Okay, perhaps that title applies to me at times…I most certainly would rather be in the studio (or pretty much anywhere) creating art than doing domestic chores! But this post is about some animal art I’ve been creating lately. I’ve had a blast with the Digital Pet Portraits but it’s also fun just to branch out and make artwork just for the sake of making it. Pure pleasure, if you will. These are some of the new “wildlife” images I’ve created during the winter months:
If they aren’t on the website yet, they will be soon. I’ve got a list of other animals I’d like to do soon but it seems like there are always more ideas than time to execute them! We will see what happens!
In a recent email I was sharing my thoughts on how this year has gone from my standpoint as an artist and decided it also might make a good blog post. I want to preface my thoughts by saying that I am blessed! I am healthy, my family is healthy, we are not in a food or financial crisis and realize that this pandemic has had devastating consequences for many families and countries. My situation is probably one of the easiest to be in – just stay home and keep to myself! But I know even those of us that are only required to do that, it has been a major shift in our daily life.
When it finally happened – the last of all the events on my schedule was cancelled and all the galleries were closed I felt more than a little lost. First, to be completely honest, I mourned a bit. An empty calendar looming is hard to reconcile at first. I was heading into what had appeared to be a great year – I had big art events scheduled, new and old, had joined a new gallery, with a paid residency to look forward to and within a couple of weeks it had all disappeared and was replaced by a heavy layer of fear hanging in the air. I didn’t know what to do, so I shut down and did absolutely nothing! After a week or so of sitting on the couch wallowing in a bit of self pity, I finally returned to the studio and began completing the work in progress that was for upcoming shows. It seemed like a waste of time, there was no reason to push myself to complete the art now. It was slow going, with low enthusiasm but, looking back, I’m glad I continued. Eventually there will be shows again and I’ll be ready! After that I took care of some “business” things that I don’t always enjoy but had plenty of time to get off of my to-do list. Redesigned business cards, overhaul the website, cancel upcoming classes, post on my blog, re-write my artist statement and updating my resume were among the mundane chores that I finished.
Throughout this time Spring was finally beginning to show its face, hiding here and there among the dead winter leaves and bare trees. I walk daily, often multiple time, outdoors in the woods and around the fields – observing the changes, taking photographs and just absorbing the peaceful calm of nature. It’s probably been the most grounding experience during all of this. Although I am one to enjoy the coming of spring and signs of new life (I admit I am a wildflower geek!) this year it seemed to hold an even greater promise. When I was feeling that I was just trapped in time there was evidence that life would go on, and actively looking for it was both a good distraction and a great joy.
After a few weeks I returned to the empty calendar and looked at it again, with fresh eyes. It didn’t seem as empty now, it was full of possibilities. All those “one of these days” things we all talk about? Well, now was the time. I sorted through half-finished projects and completed or discarded them so they no longer took up space in my studio or my mind. I cleaned and organized the studio (not that you could tell it now!). I carved many new stamps and used them on scrap papers, then painted more scrap papers with vibrant colors – all added to my stash of papers I can choose from when I decide to collage next. When all else fails, on particularly rough days, I continue to do small slices of creative work in my art journals. I began an online class that I had purchased last year and, most likely, wouldn’t have ever slowed down long enough to sit and learn. That led to inspiration of more new creativity. and I just signed up for another class!
The days have begun to finally flow in a slow, comfortable rhythm that includes outdoor time, reading, learning, working in the studio and “daily life” activities. I am also taking better care of myself – exercise, full nights of sleep, cooking delicious meals, soaking in the tub and just being more aware of what my body wants and needs. In the meantime the calendar will begin to fill. A few events have set re-scheduled dates. I’ve discovered some virtual opportunities to participate in. I’ve been blessed with grants from the Indiana Arts Council and a couple of small commissioned projects so I can pay the bills and keep myself supplied in paints and materials. For now, I’m going to take advantage of this slow time.
How have you dealt with the last few months? Are you feeling confident of the future or cautious? I think I waiver between the two, especially if I am exposed to the media for any length of time! Then I need to retreat – into a book, into the studio, into some music or into the woods. I hope you have found your retreats and are able to use them when needed – love & blessing to you!
Six months ago I travelled west and spent two weeks driving across, around and through Colorado, Wyoming, Montana and South Dakota. It’s probably my favorite destination, this was my fourth trip to that area of the States. I took a TON of photos as we drove and have been ever-so-slowly getting around to sorting through and editing them. I thought as I get batches of them done I will share them here.
During the two weeks we visited Glacier National Park, Yellowstone National Park, The Grand Tetons, Rocky Mountain National Park, Custer State Park and Mount Rushmore. To say it was a whirlwind would be an understatement – even after eliminating a few destinations from the itinerary! The landscapes were amazing, although all the wildfires did make for hazy skies. I think next time I’d like to visit in May, three of my four trips have been in the fall and one in the winter so Spring would be a nice change!
