Thursday, January 11, 2018

Challenge Quilt

Week One- Hometown Proud.
   The term "home town" can mean many different places, especially when you've lived a while. Do I go with where I was a child? Or a teen? Where I made my first home alone? Or as a married couple? Or where I've raised my family? In the end, I decided to go with my current hometown. I live in Kimberling City, Missouri, and I've been here for over 20 years.
  The town isn't just small, it has little history. It had a ferry to cross the White River and then later, a bridge (which is actually under the current one). It seems it always had to do with water and leisure. When they built the Dam, it flooded the lowlands and created Tablerock Lake. Lake Life was created. The most important structure in town is The Kimberling City bridge which connects the southern part of the county to the northern. It is a vital part of transportation for many living on the southern side.
  So here is my tribute to the bridge with an abstract sunset reflected in the water.
   This piece is 10"x 10". Rather small, but I just learned of the challenge on Tuesday night and wanted to be sure I completed it.  This is a raw edge applique, just the two layers of fabric, then quilted. 

Friday, July 21, 2017

Mid summer blues

It's been awhile since I've checked in here. The long hot summer has kicked in with a vengeance here and it's taking it's toll on my garden. In the past, my summers had more free time to devote to the garden. Now that I am working in a different job, those summer days are spent away from home for the most part. The garden suffers.  This week has been unusually harsh between the near 100 degree temperatures and working 7 days (with a 12 hour day thrown in there) and you can see how hard it is to tend the garden.
  I'm struggling to decide if I need a community and, if so, what kind. I'm part of a few and I'm not feeling exactly fulfilled. It makes me question if I need to even have one if they are all vexing me.
  My art is my art.
 I sent a couple pieces to be part of a travelling exhibit. the exhibit is shown in total and in parts, where the coordinator decides to send it. Some of the decisions perplex me.
  I am asked to jury into a small local guild gallery which, by all accounts, is not part of the rules of the guild and shouldn't even be a thing. I have no intention of doing so. I think the discussion ended with, when I have the time to devote to it, I can put my art in.
  I joined a rag tag group that seems to want to join people together, but the people are so diverse and the group seems to be heading in a multitude of directions that, seems so random. Not sure I understand what's going on there.
  I joined a state wide group but I never get the opportunity to show my work because most of the opportunities are 4 hours away. The one opportunity to show locally is where I work already and I can't be two places at once.
  I need to just sit back and enjoy the dubious ride the traveling art show is doing since there's nothing I can do about it anyway.  I need to work towards the two opportunities I have upcoming and then see how the gallery shapes up.
 Most of all, I need to enjoy the fun I'm having now and see where it takes me. I have had in my mindset that I make art, show art, sell art and repeat. I probably need to examine that definition a bit and let go.
 So many shows are about limits. Size, techniques, presentation, and often theme. It is a constant struggle to keep your own voice in the face of all of that. I'm trying very hard to find my center again.

