Spring Bouquets

JTP Flower Panels 3 SQ.jpg

Johntimothy has recently been working on a wonderful suite of small, delicate flower prints. Measuring 7"h x 5"w, these one-of-a-kind pieces are a mix of intaglio and screen print mounted on cradled panels.  I managed to convince him to share some of these still life pieces with our readers, as well as talk about the inspiration and drive behind this body of work. 

We'll start with a photo of one of the many vases of dry, dead flowers that adorn our studio environment. I've taken to calling our place the headquarters of The Dead Flower Society, which is a term of affection, as I enjoy these quirky arrangements as well. In this state, the flowers perform quite well as models for drawing, but there is more to the story than that, as you'll read about in my conversation with Johntimothy below.

 Dead Flower Still Life

Dead Flower Still Life

PRP: What do you find interesting or compelling about flowers as a subject?

JP: My use of them as a subject matter comes from two directions really. The first is the inspiration that comes from observing and drawing the flowers as they decay. They are beautiful objects to translate into linear drawings...I really enjoy the intricate line work that I can explore through observing and drawing these forms.

The second piece of my curiosity is the connection to the art historical use of flowers, specifically in Dutch still life paintings. I find it interesting that flower imagery is layered with meaning and metaphor, but at the same time serves as visual decoration. I'm fascinated by that layered aspect of their visual being.

JTP Panel Flowers 1 SQ.jpg

PRP: There is a lot going on in these pieces...can you tell us how they were made?

JP: They begin with the intaglio line image (engraving, etching, and/or drypoint) made from an initial observational drawing of a bouquet of dead flowers. The next stage is layering the piece with screen print images from Dutch flower paintings. This mix of screen and intaglio results in a kind of abstraction, which somewhat obscures each layer through the overlapping and merging of the two.

JTP Flower Panels 2 SQ.jpg

JP: The immediate read is something abstract and non-objective and the viewer has to get in close to see both the line work and begin to see the screen print flower imagery as well. You can't focus on both at the same time...you have to go back and forth between the two. My interest in this aspect comes from reading interviews with David Hockney and his discussion and exploration of perception and vision. He talks about how we are unable to focus on two things at once and our perception shifts between one and the other. That's also what I'm exploring in these pieces.

JTP Flower panels 4 SQ.jpg

I just love these intimate pieces with their delicate line work and floating color....the essence of the still life flowers seems to lift and merge with the flowers from paintings of long ago in a sort of magical interplay. There are other explorations in Johntimothy's studio based on these themes, which we will visit another time.

Hope you are enjoying spring where you are. Here we are enduring what we hope is the last snow of the season! Cheers!

JTP Flower Panels 5 SQ.jpg

 

 

 

Finding the Work / Life Balance

Greetings from Missouri Bend Studio! In my last post, I mentioned that I was going back to work full-time, so two weeks later, I'm here to report on progress keeping up the work/life balance that so many of us struggle with. My new job requires a steep learning curve, which pretty much zapped my energy the first week, but I'm catching on to things now (slowly!) so I've turned my attention back to the idea of figuring out my time in the studio. I don't think I want to put the pressure on myself to require that I spend any significant time there during the work week, but I've found the daily practice is still pretty essential at some level. Those few moments of meditative drawing keep me balanced and bring a bit of satisfaction and rhythm to my day. It's also a way of marking time and being present in the moment.

 Daily drawing, March 24, 2018

Daily drawing, March 24, 2018

So, the latest incarnation of the daily drawings, which I took up again yesterday after a couple of weeks without doing them, are slightly smaller than previously....now at 5" x 4". I think I will try to make the drawing each day, but perhaps wait until the end of the week to dip them in the beeswax, which I can do in a batch. That kind of workflow feels more manageable and allows me to keep up some measure of the rhythm of a daily practice. Yesterday's drawing is above and the one from earlier today is below. As with all the others, these will find their way into MissouriBendStudio on Etsy.

 Daily drawing, March 25, 2018

Daily drawing, March 25, 2018

I also want to have other drawings going on in the studio, which I can work on as time allows, especially on the weekends. After a disappointing attempt in the studio last weekend, I'm happy to report that things are moving forward again as of yesterday. I've finished up a couple pieces that had gotten started, which I've sort of hallmarked as a new series called Impromptus. Each one was a struggle to find the flow and finally came together when I let go (the lesson I must learn over and over and over again!!!) and let the drawing be what it wanted to be. 

There are as many different ways of working as there are people making art...and no one way is right or wrong. I strongly believe we each have our own way of working, along with our own inner language and sense of mark-making. I think my work is always stronger and more satisfying for me when I let my inner creative loose on the page. Play....that's the secret! When we are playing (something we adults have forgotten how to do, oftentimes) we aren't thinking about what move to make next....we just are...free and in the moment, in a full expression of ourselves. When I am in that state, as I finally was when Impromptu no.1 & no. 2 came to fruition this weekend (after much gnashing of teeth, believe me!) we are most ourselves and are making the work that only we can make. 

Yet, I am not without those pesky doubts that lurk quietly in the corner recesses. "These drawings are just goofy scribbles," that inner critic chides...."what does it mean?" the voice badgers. "Shouldn't you be trying to say something specific....to communicate on some topic of importance?" It goes on and on....you probably know those voices. But there is a louder voice....the one that doesn't seem to speak in English (insert your own language here) but projects a kind of knowing and joy and satisfaction....and... enjoyment....and fun, yes fun. I think these drawings are fun....they make me happy and I hope they bring some happiness to you....at least a smile!

Off to the office for me tomorrow....but I'll carry the joy and creative spirit of the studio with me. Hope you do too, wherever you go. Thanks for stopping by!

 

Days of Transition

 Index of Days no. 7

Index of Days no. 7

Looks like it's been some time since I posted! Not sure where the time has gone, but much of it has been spent in the studio....and cozy inside away from the bitter chill of winter! The latest series of mixed media drawings, The Index of Days, which I started some weeks ago, has progressed in surprising ways. Number 7, shown above, is a reflection of the winter landscape and that gorgeous pink winter light reflecting off the snow. The most recent two below, nos. 8 & 9, seem to have taken a turn. I found myself captivated by the explorations of those tangled, twisting lines. These two pieces are on the way out the door, as they are designated for an upcoming fundraising exhibition in Sioux Falls. I'm excited they will find a home out in the world, but strange and quirky as they are, I'm kind of attached to them. Make it and let it go....that's how it should be!

 Index of Days no. 8

Index of Days no. 8

Looking back, I can see the significance of those tangled, twisting lines....as a metaphor for where I find myself these days. I'm heading off on a new adventure....back to full-time work....tomorrow. My total immersion in the studio has come to a close, alas. While having a loving and supportive husband is so wonderful, having only one income is often a struggle. Periodically, I apply for a few of the limited jobs in the area that pique my interest and now I have accepted a position at the University of South Dakota at the Center for Distance Education. I'm excited to begin, dive into new challenges and connect with a whole new set of colleagues. While that is all the case, still I find myself in a bittersweet moment, as I now give up that luxury of precious time in the studio.

