Wednesday, December 23, 2009

In praise of mystery and weirdness

We were at Nye Beach in Newport for a long weekend, and I'm happy to report that the above house still remains as seen in the above picture. It's locked up, decrepit, and seems to be full of absolutely great old stuff. I'd love to get my hands on that stuff, of course, but I hope this place doesn't get torn down or gentrified into a day spa. I love the way it sits, intact, in the middle of all the trendy shops. We need our mystery!

A less entrancing mystery for me right now is why my computer is in a coma. Please think good thoughts so that my daughter's friend who is a professional computer-fixer will restore it and all my precious files to life. (I thought this only happened to other people...)

Any way, despite current glitches, I want to wish you all Happy Holidays and a wonderful New Year!

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Giveaway Winner and Dolls, Dolls, Dolls

We have a winner! I drew Jodi's name in the Giveaway. She is now the owner of Secrets of Rusty Things by Michael de Meng. Congratulations, Jodi! You'll love this book.

Ever since I took Judy Wise's class, "Dolls for Big Girls" at Art and Soul, I have been compelled to make dolls.
The Art of Life group has been going doll crazy along with me. Cindy is the first one in the group to finish. Below is her magnificent rendering of her dog, Lark, in the form of a doll. It looks so real I expect her to bark, or maybe talk.

Cindy's sweet Lark

And the lovely rear view

It seems that almost everyone who gets into making art dolls is driven to create one of Marie Antoinette. When I made mine, I made her face and limbs from Sculpey as Judy taught us. I used plaster of Paris strips for her hair. It was fun to see how high I could get it to go. You can't really tell from this picture, but she has quite the skyscraper hairdo.

Queen Marie

I wanted to make a mini Miss Havisham for the studio sale coming up. Here she is clutching the remains of her wilted bouquet, thinking of better times.

Miss Havisham once again...

Nell Gwyn

This doll was supposed to be a mini Marie A., but she didn't want to. She wanted to be Nell Gwyn, the orange seller girl who became the mistress of Charles II of England. Sometimes you just have to let the spirit of the doll have her way.

Quick reminder--I'll be at the Winter Twilight Sale at The Hundred Monkey Studios tomorrow night and will have my annual Studio Holiday Sale on the 12.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Recommended Show, Little Assemblages, "Mind Your Own Beeswax", Giveaway Entries

Reflection by Scott Jeffs

stopped by Onda Gallery the other day and viewed the exceptional work in this month's holiday show. I was delighted with the work of Scott Jeffs and Lisa Sayles, in particular. Scott's pastel landscapes are breathtaking. If I could, I'd buy the whole wall of Lisa's small acrylic paintings. Some are complex and others minimalist, and all are magical. Onda also has lots of additional art and fine craft on display, and the city's best collection of Latin American imports. Stop by and see this great gallery on Alberta St.!

Work by Lisa Sayles

I'm having a lot of fun preparing for my holiday shows. I made the small assemblage below after reading "Radiant Darkness" by Emily Whitman. This novel for young adults (and old ones, too) tells the story of Persephone, who left her mother, the earth goddess Demeter, to live with the god Hades, ruler of the underworld. Emily's imagining of the Greek myth views Persephone as an active participant in her life, not as the passive victim of an abduction.

Persephone Emerging

I held an encaustic class at my studio. Two of the students had never done encaustic before while one had taken a class a while back. They were all brave and imaginative!

Julie's landscape

Rachel's olive branches

Ruby's abstract

Julie, Rachel, and Ruby at play

Our "sofa gallery" at the end of class

And now, presenting more art sent by readers who are participating in the Giveaway contest. On December 4 the names of those who've sent me pictures of their recent work to post will be put in a hat. I will then draw the name of the winner, who'll receive a copy of Michael de Meng's amazing book: "Secrets of Rusty Things". (Or an alternate art book.)

Jodi does the drollest, wittiest surreal people. Here's Buttonman.


Mary (not Mary of the Mittens) sent the above and the following inventive assemblages

I love 'em all!

If you are local, I hope to see you at the Winter Twilight Art Sale at 100th Monkey on December 5, and/or at my studio sale with Diane Havnen Smith on December 12 and 13. For those far away, I am putting up some of my work in the Holiday Sale section of my website here.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Last Chance for Encaustic Class, New Giveaway Entry, Upcoming Events

I still have a few openings for this coming Saturday's class: "Mind Your Own Beeswax". All supplies will be provided, so just bring yourself and be ready for a fun introduction to this delicious style of painting and collage. This class is at my studio and is sponsored by Village Gallery of Arts. You can learn more about the class and register here.

