Tape an informal video introduction for Art on the iPad, next session starts this week. (It's not too late to join in.) Pay attention to comfort and self care in the studio. (See this month's newsletter for more on that). And here, too. Slow stitch on a piece I am "remaking" for Dinner@Eight submission this year (I can't share the piece, but you can see the outtakes in the photo below). Celebrate selling a tryptich of Borderlands art (the pieces in the last post) for a friend's new apartment. And I get to keep the work and enjoy it until July when she's ready for it. Check my actions and practices against my BIG GOALS -- part of what I've worked on this past year during Lisa Call's Master Class.
In progress detail. This is a piece of an art quilt I made for the same curators' exhibit in 2011 for The Space Between. It's being rebirthed. Iterations, Iterations. The quilt had faded a bit because I didn't have the chops on inkjet printing (yet) so it's now just compost for the next idea.
I am surveying my newsletter and blog readers concerning a potential workshop this summer in the Manzano Mountains of New Mexico (about 1 hour south of Albuquerque). I have the opportunity to present a creativity/inspired by nature workshop at wonderful Camp Capilla, on the slopes of the mountains of Manzano Mountains State Park.
Before I get too far down the road, I'd love to know if there is interest enough to pursue this project , given its cost and the planning involved. [I'm counting on you to send me feedback!](mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org)
The content: With the incredible beauty of the mountains, the pines, the desert below and a field trip to the archeological ruins nearby, participants would spend four days in creative design, collection and recording their nature-inspired ideas. We'll make a simple hand-bound journal to compile the experience, too. And, if you wish to bring other media for work on your own, that's fine too. I will include a couple of sessions on using some iPad apps, in order to use the tablet as an art tool in this process. We would practice some fearless sketching, some color and design exercises and spend time sharing as artists. This will really be a creativity art camp -- and some great artists are already signing up!
As I currently envision it, the workshop would include 4 workshop days with arrival and departure on the days before and after (so supper one day and breakfast the next would be included with meals on the 4 workshop days (except for one meal at a local place in the village). Number of students would be limited to 10. We could provide pickup and delivery to the Albuquerque airport for $20 per person. Or you would be welcome to drive to the site and have your own car available.
Participants would need to bring basic supplies like a sketchbook, markers,watercolor, maybe collage papers, and iPad, if used. Participants would also need to bring their own bed linens and towels (washer is available).
Meals: We’ll cook on-site, sharing duties, with all provisions included, and one or two meals out at a local cafe. Judith Rigler (my cousin and camp co-owner with Eric Rigler) will also include some New Mexico cooking classes for those interested. They will also sponsor a campfire each evening with so’mores! BYO for wine or other adult beverages.
Lodging is in 5 mini cabins [1 or 2 persons] on fold-down cot-type bedding, with large dorm-style bathrooms a very short walk away. Limited bedrooms also available in Main Cabin, with shared bathroom, as well as in the Barn, (where the bathrooms are located). RV, mobile home spaces available with dumping station on property. Tent or car camping would also be an option for those who wish.
Dates: week of July 7 or week of July 14 (exact days to come) -- 4 days workshop plus arrival meal, departure breakfast. "Fix your own" sandwiches available each day. Let me know if you are interested, which dates work best for you.
COST: Since this is a trial run for what I’d like to make an annual event (and because the owners are generously donating the space) the fee is a real deal! $200 to $300 per participant depending on housing. $125 for non-participating spouse, partner or friend sharing a room.
So, any ideas?
Please send me feedback, especially if you think you might be interested in coming: What dates work best? Would you want to include or exclude weekend days? Would you be driving or flying in for the workshop? What kind of accommodations would you be happy with? Is this a topic of interest or would something else be more fun?
What a great weekend. Six artist participants and my co-teacher Sarah Jones and I spent the last two and a half days in drawing heaven. Is there anything better than having nothing to do but draw? We worked in many media, from many perspectives, with lots of input and insight from within and without the room. The first exercise was a variation of a project from Jane Fasse, whose wonderful blog delivers art quotes daily to my inbox. AND her art quote one day last week (a timely gift from the universe) was the exercise we started with this weekend.
