Welcome to MissouriBendStudio!

This is an online journal of my artistic investigations and a way to communicate about my work, ideas, quandries and queries! I welcome comments and conversation and do hope you enjoy these musings. My artwork is available in my shop MissouriBendStudio on Etsy.com or on my website.


Sunday, December 18, 2011

Happy Holidays!

Hello, fine readers.  Hope you are enjoying a lovely December filled with holiday joy and friendship.  My husband and will be taking a nice road trip across the country to visit my family and meet the newest member, my great nephew!  It will be good to get away and it will give me the time to cogitate! I realize I've come to a crossroads and even as I search for a job these days, I am also rethinking what's happening in the studio and here on the blog.  My connection with you all is very valuable to me and I've been quite distracted lately, so haven't been here as much as I'd like.  I'm working a new focus and new ideas to begin 2012!  Anyone have any inspiring New Year's resolutions they'd like to share?  The new year is always a good time for reflection and we can continue to help inspire and support one another.  Once again, I want to thank you all for reading this blog and supporting me in my artistic endeavors.....your good cheer is always an uplift!

Our first snow of the season has long since melted and while we're happy to have no snow worries for travel, it does seem odd to have no snow on the ground in mid-December here in South Dakota!  The river is still beautiful and I'll sign off with a view of the sunset the other night from the back yard.  These are a couple of shots looking across the Missouri River to Nebraska.

Cheers and best wishes!

Friday, December 9, 2011

The Structure of Daily Rituals

Daily Drawing, October 20, 2011

Here we are on the verge of another weekend....December is racing by.....I've even turned another year older since my last post.  It never seems to end and as the years accumulate, I find it shocking that I'm not still in my mid-thirties!  In the flurry of trying to complete the Nocturnes, I had kind of forgotten about the "daily drawings" I was making in Wyoming.  I've just photographed another group of them, which are really a combination of collage and drawing and will share a few here.  I just added the drawing from October 21st to my Etsy shop and will continue to add the others over time. I started out numbering them, but have gotten myself very confused, so now will list them by their creation date.

Daily Drawing, October 21, 2011

These pieces make me realize how much better I feel and how much more productive I am when I have a real structure to my day....the repetition and the rhythm allow for all manner of rich possibilities to unfold. Contrary to what you might think, the daily repetition of tasks can keep you centered and in the moment. I had that kind of rhythm to my day while I was in Wyoming and at home, naturally, there are many ways I am thrown off the path.  Posting these Daily Drawings is a nice reminder for me to get back to the kind of daily structure in which I thrive.

Daily Drawing, October 24, 2011

Hope you have a fine weekend....see you next week!

Monday, December 5, 2011

Holiday Cheer and a Holiday Sale!

Hi everyone....hope all is well in your world.  Here, in southeastern South Dakota, we've had our first real snow, which came down most of the day on Saturday, creating a magical winter wonderland.  Something so lovely about the first snow!  The holiday season is quite upon us and as a way of saying thank you and spreading good cheer, I've decided to have a sale in my Etsy shop, so everything is 15% off through December 17th.  I'll be traveling during the holiday season and that will be the last day for shipping for most of the rest of the month....so please feel free to browse MissouriBendStudio and see if you'd like to take advantage of the sale...remember to use the coupon code at checkout: HOLIDAYS

I've added three more Nocturnes to my website in the last several days....you won't find these in my Etsy shop, but only on at robertspizzuto.com under the Artwork tab.  Everything on the site there is available for sale as well, but not with the discount at this time.  Here are the latest, Nocturnes no.3, no.4 and no.5....enjoy!

Nocturne no.3

Nocturne no.4

Nocturne no.5

Back to the studio for me...more works in progress!  Have a fine day and see you soon!

