Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Made It! The Curtain Went Up for Hungerford Unwrapped

Hungerford Unwrapped was a success – hundreds of people visited the many open studios in our building-wide open studio event. 

Here are images of my studio AFTER the event (alas, my camera disappeared somewhere into the mountainous piles that I hid behind closed doors).


Yes the piece above got SOLD – Relic 3, 24” x 48”, 2010. 


The view as you walked in the doorway.


The “gallery space” on the right. I was delighted how well the piece in the middle turned out (it’s 48” x 48” and very stunning with gold leaf behind the lacy white). In the corner is one of  my new hanging stands. Several people who attended said the charcoal walls drew them right in the door.


Along the design wall, a framed Relic piece hangs, along with two Pages pieces that are suspended from the ceiling on acrylic rods. These hanging pieces will all be displayed on steel hangers soon.


The second new steel stand displays a Pages piece in front of the east windows. I decided not to crowd the studio so each work could be appreciated. Many visitors described the works as having an Asian feel.DSCN6216

Happily, no one could see what lurked behind the closed door to my utility and storage area!


The piles of relocated “stuff” were way higher than this shot reveals. This week I’m making steady progress in reorganizing, as the comparison shots above and below make very clear!


Please don’t tell my husband but I’m envisioning how much nicer this space would look painted a different color than white!


The new storage area isn’t the least bit pretty but it  holds a lot – and there’s room to move around in there as well. I still have more more organizing and rearranging to do but every day the studio feels more open, spacious and inviting.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

My Life as the Star in an Old-Timey Cliff Hanger


Countdown –six days until our Hungerford Urban Artisans building-wide open house next Friday. Since I’m the heroine in this cliff-hanger drama, I am trusting the work crew will show up Monday and fly through completing my storage space construction and replacing my two door entry with one so I can  restore order, hang work and open my doors by next weekend.

Like the plucky undaunted heroine that I am, I feel very relaxed and confident in the midst of my exploded space. Whatever may happen, I’ll figure out a way to make it all work.

A large source of this positivity springs from my still managing to create through the rubble. Right now I’m revisiting old work that didn’t quite succeed and making improvements – and enjoying the results.


This is one of my first painted silk pieces from 2004.  The colors ended up dull, so I am adding some clear, saturated hints of color and highlights with dry brushing; still working on this but it’s close to done.


Another very old textural stitching study that went awry is now looking quite rich and lovely with the addition of brushed paints and paint sticks. I’ll be mounting this on a stretched canvas frame.

Send out positive thoughts that I’ll be able to move everything into my wonderful new storage area by Wednesday and open my doors to throngs of art appreciators by Friday evening.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Open Studios Invitation

Still getting ready for…


Over 30 artisans in our building will open their studios for this First Friday event in Rochester, NY.  I plan to have works in process on my print table on Saturday and demonstrate the improvisational screen print techniques that I use in my own work.

When: Friday, Dec 3, 5-9PM, Saturday, Dec 4, 12-4 PM

Where:1115 East Main Street (near Goodman), Rochester, NY

I’ll also invite people to leave samples of their handwriting. I’m working on an idea for people to write down phrases or single words and mount them on my design wall wherever they choose. They’ll be part of composing it.

Meanwhile, I decided after 9 years, it was time to repaint my studio walls. My husband volunteered to help and I picked this deep charcoal color for accent walls.


We’ve painted two charcoal and the rest white.  The white post above also just got painted charcoal to tie in the two walls.


But, do I pull out all the stops and paint the wall on the right charcoal as well --  or will that make the space feel dark and closed in? It already is mighty gray in the Northeast!

Meanwhile, it’s time to plan what works to hang in the space and where – and just how much of the storage stuff along the left hand wall to leave and how much to store in the wet room area through that open door on the right.

I’m arranging for a storage area right next to my studio through the wet room. That should REALLY take away a lot of the cluttered feeling in the space. I can’t wait!

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Hello, Charcoal Wall


In what is a bold-for-me choice, I am following an impulse to paint one or two walls in my studio  this deep charcoal. If I hate it once it’s done, I can repaint it. No doubt without my husband’s help the second time around, however.

I’ve debated a host of color options but I keep coming back to the idea of a smoky dark wall – or maybe two -- against ivory colored walls.



