Monday, June 27, 2011

Contrasts in art and life inspires your creativity.

It was a weekend of contrasts. But, I love contrasts. Putting black against white, brilliant sunsets against the night sky or solitude against huge crowds, it’s what makes life, well, alive. It’s the contrast of opposites, I think, that attract, define and give art and life balance.

Once again, this year, I had screening sculptures in the Lake Oswego Festival of the Arts Open Show. Coming back to the Lake Oswego Festival of the Arts feels like coming home. It felt cozy and welcoming in the tent.

Seeing other friends and artists.

Taking in all the enormous variety of paintings, sculptures, and fiber art.

Wandering through the park, listening to music and eating ice cream. It’s an annual community celebration of art and music that’s been going on for over 40 years. As a young, nerdy high school student at Lake Oswego High, I participated in the student show getting an honorable mention for my small, weird, hand-built clay cup. Not something I thought much of at the time.

But looking back, I can see that it did encourage that awkward, frightened teenager to try a few art classes. Those first classes in watercolor, clay and design led me to more classes in drawing, painting, fiber art, sculpture and lately, more clay. Now, I show my work in galleries, juried shows and exhibits across the Northwest, teach workshops to children and adults, and do art residencies. In fact, I’ve been taking, teaching or learning about art ever since that first high school art class. (Maybe that nice high school teacher knew something I didn’t at the time?)

This year, I got the chance to do a demonstration at the Festival on Sunday, showing how I sculpt in window screening and copper.

I shared how I start a new copper or screening piece, using my fingers and tools from clay, metal and my kitchen and explained how I color the metal with heat and chemical patinas. The people who watched asked great questions and others who strolled by stopped for help problem solving their own artistic dilemmas.

Today, I’m sitting in my office chair working on my laptop to the sound of my doggy snoring. While yesterday, I had a group watching me create to the sounds of children swinging on the playground and crowds chatting on their way in and out of the festival. Now that’s a black and white contrast. But like I said, I love contrasts. And it was delight to see so many people, so much wonderful art and share my passion for what I do with others. I left with new energy and ideas and hope that I inspired others to give art a chance in their life like I did all those years ago.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Feed your creativity.

There are times when the creativity is blooming and times when creativity is germinating. Then there are the in-between times when creativity needs to grow at its own pace. Faster some days, slower on others.

It's hard for me to not want to push my self, force those blossoms...right now! But I also know that forced blooms just don't last as long. And why, when I love creating would I want to hurry the process to finish, to be over? I'm sure you know the answer to that question. It's fear.

So that's why this week, I stepped away from the studio. I left my many unfinished pieces, in pieces, and headed to the beach.

Sometimes to feed your creativity, you've got to step away from it. Let it germinate alone. While you feast out in the world, tasting the salty sea air, feeling the sand in your shoes while listening the the concert of the waves cresting and crashing.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Metal screening and Freeform crochet: A New mask.

With the title, Phoenix, this mask not only fits the show’s theme of myth and magic, but fits my life as well. This mask started out as a tropical bird. But I burned out, didn’t finish it and it wound up in my studio closet gathering dust.

Thanks to the inspiration of the 2011 International Freeform Crochet Challenge, my unfinished bird rose from the dusty closet to be reborn as a Phoenix.
Although I’ve crocheted for years now, I’ve only recently started to experiment and combine my screening work with crochet work. I taught myself to crochet over 5 years ago using instructions on the internet. I don’t know why I felt the urge to crochet, I just did. And as a studio artist, I kept it a secret. But now, my little hobby has crept into my studio and reformed from hobby to art form.

To me, this beautiful, amazing mythical Phoenix symbolizes living a life with passion and even when it feels as if that passion has burned out, it can be found again.
You can see my 2011 Freeform Challenge: Mythologies, Stories and Fairy tales, alongside an amazing creative global collection of other wonderful pieces here.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Sometimes things have to come apart to come together.

I’m working on a variety of projects lately. New sculptures in the studio. Clay wheel pieces in class. Crochet and screening mask for an online group show. Writing essays and a short story. Some days, it feels good, life flowing from one area to another. Other days, it feels bumpy and lumpy. And I wonder then, will anything ever come together, let alone get finished.

Getting from start to finish, as any artist or writer knows, is not a straight line. I don’t know about you, but sometimes, I’d just like to get from A to Z without all the fits, starts, zigs and zags. But that just isn’t the way it goes. What really gets it to go?

Falling apart. Picking up the pieces and putting it together. Clay chunk by clay chunk, word by word, crochet stitch by stitch. Concentrating on just that one small action creates, in time, a whole, finished piece.

Right now, these pieces are, in pieces. But I do know, with all my heart and soul that they are coming together. Day by day in their own way.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Movies and nature and sculpture.

The movie, ‘The Fountain,’ was an engrossing story about one man’s struggle to save his wife’s life. The story spans thousands of years, using the Spanish quest to find the Fountain of Youth or Tree of Life, a modern day researcher searching for a cure for cancer and the birth of a star. Made in 2006, the movie was nominated for several Golden Globes, but didn’t win. I didn’t see or hear about it then, but thanks to Netflix, I saw it this weekend.

Hugh Jackman was mesmerizing. There was a dark, rich quality to the entire film that held all scene and story changes together and the editing was impeccable. The story of a researcher who stumbles on the Fountain of Youth while trying to cure his wife’s cancer, his denial of her death and how the death itself fuels his research into the tree of life. It was riveting.

I’ve doodled in my sketchbook for years with my own version of the Tree of Life and last year, I was commissioned to make a Tree of Life for a local school out of copper. You can read more about it and the process here.

The Tree of Life depicted in the film is a twisted, gnarled tree much like the ones that captivated me on a recent trip to Bryce and Grand Canyon.

The trees I admired on my trip grew up out of the rock. This one looked like it was dancing even in the hard weather conditions.

The Utah Juniper tree has a shredded bark and twisted limbs. Its ability to grow in rock and over the edge of the cliffs is amazing. I admired this tree’s strength, rootedness and ability to grow in spite of broken, torn and damaged limbs. Trees have always inspired me but these trees will influence my sculpture work and my writing now and for years to come. And it obviously inspired the filmmakers in The Fountain, too.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Sculpture by Mother Nature

Walking through Bryce Canyon, Red Canyon and the Grand Canyon, I am humbled by Mother Nature’s talents.

Sculptures created day by day over millions of years using the water and ice.

Minerals and fossils are the color palette.

Pressure and time are the techniques and tools.

Awed. I am inspired by Mother Nature’s immense talents and her patience.