You can read her version here. We did the same, except I asked each person to stay with their own "claimed torsos -- 3 or 4 per person) for the entire hour and a half of drawing in response to visual prompts that were projected on the wall. The prompts were also from Jane -- a Pinterest board of figerative art.
Other exercises we pursued were more about "realistic" drawing, but this one loosened us all up, and provided a wonderful visual feast to work from -- enlarging all of our ideas about figurative drawing. I'll share other results later this week, so stay tuned.
If you aren't a member of SDA, the conference coming up in San Antonio is reason enough to join. The speeches, exhibits and panels are fab, and the city will be filled with fiber art. AND, if you can, come early or stay late for one of the workshops -- from jewelry to magnetic fields to amazineg skyscraper sized weavings, ther eis something planned to feed every creative spirit around. I suspect the city will have a wonderful web of buzz and energy holding up the streets!
Here is a notice that showed up in my email today. I have heard on of YoYo Ma's wonderful talks before and I bet these will be just as great. YoYo has initiated a wonderful arts education program, in addition to his championship of music as an international connection.
One of my favorite quotes from him:
"The thing that I've always been slightly frustrated with, was that the idea of a CD is kind of confined to a material possession that you can put on a shelf. And the idea of music, for me, is always about both the communication and the sharing of content. And so the interactive part is missing."
When one takes on a new endeavor -- I'm looking for a small (read, inexpensive) studio/workshop space/informal gallery, AirBnB offering and overnight in-city haven -- the eyes take on new importance. What we see is so shaped by what we are looking for... and it's remarkable how emotions that we don't really have words for take over.
As we've looked at dozens of little houses, condos, thises and thatses in person -- and hundreds online (the real estate market must be as affected -- or more-- by the internet as any other of our modern commercial efforts and activities), my eyes have learned how to read the sites and sights beyond what shows up on the screen. Oh yeah, that looks great, until you see the actual streetview map! And interior photos -- especially those where the residents' belongings are still in place (or out-of, more likely)-- show a depressing degree of what rampant consumerism has made of the American household. No wonder they want to move, not a square inch to stand in, much less a space to rest the eye upon. The empty houses start looking pretty darn good. I see why house staging has become a career in the realm of house sales on the upper end of the market!
Amid all this looking, there have been only a couple of places that pass the see-test. I guess it's no surprise, but those couple or three have been houses that speak with their own distinct visual styles. The heartstrings otherwise are disengaged. And, believe me, I want to be practical, to be investment-wise, to pick something that meets all the criteria that I've described in lists and conversations with our realtor who's on the job. But I have a feeling that the heart is going to insist on style, honesty, imagination on the part of the builder (whether in 1910, 1949 or 1977) and at least some sense of potential beyond the present state of affairs. Do I need another project? Hell, no. Will I get one? Probably!
Designers, like children, find patterns and make connections. The importance of pattern making and creative play with material things, for children and adults, as a route to understanding spatial relations and problem-solving, as well as creating a sense of the individual in relation to larger cosmic harmonies, comes up again and again in the twentieth century.
The core idea behind this book is simple and quite enticing. Nassim Nicholas Taleb divides the world and all that's in it (people, things, institutions, ways of life) into three categories: the fragile, the robust and the antifragile. You are fragile if you avoid disorder and disruption for fear of the mess they might make of your life: you think you are keeping safe, but really you are making yourself vulnerable to the shock that will tear everything apart. You are robust if you can stand up to shocks without flinching and without changing who you are. But you are antifragile if shocks and disruptions make you stronger and more creative, better able to adapt to each new challenge you face. Taleb thinks we should all try to be antifragile.
