that's how i felt during the long weekend with my good friends at the lake, making art, laughing till it hurt, drinking wine, eating chocoate, and sharing our thoughts, feelings, and secrets with one another. as i sit here and remember, that feeling inhabits me again, infused in a warm glow of a grateful heart. I hope you'll go to judy's blog as she posted several wonderful photos and descriptions of the time and beautiful place. unfortunately, i didn't take nearly enough pictures, it was cold, windy, and rainy outside so much of our time was spent inside. I spent most of my time painting, while diane spent her time on her journal and knitting, and judy on her journal and hooking. Here are a couple of the ecaustic mixed media pieces i did to sell at artfest - click on photos for more detail.
One of the fun things the three of us did together was exquisite corpse - judy has our artwork well documented with photos on her site so take a look - we all just loved doing it and think she is wonderful - a combination of our three styles that make up a fourth. (it's true the 'man hands with nail polish' were my doing BUT at the very end i painted them out and substituted itty bitty ones...much better don't you think?!) the three of us plan on doing several more of these, to decorate diane's lake home and one for each of us.
these two geese and their friends were my alarm clock each morning, i guess they are unaware that people who stay up till after 3:oo am might want to sleep in. Along with good food eating, wine drinking and chocolate eating, we did some wild and wonderful dancing. unfortunately, one of us (i won't say who but her name starts with "j") broke her toe while having such fun. here is documentation - and doesn't she have the prettiest little painted toenails? poor toe ...
one morning, while judy took a quiet time alone at the house, diane and i went into town to the absolute best bakery in the world to get coffee and scones. after that we went to a few of the many wonderful little shops in the area - we were looking for a gift for judy for her wednesday birthday. we found oodles of yummy things that we bought for both judy and ourselves...it was so much fun. in the next post i'll show you some of my goodies. unfortunately, i didn't get my ocean beach time in because of the bad weather. i was planning on taking a long walk along the shore no-matter-what on my way out of town though. well, life gets in the way of some of the best laid plans sometimes, and so it did. i had car troubles, and my car ended up getting towed, but fitted with a new battery and a couple hours of fiddling and coaxing from the nicest-in-the- world tow truck driver you will ever meet, it finally started, and i made it home just fine although i did not turn it off (not even to get gas) till i drove into our driveway even though i think i was driving on fumes the last 5 miles. the ocean will wait for me until next time...
I stayed up into the wee hours of the night working on some encaustic pieces I'm making to sell vendor night at ArtFest (I can't believe it's only a few weeks away!). Here are a few pieces, all framed and coated with encaustic, and up top, a close-up of my newest piece - click the picture for a larger, more detailed version. I learned some good lessons the hard way; that comes from having such a messy studio I can't find what I'm looking for, working in corner instead of in front of the window, and just plain experimenting instead of reading the directions. Here's what I learned: #1 Always, always, always plant myself infront of my wide-open window, fan going, and door open when I'm doing encaustic - even in the middle of the night when it's cold outside - so I don't inhale and breathe anything toxic. I know better, but I was in *a hurry* so i didn't ventilate as well as I should have last night, and today my throat and nasal passages are irritated. I've apologized to my lungs and my body and promised I will never be so thoughtless again. #2 keep all my encaustic supplies and materials together so I don't run around at midnight looking for cheesecloth to strain the wax/resin when it's hot and at temperature ready to use. I found a scrap of thin fabric I used instead, so it worked out, but it irritates me because I just bought ANotHeR package of cheesecloth 3 days ago, and now it's buried somewhere in my studio. #3 Having the resin to wax ratio too high makes it hard to work with - it was a PITA. #4 Use the golden beeswax on light pieces only, change to the white wax when working with dark colors - my experiments proves if I don't, it looks like crap. I had to chisel wax off wax pieces and will start the process of repainting artwork today, again, this time with clear medium.
I have many things to get done today before Walter gets home and we spend a couple more hours putting down flooring, including packing for a girls weekend at the ocean, whooohoooo!! Judy and I will be staying with Diane in her cabin by the ocean for FOUR days and 3 nights. We're all bringing lots of art supplies, our cameras, food, and of course wine and chocolate. I haven't been to the ocean for months and what a treat it will be to be with these beautiful and creative women. I'll post photos upon my return - wishing you all a wonderful midweek and weeks end.
