Monday, May 25, 2009

Meditation Monday - Faces Art-A-Day Journal and Sand Dancer

Memorial day...remembering those gone, but living now and loving the ones you're with...A leisurely Memorial Day here, some gardening going on, a little art-making, family conversations, the cat's snoozing the day away, while our resident woodpecker hammers away remodeling his birdhouse, and we get ready to BBQ our dinner. Random thoughts of those long ago who landed on a beach far far away in Normandy called Omaha, to face life and death challenges, including my father. Reflecting on that, I am lucky to be here and grateful for the sacrifices of that and other generations.

Faces in my Art-A-Day Journal

So here are some faces I recently sketched in my Art-A-Day Journal. The one on the left is supposed to be Liz Taylor in her younger days. And below is a sketch from an old postcard of a Klimt painting entitled "Judith 1". I love imperfect faces, the character they display, esp., the woman below. It's a good thing, because as I get older, I find I am getting more "character", more life lines on my face...but then, we all are, so it's ok.Sand Dancer
The video below has a large face drawn in the sand. The fascinating artist featured lives to create and creates for the moment only. He reminds me of those Tibetan monks who spend days creating intricate sand painting mandalas and then when completed, they destroy them. The art, the magic, the karma is in the process of going inside to draw out that inner beauty into a new creation. Having emerged, and been created, and taken in by the viewers, the moment passes quickly, and this art is recycled into the thousands of other grains of sand, waiting to be born again in yet another form.

So here is a wonderful story about Peter Donnelly in New Zealand, who does what he does because "I want my heart", it's his thing, his creativity and there's no director, nor doing it for money. So maybe this is the heart of an artist, you do what you do because it expresses you, what you feel, and you are choosing to do it, and it makes you alive, makes you whole... What do you think? Are you doing your thing? So take 10 minutes and enjoy this You-Tube Video from Wild Scenic Films, directed and produced by Valerie Reid, other credits listed on the video.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Recycled Mail Book, Transformed Book Exhibit, and Shibori Style Fabric

I continue to experiment and surely it is all taking me somewhere with my art, soon I will get back to painting...?Shibori Dyed Fabric
Above is a picture of fabric pieces that I recently dyed using shibori type methods to create the patterns. Shibori is the Japanese word for several methods of dying cloth with a pattern by binding, stitching, folding, twisting, or compressing it. I've read that that Shibori has been an art form since the 8th Century, quite a tradition. The West sometimes calls it tie-dye, however that does not adequately include all the techniques of shibori. I have belonged to a Machine Embroidery circle of women for a couple of years, where I learned this and various other types of experimental mixed media techniques from a talented fiber artist named June. I had fun with the techniques and the most fun was seeing the transformation of my pure white fabric into the great colors and patterns above. I am interested in taking my experiments further with natural vegetable dyes. Now, what to do with those pieces, perhaps a fabric book is wanting to emerge?
Recycled Mail Book
I have been playing around with junk mail again the last couple of weeks, and decided to make a book out some of it. So, here it is finished, and I really like the outcome. Very portable size, mixed pages of various papers, fold out accordion pages, all ready for me to sketch onto. I got creative with my binding and it came out better than I hoped, as it is totally flexible and lays flat.

Transformed Book Exhibit
I forgot to mention that we went to the Bellevue Art Museum early this month (another free day). There was a book exhibit featuring 31 artists, "The Book Borrowers: Contemporary Artists Transforming the Book", that I especially wanted to see and it was well worth the visit. Consider going since it's on til June 14th. It examines the meaning of the book form in a time when we are becoming increasingly digital. I do love books and magazines and can't imagine going totally digital, there's something wonderful about holding a volume in my hands filled with ideas or stories that can paint images in my head and take me to another place. As for the exhibit, there was a life size reclining Buddha carved from books, a mini-Grand Canyon carved from a set of encyclopedias, and the truly amazing art of Brian Dettmer. Click here to and here to see some of his intricate carvings... I had heard he had some items in this exhibit and that is who I did not want to miss.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Meditation Monday - Bird Sketch

Focus in with the eye, capture the line, the shapes, try to get the essence...
Sketch of a woodpecker from a picture done a couple of months ago. Lately I have been sketching lots of faces, which I will scan and post soon. Meanwhile, my meditation for today (tonight) is more sketching. I have some interesting postcards to use... Drawing can be such a relaxing thing to do... let the mind go and focus in, really observe, really see what is there.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Cat Faux Postage and Sketches, and Blog Tip

I just love the feline approach to life, nonchalant, taking it as it comes, watching the birds, zoning out with that inscrutable look while their humans busy about...Photoshop Faux Postage
Another experiment in Photoshop I did a while back. I altered photo's of my wonderful cat using some filters & colors, added text, resized, and came up with this postage strip. Doesn't he look happy & excited about it? Actually, he's more excited about our resident woodpecker who drums on the new birdhouse we installed. Somehow our zen cat thought he could access it through the fireplace since the sounds travel down! Oh well. Today I'm working up more faux postage, very fun project.Art-A-Day Sketches
Very quick sketches of my favorite feline where I'm trying to capture the gestural, shapes. And below, I experimented with using a taped grid and several photo copies of a cat I met on a Canada road trip. I liked the facial positions, expression, so mixed in a few grids of sketches from the photos.Blog Tip
Something I learned by playing around with my Blogger blog is different settings available for links to your favorite blogs. Many have just the name of the link listed (using the gadget called "Link List"). If a visitor clicks, they are navigated into a new web link. But, if you choose a gadget called "Blog List", then you can choose to show an icon, a post title, etc. of your favorites... in my sidebar, I called it "Blogs to Inspire". I find blogs more interesting if they have set it up this way - it seems more inviting, friendly, and seeming to set up a circle of communication among the like-minded, esp. for artists. Another benefit of using the Blog List, is that when visitors to your site click on one of your favorites, it merely opens another window, so they don't navigate away from your site, and can easily find you again to read or see your art. Try it, it's easy.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Sunday Meditations - Hearts and Mothers