Here's the video from RSA. it's dense. Really dense. I reccommend you just watch the short talk and not the economic panel after, unless of course, you are interested in economic systems. I've just ordered this book, and will give you a review later, but for now, I'll share a few ideas from the review that caught my eye. While the author is speaking as a philosopher, and looking at this idea as it applies to things like the bank and financial meltdown, there is plenty to think about on a personal/interpersonal level, too. Playing it safe if a really seductive idea, and a part of being an artist that keeps us locked in and locked up, imprisoned sometimes by our own success. It's a difficult tightrope -- keeping things fresh and, yet, staying intune with our "market," our hard-won and long-to-discover style of work.
From the NYTimes review: In Mr. Taleb’s view, “We have been fragilizing the economy, our health, political life, education, almost everything” by “suppressing randomness and volatility,” much the way that “systematically preventing forest fires from taking place ‘to be safe’ makes the big one much worse.” In fact, he says, top-down efforts to eliminate volatility (whether in the form of “neurotically overprotective parents” or the former Fed chairman Alan Greenspan’s trying to smooth out economic fluctuations by injecting cheap money into the system) end up making things more fragile, not less. Overtreatment of illness or physical problems, he suggests, can lead to medical error, much the way that American support of dictatorial regimes “for the sake of stability” abroad can lead to “chaos after a revolution.”
Last month I submitted a piece for Lesley Riley's upcoming book of illustrated quotes. I was actually assigned a quotation from Lesley. That made it difficult to slack off and forget the assignment, let me tell you...
I ended up making two versions of my quote and sent them in. Sometime soon, we submittees will know the results, and sometime a little later, you'll have the opportunity to purchase the book, filled with ideas on how to use words of wisdom to inspire pictures worth those few words.
I've often said that my creative genius (P.S. that's NOT ME, see the TED TALK below for what I mean) walks the tightrope between words and pictures. Both inform each other, and I'm not completely happy unless I am somehow honoring both in my creative life (waiting for said genius to blow through).
Lesley's newsletter is a great inspiration to my work, so if you're not a subscriber, read this issue and see what you think!
And for more from TED on ideas, see this PLAY LIST at http://www.ted.com/playlists/20/where_do_ideas_come_from.html
Ze (pronounced zeh) Frank is an amazing man, magician, imagineer on the net. His work (conceptual, comical, social, compassionate) is that of a true original, out-of-the-box thinker. He uses social media, the internet, software games and interactions as his media, and comes up with kindness.
This 2010 TED Talk is a great introduction to Ze if you have 20 minutes now - or later -- well worth the watch. (TED also has other talks by Ze, Chris likes him a lot!)
I've long used Scribbler, one of his online tools, to make interesting sketches, cards, and, lately I'm trying it out in a new-to-me version that includes color and more user controls than the original tool did. A collaborator Mario Klingemann, added the enhancements to the original, and looking at the website, I see that there are iPhone and iPad versions as well.
Since I am working on my Joggles online class (an on an upcoming iPad online workshop series) I played around last night with Scribbler and text images. If you want to play, head over to this site. And take some time to explore the rest of Ze's site, too! You'll find answers to questions you never thought to ask.
We're engaged in looking at our paths as artists this weekend at El Cielo Studio. It's a large group and a diverse one: some of the artists here are painters, mixed media artists, stitchers, program developers and administrators, educators and curriculum writers, potters and movement healers. We are all artists.
Seth Godin has a manifesto recently published, "We are all artists now". It may make you mad, it might make you joyous; it will certainly make you think. I was a little irritated at first by the "we are all artists" perspective from a "market expert" (even though I do think we are ALL ARTISTS by birthright) because it seemed to dismiss all the hours and work in polishing my skills and mastering my media.
But, the more I read it, the more I am challenged to make sure that my art has the emotional risk, the depth and the meaning that it has the potential to be. Damn the torpedos, full speed ahead.
How about this approach to art-to-wear? Suzanne Lee is using bacteria to grow cellulose fabric.
“What I’m looking for is a way to give material the qualities that I need. So what I want to do is say to a future [insect], ‘Spin me a thread. Align it in this direction. Make it hydrophobic. And while you’re at it, just form it around this 3D shape.’”
