Exploring Landscape Through Encaustic & The Mark: A Hawaiian Artist Retreat

Jeff Juhlin & Lorraine Glessner take their collaborative teaching venture to Maui! Register now for this exciting opportunity!

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Other things leave me, but it abides; other things change, but it remains the same. For me the balmy airs are always blowing, its summer seas flashing in the sun; the pulsing of its surfbeat is in my ear; I can see its garlanded crags, its leaping cascades, its plumy palms drowsing by the shore, its remote summits floating like islands above the cloud wrack; I can feel the spirit of its wildland solitudes, I can hear the splash of its brooks; in my nostrils still lives the breath of flowers that perished twenty years ago.

Mark Twain, (Written after his stay in Maui)

What
Exploring Landscape Through Encaustic & The Mark: A Hawaiian Artist Retreat
Limited to 12 participants!
Level: Intermediate to Advanced
$1200 includes most materials (see below)
For Registration, Please Contact: Lorraine Glessner, lorraineglessnerstudio@gmail.com

Payment Payment of 50% of the workshop fee + materials ($600) is due at the time of registration with the remaining 50% ($600) due on the first day of the workshop. Please contact Lorraine for payment details.

When
October 21-25, 2019, 10am-4pm each day

Workshop Description
The mark of nature combined with encaustic painting creates timeless works which reference memory, change and time. Utilizing the natural luminosity, textural and layering possibilities of encaustic, participants will experiment with innovative materials, drawing and marks to depict the spirit and essence of the land. Easy to moderate hikes exploring the lush, verdant coastal areas of the North Shore, Maui are led by Jeff and Lorraine. Along with daily journaling, meditation, readings and expressive mark-making exercises, these immersive hikes will provide the inspiration for which to develop ideas and provide areas of focus for series based work while also developing your personal artistic voice. Considerations of our body’s connection and it’s direct relationship to landscape will also be discussed. Optional individual critiques with both instructors will be offered to all participants.

SCROLL DOWN TO SEE images of student work and fun scenes from hikes and studio time during Lorraine and Jeff’s 2016 and 2017 Artist Retreats in Torrey, Utah. Additional blog posts related to other artist retreats co-taught by Jeff and Lorraine are here, here and here..

Where  The Uaoa Art Barn located on Carla and Steve Thistle’s lush, rugged paradise on Maui’s North Shore. (pictured above: Uaoa Art Barn and surrounding property)

What Else?

  • Color relationships, composition, application, content, proportion, scale as an effective foundation for other painterly information.
  • Learn how to use encaustic’s strengths (layering, transparency, luminosity) to tell your story.
  • Mark-making exercises geared toward making simple or complex marks to generate a personal language.
  • The option of an Individual Consultation/Critique discussion with each instructor. Bring a piece of work, a question, a concern, a problem and discuss it with Jeff and Lorraine.
  • Some guided meditation time, planned hiking and beach walks will relax and open your mind and spirit to the ocean and land, helping to support and nurture your unique creative voice.
  • A slide talk with examples of contemporary artists whose work applies the ideas and concepts discussed in the workshop is offered for inspiration.
  • Lots of open studio time to explore and interpret the inspiration gained from the meditations and hikes.
Images of the Maui, North Shore and areas near The Uaoa Art Barn

Who A collaborative teaching venture with Jeff Juhlin & Lorraine Glessner

Jeffjuhlin.com
Jeff Juhlin’s work references his experience of time and place. He explores the horizontal line and the layers and strata of things substantive and imagined. HIs work alludes to the vast space and geology of the western landscape where he lives. There, time makes itself present in horizontal layers evidencing the past, both building up and wearing away in a continuous process. Jeff’s methodology typically includes many layers of translucent strata composed of pigmented wax, oil, paper and other media, that are built up and worn away similarly in a compressed period of creative time. He accumulates layers of material, images and color that make up the whole of a painting, then goes back in to explore, excavate, expose and obscure. The end result is a non-literal visual form, a translation of that experience and process.
Jeff uses various materials and mediums to create these works however encaustic incorporated with mixed media including paper, ink and oil paint are most often the primary mediums. Encaustic’s luscious luminosity; physical presence and translucent quality seem the ideal medium to explore this process.
Jeff has completed Residency/Fellowships at the Virginia Center for the Arts and VCCA, Moulin Au Neuf, Auvillar France. He has been Artist in Residence 2010-2017 at the Hui Art Center in Maui, Hawaii. His work can be found in numerous private, corporate and public collections as well several public art commissions. Jeff holds a BFA degree from the San Francisco Art Institute. He maintains studios in Salt Lake City and Torrey Utah. He teaches Regularly at the Hui Art Center in Maui, Hawaii, the Kimball Art Center in Park City Utah and at his Studio in Salt Lake City.

lorraineglessner.net
Lorraine Glessner’s love of surface, pattern, markmaking, image and landscape has led her to combine disparate materials and processes such as silk, wood, wax, pyrography, rust, paper and more in her work. Lorraine is a former Assistant Professor at Tyler School of Art, Temple University, a workshop instructor and an award-winning artist. She holds an MFA from Tyler School of Art, Temple University, a BS from Philadelphia University, and an AAS in Computer Graphics from Moore College of Art & Design. She has a diverse art background with skills that include painting, sculpture, graphic design, interior design, textile design, photography, digital imaging and much more. Among her most recent professional achievements is a Second Place award in Sculpture from Art of the State at the State Museum in Harrisburg, PA, a recently completed artist residency at Jentel Foundation and an acquisition by Kelsey-Seybold Cancer Center in Houston, Texas. Lorraine’s work is included in the recently released Encaustic Art in the 21st Century by Ashley Rooney and Nuance, a curated book by artist, Michelle Stuart. Lorraine frequently lectures and participates on academic panels at various Conferences including The International Encaustic Conference, SECAC and The College Art Association Annual Conference. Her work is exhibited locally and nationally in galleries, museums, craft centers, schools, libraries, universities, and more. Like her work, Lorraine brings to her teaching a strong interdisciplinary approach, mixed with a balance of concept, process, history, experimentation, problem solving and discovery.