I’ve tested golds and ochres and even some greens – but no go. The golds were too overpowering, the greens seemed nice but the charcoal kept calling me back. And you KNOW what we all say about listening to that little voice inside. I hung this small piece up to gauge how my work would look against bright versus dark backdrops. The dark definitely makes it pop.

Aside from all these intense color contemplations, I finished my latest Pages piece. Professional photography would give this a whole lot better definition, but this Coolpix snapshot at least gives you the basic idea of what “Clean Slate, New Chapter” looks like. It’s 20” x 20” and mounted on window screening which has been stretched and stapled to a canvas wrapped stretcher frame. I hope people will understand the idea and take the time to appreciate it because it is so subtle.  This will hang at the Rochester Contemporary member exhibition until the beginning of January.


I’m working on a grouping of these where the pages will  begin to fill with marks and the meaning begins to reveal through the writing.

I haven’t the foggiest idea of whether this is going to work but I’m having fun envisioning these evolving!

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Revisiting Goldilocks


This experimental sample is rice paper and light modeling paste applied to stretched canvas and painted with diluted acrylic washes. Still in progress…

It occurs to me that Goldilocks and I have a lot in common. Her testing  of chairs, porridge and beds and exclaiming, “This one is too hot, too big,  too hard, this one is too cold, too small, too soft  -- and THIS one is JUST RIGHT”,  are pretty well how I grow as an artist.

How DO we find our own “just right” ?

There are creative people who produce lines of products and sell their work for a living. They have Etsy stores and exhibit in arts and crafts fairs and hold studio sales.

There are other artists who seek out galleries to represent them and sell their work.

There are artists who spend years fleshing out a single work and others who can produce a competent, saleable piece in a few hours.

Some artists disdain the whole idea of sales and make work that is ephemeral. It can’t be bought or sold because it will eventually cease to exist.

Since there are multiple types of art and artists, it follows that no one set of  standards  for success suits us all.  We have to try a variety of ideas on and just like Goldilocks, reject some and embrace others and get the heck out of the cottage when the bears arrive back home. What is right is only about what is right for each one of us.


 More work on this sample to explore what makes surfaces look aged.  Still working on this one as well!…

What’s “just right” for me at present is grazing space; the absolutely delicious act of chewing on ideas just for the pleasure of it.

Saturday, October 23, 2010


Another sample week, energy brimming, ideas flowing, senses finely tuned and humming.

A week of sampling leads to discoveries – both to express and resolve ideas and anchor them in physical form AND to see aspects of our creative selves revealed in them.

Are we what we create? No, but we do infuse what we make with our energy and perspectives. The act of taking a thought and giving it form captures where we are at a specific time in relation to our ability to express pure ideas. Our works become snapshots, images of a moment in time. Our time.


Expressive language marks on painted paper. The experimental watermedia techniques I love on textiles work a bit differently on paper and canvas, but I am enjoying the experimentation.

So what did my studio time reveal to me this week? That I have two distinct and strong sides expressing themselves currently. One is gestural and expressive, the other more mechanical and structured. Do you have similar pulls from one type of work to another?

I am giving both these polar opposites time and permission to go for it. I’m also (gasp) working on paper and canvas with acrylics. This gives my expressive, gestural mark-making side new options.


You’ll see this piece evolve as I continue to learn from painting directly on canvas. The right and left edges are working for me but not the center portion.


Note how the same piece looks like a landscape with this horizontal  orientation.  The size of this is 12” x 12 and I hope to resolve and complete this.  It would be my  first actual “painting” on canvas.

My “pages” pieces have also been calling me and I’m also working on a new construction with the working title, “Clean Slate, New Chapter.” In this piece the shapes are geometric rather than fluid, the process more mechanical  than about direct mark-making.  The surface is also more three- dimensional, so casting light on it from different directions will create the shadows that I envision as part of the work. You’ll see the finished piece (I hope) soon.

That’s the update this Full Moon Morning about where my studio time has taken me this week. Do you suppose the moon was created to remind us about the ebb and flow of life, the rhythms and cycles of quiet and activity? I’d like to think of it as my own  rather large Timex! Thank you, full moon, for cranking up the heat on my creative burners and fueling a new flow of ideas and variations.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Where is your artistic work leading you?

When you live in the Northeast US, there’s a definite shift as autumn arrives and the explosive reproductive energies of summer cease. The cooling temperatures signal a drawing down of life energies into root systems. Green grasses begin to bleach, dry out and turn skeletal; pods form, bursting with seeds for the next season’s growth.

