Category Archives: play

Teaching – and Learning

In the past four days, I have either taught or taken a class!  That might be a record for me.  It’s going to take me a while to actually process all that happened, so why not move it along with a blog post?  😀

Last Friday, I had the pure joy of leading a one-day artist residency at Brandon Middle School for the Art Club kids.  They have to “earn” this day by attending a certain number of meetings during the year, and they either get a field trip or a visiting artist.  This year was the artist year, and their teacher Barb Bellmer asked me if I would be their guest.  Would I?!?  I love residencies!  I had the kids (6-8th graders) do a large-ish collage in the morning, and then use encaustic in the afternoon.  Here are some photos of their great work!  😀

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

On Saturday, I was lucky enough to take Megan Woodard Johnson‘s “Intuitive Collage” class in Grafton.  It was a wonderful class, and also fun to play with paper not from my own stash!  (It totally makes a difference, because Megan’s collection, while very similar, is much more “curated” than my own and her color palette is far more discerning than mine.) It was really fun to just PLAY, with no thought about anything except the process. It was much-needed fun, and lots of my friends were in the class, too!  😀 Here are the collages I made during the class!  😀

fullsizeoutput_3af8fullsizeoutput_3af7

 

 

 

 

 

 

On Sunday, I had two dear people over to my house for an Individual Art class – my friend Monica and her daughter Ivy wanted to do encaustic collages.  HOLY SMOKES! I am still in awe of the pieces they made – they couldn’t be any different, but they’re both amazing!!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Yesterday, I FINALLY was able to take a class with the fantastic Heidi Parkes – I’ve been wanting to take her class for literally the past year, but it just never worked out.  So I decided to just take a private lesson yesterday instead! She is a fiber artist who lives in Milwaukee and is a champion of the Slow Fashion movement.  She believes that mending our clothes is not only thrifty, but also employs the Japanese concept of wabi-sabi, which celebrates the imperfect.  It was a relaxing and contemplative (and totally fun!) way to spend a rainy Monday afternoon.  And I’m also going to be able to wear my fave jeans and t-shirts again! 😀

 

In writing this post, I am reminded once again how incredibly lucky I am to be living this kind of life.  Am I insanely busy?  Yes.  But I love both teaching AND the fact that I am able to learn new things as well!  And as every teacher knows, you always learn something new from the people who take your classes.  I know I do, EVERY time.  All of these processes and collaborations; the ability to learn more about and spend more time with wonderful people; the act of living one’s life in and about art – this is what it’s about for me.  I hope to live this life for as long as I am able to enjoy it.  🙂

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…

img_3350

…one for collage materials…

fullsizeoutput_392d

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

fullsizeoutput_392a

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!

img_3358

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:

fullsizeoutput_3929

fullsizeoutput_3950

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!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

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!

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.

IMG_2807

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!  😀

IMG_2831.JPG

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.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

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.

IMG_2832

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.  🙂

IMG_2803.JPG

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!  😀

 

Getting Stuff Done!

I love those prolific work days, don’t you?  The kind where you set out to do certain tasks and it all gets done?  That was me yesterday.

I wanted to do more of those pulp pieces yesterday, and I did three of them.  They’re STILL drying!  It was so humid yesterday that they’re taking their sweet time.  I still have two full work days (YAY!) so I’m sure they’ll be set by later today.

IMG_2801

I spent the majority of my day creating another of those Lutradur/machine embroidered pieces – this one I decided to do in earthy colors, and it’s quite a bit larger than the one I did on Tuesday.

IMG_2797

This time, I also cut around the non-lacy part and used some ancient bulding materials (from a nearby building that had been renovated!) for the background.  I think it looks either like a piece of rusted metal, or some sort of embroidered petroglyph.  🙂  I went through four whole spools of thread for this piece!  That’s a lot of “scribbling”.

I also made eight new pendants!  Here’s one of them (I didn’t manage to get a shot of the rest before I left for the day).  I used my rust-dyed fabric and just followed the lines on them with my sewing machine.  These will be for sale at Found + Collected!  😀

IMG_2799

After my coffee, I’ll be heading back up to the studio to make more stuff.  Who knows what’ll happen today?  I can’t wait to find out.  😀

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.

IMG_2787

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”:

IMG_2788
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:

IMG_2791

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!

IMG_2790

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!  😀

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

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.

IMG_2783
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! 😀

This slideshow requires JavaScript.