Stimulating and relaxing

I’ve been away for a while; for longer than usual. “Technical difficulties,” i.e., WordPress updating its software is one cause, but my own ineptitude and inattention must own up to the hiatus. I apologize, thank you for your forbearance, and welcome—both of us—back to my blog.

On April 7, 2016, I participated in “Vino & Vision,” a stimulating/relaxing event during which we learned from Jean Nitchals about our own innate creativity while exploring with Matt Carson the stories behind and results of passionate wine makers.

Jean has a masters of science degree from Buffalo State College in Buffalo, NY, in creative problem solving through their internationally recognized program. During the four years I’ve known Jean, she’s buoyant and always full of possibilities. She’s all about guiding people to realize their potential and connect with others for outrageously beneficial outcomes. Now she’s a total powerhouse. She has the science to back up her own innate desire to move people from being stuck to burgeoning with productivity, achievement, and success as it’s defined by them.

http://www.discoveryourniche.com/

Matt is a certified sommelier whose passion for wine is rooted in his love of sharing stories about the grape, vineyard, vintner, and much more. His favorite moment when enjoying wine is when the cork is free of the bottle; opening the bottle. Why? Because that moment “is full of promise.” 

It was that kind of evening: Jean and Matt shared their passions with us, and we admitted ours to ourselves in sketchbooks Jean provided, along with a box of 12 sharpened color pencils!

Here is my summary – in my sketchbook – from the nine pages of notes I took. The top part that’s written in orange colored pencil reads: “Jean gave us these sketchbooks. I’m going to use it. Jean’s favorite color is orange. Thank you, Jean! Here I go. April 8, 2016.” The “collage” below the page from my sketchbook was made by me on New Year’s day this year.

A summary of a stimulating, creative experience from a workshop with Jean Nitchals.

A summary of a stimulating, creative experience from a workshop with Jean Nitchals.

In a new "pact" with myself, I begin each day with lettering, color, collage—something that feels enjoyable and creative. This collage from New Year's Day is the first in a spotty "series." The substrate (background paper) is archival commercial printing paper cut to a size of 5.5"w x 8.5". It's not precious and is therefore pretty freeing. The whole point is not to fuss but to have fun. I'm also using quotes and scraps that are blowing around in my workspace, and that feels good, too.

In a new “pact” with myself, I begin each day with lettering, color, collage—something that feels enjoyable and creative. This collage from New Year’s Day is the first in a spotty “series.” The substrate (background paper) is archival commercial printing paper cut to a size of 5.5″w x 8.5″. It’s not precious and is therefore pretty freeing. The whole point is not to fuss but to have fun. I’m also using quotes and scraps that are blowing around in my workspace, and that feels good, too.

Happily printing in the driveway

In this most splendid, least-humid summer of my fairly long lifetime, I’ve been pulling weeds, printing, & thinking of you. I’ve also been heartened to see Monarch butterflies wafting around the common milkweed plants that are finally blooming in our backyard.

Please join me this Friday & Saturday, July 24 & 25, 2015, at my favorite outdoor art-related event: the eighth-annual art sale & garden tour hosted by Paul and Susan Damon.

355 Cleveland Avenue North, St. Paul, 55104
(Conveniently located between I-94 and Marshall Ave./Lake St.)

Friday: 5–9 p.m.
Saturday: Noon–5

For more than 20 years, Susan & Paul have planted native plants and tended the corner lot that surrounds their sweet Craftsman home. Their garden is now a designated Monarch Waystation—#447. Last year butterflies, bees, and other pollinators joined guests as we all flitted around and admired our surroundings.

There will be plenty of art to admire, too. On exhibit and for sale will be Paul Damon’s oil paintings, watercolors, and drawings. http://pauldamonlandscapes.com/ Paintings, collages, and mixed media by Liz Carlson will also be displayed and for sale in the Damon’s home. You can view Liz’s work on Facebook and Twitter.

You will find me in the backyard, in the welcome shade of the garage, where prints and note cards will be for sale, and where you can print a leaf selected from the Damon’s bountiful gardens. We’ll be using Speedball water-soluble printmaking inks and printing on the Sprinkle Gold Oriental paper I learned about from Liz—and purchased at Wet Paint!

If Paul and Liz’s names are familiar, it may be because they’re longtime staff members at art supply shop Wet Paint, located on Grand Avenue in St. Paul. I met Liz and Paul while shopping there and am thrilled to join them in this annual event.

Please pack your car with your artistic, horticultural pals, or gather on your bicycles, and stop by! I look forward to seeing you!

One of Paul Damon's paintings on a postcard invites you to the 8th-annual art sale & garden tour hosted by Paul and his gardener wife, Susan.

Welcome to summer

It’s been a prolonged, leisurely spring, conducive to transplanting ferns and perennials, pulling weeds from long-neglected gardens, and replacing the storm windows on the porch with screens.

Meanwhile, it’s also printing season! I look forward to seeing you in class or at a demo or event. Please join me and my friend Lynn on Saturday, June 5, at the lively Landscape Revival. Twelve native plant nurseries bring their sturdy local stock to this enjoyable, educational event where you’ll also learn about pollinators and gardening. Please stop by to print a leaf and say hello.