 Index of Days no. 9

Index of Days no. 9

But! I'll still be in the studio, if on a more limited schedule. I will also continue to post new work and share thoughts and musings here on the blog, as I value the connection that this gives me with folks all over the world. And now, it is late and time to get some good rest...I need to be ready for the adventure that begins tomorrow at 8 am. Stay tuned....I'll be back with fresh work soon!

 Index of Days no. 9 (detail)

Index of Days no. 9 (detail)

 

The Tangled Web of Complexity

Abandon the urge to simplify everything, to look for formulas and easy answers, and begin to think multidimensionally, to glory in the mystery and paradoxes of life, not to be dismayed by the multitude of causes and consequences that are inherent in each experience—to appreciate the fact that life is complex.
— M. Scott Peck
 Daily Drawing, February 20, 2018

Daily Drawing, February 20, 2018

The daily drawings have much to teach me if I pay attention. What comes forth each day, as my hand moves across the page without forethought, is like a window into my inner world. For some time now, I've been making these drawings of intertwining lines....all tangled and tumbling. For me, they represent a study in complexity...a kind of metaphor. 

These drawings are a reminder to me of just how interconnected everything is....patterns in nature, events unfolding, relationships, our mind and body....all of it. We are intertwined with the earth, with the trees and the creatures, our actions ripple out to effect other events in the world. There are times when these ideas overwhelm, and others when it all seems magical, reminding me of my connection to all things. 

 Index of Days, no. 7

Index of Days, no. 7

These interlocking lines take different forms, sometimes gently overlapping, others tangled. They keep finding their way into the work and I sense they are becoming a thing unto themselves....as shapes and forms, as well as metaphor.  Much to explore. As winter snows continue to arrive on our doorstep, my quiet pursuits in the studio unfold. For now, these tangled lines are becoming my subject. There are plenty of examples of this theme visible in the daily drawings of MissouriBendStudio if you'd like to see more. Cheers!

 

 

 

The Pleasures of Reading Three Books At Once

Greetings from the heart of winter! Yes, it is still winter as I write, surrounded by white. Mother Nature is giving us a taste of winter we've not had in quite some time. My work continues to reflect the immersion in this lovely season....the shifts of subtle color, the stark beauty of the trees and grasses against the snow, and the stillness. At least it seems so....life continues to buzz with activity, but winter brings on a blanket of silence that I find quite comforting. My observations turn into memories....and then fade to white.

 Index of Days no.4

Index of Days no.4

One of my desires for the new year was to become more observant...to pay more attention to the details, to capture at least a few more of the endless moments that pass by unnoticed. That's what led to this current series, The Index of Days. These pieces seem to be a place where the accumulated observations of the passing days find their way out into the world. If there were a written index to go with each one, I might be able to point here...or there....with a kind of imaginary page number that would allow me to articulate a reference for that bit of image or stroke of paint. Much of it is fleeting...and fragmentary, all of which we use to piece our lives together into something whole and coherent. We stitch the fragments of memories, of captured moments, the things we've said and heard, the words we've read....it's all there, threads in a tapestry. Or for me, here buried in the layers of paint and ink on a sheet of paper.

Speaking of reading, I want to just touch on the idea that occurred to me the other day as I picked up one of the three very different books I am immersed in right now. The books I'm currently savoring are: A History of Pictures by David Hockney & Martin Gayford, Solar Bones: A Novel by Mike McCormack and on my tablet (a fairly new experience for me) Empire of Liberty: A History of the Early Republic, 1789-1815 by Gordon Wood. There was a moment when I realized I was kind of juggling these quite different reads....different in subject, style and mood. My linear side thought I should just finish one and then go on to the next, but the maker/artist in me insisted that the simultaneous reading was creating a different experience of each book and that, in fact, the kind of layered reading was informing the work in the studio in a way that was different than had I been reading one book and then moving on to the next. 

I think it is a fairly understood that the reader of the text is part of the creative spirit of the book, in a sense, in the same way that the viewer of the work of art is part of work's life out in the world. Each read...of a book or a work of art is different, given that each person brings his or her own experience and sensibilities to the engagement. But beyond that, in that moment when I gave myself permission and in fact, encouragement, to continue with this balanced reading, I understood that the insights I gained from the Hockney book, for instance, were enlarged by the incandescent writing of the stream of memories from McCormack in Solar Bones. In one of the chapter headings, Hockney says, "We see with memory"....which resonated even more with me after coming from Solar Bones, which miraculously seems to capture in words the way a daydreaming mind flits from memory to memory, moments of heartache turning to joy. And underneath those books, my engagement with the history of the early days of the United States, is a reminder that it all could be otherwise, that our identity is intricately wound up with our culture and the history of our own country in ways that we cannot fathom. History and collective memory connect the fragile past to the future yet to be born. That notion seems to underlie the writing in Solar Bones....and it goes on...the weaving together of text, ideas and understanding.

February 8, 2018 SQ.jpg

All this is to say....if you are the linear type, as I often am, I'd be interested to hear your thoughts about what happens in the interplay of reading several books simultaneously. And, if you are an artist, does what you read inform the work that you make? 

One last note....I'm having a Valentine's Day sale in my shop over at MissouriBendStudio on Etsy! I'm calling it Art for the Heart Sale and everything is 10% off through February 15th, in case the 14th catches you by surprise. I think giving a gift of original art is a wonderful way to express your love and affection for the dear ones in your life....I'm just giving you a little help along the way. No coupon necessary....everything is 10% off, so hope you'll stop by!

 

The Index of Days

Welcome to February! I've had a busy week in the studio and I'm going through the white paint, that's for sure! As our winter wonderland of white began to melt and evaporate, I noticed in my drives to town, that naturally more and more of the other colors in the landscape were reappearing. As readers might remember from my first post of the year in which I stated my desire to be more observant, I've been trying to do just that as I go out into the world....notice and pay attention. Sometimes little vignettes of the landscape take my breath away....sometimes it is color....or shape, or line. So, even as I worked on a couple more pieces in the Winter White series (see below), I was struck by the warm golden yellow of the grasses peaking up through what was left of the snow banks. Or that hedge of rich red in the dogwood bushes I would see here and there. My commute into town takes me along the golf course where an amazing willow tree holds forth majestically, with delicate lines and a most luscious golden yellow. And all that evergreen....and the umber browns against the snow and the soft blue gray of the distant bluffs....well, I was overwhelmed. 

And then somewhere, in the New York Times I believe, some image of people gathering hemp, that also took my breath away and it began to occur to me that all those things I saw and nearly wept over during the previous days, along with the things I'd read, the conversations I'd had, and everything else I'd seen and done, had become some kind of repository inside me. And I understood that, for me, the creative process, is one of accessing all that stored memory....and maybe the pieces are akin to mnemonic devices, of a sort.

I'd finished up the fourth and fifth in the Winter White Series and decided I'd break the ice on a couple of unfinished pieces on the same paper that had been staring me in the face for a couple of years. Perhaps you know the kind....those careful works you've spent countless hours on, yet remain dull and lifeless....and now lay abandoned.