I polled other artists about their unsticking strategies and what a flurry of responses! I love all these ideas and comments. Thanks to you all and anyone else whom I missed on this roundup -- I'll keep adding. This is starting to look like a great article.
Michele Lasker says:
I have been watching the multitude of DVDs I bought from Interweave and Double Trouble for inspiration and it seems to be working. It's hard to get going after the holidays.
I find that when I get stuck it's typically because there's been an interruption in my normal flow of work. usually it's because I just finished a major project (a typical project for me takes eight months to a year, so finishing one is a Very Big Deal) and need some time to get my head unwrapped from the project - there's a bit of a grieving process as I come to terms with the end of my (working) relationship with the piece, and I usually feel pretty emotionally drained by the time I finish.
(1) Embrace boredom. That sounds really bizarre, but I've found that when my Muse has fled, it's because she needs a vacation. So I accept that I'm going to be bored and relatively unmotivated for a couple ofdays - it's part of the natural creative cycle for me. So instead of kicking myself about it, I let myself wander aimlessly about for a few days. Read books, clean up the kitchen, etc. I loathe being bored, but sometimes I need "time off" to recharge. In my experience trying to jumpstart faster doesn't work and just gets me more frustrated.
(2) Once I start feeling intensely bored (as opposed to bored and depressed), I start flipping through my idea notebook (mine is online, but they can be physical too), books on technique, books of swatches from sample exchanges, etc. I think of it as "teasing the Muse" - if you roll enough balls of tinfoil past a young cat, sooner or later its tail is going to start twitching and it will pounce. I figure the idea notebook and other idea sources make great balls of tinfoil for my Muse, so I simply parade ideas past her until something catches her/my fancy.
And after that, it's off again!
Barb Hilts says:
Me, I clean, which I do after every big project, Christmas included. Cleaning, puts things in order for another project. Out of the cleaning, ideas resurface.
Creative blocks are a period of growth. A dear friend of mine would suggest to work through the blocks in any creative medium, and your new path will emerge.
I watch DVDs of other artists and try to use that time to go to Art Institute or somewhere like that. The Art 21 series on PBS is wonderful. I think there are 7 seasons worth of those with interviews and videos of artists in all kinds of mediums. It's a great way to see a variety of things and get out of your head for awhile.
And then I clean the studio which always leads to something.
And Lisa Kerpoe chimes in from nearby:
Ha! We're thinking along the same lines. I just did a blog on creativity blocks and was planning to follow up next week with ways to overcome them! My favorite? I keep a drawer of unfinished items. Things that are fairly far along, but for some reason I just never finished them. I pull those out and start playing. That usually generates ideas that then work their way into other projects. Lisa Kerpoe email@example.com http://www.lisakerpoe.com http://lisakerpoe.blogspot.com
And from Rachel in Arizona
This helped me when I was in the grip of the "Oh but I can't do art because..." monster and it gets me out of places where I'm not making any art, and I don't know why. It has also helped with the times I've gotten stuck because everything I make looks godawful and fit only to line the cat box.
I read a book called Art and Fear, and it made me all indignant because in it somewhere it seemed to hint that I make a lot of excuses to avoid doing art. But but but my excuses are -- er my reasons, yeah that's it -- are all good exc-- reasons. I'm not feeling well! I'm feeling happy, so I should celebrate! I'm tired. I'm bored. I need to go to the store or I ought to clean the refrigerator. And on and on. And I began to have the sneaking suspicion that maybe I could somehow put all these important excuses aside for a little while and just make something.
That alone didn't quite get me going, but I think it opened me up so that when someone sent me a link to a Youtube of writer Neil Gaiman's commencement speech to the graduating class at an art college, and I heard the following, a light came on and I started looking at art as something I maybe could do anyway:
"Remember, whatever discipline you're in, whether you're a musician or a photographer, a fine artist or a cartoonist, a writer, a dancer, a singer, a designer, whatever you do, you have one thing that's unique: you have the ability to make art. And for me, and for so many of the people I've known, that's been a lifesaver, the ultimate lifesaver; it gets you through good times and it gets you through the other ones.