 

Student work and other fun stuff from Torrey Retreat, 2016-2017

Materials Included: the following list of materials is provided for the student

  • All encaustic paints, encaustic medium, tools and equipment
  • a variety of pigment sticks
  • Sumi ink & other misc. drawing media
  • Misc. drawing papers
  • Paper towels/rags
  • Extra encaustic brushes
  • 8×8 & 10×10 1″ cradle birch painting panels for sale

What to bring: the following is a list of materials for the student to bring to the workshop

  • Sketchbook/notebook, pencil or pen for note taking
  • 1-2 drawing media of your choice (pencil, pastel, conte charcoal, oil pastel, Crayon, graphite, felt pen, etc.)
  • Closed toe shoes for safety in the studio
  • Lunch and beverage each day
  • 6-10 wooden painting panels (your preference of 8×8 or 10×10, but no larger or smaller, please) Other suggested substrates are: masonite (coated with encaustic gesso), Ampersand Encausticbord, 3-ply matt board, whatever you bring, it must be rigid, but nothing coated in acrylic or acrylic gesso!! NOTE: There will be 8×8 and 10×10 1″ cradled panels for sale in the studio, so it is not necessary to bring panels if this presents a hardship due to travel.
  • 2-4 actual OR images of your work, digital prints or phone/iPad sharing is fine
  • 5-10 hake or hog’s bristle natural hair brushes in 1-2 inch sizes for encaustic painting (1 brush will be designated your medium brush, so it must be free of color if you are bringing used brushes)
  • Optional Materials Smock, any encaustic paint color or pigment stick color you favor, iwatani torch with extra butane, any tool or material for any technique that you normally employ while working with encaustic, textured objects and/or sharp ended tool for pressing into/incising/writing/drawing into wax, 1-2 inspiring books to share with the class.
  • For a helpful list of portable art materials for traveling and hiking, read this recent blog post. 

 Hiking Equipment Recommendations

  • Sturdy hiking shoes/boots
  • butt pack or small backpack
  • comfortable clothing
  • light rainwear
  • Hat
  • water bottle
  • Digital Camera or smart phone or point and shoot camera or DSLR
  • bag for collecting found materials

Cancellation In the event that you need to cancel your workshop, please notify Lorraine at least 45 days prior to the start of the workshop and your deposit will be refunded. No refunds will be available for cancellations occurring less than 45 days from the start of the workshop.

Accommodations  This web site offers a full list of air B&B’s along the North Shore in Haiku. Book early, they fill up quickly!

Two Within walking distance…

  1. Holomakai   Look at images on the Airbnb site, but email Carla Thistle for discount info-DO NOT USE THE AIRBNB SITE.
  2. Queen bed, small kitchen, bathroom, beautiful ocean view, clean and safe:
    100.00 cash a nite, 7 day minimum, 2 persons only. Email Jen Shannon for details and mention Carla Thistle.


Food
Filtered water will be available for drinking and tea, however, you may want to bring other preferred beverages. There will be no food served during the workshop, you must bring lunch and snacks each day. There are a number of eateries, cafes, restaurants and markets nearby. A full list will be provided to registrants a few weeks before the start of the workshop.

For Registration, Please Contact: Lorraine Glessner, lorraineglessnerstudio@gmail.com

Hikes for Artists, Part Deux

If you’re like me, you don’t plan vacations, you plan Inspir-cations and mini self-made residencies to inspire your work. This list of 10 amazing hikes from me and some of my amazing artist friends will give you some ideas for places to go and things to do this summer.

If Part 1 of this Hikes For Artists series brought you some inspiration, this week is sure to do the same with amazing art and images of inspiring hikes hand picked just for artists. If you’re like me, you don’t plan vacations, you plan Inspir-cations and mini self-made residencies to inspire your work. This list of 10 amazing hikes from me and some of my amazing artist friends will give you some ideas for places to go and things to do this summer.

  1. Lorraine GlessnerHike Location: Cohab Canyon in Capitol Reef National Park, Utah
  2. You can probably sense a theme that Utah is likely my favorite hiking destination and you would be right! This hike was also introduced to me by artist friend Jeff Juhlin in my favorite National Park of Capitol Reef. Its only about 3 miles out and back and you really don’t have to do the whole thing to experience it’s wonderfulness, but those who do will have the pleasure of a dramatic overlook (pictured above). I should mention that this hike and the park itself is not just for painters-photographers, writers, musicians and especially sculptors will all find inspiration here-I have a suspicion that Richard Serra must visit this park often.
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  4. The park itself is unusual, the terrain and land forms are literally like nowhere else on earth, but this hike is a stand-out even here-it’s like an abridged version of many areas of the part all in one place. Jeff and I took our Desert Artist Retreat here last year and even though it was a drizzly day, there was so much to see and sketch, one could do this hike a thousand times and not see it the same way twice. I have literally taken thousands of photos here, these photos being the ones I reach for most often when making my photo montages and digital drawings for painting inspiration-one of these is pictured above. Unusual colors in the earth, lichen and foliage from green-gold to salmon-peach-orange to rich creamy gold, textures, swirls, pocks, painted and sculpted rock faces and many layered surfaces abound on this hike. Being in the canyon offers a hushed, almost eery quiet while you’re surrounded by windswept trees, black lava rock and otherworldly scenes around every corner. Wind, water, time, wildlife and humans have sculpted this unusual place. The history of the canyon is quite interesting and you can almost feel the energy of the spirits of the Mormon settlers who resided here. Unlike my favorite hike I described in Part 1, this hike is well traveled, but there are many hideaways carved into the rocks where you can sit and draw, meditate or just look around for hours undisturbed.

2. Linda Celestian

Hike Location: Graffiti Pier, Philadelphia, PA

I live 30 minutes outside Philadelphia in North Wilmington. My husband maps out a new adventure for our hiking group every Sunday. On a recent hike we parked for free at the Sugarhouse Casino hiked to Graffiti Pier and then down Frankford Avenue to form a loop of around 4-5 miles.

Brushstroke

There’s something exciting about going slightly off the beaten path and exploring a place that’s a little gritty and edgy. I love the exuberant colors and layering of different styles that cover every surface at Graffiti Pier-even the trees-you feel like you’re inhabiting an abstract painting. It’s like a museum of street art that is free to the public and constantly evolving as new artists leave their marks. From the end of the pier there’s a great view of the city. We ended the hike strolling through burgeoning Fishtown sampling coffee, beer, bagels and more street art at every turn.

3. Laura Moriarty

Hike Location: Baer Art Center, a beautiful seaside horse farm in Northwestern Iceland

08.moriarty1

My favorite walk followed well-worn tractor trails around the farm that eventually came to a black sand beach. From the beach I somehow made my way into these vast, deep bands of loosely piled, moss and lichen covered stones that go on for as far as the eye can see. Walking into them was not easy on the ankles. An immense, otherworldly-looking Cape jutting out of the sea was the punctuation point at the end of my trail.

 

4. Rebecca Siemering

Hike Location: Morro Bay, CA. Black Hill is the end of a string of mountains and trails of extinct volcanoes. Fleming Loop from Las Tunas Road, to the Powerline Trial and then the Carmel Loops to the top.

When I was living in Morro Bay, I was living with my Aunt Joanne Hand, a weaver, for an internship. I worked on various looms then, however,  I do not weave as much today.  I am a fiber artist partly because I could see making a life and living pursuing art. I worked in the bookstore with my aunt by day, wove on my days off and at night.

