Monday, May 30, 2011

What's been going on

I have been really busy. And I have been loving every minute of it!

Open Studios is coming up this weekend, June 4 and 5 and the next weekend, June 11 and 12. All days will be from 11 am to 6 pm at my studio in Oakland, CA at 4401 San Leandro St., just off of High St. and I880. Come on over!
So, I have been really busy!  I have done a couple of fabric collages with my new fabrics but have decided that a number of them need another layer so I will be doing some screening on to them to create more complexity.

I have also been playing with the creation of paper fabric and have had a blast. I have made about 12 sheets of this stuff in different colors with different papers. My long standing habit of collecting old books that are falling apart is now paying off as I use the pages in my new paper fabric. I have pages from a technical Chinese dictionary, lots of books on construction and the various aspects of it, and who knows what else, including receipts and old ledger pages and written letters of various ages. They are finding their way into my paper fabric.

I will be selling these at my open studio as my small ticket items, along with matted collages in both paper and fabrics, quilted fabric collages both stretched on stretcher bars and not and what ever else I can come up with!

So I am sharing some of the cards with you now.  They are really cool, if I do say so myself.  The colors on the cards include metallics and pearlized paints which don't scan very well and become very vibrant.

What I like about these is that they can be sent to someone as a card and then they can be framed in a 5 x 7" frame!  Instant art in a card.

And I thought I would share this little clip of my "installation art" at my studio in case you missed it on facebook. It is very short but I was fascinated and watched this happen for a long time before I decided to film it.  The music in the background is Peter Lanz  and Paul Speer in Desert Vision. I love listening to their music.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Some of my fabrics

After working about 2 or 3 weeks, I now have a collection of various fabrics to work with. I have spent the day today working with several of them but since nothing is ready to share I thought I would share some of them with you!

This stack is all misty-fused!

A painted piece of fabric that has been silk screened with paint

A stack of monoprinted fabrics all misty-fused

The stack that needs to be misty-fused

and another stack that has been Misty-fused

One of the painted pieces

and another one

and another one

It is such fun but it takes a lot of time. I use various methods of applying paint from printing, to thin painting, and scrunching up and wiping down the print table

 Before I started doing the putting together work on the red stole I just finished, I looked at my work table and decided that I needed a new cover because this one was just too grungy...not that anything comes off of it but it had holes where I had cut into it, etc. So a new cover went on but I have saved the old one and it is still on the table so when I want to get sloppy I still have it there. But I do have another 4 x 8' table in the back part of the studio where I have taken up my printing and fabrics painting.

 One of the greatest new additions to my studio has been a really comfortable I stay down there all day and don't leave because I am tired of standing or need to just sit and think for a while since now I have a place to do it.

Life doesn't get much better!  Oh yeah, it would be better if I had a deep sink in my portion of the studio instead of having to go around the corner to my studio mate's studio and use the itty bitty tiny little corner day!

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Time goes by too fast

I can't believe how time races by.  I am behind in posting and have finally gotten around to uploading some photos of work I have been doing.

One of the greatest joys I have is the creation of liturgical work.  When I joined All Saints Episcopal Church in San Leandro about 9 years ago, I had no idea that my art and my spirituality would come together with such fulfillment.

This has been my spiritual home for all the past years and I have received so much support, especially from the rector, Fr. Rob Droste. He is also an artist and is very gifted in a number of ways, but most certainly in his ability to help us find our relationship with God and Jesus.  In thanksgiving, I created a six panel set about the creation.  This led to much more work, including a commission  for a wonderful alter frontal and later a chasuble, stole, and veil for the chalice. I have continued to do a great deal of work for this church, as my gift to the church.

Three and a half years ago, I was asked to be on the vocational committee to work with a good friend, John Trubina, on his journey to  becoming a deacon for the Episcopal Church.  That journey as been a very interesting one, watching John become even more committed to serving the Lord.  His graduation from the School of Deacons occurred a week ago and my gift to him was his red stole for ordination. I thought I would share this with you. As I was doing the stitching on the front, I find myself mentally chanting a mantra that serves me well "for thy glory, Lord God" and this is my prayer when ever I wam working on liturgical work.

So, first I painted a piece of silk. I was not completely happy with it as the red was wonderful but the paler areas appeared far too pink. So I over dyed the piece with two different colors of red. The painted area created a very different texture that the dyed area.  I then cut all the pieces and proceeded to do satin stitching in three different rayon threads to add more interest and texture. This photo is a part of the piece, which hangs diagonally across John's body and has the longer part of the sash going down the front and also the back. This is a special stole, made specifically for his ordination which will be in two weeks.  I am quite pleased with this.

I have a commission to create a stole in the green colors for another deacon (who is already ordained and serving our Bishop) and need to finish the chasuble for my priest at All Saints which will go with a veil and stole I have already completed.

I have also been quite busy painting fabrics which are now ready for the silkscreening part. My studio became a busy place as I painted fabric, hung it up, ran out of hanging space, ironed it, repainted it, hung it up and continue the process for four days.  It has been great fun just experimenting with different paints to see what I like the best and different colors and various ways of adding paint to fabric. And just as I was about to upload pictures I had taken, I can't find them on my computer. Ah well, those will have to wait.

