Wednesday, December 2, 2015

When Ideas are Flowing... Grab an Oar and Paddle for your Life

Paint, draw, collage, sew, invent, discover, learn and reveal... 
When you allow yourself to take a creative journey, without a map and without a guide, 
anything can happen.
Making my way through the waves of creative flow and climbing up steep paths of inspiration, 
I was a travel junkie this year... without leaving the studio.

A typical night at my dining table... time to eat on the couch!

When I started this blog, nearly 2 years ago, I made myself a promise: 
I would take time to devote my energies to my artwork and art career and see where it would take me.
What happened in the next two years was not what I expected, but it's been eye opening.
By allowing myself to create what calls to me and follow through on nearly every inspiration, 
I learned so much, not only about myself, but about the creative process.  
Starting out,  I thought I could see who I was as an artist and creative, 
but I had only climbed to the first vista, not the top of the mountain.  
I had been making art all my life, 
but I had never let the making be the center of my life. 


The birth of my grandson Jet in 2014 led to creations that were truly labors of love, just expressing the sheer joy of this new life in all kinds of ways.  Mother and daughter paintings on paper, stones and canvas... and jotbOts!  The jotbOts were my obssession for much of the late winter/early spring months in 2015.  They were insanely labor intensive and after months of making jotbOts I had shoulder issues that would take the rest of the year to heal.  

Absolutely no regrets!   That's right, my shoulder healed, and although these critters turned out to be a little more labor intensive than practical, I had a great time.  These are some of my most playful and joyous creations.  I sold them at Sourced, a local shop in Sturgeon Bay.

And l can only hope there are children out there loving their jotbOts as much as
 Jet loves the ones his Oma made for him.

After the long hours of sewing that the jotbOts required, one would expect to be tired of the sound of the sewing machine, but I didn't put away my serger and my Janome.  I just went on to the next idea, and spent months creating wearable art.  Upcycled dresses with art sewn on, painted on and printed on... skirts and scarves made from scraps of vintage fabric, handmade shifts from vintage sheets, paint splattered shorts... I spent long hours sewing, never getting bored with the experience of inventing new clothing each time I started a new piece.
Creating something that another person can put on and enjoy is a gift that often feels more intimate and loving than anything that will hang on a wall.  After the summer of sewing madness I realize it's a part of who I am.  As much as I live to paint, draw and create a visual language, I am hooked on adorning humans with cloth made from loving inspirations.

Speaking of visual language... I have been making my own as long as I've been able to create, but this year I put in extra hours.  I continued to work on drawing and painting ideas, creating a series of creatures I called "Sentient Beings" which lead to new discoveries in mixed media and collage.

The dozens of two dimensional pieces I made this year all revolved around the theme of "Sentience" in nature, something I think about always.  I loved inventing new techniques and creating people and animals and plants that felt like long lost friends.

And the small works led me back to the easel, making some big paintings, and it feels like drifting out of the rivers mouth into the big wide ocean.

and even painting on glass

Never forgetting this love for paint: the smell, the texture and the colors...

And while the large pieces seem to inform a part of my being that can only be satisfied with large ideas and far reaching dreams,
the small painted rocks in my free art project "Mysterystones' gave me the pleasure of  sharing art in a most unexpected and immediate manner.

And, in the midst of all this creation I was invited to collaborate on a Children's book with
a songwriter/artist whose work I love!  I jumped at the chance and in the process of making 
"Goodnight Little Birdies" I have had the pleasure of getting to know Jenn Rawling and her art much better.  It was a fascinating process, with me in Wisconsin and Jenn in Portland, communicating through images and short texts, Facebook posts and email.  
Now that's a great way to journey, with a kindred spirit to share the trip!

Not every piece made the cut, but none went to waste.  I was pushed beyond my normal ways of working to create layering techniques, production ideas and pictorial communication that I know will now be a part of my toolbox in 2016.

All year long I had the pleasure of seeing my work in Green Bay, De Pere, and Door County.  It's something I'll never take for granted, the good fortune of having venues to show my work.  It's one thing to make the art, but the sharing... it's the waves that push us along when the solitary 
paddling gets to us.

In the fall of 2015 I was lucky enough to have a one person show, at ReVision Gallery in Kenosha, where I got to see everything together!  And sell some art.

Now it's December, and the dark night begins before dinner is started, and I'm looking for an extra pair of warm socks.  I'm a little tired, but I'm not done.   I'm just going to climb out of the canoe long enough to reach into my pack for a snack and put my feet up.  All this creation, this huge expenditure of energy, has left me needing a little time on the river bank.  Just enough to contemplate what's next...