10_rebeccasiemering

This hike can be taken off of Las Tunas Road in Morro Bay, CA or many other roads on the edge of town. In the late afternoon, I would hike up this small mountain or take a long walk down to the bay by Morro Rock. You can walk through the dunes full of jackrabbits and sand dollars. When walking up, the trail is filled with brush, scraggy pines, sometimes you see evidence of Chumash Indian caches. At the very top is such a treat. Looking one way, you see all of the ocean and the bird estuary below with cranes. Looking the other way, you can see back to the whole mountain range. If you are lucky, sometimes there is fog and it looks like it is just you in the clouds with the sun. Dress for all types of weather and in layers, the Bay is cold. However, ten miles inland in San Luis Obispo you are wearing shorts.

Photo Credit: Jenn Moore, Jenn Moore, Henry Hamm, Joey Gonzalez

5. Teri Bevelacqua

Hike Location: Olympic National Park, Hike to Toleak Point from Third Beach, just west of Forks Washington. Best done mid-week to avoid a crowd.

teri1

It’s the kind of place you run away to. Part of the hike is on the beach and part is through the forest on the headlands-it’s beautiful and peaceful. The forest is old and has wonderful sight lines not common inland. The beaches are wild and remote with spectacular views- tide pools abound at low tide chock full of sea life and the ocean in many moods. Haystacks, private coves and much wild life on this hike. I’ve had many “Wild Kingdom” moments out there with orcas, hunting seals, eagles and hunting seals.  

Many, many thanks to Arden Bendler-Browning, Bridgette Guerzon-Mills, Dietlind Vander Schaaf, Jeffrey Hirst, Laura Moriarty, Linda Celestian, Rebecca Siemering and Teri Bevelacqua for taking the time to share with us their favorite hikes. I’m so grateful to all of them and to you for reading.

As always, I look forward to your comments, questions and suggestions-the comments section is located at the upper left sidebar of this post. I would like to make artist hikes/inspiring vacations a regular part of this blog, so please email me or leave a comment if you would like to share your favorite inspiring places in a future post.

Stay tuned for my next post still focused on summer and Inspir-cations, in which I will share with you my favorite portable art materials. I break down what is really necessary for me to take on the trail and in my suitcase when I travel. Even if you don’t hike or carry a backpack, anyone who travels away from home or even just commutes to work will find this post helpful. In the meantime, enjoy the lovely spring air!!

Hikes For Artists, Part 1

Looking for some painting inspiration this summer? Some of my artist friends and I share some of our most inspiring places along with the art inspired from having been there.

According to the calendar, spring has sprung, although one would never know it here in the Northeast. With this interminable winter we’ve been having here in Philly, I’m just itching to get out and do some hiking. I feel absolutely stifled when I can’t get out and immerse myself in nature’s inspiration and it shows in my work when I haven’t been outside for a while. One of my favorite quotes by Matisse suggests that no matter what kind of work one makes, nature is always filtered somehow through the artists mind…An artist must possess nature. He must identify himself with her rhythm, by efforts that will prepare the mastery which will later enable him to express himself in his own language.

The main source of inspiration for my paintings is from photographing and/or plein air sketching while on long hikes. I always like to explore at least one new place per year and usually plan extra days around my summer workshop teaching schedule to hike the area I’m teaching or I plan vacations around an inspiration hike. I was curious if other artists did this and apparently many of you do, so I decided to gather a few willing participants to write about their favorite inspiring places. Even if you don’t enjoy hiking, many of these places are drivable or just looking at the photos in this article, the art inspired by it and the artist’s web sites is inspiration decadence.

  1. Lorraine GlessnerHike Location: ‘The Knolls’ Teasdale, Utah

    I have so many favorite hikes, it was difficult to narrow it down. I chose ‘The Knolls’ (pictured the top of this article), the name granted by artist friend, Jeff Juhlin, who introduced it to me a couple of years ago and inspired by the odd earth forms that surround the area. It’s located just outside of the Dixie National Forest entry in Teasdale, Utah. Jeff and I have taken Our Desert Artist Retreat to The Knolls, but other than that, I have never seen another soul on the trail-all you hear is the wind and your own breathing.

    k2015001685

    The images I’ve shared below were taken on a cloudy day and even so, the earth shone a brilliant rust/red/orange/pink. To say the terrain is other worldly is an understatement, I have literally never seen anything like this place except in a Star Trek episode. The colors, earth, rock, trees, brush, flora all wind whipped into fascinating twisted, sculpted forms that keep me interested for hours. I hiked there alone on a stormy day last August and for many hours I climbed, photographed, sketched and wrote. I then went home and made some digital drawings from some of my photographs (one pictured above). Here is an excerpt from my journal that day…Rocks that grow out of the ground, trees growing out of rocks, rocks that seem to have teeth and fallen branches that look like bones. I keep trying to find a sound, but there is absolutely nothing to hear. This place defies all logic, but I never want to leave its magic.


2. Arden Bendler Browning

Hike Location: Drive-By’s in Australia

As I write this, I am traveling by motorhome with my partner and three daughters all around Australia.  As we drive, I paint while observing the landscape morphing through the windshield and out my side windows.  I have also revisited drawings made while outside and from window views of Sydney, hikes in Maui, and riding through the Sydney highways – I add layers from different locations and combine them together into one image.

Maker:L,Date:2017-8-24,Ver:5,Lens:Kan03,Act:Kan02,E-Y

My previous road trip out west from Philadelphia resulted in numerous sketches made in this way (primarily watercolor and gouache on Yupo), and then large paintings were made back in my studio as I looked at the thousands of photographs from my trip, held in my hand as I made marks on my panels.
The drives, moreso than the hikes, tend to be my inspiration.  I am interested in conveying the yearning to take everything in, to be everywhere all at once, yet also considering the awareness that it is an absurd impossibility promoted by our own constructs.  To see everything means to miss something else – be that the slower paced time spent in one place,  the elimination of another route altogether, or simply existing more on the physical present moment This seems to echo the prevalent pace of contemporary life in the digital age… We are convinced that anything and everything is possible, if we just decide to do it.  Things are rarely the way we envision them, and real time of quite a different thing than a digital feed.  Additionally, I’m shutting out other aspects of my ordinary daily reality in order to move around the world.
During my current road trip, we drove the infamous Eyre highway across the barren Nullarbor plain.  The Nullarbor contains the longest straightest section of road in the world and is a vast flat terrain with zero trees.  There are very few settlements – just a few roadhouses and tiny towns many miles apart.  I have imagined this landscape while looking at maps for years, and was surprised by its beauty and drama.  It never
I painted this watercolor and gouache painting on a round sheet of handmade watercolor paper during the three days it took us to drive the main sections of the highway, from Port Augusta in South Australia to Norseman in Western Australia.  I layered and layered marks in response to the changes in the roadway and the surrounding terrain… Far more changes and detail than I could have imagined.  I kept thinking it was done, only to see that it wasn’t, and became entranced with the changes in what I was noticing along the way: the shadows of clouds moving over the road ahead, the random patches of red earth, the range of color in the immensely vast horizon.  I worked on this painting for hours throughout each of the three days we traveled on this lonely, intense road.
I’m excited to experiment with printmaking and animation when I get back to my studio, along with large paintings.