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Traveling to see ART

 North Georgia- Not far from Helen, GA, I found this gallery housed in an old school. Added onto the school was the museum of pottery from the southern Appalachians. A person was nice enough to share the packet that new artists receive when they apply for this gallery. of all the places I traveled, this was probably the most like our own little gallery in Kimberling City. Since it was an old school, there are two separate rooms across the hall from each other housing the gallery. then there's a classroom and then a couple rooms dedicated to the history of that area.
 I found that the subject matter varied greatly in this gallery. It wasn't consistent in terms of quality or delivering a sense of place.
 I would one of the few things of significant historical relevance is an indian mound that someone built a gazebo on top of. It's there and you can see it driving by. It's in a field that you cannot access. The Smithsonian devoted time to a dig and then collected all that was found there. Once they got the museum up and running, they requested one piece back and this was it.
 North Georgia pottery( or southern Appalachian pottery) was also studied by the Smithsonian. The people involved were collected as examples of living history. For the most part, they were very utilitarian pieces, like jugs and crocks, churns, etc.. Mostly salt glazed and, therefore, not very colorful. The exception seems to be these face jugs that show some humor, or horror.
 Brad Walker, a potter in Dehlonega, Ga, creates interesting pieces and adds a note to the person who buys it in each one- supposedly. He was closed when I was there.  The trials of traveling in weekday, winters. there was a coop gallery opened and I spent quite some time talking with the artists there. I asked quite a few questions about how they are set up, how they deal with different issues, costs associated, etc... One interesting thing to note about Dehlonega has to do with gold and one building has a gold steeple. It's an iconic image they use to their advantage. One artist did a copy of Van Gogh's Starry night but added that gold steeple nestled in the town. I believe it was a mural somewhere, but she had cards of it as well.
 Charleston, SC-  This was my first time visiting this town and it's something really special. One thing struck me was that most scenery in the shops are very impressionistic in style. Charleston does a really great job of capturing a sense of place in most of the work I saw. In addition, there's a good tourist market for selling items based on the ornate grill work or the sign names of restaurants there. It is a foody kinda town. This town has so much history to draw from and everything is in fabulous shape. You would never imagine that house you walked by was built in the 1700's, or 1800's, etc..  It's southern, it's coastal, it's Gulah. The coop galleries seemed to understand the tourist market that drives the area. They seem to run similarly to ours.
 Coastal Gulf- I did not get to go into many galleries. just one in Destin and it was owned by a woman who does watercolor paintings. She has brought in other sorts of artists to round out the look, but all the paintings were hers and they were rather uneven watercolors. I liked a few of them, but mostly, they seemed unfinished. The subjects were strongly coastal and sea life related. I did go into my favorite commercial gallery, The Zoo Gallery, and it's a mix of interesting pricey pieces and commercial funky.
Pensacola train bridge
 New Orleans- Last year, I really got to explore New Orleans for the first time. I had just a 1/2  a day here this time and I knew to zero in or Royal street. What struck me this time after seeing Charleston, was just how shabby it all looks. It has a lot of similarities in terms of history and architecture, by Charleston takes better care of their stuff and New Orleans enjoys the not so perfect parts of life. New Orleans' art is bold and quirky and odd at times. It varies widely in styles, but also rather trendy. I mean, last time these colorful wonky depictions of houses were in Jackson square, now they are everywhere!
 I like the big VooDoo doll in the mid ground. There were a few people making cute voodoo dolls (not creepy) in wood, metal and paintings.
 I really like these that are somewhere between a doll and sculpture.

Jackson Square and an example of colorful art. I can't tell you how many galleries had dog paintings in them. Of course, the most famous is the Blue Dog, but he's high scale now and so this is what we have. There's someone doing pastel looking cats too. So, most of the galleries are either single artist galleries or a mix that fits together somehow. (subdued, funky, bright, etc..) I listened to a man and his wife argue over a painting. He loved it ($800) and she kept saying it didn't go with anything in their home. It was one of those wonky bright house paintings. I imagined her home to be all magnolia pastels.
  The lesson I always take home from New Orleans is that you can make art from anything. I saw a young man drawing houses on wood with ball point pens and having them for sale for $20. My favorite is Fleetwood Covington (fab name right?) who draws on rusted tin roof pieces with charcoal and conte pencil- black and white. Amazing!
 In all my travels, I only saw one person who is working in fabric as art. Chris Roberts-Antieau has her own gallery on Royal street. That's it.
 So, a whirlwind tour from the obscure to the famous. I enjoyed the heck out of it all.

Tuesday, January 24, 2017


thinking about adding the brim to this piece. Basically, is the mermaid totally underwater, or in a cave with some water in it?

Monday, January 23, 2017

January work

 I've been continuing to re-evaluate my art on my days off from work. Things had gotten so messy around here that I've spent quite a lot of time sorting through and getting rid of several things. Books and magazines, extra art supplies, and so on, streamlining and focusing on my core loves.
  I'm focused on creating a piece for VisionCon and maybe some smaller things. To that end, here's my progress on both projects. Above is the progress so far of the art piece for it- a mermaid in a cave. It's at the bare beginning, but I think you can get a feel for the direction it's heading in. Below are a few of the barrettes I'm making. I'm going to try to cover most geeky subjects. I'm still working out the best way to create these and learning a lot as I go.