The past week, since picking up my brush from a week long hiatus, I've been doing it, making stuff. At least once a day I set my MP3 player to shuffle/play, shut the two doors that lead into my studio, and crank up the volume. Yep, that's my cue, now I'm psyched and ready to dig in. I relish the pure pleasure of picking up pieces of odd bits of paper, glueing them down, and reaching for the first color of paint that comes to my mind. The pleasure I get from this unmitigated sense of freedom and exploration is why I enjoy doing it, the making stuff part, making art.
Several times in the course of my life the subject of 'what is art' has come up. I find myself cringing each time, not really having a solid definition myself, and at the same time wondering why I should really care anyway, will the label change what I do or how I do it? I just want to explore my materials, play with abandon, forget about the world, myself, and just follow my muse wherever she might lead me. I have this picture in my head of my muse; the scene looks like this: I am on a path in the twighlight, following my muse into the unknown. She is always a few feet ahead of me, light on her feet as she runs, her face shining and smiling as she drops large white flower petals, one at a time, that I pick up as I follow her. She is my very own magic fairy.
One of the books I'm reading right now is Art & Fear. It was a book that was recommended by an artist friend when I first started painting 4 years ago, one of the books I've had on my long list of must-reads. I'm about 1/5 of the way through it , and I already feel that if I get nothing else out of the book, it was worth the price I paid for it. There are so many worthy passages that I'd like to share with you, but I'll leave you with this one, from page 26 of the book where the authors change the question "what is art?" into the truely important question of "what art making is". :
"But while you may feel you're just pretending that you're an artist, there's no way to pretend you're making art. Go ahead, try writing a story while pretending you're writing a story. Not possible. Your work may not be what curators want to exhibit or publishers want to ppublish, but those are different issues entirely. You make good work by (among other things) making lots of work that isn't very good, and gradually weeding out the parts that aren't good, the parts that aren't yours. It's called feedback, and it's the most direct route to learning about your own vision."
I know some of you have seen this photo I posted a few days ago; i wanted it to be the first photo I posted to SPC after joining today. I've been inspired by Misty and Nina to do more self portraits. I feel this one captures how I was feeling, doing, and looking most of last week. Not bubbly and energetic but quiet, alone, and intense. I spent a lot of time sleeping or doing some of the things that needed to get done while wishing i could be in bed sleeping. I couldn't even rouse myself to do artwork, so I just took a break, took a break from everything. Last night in bed i finished reading the small book Holy the Firm by Annie Dillard, it may be small but it packs a punch, I would recommend it to any seeker. This morning I woke up feeling clear and conscious, which invoked an overwhelming sense of gratitude for that awareness and clarity. Awake and trying to hold it, i carry it around as I tidy my kitchen, moments later i notice it had slipped through my fingers...as soon as i notice that, it's back again in my hand again, continually reminding me of how fleeting it is...
check out the SPC site for other self portraits
Whenever I feel overwhelmed or out of balance, my favorite place to be is down by the river. i never tire of picking up stones, ones that delight my eyes with color, ones that sparkle in the water, ones that are flat, and those i know before i lay a finger on them that they will fit perfectly in my hand - a comfort to hold. And when i'm done collecting stones, a walk in the woods with the moss-covered trees, ferns, and hypnotizing song of the river will clear out any remaining fogginess from my head.
yesterday, before Heather, Jeff, and Violet had cleared the gravel road, i was headed straight for the river. even the gathering dark rain clouds would not deter me. i brought the usual - camera, baggies - for fragile pieces of moss, nests, or bones - and my big canvas bag for rocks. since i don't have artwork to show you right now, i thought i'd share some photos from my magic river forest. Even though it looks brown and drab compared to spring and summer, the moss, fern, and evergreens give the forest it's life in the midst of slumber. i found these bird bones; it is from a big bird - i'm thinking a hawk, a bald eagle or blue heron. beautiful white hollow bones ... of course they went in my baggie along with some thread like mosses. i want to try using moss in a collage; some of them look like little trees, so delicate and fragile. When the dark clouds finally let go of their rain, it came down hard. i sat under our beautiful old cedar, she has the presence of an ancient, a wise one. her huge boughs kept me dry as i sat against her, praying that she impart some of her strengh, courage and wisdom to me. when i eventually got up from that comforting spot, i felt myself again, centered, peaceful. as i walked the trail back to the house, i felt mystified at myself that i ever wanted to move and leave behind this healing place. after spending 25 years of my life here, it would feel like leaving a part of me...