Tag Archives: career

My Awesome Treehaven Experience!

This year continues to be a year of firsts for me – first art fair, first invitational solo exhibit…and now, my first-ever art retreat class at a remote location!

I applied for the ArtStart Rhinelander‘s School of the Arts retreat called Art in Nature back in May.  I had heard about it through Arts Wisconsin – the School of the Arts has a rich, 60-year history and ArtStart is revitalizing it, which is wonderful news.  So imagine my delight when I discovered that I would be teaching my proposed class, “Collagraphs from Nature” there!

The entire retreat was held on the Treehaven grounds.  This place is AMAZING.  Imagine a fully modern summer camp, and you get the gist of the place.  It’s used year-round, mainly by UW-Stevens Point forestry students.  It’s nestled in the middle of nowhere, in Tomahawk, Wisconsin.  It’s truly remote – I felt so secure in its isolation.  I love places like this. (MAJOR bonus – it was about 15 degrees cooler there than in Fond du Lac, where we’re having a bizarre heat wave of 90 degree weather this week!)

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My sweet room in the White Pines cabin!
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Don’t you just love this handmade sign for the gift shop? 😀
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This is the Winterberry Dining Hall. I felt like I was back at family camp!

I arrived on Friday afternoon and immediately set up my room.  I was so happy I could do this ahead of time, because then I could relax the rest of the evening.  We all had dinner together and heard the keynote speaker, Kristin Thielking, who’s a professor of sculpture at UW-Stevens Point.  She talked about the beautiful structures and installations she and her students create in natural settings.  It was so inpsiring, as it was the first time I’d ever really been interested in large sculptures.  I broadened my mind as to what a “sculpture” could truly be!  And now I have some ideas for our own Gottfried Prairie and Arboretum!

My class was right away on Saturday morning, so I ate breakfast with the group and got back to my classroom to make sure everything was set up and ready to go.  I had nine people in my class, which was a great size!  I showed them how to make collagraphs the way that I make them, and we had a total blast.  Here’s a slideshow of their beginning monoprints, their composing stages, and their final collagraphs, which were made from items found right on the Treehaven grounds or from some items I had gotten in our prairie.  Each student’s finished pieces were unlike anyone else’s, and that made me so happy. I absolutely LOVE it when that happens – when the artist’s vision comes through in their work.

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This teaching experience is another highlight in a year of highlights for me.  I enjoyed myself immensely!!  And to top it all off, I stayed for the afternoon and took Debra Jircik’s Harvest Papermaking class, which I’ve wanted to take for the past three years or so.  Kismet!  I loved it, as I knew I would.

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Here we are with our papers made from corn husks, milkweed stalks, iris leaves, day lilies, and Abaca fiber with crushed leaves! They all turned out so beautifully.

It was one of those weekends I’ll always remember and cherish.  I was yet again reminded how extremely fortunate I am to be able to teach and create art in this way. It doesn’t get much better than this!  🙂  Many, many thanks to Melinda Childs and Ashley McLaughlin for just a wonderful retreat!

 

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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!

A Canopy of Branches

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!

Six years ago today….

January 2, 2010, my life took an amazing turn.

It was the day that I first spoke to the amazing Pam Kueber on the phone.  Pam had recently asked me to use one of my ATCs (Artist Trading Cards) on her burgeoning website, Retro Renovation (which has since become a powerhouse!).  It was a card that I had made in November of 2009, wishing all of my friends a Happy Thanksgiving.  She liked it so much that she used it on her site, which I had very happily obliged her to do.

Happy Thanksgiving 2009 ATC

So when I got an e-mail from her the morning of January 2, 2010, asking her to call me, I got that roller coaster-gut feeling.  We talked, and she outlined an idea that she had where I would make a collage a month for her.  A PAID GIG.

The only glitch in this plan was that she wanted me to craft a collage for her that day, so that she could use it on her site the following day.  We were set to see our wonderful friends Eric, Jason and Amy in Milwaukee, and we had to leave in about an hour.  In my first draft of the reply e-mail, I told her that I couldn’t do it, because I didn’t have enough time.  Brian said to me, “I think you DO have enough time if you just started working on it.”  So I did.  And she loved it. (It’s the featured image, above.)

And we made it to Milwaukee on time.  Here’s where it gets really amazing: that one collage and the offer to make one a month led to a very real and terrifying discussion with our friends about the possibility of me leaving my job at The Reporter and attempting to do my art full time.  (These wonderful friends of ours were so lovingly indulgent to even entertain the notion with me; I can’t imagine how much of a bore I was that night.)

The next day, Brian and I spent the entire day with our Pros and Cons list, and made the decision together that I would hand in my 2 week notice on Thursday, January 7.  One look at my boss’s face told me I had absolutely made the right decision – she was all at once sad that I was leaving and ecstatic that she wouldn’t have to lay me off at some point.  And I got an amazing send-off from my fantastic co-workers, complete with a Food Day to End All Food Days.  😀

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And Pam Kueber did indeed hire me to do a collage a month, which morphed into a “Love the House You’re In!” contest, whereby the monthly winner would have their house rendered in collage by Yours Truly. (You can see the entire scope of my time at Retro Renovation here.)

Pam Kueber, thank you again for taking a chance on this neophyte and giving me the confidence to follow through with my dream.  To my friends Amy, Jason and Eric, thank you for listening to me stream-of-conscious think that evening.  And to Brian – thank you for believing in me like no one else.  I owe you all a HUGE debt of gratitude.  And I continue to “make it ’til I make it”.  😀