Monday, March 28, 2011

Choreographing Ease and Flow

The chortlings of migrating starlings descending on the feeders outside my windows this morning seemed to herald the approach of warmer days. Watching the small flocks’ aerial dances led me to search the internet and find this clip of huge flocks in Scotland . It  seems to fit well with my morning musings on  “ease” and “flow”, the words I’ve chosen for as my themes for this year.

How amazing to watch these synchronized movements and discover that the filmmaker who recorded their aerial feats again and again never once saw a collision among them.  Could there be a more compelling visual demonstration of ease and flow?

As artists, we don’t ever attain a blissful, creative state minus any self-doubt or anxiety, but rather learn to trust in our own inner navigator to get us back on course when we flounder, and realign us with our own inner compass.

We just keep at it.

I’m reading Martha Graham’s autobiography, a treatise in focus, dedication, passion. On the first page of the book she writes, “To practice means to perform, in the face of all obstacles, some act of vision, of faith, of desire. Practice is a means of inviting the perfection desired.”

First comes the study and practice of the craft which is the school where you are working in order to strengthen the muscular structure of the body…The body is shaped, disciplined, honored

and in time, trusted…

Then comes the cultivation of the being from which whatever you have to say comes. It doesn’t just come from out of nowhere, it comes out of a great curiosity. The main thing, of course, always is the fact

that there is only one of you in the world, just one, and if that is not fulfilled then something has been lost.”

Monday, March 21, 2011

Currents of Choices


Another full moon on Saturday night – it is now officially Spring.

This past week my creative river has been flowing along briskly – no ice jams here! Choices and  ideas keep growing and multiplying. Some get ruled out, others lead to new insights and options. I visualize and affirm “clarity” a lot!

In Eric Merisel's “Overcoming Creative Anxiety” course through Daily OM, he writes about creative choice-making:

Choosing provokes anxiety. Even such small matters as choosing which cereal to bring home or which television show to watch can cause a little tendril of anxiety. How much more anxiety is generated by trying to choose between spending two years on this novel or on that novel! Even more significantly, every single mark you make as a painter or word you put on the page as a writer is a choice: when you create you are constantly choosing, which means that a certain amount of anxiety is likely always to be with you as you create.

What reassuring words. We all feel tension when we create, whether we are painters, writers or wood carvers. But working through ideas and addressing the problems and surprises they bring is the heart and soul of studio work. Would you ever trade this for any other life?  I wouldn’t.


I've been making lots of painted papers for my “fluttering pages” and laying them out to see what they will look like in combination. Since the three panels will hang together as a triptych, developing quantities of papers with variety in for color, texture, pattern and values are an important first step in the design process.


 It took careful measuring, checking and rechecking every step of the way to complete this new work, but my desire was to mount and complete it for this blog post. While the idea for this started out to be rolled tubes, the substrate turned out so beautiful that I formed half cylinders from these and mounted them on the stretched canvas.


One of the original tube samples – this one has knotted strips.


My intention in twisting and manipulating the cut strips on the openings is to suggest lines of writing across the surface. I may paint the edges of the strips to accentuate them and make them more visible.


Here’s an informal shot of the completed work. The glare from the flash makes it difficult to see the details, but it does give you the feel of the piece. It’s Atta-Girl time; so satisfying to see a new idea launched, with new variations already standing in line waiting for their turn to be realized.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Flux: Hungerford Artists Participate in “Thaw”

Over 20 artists that rent studios in the Hungerford Building, 1115 East Main Street, Rochester, NY, mounted “Flux”,  a joint exhibition of their works as part of Thaw, a regional, multi-gallery event.  Just like the artists in the building, the show is an eclectic mix of styles and mediums that works well together and definitely speaks to the talent that this converted old fruit syrup factory now houses.

The opening reception was Friday, March 4. The exhibit will be open to the public every Saturday this month, 11 AM – 3 PM. I got to take some pictures of the works yesterday during my shift there.

DSCN6601  Entering and looking to the left in the space. It is a large, rectangular  industrial space with a bank of windows along the back wall that really allowed both two and three dimensional works to be presented well.