Friday, December 2, 2011

Midnight Alchemy

Happy Holiday Season, everyone!  Forgive my long absence....out of town family visitations and travel for the Thanksgiving holiday have set me back.  Trying to get back to a normal rhythm again, which is probably not going to happen for a while, with Christmas right around the corner.  I'm finishing up some more of the Nocturne pieces and will photograph them over the weekend, when the light is better. In the meantime, I have some nocturne cousins to share with you.  I'm posting these pieces in my Etsy shop....Midnight Alchemy no.1 and no. 2 are there already and no. 3 will be joining them tomorrow.  These pieces are related to the Nocturnes which I shared with you in my last post, but smaller (8 1/2"h x 5"w) and on panel, rather than on paper.  I've added silver and copper ink to the mix, along with some terra cotta and black, and the possibilities are pretty intriguing.  Lots of exploration ahead and many, many dots!
Midnight Alchemy no.1

Midnight Alchemy no.2

Midnight Alchemy no.3

Winter is fast approaching....no sign of snow here, but temperatures are a good reminder of what's ahead. I say, it's a good thing I forget from year to year, how cold it can be!  Hope all is well in your world and I promise to be back sooner rather than later this time. Cheers!

Saturday, November 19, 2011

A Month of Tiny Dots

Nocturne Series, no.1

Hello friends!!!  Thanks for all your wonderful support during my month-long absence....I could feel the energy in my studio in Wyoming. What a wonderful experience I had at Jentel!  I shared an amazing 6-bedroom house with a group of very engaging writers and artists in a spectacular setting in the foothills of the Big Horn Mountains.  It was very hard to tear myself away!  

I took a lot of newly purchased Japanese printmaking paper, a handful of my husband's homemade handmade paper, plenty of paint, ink, etc.  My plan was to work on exploring the map ideas, but you know how these things go....nothing goes according to plan.  The lessons we have to learn all over again!!  I know my creative process and yet many times I find myself fighting it, wanting to be able to work in ways that don't suit my nature.  Needless to say, my attempts at making map inspired work went nowhere, because I was trying too hard....but by the end of the first week I had settled in to make a new series of work on the handmade paper that I came to think of as nocturnes....inspired by that last little piece I shared with you before I left in the post here.  As you can see from this first finished piece from the series, there are a LOT of tiny dots in white ink.  From across the room they look like little jewels dotting the page, but no, just row after row of tiny white dots.  What can I say, except that I am never happier in the studio than when making repetitive marks such as this, watching the magical transformation as the marks coalesce into a meaningful whole.  So far, there are eight of these pieces I believe....the lower sections are finished....thousands of white dots later, but am adding the night sky roof sections to them, so the rest are still in process.  I'll be adding these to my website at www.robertspizzuto.com, so check back in the near future.

Time in the studio is interrupted (who can complain having just had a month of nothing but time in the studio!) by visiting family and travel plans for the Thanksgiving holiday.  Soon I'll be back though, getting those other Nocturnes finished and posted on the website.  

Hope you all have a fine weekend ahead and enjoy the many treasures life has to offer!  Thank you again for all your support!

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Indigo Night

Hi everyone....the last post for a little while, as I'll be at the artist's residency at Jentel in Wyoming for the next month. I hope to check in with you at least a few times while I'm there, but we'll just have to see how things go! Still running about the place gathering supplies, clothing, books as I add to and check off things on my various lists. I do enjoy a good list and if you're going to be away from home for a month, I'd say you deserve to have several lists going at once. So satisfying to cross the items off one by one.  Hoping to get everything done, but it may be that there are some things on the list that won't feel so important after all if they haven't gotten checked off by tomorrow morning when I drive off. I finished up a little piece and just added this to my shop here. This was another fragment that I have had floating around for a long time....it was just the spare, ethereal ink drawing in the middle of the indigo handmade paper that had been dipped in beeswax. Finally, I saw what needed to happen....some delicate stitching to create a border that echoed the shape of the drawing and some pin pricks to remind us of the night sky. This piece makes me think of the unnamed longing we all carry within us as we find our way in the vast universe.

Just a reminder that Missouri Bend Studio will remain open while I'm gone. I have the bulk of the shop safely wrapped and tucked away in a large plastic storage box that will go with me.  What I don't take with me can be handled by Johntimothy, my trusted friend and husband, who will faithfully keep the home fires burning.

