5 Reasons Why I Installed My Solo Gallery Show During Covid19 Quarantine

Why did I go ahead with installing a show in the middle of a pandemic? A show that may never have eyes on it other than mine and the gallery owner’s? I list 5 very good reasons why I did it…

Hey, so did you all know I have an actual solo show installed in an actual gallery right in the middle of a national quarantine? The opening, originally scheduled for April 11 was rescheduled as a closing for May 16 and has now been extended to a June 6 closing. (Show details at the end of the article). I was lucky to gain the extension because the artist whose show was scheduled after mine decided to decline because of the virus. Why did I go ahead with installing a show that may never have eyes on it other than mine and the gallery owner’s?

Because….

  1. I’m an artist and it’s what I do. Period. I am an artist. I have art. I have been offered walls in a gallery to hang that art and I’m going to hang it. One of my favorite quotes from the book, Steal Like An Artist, Watch a great musician play a show, watch a great leader give a speech. You’ll see what I mean. You need to find a way to bring your body into your work….you know that phrase ‘going through the motions?’ That’s what’s so great about creative work: if we just start going through the motions, if we strum a guitar or shuffle sticky notes around a conference table, or start kneading clay, the motion kick starts our brain into thinking.
    It’s important for me as an artist to do what I do, to go through the motions no matter the fears I, or anyone else, may have regarding the future.
  2. Hope How many of you have walked down once bustling city streets and peeked into shop windows wishing that you would see a light on or a person working, something that would give you hope? Well, I have peered into shop windows on a few instances and I have found that hope. People walking by the gallery may not be collectors and it may not be an opening, but it just might add hope to the heart of someone glancing in the window of the gallery who sees my art instead of empty white walls.
  3. Art is Meant to be Experienced in Person Kudos and many thanks to those who have organized online exhibitions to brighten art lovers lives during isolation, I have thankfully been a part of a few of these shows. But just like quarantine, online exhibitions are not sustainable in order for art to thrive. Scale, color, sound, smell, texture, touch, not to mention the emotional experience one can rouse from the presence of a piece of art and/or the cohesiveness of entire exhibition. These things are just absent when viewing art online.
  4. Normalcy I needed a bit of it in my life. Taking masked precautions when necessary, I continued to hike, drive, go to the food store and keep appointments when I could throughout the quarantine. So when the gallery owner contacted me and asked if I wanted to go on with the show, my answer was an adamant, Of Course! As we slowly creep out of this isolation and take proper precautions, I will continue to schedule in person shows, workshops, trips and everything else that brings me just a bit closer to normal life and I encourage you, my artist friends (those of you who can do this safely) to do the same.
  5. Art is An Essential Worker Not to undermine the so many brave frontline souls, you are wonderful and thank YOU for doing what you do. So many conversations have been had during this quarantine regarding who is an essential worker, what is an essential product, business, etc. As an artist, I’m guessing art and artists fall somewhere near the bottom of that very long list of essentials. My post, 5 Reasons Why the World Needs Art & Artists argues why art should at least be near the top.

If you’re in the Philadelphia area, please come see my show! All precautions will be taken to keep everyone safe and distant while viewing the art including mandatory mask wearing (I will have a few of my own handmade, hand-dyed, sterilized masks on hand as door prizes for the first 5 attendees!) Limit to 4 people inside the gallery at a time, wrapped refreshments and frequent wiping down of surfaces. Come see!
For those of you who can’t make it, highlights of the show are pictured below.

Lorraine Glessner Solo Show: A Box of Devils
Closing Reception, June 20, 2-5 pm
Boston Street Gallery, Philadelphia, PA
Gallery Web Site

An (Un)Productive Time: A Conversation With Artist Christine Aaron

What happens when a nation full of artists is thrown into what is essentially a 6 week artists residency? Many amazing thoughts and conversations have transpired as a result of deep and creative thinkers actually having time to think. My lovely and talented artist friend, Christine Aaron, shares her thoughts on being (un)productive during Covid quarantine.