Illuminating mistakes

On Saturday, at the reception for an exhibition of my nature prints combined with lettering, my friend, Linda, asked how I’d created one of the collages. The one to which she referred (shown below) was the most complicated. I wasn’t sure I could explain the process of putting it together. It’s not a matter of being cagey; not an unwillingness to share “the family recipe.” No, it’s more a matter of being so absorbed in—or dazzled by—the colorful, patterned possibilities of the prints that I lose track of tangible factors such as time, process, sequence, and decisions.

In fact, the method I use is to make copies of the original prints, then tear them apart and position them onto the substrate (support surface). When I’m satisfied with the composition, I take a picture of it. I then unassemble the collage, numbering each piece. When I start to assemble the actual collage in which I use the original artwork, I follow the numbers, putting piece number one in place first, followed by the second piece, and so on.

Do you wonder why I came up with this plan? Naturally it’s due to another lesson learned “the hard way.” Of course, I pasted a piece to the substrate that I’d intended to place on top of something else. The piece had this lovely, ragged torn edge that was now never going to be seen because it would be covered by something else. I mourned my foolishness for a minute, then got going. Hey, there are more illuminating mistakes in my future!

Two distinct prints came together to create this collage. You’re seeing the whole, “raw” collage here. I cropped it to make A-2-sized note cards, and it’s exhibited in a square frame. The translation of the rubber-stamp seal is “Wisdom,” a quality for which I’m always longing for more. • Yoga sutra IV.22 from Bernard Bouanchaud’s book “The Essence of Yoga.”

It’s my party…

Do you remember the hit rock and roll hit It’s My Party by the late Leslie Gore? Some of the lyrics are, “It’s my party, and I’ll cry if I want to…?” (I thought there were also some lyrics about laughing, but I’m mistaken.) Well, at the reception last night for my nature prints that are combined with lettering of some of my favorite yoga sutras, I didn’t cry—but I sure laughed a lot!

Thank you for stopping by. It’s not often the host of a party can say they had a good time, but I’ll tell you that I had a really good time. The main reasons are because people dear to me helped me, and people dear to me came to the event.

My guests left their cozy homes to drive in dark, damp, cold weather and search—and search—for a parking spot, just to see my recent work. In fact, my friend, Shannon, observed that it was a coming together of friends from activities I most enjoy: nature printing, yoga, lettering, gardening, and writing. What’s extra exciting is that among my friends, many share several of these interests!

After Dan and I got home and unloaded the van, as I was reading Fred Vargas’ book, An Uncertain Place, one of the characters chose to open a bottle of wine to accompany the dinner he’d just made for Chief Inspector Adamsberg. The character explains his rationale by saying something like, “Drinking wine on one’s own is like having a birthday party with no guests.” Such was not the case for me at the reception for “Breathing in the Universe.” Thank you so much for your interest in my work!

Yoga sutra II.38 from Bernard Bouanchaud’s book “The Essence of Yoga.”

Peripatetic: traveling from place to place, especially working or based in various places for relatively short periods; a person influenced by Aristotle. The Peripatetic School was a school of philosophy founded by Greek philosopher Aristotle. (Chief Inspector Adamsberg was been described as “peripatetic.”)

Making supper

While making supper tonight, I heard Garrison Keillor on public radio’s Writer’s Almanac program. Keillor was reading this quote from the late Steve Jobs on the Apple co-founder’s birthday (Feb. 24): “Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart.”

Strawberry leaves

An exhibition of my prints with lettering

From now until April 10, 2015, many of my prints are on display in the serene space at One Yoga Studio in south Minneapolis. During the year since One Yoga Studio’s art curator invited me to show my work, I continued to explore the beauty of nature’s shapes, sizes, and patterns.

Ten of the pieces are collages that are the result of combining portions of prints and some of my favorite yoga sutras. The lettering created a focal point for the print—and unity occurred. Focus and unity are some of the tenets of my own yoga practice.

I’m honored and pleased to present my work at One Yoga Studio and am grateful to the community there. I’m also grateful to curator Katherine Pohlman; my friend, fiber artist, Sandra Brick, who introduced me to Katherine; my nature printing teacher, Sonja Larsen; my Viniyoga teacher, Laurie LoPesio; my husband, Dan; and my family, friends, fellow artists, customers, and students. A reception for viewing and visiting will take place on Saturday, March 7, from 6:45 to 8:15 P.M. Please stop by.

I’m beginning to combine lettering with some of my nature prints.

Risking adding more clutter

As I think about clutter, I’m reminded of two quotes. One is from a black, bound, blank book in which I recorded pages of favorite quotes while I was in college. This is from page 272 in Cancer Ward by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn: “Order in affairs maintains peace of mind.”

The other inspiring comment is from Susy Pilgrim Waters, a mixed-media, collage, paint, and paper artist whose work I admire. You can see her comment on her blog: “My brain feels much better when my desk is TIDY! So I dream on….” Susy’s quote.

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!

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