That beating heart drumming a continuous rhythm of love and life...Today I think of my mother in her 80's that I am so grateful for, and all the journeys we've taken together. Mothers make me think of flowers, warm cookies in the oven, helping hands, busy hands, creative hands, and that ever nurturing spirit. The photo's are from our Gaia Mother (Earth mother, named after the supreme Greek goddess) -- a bleeding heart from our garden and one of our birch trees that revealed it's heart. So, hail to the mothers, the great Gaia Mother, the female creative energy of our world, and may we all be nurtured as needed, and move toward harmonious balance in the world.

Women in Art
Now sit back and savor this wonderful YouTube video, "Women in Art" by Philip Scott Johnson. It artfully melds one portrait into another spanning 500 years of female portraits in Western Art. The music is Bach's Sarabande from Suite for Solo Cello No. 1 in G Major, BWV 1007 performed by Yo-Yo Ma. This video was nominated as Most Creative Video in the 2nd Annual YouTube Awards (2007, I think). I enjoyed viewing this from the perspective of the woman/female creating energy of the world, as well, as studying the portrait details and wide variations of styles and faces portrayed by the artists......

Friday, May 8, 2009

Calligraphy and Americana

Beautiful writing looks so inspiring, all those flourishes & swirls... fine lettering is an art form to admire carrying our words with grace, or perhaps with flair...Calligraphy
Last week I had a fun day of short lettering classes at a calligraphy conference that I attend every year.
Above are 2 pages of play/lettering practice using parallel pens. I love these pens and have had 2 of them for a couple of years. I first found out about them at an art workshop, then again at the Calligraphers conference. They are made by Pilot and come in several sizes. This was the first time I had a class solely devoted to how to take them apart, clean them, different ways to ink them, etc., very informative. Here's a link to where I bought them, however, I have recently seen them in a local art store as well. And what do they look like? Well:Americana
We did a Seattle Art Museum trip on Thursday (1st Thurs of the month is free, by the way) and savored a great exhibit called "Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness" which is on until May 25. It is described as 275 objects from the Yale University Gallery, which never travels, except, that they happen to be renovating.
I wasn't sure I would appreciate this exhibit, however, it was well worth it. There were paintings by Homer, Eakins, and Turnbull (including the ones of founding fathers gathered at the tables), wonderful old prints with great examples of the old handwriting and lettering styles, furniture and silver and scabbards, a very impressive range. Two precious items are enclosed in a wood cabinet due to their fragility, which the viewer opens -- to find none other than 2 large lockets with watercolor paintings, one of George Washington and one of Martha Washington, with locks of their hair woven underneath... Amazing. An unusual item was called "Bells and Whistle", and it actually was a very fancy highly polished ornate metal whistle with little bells hanging off of it and was a child's toy. Now I wonder if that's where that phrase comes from, you know, "I'll be there with "bells and whistles..."
Unfortunately, I can't post a picture as you can't take any in the SAM, but here is something similar to a few very old photos I saw in the exhibit that were from the 1860's... This is an 1862 copyright free image from Dover of Lincoln during the Civil War (you can download this one if you like). Somehow I have a difficult time imagining that they were taking photos back then, but they were. The museum exhibit even had a very large stunning photo (probably about 24 x 30) that was of the moon showing all of the craters, quite amazing.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Meditation Sunday - Faces Behind the Mask and Paint

We each present ourselves to the world uniquely in our dress or costume... but beneath lies the dreaming soul, that spark that enlivens our being in the world... The mask/shield sculpture in this picture I created in 1998 as part of my training in art therapy. I used and shaped leather over a life plaster cast of a person's face and used an overall palette of gold, red and black. Found crow feathers and a smaller sculpture of my beloved cat are incorporated onto a natural wood spiral symbolic of my journey with an attached "medicine bag" of more symbolic objects inside. This has never been shown nor hung in a gallery, instead it hangs in my house so I can see it every day and remember my dreaming self that it represents... I was fully employed at the time in a very legalistic career, while art had always filled my spare time, and I dreamed of becoming an art therapist. I completed a program and became a Certified Expressive Arts Therapist in 2000... because of my belief in the power of art to heal, and that undefinable sacred place that creating something takes me to, "the zone". I continued that career, but I added teaching Creativity and Coaching peers to my repetoire. Now retired from the career, creating art is a full time passion. And the dreamer is still here.

Who is your dreaming soul beneath the everyday face that is presented? And notice how does this spark change and evolve over time? Reflecting over all the years, it is the same me beneath everything, still there... but perhaps my "outer face" is more in harmony with my "dreaming self".
Now, here is a fantastic You-Tube Video. Unfortunately, my audio is still not working so I can't vouch for the music as I can't hear it, but "The Omo River People" video presents stunning faces with body paint and adornment, all masterfully photographed by Hans Sylvester. The Omo River is in southern Ethiopia. I love these faces, they are so soulful, and the eyes are truly captivating. Enjoy and contemplate who you are and your place in the world...