Marina's Mirror

Here's the second entry in the new giveaway! Marina's assemblage mirror is shown above, as is Marina, pointing her Nikon at us. Marina's boyfriend lives across the street from me in my house's almost-twin.

Again, the giveaway guidelines: Email me a picture of your recent work and I'll post it here and enter you in my contest to win a copy of Michael de Meng's inspiring book, Secrets of Rusty Things. The contest ends on December 4th!

Exciting Teaching Event:

I'll be teaching my popular Wabi-Sabi class this August at Art Unraveled, a superb art retreat in Phoenix. Check out the great lineup they have for this summer! I attended as a student last summer and loved my classes and the instructors and students I met. In case you're thinking Phoenix and August isn't a good combination, don't worry. The retreat is held at the Embassy Suites. They have food, beverages, great suites with microwaves, wonderful classes, onsite stores--you never have to leave the air-conditioned building. I have to confess, it's my idea of the perfect vacation.
I did actually walk the 3/4 mile or so to the nearest shopping center and lived to tell the tale.

Holiday Gift Shows and Sales

December 5th The 100th Monkey Studio
2nd Annual Winter Twilight Sale
5:30-9 Pm
110 SE 16th Ave
Portland, OR 97214

I'm delighted to be participating in this sale! This is a great opportunity to support local artists while also giving a hand-made gift! You'll also find beverages, treats & live music, and tarot readings.

I'm offering handmade journals

Saturday and Sunday, December 12 & 13
11-5 PM

Serena Barton and Diane Havnen-Smith
3rd Annual Holiday Sale
Sat: At The Art of Your Life Studio
SE 8oth between Salmon and Taylor Court
Sun: At Innerstandings Studio in Clackamas (email me for directions)

Diane and I will have hand made journals, altered books, felted soaps, painted pillows, jewelry, small paintings , collages, assemblages, art dolls, treasure boxes, and other lovely curiosities.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

First Giveaway Entry and Students' Creativity

Mary's Mittens
The first entry in my new giveaway is now in! Mary Stilwell, who lives on her beautiful family farm in Nebraska, sent this picture of the mittens she's making. Mary is a talented painter but likes to branch out sometimes. Here's what she said in her email to me: " My grandmother made mittens by the dozen for us as we were growing up. We'd always have to stop at her knitting chair after school so she could see if she got the cuff long enough. Living here at the farm, it has been one of the nostalgic things that seemed to make sense. So I'm learning the art of mittens."

These look so lovely and cozy. I am a knitting dropout. I may be an artist, but when it comes to knitting I am all big, clumsy thumbs. I can't even get through a row without dropping stitches right and left. So I am a great admirer of those who can knit, and I can just imagine how delicious these mittens feel.

Thanks, Mary for sending the picture and the great story about your grandmother.

Carla noted in a comment on my last post that I didn't say how you can get your pictures to me for the contest. Just email me through my website here with your picture and story.

Last weekend I taught a PSU class, "The Helpmate and the Courtesan" at Mt. Hood Community College. I want to share the creative projects from this class. I'm always so impressed and moved by what students can do in these weekend classes. For some of them it was their first creative endeavor. The class covered the lives and work of 17th century Dutch painter, Judith Leyster, and Renaissance poet and courtesan, Veronica Franco.

Anne's freeform assemblage to both artists.

Dana's diary entry for Judith Leyster. She also wrote a diary entry for Veronica Franco and a poem in Franco's style of Terza Rima.

Elise made her first collage ever for Veronica Franco.

Hibah created a mixed media piecehonoring both women.

Melanie made a textured, free-form collage for the artists.

Judith Leyster signed her paintings with this symbol. It includes her initials and a star, as her last name means "lodestar" in Dutch.

Judith Leyster's signature

Melonie wrote a poem in terza rima and also designed he
own signature,
in the spirit of Judith Leyster.

Here is one of Tina's poems, written with a steel nib pen and aged.

Sherry's mixed media piece for Veronica Franco

Prairie made soul collage cards for both women.

This weekend I teach the same class in Salem, with 22 students!

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Musing and Creating

Joan of Arc in her tinfoil armor

November is such an interesting month. I've just gotten used to it being fall, and now "the holidays" are looming ahead. I've had some excitement this month with the publication of my article "Wabi Sabi Inspiration" in one of my favorite magazines, Cloth, Paper, Scissors. It's just now on the stands; the November/December issue.