The last photo was repeated almost daily – we explored until there was no more light to explore in before calling it a night. I think this particular image was from a late evening in Yellowstone.
Last year, as I was preparing for a show of my mixed media batik art, I was also spending lots of time with my grandkids. Trying to mix the two I did many of the drawing layers of the art while they were busy coloring and drawing at the kitchen table with me. As often happens I got requests – “Gramsy, can you draw a fish? Gramsy, what about a bird? Maybe some flowers?” as those drawings began to unfold I unintentionally created a trove of tiny art pieces inspired by the requests! The original pieces were all small – mounted on 4×4″ wood panels when completed. Some just seemed to need a bit more space so 6×6, 6×12 and 8×8″ pieces were added to the mixture over the months.
As I continued to create these whimsical pieces I also began adding text and quotes to them. The ones shown below are all 6×6″ pieces on wood panels.
These creations fell right into my art motto of “Happy Art for Happy People”! Many of the pieces that feature flowers, nature, gardens, etc. are now available at Queen Anne’s Farmhouse & Flower Shoppe located in Greenwood, Indiana. You can also find a few of my handmade journals there too! Hmmmm….journals. I’m not sure I’ve blogged about those yet. Perhaps next post?
I’ve been working with the batik process on paper for a few years now but continue to find new ways to use and present it! A few weeks ago I created several smaller pieces of artwork that were mounted on wood panels. Prior to mounting them I covered the wood panel with dictionary pages…one of my favorite backgrounds.
After the pieces were completely dried I added one more layer, resin! Wow! Do these colors pop and shine now! I’m continuing to experiment with resin, it’s a learning process for sure but it’s been a fun challenge. To see a video of the finished pieces in all their shiny glory, follow THIS LINK to my Facebook page.
I’ll be teaching the batik on paper technique at three different locations in the month of April…details will be published on February 27th. Hopefully you’ll be able to join me for one (or more) of the classes!
Going back to more of the artwork from last November, this is also one of the first pieces that I developed using the stash of painted rocks that I made. One of the first parts of the process was preparing the sticks to look more like driftwood. I may a foray into our woods and selected a bag full of different sizes/types of sticks that were lying on the ground and then brought them back to the house to prepare. The first order of business was a two-day soak in a soap solution to loosen the bark and clean them. As you can tell the longer/larger sticks didn’t fit entirely in the tub so they were roatated frequently…although a few still never got their “middles” finished. The water jugs helped to keep the smaller sticks submerged while they soaked.The next step was the most labor intensive…peeling off all the bark. Depending on the type of wood some was easy to work with and others just wanted to stick tight, no matter how long you soaked them! Most of them eventually peeled, the ones that were just too stubborn became kindling for our next bonfire. 🙂 Once they were all peeled they went back to the tub, this time to soak in a bleach solution. They bleached out quite nicely! The final step was several days of drying out in the sunshine and fresh air.
Here’s one of the early versions of the art piece as I was still moving the pieces around. Although the selection of stones changed positions and I added more sticks it still turned out much like my vision. Sometimes it just takes a little time to get there! The sticks ended up in many of the new creations I’ll be sharing with…as well as my Christmas greeting for 2014. Altough you won’t see them in my next blog post, be on the lookout for them soon!
One of the first pieces I created in my newest series “Wood|Stone|Metal”, this is “Serendipity”. The entire series could have been named that, it just came together in a delightful way! For many years I’ve collect bits of driftwood, sticks, stones and other items as I’ve traveled through life knowing that “someday” I would do something with them. With that stash of fun things around I was posed the question “what did you really enjoy doing as a child?” and immediately my love for collecting rocks in a shoebox popped into my mind. Even if they were just small pieces of gravel from our driveway adorned with paint, I spent many happy hours with rocks, as well as playing in nature with whatever I could find. But how to incorporate all that into works of art? That was when the exploring began. Sorting, stacking, painting, and arranging I began to gather/create items that might work together in a natural way. With the plasma cutter I started a collection of steel and copper shapes to use.
From my newly gathered stash of scrap balsa wood pieces I began to shape organic, rock-like pieces.
Rocks were pulled from jars, boxes and storage spots…as well as the landscape!
Driftwood, collected on my travels, was unearthed and more sticks gathered in our woods were stripped, cleaned and bleached to add to the pile.
I also began experimenting with paint on stones.
Over the course of several weeks I gathered, created and prepared. Then it was a bit like solving puzzles, choosing which pieces went with which, how they should be arranged and what made me happiest. Here are images of the process for this piece as it evolved:
Although I ended up with more wall art than sculptures, it was fun to express myself in a more dimensional form. Look for both types to be featured over the following weeks!
This piece was created last winter/spring and never made it to the blog. So, belatedly, may I present “Monocromatic”! Creating using a mixture of markers, charcoal and ink here are images of the piece in progress:
Original outline drawing
As you can tell I was busy creating instead of taking photos of my process. It happens sometimes!
Next post will be another tree from winter/spring, this one with a tropical feel. Look for it soon.