Friday, December 27, 2013

Providing Space For Possibility

I've been thinking a lot about that lately.

Carol here, opening a discussion on how we can open up a space for possibility.

I am smack dab in the middle of a huge purge and reorganization of my home.

It started out innocently enough with me wanting to clean out my studio.
It was cluttered, packed with useless ("I might need that one day") items that are easily accessible.

Why keep all of these things in my studio when I can pick them up locally for a few coins when I need them?
I understand that I need some of them  in front of me for inspiration but I was/am sick to death of a packed, cluttered work space!
When I am in the middle of a project (or two), my work table is always cluttered - but with purpose.
And that type of clutter is easily dealt with after a project is completed.

It's the ever present clutter that haunts me.

I truly believe that it inhibits creativity and restricts inner vision.

In short, it cripples my ability to bring concrete form to my creative voice.

With all of that in mind, I began the arduous task of picking through decades of "precious" items.
Some of them were easy enough to part with. They no longer fit my idea of suitable art supplies (to me anyway), my color preferences changed or I was no longer interested in completing that particular project.

But what I did notice was that the longer I worked at cleaning out my space, the easier it got to toss the items to the "throw away" or "donate" pile.
And, when that happened, I felt that a weight had been lifted off of me. I could really feel my spirits lifting.

I believe that I was opening up space for something new, something fresh in my life.

I didn't want to allow the past, in the form of clutter, to hamper future possibilities.

The action of purging the studio fueled a passion to do the same thing throughout my home.

At the end of the day, the pain that I feel is an odd comfort.
It tells me that I am doing a good thing, that I am putting in the important work it takes to create not only a physical space that invites creativity and inspiration but I am also creating that same space within myself.

I did not plan on this being a New Year's resolution. It just happened to be this time of the year.

If I was one to make resolutions, I'd resolve to continue to simplify my life, my home and attitude.
For they have become much too cluttered.

I hope that you all continue to invite inspiration into your life.
A good place to start is to create a space for it - open yourself up to possibility.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Permission to do Nothing

Liz just wrote about keeping it fresh, and I can't agree more. Kristin here, and I just had a wonderful artist date with a friend that left me inspired to work. I blogged about it on my own blog.

But sometimes I'm NOT inspired to work, and it's always a struggle to find that balance between pushing oneself to keep going, and giving oneself permission to take a break and feed the soul in other ways. Maybe it's because it's the end of the calendar year, but I am always prone to making lists and plans between Thanksgiving and New Years and stressing about how much I wanted to do versus how much I actually did do during the year. And of course Christmas has it's own lists so adding art projects to that doesn't help anyone.

My plan this year has been to give my self permission to work on everything except my artwork (not having any pressing deadlines helps a lot!). Then, come the day after the day after Christmas, I will clear away all the wrapping supplies, the debris of present making, and the cookie recipes, and I will once more focus on my art. I the mean time, I've knit up several presents for family members and a few things for myself. I've made a good effort towards a tree skirt I've wanted for several years but which has been at the bottom of the priority list, and today I cleaned bathrooms that were long overdue.


Merry Christmas and best wishes for a creative and productive New Year ahead!

Friday, December 13, 2013

Keepin it Fresh

Happy Holidays from Liz!

One of the challenges of being a full time artist is keeping our work fresh. Fresh for both myself and the viewer. It is so easy to get stuck in a routine and not notice anything new. I was thinking about this because a friend asked about a restaurant nearby. I had no clue it was there. I drive by it all the time but I can't eat there because of my food allergies so its presence doesn't even register in my brain. As a matter of fact, if you ask me what restaurants are near my home or studio I can't answer because I simply don't know.

Many artists I know find that visiting museums helps them generate fresh ideas. For others it is being outside. I find those helpful too but my favorite way to keep fresh is by taking classes well outside my main media. Classes outside of my comfort zone. For years I have attended Art and Soul which is a national mixed media art retreat with classes from every genre you can think of! Painting, journaling, assemblage, stitch, book binding, jewelery, encaustic, metal and more. I love this retreat and now even teach there.

When taking a new class, as a student I am pushed to learn techniques that are completely foreign to me. As a teacher I get a chance to remember just how a student feels when they are trying something for the first time. It is usually really uncomfortable for me. It is a win on both fronts because it helps me to be a better teacher. Many times I never use the exact technique I learned in a class but there is always a nugget that I bring back into my textile art. It might be something as simple as a new color combination I have never used before or it might be a bigger slap upside the head a-ha that brings about dramatic changes in my approach or thinking.

These photos are from a recent book making class. We begin by spreading paint with wild abandon. I find it so freeing to create these colorful pages. It is only paint and paper so there is less stress and that sense of freedom and joy painting helps me with my fabric surface design work.

It is natural that because I take so many classes that I also teach a wide variety of classes. I teach quite a few textile based classes of course but I also teach visual journaling, book binding and jewelery too. I admit to being a bit of a technique junkie and I love them all! Well, except soldering. I am not a fan of soldering. I find that by mixing these various classes in with my textile based classes that I don't get bored teaching the same thing over and over. It helps me to keep my teaching fresh. It also exposes me to the influence of a wide variety of students. I always learn from my students.

What do you do to keep your work fresh? I would love to hear your opinion.

Friday, December 6, 2013

taking notes

I don't keep an official sketchbook any more. You know the one with lovely fully colored pages, textured backgrounds, delicately drawn objects and patterns and etc. I did for a while, but in the end found that it was better for me to extend that kind of energy on my stitching. Natalya here to give you a peek at the plain and simple...

Earlier this week I finally got to see an exhibit that I highly recommend to any lover of textiles, The Interwoven Globe. It's at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in NYC until January 5th. I came with camera fully charged only to discover the no photo policy.. Luckily I had my trusty well worn sketchbook with me. It turned out that I was happy not to be focused on taking pictures and being able to just absorb the beauty and information around me and take a moment to jot down a few details that really interested me.

None of these doodles are of any importance, the details just caught my eye and asked to be noted. Perhaps someday they will find a way into my art or not... This simple sketching works for me. It's just enough to jog my memory. How intricate is your sketchbook?

Monday, December 2, 2013

Beryl here, been in the UK visiting family.

I've been experimenting again ! This time it's velvet, the dark kind, laid on top of batting and machined stitched eight rectangles. I then painted each rectangle with gesso then gold leaf, rubber stamped an Indian wood block image with acrylic paint in center of rectangle. Looking for a layering effect I found some fine polyester sheer which I laid over the leaf image then machine stitched around it in black thread. Still mulling over the next step !!