As the days grow shorter and colder, Nikki and I have been sharing about ourselves via e-mail. She combines textiles and organic porcelain sculptural works to create pieces that have a wonderful presence.

She wrote that my blog shares a lot about my physical processes, and she greatly enjoys reading about those, but she wonders about my inner self. What is it you want from your art, she asks -- where would you like to see your work going?

Such powerful focus questions. And they deserve to be considered by each artist.

Yesterday, I wrote her back a long response. Now that I’ve had a day to think more, I want to try again.

What is it I want from my art? I want to infuse each work with palpable energy, joy and confidence (that is a tall order!).  Being a maker is a compelling process and adventure. Being true to my vision provides a deep connection to a powerful energy inside me and creates a yearning to keep returning to it.

Being a maker also provides the challenge of alchemizing an idea into form. Choosing to birth an idea is an amazing, unpredictable process.  Who wouldn’t want to navigate those hairpin turns again and again when we KNOW the destination is so worth it.

Where would I like to see my work going?  Nikki says her work is more internally driven and feels complete without an audience, even though  she is pleased when others respond to it positively.

In contrast, I feel that my creative work is a form of communication, an invitation to connect. It feels more complete when I put it out into the world, when it stimulates questions or interest in the ideas and creative process that so engage and inspire me. I want to work on ideas that will make my work more interactive, more of a conversation with the viewer.

Do I desire visibility and exposure? Absolutely. My goals are lofty and I believe that whatever we desire we can create if we let go and just allow ourselves to believe it can (releasing and allowing is an ongoing learning process!). I desire my work to be exhibited in museums, art galleries and curated invitationals.  I’d like it to be reviewed positively by art critics and editors and fellow artists. I’d like it to stimulate fascinating collaborations and  be included in private and public collections.

Might we just say that I want it ALL, bejeweled and sparkling in the sunlight, even though I know that if I attained every single item on that list it would just cause me to set new, even loftier goals?

Will I be just as happy if I never achieve any of them? Definitely. The joy in my doing and the resulting growth and experience are expansive, exciting and rewarding in themselves. But why not dare to be bold, think big and believe in our worth and uniqueness and trust that the whole universe will rally to support and attract and open every door for us effortlessly? If it happens for others, it surely can happen for us.

So now you have seen a glimpse of my inner workings, my dreams and hopes and desires. I am ever a work in progress and delighted with all that suggests. Ever growing, ever evolving, ever exploring my inner and outer worlds.

What of yours, then, of your own dreams and desires for yourself as an artist? I hope they are grand and glorious and delight you to contemplate.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Bouncing Back

Not feeling well and resting a lot can lead to introspection.  While I’ve been anchored to the couch, there have been disappointments – rejection from Quilt National – and validations – I’ve been juried into the Arena Art Group. 

So there has been a fair share of sorting and self-inventorying – what is really important to me as an artist? -- while I've been waiting for my energy – and my voice -- to return.

But they’re both back! Here comes the sun…both literally and figuratively; we’re having gorgeous golden fall weather again after days upon days of grey skies and rain.

Saturday I also returned to my studio and spent an energetic and productive day clearing remnants of previous projects away and setting up to start new ones. This is one of my best tricks to engage my creativity again, cleaning and setting up my studio so it’s fresh and inviting. The cheese in the mouse trap.

While I’m also in the middle of a total website redesign, launching a new regional juried exhibition and other projects – yes, real life -- the call inside is to metaphorically climb into a sandbox with my inner preschooler and play.

What will that mean? Where will it take me? My creative spirit is sensing the call of adventure – and loving it.

The Not Knowing is Magical; after all, what kind of adventure would it be if the heroine set out already knowing the destination?

Sunday, October 3, 2010


There’s nothing like sitting out “the game” on the bench for a bit for some worthwhile contemplations from the sidelines.

Sometimes we get so focused on outcomes – the winning or losing – that we need a change of perspective. Clearly my body decided the one week vacation in Aruba wasn’t enough rest.

I’ve been laying low for a full week now hacking and blowing from a head and chest infection. Friday my voice disappeared, so I have spent the weekend in silence, whispering when necessary.

latte handwriten note

Not to be deterred from important priorities, as part of my “survival kit”, I am carrying a handwritten note with my latte order written on it so I can still get my Starbucks fix.

