Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Dark River of Stars

I’ve been working on a book collaboration with Paulann Petersen, Oregon’s poet laureate, and Barbara Mason, printmaker. It’s been a busy several months for me, making models and investigating different materials and structures. But we have finally finished the design work and are in "production".

Dark River of Stars is a collection of Valentine’s poems Paulann sent to friends over the past nine years. Every page, as well as the cover and box, is hand printed using Solar plates and every book is hand bound. It is being published in a limited edition of 50.

The book is launching with an exhibit in February at 23 Sandy Gallery. The opening reception is this Friday (the 3rd) and we’ll have a launch reception, with a poetry reading by Paulann and a bit about the book’s development by Barbara and me, on Saturday February 11th at 4 p.m.

You can see more of the book at my website or 23 Sandy Gallery’s. Hope to see you at the receptions.

Happiness Feeds Creativity

Can we say that The Myth of the Tortured Genius has outlived its day?  Wikipedia has an article about Tortured Artists and their stories are well known. From Van Gogh to Janis Joplin we admire their creations but feel sad for their process.

It’s completely a myth,” says Tom Wilbeck, Associate Dean of Student Affairs at The Art Institute of Houston. “Clinically speaking, there’s really no evidence that most accomplished artists are mentally unstable or have come from an unstable background.”

I suppose the Myth of the Happy Genius just isn’t as fascinating.

Photo by mrfitz
 Teresa Amabile, Director of Research at Harvard Business School, and her colleagues have good news for all you reasonably content, untortured creative people.  Happiness does more for innovation than does melancholy and ennui.

In an Administrative Quarterly article they describe research performed by tracking electronic diary entries of employees for 5 months.  Amabile found that “positive feelings–joy, love-are positively related to creativity, and negative emotions-anger, fear, sadness–are negatively related to day-to-day creativity”.  Even better, good moods can increase the flow of creativity for up to three days.

Is anyone surprised?

These and more findings are in Amabile’s latest book The Progress Principle which I’ve admired earlier.

So, do what makes you happy (making art?) and you'll be more creative.  Sounds like a virtuous cycle to me!

Sunday, January 29, 2012

A water color workshop I'd signed up for motivated me to start painting more. So while Christmas shopping, the Audubon calendar inspired me to paint a bird a day to prepare to take the workshop.  So here are a few examples from my watercolor sketch book.  I'm using the Strathmore Visual Journal book.  I've been reading a book by Carl Purcell called "Your Artist's Brain" . . . neuroscience meets artist.  This book is unlocked something for me.  He explains how to "see" in a way that I finally understand.  Drawing has gotten easier  . . .watercolor is another story.  I find acrylic much easier than watercolor.  But there is something so lively and engaging about watercolor.  It's a dance with the water and pigment.  It makes me do what it wants, not the other way around.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

winter warmth

It's a great time to whip up some quilts and other things to keep you warm and cozy over these winter months. In keeping with my own intentions to make quilts this year, I just finished this one to keep on the couch at home. The narrow vertical strips are made of linen scraps; they seem to go well with the colorful print and batik pieces.

This is the first time I've done a pieced back, which really adds a lot of interest to a quilt.

If you're not a quilter, there are other ways to create wonderful coverlets. Around the holidays, I picked up some wool yardage at the Pendleton Woolen Mill in Portland and made 2 blankets for my big kids. If you live in the area, the store is a great place to find the famous woolen goods, some at bargain prices. They also sell beautiful felt binding by the yard, and will give you nifty Pendleton labels to sew into your projects.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Virtual Studio Tours--Robin Olsen

We are beginning a new feature this month. Each month one of us will post pictures of our studios and discuss how they function for us.

I'm getting started with the first virtual tour.

Name: Robin Olsen

1. What sort of artwork do you do? What are you currently working on?

I work primarily in fabric or paint. Currently I have several paintings going and have been handpainting lots of black and white fabric to use it a larger, graffiti-inspired fabric piece.

2. How does your studio need to function? Give a brief description of your working space.

I need an area where I can stand and paint on fairly large canvases. I also need a separate sewing/cutting area for fiber work. I need lots of storage for fabric.

I have a large room in a daylight basement for my studio. I feel lucky to have a designated space like that. I keep my easel and painting materials on one side, and my sewing/cutting tables on the other. I have large cabinets for storing fabric behind closed doors. I have a design wall on one side for doing fabric work, and an inspiration board on another. My studio is functional rather than beautiful.