But I have been doing a few pieces doing handwork. These include some of my painted fabrics plus ephemera I have collected and are stitched on to watercolor paper.  I have several more in process.

Oh well, time to get back to the studio....I have much to do, especially since open studios is coming up the first two weekends of June! 

Friday, May 13, 2011

and life goes on

When I began to take a career in art seriously, after my retirement, I was very intent on all of the business end of things. I had an art management program which was great, a photographer who did my work, a lab that made all the slide duplicates, piles of stamps, an assistant to do the form filling out and slide replacements and fabric folding, listings coming out regularly to check out for appropriate places to enter, quilts coming and going.

But then little things began to happen that just seemed to make everything more difficult.  Two years ago I switched back to a Mac but my art management program no longer worked on this platform.  Things were supposed to be transferable and I tried to set up a program in Bento but I just couldn't get the hang of it. And then the data would not transfer. I have finally found another art management program that works on May but I still cannot transfer the older work to the newer platform.  I have let my website slide somewhat because, without the art management program, I have no place to keep all the information about a piece of art work in one know, size, price, medium, etc. Also, suddenly the way I had been storing my photos no longer worked when I started using iPhoto.  So I tried another photo program, Aperture, but it seemed far more complicated.

I know enough about computers to get around fairly well but when I decide I want to do something with a program, I just get lost. Something that should not take very long seems to end up taking getting my art work into the new program. I end up just frustrated and giving up. I still can't get my laptop, ipad and iphone all synched together...and sharing data like contacts and calendar....can't live with them and can't live without them.

Watching younger artists pursuing their careers with energy and on Facebook, Twitter, blogs, websites, and lots of other social networking means just makes me tired watching it all. Oh, I have a facebook page but I got too confused using it. And I have a Twitter account that I have never used. And I am on Facebook but don't have a fan page or whatever it is. I "like" most people.

So, I flounder with all the data.

But the studio is very comfortable, except when it is too hot or too cold. I think I am going to have to invest in some insulation on my own since the company that owns the building doesn't do anything like that...there is something about freezing in one's studio that is fine when one is young but not so much fun later in life. And all the little heaters don't seem to put out any heat...either is all comes at my feet of it goes up to the ceiling 12 feet above my head.

Ah, but I have entered a show and am waiting to hear if the work is accepted. It is the Deep Spaces show and the art work much bet 18 x 45". Not only did I create a piece just for this show, but I actually was able to get a decent photograph of it and did the on line, that is pretty good!

so, I will give you a photo of my piece for this show...if it is accepted. It is called Deep Spaces, my view. It is based on many photographs from the Hubble which I have put together in my own way.

It has been created using fabrics from another dyer who gets the most wonderful saturated pieces. I Misty fused everything, cut it all up into smallish shapes about 1 to 1 1/2 inches in size and then worked the colors. The bottom part, although dark, is very rich and the orange just glows.  Unfortunately, a photo does not do it justice.

Back to the creation of a red stole for a good friend who will become an ordained deacon is my graduation gift to him after four years of school...he graduates this Sunday so I need to get it all finished tomorrow.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

and I continue

I found myself really in a quandary between doing the kinds of work I like to do and listening to all those in the know.  The messages about having "one body of work" was coming to me from all sides. I like to work in both geometric formats which are really design exercises for me and then I also like to work in a very organic manner. I enjoy working in both ways. I guess the organic work flows out from me whereas the more geometric work tends to be more from the head. I like to make pleasing pieces, I love to explore how color relates to another color, I love line and being able to manipulate it in various ways.

So, I needed to get a portfolio out to art consultants and galleries in order to carry on with my professionalism. But all of a sudden, I had serious doubts about what I was doing. People I know and respect were very encouraging and saw nothing wrong in the way I worked but I fell victim to all the "talking heads" in the art world who counseled that it was necessary to stick to one style and if one did other types of work, keep it to ones self. So instead, I found myself stuck. Both feet stuck firmly in the quicksand. I really began to feel that I needed a mentor but had no idea who to turn to.

And, of course, doing nothing got me no where....

On the positive side, I have continued to make work consistantly  and I have done some good work. I have gone back and forth between the geometric and the organic styles and have enjoyed what I was doing although I was not getting it out.

About the best I could do was to participate in an collage swap that Karen Stiehl Osbourne did and to contribute collages to Virginia Spiegel's ACS fundraiser.

The doubts continued for the past two years. Questions of if my work was really good or not....was I just fooling myself....was I a pretend artist...who was I...what was my voice....etc., etc.

Now during the past two years I landed a job in Switzerland and taught there for five days and enjoyed the company of several of my Swiss on line students. And then I spent a week by myself in Lyon, France. It was during that time that I slowed completely down. I sat at the cafe and just watched people, when I missed my bus, I just waited two hours for the next one, watching the people. I was able to get away from myself and just absorb all that was around me. What a gift that was. But when I returned, things were still drifting for me.

I can't tell you what has happened but I have felt a great burden lifting from my shoulders. At 63 I should be able to just do my work and not worry about trying to please anyone (I haven't before) or to try to make sense of what my voice is, etc.