However (are there choirs suddenly singing hallelujahs??), today I am Feeling Better. Still can’t talk, however the familiar morning rush of ideas reappeared this morning and I actually feel like creating. I could dance in appreciation!

This energizing African folk dance troupe on YouTube will hopefully inspire you to join me. Can you feel the joy and creativity? I definitely can!

It’s time to get back in the game!

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

A is for Adventure

…and Aruba is where we found some this past week, the trip my husband’s much-deserved reward for a complete recovery after three months of illness and tests, then two surgeries and a post-surgical infection, (yes, poor guy, but he has a loving, supportive wife that saw him through.)


Aruba greeted us with white sands, blue skies and the rhythmic sounds of waves hitting the shore. 


We stayed at the Bucuti Beach Resort, a Dutch-owned hotel in the low-rise district on Eagle Beach.

However, Aruba also greeted us with showers and incredible thunder storms that brought the most rain the island has had in one week in the past 60 years.

So the weather would be sunny, then cloud up -- and then…

DSCN6010   DSCN6013

thunder and lightning and pounding rains!! Of course, Aruba is a semi-arid island with an average rainfall of about 15”, so they don’t have much in the way of a public drainage system.


Which meant that basically everything flooded, from houses to roads. It felt very adventurous to try and drive around.

Back at the hotel, we’d enjoy the sun one hour, run for cover the next as storms assailed us -- and then a few hours later, be back on the beach stretched out in beach chairs again with everyone else.DSCN5971

This was our romantic little bungalow on the beach, where I could snuggle up on the veranda and watch the storms, then run back out to swim in the ocean when the skies cleared.

I spent so much time in the ocean that I can still close my eyes, feel myself floating in the water and hear the rhythm of the waves on the sand. Ahhhhhh…

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Fiber Lovers Day at SU


My long-time desire to forge meaningful connections among fiber artists led me to take on the job of NYS rep for the Surface Design Association two years ago.

I’ve been working on program ideas that could increase interest in SDA membership. On Saturday, September 11,  SDA New York successfully launched a pilot program, “SDA at SU Fiber Lovers Day” at Syracuse University that was open to all who were interested in attending.

Partnering with the wonderful Eileen Gosson on the Surface Pattern Design faculty, we planned a day packed with tours, exhibits and presentations.


Mary Giehl, faculty, chats with the group about the fiber program in the SU surface design classroom.

DSCN5946  Sarah Saulson, faculty, introduces the SU weaving facilities. 


Illuminated weaving by SU undergrad Elin Sandberg.


MFA student Holland Webster gave a brief talk about this installation, which she and a fellow grad student completed over the summer, based on a study of pods and pod shapes, for the 150 foot hallway of the Shaffer Building.


Installation detail. The student work was inspiring.


After a break for lunch, presentations in the afternoon included grad students Jooyoung Ha, Caitlin Foley and Holland Webster  and SU Fiber and Surface pattern Design faculty Sarah Saulson, Anne Cofer, Mary Giehl and Eileen Gosson.  Jan Navales, shown here, a local artist, also spoke about making a living in fiber art.

We closed the day with attendees introducing their work, then enjoyed the reception and opening for “”Pliable Planes: Cloth and Beyond” at the Warehouse Gallery.

It was an exceptional day. Wish you could have joined us!

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Exciting Week

You’ll find a well-written, thoughtful article about my Pages pieces at The Textile Blog. I can’t thank John enough for selecting me and doing such an excellent job at communicating the ideas that generate these works. 

The second reason this week was exciting is that I accomplished a long time goal. I entered Quilt National with three cohesive works. I finished the third one on Tuesday morning, had them photographed on Tuesday afternoon and sent my submission out via UPS on Wednesday for delivery by the Friday September 10 (yes that is tomorrow) deadline. So much for taking it easy.

Never mind that most of my work is no longer finished as quilts. I’ve been focusing on textile constructions this entire year, but then Relic 4 appeared. I’ve posted another detail of this work before but here’s a reminder image. I decided to finish it as a wall hanging and enter it.


Relic 4, detail. This piece is silk backed with canvas and is 48” high and 43” wide.

So then I needed two more works to provide a stronger entry. Which meant that although I vowed to take the rest of the summer off and just play after my solo and my husband’s surgeries, I ended up working even harder to meet this deadline. It turns out that working at making art IS my play.