The two pieces above were made using those two old drawings as a base. They were already divided in half, like a book page, and that notion of the book, along with everything I'd been thinking about, combined to lead me to create the pieces above. As I began to let go of the preciousness of the work I'd put in on those pages, the series title announced itself to me....Index of Days. What if you could capture memories in a way that would point to a conversation, or a thought you had....or an image you'd seen? If you could create some sort of index? What if you really let go and let your hand move across the page, following your instincts and wouldn't that inner repository of memory know just what to do to create the index? Maybe you wouldn't be able to articulate everything that came out, but you would recognize it as something interior, something that once resided in you and now was there to communicate with the world. Maybe others could access your index to find their way into their own interior.

I recognize a number of things in these pieces....the reference to the wispy red and ochre lines of those beautiful winter grasses rising up out of the ground and through the snow banks. I recognize the gingko leaf as a marker of memory and I traced it from a cut-out gingko leaf that lays on the corner of my desk. I recognized the reference to that rich hemp I saw momentarily, which reminded me once again of the grasses....the grasses that I love in the landscape here. And that spot of aqua....that was the color of the river I glimpsed briefly as I rounded the curve on the road back home.

Before I knew it, those old cast-off drawings had become enlivened....they reignited my interest in palimpsest as a metaphor for the richness of memory in the overlay of our accumulating days.

So, while the Winter White series will continue in some fashion, especially when we get the next snow that transforms our land, the Index of Days is an outgrowth of that series. As the snow melted and the edges of the landscape began to be seen again, there were new inspirations and a new kind of seeing. I'm excited by the release I felt when I finally let go of those drawings in limbo....letting go of the preciousness and trusting in my hands and heart.

The work I make is never planned....the work that sees the light of day, that is. My work comes from an interior place and the lesson to be learned over and over again, is the need to trust our own wisdom. 

So! As we move into February, I thought I'd have a bit of a sale over at Missouri Bend Studio....a kind of Art for the Heart sale....10% off in my shop to entice you to give a gift of original art to someone you love. Everything is on sale through February 15th. I'll be back here before then, but it's not to early to think about Valentines Day! 

Also, please remember you can always sign up for my monthly newsletter, which goes out the first of each month....I'm off to finish up the February issue right now. You can find the link on the About Us page of the website or by clicking here.

Enjoy your weekend. Cheers!

 

 

Winter White

Maybe it was the look of the winter-white world around me that inspired me to paint over a drawing I'd begun with various layers of white. Maybe it was the ethereal nature of white, inducing a kind of blindness, a metaphor for all the things we miss when we look...everything we are blind to, the visible and the invisible. Its all there, but we miss so much, of course. And maybe it was the ethereal nature of dreams, images arising from the subconscious in an effort to create meaning and memory from the events of our lives.

I found myself painting everything white. As I kept working on a drawing, following my intuition as is my usual practice, I began to cover areas with white acrylic and then began drawing and writing in white over top. With pencil the tiny squares I started in the middle of the page found their way down and further up the page into a tower. I never know, when I begin, what is about to happen, nor why, but by the end of a drawing like this, I usually come to know the meaning, for me, at least. Once I was confronted with the tower and acknowledged it was a tower, I understood that this was a reflection of the unnamed feelings inside me about this huge two story house being build right next door, where, until recently, there was just a small cabin....this house changes the landscape and the view, as it towers over us. So there it is, like a waking dream, where our mind creates literal versions of the metaphors we use to navigate, I gave some kind of form to my mixed feelings about that towering structure next door. That must be our little house....the little one over on the lower left.

 Winter White no.1 (detail)

Winter White no.1 (detail)

A second drawing followed the first and I realized I was actually making a series of drawings based in white and though I searched for a series title, and waiting patiently (I thought) for its name to arise, I realized by mid-week that Winter White was really just right. After the foot of snow we had on Monday, transforming our little corner of the world once again into a winter wonderland, I realized the cool cast of these pieces really is a reflection of the physical world around me. It's winter....I'm basking in the beautiful whites of winter.

 Winter White no.2 (detail)

Winter White no.2 (detail)

Wasn't there something in the news this past week about a meteor sighting somewhere in the upper midwest? That must be the reference in this no.2 drawing....and is that a mountain of snow? I'm not sure....I'm not ready to decode these entirely. It is interesting to me that the asemic writing is back in the work. The written word is magical for me....and powerful, needless to say. My day alternates between work in the studio, reading and photographing/posting/listing work online and in my Etsy shop. There is never enough time for any one of those things, so I try to balance it all. Along with a little yoga every afternoon....now that I've discovered this amazing yoga app (Down Dog), I actually look forward to my late afternoon time in the room we have set aside for yoga. 

 Winter White no.3 (detail)

Winter White no.3 (detail)

Above is the third piece in the series. This looks like cloth to me, which I love....since I don't actually work on cloth. I'm becoming more active on Instagram (feel free to follow me here) and there I see the work of so many artists I admire, including textile artists. I love the look and feel of cloth and of stitching (which I think of as drawing) on cloth, but I've never gravitated to working on cloth myself. Paper is it for me....and sewing on paper suits me just fine, but in this piece I found myself piecing together scraps of imaginary cloth. Its just layered lines, but for me, they evoke the texture of cloth. 

So, I've got a couple more of these winter whites underway on my desk downstairs. I look forward to seeing how they unfold. It is interesting to see the way that the internalized events of my life and in the world around me come through in the work. I'll leave you with a view from earlier this week after our big snowstorm. It's a view I never tire of, that's for sure. Have a great weekend!

Winter snow January SQ.jpg
 

An Expanded Missouri Bend Studio Shop!

Greetings on a  blizzard-filled day here on the Plains! We've had quite a bit of snow throughout the day, but neither of us had to leave the house (not that we could anyway) as the university had cancelled classes, so we had a lovely day inside...mostly. I managed to finish the task of closing The Art Filled Home, our collaborative Etsy shop, but not before transferring all the listings to Missouri Bend Studio. All the works that lived their short life (in near oblivion!) in The Art Filled Home will hopefully now find viewers and a loving home. You can find all those mixed-media one-of-a-kind print based pieces in the Collaborations section of MissouriBendStudio. As readers of this blog might remember from earlier posts, the daily print series we worked on together this fall are there, but also the older pieces some of which are shown in this post. The piece above was part of a series done in 2014 for a joint exhibition we had at the University of South Dakota. 

A Gathering of Stones, above, and the one below are from last spring when we began the shop. It was a continuation of that earlier series in terms of format, but with a different color palette and imagery. Johntimothy created layers of lovely silkscreen patterns, which I responded to with drawing and painting. Now that he's back teaching classes full time, we have to figure out a new collaborative series, so stay tuned!

So, winter storm Jaxon was slow to materialize, but I guess he was everything they predicted....I'm not sure how much snow this is, but Johntimothy probably does, as he spent a few hours this afternoon, along with the neighbor, shoveling us out. The snow was beautiful coming down, but the winds created white-out conditions, so hope folks stayed off the roads!

January 22 2018 snow.jpg

Meanwhile, I've been experimenting with new possibilities for the daily drawings, but due to supply constraints, I've returned to using the Japanese rice paper/beeswax....I have a good amount of the paper and the beeswax is pretty irresistible. I'll save the good (BFK Rives) for larger drawings....it's expensive and I would pretty much decimate Johntimothy's supply if I used it for the daily drawings. Here are a couple of the latest dailies.