Thanks for all your fine wishes and great support.  See you soon!

Sunday, October 9, 2011

A Collaborative Adventure

Hello everyone....I feel like I've been AWOL for a week or so, but I do have a few new things to share with you here.  Last weekend Johntimothy and I participated as collaborative artists in a local (Sioux Falls) event called Take The Day.  You can read a lot more about it by following the link here, which includes a few photos, the first of which is our table!  Basically, Take The Day, which began as an event a year ago, provides a way for the public to see artists at work, as they spend the entire day in one of the beautiful and spacious galleries at the Washington Pavilion in Sioux Falls.  This year 44 artists participated, which included a few collaborations, such as ours. The idea was to spend the day creating a work from start to finish, with the event culminating in a reception and silent auction where the completed works were available for purchase, with the proceeds split 50/50 between the Washington Pavilion and the artist.  All the finished works are now on exhibition through December 11th. 

This was the first year we participated and I have to say, I spent quite a bit of time leading up to the event in angst over the whole thing....after all, art making, for many of us, is a very private and sometimes intuitive process, which doesn't quite lend itself to being on display in a public venue during the creative phase.  Johntimothy and I have collaborated before and made work of which we are both proud, but neither of us was sure what to expect in this case when we signed on.  But, I'm happy to say, it was a great deal of fun!  I had to admit to myself very early on in the day the energy in the space was really flowing, with the artists and the interested public fully engaged.  

Johntimothy and I had decided to start with thirty 6 x 9" masonite panels, which we had gessoed and ready to go at the start of the day when we arrived.  We thought we'd just work on all of them throughout the day, moving them back and forth between us, and hope for a grouping of finished pieces at the end that would become the "finished piece."  Because we didn't have time to really sit back and contemplate the decisions, and we had nothing to lose, we just played, completely free to respond to what was happening in the crazy mix of ink, paint, rubber stamping, etc.  Total abandon and joy in the process.  It was interesting to see the folks who would come back to our table throughout the day to see how things had changed on certain pieces and whether they even recognized them anymore.  At the end, we chose a grouping of eight pieces, which I'm pleased to say, sold at the auction....sorry, no photos.  

We also ended up with a number of other pieces, which we are calling finished and the rest are either very close to completion or not too far from it.  It was by far the best collaborative experience, perhaps because we had no clear expectations and because the time factor forced us to move quickly and most importantly, we kept our hands moving and allowed ourselves to play! It was exhausting, but joyful and we'll no doubt do it again next year.

Below are a few of the pieces.  The top three are in the "finished" group and the last one is in the "just needs a little something" category. I'm not sure yet, if these pieces will end up in my etsy shop or on our websites, but certainly if there is any interest in seeing more, let me know!

I leave on Friday morning for my trip to Jentel, the artist's residency in Wyoming, so I'm busy in the gathering phase, as I try to corral everything I think I might need for the month.  You won't see me much during that time, but will try to do a post now and then.  I should have plenty to share with you when I get home in mid-November.  I'll see you again with a least one post before I go. Have a great week!

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Mapping The Trail, Drawing Lessons From The Moth World

Hi everyone. Back mid-week with some updated images of the latest developments in my mapping endeavors.  Turns out the biggest leaps were made with the inspiration from a recent, quite fascinating post found here on Paper Ponderings, the delightful and highly recommended blog of Fiona Dempster.  The larvae of a certain moth leave a trail as they burrow in the bark of the eucalyptus tree and it looks like the most exquisite line drawing I can imagine.  So many simultaneous thoughts ran through my head as I first looked at the images on Fiona's post. First, a kind of artistic jealously, as I so wish I'd made those marks, immediately followed by a "fall on your knees" kind of humbling, to realize the drawings were made by moth larvae. And then I was struck by the notion of the trail, that we each leave a trail, literally as we walk about and travel from place to place, room to room throughout our day, but also metaphorically in the accumulation of our days. And maps, in a sense, provide a way to retrace the trail...to find our way to or from. In forging new territory, we create the map, the visual trace so that we can see where we've been and share our stories with others.

