Category Archives: creative process

It Feels so Good to be Done!

So it hasn’t hit me yet, but my two major projects for exhibition – The Collograph in Miniature and Pervasive Plastic – are now up and ready for viewing!  They were just installed this morning.

A little backstory – last summer, Wendi Turchan, who’s an art lecturer at UW-Fond du Lac, asked me if I’d like to show at the UW’s gallery(ies).  WOULD I?!?!  What an honor!!  I’ve had work in university shows before, but never a solo exhibit (much less two)!  She said I could do one or both of the galleries.  Because it seemed (keyword: seemed) so far away at the time, I said, SURE!  Why not?

As is oftentimes the case for me, I began planning right away.  I knew I wanted to incorporate printmaking, as I had just procured my first etching press (yes, there have been more since).  I had another idea for the other show, and it was in the works until late December. EEK.  I thought I had it all figured out and would begin working on it in December, after all my other projects and classes were finished.

Well, I did indeed begin working on the projects in December – before, actually – but as is ALSO the case, the shows began to be tweaked here and there.  New ideas were forming, which happens to me a lot when I begin working on a project in earnest.  It’s also maddening, though, because these grandiose ideas have to stop somewhere!!  I had to start really working!

It was when I embraced my love of miniature work that my big show started coming together in a great way.  I love working small so much, but have always felt bad about it -like if I work small, then I’m not a true fine artist.  Feh!  I should stop thinking that way. So I did!  I made 48 tiny collographs, which consisted of a monoprint base (made with a tiny Plexiglas plate!), and then these plates on top of that:

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(Plus many more – I wound up making around 70 of these!)

Here’s one of my 48 collographs, all finished and framed:

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I made this one with a yellow-y monoprint, and a collograph plate made with plaster fabric.  🙂

My other show, Pervasive Plastic, started to form long before my Collograph in Miniature show.  Way back in October or November, I put out a call for some “Chairman Bob” plastic bags (those in the Midwest might remember these bags from the Roundy’s/Pick n’ Save grocery stores a while back).  I got an awesome response!  So I began making mandalas from these plastic bags and other styles, like the ubuquitous “thank you have a nice day” bags, Target bags, and some from a pet store, supplied by my friend Carolyn.  They’re quite large – larger than anything else I’ve ever worked on!  But even larger still is a “tree” that I created using a large branch that split from our ash tree in our yard and long strips of plastic bags that I’d cut.  Here’s the tree, in all of its plasticky glory – it’s over 7 feet tall!

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One HUGE lesson I learned throughout this entire process?  Perseverance.  There were many hurdles I encountered during my work time: moving my mom to assisted living, being sick for a week (like everyone else in our city!), taking my mom to the ER and her landing in the hospital for a week, and having our beloved Pomeranian, Dudley, pass away a little over two weeks ago.  But you just have to keep going, don’t you?  If anything, the work was a perfect panacea to the other things happening around me.  It’s the first time I’ve ever created work that was site-specific, the first time I’d ever worked in a large series (and I LOVE IT!), and the first time I’d ever created a large 3-D piece.  I don’t know how I’m going to top this show, but I’m surely going to do my best to try.  🙂

As I close, here are some shots of the show set-up from today!  🙂  I have to give a MAJOR shout-out to my wonderful husby, Brian, who was a tremendous help in the installation today – a laser level is a GODSEND, and he’s so good with measuring!  And Wendi Turchan created all of my labels and worked the lighting, and printed my posters for me!!  I couldn’t have done this without them!   🙂

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2016 – The Year in Highlights!

WHAT.

The year is over.

Okay, in many ways, the year was a long one.  I think that happens when you’re learning new things, and I sure did!  But when I think back to December 31 of 2015, it feels like a couple of weeks ago.  Back on that day, I had chosen a word to define what my year would mean, and that was “direction”. Indeed, my year took MANY directions!  It feels like each month brought a new and exciting chapter to my art, so that’s how it’ll be chronicled!