As I’m assuming many of you are doing during this crazy quarantine time, I have been connecting with friends in as many virtual ways as possible and having some great conversations. What happens when a nation full of artists is thrown into what is essentially a 6 week artists residency? Many amazing thoughts and conversations have transpired as a result of deep and creative thinkers actually having time to think. In my last blog post, I offer 10 ways artists can be productive during Covid, as to be productive is always my goal on any given day. However, as this quarantine endlessly drags on, I find myself embracing this time of quiet and instead of watching and creating promo videos, I’ve actually spent LESS time on social media. What this will do for my teaching career remains to be seen, but what it has done for my studio work has been fantastic. I have been able to write, draw, read and make the time consuming encaustic paintings I had stopped making because it was so important to make, make, make as much as I could for whatever reason. So this month, I’m sharing with you an email by my lovely and talented artist friend, Christine Aaron, in which she discusses the joys of being (un)productive. An excellent addendum to her thoughts is a good article Christine shared with with me in this same email, Against Productivity in a Pandemic. A sampling of Christine’s sensitive material investigations in printmaking, handmade paper, sculpture and installation is below and you can see more at her web site and follow her on Instagram.

I am trying to resist the need to produce. It’s that constant drumbeat of the american work ethic. The idea that we are only as valuable as the work and the things we produce. I got a lot of affirmation for being the “good girl” and huge emphasis put on the value/necessity of producing, as in productivity equals value. I had a huge issue when I stopped working outside the home and found myself needing to daily justify my existence by what I accomplished. It is till the hardest part to let go of for me… this idea that to call myself an artist I have to at least make enough $ to earn my keep.

I want to say…Just stop. For a week or two. Slow down. Recognize all we miss every single day with our rushing around. Take stock. Reprioritize. Let yourself grieve. Let yourself just….be. Read sleep breathe, walk, notice….

The drumbeat of do do do is hard to resist but I am trying.

Feel there is so much more to learn than a rush to do everything as we used to. I think part of that urge is the drive to shove the uncomfortable aside…to bury oneself in the familiar. To not think too deeply or feel too deeply. I want so much for humans to come out of this with a renewed recognition that we need in-person contact, that devices aren’t enough, that touch and intimacy and connection is essential to our health.

Reading, watching Art21, doing puzzles, walking, meditating. I plan to be in the studio each day..but NOT to produce for a specific end goal. Making to make, for the pure pleasure of exploration, experimentation, happiness, curiosity (what if what if what if) and putting aside material conceptual “goal”, “should”, “product” concerns to a much later date. To play, to read, to daydream, to give myself some quiet time. Stain, sketch, dye, stitch and experiment. Once this is all over I’ll see what it all adds up to.

Pattern & Decoration: A Little Known Art Movement

What is it about those of us who like to include a ton STUFF in their work? I began to investigate this phenomenon in grad school and discovered an art movement that even my professors had never heard of before-Pattern & Decoration or P&D for short.

I do admire artists who can say a lot with a little, however, I have to admit, I’m just not one of them. My confession of the day is…I like a lot of stuff (or shtuff, as I like to say) in my work: images, layers, materials, colors, patterns, processes. Sometimes I think it’s a bit too much and critics of my past often said this was so…but I like to ignore critics and did so then. Over the years I entertained the notion of paring down, simplifying, only to soon after add back in that which I had taken out. What is it about those of us who like to include a ton shtuff in their work? I began to investigate this phenomenon in grad school and discovered an art movement that even my professors had never heard of before-Pattern & Decoration or P&D for short.

P&D artists practiced Maximalism, a term that basically describes extremes and can be applied to anything in life and to any type of industry. In art, it is an extreme use of color, movement, pattern, repetition, an all-out explosion of shtuff! Both P&D and maximalism arose in the early 70’s as an answer to minimalism and its austere, almost restrictive practices. P&D paintings lean toward the decorative, with elaborate compositions of flowers, ornament and swirls, the use of collaged fabrics, glitter, decoupage and gold leaf. It’s for this reason that the P&D movement itself is generally thought of as feminine or craft driven, although a good number of artists were male and all artists were mostly painters. The movement itself was relatively short-lived, lasting only about a decade, yet many of the artists associated with it are well known, some still creating interesting work today. A few of my favorites include, Miriam Shapiro, Joyce Kozloff and Robert Kushner (all pictured in that order in the gallery below).

To my delight, P&D has come out of obscurity within the last year, with four shows in major institutions celebrating this movement. Further, if you look at any contemporary painting gallery today, you’ll see at least one artist whose work could be described as maximalism and has likely been influence by P&D. P&D is alive and well in my studio and in many of yours, I’m sure. To those of you who are holding back, I say MAX OUT, give it all you’ve got…life is short, my friends. Check out the gallery below for inspiration and if you need more, please visit my Pinterest board, Painting: Pattern.

Workshop & Retreat Guide: Which One is Best for You?

