returned to her home in Taos. (I know, right? Taos. *sigh*)
We had a sublime lunch at East Dallas’ Kalachandji’s Indian restaurant/gift shop/temple, where you eat outside in a lovely courtyard. I bought Frida-doll’s earrings there. Beautiful afternoon with beautiful ladies!
Check out Lesley’s colorful and distinctive murals, mosaics, painted furniture and more, here Colorwork I’ll take one of each, please!
Last weekend my artist buddy Linda Garten Goodwin and I went on our neighborhood’s Cayuga Plaza Open Studio tour. It sits just east of White Rock Lake, on the other side of the railroad track from my house. We love our train. When it rains, and the conductor blows that train whistle, there is no better sound.
Visit the websites of these talented artists, and visit their custom work studios. Call Dawn for an appointment to see her Artisan Finishes studio at 214-500-2063. And check out Richard Wincorn’s beautiful spread in Scouting The Best of Local Dallas Vol. 3 City Guide.
Since retiring from office work I’ve made it my bizness to jump full into art making. Who knew it was so much work? Social media has certainly upped the ante in the game. Not complaining; just sayin’. I am grateful to have all these avenues. So, I joined Dallas Area Fiber Artists (DAFA) organization as well as Texas Association of Visual Artists (TVAA), both here in Dallas.
Friend and fellow artist Linda Goodwin and I visited TVAA’s “Black & White” curated exhibit at the Plaza of the Americas in downtown Dallas’ Arts District. Understand that Linda and I are both Dallas natives, have been downtown a gazillion times (albeit separately); both have smart phones, and Linda has a gps, but we still got lost, as per usual. So as the Gallery was closing, we show up! frazzeled! excited! and are dazzled by the talent displayed. Check ’em out: http://www.tvaa.org
In September, we went to the Lakewood Summer Arts Faire where I bought a bag of little hand dyed silk scraps from Val Guignon, Linda came away with a hand dyed silk top from her and amazingly dazzling pendant lights made from gourds by Le Gourd on Blue. I had a heartwarming chat with Cynthia Brannum, Art Program Director at The Stewpot, a downtown Dallas ministry; I own a painting by one of her students there, Mr. Cornelius Brackens, Jr. Check ’em out: http://www.thestewpot.org
Another exciting event was when I learned that artist Jane Cather, whom I so greatly admire, was blogging again after a four-year hiatus! check her out here: http://janecather.wordpress.com/
I bought the cutest little embroidered pincushion from my Dutch friend; it’s the orange bicycle cross-stitch on natural linen; check her out here: http://www.nellyslittlegifts.nl or search Etsy for nellyslittlegifts
My friend Susan recently ordered an assemblage item for her granddaughter from me. So I made this little character – no, it made itself! using a plastic bottle that contained an Ensure-like beverage, silk fabric strips, wire, wall anchors, cool paper clips, beads, muslin, embroidery thread, and price tags, which I labeled each with an aspect of personality or desire. Head lifts out and Katie can write something she wants to change or happen on a note, and drop it inside the body. I also fixed up a kit for her to make one for someone else.
And then, I opened my Etsy shop. I have more items to add to the 13 currently listed, but am in the process of cutting, glueing, and photographing/staging them. What a lot of work! But so gratifying. Here’s a peak at a couple things listed:
Commissioned work scares the hell out of me. And not because I am afraid the piece won’t turn out well, but because some of the magic of spontaneity may not find its way in, that even one limitation to the work’s intuitive process (some specific requirement as requested by the commissioner) will limit me in such a way that I become very uncomfortable. Never mind that the buyer’s ideas may make my artwork even better, perish the thought! Clearly, I have control and ego issues.
But I love it when someone likes a finished piece so much he/she must have it, and when this occurs, nothing could be sweeter. You feel as if you have truly communicated your intention as told to you by the artwork itself.
The photos show recent sketches and a couple of cloth dolls – I’m calling them BodyParts Dolls, as I continue to assemble, or in some cases, disassemble dolls; changing hair, making new clothing bits, faces, hats…..
I continue to draw and paint, usually drifting from one project to another. That’s a great benefit of having let my “studio” space be the very same as my “living area”. Can’t separate them.
Disclaimer: Today’s blog is very ego-centric. As I watched devastating events unfold this summer related to natural – and unnatural – disasters around the world, I felt more and more powerless. I can’t control any of that. But I can control some things about me.