 

3. Bridgette Guerzon Mills

Hike Location: Ruby Beach and Second Beach, along the northwest Pacific coast of Washington on the Olympic Peninsula

As a naturalist and outdoor enthusiast, I have hiked in many different areas around the United States. My most favorite hikes are these two hikes through the forest down to the wild beaches of the Pacific Northwest.

BGM4

Ruby Beach trail is very easy, not really a hike as it is only .25 miles through the woods, but it can give you a taste of the wild Olympic coast. The more rigorous hike, but also a very do-able day hike, Second Beach is further south and is a 4 mile round trip from the trailhead. The Second Beach hike was my first hike to the Pacific Ocean and was eye-opening for me- someone who grew up on the east coast and spent childhood summers playing games and getting funnel cake on the boardwalks by the Atlantic Ocean among throngs of bikini clad people. The trail took me by tall Sitka spruce and a descent down to the log-strewn beach. As I got closer to the beach, the trees thinned out and I caught sight of the iconic offshore sea stacks. When I emerged from the forest and was hit by the blustery wind, I just stood in awe of such wild beauty and the gray on gray of the seascape and sky. I had never been in such a place and it was an encounter that I will never forget and has inspired my art over and over again- not just the actual physical beauty, but the feeling of wild, of longing, and of a very strong sense of place.

 

4. Dietlind Vander Schaaf

Hike Location: Tomales Point Trail, located at the northern end of Point Reyes National Seashore in California

Tomales Point is a beautiful space to see tule elk, birds of all kinds, and wildflowers. The hike is just shy of 10 miles roundtrip and follows the ridge crest of a narrow peninsula, offering panoramic views of Tomales Bay and Bolinas Ridge to the east, Bodega Bay to the north, and the coastline of the Point Reyes Peninsula, which stretches to the south. The parking lot is located at the historic Pierce Point Ranch, a remnant of the area’s early dairy ranching days. I have walked this trail a dozen times or so, but only made it to the end and back twice, both times with my friend Paul–once before I left San Francisco to move back to Maine, and then again last year. 

dietlindIn Winter I Found Quiet

It’s a bit of a drive to get to the remote trailhead at the northern-most end of the Point Reyes peninsula, past working dairy farms and long stretches of national seashore. Sometimes when I’ve been on the trail, the fog was thick, obscuring views of the sea, but mostly it’s clear and you’re pretty much guaranteed to see tule elk, a subspecies of elk found only in California. Conservation measures in the 70s have brought a dwindling population of wild tule elk back up to nearly 4,000.
Because there are few to no trees on this hike, it reminds me of the years I worked for the Appalachian Mountain Club in the huts, specifically the times I found myself hiking above the tree line between peaks. The eye can travel far on this trail–you get what I think of as the long view and I appreciate the sense of perspective this affords me.
When we reached the tip last February, Paul and I could see immediately that a large part of the cliff we had followed years before had fallen steeply to the sea below. There was no longer an easy scramble down rocks to the water’s edge. For some reason that felt appropriate, though it also made me a bit nostalgic, to think that where I had walked prior literally no longer existed.
It feels like something significant to complete this hike. I think of this trail as a place of pilgrimage, something sacred and infinitely beautiful, probably even more so now that I live in Maine and it is no longer a few hours drive from my apartment in San Francisco.

 

5. Jeffrey Hirst

Hike Location: Point Reyes Peninsula in Marin, Chimney Rock with elk reserve

I love to hike near water and when living in the Bay Area enjoyed visiting Point Reyes Peninsula in Marin for hiking and just to soak in the beauty.

Hirst.Red Aperture

The trail winds back and forth over the peninsula with spectacular views of Marin and the Pacific. There also is an elk reserve on the peninsula and it always seemed odd to me seeing the elk in that location. The terrain on Point Reyes is grassy with rocks and it’s a fairly easy hike and quite an adventure as you head out on the peninsula. While I don’t use the imagery in my work, it’s a great place to vacate and recharge your senses. Interestingly, I get a similar meditative feeling when hiking along Lake Michigan in Chicago, where I now live.

 

I hope you enjoyed this article and I am so grateful to my artist friends who participated in writing it, thanks so much! As always, I look forward to your comments, questions and suggestions-the comments section is located at the upper left sidebar of this post. I would like to make artist hikes/inspiring vacations a regular part of this blog, so please email me or leave a comment if you would like to share your favorite inspiring places in a future post.

Stay tuned for more amazing artist hike ideas in part two of this series. In the meantime, get out and breath the air.

The Evolution of A Mark

How does an artist acquire a consistent style or voice? In this post, I trace how and where from my personal mark evolved.

Happy first day of Spring, my Art Bite Blog friends!!

Continuing from my last post on the topic of marks, as I sit down to write this post about the process of my recent acrylic and gouache paintings, (and pictured above) I realize I can’t write about them without first thinking about where and how the marks in these paintings originated. I also took into consideration the many conversations I’ve had with students and workshop participants regarding approaching galleries with a consistent ‘style’ or ‘voice’ and how an artist acquires such things. I look at my work from five years ago and it’s so drastically different from what I do today, yet when I look at the total evolution across the span of twenty years, I can see why the total body is related and it’s an interesting path. Giving lectures about my work has enabled me to chronologically trace back to where I am today, but I only go as far back as grad school and rarely go back that far anymore. I’ve recently started a huge studio clean-out and as a result I’ve come across work that I’ve long forgotten about. Seeing this work again is what prompted me to go back even further, to delve into some of the reasons why I do what I do today. I would like to explore that path a bit in this post and in a few future posts. Perhaps reading about my journey will help you to develop and/or trace your own.

I first considered art as a career in high school with the discovery of Hieronymus BoschGeorgia O’Keefe and Wassily Kandinsky, not necessarily at the same time or in that order. My high school boyfriend’s father had a huge book of Bosch’s paintings and we would stare at it for hours. I loved the tremendous detail, the chaotic imagination and narrative. These paintings taught me to spend time, look further, to notice the small things not overtly apparent at first glance. I hope to encourage the viewer to do the same with my work by my adding camouflaged details one has to look to find. I was intrigued by O’Keefe’s voluptuous, sensual and simplified forms, use of color, subtle shading, smooth brushstroke and feminine subject matter. At that time, I had never seen any work similar to hers-mine was a more traditional exposure to art with pastoral landscape, tight still life and other popular art/craft of the 70’s, like scary clowns, bull riders and macrame owls…but I digress. I read everything I could about O’Keefe, poured over her work and even taught myself to successfully draw value, light and shadow by copying her drawings. I discovered Kandinsky around the beginning of undergrad and was literally blown away by the abstract expressionist ideas of communicating emotions through marks, patterns, gesture and color and that one could make a whole painting by simply being inspired by the emotions and melodies evoked by music. This approach to art making was totally foreign, yet it resonated with me almost immediately and I saw in my mind the art I wanted to make. Even though it isn’t obvious, I see the influence of O’Keefe’s wonderful forms and Kandinsky’s rhythmic marks in almost all of my work of the past 30 years. See the images below for some of my favorite paintings by these artists.