Below are the same two map drawings that I showed in my last post, now with another layer of line work (in humble imitation of my drawing hero, the Scribbly Gum Moth) further embellished with dots in ink and acrylic paint.

It occurred to me as I was drawing these lines how very convoluted the trails were, if  they were indeed a path from one landmark or rock outcropping to another. But, on the other hand, how appropriate, as it's really about the journey and maybe the most expedient path from A to B isn't the most interesting or the most rewarding.  

I found several larger sheets of really nice Japanese paper in a tube in my studio (much better than the paper I'd started these first experiments on) and began a new piece layered with a teabag in each section....so far, just the line work.  I've been so busy and preoccupied the last couple of days, I haven't gotten back to this piece yet, but tomorrow is a work day!

A big thank you to Fiona for that lovely post....hope you'll follow this link if you haven't already, and while you're there, peruse all the other wonderful entries....you'll be hooked!

See you soon....thanks for stopping by!!

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Maps as Metaphor

Hello again....and welcome to autumn (or spring for my friends in the Southern Hemisphere)! Wow, seems it's been a week since my last post.  One of things about my new daily practices and the increased time spent in the studio is that I have become aware how much time I was spending on the computer before...as I'm obviously not there quite so much anymore! Because I am working more on the pieces that will end up on my website, a slower process, I have less to show, so you haven't missed anything! 

I am working on a new series that is still somewhat in development. I began to envision the grid and started folding full pages of inexpensive Japanese paper into  sections, which led me to think of them as maps and that seemed a rather ideal format for many reasons. Maps are tools for exploration, marking a path, charting a territory and, as such, are wonderful metaphors for dealing with the creative process.  Several layers of drawn lines and acrylic paint were laid down and then I began drawing rocks....there are those rocks again. Below are a couple of pieces in progress. More apologies for my terrible photos, but somehow I've got the tripod out of whack and the photographs are quite cock-eyed. I've fiddled with it endlessly to no avail....oh, the trials and tribulations of not being a photographer!  

I haven't got the folds right for a map, so these are just single-sided drawings, but once I begin working on them as maps, they'll be two-sided and will fold up to be held in the hand in their closed form.  Lots of exploration ahead and I hope to have many maps in the future.  This brings me to another bit of good news!

I am very fortunate that this worked out, but I'm going to go to another artist's residency next month....Jentel Artists Residency Program, which is in northern Wyoming, near Sheridan.  This residency will run for nearly a month, from October 15 to November 13th!!!  I'm very excited and will have a nice long expanse of time to explore these new ideas.

I've decided that all the pieces from my Etsy shop, which live in various carefully stacked piles on a long table in my studio, will go with me in a couple easily transportable plastic boxes. As it is getting close to the holidays, I thought it might be best not to put my shop in vacation mode, which would basically take it off-line.  I am planning to check in on things once a day and ship any sold pieces once a week when I go into Sheridan, which is some distance away. In preparation for this time away, I'm offering free shipping now until just before I go, so hopefully there will be less to take with me! If anyone out there is at all interested in a near-future purchase at Missouri Bend Studio, take advantage of free shipping until October 12 with the coupon code FREESHIPPING

See you early next week....with some finished work!

Enjoy your weekend!

Thursday, September 15, 2011

The Dailies

Hi everyone....sorry, for my long absence from the blog...well, a week or so seems a very long time.  Also, big apologies for the trouble any of you had in trying to leave comments here on my last post.  I heard from a number of folks directly and the only explanation I can think of is that I had written that post in a little moment of whimsy when I thought I'd try out that new blogger interface.  After I finished the post, I decided I didn't like it and switched back to the current version....perhaps the two interfaces don't speak to each other yet.  Hope to hear from you with no difficulties this time!