"Sometimes life is hard; things go wrong, in life and in love and in business and in friendship and in health and in all the other ways that life can go wrong. And when things get tough, this is what you should do: make good art. I'm serious. Husband runs off with a politician? Make good art. Leg crushed and then eaten by a mutated boa constrictor? Make good art. IRS on your trail? Make good art. Cat exploded? Make good art. Someone on the Internet thinks what you're doing is stupid or evil or it's all been done before? Make good art. Probably things will work out somehow; eventually time will take the sting away and it doesn't even matter. Do what only you can do best: make good art.
"Make it on the bad days. Make it on the good days too. And . . . while you're at it, make your art. Do the stuff that only you can do."
Or maybe it's just going back to that speech and listening to Neil reading that aloud. :) But sometimes a reminder of why I want to dye cloth is exactly what I need to sweep all the rubbish aside.
JC at Wellstrong Gallery suggests:
The best advice I've received for coping with writer's block is to write anything. Write a shopping list, a thank-you note, etc. Writing a journal is different, because that's a continuation. Journals do it for some people, but not me. It needs to be something new, and original (the shopping list has to be considered (in its nature) to work, e.g., if for food, for a new recipe, rather than milk, eggs, bread).
I do the same thing to get unstuck in the studio. I have what I call "mindless sewing projects". It could be an old project that has all of the conceptualizing done but needs finishing work (new and original isn't as important, because just handling the art gets me in an art frame of mind), or it could be a "crafts" project like a baby quilt. Or maybe it's prep work like dyeing etc. fabrics. Basically, working is working, and if I just keep working, things start to flow and the ideas and inspiration just come.
My biggest block is a cleaned up workspace. I try to leave something that's ready to just pick and get going on, either on my table, or in a milk crate ready to dump out. That way there isn't any of that breaking into a tidy space reluctance.
And from June Steegstra
I find reading through my books (I have an extensive library) and magazines gives me lots of ideas to addapt for my own. I usually have two or three projects that are waiting for me to begin.
Su Butler chimed in:
I remedied it by going to a meeting with people who do entirely different work that I do...I am primarily a weaver and dyer, but the people at the meeting were quilters, paper makers, felters, thread painters etc. It was terribly inspiring and really invigorated my creative senses. I am working on a piece entirely out of my usual medium and adjusting to the learning curve, but facing it with tremendous freedom because I honestly don't know what I am doing wrong....and that reminds me of how I need to feel when creating without my own "world"........ and I am feeling more and more creative as a result. I call this "shock therapy"....introduce something so new and unknown that only creativity can make it happen....even in my ideas are old hat to someone else, they are new to me and it is very helpful and satisfying.
Perseverence: Turned down by seven art schools, she kept on her path
Observe: Pay attention to the people, skills and resources at hand.
Just say yes: Did not knowing how to do something ever stop this woman?
and most of all
IMAGINE. Possibilities, solutions, collaborations, successes, the future.
AND, guess what, Janet Echelman is coming to San Antonio as the keynote speaker for the Surface Design Conference. You can attend by joining SDA and paying the conference fee, or wait and see if there are space-available tickets open closer to the date. There will be numerous fiber arts exhbits, events, workshops and all kinds of textile and fiber adventure going on at the conference. Dates, June 3-14, including pre and post workshops.
For more about Echelman, see these other videos and links:
Drawing in a new medium might be your inventive step. Think outside your usual constraints.
The next step in making a study (see the past two posts for more information) is the big, fun one of actually doing something with all that brainstorming, experience and research. This is, of course, the point of it all. But even if you shortcircuit the PRIMING and just take one or two of my previous suggestions, you will end up with a much deeper, more resonant and powerful piece of work in the invention stage.
If you have the time and inclination -- and the deadline isn't looming -- here are some of the INVENTION exercises we use with kids, and that I use in my fiber arts creativity courses. These activities may not be exactly in your comfort zone, but that's the point. Whatever textile art (or other art) you create after playing in these ponds will be rich, rich, rich.