Although it was not my choice, I went to design school instead of art school…Philadelphia College of Textiles and Science, now Philadelphia University and my major was textile design. Throughout my schooling and subsequent ten year career as a textile designer, I learned the fundamentals of design..composition, color, scale, repetition, etc. and acquired a detailed painting hand by countless hours of DOING. My first job out of school was as a jacquard designer for home furnishings. The company was unique in that I could take on a line of fabrics and design everything from start to finish-from the painted designs, to choosing the weaves and colors, to correcting errors in the weaving mill and on the computer. I learned an exponential amount about all aspects of design and because I had to spend hours correcting the shape of a flower on the computer if I painted outside the lines, I developed a very tight painting hand and eye for detail. The mill had been a former tie manufacturer and my bosses, the new owners, had kept within the traditional style of florals, damasks and allover patterns, small to large scale. Designing fabrics for a large scale area like a wall or sofa presents certain problems in that the design must ‘flow’ evenly without certain elements creating a distracting line. Looking out for these kinds of design no-no’s helped me develop an excellent eye for balance and placement as well as that continuous flowing line still so prevalent in my work today.

After nostalgically writing that last paragraph, I must confess that I hated that textile designer job, I found so much of it creatively stifling and perfection seeking. Thirty years later, I am grateful for certain aspects of working as a designer and I’m certain I wouldn’t be the artist I am today without that early training. See the second group of images below where I have included some of my hand painted designs from that job. Keep in mind that the colors in the paintings only represent different weaves and not necessarily the colors used in the final fabric. It’s fun to look at these designs and see how my textile design background influenced my early encaustic paintings (and pictured below) as well as a tiny flicker of my recent acrylic and gouache series. If you don’t yet notice that tiny flicker, I will fill in the blanks as to where the marks in that series come from in a near future post.

Please don’t be discouraged if you don’t have thirty years to devote to developing your voice, or if your first career choice wasn’t a creative endeavor as mine was, a lot can be achieved with determination, maturity and persistence. As I have mentioned in many previous posts, drawing a little bit everyday is the road to developing your own mark. One of my favorite quotes from my favorite book, Art & Fear tells it like it is…What you need to know about the next piece is contained in the last piece. The place to learn about your materials is the last use of your materials. The place to learn about your execution is in your execution. The best information about what you love is in your last contact with what you love. Put simply, your work is your guide. In time, as an artists gestures become more assured, the chosen tools become almost an extension of the artists own spirit. In time, exploration gives way to expression. If you’re determined and persisting in working everyday, even if it’s a 15 minute drawing, you will achieve your artistic goals…guaranteed!

I hope you have enjoyed this post and it helps you in some way. As always, I look forward to your comments, questions and suggestions-the comments section is located at the upper left sidebar of this post. Stay tuned for an exciting April-a two part series focusing on inspiring hikes for artists with contributions from some of my artist friends. Covering hikes from all over the world, remote and urban, these hikes range from other-worldly to tranquil to transcendental.

Enjoy the first day of spring, see you soon.

Image Descriptions (From left to right, top to bottom)

  1. Georgia O’Keefe, Black Iris, 1926
  2. Georgia O’Keefe, Drawing XIII-I copied this drawing over and over, obsessed with learning to draw this way.
  3. Georgia O’Keefe, Drawing X, charcoal on paper
  4. Georgia O’Keefe, Blue and Green Music, 1919
  5. Georgia O’Keefe, Music, Pink and Blue, 1918-I had a framed poster of this painting in my room through high school, college and my first apartment.
  6. Georgia O’Keefe, Special Drawing No 9, charcoal on paper, 1915 -I remember reading in her biography that this drawing was done while she had a headache, I found it fascinating that she was able to capture such a thing.
  7. Wassily Kandinsky, Yellow Red Blue, 1925
  8. Wassily Kandinsky, Composition VII, 1913, one of my all time favorite paintings.
  9. Wassily Kandinsky, Blue Circle, 1922
  10. Hieronymus Bosch, Concert in the Egg
  11. Hieronymus Bosch, detail, Garden of Earthly Delights
  12. Hieronymus Bosch, detail, Garden of Earthly Delights
  13. Wassily Kandinsky, Composition IX, 1936
  14. Hieronymus Bosch, detail, Garden of Earthly Delights
  15. Hieronymus Bosch, Garden of Earthly Delights
  16. Wassily Kandinsky, A Center, 1924

 

Image Descriptions (From left to right, top to bottom)

1-7.  Lorraine Glessner, home furnishing textile designs for Jacquard Fabrics, Inc., gouache on Bristol board, circa 1991-94.
8. Lorraine Glessner, Sprawl, encaustic, mixed media on rust printed silk on wood, 12x12x1, 2006
9. Lorraine Glessner, Seed, encaustic, mixed media on rust printed silk on wood, 12x12x1, 2006
10. Lorraine Glessner, Misguided Angel Redux, encaustic, mixed media on rust printed silk on wood, 36x36x1.5, 2010
11. Lorraine Glessner, Flaupher, encaustic, mixed media on rust printed silk on wood, 12x12x1, 2006
12. Lorraine Glessner, Aggregate, encaustic, mixed media on rust printed silk on wood, 24x42x1, 2006
13. Lorraine Glessner, Crush, encaustic, mixed media on rust printed silk on wood, 24x2x1.5, 2010
14. Lorraine Glessner, Perfect Timing, encaustic, mixed media on rust printed silk on wood, 12x12x1, 2006

5 Mark Making Exercises to Jump Start Your Art

Are you an artist who hates to draw? Making daily marks for 15-30 minutes a day will improve your creative work flow not only in the studio, but in all aspects of your life. These 5 easy exercises will help you get that pencil moving!

In the first part of my 2018 Resolutions post I encouraged you to draw at least 15-30 minutes a day and as a result of this prompt, I received many requests for suggestions on how to get started. Even if you think you can’t draw, think you don’t know how or just stubbornly refuse, these 5 exercises will help. But before I discuss the How, I would like to discuss the What and Why I feel you must draw everyday.

The What…let’s take the word ‘drawing’ out of this article for now because it tends to scare people. When I’m teaching, I use the words drawing and mark-making interchangeably because for my purposes they are the same thing with only very slight differences. Think of it this way…a mark communicates a word and a drawing expands that word into a sentence…a poem…a sonnet. As artists, whatever we do in the course of making work begins as a mark on a surface made by one human to be interpreted by another in an effort to communicate. Mark making is expressive, gestural, emotive and works of art that contain such marks are the ones I will cross the room to view-they literally speak to me without words, they communicate. No matter what kind of work you make or in what medium, understanding your mark, what it is and how to make it, will make you a better communicator through that work.