January – When I look back at last January, it comes to me in two words: Individual Art.  I had SO many of my one-on-one classes that month!  It was the perfect way to ease into the year.  I love my Individual Art classes, because not only do I get to hang out with some fabulous people and have them learn or perfect a skill they’ve wanted, but I also learn from them.  I know every teacher feels this way (or should!).  🙂  This month also marked the first time I taught at Moraine Park Technical College for Life-Long Learning!  What a great “first” for me.  SO fun.

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February – I had applied for a Wisconsin Visual Artists show at Villa Terrace back in January, and found out on February 4 that my piece, “Narcissus”, had been accepted!  I was THRILLED.  This was a huge deal for me, as I had just recently started painting and it felt great to have the piece liked enough to be included in this show.  It was a 3-group show called “Making a Scene”.  Definitely a highlight of my year!  🙂

 

This was an amazing month for another reason, too – my Detritus Project exhibit, which I created and curated, made its debut at the Langdon Divers Gallery inside the Fond du Lac Public Library!  I had the idea for this show way back in 2012, thanks to my great friends at Library as Incubator Project, but it finally became a reality as a community art exhibit in February.  I loved every single minute of this show.  🙂 Check out the AMAZING entries!  😀 This year also marked my second year of curating the Langdon every month.  It’s so great to see all of the different art and artists come through this lovely gallery!  🙂

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March – I was able to be a part of another fantastic show in March, this time with the super-cool Kate Mothes and her amazing youngspace.  This was one of Kate’s pop-up exhibits, which only ran for a few weeks in March at this great space on Main Street in Green Bay.  I feel like this show gave me street cred like I’d never had before!  Such fantastic artists involved, and most were much younger than I am (not difficult, at my age!).   The show was called Remote View and was juried by Kate and Claire Abitz (you’ll hear more about these two movers and shakers later in the year).  AWESOME.  🙂

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April – April brought with it yet another show, this time at one of my all-time favorite galleries, Two Fish Gallery in Elkhart Lake!  The exhibit was called Altered States and the idea was for the artists selected to talk about a point in their art where they made an alteration, or change, in their way of working (or a new technique). My piece, “Fashion Plate”, was juried in!  🙂  I met so many of my Facebook friends this evening, and made some new ones, too!  This was one of those exhibits and evenings that just was so perfect. That same evening I participated in one of Knaak + Juarez Studio’s Blank Canvas events, and began my most ambitious art projects of 2016.  (More on that piece, later!)

 

May – I had the very distinct honor of jurying the student show at UW-Fond du Lac this year!  It was so fun, and really difficult!  Art professor Wendi Turchan and her students curated this show, and it was fantastic.  We wound up buying five pieces for ourselves!  This was the first time I’d ever juried a student show and the process was a life lesson for me as well.  As artists, we’ve ALL been there, where we either didn’t win an award or just not selected for a show, period.  I’d juried before, but never in person and it really is never about a piece being “good” or “bad”, as there are SO many variables!  You can see here how I had a difficult time choosing the award recipients!

I was also in Stevens Point in May for two reasons – I had a wonderful stint as Artist-in-Residence for Tosha Tessen-McDonald’s art classes at McDill Elementary for three days in the middle of May, and I was also in a show at Riverfront Art Center there called All About Trees!  I felt so welcomed in this delightful town – and what a surprise to run into a former Fond du Lacian, Casey French, who I ran into at the Portage County Library!  He was so kind as to give me a tour of UW-Steven Point’s art department, where his girlfriend was finishing up her art degree.  SO fun!  😀

 

The last “art thing” to happen in May was a game-changer in my studio…..

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(Check here for that blog post!)

June – ….and because I had purchased that game-changing etching press in May, June was ALL about classes on how to use it!  I took three classes in June at Jack Richeson, where I bought the press.  And since I’ve already blogged about it (see the link, above), I won’t rehash, but here’s another monotype I did in the class, which took about two seconds with a Q-tip and two colors of ink.  I can’t wait to delve further into the wonders of this press in 2017!  😀

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June also marked the beginning of Pop Up Fond du Lac, a new initiative that promotes “tactical urbanism”.  This group is great!  They have different “pop-ups” all over the city, and the first one was a two-day crêpe cafe in an unused building downtown.  I volunteered to be the curator for art on the walls, so it looked like a “real” café for two days!  I had awesome artists friends involved in the event, and the place looked great!  😀