 Daily Drawing, January 22, 2018

Daily Drawing, January 22, 2018

I've begun another series of drawings that explore the possibilities of white on white, which I'll share with you in the next post. They are mixed media with painting, ink, pencil, collage and embroidery. One is finished and the next one nearly so. I'll be back by the end of the week to share those with you. Hope your week has started off well....see you soon...cheers!

 

Seeing the Unseen

One of the goals I have for the coming year is to become more observant. I want to pay more attention, to see with intent and learn to practice observing, rather than just looking. This notion occurred to me after seeing a David Hockney exhibition at The Met in NYC, as well as reading a recent book, which I purchased at the museum, A Bigger Message: Conversations with David Hockney, by Martin Gayford .

Hockney is quite keen on observing, passionately so, I would say. He is interested in looking with intention with his own eyes, but also utilizing lenses, cameras and the latest technology in service of expanding his view. He has paved the way for a new understanding of the historical use of lenses in artist’s studio before photography was invented. It’s the seeing what is actually there in front of us, not just what we think is there…the way light makes color possible, how we interpret space….all of it.

Although I am an artist, I wouldn’t say that I’m terribly observant. Often small details capture my attention or the way color and pattern create moments of interest for me, but generally, I could use a bit of more intentional practiced seeing to more fully appreciate and understand my surroundings. That requires mindfulness, being truly present and not having one's attention clouded by all that remains to be done...the next thing to do. So, along with the goal of becoming more observant, there must be the effort to slow down and pay attention. This is already looking like a slightly overwhelming task! But as I often remind myself, each moment is a moment of choice. We can choose to stop and pay attention. And the awareness of the choices we have before us in any given moment is actually quite humbling! That alone should bring us to a bit of stillness.

 

After the finishing (sadly) the book of conversations with Hockney, I read The Man Who Planted Trees: The Story of Lost Groves, the Science of Trees and a Plant to Save the Planet, by Jim Robbins, which is a truly intriguing book about all those things mentioned in the title! What I actually found most fascintating was the lesson on trees and forests, how they function and how integral they are to making life on our planet possible.

 

Man Who Planted Trees.jpg

 

This book was a reminder that no matter how observant we are about our surroundings and the natural world, our senses can only reveal so much....that there are limits, of course, to what we can possibly see or observe (unless you are scientist, I suppose). That includes the cell structure and the root systems of course, but also, for instance, the chemical aerosols that are continually emitted by the leaves or the communication system that is established in a forest of trees. We think we know what communication looks like...or sounds like, but it's happening all around us in astonishing ways. All your sustained observations can only give you a glimpse of the intricacies of our universe.

And one of the things that I came to understand in the daily drawing practice this week, came from having read that book. Oddly, I found myself drawn more to making drawings that didn't reference actual things in the outside world. By a certain point in the week, when I was making the drawing and I'd drawn some object, such as the leaves in the piece above (January 15th), I'd erase it (yes, those leaves are erased and barely visible....so for once, I'm dismayed at how good my new phone's camera is!)....or mask it like in that little square of paper covering up I can't recall what on the 13th. 

 Daily Drawing, January 16, 2018

Daily Drawing, January 16, 2018

The drawing above for January 16th is completely overworked I think, but reflects the process of trying to find the expression. One of the things I struggle with (if it can actually be termed a struggle) in the daily drawing process, is trying not to make "art." Which means letting the drawing be the drawing and not trying to "fix" it or edit it. And at the same time, there is a need for satisfaction or resolution of some kind....or of having "said" the thing that needs to be said. In the end of course, I want them to be art, artful at least, but it has to come through the back door, otherwise I put too much pressure on myself. 

So, you may feel differently, which would be delightful to me, but my favorite from this week is from January 13th. It feels spare and minimum and a bit odd and though it may call to mind "things" of the world, there isn't an actual depiction. I may see it all differently next week, but now that little grassy mound on the 14th makes me want to block it out. I won't, but I long to!

All this is to say, even as I attempt to be more observant in this world and of this world, my real interest is in somehow giving voice to the things we cannot see, the things we cannot name and those which are fleeting and ephemeral. And maybe that's where the seeming irony of seeing the unseen comes into play....if you aren't careful and watchful, you miss all those glittering gems of experience....like the way the fleeting shadows fall across the floor just at the moment you happen to turn your gaze or how the trunk of a tree reflects a warm golden pink in the afterglow of a certain sunset. 

All these little dailies (minus January 16th, which I've rejected) are all available at Missouri Bend Studio should you want to look further. If these thoughts resonate at all, please feel free to comment or contact me....I'm always interested in the conversation! Cheers!

 

 

The Art Filled Home Moves To Missouri Bend Studio

Greetings! Along with resolutions and renewed goals, the new year brings with it the inclination to reorder and freshen up all kinds of things in our lives. One of my little clean up projects involves streamlining some online efforts I've had going since last spring with the Etsy shops, Missouri Bend Studio and The Art Filled Home.

Johntimothy and I started The Art Filled Home, our collaborative Etsy shop venture, last spring in an effort to bring the best of both of us to folks seeking affordable small-scale art works. We've made some work together in the intervening months that we both like a lot and plan to continue collaborating into the future. The initial Etsy shop, Missouri Bend Studio, was (and is) still a primary priority, so having a second Etsy shop made life a little more complicated. So, one of my little projects at the start of this new year is to merge those efforts and bring the works from The Art Filled Home over to Missouri Bend Studio, then close the virtual door on The Art Filled Home. All the works that were there can (or will eventually) be found under the Collaborations section of Missouri Bend Studio.

The images here are a partial run from one of the last weeks we did the daily mono print series. Johntimothy would work on engraving a small plate throughout the week, printing it as he went, usually at some point near the end of each day. I would respond to the image or marks on each print with drawing....involving watercolor and/or ink. In the few days represented here, dating from the end of November, you can see that it is the same underlying plate, though it may have altered through more engraved marks. The drawing on top is, of course, different each day. 

Each plate he began with was a "found plate", which meant that he was starting with small 3-4 inch plates cut down from larger zinc plates that had been left behind by students. He would begin by grinding and degrading whatever image marks might have been there and then engraved his own. On this plate, that horizontal line across the middle was quite deep and ended up being part of the plate, which I didn't mind at all.

Since Johntimothy was on sabbatical last semester, there was plenty of time for him in the studio (which, alas, is no longer the case now that he is back to teaching), so this project went on for a couple of months. These are some of my favorites and are all available (follow the link under each one to take you to the listing), along with many others over at Missouri Bend Studio in the Collaborations section....along with countless other small works of art that would love to live out in the world, rather than remain confined to laying quietly on the table in my studio!

I'm about to begin a new series of drawings in the studio....I've got the acrylics and inks out, along with a small stack of crisp white BFK Rives paper....a new series of mixed media pieces waiting to be born! Enjoy your weekend....feel free to comment or get in touch...would love to hear from you!