The Why…Critic Lance Esplund writes, “Line is a rich metaphor for the artist. It denotes not only boundary, edge or contour, but is an agent for location, energy, and growth. It is literally movement and change – life itself.” This quote speaks to lines specifically, but for the purposes of this article, we’ll think of marks and lines as one in the same. The mark adds the lifeblood to the work that sets it apart from anyone else’s. Your personal mark or gesture is literally as unique as your signature and practicing making marks everyday is the only way to find that mark. As I mention in my Resolutions post, when you practice moving those parts of your body and brain required to make a drawing, everything else in your art making process flows much more smoothly. How many times have you entered the studio cold and stiff from not working and end up puttering around wasting time? Or picked up a paintbrush, but just couldn’t make the paint say what you wanted? The more marks you make and the more frequently you make them, they become indelibly written on your brain, your movements in the studio become more practiced and you will approach the work with confidence and knowing. I’m not saying that drawing everyday will rid you of all the struggles us artists face in the studio, but I absolutely guarantee that it will get you moving faster and in the right direction toward your goals.

The How…Now for the fun part. Your daily drawings can be made with any media on any substrate and inspired by any subject. I like to give myself ‘projects’ in which I work on a series of drawings inspired by one thing with the same media for one month. This offers me a chance to work out every angle of a certain subject and/or experiment with new media. At the end of the month, I also have a series of drawings that may be strong enough to show. Visit this post to read about one of these drawing series’ of mine. You can choose to work with monthly projects or you can draw something different everyday, the point is to make marks daily for 15-30 minutes. For those of you who think you’re too busy to spare this time, I suggest in my resolutions post that you always have a sketchbook and drawing tools with you in your bag because you may have more time than you think…on the bus/train, waiting at the doctors office, waiting in line at the food store. It’s almost depressing how much time we spend waiting so why not do something constructive while you’re at it. Last, don’t forget to set that timer! I’m a stickler about setting the timer for daily exercises like this and I explain a bit about why in this post. In a near future post I’ll talk about restrictions and why they are so important in art making. For now, understand that the timer will create a time-space for you to focus only on what you’re doing. For that short time, you don’t have to think about or do anything else but that draw.

The following drawing ideas are tried and true-a few have been used in art schools for centuries and a few I’ve modified and used over and over in my workshops. Once you start, your creative brain will begin to flow with many of your own ideas. At the end of this article I share some drawings from my workshop participants as well as some other artist’s works whose marks and processes I find inspiring. If you see your drawing below, let me know and I’ll add your name!

The Ideas

  1. Blind Contour Drawings If you went to art school, you probably went blind making blind contour drawings-they are used so much as a learning tool and that is because they are so helpful. Start by staring at an object in front of you for one minute. Then close your eyes and imagine the object in your minds eye…try to see its color, its form, its texture, it’s scale. Then open your eyes and look at the object in front of you. How does it look? Try to spend two minutes (or longer) just looking at the object, examining it in great detail. Then close your eyes and draw it continuously, keeping your eyes closed for a full two minutes. Don’t lift the pencil or open your eyes until your full two minutes are up. If you ‘finish’ drawing your object under two minutes just draw it again. If you find you can’t help yourself from cheating, wear a blindfold. Do this with the same object over and over, or try different objects in order to fill your 15-30 minutes. Another variation is to begin with the blind contour and then with your eyes open, ‘connect’ the sketchy lines you drew to make a new drawing.
  2. Opposites Make drawings in pairs which express opposite adjectives. For example, make a drawing which is noisy in as many ways as possible – your pencil should make a lot of noise as it vigorously scribbles and scratches across the page, and the finished drawing should be noisy in the way in which it communicates. Then take a breath and make a very quiet drawing. Your pencil should hardly touch the paper (imagine it’s the tip of a feather). Hold your pencil far away from the drawing end so you cannot apply too much pressure. Hush your pencil as you draw, and let the end result be a very shy drawing. Enjoy the differences between the two drawings – let your ideas bounce off each other. Push yourself to extremes of noisy and quiet.
  3. Words Choose 5 words randomly from the dictionary and either write them at the top of the page or begin with a drawing of the word itself. I use Design Language by Tim McCreight in my workshops because the words in it lend themselves to visual inspiration. Working on the same paper, spend one-2 minutes interpreting each word with marks. Let each word’s marks intertwine and overlap. Take this drawing a step further and add more marks, collage or stitch to make it a cohesive drawing.
  4. Music This idea comes from one of my favorite artists, Wassily Kandinsky, who believed that colors and marks in paintings created visual ‘chords’ which resonated in the viewer. A must read for any artist is Concerning the Spiritual in Art by Kandinsky in which he writes in depth about the essence of expressionism in painting. Create a playlist of 30 seconds of 20 different songs ranging in tempo, style, genre, etc. Using a large piece of paper on the floor or taped to the wall (must be positioned so that you can use your body expressively) and gather 5 different drawing tools near you so you can switch if you’d like. Turn on your playlist so the songs play successively with only 3-5 seconds between each. Respond to each song with marks and allow the marks to overlap and intertwine. At the end of the playlist, the drawing will likely look like a bunch of scribbles, so what you want to do next is isolate certain areas to use for inspiration. Cut a rectangle out of a piece of paper and float this frame over the drawing. As you do this, you’ll find so many great ideas for marks that you can trace and use in paintings. Another variation is cut up your large drawing and scatter the cut outs onto another large piece of paper. Experiment with with creating new distances between the cut outs, turn them upside down or rip them in half. Begin drawing new elements and shapes in between the old ones to create a new drawing. Forget your original drawing and think about new meanings which might be created, think about how the new drawing might be interpreted.
  5. Response This is my personal favorite method to begin a drawing and I have completed many series this way. ‘Response Drawing’ is a term I coined in one of my workshops and it just stuck. Response drawings are basically just as the words describe… it is a response to marks either you or someone else made intentionally, accidentally or found. Responding to marks that are not yours encourages you to expand your mark making vocabulary by making marks you aren’t normally inclined to make. There are many ways to begin a project like this but the basic premise is to begin with some kind of mark on a substrate-it could be a splash, a pour of paint, a burn, a footprint,  rust print, transfer print, a mistake. It could be something you found in the trash, a folded or cut piece of paper, crushed pencil shavings, anything! It could be a project between you and a friend in which one of you makes a mark and the other responds. This actually has a name -Exquisite Corpse- a term and game invented by surrealist creatives. I’ll be writing a more in depth post about Exquisite Corpse, but in the meantime you read about and see some examples of them here. However your first mark is generated, the next step is simply to respond to it in any way you want. The image at the top of this page is from a series of drawings from 2005 called ‘Flesh’ in which I started with tracing paper that had been burned and splashed with watercolor and I then responded with organic forms drawn in graphite and colored pencil. See more from this series in the images below.

If this post was helpful to you, please let me know, I invite your comments questions and suggestions in the comments section now located in the upper left sidebar of this post.