This summer I was so fortunate to rejoin America’s work force, albeit at the least rate of pay since what I earned as a secretary in the ‘70s, and I remain astounded that this is the case for so many of us in this economy. Misery loves company and yes, I am happy that we are in this boat together, and grateful for my new job. And I wonder, are we “the underemployed”? Financials aside, in my case, No!
The skills I have acquired over the last couple of years as a customer service representative along with learning even more complex duties associated with customer care in my current position, are far more challenging and rewarding than any tasks I ever performed as a secretary or assistant years ago. Now that I am older, my work ethic and attitude have improved; I take nothing for granted. As I navigate what for me is a steep learning curve in my current position, I find it is helpful to follow the advice of Karon, my supervisor, “You just have to fool with it”.
In July I crashed and burned over a combination of let-downs: I had suddenly stopped working daily in my sketch journal, I was overwhelmed with adjusting to my new schedule, and dealing head-on with some financial challenges; plus anxiety and excitement over my 45th high school reunion just about did me in. The post-reunion depression stunned me. Let’s face it: I was expecting the 18 year old me to walk into a room full of 18 year old classmates. I didn’t recognize most of them; hell, I don’t even recognize me. I couldn’t hear, my legs ached from standing, and I felt very out-of-body. And it gets worse from there! I proceed to measure my success by theirs; OMG, I’m a blimp and a failure! Loser!
And here’s the kicker: if it really isn’t what’s on the outside that counts, but what lies within, I am screwed! I’m not even that nice! Despite my girth I am vain, egotistical, temperamental. I’m selfish and self-centered and jealously guard my solitude. I don’t always play well with others. So, I am an artist, at last. I pass the personality test.
I have an “Ah-ha!” moment watching Stacy & Clinton on What Not To Wear describe the shape of an outfit making a plus size gal “look like an ice cream cone”. Time to rethink my wardrobe. Acknowledging that I swoon over the floaty, printed, femme shapes of some of today’s fashions helps me make a shift inside and out. A sense of excitement and anticipation stirs me. I recall that these bespoke elements have never gone out of style, and I have always felt my best when sashaying around in them. I dressed that way a lot in the 70’s (when I was an artist) and in the 90’s (when I was an artist) and now that I’ve discovered my art again, it’s time to change my look. Indeed, you just have to fool with it.
One of the budget tightening measures I took last year was to shrink my cable TV programming from mid-level to bare bones service and I’m so glad I did. Saves me lots of money and time, and yet introduced me to a station I’m watching more and more of: LinkTV. It’s global, it has TED segments, and I’ve yet to explore all it has to offer, just as I am spending more time on the internet exploring blogs and collecting inspiration.
As I watch LinkTV, I’m finding that I like to have a sketchbook handy (actually, I have 3: a small, medium, and large version) and as I start off a nonsensical, rhythmic line of drawing, I can look up at the TV and maybe incorporate my impressions of the segment into my piece. It’s a very gentle form of multitasking that I actually like.
One night recently, I shut down my computer, unplugged TV, and gathered my “valuables” as I waiting out a terrifying storm and tornado watch. I thought about all the recent victims of disaster and wondered at the utter randomness of life, and yet I want to believe in some order, some magic we help create. Does sketching while sheltering from the storm count as multitasking?
Notes about my cherished books and climbing out of the abyss.
If I were a good student and steward of all the literature I’ve been devouring over the last few years related to opening up to spirituality and creativity and Source, I would trust that a few simple and gentle steps could help me climb out of the abyss I fell into a few weeks ago. I did get jolted out of it when I was rightly guided, – no coincidence – and that’s kinda why I started this illustrated blog.
So, one day recently when I was sick of my malaise but still mired in it, I started to reach for one of my fav magazines or books about decor/design but “something” directed my hand back to a volume I hadn’t finished working in: Julia Cameron’s The Complete Artist’s Way trilogy including The Artist’s Way, Walking in This World, and Finding Water. I had left off reading a few months ago at Week 6 in Finding Water.
Amazed at first to discover that these chapters dealt with navigating through those inexplicable periods of depression that steal over many of us, then more excited as I read on because the strong urge to pick up this particular book, picking it up where I’d left off at the precise place where I meet myself now, is exactly what I needed (and exactly the confirmation (not coincidence, mind you) that the Universe sends you when you can’t seem to muster up some faith and trust that you will get through this, whatever “this” you are going through.
Last night I was thinking about the people along the Mississippi River, and others recently who have lost everything due to Mother Nature’s recent devastation on them, and what would I grab if I had some warning to evacuate my home? This works like counting sheep to get to sleep because I ticked off virtually all my belongings plus dog Ziggy before I drifted off.