After the priming experiences, choose and play with materials in one or more of the following ways, and then express your own version or personal definition of the subject as uniquely as possible. You may have other suggestions or ideas for media or genres. This is just a wildman version of ways you can take your ideas!
Use some or all of your bodies and/or locomotion (movement from one spot to another) to explore the subject, and then create one or more of the following:
· Physical games
Use the subject to create one or more of the following:
· Drawings -- on canvas, paper and fabric
· Paintings -- on canvas, paper and fabric
· Collages -- fibric, mixed media, paper cloth
· Prints -- screen, stencils, stamps
· Art Quilts
· Maps, graphs or diagrams
· Stories or poems related to your drawings
Use the subject to create one or more of the following:
· Stories, dramas, environments or exhibits related to your creations
Generate words related to the subject and use the words to create:
· Stories (written or tape recorded)
· Tongue twisters
· Invented words and definitions
· Books or a library of books
Use technology to create with the subject, creating one or more of these:
· Slide shows of photographs
· Transparencies on the overhead projector
Photos to print on fabric
If you'd like to have a guide through this process, and you live somewhere near San Antonio, consider taking my course at the Southwest School of Art. The first four weeks of the course will be devoted to Making a Study.
The final step that we artists need to take with our art is that of REFLECTION. This is the step that often is shortchanged, but it can give us a chance to take the next best step.
We tend (I do, anyway) to rush ahead to the next thing without taking time to notice the feelings of satisfaction, of completion, of learning from the process. To simply bask in the sense of rest that completing a big project can bring us. It's the creative engine equivalent of the corpse pose at the end of a vigorous and challenging yoga practice.
Reflecting on what one has done can be as simple as asking "what worked?" and "what didn't?" Not jsut about the final product, but about the process. Did the timing work for you? Did you have a lot of stops and starts, and i so, did they add or subtract from your sense of satisfaction.
It's a good time to get sahre and get feedback from others as well. To notice the impact that the work has on others. Is this a piece that has power and meaning to others? Even if you don't have an exhibition opportunity, can you share it with a critique group, some othr artists? Or anyone whose opinion your respect and trust. What could have made this piece of work more interesting, more powerful, more you. Is it distinct or similar to work that others are doing? And if that is true, what would make it more your own?
Just to keep you going on this set of posts about making a study. Here's the reason. Here's the starting point. Make a study to figure this out, and you will never have a bad day at work. From Ruprecht Studios, beautiful images, beautiful message.
For the fullscreen on Face book, link here: https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?v=10151397745507577&set=vb.150082065062250&type=2&theater
A trip to a museum to see and photograph (if allowed) related art could be a "big experience."
MORE WAYS TO PRIME THE MIND. See the last blog post to figure out what and why-for this is all about!
Start with a list of questions about your topic. Write as many as you can. Review your questions and, if possible, discover additional questions to ask and answer about the subject -- perhaps by sharing with a group. Use one or more of these methods to track down answers, possible answers and even just hints of answers to your questions:
Search the internet.
Look in the library.
Read related books or magazine articles.
Create a survey.
Check out YouTube or other online sources of video or audio.
After researching, draw, write about and/or graph what you learned, what was most important.
Use your imaginations about the subject in these and other ways:
Ask "what if" questions.
Brainstorm or mind-map
Consider the subject from as many viewpoints as possible
Think WAYYYY outside the box
Design for yourself, if possible, a large, concrete, “unforgettable” experience related to the subject or theme of your study. Examples:
An excursion (can be imaginary)
A live animal
A live demonstration/performance
Participation in a big group or collaborative event
A visit to a museum or park or historical site that gives you ideas about your theme
See a movie or documentary related to your theme, if possible on the big screen!
PS: Dr. Cynthia Herbert (my friend Cindy) added two more great ideas to her list. Since she inspired this whole series, I want to include the ideas, so look below in the comment section -- and add your own ideas, too.