Index of Days

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 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!