I've just found out dates I'll be teaching acrylics at Rouge Gallery and Art Center in Medford. I'll be doing a two day workshop on March 6 and 7. This is a new teaching venue for me and I'm really looking forward to it.

Some sad news is that Art and Soul Retreat Madison 2010 has been canceled due to its founder's health issues. I'm thinking good thoughts for Glenny and hope her health will be much improved after she takes time to do what's needed. I am sorry not to be able to teach and take classes at Madison this summer, but will look forward to Madision 2011. You can check out the other Art and Soul retreats offered here.

I've received some wonderful emails from students who had signed up for my workshops in Madison. Their positive energy has helped me rally from disappointment and my November "I just want to hibernate" syndrome! One such correspondent is
Jennifer White.

Check out her work!

Thanks to all for your encouraging messages. I have gotten good news from another teaching venue and will share it as soon as I get the okay.

I love working in my new studio! I've never felt such spaciousness and freedom while making art. I've been turning out handmade books and journals, art dolls, and paintings for my upcoming holiday art sale with Diane Havnen-Smith.

I was at Diane's studio last week watching her paint loose, humorous faces on pillows. I used to do this in the early 90's and I found myself feeling envious of the fun Diane was having with these wonderful faces. I realized I've been missing painting. I love doing mixed media work and have been thrilled with the unending possibilities, tools, and techniques. But my roots are in painting and I've been neglecting it.

That night I started to paint a face of my own on a small wood panel. At first I felt panicked--"Maybe I can't do it anymore!" The observing part of me knew that this is a recurring process when an artist has been away from a medium for a while. That allowed me to keep at it until I created Noir Star. My favorite art book,
Art and Fear, says, "Art is all about starting over." Does this sound familiar to any one else out there?

Diane introduced me to a wonderful artist and delightful person week before last.
Her name is Annie Lockhart and here's her blog. I felt so comfortable with her right away. I think creative women of a certain age have such a gift for connection--I love being part of that group. Annie's book will be out soon--I'm eager to see it and will let you know as soon as it's published.

Noir Star

This woman reminds me a bit of the film noir actress Ann Savage. The day before I painted this I had watched her most famous movie, Detour. I hadn't intended any resemblance of face or period when I painted, but as usual what's on the mind comes out on the canvas. A while ago I purchased a lovely purse and compact that Ann Savage had owned. It even still has her powder and puff in it. And maybe a little stardust.

Ann Savage in Detour

I really want to jazz things up in this dark season. Tell you what--here's a new giveaway. Send me a photo of something you've created and I'll post it and thereby enter you in the contest. If you've only created a casserole recently, send me a picture of that! It's more than I've done in the culinary department...

What is the prize?
"Secrets of Rusty Things" by Michael De Meng. If you already have it, enter anyway. I could be persuaded to offer an alternate prize.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Halloween Spelling Bee, New Work, and Old Treasure Found

Dexter Weasley

Yesterday I stopped by Mississippi Pizza to see my grandson participate in the weekly spelling bee for kids. Since it was Halloween, most kids were in costume. There were three from Hogwarts: one Colin Creavy, one Ginny Weasley, and one Dexter Weasley. As my grandson, Dexter, explained, he's not in the books but came as a member of the Weasley family. With his naturally red hair and painted on freckles, I could well believe it. He came in second and had a great time. I had a great time watching all the kids perform and seeing how well they handled both winning and losing.

My Miss Havisham doll has been joined by another Horrible Example, Lady M. from what superstitious theater people call "The Scottish Play."

"What, will these hands n'er be clean? Out, d**ned spot, Out I say!"

I'm delighted to have found an old treasure that has been lost in the house for a while. This is a book put together by my Great Grandma Nellie Spencer for my mother when the latter was a baby. It's much the worse for being moved from house to house in my youth. I remember every page well, as my mother and I looked at it for hours when I was about 3.
Book Cover

The book consists of magazine illustrations, many by the now-famous Jessie Wilcox Smith. My great grandmother had cut and pasted them into an old existing book.

This is what the original book pages look like. Most of them
mention President McKinley.

The year on the muff the New Year Baby is holding (right) is 1921

I've really been having fun with my Crop-o-dile. I made a new little book using all recycled materials.

Book Cover with Teabag

Back of Book