 

 

July – YAY!  July was ALL about papermaking, which is one of my favorite things to do (and teach!).   I taught papermaking at Lakeshore Art Supplies in Sheboygan for a fantastic group of ladies, and I also taught papermaking with plant fibers at my friend Nicole Schauer’s CSA, Good Earth Farm for a group that had amazing ideas!  Then, after nearly three years of planning, the Idea Studio opened in the Fond du Lac Public Library!  This was a huge deal, as it’s one of the most innovative makerspaces in a library in the country.  I demo’d papermaking in the kitchen portion of the space, which as you can see is just incredible.  Everyone loved it!

Brian and I also had a joint show at Ubuntu Art Space!  It’s always fun to have a show but to be in a show with your talented husby?  It’s the best.  🙂 We had our reception during July’s Tour the Town Art Walk in downtown Fondy.  Thanks for having us, Sue!  🙂

August – Well, besides the most amazing week of my art career thus far at my residency at Standard Projects in Hortonville (which I documented here, here, here, here, here, and here), which I seriously cannot overstate what it did for me. I think the other highlight was teaching a solar printing class for some of the residents of Lake View Place, an assisted living/senior apartment complex right here in Fond du Lac.  I had met one of the arts & crafts coordinators at our annual Prairie Fest, and Karen asked me if I did solar printing.  Since I did, I told her I’d love to teach, and I did!  It was a wonderful experience, and as you can see, the residents did beautiful work.  🙂

 

September – This was sort of my “month off”.  I did a lot of biking this month, because it was SO beautiful.  I did create this linocut, which is actually a little corner of my living room!  I love how it turned out.

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I also taught another of my collage classes at MPTC!  I always have such a great group.

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October – this fall was amazingly awesome in terms of the sheer variety of classes, events, and exhibits I was involved with.  October started it out wonderfully!  I led a “Monoprints, Two Ways” class for some of the members of the Fond du Lac Artists’ Association – this was a full-day class where we created monoprints with the Gelli Plate in the morning….

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….and monoprints with my etching press in the afternoon!  I just love what transpired!  😀

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I also taught a Monoprint class at MPTC – the Gelli plate is a wonder, and everyone loves what it can do!  😀

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At the end of October, I set up my little corner of the Grand Kakalin in Kaukauna for the “Take me to the River” exhibit/event, which was put together by Jean Detjen.  This was the first time I’d met Jean, although we were Facebook friends before.  What a powerhouse!  It was such an amazing experience.  I can’t wait to work with her again.  And it was so fun to have so many of my Wisconsin Visual Artists – NE Chapter friends involved, too!  😀

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November – November was the month of shows! It started out with Warped Milwaukee, which is one of my favorite shows ever.  This was the 6th year that I was a part of it, and I hope to do more!  Here’s the piece that I made for this year’s show, where the theme was “Elements”.  I call it “Wild Calla Lilies”. It’s made with solar-printed fabric and found materials, and then machine-stitched (disregard those grid marks!)  😀

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The following week was the reception for “Adornments”, which was a show where I was featured at Two Fish Gallery in Elkhart Lake.  I had a whole wall!!  This is one of my most favorite displays of my work EVER.  🙂 Thanks so much to Pat and Karen Robison for their support!  😀

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Later on in the month, I found out that my very ambitious 2-color reduction linocut that I had started in April (and finished in October), “A Canopy of Branches”, made it into the Small Print Exhibition at UW-Parkside!  This is such an amazing show, and it’s the first time I’d made it in! I am really happy about this.  The show starts in January – I can’t wait!

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December – the year rounded out in a really fun way – I taught a holiday card class at the Berlin Public Library….

