Productivity is never pretty around here. Making art is like childbirth to me. I start out hopeful and full of promise. At some point it makes me sick (I call it the “ugly phase”), but I keep going, knowing it’s worth the struggle. And toward the end, I will do anything – endure any torture – to get this thing finished and out of my space.
I have been finishing three new comissioned pieces – I just returned from installing one, and two more are awaiting delivery this week.
Meanwhile, my studio is ashambles. Unlike childbirth, there is no nesting going on here, just complete violent, creative chaos.
As I came back into the studio this afternoon, the amount of stuff I have strewn everywhere is insane. Paint, dirty brushes, bits of cut paper all over the table and floor, awaiting placement on some collage or journal.
Project ideas, notes scribbled on lined paper that was torn out of some book. Scissors, glazing medium, screwdrivers, nails, art supply catalogs, plastic bags, ideas for teaching art projects…
But it means I have been making art, and that is good.
The A/C went out last week, just in time for summer’s last stand. Fortunately, I am married to quite a handy man. He’s helping me out by installing a fan today. Come on, cool weather, I need you.
And, athough I’m exhausted, I’m really thankful for this hot mess of a studio.
If you’ve read many of my posts or been to my place, you’ll see that my garden is an extension of my studio, and a huge source of inspiration and reprieve for me. The studio structure is a converted two-car garage, and when we moved in, there was no garden to speak of. So when we designed the interior space and added a window, the view wasn’t as big of a concern as it should have been. (Hindsight). Fortunately, the garage also had a screened-in porch attached, and that has become one of my favorite places to think.
This weekend, my hubby helped me out by making a little writing desk out of an old wooden palette. It works perfectly in the space, allowing me to overlook the garden and stay mosquito-free at the same time (a huge task around here). He lovingly named it “The Raven” a testament to his sense of humor, and a nod to his inner Mad Hatter.
For some, rainy days and Mondays are big downers, but I happen to love both (However, I currently don’t report to “work” on most Mondays, so that most likely determines my affection). This morning brought spring rains, and I was able to clear my head while enjoying the vibrant beauty of the garden. The birds sang happily. I even made a quirky little poem to memorialize the moment:
And as I’m wrapping up this post, guess who perched outside my back door?
The raven’s unglamorous Texas cousin, the grackle (as seen through the screen, from my new desk).
A change of scenery is good. It stimulates the senses to be in unfamiliar surroundings. I had the privilege this summer to get out of town and take a few small trips, so I thought I’d finally get around to sharing it with you.
My first trip this summer was to see friends in Kansas City. My dear friend Terrin had been telling me for a while about the First Friday art walk in KC, and she had a good feeling it would be something I’d be into. So, I finally made it happen –it was even better than I expected!
It was more like a block party than a gallery walk. But this block party went for blocks and blocks and blocks. The galleries and streets were so crowded, many times we had to make a single-file line just to get through to the next place. I’m not kidding, I’ve never seen so many people out for an art event. They have a lot of good galleries there, all within walking distance, and the atmosphere was fun and casual, not like many of the pretentious gallery walks in Dallas.
For hours, we walked from one street to the next, popping into galleries and seeing a new band performing around every corner. There was the first group of middle-aged performers, happily playing in the corner of a parking lot, while a range of admirers danced to “you can be my bodyguard, and I can be your long lost pal…” Later we were greeted by a slick rock band blaring from a more official-looking stage set up. But probably my favorite was a group of spontaneous break dancers in the middle of the street. Traffic was at a complete stop, and the dancers and the surrounding crowd could have cared less. I was instantly in love with this eclectic mix of people, music and art.
One of my favorite exhibits was by Judy Onofrio at Sherry Leedy Contemporary. My attraction to the sculptural work made up of bleached cow bones was a surprise to myself (and the friends that were with me). Her ability to take jawbones, vertebrae and ribs and turn them into fascinating works of art was pretty exceptional. Most of them were wall-hangings, but there were also some large vase-like structures that were very impressive.
I only snapped a couple of photos, but you can see more of her work at http://www.judyonofrio.com. And — lucky for me– the artist was actually there during the show! I got to meet her and ask her about her process. She told me she has a neighbor that raises cattle and allows her to collect old bones from his fields.
She said that she enjoys all the parts of collecting, cleaning, and bleaching the bones before assembling them into sculptures. Somehow, she has devised a method to conceal all of the joints where the bones are connected, and she told me that’s also a fun process for her. (Thanks to Terrin for snapping a pic of me talking with Ms. Onofrio).
What a fantastic way to start the summer. I’m eager to go back up to KC and do it again soon.
“To have a sacred place is an absolute necessity… You must have a room or a certain hour of the day or so, where you do not know who your friends are, you don’t know what you owe anybody or what they owe you. This is a place where you can simply experience and bring forth what you are and what you might be.”
I set a challenge for myself this month to post on my blog daily, and this, my friends, is the final post for the month of April 2014. I did it!
There were days that were a lot more inspiring than others, some very exciting with good news to share, and others that I just didn’t feel so motivated about. But I’ve found that this has been a really good exercise for me — it has kept me focused each day, because I knew I would need to share something interesting each day with you.
Just like my journals, my blog posts are a good resource for me to see what was going on in my life at a particular time.
An overview of this month’s posts:
I have gotten to share some of my visual journals with you, which until this month I hadn’t published online. Posting on my blog daily has encouraged me to finish some of those journal pages that I had started but had been dragging my feet on finishing. See awesome april posts # 1822, 23, 25 and 27 for new journal entries, and I have a new visual journals page that I’ve been adding to all month.
I shared things that inspire me along the way(days # 5, 6, 7, 14, 20, 28) and the advice I would give to my artist self 20 years ago (#16).
My trip to Europe is officially on the books, which is something I’ve wanted to do for a while. It’s been 10 years since I traveled overseas, so I’m happy to have something fantastic to look forward to next year.
You got a few glimpses into my studio (day # 10, 15, 26, 28), and the studio of my friend Jennifer Cowley (day #2). I also shared a few of my art friends (day #11 and # 24), as well as some of my students’ work in progress (day #3).
I’ve had a great month getting my work out there. I revealed the news that I was selected to complete a public art mural for McKinney this spring. ( I’m still waiting on a start date, and I’ll keep you all posted on the latest developments with that project). Meanwhile, I’ve also sold a few paintings this month, and been selected for a juried show.
Thanks to all of you who have been reading my blog this month, and to my new ‘followers.’ As always, I’d love to have comments from you on any of the posts.