3. What do you love about your studio?

I love that I do have a space of my own, and no one in my family complains about the mess. I love the cork floors I put in because I do like to stand a lot. And I'm happy having room for two large tables that I can work on, in addition to a sewing table and a junk catching table.

4. What would you like to change about your studio?

I need better lighting and keep thinking I should hire an electrician to re-outfit the room. Since I work in so many different areas, I would like to have good lighting in each one. Right now I move a free-standing photographer's light around.

And ideally I'd have a large wet area with tall tables and a deep sink for dyeing fabrics.

5. What would your dream studio look like?

It's funny that the older I get the less I like visual clutter--although my current studio certainly doesn't reflect that! I think my dream studio would be a large white box with great natural light, and paint-splattered wood floors that I don't have to worry about. Plenty of table space and an area with a comfortable chair and shelves of art books. Very little in it. I'd love to have all my materials, except the ones I'm using, stored in a separate room. Oh yeah, and an ocean view!

Storage cabinets for fabric:

The mess behind the closed doors:

6. Do you have any organizational tips?

Clean up between major projects or when you spend more time looking for stuff than making something. I can spend all kinds of time organizing every last button in the perfect container, but as soon as I start working, it's all over.

Please join us on the third Friday of every month as we virtually tour more Portland Art Collective studios.

To see more of Robin's work, visit her blog.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Free Online Class

Three weeks ago I started a free online class sponsored by Strathmore Artist Papers. They have three classes available, visual journaling, watercolor sketching and FORCE drawing technique. Now, I'm not so good at the sketching and drawing, but I wanted to start off my year in a creative way and decided to take Traci Bautista's visual journaling class.

These classes have been very fun and each comes with a video and PDF of the techniques and media that Traci uses for her "Doodles Unleashed." Monday will be Lesson 3 for those of us who have started from the beginning. But....you can still register for the classes and start at the beginning and work through the last lesson. That's the great part about online classes, you can start at any time and work as fast or as slow as you feel comfortable working. There is a lot of help from Traci and the other students if you have any problems, so ask. We also have a Flickr group if you would like to take a look at what people have been doing.

Here are my attempts at the "doodles" that Traci is trying to teach us. Lesson One: Playful Printmaking

These are the steps it took to get to the final picture.
This is the final picture.
I didn't have the correct size paper, but had smaller sheets that I taped together to use as one sheet. I then took them apart when I completed the piece and now have journal covers. They look so different than the whole.
Now...start your year off with a free creative jump and try one of these classes that interest you. I don't paint, but I'm having fun playing with all the media that Traci has suggested for her classes. If you don't have everything, use what you have. That's what creativity is all about. Have Fun!

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Out with the Old--Garland Tutorial

My house always looks so drab after I take down Christmas decorations, so this year I made a little New Year's garland to add some spark.

It was so fun to do and cleared out some of the old to make way for the new. It's kind of an anything goes project, but here's how I did it.

I started with a very ugly painting exercise (maybe to see how many garish colors I could put in one piece?) I had done on watercolor paper. I kept thinking I'd repaint it, but it was better to get rid of it. On top of it, I free wrote thoughts about what I wanted for the new year.

I punched 2" circles out of that and punched smaller circles and shapes out of other old projects.
I wrote some guiding words for the year on another old painting and tore them into pieces. And cut a pile of silk and velvet fabric scraps.

I built little piles on the 2" circles and anchored them with scribbly free-motion stitching.

Then attached two circles together back-to-back and did more scribbly stitching to hold them together.
And finally I chain stitched them all together into garlands. I like the additional scribbly lines that the loose threads add, so I didn't trim anything.

They were very addicting to make and got rid of some ugly past at the same time.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

How To Start an Art Group CPS Article

Check out the latest issue of Cloth Paper Scissors for January/February 2012 and see an article about the Portland Art Collective written by members Tory Brokenshire and Robin Olsen.

Many ask if they can join our group. Long time PAC members have found their art tribe and want to stay in the group. Opportunities for new members rarely come up. The snswer is to start your own art group. This article offers guidelines on getting started, what works and tips to find like minded artists who want to be affiliated with a group of art friends.

Many blessings come from the wonderful friendships developed and nurtured in a community of artists. For 2012, find your local art group.