Sacred Segrada

Sitting in the Segrada Familia I feel like I experienced a soul-touch that I never felt in any church before; perhaps my inner spirit speaks modernist more fluently than Gothic.

I have been inspired to awe in churches around the world, the soaring spaces of Notre Dame, the somber beauty of the church of Santa Maria del la Mar here, near our home away from home, the confectionary delight of the altars and retablos of the Mexican colonial cathedrals. But something clicked in me upon walking into this amazing space, a feeling that no photograph or drawing can capture, the scale and layers of light and space are simply too complex -- and too simple, too.

The scalloped shapes and pointed rays have a dance going on. The detail and contrast of the work of all the artisans and workmen, carvers and ironworkers still working from Antoni Gaudi's vision and plans are the closest I will come to that experience many must have had over the ages as those Gothic Cathedrals were constructed. So the sounds of chisels and cranes mingle with the recorded organ music, making a counterpoint of time and sound in the vast parabolas of space.

As we have settled here out of the heat to watch and write, the angle of the sun outside has changed and the space with it, reflected greens from the window above us show up with purple hues on the columns, the families of columns, each clan a different stone and a different shade of grey/pink/taupe, ever changing. The timelessness and the temporal, the infinity of patterns, this space is like looking into a mirror reflecting another mirror.

The feeling for me truly is that of a forest, perhaps one sent from another planet. I wish all the people here would really take the silence please signs to heart, but that is too much to hope for. I think we will try to come back for mass one evening.

More Mermaid

The Lisa Call online workshop "Working in a Series" is doing its work on me. Deadlines work for me. Here's the first assignment completed. I won't give a lot of details as to the assignments, as that is proprietory information that is part of the course, but I will say that this one pushed me to a piece of work that I really like and that combines the kind of graphic clarity with my patterned texture work that is hard for me to find. 

Keeping at it, this will be the first of a new Sirena series, with five or six new large pieces to result (this [pieceis about 4' by 5'). I feel like I am breaking out of a long, slow slump into some new energy in my work. I find that the right teacher and the right learning experience for me can really help me in my studio practice. As artists, we spend a lot of time in our own little heads, solo. Having to interact in a creative setting, being the follower instead of always being the leader offers a certain kind of vacation, a kind of social interaction that is very valuble for my creative process.

I was once asked by a teacher/artist whom I really respect why I continue to take workshops. She doesn't, feeling that her focus is set and self directed, and that taking classes is a waste of energy and direction, can take her off her track. I don't feel that way -- first, I teach a lot of intro technique classes and some workshops are fodder for that mill -- I need to keep up on the latest and greatest. But others, like this one that I am taking now, are real soul food. Something I need to feed my artist self and to keep me honest, to keep me on task, to remind me of what is important in my work. 

Yes, choose carefully. Avoid being a workshop junkie, using courses and workshops to avoid forging ahead on a personal path. But a well-chosen workshop, retreat or class can be just what the spirit ordered. A time to give over the reins for a time, a time to refresh the creative flow, to have deadlines outside of one's own choosing (and divorced from "entry" deadlines that have their own baggage of procrastination) and even a time to make mistakes, to do "not-so-perfect" work and to have a failure or two!

Mark it up as Success/FUN/Beautiful


Last weekend's Markmaking Workshop at El Cielo took us all on a path to beautiful, deconstructed screen-printed fabrics. Each of the participants worked from a visual motif, developed in a half day of cut, paste and draw, then adapted it to different tool-making and technical processes.

And of course, we ate well, swam, set and looked, walked dogs (at least Linda and I did!) and talked and shared our lives. Thanks to Margaret, Heather, Mary and Ellen for all the creative energy flying through El Cielo. 

Here's just a few photos from the weekend. (Don't you love these panoramas, created by Linda with a new app on her iphone 4.)





Color at the Edge

Come along on a color adventure! My recent trip to Central America was, obviously, a trip through the lands of color. In both countries (as in much of Latin America) a ride through any city, a walk through any market, an exploration of the arts and crafts takes one straight into the heart of color.

Since I consider color as one of my strong suits -- where I start most of my work -- this trip was like visiting the guru on top of the mountain (volcano is more appropriate, I guess) -- a trip to my own Mecca. Working with color is where my heart goes when I work, and I consider myself a pretty masterful color craftsman, and my work is bold and brave in its palette usually. Now, I like more subtle palettes, too, and sometimes use their "rules," and I certainly love the work of artists whose palettes aren't as bright as my own.

Even so, when I stop and look at some of the photos I took on this trip, (many of them snapped out of the van window as we speeded by) my eyes are amazed. Certainly "what works" takes on an entirely new set of parameters. For example, just what doe s that little stripe of reddish orange do for the blue house in the photo at the top of the blog?

As I plan my next El Cielo workshop on COLOR (coming up in November with new exercises in dye and paint, fabric and paper) I am finding some interesting new exercises inspired by some of these photos. I'll use some interesting software web-based color tools (more later) and provide some parameters for some fabric collage mini-quilt assignments. If you'd like to join in for the LIVE and UP FRONT experience, sign up for the workshop -- or just follow along on this blog for some every-once-and-a-while color updates. You will be able to find the exercises when you click on the KEYWORD COLOR on the sidebar, OK?

Here's the first assignment:

1. Take any solid color of tissue, construction or other art paper. Choose a color you like, but not one that you use all the time, just to stretch the eye muscles. Cut twelve 6" by 6" squares of the same color.

2. Cut 18 different solid color strips each 1/2" wide and 6" long from different papers -- or paint some papers with any bits of tempera, acrylic or craft paint. Just work randomly with favorites, or with what ever you have around you.

3. At the bottom of six of the squares, about 1" above the bottom edge, glue one of the 1/2" strips of a different color. On these six squares, try to find the absolutely most interesting, most pleasing, most shocking combinations. Don't play by any presupposed rules at this point.

4. Now, cut 1 1/2" strips (6" long as well) of the SAME colors you chose. Glue those 1" above the bottom edge. What happens when the AMOUNT of color contrast changes? Which do you like the best?

5. Now look at your squares with a color wheel in hand (or on the screen). What "rules" for your color choices can you deduce? Did you choose complementary colors, split complementaries? analogous? What did the different amounts of the secondary color show you about your choices? Try cutting some 3" wide strips of the secondary color and see what they do when the amounts on a square are equal... (You may need to make some more 6" squares at this point.)

6. And now, just for fun, combine all your squares into a pieced quilt pattern on your design wall. Since the predominant color will still hold dominance in quantity, you may find that the design is wonderfully striking and interesting. A starter for a small wall quilt, perhaps?