John Wilson and Dory Driss's  junk sculptures always are a feast for the imagination. John, a retired lawyer, told up welding about four years ago. The larger bird is his design, the smaller one, “Senator Byrd”, is Dory’s'. John fabricates Dorys’ designs as well as his own.


Hodaka Hasabee’s large sculptural ceramic vase looks lovely next to my work.

DSCN6603  DSCN6606

Sculptor Victor Pacheco is my neighbor across the hall and this poisonous frog is an exceptional example of his work. The surface looks like riveted sheets of fabricated metal although it is fabricated from resin-coated Styrofoam.

DSCN6605 The shots above and below show the other side of the gallery. This shot was taken from the back of the space, looking toward the front entry. 


A close-up of the beautiful collaborative vessel by ceramicist Richard Aerni and ceramic sculptor Carolyn Dilcher - Stutz.

DSCN6607  Sculptor Bill Wolff’s work on the center pedestals. His studio is down the hall from mine. DSCN6610A   close up of the small mixed media pieces and painted table top by Betsy Hoefen.  Her son Bret has an inspiring blog about dealing with a rare form of cancer, called “Ride in a Good Direction”.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Rollin’ on the River

I have been shakin’ it up like Tina on the stage of life this week. I had a private coaching session with Leslie on Friday after the fifth “Finding Your Authentic Voice” class to deal with some longstanding fears about putting my work out in the world.

Coaches ask perceptive questions and offer “assignments”; Leslie suggested several this week.

I’ve got a tiger by the tail again with the studio work and my days are filled with both joy and creative anxiety. Every day has been a studio day. I’m learning more about deep breathing and releasing to help clear the anxiety and also to help calm the joy and direct it into my work. The anxiety comes from all the stages of new work unfolding and the risks that engaging in creating bring (and always will, I now recognize, so I will keep gathering tools to navigate them)

One assignment for this week focuses on the idea of making space for my artistic self. Part of this represents an inner expansiveness of trust and self-acceptance that gives my artist self more permission and room to BE.

Each day I  have made time to expand and breathe, and then expand a little more – I can take more breath in than I realize. When I release a deep breath, I empty out and then let a little bit more air out – deepening the release of breath. On each inhale and exhale, I repeat, “I am worthy.” Synchronicity again that we practiced this in restorative yoga this week, another new and essential addition to my artistic  life that realigns my energy and releases tensions.


This is one new direction I’m exploring with my “pages” series, working with painted and gessoed and printed papers.  It seems to be working – I will continue to make the little pages you see, then compose and mount them – I’d like them to feel like they are barely attached and fluttering. Lots to still figure out.

I received a beautiful card from Suki, an inspiring poet, writer and artist, with Tibetan prayer flags on it that echo my inspiration for the fluttering pages and other works I am developing based on the idea of “writing in air.”

Another assignment Leslie gave our group this week was to create a ceremony or ritual acknowledging our authentic voice. I chose to write and say a daily focusing/ blessing for my ceremony for the week  (and am so  proud to say I did it every day):

 Welcome new day! I greet you with appreciation.

I bless and give thanks for my vibrant, active, healthy body.

I bless this home and its loving vibration.

I bless this beautiful world around me pulsing with life and hope and growth.

I bless my creative work and the soulful expression of my art.

I bless this day, trusting that it will bring stimulation, affection, nurture, interaction,play, joy, love and creative expression.

I know today and every day, the powerful creator that I am will find purpose and fulfillment, insight and clarity.

Everything in its perfect time.

Everything is unfolding.

It feels wonderful to say these words to begin the day.

Leslie suggested another assignment for me as well that I enjoyed doing, to take a brush and pan of water and make bold, gestural marks on my studio walls with abandon.  

It felt freeing, expansive, dancelike. I carried this openness to figure drawing class (my second) in a fellow artist’s studio in my building and the focus and concentration on the shapes and form and movements of the body were deeply satisfying. This class meets twice a month. My drawings improved enormously over my first night. I am settling in and feeling comfortable and deeply appreciative of the human form. Drawing feels powerful, comfortable, connected. It doesn’t matter what I produce, it is intensively satisfying to observe and explore the marks that capture gesture and form.