 

 

The New Year Unfolding

River view Jan 5 2018 SQ.jpg

Happy New Year, dear readers! Please forgive the long absence, but we had some complicated and extended holiday travels that had us criss-crossing the country on a trip that entailed trains, planes, automobiles....and a ferry ride! Somehow, I'm not able to think clearly enough to post images online or anything else when I am not at home at my desk, which doesn't quite make sense in today's mobile environment. But, no doubt you were busy as well with all the holiday festivities and New Year celebrations. Now, I'm quite settled in at home and in the studio, ready for a creative burst to blossom in this new year.

Johntimothy and I arrived home on New Years Day after three weeks of travel that included stops in Chicago, New York, Pittsburgh and St. Paul. The New York City stint was all about visiting museums and taking in the sites of New York that we'd not seen...hence the Staten Island Ferry ride, which was, of course, a delight! We made it to the Morgan Library, Metropolitan Museum of Art and The Dia: Beacon, all of which gave us enough inspiration to keep us nourished for the next year. We saw the Michelangelo exhibition at the Met, but the real highlight for both Johntimothy and me was the David Hockney show in the adjacent galleries. I love Hockney's paintings, especially the landscapes of the recent decade, but what I admire most is his relentless curiosity and passion for delving deep into his interests, pursuing everything to the fullest extent. Always an observer, Hockney inspires me to want to take more care, pay more attention....to observe my own world in ways I'd not taken the time to before. 

Meanwhile, as most folks in the United States know, it's been a period of brutal cold and South Dakota has been no exception. Here's the view a few days ago from up on the banks of the Missouri River at the edge of our backyard. That ice was flowing swiftly downstream on it's way to the Mississippi River. Today we hit 50 degrees, which was cause for celebration and a walk outdoors, but we know more cold and snow is on it's way....what else can you expect...it's winter and it's South Dakota!

When we got settled back home, I spent some time in the studio, thinking about what should be next. I had a stack of daily drawings from several years ago that had been part of a collaborative exhibition at USD and as I started looking through those drawings from early 2014, I realized how much I still loved them. That meant that it was time to quit holding on to them, so I decided to send them out into the world through the Etsy shop. Seeing them, also spurred me into changing up the new dailies, at least for now. So, I've started listing some of my favorites from that series, such as the ones posted here, over at MissouriBendStudio. Please stop by and check them out! What I loved about these is the way the BFK Rives paper was sturdy enough to hold a fair amount of ink, so I could do some more involved drawing than I'm able to do on the Japanese rice paper. 

 January 28, 2014 daily drawing

January 28, 2014 daily drawing

I don't have any more of that great paper on hand, but I've started shifting the dailies in the same direction on another kind of paper....though it's not so wonderful as the Rives. We'll see what develops with these. For now, I've put the beeswax away in order to explore (or reexplore) some new territory. 

I hope you have found some new sense of inspiration for the of this new year. I'm a bit late getting started, but I'm thinking of goals for the year....along with making a list of the things I'm curious about and want to investigate. I think curiosity is essential....on some level, isn't that what keeps us motivated and what gets us out of bed in the morning? What will this new day bring forth?

Until next time....enjoy your week! Cheers!

 

Seeking (Un)Balance

 Three Things, no.1

Three Things, no.1

I began a new series of drawing explorations yesterday….Three Things. I wondered what would happen on the page if there were just three “things” on the paper in conversation with one another. I find I am drawn to compositions that are just a bit off and slightly uncomfortable, as they set up a tension that is compelling.

 Three Things, no.1 (detail)

Three Things, no.1 (detail)

There are four drawings in the series now, all of which are 10”x8” on Japanese Kitakata paper dipped in beeswax. So far, the materials have consisted of pencil, ink, watercolor and collage fragments, but who knows what else will show up on the page among the three things!

 Three Things, no.2

Three Things, no.2

 Three Things, no. 2 (detail)

Three Things, no. 2 (detail)

In the process of making these pieces, a couple of things have occurred to me. The first is a more in depth engagement with this idea of setting up a tension. So, rather than creating a composition in which things feel balanced, I find I rather enjoy the sense of the “off” balance. We seem to always seek a kind of balance in our lives, as we struggle to offset work and play, or work and life, activity and rest, time engaged with others and time alone to reflect. We seek safety and security, so we can feel at ease. But there is a delicate line there….too much ease and we eventually become bored, and begin seeking novelty, the unexpected. Or this....maybe I am seeking this unbalance on the page, because my life is currently a bit out of balance. It's an outer reflection of a longing for balance that I feel inside. 

 Three Things, no.3

Three Things, no.3

 Three Things, no.3 (detail 1)

Three Things, no.3 (detail 1)

In these compositions, the three things are placed somewhat at odds with one another, so that there is almost (at least for me!) a visceral yearning to move these bits to new locations where they will feel more traditionally balanced…where they will make more sense. In the end, I’ve come to realize that is what I’m after in the work. The yearning….that’s actually what I’m after….evoking that nameless yearning we carry with us through our days. Do you know that feeling?

 Three Things, no.3 (detail 2)

Three Things, no.3 (detail 2)

So, what are the three things? I don’t know until they appear on the page….these pieces unfold like the daily drawings….through the movement of my hand, while my thinking brain is always a step or two behind. I can’t say what the relationship is, but it’s a story waiting to be told. You can tell it as well as I can, I’m quite sure. For me, language doesn’t quite get at it.

 Three Things, no.4

Three Things, no.4

And, just what constitutes a “thing”? In the first drawing, for instance, there are countless little lines and marks that become loose shapes, each of which reads as a thing….in conversation with one another and with the little jar alone with its shadow. I thought of this as I made those marks. We are each one thing….we are an individual mark, and part of a larger group….actually countless larger groups, which are also things in themselves. In this way we have multiple identities….think of all the identities you have in your life….your family, the people you work with…or play with….your larger community, your ethnic group, your national identity. We interweave these threads throughout our lives. While we maintain our own individuality, we also become part of many, many larger things. 

 Three Things, no.4 (detail)

Three Things, no.4 (detail)

I’m looking forward to further explorations in this series. I’ll keep going until my supply of paper runs out. These may find their way to my Etsy shop, but if you are interested in any drawings from this series and don’t see them there, let me know. 

Meanwhile....look at the time....it's nearly December! Johntimothy and I have a very busy and fun-filled month ahead. Stay tuned and I'll fill you in! Until then....

 

Nothing Is Something

This morning, during the course of making the daily drawing, I found myself reflecting on the direction the drawings have taken of late. I’ve been feeling that I’d been slowly moving into a kind of robot mode, which is the point at which the purpose of a daily practice needs a reset….a pause for reflection. There is a danger of letting the whole routine of it become an end in itself and then, well, you find yourself in a rut. I wasn’t there exactly, but something was telling me to bring my attention back to the mindfulness of the process.

One of the positive aspects of a simple drawing practice like this is that you can step outside yourself in a way, because you are not working at making art, but allowing the drawing to unfold. I have noticed over the past couple weeks that I am now drawn to a kind of spare composition that is somewhat new to my work. The daily drawings have always been rather spare, but this is a different kind of thing. The contrast with a piece shown here from The Notes From the Ancestors series maybe gives you an idea of the direction the work is moving. Most of my previous work was dense, layering and brimming with pattern, image and texture.