Here’s a fairly comprehensive list of my favorite reading material (and eye candy) that I just couldn’t leave behind:
▪ Creating a Life Worth Living by Carol Lloyd
▪ The 12 Secrets of Highly Creative Women; Gail McMeekin
▪ Writing Down the Bones; Natalie Goldberg
▪ A New Earth, and The Power of Now; Eckhart Tolle
▪ The Seat of the Soul by Gary Zukov
▪ The Law of Attraction and other books by Abraham-Hicks
▪ The Art of Happiness by HH Dalai Lama
▪ The Complete Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron
▪ The Confident Creative; Cat Bennett
▪ All of Danny Gregory’s books about sketchbooks: Creative Matters, Creative License, and An Illustrated Life
▪ Living the Creative Life and Creative Time & Space, both by Rice (say “Ree-sa”) Freeman-Zachary
…..& a couple dozen exquisite tomes by today’s popular designers, stylists, photographers and bloggers of lifestyle & fashion: (I eliminated first names cuz this list is getting really long) Chalmers & Hanan, Bauwers & Campbell, Bartolucci & Kurzaj; Lemieux, Becker, Copestick & Treloar; Gillingham-Ryan, Williams, Line, Sorrell; Bird, Tryde & Newdick; plus those little Taschen books…and Selby, Rodic, Schuman, Larocca & Chessum. *whew*
…..and of course, books about my fav artists and oh, a few books on actual art-making plus a slew of magazines (beloved Domino mags and House & Garden have their very own stacks). And oh, yeah, binders of tear sheets, a couple devoted to decor and a couple just for art-making inspiration.
I am never, ever, bored. A little down in the dumps from time to time, but never bored. That reminds me: I miss artist Jane Cather’s website and blog, where has she gone? Her work always inspires me. It’s a blessed thing to be inspired.
I had added The Hurt Locker to my DVD queue again and received it just in time to savor over this weekend, after having spent lots of time watching the TV coverage of our astonishing kill of Bin Laden. You might not think an old hippie like me (“peace, ‘yall”) would go in for that sort of thing, but I am quite happy about the event and super-proud of our brave troops. And I stay mesmerized by the movie, The Hurt Locker, because it reaches me on different levels: the mom, the daughter, the survivor of fallout from the Viet Nam war at the hands of a broken Vet; the peace-nik, the blood thirsty revenge wanting citizen who will never forget where she was on the morning of September 11, 2001; the war-weary voter who wanted change.
I worry about how our men and women will be able to adjust to life back in the States, and I thought, since we have so much devastation and poverty and unemployment and drugs and homelessness and crime, can we create opportunities for our returning warriors, and ourselves by rebuilding all our broken parts right here in America?
In the meantime, I had been trying to catch the fleeting, tender, pitiful and brave, little grin on Eldridge’s face in Hurt Locker, as he struggled to clean blood from “the dead guy” off the ammo with his spit, as James patiently, reassuringly, coaxed him along. It broke my heart. I’ll probably watch the movie another 2-3 times before I ship it back in favor of some lighter entertainment….
Seems like April was jammin’ after I recovered from a nasty case of poison ivy in March, and I was practically manic with gifts from the Universe: everything just seemed to flow. You know how that is. I’d been reading my usual stack of books on spirituality and creativity and my energy level was higher than usual. I painted my kitchen Ben Moore Jade Green and tricked it out with an old pink plastic chandelier I’d stashed in a drawer years ago; finally painted that ugly subfloor in the adjoining den a glossy white. Met up with friends at their show & sale at the Dallas Bath House Cultural Center Art Mart; got sage advice from friend Loretta in upstate NY about blogging & marketing. Kept applying for jobs, hoping to land one before UI benefits run out. Started my blog and scanned all my current journal-sketches.
Got an abscessed gum and crashed. Got that fixed. There went all “discretionary funds” for awhile. Ouch. So this week has been a total bust except for the sublime weekend spent with my darling 9 year old grandson, Castle. Still, I felt totally slammed and wondered why.
I really prefer the times when I feel that I’m in that state of allowing Source to flow in and through me and I’m sort of skipping around with multiple tools and expressions of my and others’ limitless creativity just exploding around us! Silly woman. It’s just not indefinitely sustainable, and the upsides of ennui are 1) it’s so freakin’ dramatic, and 2) it’s not indefinitely sustainable either.