I used to see the two descriptives, ‘workshop’ and ‘retreat’ as interchangeable, but over the years have noticed a distinct increase in the use of the word retreat. As I have started to organize my own workshops and retreats, it became more apparent to define the difference for myself and prospective participants.

I hadn’t really given this question much thought until it was posed to me during my interview with Alyson Stanfield for her wonderfully informative Art Biz Podcast. I used to see the two descriptives, ‘workshop’ and ‘retreat’ as interchangeable, but over the years have noticed a distinct increase in the use of the word retreat. As I have started to organize my own workshops and retreats, it became more apparent to define the difference for myself and prospective participants. To my knowledge, no one has formally defined these two things so I’d like to add a bit of a disclaimer that the following guide is based on my own experience and are the guidelines I personally use when promoting and organizing my classes.

Artist Workshops are:

  • A gathering of like-minded individuals for a week or less for the purpose of learning, completing a project, exchanging ideas and/or discussion.
  • Usually takes place at a facility/house/room/building equipped specifically for the workshop, but may also be used for other purposes at other times.
  • Taught by a 1-2 professional instructors.
  • Although some may travel a distance to participate in a workshop, many may be also be local. Accommodations and meals may be, but are not always included as part of the workshop.
  • Offered multiple times a year.

Artist Retreats are:

  • The same as workshops in concept (see point one above), but are scheduled for a longer period of time-at least a week or more.
  • The location is important, is most often a destination locale and is often explored as a significant part of inspiration for the retreat.
  • There are side/field trips scheduled as part of the workshop inspiration.
  • Food, yoga, meditation, spa, and other body pampering activities are scheduled or available to the retreat participant.
  • Participants likely travel to the destination and are encouraged to stay at the location for the duration of the retreat in order to totally immerse themselves in the experience. Accommodations and meals are usually included as part of the retreat.
  • A unique experience and may be offered as a once in a lifetime or as a rarity.

I hope you’ve found this post helpful and informative. Please see this post for a comprehensive listing of my 2020 Artist Workshops & Retreats.

My 2020 Workshop & Retreat Schedule

Is there someone on your holiday gift list who has everything? Instead of more STUFF, give them the experience of a creative Workshop or Retreat! Buy one for someone you love, buy one for yourself or both!

Is there someone on your holiday gift list who has everything? Instead of more STUFF, give them the experience of a creative Workshop or Retreat! Creative experiences make great gifts because they keep on giving for a lifetime. Buy one for someone you love, buy one for yourself or both!
Before choosing a Retreat or Workshop, please be sure to read my Workshop & Retreat Guide to find out if a Workshop or a Retreat experience (or both!) is the best choice for you. Please don’t hesitate to contact me with questions about any of these Retreats or Workshops.

2020 Retreats

WILD RICE RETREAT: EXPLORING LANDSCAPE THROUGH ENCAUSTIC & THE MARK
Wild Rice Retreats combines food, wine, body self-care and gorgeous inspiring landscape to round out their creative expression retreats. Please visit the workshop link below to read more about Wild Rice, view their lovely photo gallery and to find out more about my class.
**SIGN UP FOR THIS RETREAT DURING THE MONTH OF DECEMBER AND RECEIVE $100 OFF PLUS A BOTTLE OF WINE!**
July 12-16
Wild Rice Retreat, Bayfield, WI
WORKSHOP DESCRIPTION, INFORMATION & REGISTRATION
See this post and this post for Retreat Highlights and Student work made in Retreats similar to this one.

IRELAND ARTIST RETREAT: MIXED MEDIA ENCAUSTIC
Created by and for encaustic artists, the Essence of Mulranny Retreats offer state of the art facilities, sweeping coastal and mountain views and miles of inspiring Irish landscape make this retreat a once in a lifetime experience you will draw inspiration from for years. Please visit the links below for Retreat details and photo gallery.
August 1-8
Essence of Muranny, Mulranny, Ireland
WORKSHOP DESCRIPTION, INFORMATION & REGISTRATION
See this post and this gallery for Retreat Highlights and Student work made in Retreats similar to this one.