In my next post, I’ll share with you my acrylic/gouache series of layered drawings. I’ll discuss my approach and process for these drawings and how this whole series began by drawing only 15 minutes a day.

Image Links (read left to right from top row)

  1. Workshop student exquisite corpse.
  2. Lorraine Glessner Flesh series response drawing.
  3. Jeri Ledbetter, artist, see her work here and here.
  4. Lorraine Glessner, found ledger sketchbook response drawing.
  5. Workshop student exquisite corpse.
  6. Emma McNally makes drawings responding to unlikely sounds like white noise and city sounds. See her work here.
  7. James Watkinson responds to aged paper and stains of old book covers with detailed narrative drawings. See his work here.
  8. Ayanna Jolivet Mccloud’s experiments with a china marker, making as many different marks as she can. See her work here.
  9. Workshop student music response drawing.
  10. Workshop student scattered elements response drawing.
  11. Workshop student music response drawing.
  12. Workshop student music response drawing. I love how the strong shadows and deep wrinkles of the paper contribute to the drama of this drawing.
  13. Lorraine Glessner Flesh series response drawing.
  14. Workshop student found object mark response drawing.
  15. Workshop student music response drawing.
  16. Workshop student architectural sketch response drawing.
  17. Lorraine Glessner Flesh series response drawing.
  18. Workshop student mixed media drawings collage.
  19. Workshop student mixed media drawings collage.
  20. Workshop student found object mark response drawing.
  21. Workshop student mixed media drawings collage.
  22. Workshop student scattered elements response drawing.

 

My 2018 Studio Resolutions, Part 2

Read the complete list of my 2018 Studio Resolutions so you can get started off on the right foot this year!

I hope you all have been spending the last two weeks purchasing books, reading at least 30 minutes a day and drawing, drawing, drawing everyday! If you haven’t done so, please be sure to read Part 1 of this post, which includes the how and why these resolutions are so important to me and my guarantee that they will get you started on the right foot this year. Remember, they will only work if you give them a determined try.

  1. Studio notes every studio day I’ve mentioned in a few recent posts why reading about what interests you in your work is so important and directly related to reading is writing. It is imperative that an artist write well! After all, we have to write statements, biographies, exhibition and teaching proposals, grant and residency applications, catchy snippets on social media, BLOGS..the list goes on. The only way to get better at writing is to practice writing. Remember Julia Cameron’s Morning Pages? I learned to love writing by making this a part of my practice way back in the 90’s and then fell in love with writing again in graduate school while writing my thesis. Reading is a huge help in sharpening writing skills, but you also have to put pen to paper and write your own words as well. What better way to do that than writing about your work every studio day in a short paragraph. I call it my Studio Log–it’s basically a short diary entry, (written in sentence and paragraph form with an actual pen on paper), that explains what you did that day in the studio-what you made, your process and how it turned out. Begin each entry with the date and how many hours you spent in the studio and add up those hours every week-this helps you track your progress and creates a feeling of accomplishment. Please note that while I know bullet journaling has become a very popular thing and it’s totally fun, we are working toward sharpening our writing skills with these entries, so you  must write in complete sentences in paragraph form. Writing in this way helps you to organize your thoughts, put things into proper perspective and see your accomplishments in writing. It’s also important to note that actually writing in a designated book or sketchbook and not on the computer completes the connection between your thoughts and your hand, the computer is a third party that breaks that connection. Further elaborations on your log entry can include but are not limited to…Do you like what you did that day and why, Do you hate what you did and why, What thoughts surfaced from the subconscious while you were working, Did you make any changes of note to your process or thinking, What are you going to work on tomorrow, next week or next month and/or any other thing pertinent to you and your work that day. I rarely look back at my daily log entries, but when it’s time to write a statement or a proposal, I have a wealth of information right at my fingertips.
  2. Visually document every studio session Something we should all be doing in order to promote ourselves in a social media obsessed world. Even if you don’t contribute to social media, photographing what you do in the studio will accomplish two things…1. It will enable you to gain insight into your process and 2. You will be able to track your progress and achieve a sense of accomplishment.  Although you may choose to share these images , the purpose for collecting them is to see where you’ve been, where you are and where you’re going. If photographing while you work is distracting, just take a few photos of your work at the end of the work day to note progress. Or you may choose to do this at the beginning of the work day. Either way, it’s your studio photo journal and can be set up any way you wish. At the end of the week/month/year you have a collection of images that actually track your progress and this is so important for those times when we’re down on ourselves or feeling like we’re not doing enough. Even more elusive to us than a sense of progress is analyzing our process. We’re artists, we are visual people, we have to SEE things! Sometimes it’s not easy to see what is happening with the work until you look at from a different perspective -laying it flat or hanging it up. These photos offer many perspectives for viewing work, providing the opportunity to turn the image every which way, crop it, blow it up, etc . Observations made from these images can be shared in your studio log and used for social media posts, statements, proposals, etc. Understanding your process is an important part of knowing who you are as an artist, it sets you apart from everyone else, it’s defines you and helps shape how you and others view your work. More than anything else you can do to document your studio work, photographs give you insight into that process.While the studio log you’re keeping is helping to organize your thoughts and progress, keeping photo documentation will help you visualize this progress.
  3. Work toward a studio hours goal every week Your studio log entry requires that you log in your studio hours for the day and then add them up at the end of the week. This is yet another way to track your progress to make sure you’re meeting your studio goals. This was the first resolution I made to my list when I first started doing this in 2015 and I simply set a workable goal for a range of weekly hours I could get to into the studio. Everyone is going to have different hours due to addtional work and life responsibilities, so the key to achieving your weekly goals is making them feasible as well as slightly challenging. In 2015, I was teaching 2 days a week at Tyler School of Art, plus at least one day to prep for teaching. My goal for the studio was to do 25-30 hours a week with 25 being the minimum and 30 being the maximum (with plus or minus a few on both). I arrived at this number by creating a weekly calendar and crossing out the days and hours that I was scheduled for other things like teaching, paperwork, appointments, etc. I then began to fill in the open hours of each day with hours I could feasibly work in the studio and added them up. Once you arrive at a schedule and weekly goal, sign it and hang it up on your studio door or on the fridge, wherever you can see it that it will remind you of the promise you made to yourself. I also made rules as to what activities would fall under studio hours and again, your rules will be different. At first I was very strict and said that only activities contributing to making actual work could count toward my hours. I eased up after realizing that there are so many things I do that contribute to the making of my work-reading, drawing, photo research, even cleaning the studio counts! Give yourself at least 2 months to implement this schedule and if you find you were egregiously off in your hourly estimates, don’t be afraid to adjust the schedule. It is better to make a slight adjustment then to give up altogether due to frustration or feeling you have failed.
  4. Walk outside 15-30 minutes everyday I just added this resolution this year and I’m only doing so-so at achieving it due to the extreme cold we’ve had this winter…but I’m working on it! In the spring, summer and fall I walk everywhere I can and make a point of walking every night after dinner, rain or shine and I notice a significant change in my outlook and productivity. I have always known I’m just ‘better’ in the warmer weather and there are many factors that contribute to this, but I’m sure a huge part of it is walking and hiking. You may already know that there is much research to support a direct correlation to walking and boosted creativity, but just in case you don’t, this article is a good read. Another benefit to walking is the opportunity to snap photos of anything along the way that strikes your fancy, which can then be called ‘photo research’, which can then count toward your studio hours! The image at the top of this post is one of those images of mine taken on a walk on the dunes in Provincetown. So….Walk, get in shape, boost creativity, add to your studio hours…win, win, win, WIN!