For the past two weeks I have been working hard in my studio and have been creating a much more welcoming place for myself. I now have a second 4 x 8' table, and just got a used leather recliner with a small side table. I can't tell you how much I have been appreciating that chair during the past week. Most of the work I do, except for machine quilting, is done standing up. My knees  are bad so after a while I can barely stand. Today I worked for a couple of hours, sat down and read for a little while (about art), worked some more and then sat down and did hand embroidery on new work that I have been doing.  Hand to believe but I have been finding that since the work I do is not precise that I can have fun with it. 

So, what kind of work do I really like to do? I have been giving this a great deal of thought. What I have come to realize is that the Japanese esthetic is very important to me and I had not realized how much of that I had absorbed from my time in Japan. I like things that are asymmetrical. I like clean lines. I love organic lines. I love something that is understated. I enjoy minimalism. I enjoy the expressions created by the movements of lines. I love the act of making art. I love the various processes that I engage in. I love the problem solving involved in designing art work. I love to work by myself and enjoy spending entire days by myself.

Ah, but then I need to come up for air and socialize with others, especially other artists.

I belong to a small critique group with some very special artists: Alice Beasley, Claudia Comay and Robin Cowley. All are very good artists and we have been very supportive of each other. This has been important to me and it is with them that I am able to discuss concerns that I see in the art quilting world. The art quilt world is so very different from the art world.  We are going through growing pains and since so many of us came to this type of work through quilting rather than art, many have a lot to learn about art...but that is an entire other topic for discussion.

Enough for thoughts are still coming and I appreciate being able to put them out there and am open to any feedback....

Monday, May 09, 2011

where am I?

When I was a teenager, I had dreams of becoming a professional artist. By the end of high school, I had already taken two years of art at high school, a summer session at the Honolulu Academy of Art, and had studied sumi-e while I lived in Japan. My mother was an artist but I don't have many memories of her involvement in the arts except for her years of being a student in sumi-e.  She eventually received her teaching certification and taught for many years. She had done a lot of oil painting before we first moved to Japan and that is when, in 1954, that she began to pursue the Japanese art form. I took lessons with her for a while but found that the very studied use of brush strokes was not really to my liking.

Early on, a lot of my work was abstract. I made the decision to go to Trinity University in San Antonio, TX to study art. A wonderful school...smallish...about 2200 students and an outstanding liberal arts program. The arts complex included art studios, music studios, and our big theater which housed several smaller theaters also. It was a fun place. Students in the arts frequently crossed disciplines. I took drama lessons, drama students took art lessons and music students took art lessons. A very creative place to be.

After my sophomore year, my father retired in Berkeley, CA and was working for the University of California. Since he was employed there, I could attend with minimum expenses so I transferred. I was excited, this was a big school (22,000+) with a large art department. I learned how to weld there and really enjoyed taking metal sculpture classes. But I found that I just did not fit it.  I am not quite sure why, perhaps because I lived at home and attended school, it was hard to meet other students and develop relationships as I had while living in the dorms at Trinity. I also found that I was not sure how I was going to make a living with art. I fancied architecture but really didn't have the math for that field, considered interior design and passed on that, was too snooty to consider teaching for a living (you know, those who can, do, and those who can't, teach) and, although I was selling my work and going to various art fairs around the area, I figured I should consider something else.

So I went in to Social Welfare, which was actually a good fit for me and a year after graduation finally found a job in the probation department where I remained for the next 30 years until I retired in 1999. During all of that time, while working full time, being involved in Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts (big time) and teaching at work, I was able to become involved in quilting. I started machine quilting early in my life of quilting, when it really was not the thing to do.  Years later, I was teaching machine quilting to those who turned up their noses as my work....ah well, life is interesting!

When I retired, I finally had the time to begin my art full time. During the last year of my employment, my mother was diagnosed with lung cancer. She lasted just two months after I retired. I was glad that I was retired in the later stages of her cancer as I was able to spend a great deal of time with her and to support my father. Several months after her death, I made the decision to return to art on a full time, professional basis...that is, an artist who works at selling their work.

I began creating work all the time. Once I had enough work on hand, I began entering quilt shows and also art shows. I was doing well. I hired a high schooler  to be my assistant and kept her busy filling out show entry forms, filing returned slides, labeling slides, etc. to help keep me organized. She also kept my data base up to date for me. I was busy. I had begun to teach, although I had decided that being a studio artist was more important to me than being a teacher. But I enjoyed the teaching and it helped with my income.

 I was doing well. IRS was very happy.  I even made a profit!

But I found that I was pushing all the time. Making work, finishing it off, doing all the work my assistant had done as she grew up and went off to college.  I was getting tired. It just seemed to be too much to enter several shows a month and to keep track of everything.  So I stepped back and that was two years ago.

Burn out on the career had hit. So for the past two years I have not entered any shows, not even my own guild shows. I haven't been sending out work, I haven't followed through on my goals to obtain further gallery representation after the gallery I was with closed, and I had not really connected with any art consultants although several had sold my work for me before.

So, where did that past two years go?

enough for tonight....I will continue with the update and the move forward.