Tag Archives: creating

Best/Worst

Life is funny.  In the times where it’s even-keeled, we just sort of chug along, don’t we, not really thinking about much of anything except our own plans.  Whether it’s work, the weekend, what to have for dinner – it’s just so easy to be complacent.  I think this is where most of us spend a majority of our time, and honestly?  I think it’s a great place to be.

But then Life comes along and kicks your ass.  It could be the death of a beloved pet, something awful happening with your career; your partner or kids becoming ill; your parents’ aging and myriad issues that brings; or maybe it’s a combination of crises. Whatever the “thing” is, you’re all of a sudden thrust into Survival Mode, where you can’t even see past the day or hour at hand.  Sure, Life is still happening, but it’s all kind of a blur now.

Life can also come along and bestow upon you some of the most amazing experiences you can imagine.  It might be the best year you’ve ever had at your job; it might be that you’re marrying your best friend; it might be that you’re finally going to have a kid that you’ve been waiting for your whole life. Whenver “things” like this happen, Life seems to fly by in a whirlwind of activity – stressful in its own way, as most of Life is still happening, too.  Laundry still has to be done.  🙂

This has been my year so far.

Let’s get the crud out of the way first.  Our beloved Pommie, Dudley, left us on February 25.  He’d been my constant companion for the last 5 years and 9 months. He very rarely left my side, and his absence created a loss I wasn’t quite ready for. ——————————                            During this time, we were also adjusting to having my mom here in Fond du Lac – she moved up here in January, as it was clear she couldn’t live by herself anymore.  So we set her up at a lovely apartment in an assisted living space.  She was chugging along until the middle of February, when she passed out after having what turned out to be her last cigarette – her oxygen level was at 60% and the docs discovered her COPD was now advanced emphysema.  She was in the hospital for 5 days and afterward, needed more services.  All seemed to be going okay until this past Thursday, when we were at the grocery store and she took a terrifying fall, which crushed her shoulder bones and two vertebrae, plus part of her tailbone.  She will be in a rehab facility for 8-10 weeks, and is in a great deal of pain. All of this is compounded by her worsening dementia. —————— Lastly – this may sound like absolutely nothing compared to the two other “things” I’ve mentioned, but we also said good-bye to Carol, my beloved 1997 Toyota Corolla, on February 21.  She had been my trusty (VERY trusty!) sidekick since May of 1998.  That car saw me through the birth of my second niece (and some very smooshy memories of my first niece’s experiences with her new sister); my divorce; my dad’s death/funeral; and served as our “second” car when Brian and I got our van.  She did manage to reach 200,000 miles before we parted ways, and her final act was a donation to our local public radio station (via the Car Talk Vehicle Donation Program). I’ll be honest – I cried.  I had so many amazing adventures with this car and for a while, it seemed like I’d have her with me forever.

BUT!!  BUT!!  YOU GUYS!!

Holy smokes – it has been the most amazing year EVER for my art.  EVER.  Since January 1, this is what I’ve done:

  • I created 30 pieces (one per day, January 1-30) for the 30x30x30 show at Var Gallery (which hangs this week!).  This was my first-ever real “collection” of works. I created pieces that I rust-dyed and then stitched, followed by a layer of beeswax.  Here’s one of them, for a sneak peek:
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Painted Desert IV, rust-dyed muslin, machine embroidery, encaustic wax
  • I finished/installed my two shows at UW-Fond du Lac that I created specifically for this site: The Collograph in Minature/Pervasive Plastic.  This opportunity, which was so generously given to me by art lecturer Wendi Turchan, was a dream come true – to be able to show on a university level was something I never imagined I’d be able to do.  I also created pieces that were site-specific, and I’m so proud of them.  Here’s one of my collographs and a piece from the Plastic show:

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    Prairie (monoprint and collograph) and The Whole World is Plastic (tree branch, plastic bag strips, plastic bag)
  • On my third attempt, I was finally accepted into the Small Print Show at UW-Parkside!  My piece, A Canopy of Branches, was chosen to be one of the prints. Unfortunately, the weather and my health were both icky the night of the reception and I was unable to drive to Kenosha to see the awesome show.  But here is my piece!!  I’m so happy I got in on this one, because it’s a reduction linocut I’m really proud of.

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    A Canopy of Branches, reduction linocut
  • I am currently in The Humor Show at Riverwalk Art Center with my friends Nicci Martin and Susan Fiebig!  I am so happy to be one of the three chosen for this exhibit by curator/owner Kathryn Dreifuerst.  I can guarantee that this is going to be not only hilarious, but just a fabulous show. My portion of the show is called Bad Hair Daze, which is comprised of eight different embroidered collages featuring horrible ’80s hairstyles (here’s one of them!).  Our reception is this Friday night from 5-8 p.m. – hope to see you there!  😀fullsizeoutput_3a92The “She’s so Unusual”, from the Bad Hair Daze collection (embroidery, collage)

Lastly – I have to thank everyone who’s made this year, as trying as it’s been, so great.  Firstly – my family.  They’ve really rallied and helped so much with my mom.  Everyone has her back and it’s been so wonderful having their awesome support. I rely so much on my sister, Jenn, because no one knows me better and of course, we have the same mom.  🙂 Our “sister days” have been a life-saver.  Also, my art friends – what a wonderful group of people I know in Fond du Lac and the Fox Cities.  I know the best people in the world and I’m so proud and honored to call them my friends.  🙂 They have been so understanding when I’ve had to cancel things due to illness this year or last minute things that have come up with my mom.  I can only hope to be half as understanding as these great people.  I could name names, but you know who you are.  ❤

And lastly – my amazing husband, Brian.  To say that I couldn’t do any of this without him is the Understatement of the Year.  He has been my rock and I am so grateful and honored to be his wife, and astounded by his unflinching generosity in everything he does.  He’s truly the best.  ♥

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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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!  😀

 

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.

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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.

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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!  😀

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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.

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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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