Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Spring sheep & Book Winner!

First things first, we have a winner of Quinn's book - the lucky number 21 was chosen by my husband..........and, drumroll please.......congrats to 

And now, on to my weekend. SO.MUCH.FUN.
I headed over to Paducah, Kentucky to visit my friend Kristin, who is opening a new mixed media store and workshop space called Ephemera Paducah. She had asked me to do some stencil & Gelli Plate demos on Saturday. Plus, I signed up for a felting class taught by the amazing Sara Renzulli. Now, keep in mind, I had not really felted before, a wee bit here and there, but certainly nothing sculptural.
We started with this.....uh, yeah, twisted armature wire. Seeing two pieces of wire at my seat should possibly have made me nervous. But Sara is such a patient and organized teacher, she guided us every step of the way.

And I ended up with this! To say I am thrilled is a vast understatement. I want to make felted animals full time. LOVE it.

Here is a link to Sara's etsy shop where you can find felting supplies including kits and also her original art. She is an excellent teacher and a nice person to boot. It was terrific fun.
I got to see a posse of her work over at her Dad's gallery on Saturday and he is also a gifted artist, not to mention a fine person. We talked about art and Italy and technique and Sara. All good of course.
Paducah is a pretty charmed spot, I think it's worth a visit. Just sayin'
And finally, I leave you with this cute picture of Sara and results from our class.

Baa, baaa, baa....

Monday, April 22, 2013

Raw Art Journaling

When I wrote my first book, one of the things that surprised me most was the complete focus on pictures rather than the words. It wasn't like my publisher and editor (Tonia Davenport, before she got married) neglected the words, I'm not saying that. I am just saying she reinforced the idea that artists like to look at the pictures (!) and often do not read.

Quinn McDonald's book, Raw Art Journaling, is one you want to read. 

I even read it and trust me, I am guilty of the 'look at the pictures' behavior.
There are so many gems of knowledge in this book along with extremely useful exercises. The concept of a 'Raw Journal" is easy enough....or is it? It is about creating imperfect art....ahem, that is rather hard to access, eh? About accepting the fact that we are all flawed, mmmm, another potentially tough concept. About being free to mess up. How often do we allow ourselves to do that!
In the able hands of Quinn, these topics are tackled with intelligence. She offers stories and exercises and examples, tips and more. It is important work. Because, as artists, this eventually, this leads us to "Making Meaning." And I love that idea. Love, love love it.

I recently spent an afternoon with Quinn's book and was particularly drawn to a section called Pouring Emotion Into Lines.  Quinn talks about ways to express emotion with your lines, via thickness, loops and repetition. She includes several easily accessible exercises for making 'Confetti' lines and 'Free Floating Bubbles."
I knew I wanted to play around with that section of the book.
Rather than starting with the white page, I had some hand painted paper on hand and decided to work right on top of that page. My friend Mary Nasser was at the studio and I am grateful to her for photographing my process.
The process itself was somewhat doodle-like, yet not. Quinn talks about not trying to make a design, but rather allowing the lines to flow. Er, I think she means disengage that ever present brain.....a task easier said than done.
I drew the lines and the bubbles and just kept moving along in the book, sort of piling up exercise on top of exercise. It was relaxing and playful. Fun! And working this way made me think about painting because it was so fluid. And I know that lovely paintings would result by applying these same ideas. 
In order to celebrate Quinn's book, I have an autographed copy to give away!!! Not my own (duh) because I won't part with it, but Quinn gave me another one.
Leave me a comment below and I will do a drawing a week from today.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Student Work from Art is You!

Total Mix Up, that was the name of my class. I don't mean that in a crazed way, rather in a way that gets us (all of us, me too!) out of our brains so that we can make art in such a way that moves us to the next level.

It is about color. 
And texture.
And composition.

Multi tasking.
Releasing into the work.

These are pieces made by my students. 
They were geniuses, I swear. 

There will be a second session of this class at Art is You (Petaluma) this year.
Won't you join me? 
The class will be held in a lovely Benicia studio.
I feel sure we will be wildly inspired by the setting.
Thanks so much to my Nashville class.
You were a brilliant way to start my teaching year.
Just brilliant. I couldn't have dreamed you up if I tried.
I love you all; you make me look so good.

Friday, April 12, 2013

Art is You Nashville - Recap, Yee Haw

Once in awhile an art retreat comes along that is something special. Of course I am talking about Art is You. Such camaraderie of teachers and students and organizers; there is a wee bit of magic at play during these events. Sallianne and Ellen seem to conjure it up.

Phyllis Peterson and Victoria Fischer
My friend Julie and I attended the inaugural Art is You (in Nashville) last week. I was there as a teacher and vendor but also took one class from the delightful Leighanna Light. She and I had crossed teaching paths before. She had made a piece for my upcoming book and I liked her style quite a bit which prompted me to sign up for her class. Plus I simply wanted a chance to know her better.
12" x 6" on canvas, Mary Beth Shaw

It is so rare for me to actually make something that I like during a class (see above). Honestly, I think that says a lot about Leighanna's easy going nature. I felt so relaxed that I was able to make some art and it was really so much fun to boot. I want to hang out with her more.
On Saturday night, the retreat shuttled a crew of us downtown to the Saturday night Art Walk. Wow! Nashville rocks. And I'm not talking about music. They have such an active art scene, it blew me away. So many galleries with interesting work. I especially enjoyed the paper cuts shown above. Really amazing work. I love the shadows cast by this work. And I simply can't imagine the patience that is required to make this type of work.

And friends. I feel like everyone at the retreat either was or became my friend as we crossed paths throughout the weekend. It was that kind of gathering.
Cheryl McCloud and Sunny Carvalho
My students made truly wonderful work. I will post it within the next couple of days, so stay tuned.....