I thought I'd share with you one of the daily practices I've taken up since my time at Brush Creek in Wyoming.  Actually, I started these "morning pages" the morning of the first day at Brush Creek and have been doing it every day since.  I had taken a ream of inexpensive printer paper with me for this purpose and decided to start my studio day with making 10 "non-thinking" meditation drawings....very simple marks on the page, turning the page when the urge spoke.  This practice was taken from an assignment I had decades ago actually, in an art education class with an amazing professor, Richard Loveless, at the University of South Florida.  His assignment called for us to find a quiet place and a simple mark-making tool and do this exercise with a stack of 50 sheets of paper.  Simple marks, made without thinking, without analyzing, without seeing the activity as "drawing" per se.  Letting the hand move as it wanted to.  The class members brought their  pages in and we spread them out on the floor.....it was a very powerful moment to realize that each person had their own "inner language" of mark making....their very own pattern of speech that made itself known through their hands.  I've never forgotten that assignment....even while I was doing my initial fifty pages, I realized that I was certainly tapping into my inner psyche and bypassing the "editor" and the thinking mind.  I've recommended this exercise to any number of people and, almost always, people find it very insightful.....unless they are thinking and working through the pages and making "drawings"....then it's much less powerful.  There are clear threads that will run through 50 pages, some of which may only contain a simple mark on the page, depending on when you felt the urge to turn the page over.  For instance, it will be evident that there is a way that you organize the space, the kind of shapes or lines that come through pretty consistently, as well as an individual sensitivity to touch with the tool in hand.  I recognize myself when I see the ten morning pages I've been making daily for over a month and it is clear that it is the same person as the one who made the marks on those 50 sheets of paper over 20 years ago. This is a very powerful tool to help you find yourself when you are lost and give you back the confidence in your own voice that may have been left behind somewhere in the wilderness.

Since coming home, I've added an additional practice, which I do right after my "drawn" morning pages and this is a shortened version of the actual "morning pages", the practice found in The Artist's Way by Julia Cameron.  I'm sure many of you know this book and have had it change your lives, as I have. I have taken up the writing practice of just two pages (front and back of one full page) also as a way to connect with my own thoughts and free up the space for the intuitive mind to play.  For a number of years I got up quite early and did three pages of writing my morning pages and found the practice very enlightening.  I wrote things that I had no idea were on my mind and the process of writing also allowed new ideas to develop because I was thinking through my hands.  It's possible that this was the period when I first began to voice the idea that I think through my hands....many of you have "heard" me say that even now.

All this is to say that these practices are part of a daily routine that also includes yoga and reading and art making and any number of other activities, like eating and sleeping.  I'm a creature of routine....I like rituals and rhythms, which keep me grounded and provide a framework for the unfolding day.  This is not to say that there are no more difficult days in the studio, but I'm finding it much easier to get back on track because I have a map and I'm not too far from the path back to the moment.

These aren't too easy to see, but below is a sampling from my daily pages.....10 pages each day for over a month.....this is quite a growing stack!  I keep them in order as I do them and add the date and the sequential number at the bottom of each page.  Pages below are taken at random.

The added benefit of doing this is that many of the pages will give you ideas for new work or compositions and any number of other unfolding possibilities.  And each day may be slightly different, as your mood, your surroundings, etc. may reveal themselves in ways you didn't realize.  The key is to get out of the way and let your hand move across the page where it wants to. And now for a sampling...

August 3

August 9

August 11

August 12
August 23
September 4

September 9

September 15

Book for the written morning pages and a portrait of my
new fountain pen!

If you love to write and draw with a fountain pen, as I do, you might want to go out and gather up whatever supplies of them you can, because we have found that the mighty fountain pen is very quickly becoming a relic of the past.  John and I were in Sioux Falls last week and began looking for fountain pens....I wanted a nice one for my daily practices and he wanted an inexpensive one to experiment with using it for drawing with sugar-lift solution, a printmaking process.  Not long ago, they were easy to find in office supply stores, but not these days.....not when people don't write on paper with a tool such as a nice pen. By the time we got to the third store, I joked that the person we queried would look at us in wonder and ask what a fountain pen was....it wasn't quite that bad, but close.  Fortunately, there is a wonderfully, charming store in downtown Sioux Falls, called Zanbrosz, that sells all kinds of delights...great household items , bath salts, upscale games, jewelry, metal wind-up toys, interesting books and you guessed it, a fabulous selection of new and used fountain pens....it's a good thing we remembered to go there.  I found my beloved blue pen there and now we start our days together.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Striding vs. Striving