By now you may have already forgotten your original 2018 New Year’s Resolutions, so you can now try these! Please feel free to post in the comments section (comments are now located upper left of this post), I would love the hear what you do to keep your studio practice alive and if any of my ideas have resonated with you. Remember, they are designed to work together with Part 1, so if you try them, please make sure to come back and post about your experience.

Stay tuned for my next post on Mind Mapping for Artists. What if you get to the studio and don’t know what to make or you have a whole body of work ready to go out in the world but you don’t know what it’s about? What if you don’t know what books to get or what subjects are pertinent to you or your work? Mind Mapping will help you narrow this all down. See you soon!

My 2018 Studio Resolutions, Part 1

I must confess that in the past I was never a New Year’s Resolution maker, I always thought it was kind of a silly thing to do. I tried many times and usually by March, my resolution to keep a diary, stop eating chocolate and lose 10 pounds was long forgotten. My resolution cynicism was put to rest, however, when I needed to either get back in the studio or give up being an artist for good.

It’s so cold and gray here in Philly in January, I just want to hide under the covers and hibernate. It’s hardly a time to think of new beginnings and fresh starts, but when the calendar page turns at the end of the year, something in my mind shifts. Suddenly, I’m full of new thoughts and hopes for making strides toward bigger and better things. I must confess that in the past I was never a New Year’s Resolution maker, I always thought it was kind of a silly thing to do. I tried many times and usually by March, my resolution to keep a diary, stop eating chocolate and lose 10 pounds was long forgotten. My resolution cynicism was put to rest, however, when I needed to either get back in the studio or give up being an artist for good.
If you have been reading this blog, you know that I went through a long studio slump due to personal troubles and grief (read this post for more about how I began to get out of that slump). In order to get back in there and make work, there were a few actions I needed to take. The first thing to do was to make the commitment to be a professional artist again. Even in my slump I still considered myself to be a professional artist, but I wasn’t acting like a professional. An artist who isn’t making art is not an artist at all and once the studio habit was broken, my confidence was shaken. Once I learned to quiet those confidence shaking voices, I could make the all important choice to try again.
Next, I applied for a residency (read this post if you are considering applying for a residency). A residency would get me out of my usual space where I would feel free to work, experiment and build back my studio discipline without the trappings and chores of being at home. The residency was the best decision I could make and it accomplished all I needed it to do-but once home, now what? A few months passed and suddenly it was January, 2015 and what better time to make my new commitments solid by creating a list of New Year Studio Resolutions.
To write this list, I had to return to my graduate school curriculum when my artist discipline had truly developed. The following list is based on the five daily must-do’s that I had to complete in order for me to get my degree and be successful after graduation. My complete list also includes weekly, monthly, and annual goals that support both the studio and business, but I’m just focusing on daily studio tasks here. It’s important to note that even though this is a ‘daily’ list, the tasks don’t have to be done everyday, just each day that you are in the studio (with the exception of drawing, that is). For me, studio days are 5-6 days per week, so adjust your list according to what is feasible for you. I have shared this list with graduate students, colleagues, workshop participants, artist friends, basically any artist who is struggling. I guarantee if you employ these basic tenets, your studio practice will improve, your work will expand conceptually and your production will grow exponentially. How many guarantees are there in life? Not many. Try it, you’ll be surprised at what you can accomplish.
  1. Read 30-60 minutes every studio day The reading I’m referring to here is not the latest novel, it is research relevant to the work you’re doing in the studio. Read #4 of this post and you will see why I feel that not reading enough is one of the top ten biggest mistakes of my artist career. Reading and research is imperative for professionals of every discipline in order to stay on top of what’s going on in their field. For artists, part of that research is the work itself, of course, but we have to feed our work cognitively and conceptually.  Take a look at what I’m reading this year in the image at the top of this article. I have a pile of books that pertain to my studio work and a pile for teaching and I revise both piles at the beginning of every year. I usually have one studio book, one teaching book and one inspiration book (with pictures) all going at once. I only read these books on my studio days because I have to have fun sometimes too! I keep track of the books I finish and it gives me a sense of accomplishment to see a long list at the end of each year. I also time my reading with the timer on my phone to minimum 30 minutes and maximum 60 minutes according to how much time I have that day to do it. My mind usually wanders, so I focus on the fact that for that short 30 minutes all I have to worry about is what I’m reading. Don’t know what to read or what your work is ‘about’ yet? No worries, I’ll cover how you can figure that out in in my second blog post next month.
  2. Draw 15-30 minutes every day No, that is not a typo, I didn’t forget to write ‘studio’ in there..you should be drawing every day, whether you’re in the studio or not. Before you stop reading because you think you can’t draw, please note that a drawing can be anything you want it to be. Also note, that these drawings are for your eyes only, unless you choose to share. They can be of any subject, made in any medium on any kind of media and completed any time and anywhere-their purpose is to get your creative juices flowing. I remember reading somewhere that there is a brain/body connection to movement and creativity and that a physiological change takes place in the brain when you move. You must move the parts of your body that you use to paint so as to create a rhythm that the creative parts of your brain will recognize. Starting to paint without some kind of warm-up exercise is like starting to run without stretching-you can’t start cold, you’ll hurt yourself! The same thing applies to painting. While I don’t go to the gym everyday, I do get up and stretch my body with short yoga exercises. If I didn’t, my body would be stiff within a short time. Drawing works as ‘creative stretching’ for me. If I don’t do my minimum 15 minutes, I’m ‘stiff’ and it takes me twice as long to get going in the studio. Get a small sketch pad-one that fits in your bag, take it with you everywhere and start to mark it up. I guarantee you that by drawing a short 15 minutes a day, your work and mindset regarding your work will improve drastically. If you’re still having issues with drawing everyday, I’ll share some easy drawing exercises in the next few blog posts that will get you started. Last, use that timer for the same reasons as above!

Stay tuned for Part 2 of my Studio Resolutions in my next blog post. It goes without saying that this list is only helpful if you actually commit to or RESOLVE to doing it. Do what is comfortable for you and what will fit into your life-do not over extend or you will end up in frustration. Last, you will need an artist friend, mentor or coach who will help to keep you accountable and moving forward. I would love to work with you to create a personalized list of resolutions just for you and help you to keep them. Please visit the mentor page on my web site to see what I can offer you.

See you back here in February!