Clearing the clutter

An artful friend stayed home last night to clear the clutter in her studio. Another creative friend reserved a book from the library that addresses dealing with clutter. The three of us agree that we are more creative if our workspace is in order and we have a clear space on which to begin our next project.

Many Americans admit they have “too much stuff.” In fact, have you ever heard anyone say “I have just enough stuff”? The book my friend reserved is on Amazon’s list of Best Books of the Year for 2014. You may be familiar with it; the title is The Life-changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing by Marie Kondo.

It’s the same book about which my husband emailed to me this link: http://althouse.blogspot.com/2015/01/unbelievable-as-it-may-sound-you-only.html

As it is with many decisions, balance is what many of us are trying to achieve. How do we dedicate enough time and thought to avoid an accumulation of clutter without becoming overly occupied with this activity?

Prairie Smoke (Geum triflorum) leaves

Happy new year

Happy fresh, new year to you. This time of year and Labor Day are the two times when many people get inspired and consider making changes, improvements, or fresh starts.

The most inspiring material I’ve read in a while is the interview on the Daily Paintworks blog with Minneapolis painter and teacher Kat Corrigan. I think you’ll be inspired and uplifted by Kat’s candid, generous, disciplined, ebullient approach to being an artist—and to life itself.

Is it important for an artist not to have favorite works just as parents shouldn’t have favorite children? I don’t know the answer but I will admit that I’ve always liked this muted blue print of unknown leaves. The paper is the Sprinkle Gold Sumi-E-like paper made by Pia (a Paragon Product) that Liz from Wet Paint encouraged me to buy. The little gold specks are on the top surface of the paper. I’m now printing on my fourth roll of that paper!

Happy holidays

Thank you for stopping by my space yesterday at the Womens’ Art Festival. Creating artwork would be a lot less fun, worthwhile, and profitable without people to admire it, ask about it, and purchase it. I and my fellow artists appreciate your curiosity and patronage.

The new venue—the Colin Powell Youth Leadership Center—was favored by artists and guests as having good lighting, better parking, and a pleasant atmosphere compared to the previous location. The hourly music, provided by women musicians, was magical, particularly the women’s choir which creats an atmosphere of being in the presence of angels.

With yesterday’s event being my last for this season, I’m now focused on preparing for Christmas. We started with dog baths today which were preceded by vacuuming and laundry and will surely be followed by baking—and eating—cookies.

I wish you a merry and meaningful holiday season including Hannukah, the winter solstice, Christmas, Kwanza, and even Festivus (“for the rest of us”), created by Kramer, Jerry Seinfeld’s neighbor.

Some festive images for this wintery season.

Women’s Art Festival

One of my favorite events of the year is the Women’s Art Festival. What’s not to embrace about being in the company of 130+ creative women, women musicians, and inventive refreshments? Naomi Siegal does a first-rate job of organizing and publicizing the event. Load up your vehicle with pals and stop by! Saturday, Dec. 13, 2014, 9:30 A.M. to 4:30 P.M.

http://www.womensartfestival.com

Seasonal images

Spontaneous printing

For me, one of the many rewards of teaching is learning from the students. In June, while demonstrating nature printing at my local library in south Minneapolis, a woman selected a wild anemone (Anemone canadensis) from the specimens I’d brought along. She applied the rolled-out ink to the leaves and blossom, placed the dampened Sumi-E paper over the print, placed a newspaper guard sheet on top of the printing paper, and pressed mightily. This is the resulting print! Isn’t it splendid?


Student print of wild anemone.

What I particularly appreciated about learning from this nature-printing enthusiast was her spontaneity; her daring. With this type of specimen, I had been using a more painstaking, complicated method to record the plant. I learned from this student that my efforts weren’t necessary.

I recalled this valuable lesson last week as I prepared to print a Christmas cactus (Schlumbergera). Instead of setting up my usual involved method, I flattened the specimen slightly in a phone book while preparing my workspace and the paper. Then, I rolled out Akua water-soluble fluid inks with a soft-rubber brayer, gently rolled the ink onto the specimen, and printed. I’m pleased with the result. What do you think?

A spontaneous print of Christmas cactus.

Green Gifts Fair

It’s a good thing I was a Scout because I’m preparing for another enriching, exciting event. On Saturday, Nov. 22, 2014, I happily will be among more than 80 creative people at the Green Gifts Fair where green, recycled, fair-trade, and organic gifts will be for sale.

My blank note cards are printed on stock that contains a minimum of 30% post-consumer fibers—Neenah’s Royal Sundance card stock with matching A-2-size envelopes. The paper is acid free, manufactured with 100% renewable green electricity, and is FSC (Forest Stewardship Council) Certified.

I look forward to seeing you Saturday!

Neighborhood art event

As I print, pack, and prepare for one of my favorite art/social events, it occurred to me that I haven’t invited you to stop in on Saturday, November 15, 2014, at the Fine-Craft Holiday Pop-Up.

This gathering of ten accomplished local artists is hosted by Bridget Clark, creator of contemporary silver jewelry. The founder of this festive event, and host for seven years, is photographer/interior designer Lisa Lardy. Please top by to see new work and renew old acquaintances. We look forward to seeing you!

Fresh Art Studio Tour Fall 2014

Once again, I’m pleased to pack my note cards, prints, printing supplies, and PJs to participate in the Fresh Art Studio Tour in western Wisconsin. The leaves along the Mississippi River and in the Chippewa River Valley will be at or near their colorful best, and I’ll happily be printing a few of them as the fortunate guest artist at Flaming Fire Art Studio, site 12.

Ceramics artist/painter, Kaye Luetke, and her husband John heartily welcome guests to tour their colorful gardens and studio. Be captivated by the beauty of Kaye’s work, try your hand at a raku firing led by John and Mark, print a leaf, enjoy some treats, & stop by our rented Port-O-Potty before succumbing to the beckoning curves in the hilly roads on your way to the next studio of a nearby artist.

Sandy applies printmaking ink to the underside of a leaf during a recent class.

Spontaneity

Planning and making lists, sketches, and so forth is usually useful, but sometimes it’s invigorating—and even daring—to just dig in. Today I want to drop off an early-morning note to a neighborhood friend who’s in the midst of cancer treatment. Jeannie has seen all of my cards—some more than once. “What can I do?” I wondered. My answer was to dive into my stash of scraps, pull out something, and work with it—quickly. The dogs and I will drop this off when we head out for our morning walk.

A soft version of a linden leaf from the trees that line our boulevard.

Fun with butterflies and milkweed leaves

Last year at the Monarch Festival, when volunteers and I guided guests to print common milkweed leaves in honor of Monarch butterflies, the temperature reached 94 degrees. This year the high temperature is expected to reach 74 along with light winds. Nevertheless, along with 350 sheets of paper and plenty of Akua ink, rocks are packed to hold down our piles of paper. I look forward to seeing you amidst the butterflies as you print a common milkweed leaf near the east shore of Lake Nokomis in Minneapolis, MN.

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