Relic 5 detail. The work is 54” high and 64” wide. It’s a rocky surface peppered with layered graffiti, weathered and faded in places. It’s dyed, painted and printed silk habotai backed with cotton canvas.

QN’s policy is that works submitted or accepted not be displayed anywhere prior to the Quilt National opening. They will disqualify work that has been exhibited anywhere other than on the artist’s website.


 Relic 6, detail. Three stitched, silk broadcloth panels hang side by side; together they are 31” wide and 57” long.


A second detail. This piece is absolutely lovely and I know it will sell quickly. Some of the screened texts on it are from writing samples that readers of this blog have sent to me. Thank you – there will be more of these.

So I’m posting details rather than the full pieces until the jurors make their choices. Notification will be in early October.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Sunday Art Buffet -- Tasty

To top off a marvelous weekend with cousins at the 80th birthday party for my Aunt Helen in Springfield, Massachusetts, we veered off the main highway and drove up Route 7 on our way home to check out Mass MOCA.

Fortune smiled on my art loving self, because that route also led by The Clark Museum in Williamstown, so we drove in to check out the “Picasso Looks at Degas” exhibit, where works by the two artists were displayed side by side and emphasized the extent to which Picasso studied, responded to and was influenced by the elder artist’s work. DSCN5815

Entrance to The Clark. We arrived at 10 AM when the doors opened and by the time we left an hour later, the parking lots all around the building were completely full.

From there we drove on to North Adams and Mass MOCA, an amazing complex of factory buildings that opened in 1999. The buildings were restored and refurbished to house large scale installation works by contemporary artists.


Currently on exhibit there is a retrospective of Sol Lewitt’s work and “Material World”, an invitational in which seven artists were invited to transform the second and third floor galleries with installation pieces. All the artists selected are known for their use of modest, everyday materials. Each has produced a massively scaled work  that responds to and interacts with the industrial environment of the space.



White Stag, 2009-2010. Paper, wood by artists Wade Kavanaugh and Stephen B. Nguyen. Twisted, crumpled and draped rolls of paper created this old growth forest, an enormous installation that spanned two floors.



Big Boss, 2009-2010. Rope, paint, by Orly Genger. The exhibit brochure reveals that the artist knotted (in an adapted crochet stitch) and painted over 100 miles of rope. Responding to the male-dominated world of sculpture, Genger’s work pumps up this traditionally female-identified craft process to the level of Olympic physical prowess. It is forceful and  --surprisingly -- simple and familiar at the same time.

It becomes evident in viewing all the works that just how intensely physical the act of making them must have been.

The Sol Lewitt retrospective, which I expected to just appreciate as a viewer, turned out to be inspiring and informative to me as an artist, both in the sheer volume of the artist’s productivity and diversity of explorations and the philosophy and thought that led to his separation between artistic ideas and their execution.


LeWitt numbered his “wall drawings” rather than naming them. He engineered specific directions for each work’s creation, which are executed by artists and students at specific sites. The process is labor intensive and exacting and ephemeral. Often the walls are painted over and the paintings disappear when an exhibition closes. Mass MOCA is displaying this retrospective installation of  105 of the artist’s work for 25 years.

My personal favorites are the graphite pieces that LeWitt created both in his earliest works and then returned to at the end of his life. The final works appear luminous; they are comprised of carefully measured bands and densities of hand-scribbled lines using just graphite pencil lead.



The exhibit brochure copy describes these works as “transcendent.” I can’t help but agree.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Vacation Week

My final studio day before heading off to our cottage was a productive one. My new piece is almost ready for the language imagery that will complete it – before I left for vacation, my thoughts took a sudden, playful fork.

DSCN5757 A quick attempt to get some ideas put down on cloth.  In previous Relic pieces, I marked the surfaces with ancient inscriptions. Then I began to realize that “ancient” is a relative term – today many people consider the 1950’s ancient.  My mind is toying with creating a surface that reflects one young man’s desire for the world to remember him.

BUT FIRST – Off to the Lake!


Our small slice of summer perfection – a quiet week at our cottage in Central New York on Panther Lake, a lake so small it looks like a pinpoint on the map!

Perfect summer weather made our time at the cottage a joy. In between kayaking and paddle boating and swimming, I kept the creative fires stoked by reading contemporary drawing books and doing some experimental sketching.


I alternated between making lines and shapes with various pens and graphite and charcoal pencils…


…and even had time to explore the area for interesting hand-lettered signage.

A great vacation!