VERMONT ARTIST RETREAT: EXPLORING LANDSCAPE & THE FIGURE THROUGH PHOTO ENCAUSTIC
I have teamed up with photo encaustic artist, Leah MacDonald to teach this once in a lifetime Retreat in rural Vermont. Lareau Farm Retreat offers comfortable country accommodations, farm to table meals, miles of hiking through meadow, forest, mountain and swimming in the Mad River. Leah and I have planned a wonderful five days photographing the figure and expressing the landscape as well as a few fun local excursions. Please visit the link below for photo galleries and a detailed Retreat description and itinerary.
August 17-28
Lareau Farm Retreat, Waitsfield, VT
WORKSHOP DESCRIPTION, INFORMATION & REGISTRATION

NOLA ARTIST RETREAT: A HISTORIC CEMETERY EXPLORATION THROUGH MIXED MEDIA ENCAUSTIC
A truly unique experience not to be duplicated, I have teamed up with New Orleans based artist and historian, Heather Veneziano to offer an immersive creative exploration of New Orleans extraordinary cemeteries. In addition to cemetery excursions and ample studio time, Heather and I have planned several fun food and creative excursions to New Orleans lesser known inspiring spaces and resources. Please visit the link below for a detailed Retreat description, itinerary and photo gallery.
November 9-13
Paper Machine Studio, New Orleans, LA
WORKSHOP DESCRIPTION, INFORMATION & REGISTRATION

2020 Workshops

MIXED MEDIA ENCAUSTIC COLLAGE
April 18-19
Hunterdon Art Museum, Clinton, NJ
WORKSHOP DESCRIPTION, INFORMATION & REGISTRATION
See this post for workshop highlights and student work of past workshops similar to this one.

MIXED MEDIA ENCAUSTIC: FIBER EXPLORATIONS
May 1-3
Schweinfurth Art Center, Auburn, NY
WORKSHOP DESCRIPTION, INFORMATION & REGISTRATION
See this post and this post for workshop highlights and student work of past workshops similar to this one.

MIXED MEDIA ENCAUSTIC: FIBER & STRUCTURE
June 28-July 2
Cullowhee Mountain Arts, Cullowhee, NC
WORKSHOP WEB SITE COMING SOON!
See this post and this post for workshop highlights and student work of past workshops similar to this one.

APPROACHES ON PAPER: ENCAUSTIC & PRINTMAKING
September 17-19
Elise Wagner Studio, Portland, OR
WORKSHOP DESCRIPTION, INFORMATION & REGISTRATION
See this post for workshop highlights and student work of past workshops similar to this one.

MIXED MEDIA ENCAUSTIC: TEXTURE & LAYERS
October 14-16
R&F Paints, Kingston, NY
WORKSHOP DESCRIPTION, INFORMATION & REGISTRATION
See this post and this post for workshop highlights and student work of past workshops similar to this one.

Palette Paintings, Process, Progress

Continuing my series on the work I made during my Florida Residency, this post covers what is likely the most important work I made while there-my palette paintings.

Welcome to fall!! And welcome back to Art Bite Blog after a brief, yet restful, unplanned hiatus. Continuing my series on the work I made during my Florida Residency, this post covers what is likely the most important work I made while there-my palette paintings. These paintings are important to my studio practice in so many ways, but are important to my teaching as they illustrate so profoundly an aspect of art making that I feel is an absolute necessity: Process.

I came to make the palette paintings because my literal watercolor renditions of the Florida landscape were dismal and frankly, uninspired. It’s important to start somewhere and for me, beginning with a literal copy of the subject and then breaking down from there is how I’ve arrived at almost everything I’ve done that is remotely successful. Color is my go to for a lot of things, so I thought I’d start from there. The very first palette I made had no form, no rhyme or reason. I’ve long been inspired by Ellen Heck’s Color Wheels and love her design, but I wanted something simpler. When one is on a residency in remote Northern Florida, one uses what one has on hand…so I used the top of a moisture eater I purchased for my cabin and a Dasani cap as my templates. Circles and ovals are my faves, these templates fit nicely in my backpack with no weight added and I could change the design at will-it all works!

The next part of the process was to paint the colors I saw before me without getting overwhelmed by all of them. I decided to focus on one small section of the landscape and paint every nuance I saw within it-how the light changes with time, how the wind affects the color, how clouds, sun, storms, etc. also affect the color. In most cases, I jotted notes on the date, time of day, weather conditions and where I was. I suddenly had many variables with which to dissect and study this very large, very dense jungle of a landscape and I was having fun doing it. Even though I consider myself a fairly decent colorist, I was learning so much about really seeing and mixing color, as well as developing a color palette I could call my own, which was one of my loose goals for the residency. With one of my major goals achieved, the palette painting definitely brought everything full circle-no pun intended

I now make a palette painting or two on every hike, honing in on anything from leaves, flowers, rocks, water, lichen, etc. My next venture is to combine the palettes with the drawings I wrote about in this post. Also, I’ve just started to get a bit more complex with the design of the palettes themselves. It’s so fun and freeing to work within parameters, I’m discovering so much and making new work at the same time.