I know that 2016 brings a new and different energy for me, I can feel it already.  I find my mind focusing and yearning for to develop ideas and climb to the next vista, 
where the height and distance can give way to a clearer and wider reach.   I am ready to create my own map, using all the tools I created this year (and the years past)

I can't wait to see where this creative journey leads me!


Wednesday, November 18, 2015

I'm back... writing about art

I finished this painting today, stopping at a point that I would have not been able to leave alone in the past.

I've been thinking about getting back into the habit of writing about art lately.  I've probably been thinking about it for more than two months, but it took me that long to turn that impulse into action and those thought into words.
When I paint I have a pretty constant flow of thoughts, many that transform themselves into images, colors, textures and patterns on the canvas.  The rest are left dangling in my head, and I often feel like the process is not complete until I clarify it.  It doesn't really need to be verbalized to the world, but why not?  If anyone wants to read it, that's great.  If no one wants to read it, it's basically my own personal art journal on the internet.  

So.  I'm back.

This new painting is my way of processing the recent (and not so recent) events of the world.  The constant conflict, the divisions based on ideology and political affiliation, the wars, the inequality, the lack of understanding, the lack of dialogue, the anger, hate, fear....
The dualistic thinking that has led humans to cannibalize their own selves.
And the compassion, the way some still stay connected, the love that remains, the bridges, the palms held open and the hearts that strive to stay there too.  
I've been wondering if the human family is like a viscous dog, filled with fear, attacking and devouring it's own tail.
I think, but I'm not 100% sure, this painting will be titled "Cannibal"

I like that it's not obvious.  It is vague and a little confusing and ambiguous in content.   
It's how I feel.

I sincerely believe we are all connected.  What to do about it is a mystery to me.  I'm just trying hard to open my heart and keep it open.  At the moment that's hard enough.  Maybe it is enough.  Maybe not.  
The jury seems to be deliberating.

What does this all have to do with painting?  I paint to figure this out, to articulate my innermost feelings and ideas to myself.  I don't think my thoughts are going to be clear to the viewer.  I think it's ok for every viewer to look and come up with their own meaning.   I like to think some vital force in the image, in the colors and the compostion and the feelings that arise from them will communicate something, something close to what I'm experiencing when I'm painting it.  I'm more and more comfortable with that.  Is it possible to misinterpret art?  I am trying to accept this is something I don't have to feel responsible for.  Letting it go is a part of the process.

After painting on canvas today I sat down and continued a few ideas on paper in a simpler and more lyrical way.
Working on illustrations alongside larger more complex and evolved work comes naturally to me.  

All I know for sure is I have to keep painting, and I think writing about it a bit helps me to make a little sense out of it all.  Just enought to keep focused and stay with the ideas that arise out of the work I do on canvas.

And if you read this far... well... welcome back to my art blog :)

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Meet the jotbOts

I'm finally getting around to introducing my new friends!  The jotbOts have been my faithful companions through these final days and weeks and months of Wisconsin winter and cabin fever.  They are all inspired by the creatures of the county,  Door County that is.  Some are wild and some are domesticated, but they are all one of a kind handmade and upcycled by yours truly!

Ms Harriet puppets in production

Mr Bixby is a squirrel

Large faces, for my super sized Jackal pillows

The jotbOts production is a many faceted endeavor, it starts with sketching, painting, cutting and arranging, followed by sewing and (sometimes) stuffing.  If it's a shirt it gets sewn on clothing, if it's a puppet it gets a handle or pocket or strings.  Some even turn into paintings and prints.

Francis Fox on Holiday with her handstitched monogrammed luggage  

Chicken Jo plush hanging out with a Chicken Jo framed print

Running an eco friendly business is very important to me.  The fabrics are all recycled, from vintage clothing, upholstery materials, and unused old fabrics.   I'm always on the hunt for fabulous treasures that someone else considered junk.  My clothing is vintage and recycled as well as sustainable organic tee shirts.  I stuff the plush with filling made from recycled plastic, as well as shredded scraps.   I prints with recycled ink cartridges on paper made from recycled content.  Even my new tags are printed on recycled cardstock.

Eco stuffing made from 100% recycled plastic

gathering recycled materials and putting together some critters

jotbOt clothing is made from high quality recycled, vintage and eco friendly organic cotton lines

They have names, and stories.  I'm hoping one day there will be puppet shows and illustrated books.  The jotbOts have only just begun!  They launch on my Etsy Shop, Brilliant Stranger on April 1st.

March Hares in time for spring!

These puppets and buzzing with excitement

I thought I heard Ragtime in the middle of the night... these guys never rest!

There's a jotbOt for everyone in every size and price range.

Follow the jotbOts journey on Brilliant Stranger on Facebook
and Instagram

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