….and an Encaustic Collage class at the Plymouth Art Center (you can read that blog post here!).  🙂

I also found out I’ll be in two more shows in January! The EcoSquared Show at Hatch Art House in Madison is another of my favorite shows – I’ve been in it 3 out of the last four years.  Here are the two pieces I made for the show!  The pieces need to be square and they need to be created from upcyclced materials.  I made these by printing vintage letterpress plates onto fabric and then embroidering them, and making the “buildings” from old clothing tags.  It was SO fun and I plan on making more!  😀

And last, but CERTAINLY not least – I found out that I was one of the 30 artists for the 30x30x30 show at the Var Gallery in Milwaukee!!  The gist of the show is that 30 artists create a piece a day for 30 days – a great exercise for a humdrum January!  I had an interloper in my photo showing my cut pieces that I’d start this month.  🙂

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Today marks my SEVENTH anniversary of being a full-time artist.  When I decided that day to make this a reality, I never would’ve imagined all of the amazing people, places, events, artwork, opportunities and experiences I’d have.  Never in a million years did I think it was going to be this fulfilling, rewarding, tough, and fun.  Here’s to another fantastic year!

A Week of Encaustic Collage

WOW!  The fall got away from me.  It’s been a really busy September, October and November, with many classes and exhibits.  December’s been a great month so far, with even more classes and notifications of being accepted into some wonderful shows!  More about those in later posts!  😀

So last Saturday, I taught at the Plymouth Art Center for the first time!  It was a fantastic class, one that I had never taught before for a group – Encaustic Collage.

I love encaustic collage!  It takes collages and adds so much versatility and so many more possibilities for layering.  I had stations set up – one for the colored encaustics…

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…one for collage materials…

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…and one for the initial encaustic process – taking encaustic medium “beads” and melting them on to the collage with a crafting iron.

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The class-goers were fantastic, and made amazing collages!  I am always inspired when I teach, because I always know I’ll learn something as well.  But in this class, the inspiration was over and above what I expected!  Check out these gorgeous collages!

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When I teach, I take my supplies with me in big bins.  (I always include all supplies when I teach.)  I had created two encaustic collages as samples:

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But since the bin was still not put away, I thought I’d do some ATCs (artist trading cards) for our upcoming live trade in Milwaukee!  I spent wonderful hours making these little guys, and I can’t wait to trade them in January!

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Incidentally, if you’re interested in taking the Encaustic Collage class at Plymouth Art Center, I’ll be teaching this class again on March 25, 2017!  You can see the classes here sign up here!  😀  Thanks so much to Flossie McKeown and the Plymouth Art Center for having me teach!

The perfect end to an amazing week. :)

Remember summer camp, or your particular equivalent?  That week you spent, possibly away from your loved ones, where the days just sort of melted away and you enjoyed yourself beyond measure, met and made new friends, and relished your time, knowing that at some point your time there would inevitably draw to a close, even as you began your mid-point countdown?

That, my friends, is exactly how it felt at Standard Projects this past week. 🙂

You’ve probably surmised this already if you’ve been reading my blog posts from my adventures here.  I tend to hyperbolize, but I can’t help it!  When I’m enthusiastic about something, I want the whole world to know.  🙂

Friday was my my “cleaning up loose ends” day.  I had brought so much with me to work on, and had sort of spread my projects around to every corner of the building (upstairs AND downstairs).  I packed my car so that I wouldn’t have to do it on Saturday morning.  And after that was done, I allowed myself to finish one deconstructed collage and create another for another example for the Deconstructed Collage workshop to be held on Saturday morning.

In the meantime, Claire was busy creating a gorgeous leather cord for the tiny weaving pendant that I had created on Thursday!  Didn’t it turn out beautifully?  I just love it.  😀

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Friday night was a lot of fun!  There were two gallery show openings – one for the Create! show at Jack Richeson, and the other for our friend Sara Willadsen at The Draw (both are in the Appleton area, which is conveniently only about 15 miles from Hortonville).  I went to the Create! show first, because I have two pieces in the show, including this etching that I did a couple weeks ago.  I was very happy to have it included!

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While I was there, I sensed that someone was behind me – and a little too close, too, as I could hear them breathing.  I turned around to see who the weirdo was, and VOILA!!  There was my wonderful husband Brian!!  He’d surprised me!!  It was so great to see him.  We’re not apart very often and I missed him!  😀  It was an absolutely delightful surprise.  So we caravaned to The Draw next.  Sara’s show is fantastic!  I’m a big fan of her work and actually own one of her earlier works.  😀  (FYI: The Create! show is up until October 1, and Sara’s show at The Draw is up until September 25.)  Brian and I had a lovely dinner together, and I wisely went right to bed when I got back so that I could mentally prepare for Saturday’s workshop.