Please peruse the paintings below. I always take care to photograph the source of the palette and the source images are either next to or in the same photo as the palette itself. Also, FYI, almost all of the palettes are painted on my Hahnemuhle Watercolor Book using my Portable Watercolor Set, both of which are available in my Amazon Store. Visit my Hiking, Travel and Portable Art Supplies Idea List on Amazon for more great portable ideas and visit my recent post, 5 More Essential Portable Art Materials for my favorite products.

The Self Made Artist Residency: Part 2 Decisions…Decisions..

Part 2 of 3 articles on how to plan your own Self Made Artist Residency. This is a list of helpful questions and decisions you must make before taking the plunge.

So you’ve applied for and have been rejected from a few residency programs, you’ve weighed the pros and cons regarding creating your own (Read Part 1 of this series, Self-Made Artist Residency: The Good, The Bad & The Ugly) and decided to be a rebel and do it! But where to begin? The following is a step by step checklist of important decisions to make before taking the plunge and of course, I offer examples of some of the things I thought about and actually did.

These considerations all work together, one is not separate from any of the others. You might not be able to check all your boxes, but having all considerations all in one list, plus all of the questions I ask may help you prioritize what is most important to you. It might also help to refer to Residencies: The Artist Kind, a blog post I wrote about choosing and applying for a residency program. Read to the end of this article for photos of my funky cabin and funky cabin art.

  1. When and How Long For most, carving out time away is the biggest hurdle so this must be your first consideration. I’m a bit of a hermit in the winter months, especially in the months of January through March, so I usually leave that time unscheduled in order to focus on my studio work. I had wanted to schedule my residency for all three months, but I had a rare workshop scheduled for mid-February. That left six weeks starting in January, a good amount of time to acclimate to my surroundings and get some work done.
  2. Location Where in the world is most inspiring to you? What kind of climate/landscape do you need to feel inspired? Do you need a city near you, lots of people, civilization? Or are more isolated areas better for you? Do you want to be in the US or is international travel important for you? As I mentioned above, I needed to get out of winter in Philadelphia so being somewhere sunny and warm(ish) was my top priority. Hiking is part of my studio research, so an interesting landscape with parks and/or hiking trails is where I focused on the map. Also, my budget didn’t support international travel, so I focused on the south, southeastern and southwestern US.
  3. Cost You will be solely responsible for all costs, so you must make a budget that includes travel, food, accommodations, art supplies, entertainment, etc. Once you arrive at a budget, double it(!) as there are incidentals that come up that you may not have considered. For example, most of the state parks I’ve been to here in PA are free while most of the parks I visited in FL had a charge. I went to a new park every other day while there and realized I should just purchase a Parks Pass which eventually paid for itself.
  4. Accommodations How much room do you need to make your work? Do you like to cook, do you need a kitchen? Do you need outdoor space? Do you usually make a big mess when you work? Working with encaustic needs too many special considerations so I knew I was only bringing water media and this restriction freed up my options. I don’t need a lot of room to make my work and I’m not especially messy when I work. Part of my embarking on this residency was to get away from my life, to think and be alone so I didn’t want a lot of distractions-being in a rural environment was okay with me. I also like a patio space or space outside of my living space to read, write, draw, etc. I don’t cook and really only need a microwave and small fridge for meals. Having all of this info combined with my timeframe, location and budget worked out.
  5. What’s Next I then went to Airbnb (also checked Sublet.com, HomeAway, Vrbo) and searched the states I was most interested in visiting-CA, UT, NM, AR, CO, FL, GA, SC. I also checked the extended forecast and found that I would be most comfortable in FL. I couldn’t afford anything in the vacation spots most snowbirds frequent in January, so I settled on a small fishing cabin on the St. John’s River in Northern FL that checked most of my boxes. (Pictured above) It had two small bedrooms, a sunroom, a full kitchen, a small bathroom, laundry on premises and it was right on the edge of a National Forest. It was also 90 minutes from two cities that had galleries and museums so that I could satisfy my art cravings. Not perfect..and by no means was it luxury…but it was within my budget, drivable within two days from home and I could be comfortable there for an extended period. I knew I would be in a rural environment, but this place was very isolated with the closest food store at least 30 miles away. It was weird at first, but I acclimated well and by the third week I learned to plan my hiking trips so that I could also do errands along the way.