 Notes From The Ancestors no.2

Notes From The Ancestors no.2

Maybe I’m more actively exploring the notions of emptiness, pushing the boundaries of the space and finding myself drawn more and more to a simple elegance that allows nothing to be something.

Images of the spare elegance of Japanese interiors and the balance reflected in all things wabi sabi, float inside me as these drawings unfold. Often I find that the daily drawings inform my other work and I am curious to see how this will play out....what the new pieces will have to teach me.

 

 November 17, 2017

November 17, 2017

Earlier in the week I finished a larger piece (11" x 8 1/2") playing with the twisting lines, in anticipation of a series of such compositions. Went back to adding some embroidery to the drawing as well....I do love sewing on paper! I find is very rewarding when there is a flow of conversation between the daily drawings and the other work that unfolds in the studio.

The Thanksgiving holiday is nearly upon us and Johntimothy and I are looking forward to spending the time with extended family. It means an interruption to the rhythm of the studio and making the daily drawings, but it's good to remember we are not slaves to these routines....they are meant to enhance and expand our lives, not confine us. With that, I give myself a week or so off from the practice and will return refreshed and renewed! 

If you are in the United States....wishing you a happy Thanksgiving and hope you find a host of things to be thankful for in your life. See you soon!

 

The Daily Practice: Krishna Mastel

 Abstract Wormhole, 8-27-17

Abstract Wormhole, 8-27-17

Welcome back to another investigation into the work of a different artist and how the daily practice informs the work. Krishna is a friend of mine here in South Dakota with a background in photography.  She is also a busy working mother who strives to keep an aspect of her artistic life alive and supported. I recently began following her on Instagram and realized she too was keeping a daily practice in the form of some really interesting abstract photographs. Recently, Johntimothy and I invited Krishna over for lunch and spent a delightful afternoon talking about our various artistic explorations, along with our respective daily practices and how they inform our lives. My original intention was to somehow capture that lively conversation for our readers, but it was too overwhelming! Instead, I asked Krishna to just give us the gist of her practice....how it began and how it plays out in her life. Below are Krishna's words...and images. Enjoy!

 Abstract Wormhole, 10-27-17

Abstract Wormhole, 10-27-17

I began to use the practice of daily abstract as a means to hold myself accountable to myself. Accountable for taking the time to focus on an abstract photography collection that I started several years ago and had not pursued to my satisfaction. In late spring and early summer, I made the conscious decision to work on exploring and developing my abstract work. By late summer, this had morphed into making my work on the collection part of my day.  
 

 Abstract Wormhole, 6-17

Abstract Wormhole, 6-17

In my photography, I primarily use 35mm film or a digital camera; however, I also explore with photograms and cyanopaper. The abstract collection consists of different interconnected series. The work explores individual perspective, humanity, the universe, time, and space. 

 Abstract, Kaleidoscope 10-17

Abstract, Kaleidoscope 10-17

The daily practice is loose. I don't put rules or restrictions on it. I want to keep a playful feel to it. I have found that my daily abstract practice helps me keep a balance in my life.  I have posted a few of my images on Instagram @KMastel. I welcome you to visit me there and also any questions or comments.

 Abstract, Kaleidoscope 10-20-17

Abstract, Kaleidoscope 10-20-17

 

The Daily Practice: Bonnie Kayser

BKSkbk + ToolsS.jpg

As readers of this blog know, I am committed to a daily drawing practice (when life doesn't intervene!) and I am also curious about other artists who have a daily practice of some kind, as well as the different ways the practice can play out.  I met Bonnie Kayser not long ago on Instagram where I post my daily drawings. We struck up a conversation and found that we were kindred spirits. Bonnie also has a daily drawing practice and I've invited her to share some thoughts and images with you. Hope you are inspired as I have been!

BKtotemsSQ.jpg
BKlassoS.jpg

It was last June as my students walked out the studio classroom door, when my then sporadic drawing efforts unofficially shifted into a daily practice. My own work had been taking an increasingly deeper backseat to the support of fledgling art students. While a worthy, consuming passion in it’s own right, teaching had left me parched and hungry for the process of art making.  Thus, as summer began, my appetite was achingly strong for the nourishment of my soul food! 

BKLetter 2S.jpg

While there was no particular plan for my new routine, nor for the direction it might take, my sketchbooks seemed to lure me in at least once a day. At first, the art was completely random in nature. Each day a new medium, style, content, found expression on the pages. Direction didn’t matter. Time with charcoals, pastels, pencils, inks and pens was taking me back home to myself as an artist. 

Now, as bright autumn leaves drift to the ground, I continue to show up at the page each day - grounding myself. 

BKAutumnS.jpg

My artist home is incredibly personal, while at the same time absolutely public. The daily sessions with my sketchbook heighten my awareness on many levels. Certainly, visual acuity is increased as I go through the day pausing to examine intriguing textures, colors, and creating compositions. Yes, I’m the one who is stopped by the side of the road to capture the storm clouds brewing or the remains of an eagle’s wing. The more I draw, the more I notice the specifics of things; I become curious about different vantage points, how things work, their history, how they feel both to the touch and or energetically. It is this heightened awareness, this curiosity, ignited by a regular drawing practice that opens me up to the world in an authentic way. It does not matter what I am physically drawing. More often than not, the content is visually abstract. The connection is created rather in the process of the making, what that process ignites within, as well as within others. Sharing my work takes the process to another level. Dialog and experiencing others creative responses to the world completes the circle of connection for me. Personal and public. 

BK image SQ.jpg
BK image2 SQ.jpg

Drawing daily truly keeps me grounded in a way nothing else really can. By design, I do not put any rules or goals on my practice other than making it happen. This is important for me. Each day the page before me is blank, open to anything. At times in my life that has been intimidating. Now it is like freedom defined! These pages are my playground, science laboratory and journal all rolled into one magical place. They need to be uncensored, without boundaries or requirements. There are other places for more structure in my artwork. Daily practice is definitely my refuge for creative expression and grounding. 

BK photo inspiration SQ.jpg
BK photo sketch SQ.jpg

Sweet surprise: this daily practice of showing up for myself affirms for me I AM an artist. It’s not about how “good” or “talented” I may or may not be. It’s not about how I make my living. It is about how I think, what and who I am drawn to, what ignites my passion, where I choose to live….really it is how I move in the world. All this from a daily, abstract drawing? It would seem to be, yes. 

I share my drawing practice on Instagram, and welcome anyone who wishes to join the conversation to visit me there! @bonniekayserart

BK image 3 SQ.jpg
BK image 4 SQ.jpg
BK image 5 SQ.jpg
BKSeaweedSQ.jpg
 

The Dailies: A Studio Update

Mid-week greetings! Hard to believe we're already into November, but the two daily projects I am involved with keep me well aware of the relentless passage of time...and the exact date. I thought it was time to revisit the dailies we've got going and share some of the latest images with you.

We're into the third week of the daily print project, in which Johntimothy creates and then prints a different small plate each week, one print for every day of the week. I respond to those prints with drawing and watercolor on a daily basis. As you can see from the images from the first part of this week, they take a slightly different turn each day. These pieces can all be found in our collaborative Etsy shop, TheArtFilledHome. I try to keep up with getting them posted on a timely basis, so if you don't see the latest ones, check back frequently! Because the works from each week are so related, based on the underlying print, I think a few together would make a nice grouping. The week unfolds top to bottom below.