Now for some bad news. The quilt I submitted for a quilt show honoring women and their accomplishments was not juried in. What? you say. uh yeah, it happens and it feels really crappy. So, for a few days, you walk around in a funk and you second guess every single thing you did to make this. Since it's happened to me before, I'd felt crappy before and I probably will again. it's the price you pay (literally) when you put yourself out there. You question yourself, the jurors, the others' art, all sorts of things- but, in the end, hey, those two people didn't like my work. Ok. 
  What it leaves me with is a quilt that I don't know what to do with. Thus, the creation trap we fall into when we pursue shows. This show required a specific size, a certain format, a certain subject assigned to you (from a choice you submitted) and now it is too small for most other shows, too specific for others, in short- it was made for a particular show and it is not in that show now. I could get all philosophical about how every piece is worthy and teaches you something but- yeah lessons learned.  

So here's some I learned. Only make art about things you truly love or feel strongly about. Be true to your own artistic journey. Speak with your own artistic voice and then you can stand strong behind your work.
   So, lessons learned- Stop doing these shows that restrict you by size and techniques. Stop trying to fit your life into these themes. Only do art that you feel strongly about. And- personally for me- stop equating your artistic success with shows/sales. Relax. you've got a job- make art you love.

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Merry Christmas

I am writing this on my new computer that has an e key and I'm thrilled to be able to just write and not have to go back and correct for that missing e all the time.
 Having a new computer is a bit like moving into a new house. It's similar, but there's a lot of things in the wrong place and it takes a while to settle into the new space.
 I am still working this week five days and it's a bit crazy and chaotic, and I look forward to the next week of counting and get sad. It's also time when we're all a bit anxious for it to be over.
 I have applied to a new opportunity to show my work and we'll see what comes of it. I don't think they really know what they want, so I'm not sure what the project will end up being. It definitely isn't shaping up to be my vision of what could be there- I imagine salon style displays and multiple artists involved. I think they are looking for a few and divided in sections. Oh well. It's a shot at what I'd really like to see happen- my art on display without me having to be there. LOL
  Between this opportunity and another, my mind is weaving a bit- how to stay true to the direction I want to head in personally, adapt to sell-able smaller pieces as well as address a creepy theme for another exhibit and produce at a high level to keep up.
  I had a discussion with a fellow art traveler the other day and I pointed out her goal of an arts center might be getting the cart before the horse, as she has no art programs yet. Not many would be willing to renovate a building for a group that has no programs. So, she said maybe I should propose a class she could promote. I answered that I am not really interested in teaching how to make art (procedures) but much more interested in why we make art.
  In my opinion, that discussion is sadly lacking in the local art groups I've belonged to. I've seen some really bizarre things this year at art meetings. I'm wanting to see some bottom line numbers in some projects / galleries people have done. I'm willing to take a chance on some things, but I'm not looking to lose money on a regular basis. I'd like to see what the local Arts Council is trying to do and how successful they are. Seems like they should have some numbers to show for their efforts now.
  Anyway- I'm enjoying the process of pin pointing my thoughts a bit more.

Monday, December 05, 2016

Life after noise

  I've been marginally successful with cutting down on the noise in my life. I find I don't miss the online group at all. Even though I've cut myself off, I still ended up having a piece in Houston and still heard about the controversy involving copied art there again. My only comment to that was to acknowledge it and realise there's no fighting it. Remaining FB friends with those still fighting the good fight kept me in the loop but I have no interest in fighting it any longer.
  I've been examining some groups I belong to- re-evaluating their usefulness. I might keep one, drop the other and I joined up with a new group I'm excited about. I am concerned that, while I can think up projects, I can't execute them with the speed others can. Between work and that my medium takes longer, I just can't get to production phase just yet.
  I'm going back to focus on two themes I want to work in and I have a couple ideas I want to pursue within those larger themes. The idea of archeology- digging into your past, layering work and the second is regionalism.
  I have grown tired of some of the more traditional ways to achieve success in the arts. I tried the quilt show route, the gallery route and a long time ago I did the craft/ art show route. None of them are particularly rewarding. I've grown a bit cynical, but I'm really tired of the "pay to play" system that is pervasive in the art world. Too many artists are out there spending money they get from elsewhere (their spouses, their retirement, their other job) to try to show their art in places that don't pan out financially. Why do it?
 So off the merry-go-round I go and away from the Carnival life to where it's quiet and personal. I have a need to hear my own voice and luckily, I can do that for now. Perhaps, at the end, I'll be able to show what I've been thinking.
  But first, I finish this season of work and prepare for Christmas, so no physical art for me for some time. I'm in my fallow stage, thinking, considering, sketching, planning which is arguably, my favorite part of creation.