The best thing about doing this on my own was realizing I could do it and that I didn’t have to rely on the almighty residency programs out there to tell me where, when and how high I could jump. Everyone will be different, but I hope this offers some inspiration and at least gets the wheels turning for you. Stay tuned for my next post outlining how I carved a creative space out of a fishing cabin, supplies I took with me, supplies I wish I took with me and what kind of work I made while on my residency.

The Self Made Artist Residency: Part 1, The Good, The Bad and The Ugly

Are you tired of applying for and getting rejected from artist residency programs? This is the start of a 3 part article that will guide you step by step on how to start your own self made artist residency.

After many dollars and hours spent applying for and being rejected from numerous artist residencies, I decided to make my own in sunny Florida at the start of this year. I posted about it almost every day on social media which generated a lot of interest from artist friends who had never considered this for themselves. I got many questions regarding how I did it, so I’ve broken down my process into three posts. This first one is a list of considerations I thought about and that you should think about before embarking on your residency adventure. The second is a step by step process for organizing your budget, location, accommodations, etc. The third outlines how I carved out an artist studio from a fishing cabin in rural Florida and the work I made while there. I hope this series helps you to buck the system and make your own way in residency bliss! It might also help you to refer to Residencies: The Artist Kind, a blog post I wrote about choosing and applying for a residency program.

I have been fortunate enough to have been awarded a few residencies in the past, so I have something to compare with my self-made residency and while there are obvious similarities there are also plenty of differences between the two. For some, being completely responsible for oneself as well as spending time alone is a dream, but for others, it might be pretty scary. In some cases the good things I’ve listed might be considered bad things and visa-versa. Consider this list just food for thought before you make the jump. After reading, scroll down for some digital drawings I made during my residency and visit my Instagram for more.

The Good

  • You have no responsibilities to anyone but yourself, you can do what you want when you want.
  • You can be in perfect solitude, choosing when and if you would like to socialize.
  • No requirements to donate work, open your studio, offer a lecture/workshop, work in the kitchen, etc.
  • No application process, essay writing or asking friends to be a reference for you.
  • You choose where, when, what, how and how long.

The Bad

  • You have no stipend and therefore absorb all financial responsibilities for your residency.
  • You are responsible for all household duties-cook, clean, shop, laundry, etc. These are things you likely do at home, but might not want to do during a residency.
  • No studio visits or critiques.
  • No impressive or prestigious line to add to your resume.
  • Likely, no designated studio space in which to be messy.

The Ugly

  • You have to know yourself. Know who you are and what you can accomplish away from the structure of being at home. For example, if you don’t have a regular studio practice at home, you aren’t going to magically establish one away from home.
  • Do you feel uncomfortable away from home? When you travel, does it take you a long time to acclimate to a strange place? Do you need a lot of time and/or a lot of space to create your work? Do you need a ton of materials at your disposal to make your work? If you answered yes to these questions, you’re likely not a good candidate for a self-made residency. If you feel uncomfortable or uneasy in a new place and it takes you a long time to make yourself at home, your creative energies will not be flowing and your time and money will be wasted.
  • Although you’re traveling, this isn’t a vacation, you need to get to work. Know why you want to do this and roughly what it is you’d like to accomplish. Have some goals set and set up some kind of structure to your days. Even if you don’t accomplish all of your goals, you can at least strive for something good to happen during your residency.
  • You are alone with yourself and your thoughts. This might be pretty ugly for some, but it was amazingness for me.

The Evolution Of A Mark, Part Two

Drawing is not what one sees but what one can make others see.
-Edgar Degas

Just about this time last year, I wrote The Evolution Of A Mark, in which I trace back to how and why I make the marks I make today…specifically speaking to the gouache paintings I’ve been developing on and off for many years and just recently got back into working again. Not just contemplating my navel, I’m hoping that by retracing how I got from there to here, I can help other artists look at their own work histories and trace back to what it is that sets their work apart. Once that thing is recognized, it can be developed.

My first post left off at gracefully closing the door on my textile design career and   blessedly opening a window into my fine art career at about my mid-20’s. I wanted a career in fine art, but I wasn’t a painter yet so I started by going back to my roots in textiles. I began by making art quilts that combined all of my loves at the time-photography, hand/machine sewing, found objects, beading, drawing, painting-pretty much everything but the kitchen sink. My modest success making and showing them got me into graduate school with a fellowship no less! I included some detail shots below…be kind, these quilts are OLD and so are the images.