And what a spectacular workshop it was!!  We had four wonderful people attend, and it was just the perfect way to cap off the week.  Here are some photos from the class – and check out the GORGEOUS collages created!!  I love how everyone’s is totally different.  And who doesn’t love a messy collage table?  It was just fantastic.  🙂  I want to give a MAJOR shout-out to Kate Mothes of YoungSpace, who organized this workshop for the end of the residency.  She’s so great about creating events!!  Thank you so much, Kate!  😀

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After the class, I gathered the last of my things, said good-bye to all of the wonderful folks who are making Claire’s place home, either permanently or for a few weeks, and spent my drive home reflecting on the week and how great it was.  I’ve never felt so creative, and I really want this feeling to last.  A lot of it had to do with the vibe of Standard Projects, which is one of openness, freedom, creativity, and collaboration – and most of all, support.  Claire is also extremely generous!  She made dinner for us, and breakfast, almost daily, with fresh veggies and herbs from her garden.  DELISH.

If anyone is reading this is currently on the residency circuit, or is thinking about where to go for their next residency – this is it.  I think you’ll find it to be a charming, friendly, creative, wonderful space, and so dang clever.  I had the best time, and I just might make this a yearly mecca!!  Thank you SO much, Claire!!  😀

 

 

Still in the groove….

Whoa.  Here we are at Friday!  Yesterday was another fantastically productive day.  Now, a little insight as to how my (and I know many other artists’) brain works – I started to feel the “I’m out of ideas” feeling yesterday morning.  It’s weird – I have this abundance of supplies before me, yet my first thought is, “I can’t make anything with this.”  I think it’s because we get into this routine of what we’re SUPPOSED to create, and if we can’t see that idea in front of us, we default into surrender mode.

NOPE.  I wasn’t going to let that happen, not when I’m at this amazing place and I have the entire day stretched out ahead of me.  So I grabbed one of the paper pulp pieces I made on Monday and started applying some encaustic medium, and then a teensy bit of Shiva paint stick.

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To me, it looks like waves crashing against rocks.  At least three people told me it looked like cake!  I’ll admit – I was a bit deflated after those remarks, because I didn’t convey what I wanted to.  But I still love it!  Onward!

After this project I still wanted to experiment with my encaustic supplies, but because of something I saw Ricki (the other artist-in-residence this week) doing, I wanted to try that – using my Lutradur as a stabilizer for my emboidery, especially on the very thin muslin that I used to rust-dye.  So I put some behind a square of that fabric and just started mimicking the markings in the fabric with some dark blue thread.  Afterward I just used encaustic medium over the top.  I was REALLY pleased with how this turned out!  😀

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At this point I needed a break, so I went down the hall and visited Claire at Fox Valley Found + Collected, which is the super-cool shop attached to Standard Projects’ workshop.  It’s got SUCH a great vibe in there – it’s instantly calming.  She’s curated it so beautifully, with her own fantastic leather accessories and other makers’ work as well!  And she’s also got this amazing, tiny “gallerette” right in her shop called The Vault, because, well, it’s in an old vault.  😀  I LOVE it in there!  😀  She’s open Thursdays and Fridays from 1-6 and Saturdays from 10-3.

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So after my break, I tried yet another project that I’d actually been wanting to try for over a year but never did – a weaving on this tiny loom pendant!  The pendant itself is so adorable, isn’t it?  So I searched through my box of fibers that I’d brought with me and got going.

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I LOVE how it turned out!  I think I’m going to add tassels on the bottom when I get back up to the studio this morning.  😀

Speaking of pendants – here are the other seven that I completed on Wednesday!  The one on the far right is already sold (YAY!) but the rest are now available at Found + Collected for $15.  🙂

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I’m off to enjoy my final (WHAAA!) day of creating at Standard Projects, and I’m also REALLY looking forward to the Deconstructed Collage workshop tomorrow!!  I can’t wait!  😀

 

Adventures in Experimentation

AHH!!  I can’t believe it’s Wednesday already!  I knew the week was going to go fast (it always does when you’re having fun), but it’s just flying by.