The other long-standing daily drawing project is going along as well. These daily drawings, pictured below, and countless others can be found over at MissouriBendStudio on Etsy. One thing that is new about the most recent drawings from the last couple of weeks is that I've expanded the size a bit. Rather than 6"h x 4"w, the pieces are 7" x 5". Also, as you will see, I've give myself permission to change orientation at will, so whereas they used to be strictly vertical (for years!), sometimes now they are horizontal. It's all about being in the moment when I make the drawing. 

So, last week I ran out of the various types of Japanese paper I've been using for a long time. Johntimothy was returning from a visiting artist stint out of town, so I had him buy some new sheets at the Dick Black in Omaha. The drawings on this new paper, which is a Thai bleached mulberry, take an interesting turn, at least to me. I'm still getting used to the bleached whiteness of this paper, but I am also finding that the texture and the density of the sheet is much different, so new possibilities are opening up. On the paper shown above, it was very difficult to draw with pen and ink, as the paper had so much fiber and texture the pen would get caught and the ink would bleed. While I love that warm tone of the paper above and will continue to use it in my other work and no doubt, at some point return to it for the dailies, I'm curious about the possibilities this new paper will allow to unfold. Oh! the other thing about these new larger drawings is that I'm prepunching two holes at the top, so you can just easily hang them with two tiny pins in the wall....very informal, yet elegant, especially when there is a grouping of them. The first couple days of November are below.

I am changing things up a bit, which keeps me motivated, engaged and learning. That alone is a good lesson.....if you feel as if you are in a rut, make some small change and watch the ripples unfold. I added an inch in size to the drawings, I went reckless and allowed myself a vertical AND a horizontal orientation and now, I've gone and changed the paper....no telling what will unfold from here!! Stay tuned and thanks for your interest. Feel free to comment....happy to have the conversation if you are reading this blog. And if you have a daily process that you'd like to share, let me know!

One last note, Missouri Bend Studio has an email newsletter that comes out the first of each month. If you are interested in subscribing so that it reaches you directly in your in-box, just sign up here. Remember that you can also subscribe to these blog posts, right here on the blog sidebar. I look forward to hearing from you....see you next week!

 

The Horizon Line

 Storm clouds moving in, taken on the road this summer along I-90 somewhere in Wyoming

Storm clouds moving in, taken on the road this summer along I-90 somewhere in Wyoming

Early last week I headed up the road to Brookings, South Dakota on a day when the winds were buffeting the car at 30-40 miles an hour. I’d had an appointment in Sioux Falls, which is an hour north of us and there was an exhibition I wanted to see at the State Art Museum in Brookings, located on the campus of South Dakota State University, which is another hour straight north of Sioux Falls. Despite the winds and the two-hands-firmly-on-the-steering-wheel at all times, it was a wonderful drive, filled with expansive views and gorgeous sunlight casting a warm glow on the already saffron yellow of the trees and the contrasting fields of dry corn and soybeans awaiting harvest.

 Autumn soybean field adjacent to the Missouri River, Burbank, SD

Autumn soybean field adjacent to the Missouri River, Burbank, SD

This fly-over part of the country has a reputation for being flat and dull, but here in eastern South Dakota, the land is rolling with gentle rises and expansive views for miles in all directions. We love the landscape and the drive up I-29, especially between Sioux Falls and Brookings, is good for the soul and moments of contemplation.  Our more mundane drive between Vermillion and Sioux Falls is probably equally beautiful, but it is so much more familiar and alas, more taken for granted.

 Looking South, Cornfields hedge rows, photo by Krishna Mastel

Looking South, Cornfields hedge rows, photo by Krishna Mastel

That hour-long drive had me yearning to be a landscape painter or a photographer and yet it wasn’t really a depiction of that landscape I wanted to capture exactly. I’m fascinated by the patterns in the land, the juxtaposition of luscious colors and by the notion of the horizon. I got to thinking about the horizon line…the place where the land meets the sky and just how visible it is everywhere you look out here. I came to realize in looking out across the land that I live in a horizontal world.

 Harvest Field, photo by Krishna Mastel

Harvest Field, photo by Krishna Mastel

I began to wonder about the difference between living in a horizontal world as I do, one with so few verticals, and living in a vertical world, where the orientation is up and down and the horizontal views are minimal. On the plains, we have wide-open spaces, farmland, prairies (what little is left of them) and rivers. The highest building in the state of South Dakota is the 11-story Century Link tower in Sioux Falls (per my internet investigation) and in North Dakota it’s the State Capitol in Bismarck.  In South Dakota we do have the Black Hills, the mountains in the western part of the state, which are surely vertical, but they rise up from the plains somewhat suddenly, not like in the east where folks might live in the foothills of a mountain range. When I think of the notion of vertical out here, I think of the roots of the prairie grasses that reached down 8-14 feet into the earth. Those grasses held the land in place for thousands of years until we dug them all up to turn the place into farmland. My orientation is truly horizontal and I'm happier in wide open spaces. The daily view I have of the Missouri River outside my window, flowing horizontally right to left on its way to meet the Mississippi, anchors me to the ground.

 Missouri River view, October

Missouri River view, October

This post is filled with views of a horizontal world that I thought I’d just share with you, along with my recent musings. Since I couldn't bring myself to get out the car on that horrendously windy day to photograph the landscape, I combed through some of the photos I’ve taken over the last few months. And then I got in touch with my friend Krishna Mastel who takes some truly gorgeous photographs of the rural landscape in the area where she lives outside of Vermillion. The more breathtaking photos are hers, as revealed in the captions. I’m happy to introduce Krishna to you, as she also has a daily practice that I’ve been tuning into. We’ll do an interview with Krishna in one of our next posts about the abstract photographs that she posts each day. Stay tuned for that! 

In the meantime, would love to hear your comments about this notion of a horizontal or vertical view. Feel free to share any stories about where you live and how that affects the way you see the world. 

 Sunrise, photo by Krishna Mastel

Sunrise, photo by Krishna Mastel

 

The Daily Monoprint Project!

A new daily series is born! Late last week Johntimothy laid a couple prints on my desk from an engraving plate he was working on. He thought it might be fun for me to play with them....a little watercolor or drawing on top, just to see what happened with them.

Eventually, at the beginning of the week, I took some time with one of them....and the next day, another. Then it occurred to us that these were collaborative monoprints and they might be another fun daily project for us to share for sale in The Art Filled Home. That engraving plate had had some revisions throughout last week, but he went ahead and printed five more and each day this week I've been engaging with them in a new way. We have the first six days of this week here to show you and are in the process of listing them in the shop.

 October 17, 2017 daily monoprint

October 17, 2017 daily monoprint

A lot can change, depending on the colors I choose and the drawing marks I make. I love the raised surface of the printed engraved line....so crisp and clean. We are still working out the details of how this daily project will proceed as we move forward into next week. He has a number of these tiny 4"h x 2"w plates currently underway. We've decided there are no hard and fast rules, except that it's one plate per week. The plate may be finished already and be printed 7 times or he may be working on it throughout the week and the plate will change daily as well. 