Celebration detail, Portrait, Flower detail, Portrait detail, Flower detail, All: Hand and machine embroidered, quilted, beaded, fabric paints, found objects, photo transfers, fabric/paper collage, found fabrics

My work in grad school was (and still is) rooted in drawing connections between the earth and body. How I make these connections changed many times over the years with various explorations, but back then I was interested in making those connections through visual patterns. I started with art quilts but quickly dove into line work and using the sewing machine as a drawing tool. I was captivated by the sewn line as well as by the thread itself. There was something so simple and lovely in the pile of cut thread scraps on my sewing table that I started to use them in the quilts and as inspiration for drawings. So enthralled was I by the thread, I eventually abandoned the fabric base and just focused on making quilts out of the thread alone. My explorations led me to discover the magic of Solvy, a water-soluble embroidery stabilizer and I was hooked. My process was to cut threads from many spools and place them in a pile, then sew them together by following the flow of the clumps as I arranged them. I was so excited that this process developed from the basic process of sewing and this is where my interest in process as a form of art making was born. The sewn thread pieces resemble pelts, grass, hair, skin, which to me, spoke visually of both earth and body…another exciting thing that told me I was on the right track to combining process, materials and content.

Purity detail, Eleuthera, 12×12 inches, Purity, 6×4 feet each panel, Purity detail, White, 9×12 inches, Beginning, 2×3 feet, Rise, 4×5 feet, Beginning detail, Rise detail. All: Rust and Eco Stained fabrics, paint, machine quilted, embroidered, silk and cotton fabric, rayon thread.

From here, I made three 4×6 foot quilted ‘paintings’ for my thesis show that were comprised of the thread pieces, stained and painted fabrics, drawing and painting (pictured above). At the same time, I was also working on a series of drawings that started by manipulating and photocopying the threads, then using graphite paper to transcribe the photocopied images to another paper. The photocopy was placed on top, and the graphite paper underneath, I would then trace the photocopied image over and over without seeing the drawing I was creating underneath. The drawing created resembled a dense tangle of clumpy swirls, which referenced roots, veins, water systems and various other underlying channels integral to life.

Thread drawing photocopy detail, Clump 1, graphite on print paper, 22×30, Thread drawing photocopy, Thread drawing photocopy detail, Clump 2, graphite on print paper, 22×30

The repetitive act of tracing and sewing the threads embedded in my psyche and I found myself instinctively using it whenever I was drawing. I’ve created many series using this mark and it has varied over the years as you can see in the gallery below. Even with its variations, I’m pretty much stuck with it…or it’s stuck with me. See more of these paintings on my web site here and paintings on plexiglass here.

January in the Rockies 5, 9×12 inches, One Dark Cloud, 20×16 inches, January in the Rockies 3, 9×12 inches, Rain Over the Hill With Lake, 20×16 inches, Frost Fog, 16×20 inches

I hope you enjoyed this article and it’s helped you in some way. I always love hearing from you, so please feel free to comment (comment section is located in the upper left sidebar of this article). If you’re intrigued by line, want to find your personal mark or are just searching for some cool ways to add line to your encaustic paintings, my workshop at the encaustic conference is just for you! Read about it here and please feel free to contact me with any questions.

Stay tuned for my April blog posts-a two part series on the self-made residency I completed in January-February. I’ve gotten loads of questions about how to start one, where to stay, what to take, etc. and I’ll explain it all. I look forward to sharing this information with you and also sharing the work I produced during my residency. If you can’t wait, visit my Instagram for a sneak peak. See you in April, Happy Spring!

9 Art Works I Need To Exist

Continuing my quest to explore why art is needed in the world, I list 9 works that are of profound significance to me as an artist.

As I was writing my last post 5 Reasons Why the World Needs Art & Artists, I had wanted to include images of art works that have resonated with me, that I can’t imagine the world without. But instead of including them in the last post, I needed to honor them with their own post. To have examples of actual works drives home the point that art is needed in the world and you, as an artist, are needed in the world as well. I have to say that there are thousands of paintings, sculptures, installations, etc. that have made their mark in my world but to include all, of course, would need a whole blog devoted to the subject. (Actually, there such a blog called Oh What a World, What a World. It’s my first blog that unfortunately got hacked so I no longer can add to it, but you can still view the amazing artists on it.)

In order to pare down my list I came up with the following criteria…I had to have seen the work in person, I had to remember the work without too much thought or googling, the work had to mark a turning point in my thinking or life, I would have it my personal collection if I could and the number of works had to be less than ten. Now, you may have seen most of them before, they are not obscure, but that’s not what this list is about. This was an interesting exercise for me and although I write about each work, I can say that whenever I viewed these pieces, overall, I was immediately at peace and invited to escape into a dream for a moment.