One reason for that may be because I’m doing so much work that’s new to me.  Yesterday I started the day finishing a deconstructed collage I had started on Monday – another sample for the upcoming Deconstructed Collage workshop on Saturday! – but then I delved into a new project.

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I had never really worked with Lutradur before, but had ordered a large bolt of it a couple of months ago.  I hadn’t even opened the package until yesterday, but as with all my projects this week it was the perfect time to try it.  I got the “thick” stuff (it comes in two thicknesses), and I immediately started to burn it.  Because it’s a 100% synthetic fabric, it melts when you apply heat and creates tiny holes, almost like lace.  Plus, it’s just fun to set fire to things sometimes.  😀

I then applied some poster paint I’d gotten at Richeson’s a week or two earlier – they were super cheap in their Bargain Room so I picked up every color I saw.  I decided to try just primary colors yesterday, because that’s not my normal palette and it’s all about straying from my norm this week!

I then machine-embroidered over the painted areas in the corresponding thread color.  I used my free motion foot and just “scribbled”:

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You can see the uncolored “lace” that happens when you apply heat!

SO fun!  It did take a while but I was having so much fun with it, I didn’t care.  I’m not on any timeline this week, so I was free to just explore this all day.  And I did!  😀  Here’s a close-up of the piece:

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Sorry for the focus issue!  😀  After I was done, I put a book page behind it and framed it.  Here’s the piece, all framed and ready to go!

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I want to do more of these today and try more colorways!  😀

 

 

 

When working doesn’t feel like “work”

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about what makes good work.  Back when I was still working full time at the newspaper, I would come home, we’d eat dinner, and then I’d happily go downstairs to my studio and make ATCs (Artist Trading Cards).  It would sometimes take me three hours to make ONE card!!  But I loved it so much.  I would get “in the zone” and the hours would melt away.

I had that same feeling yesterday – and I hadn’t had it in SO long. I spent the day experimenting – just doing whatever came to me – and I had a total and complete BLAST.  When you’re an artist, these days are essential!  But I’d been holding back for some reason when I was at home.  The great thing about a good residency is that the space is conducive to this sort of play – and Standard Projects has that in its DNA.  🙂

More about the space – it’s so laid-back!  I mean, you’re free to come and go as you please, and Claire is really all about letting you hang out, or not – whatever you’re comforatble with.  I worked yesterday, with only small breaks for lunch and coffee, from 10 a.m. until 7 p.m.  And the space is SO COOL.  Here are some photos of the workshop, which is directly above my little apartment.  Incidentally, this is where my Deconstructed Collage workshop will be held this Saturday from 9-noon!  There’s still time to sign up, if you’re interested – just follow this link!  😀

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Afterward, all of us in the house hung out and then Claire made us dinner.  We were talking about authentic work, and Ricki, who’s the other resident here this week, was talking about a conversation with a guy at another residency.  He had said that when your work is authentic to you, people are going to respond to it more.  That comment really resonated with Ricki – and then with me.  I’ve been so consumed lately with whether or not others will like my work that I’d sort of lost my own sense of what I’m trying to accomplish.  I’m slowing getting back there, and it’s been great.

And speaking of great work, Ricki’s project is a very specific one – going into bars, bringing the sewing machine, and asking people if they have any ink with text in it.  If they say yes, and they’re up to it (I guess they almost always are), that tattoo is then rendered by Ricki in machine embroidery.  Isn’t that so fun?  Here’s the best part – they don’t get to keep their own tattoo, but then either trade another tattoo or buy one.  So it’s this whole sharing community, and Ricki gets to meet all kinds of neat people. How’s that for authentic work?  🙂  Oh, and I received one as a gift last night – it’s literally great!  😀  I love it!  😀  You can see more of what Ricki does on Instagram.

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Here’s the patch I got of someone’s “great” tattoo – and that’s Ricki in the background.  😀

Here are some of the projects that I did yesterday.  It’s so amazing what happens when you just listen to yourself.  More of that today! 😀

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