 October 18, 2017 daily monoprint

October 18, 2017 daily monoprint

If you look closely, you can see that the engraved print underneath will have changed from one print to another. Also, because there was no particular orientation to the original print, I may have flipped it from one day to the next and felt it read better in a different way depending on what I'd done with it.

 October 19, 2017 daily monoprint

October 19, 2017 daily monoprint

Yesterday (above), I got a little heavy handed, since I started out with gouache instead of watercolor. Much of the lower portion of Johntimothy's beautiful engraving print is obscured, but I can still see it and I think the sense of layering makes it interesting. Still, I think I've learned to stay away from the gouache for this process!

 October 20, 2017 daily monoprint

October 20, 2017 daily monoprint

That may explain why I pulled way back and kept the drawing pretty simple today....just playing with my favorite mark, the humble dot, to carry the flow of the engraving marks. There's something to be said for the beautiful contrast of simple black and white, that's for sure! Of course, I don't need to tell that to a printmaker. We're happy with this project and look forward to sharing the results here on our blog and in our shop.

I like the fact that the prints from any particular week can make a nice grouping, as they share that underlining engraving drawing. The first couple mono prints are listed in TheArtFilledHome and the others will soon follow, so please check back often! Hope you enjoy your weekend!

 

The Image or the Object

Johntimothy and I spend much of our days in the studio….making things. We create prints or drawings or mixed media works. My works are one-of-a-kind and some of his are as well, but he will also produce small hand-printed editions. Sometimes we collaborate and make pieces that involved both of us working in our different ways on a single work. At our core, though, we consider ourselves makers of things, which is to say that the works we make are tangible and can be held in the hands. They have a physical presence and a tactile quality, whether that comes from paper dipped in beeswax or the raised ink on a hand printed etching or engraving. We come from a generation that values the object.

 

As a maker who would very much love to sell my work and send these pieces out into the world to folks who will love and appreciate them, I’ve been giving this notion of “the object” some thought, in light of the way that technology has revolutionized our culture. I have work available for sale in the Missouri Bend Studio shop here on this website, as well as through Missouri Bend Studio and The Art Filled Home on Etsy. I post fairly regularly on Instagram and Facebook and my work can be found all over Pinterest. While I do have many appreciators and buyers that I value greatly, and with whom I have established warm relationships, I struggle with the “business side” of selling the work.

The old tired line is that artists are not business minded and while that may be somewhat true for some, learning to engage in marketing and run a business, is really just another skill set….much like drawing. I believe anyone can learn to draw, as it is a matter of eye-hand coordination, and the basic skills can be taught and learned through practice. But, that’s another whole topic of conversation. I’ve learned a great deal in the past few years about various online platforms and navigating the ins and outs of creating websites, online storefronts, etc. While my first love is creating the art, I do love the work of engaging with people all over the world and am interested in maintaining the balance of time spent in the studio along with the business end of things.

 

But….here’s the thing. In our current culture, I am beginning to wonder if, for many folks, the image alone is enough. That is, perhaps now that everyone views most everything through the screen, whether on a desktop, laptop or a mobile device, we are so used to seeing images of things rather than the things themselves….well, one may have replaced the need for the other.  Perhaps the notion of purchasing no longer occurs to someone who sees a piece of artwork that they love, when the image of it can continue to be seen in an image feed, saved to a Pinterest board or captured in any number of other ways. Who needs the object, when you have a picture that represents it? For some, the image alone is satisfactory....it's good enough.

These various online platforms, that continue to multiply in new and exciting ways, provide astounding opportunities for exposure across the globe. I am thankful for the love and support of countless folks near and far, who let me know that my work inspires or brings joy.  I do send small works out several times a month, yet I have begun to seriously wonder about this notion of “the image” or “the object.”

These musings are not just about selling my own work, but have to do with the larger issues about our experience of the material world and whether we are living so deeply in the technological world that we are losing out on deep levels of tangible experience in nature…in the real world. We may be engaged and simultaneously disconnected. 

There is a vast range of experience that is missed when we only see the image of something, rather than the thing itself. Ink or paint on a surface, the nuance of color against color, the way changing light makes the work appear differently. Subtle marks can be missed entirely when viewing only online. I am always aware, when seeing or saving an image online, that it is just a kind of facsimile. The image points to the object, which exists somewhere else, but can by no means be replaced by an image of it. I fear the day when we no longer know the difference.

All this runs through my head even as I entertain the idea of creating an online subscription of the daily drawings or try to figure out new ways to market the work online. I continue to come back to the notion that there is no substitute for the object, as least in the work that I create. I would love to hear from you about your views on these issues. This post is a conversation starter, so feel free to let me know your thoughts here in the comments.

In the meantime, the visuals on this post are some of the recent daily drawings, available for sale at MissouriBendStudio on Etsy. (Buy 5, get one free….it’s a great deal!). I try to post them each day on Instagram, so go ahead and follow me there if you like. But remember, they are better in person….there's no substitute for the real thing.

 

Trace Drawings: A Daily Practice

 the daily practice with lights out

the daily practice with lights out

Johntimothy has a daily practice that we'll share with you today. As seen in the photo above, he makes "trace drawings" from the reflections of the light passing through glass. In playing with the arrangement of objects and tracing the lines in the reflections, he creates beautiful abstract drawings filled with pattern and wonder! I asked him a few questions about his daily practice so he could share some of the process with our readers.

 the daily practice with lights on

the daily practice with lights on

Your daily drawings are the result of the play of light and shadows on glass. How did you come to use this process?

For the longest time, I have been captivated by shadows and reflections. It was early on in my time in Sarasota, now decades ago, that I first traced the reflections from a water glass on a cloth tablecloth at a holiday function. I enjoyed the translation of the image into line. Since that time, I’ve played with these trace drawings off and on. Now, that I am on sabbatical for the semester, I decided to reengage with the idea more in depth as a basis for a daily practice.

 daily drawings (detail 1)

daily drawings (detail 1)

 daily drawings (detail 2)

daily drawings (detail 2)

What do you enjoy the most about the process of these trace drawings…or what do you find most satisfying?

It’s an image, but not an image. It’s actally an image from the external world, but abstract. Someone looking at these drawings would not know that they are drawings of the reflections of light passing through glass.

There is a meditative quality to drawing them and that was part of what drew me to making them. In one sense, I don’t have to think about it and I can just be in the moment, with the drawing. Partly, I hoped this process would help me find a direction for my work.

When they are all laid out in a line on the floor…it is kind of fun. They are a timeline, a visual timeline. I am fascinated by how they flow together and part of that is because of the repeated lines and marks of the drawn shapes.

 laying out the daily drawings....most recent first, moving back in time

laying out the daily drawings....most recent first, moving back in time

 Daily drawing timeline

Daily drawing timeline

Do you see these drawings as an end in themselves or do you find yourself visualizing them translated into prints?

No, I don’t see them as being anything more than what they are at this point in time. That would be a forced thing, so I am happy with them just being what they are.

 daily drawings (detail 3)

daily drawings (detail 3)

 daily drawings (detail 4)

daily drawings (detail 4)