Are there artworks that pop into your head that are of a profound significance to you? That for you, absolutely must live in the world? I’m curious what they are and what it is they did/do for you. Please add them in the comments section located on the left at the top of this post near the title.

  • Agnes Martin, The Rose, 1965, acrylic and graphite on canvas, 72×72   When I first saw this at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, I was still in my teens and I thought this plain old grid was so boring…then I looked closely and SAW it. It is a light pencil grid on an almost indiscernible pale pink ground. That an artist could capture the essence, delicacy and beauty of a rose within a simple grid pattern while using almost no color left me speechless and forever in love with exploring the possibilities of the grid.
  • Cy Twombly, Shades of Night, 1978, oil paint, oil stick, graphite on paper, 41×27  The PMA has a special room for the suite of 10 paintings, 50 Days at Iliam. When I first saw it, I was in my late teens and the work angered me. I loathed these paintings. Despite my strong feelings of hatred, they intrigued me and I always made it a point to visit these works every time I was at the museum. I would stand and stare at them, the marks, the movement, the paint application, the paintings were so large and aggressive! Each time, I had a strong reaction and my hatred eventually turned to love as I learned about Twombly’s work and myself as an artist. I must say that every time I visit this room or any of Twombly’s works, I learn something more about painting.
  • Klee, Fish Magic, 1925, oil, watercolor, on canvas, 38×46  Who doesn’t love this painting? It’s a relatively small work tucked into a dark corner of the museum. Reminiscent of a child’s scratchboard drawing, it was one of the first paintings that communicated to me the message that art can be fun!
  • Picasso, Young Girl With A Goat, 1906, oil on canvas, 54×40  This lovely painting hangs high on a wall, close to the ceiling at the Barnes Museum. Despite my many visits to the Barnes, it was only on a recent visit that I noticed it. I can’t really put into words what attracts me to this painting except that its pink and gold and just makes me happy. I was in a happy place when I first noticed it and when I see it now, it takes me back to that moment. If I suddenly come into a large amount of money, it’ll be the first painting I purchase.
  • Henri Rousseau, Carnival Evening, 1886, oil on canvas, 46×35  I was very young (maybe junior high?) when I first saw this painting at the PMA. I loved Rousseau’s dreamy, clean, graphic painting style. I could understand his work, unlike the abstract expressionist works my young mind wasn’t quite ready to absorb. This painting was a dream and for many years, the postcard I purchased in the museum bookstore allowed me to dive into that dream whenever I wanted.
  • Georgia O’Keeffe, Music, Pink and Blue 2, 1918, oil on canvas, 35×29  If you’re a fan of this blog, then you know of the profound effect Georgia O’Keeffe had on my growth as an artist. This particular work was the first art poster I had in my room as a young teen, (it even took the place of Sean Cassidy, but I digress). I had it right in front of my bed, so it was the first thing I saw in the morning. I got lost in the sensual forms, tracing them with my eyes as I got used to the morning light. This certainly had some effect on my visual memory and likely carries into my paintings to his day.
  • Sandy Skoglund, Revenge of the Goldfish, 1981, Cibachrome color photograph, 27×35  It was at the PMA that I first saw Skoglund’s work in my mid-20’s. I was always intrigued with photographs and loved how Skoglund could realize fantastical worlds in her work. Within a few years, I learned Photoshop and was on my way to realizing my own fantastical worlds.
  • Picasso, Glass of Absinthe, 1914, painted bronze with absinthe spoon, 8x4x3  I’m not a big Picasso fan, so I’m totally laughing right now that two of his works made it to this short list. Although I’m not a huge fan, I learned to appreciate his work when I took a summer art history class in grad school. I had to choose one work of Picasso’s in the PMA’s collection for my paper and this one was it. Before that time, I didn’t know Picasso had done any sculpture and I loved the intimate scale and general fun-ness of this one. I researched the piece extensively and fell in love with the whole series. Once again, I was pleased to learn that an artist could wear many hats, make work in many disciplines and just have fun, Picasso or not.
  • Leon Frederic, Four Seasons, 1894, oil on canvas, 49×32  I was very young when I saw these pieces at the PMA and to this day, still visit them whenever I’m at the museum. What I love about them is the joyful exuberance and pure love that the artist had for these works…love, that you as the viewer can actually feel standing in front of them. This was another postcard purchase that I carried with me and hung in my room for at least a decade, it always brought me joy whenever I looked at it.