Hi everyone...seems I've been absent for nearly an entire week.  The Labor Day holiday threw me off somehow, but here I am now!  Life has been busy....deadlines and lots of plates in the air, as my husband would say!  Anyway, as life has ramped up, I've not only become busier, but less calm...not surprisingly. It is an interesting process to watch and I'm now reigning myself in once more, getting back to the daily practices that keep my inner composure.  One day during the week I began to contemplate the phrase "striding vs. striving" which had come to me in a moment of stress.  I think the differences are key....the more I found myself "striving" the less I felt I was striding....with calmness and assurance.  I've looked up the definitions of these terms and it seems the comparison is quite appropriate.

Each word has multiple definitions of course, but here is a key meaning for each word:

Stride: the most effective natural pace : maximum competence or capability (as in hitting one's stride)

Strive: to devote serious effort or energy : to struggle in opposition

I know I feel the difference and the more I feel myself striding, the easier it is to recognize how off balance I become when striving takes over.  Striding puts me in the moment, striving creates tension as I work frantically toward future goals, real and imagined.  I'm not at all saying that we don't or shouldn't have goals, but it seems to me they are much more easily achieved when we don't try so very hard that it all becomes a struggle.  Let go and maybe you'll realize the goals you once had aren't even relevant anymore....look around, maybe you have what you desired.  Pay attention to the moment, maybe you have new goals not yet acknowledged.  We carry the sources of our needed wisdom inside us....we just have to listen.

Rocks no.8

Today I found myself listening a little closer and made a breakthrough in the studio.
I had finished Rocks no.8 the other day and have been working on a number of others, including ones where sticks have been introduced.  On my website this series is called Sticks and Stones, with the idea that the pieces will contain rocks and the ideas related to rocks, as well as sticks and the ideas related to sticks.  Well, one of the pieces I've been struggling with had started to be about the rocks, but very shortly became much more about the stick and the rocks looked quite out of place.  I've been so used to working on this paper of Johntimothy's in its original size (roughly 12" x 15") that it hadn't occurred to me until a certain moment that the way to make sure the piece was about the stick was to remove the stones....the paper needed different proportions and it was actually quite easy to chop off the bottom few inches that contained the rocks.  This piece will need a bit of refining, but it's much better.

These are just quickie photos to show you what's been happening....once they're properly finished and photographed, I'll post them on my website.  

With my new found freedom, it was only a few moments before I began to see the pieces as just the sticks or the stones without any background, mounted on board and hung in infinitely interchangeable groupings on the wall.  Do you remember my struggles through the summer to make some sort of objects??????  Those of you who are regular visitors here will recall my desperate striving.....it often doesn't happen when you are "striving"....it seems to me it's more likely to happen when you are in your stride.

I hope to see you tomorrow....but it might be over the weekend!  Hope all is well in your world.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Old Works Find the Light of Day

Earlier this week my post was about the very satisfying rearrangements in our studio spaces. Since then, there's been a little ongoing tweaking...I got the hand woven tapestry back up on the wall in front of my little writing area/sewing table and new places have been found for a few things.  But, speaking of finding places for things, this is a little tale about finding things in surprising places.  Most of our items are stored in various sized plastic containers and as I was trying to find space for things, I inspected the contents of a number of the bins.  Well, I came across a number of pieces that I had actually finished quite some time ago....years ago, in fact....that I hadn't been happy with at the time.  These are pretty involved pieces and coming across them again, I had to ask myself why I had dismissed each of these pieces and relegated them to the storage bin.  I didn't get a good enough answer, so they are coming out into the light of day and this odd assortment of works will join their colleagues in my Etsy shop over the next several days.  Here's a sneak peak....

Kind of fun to rekindle the friendships with these works....I offered them all my humble apologies for relegating them to the sidelines for so long and now we're fast friends!  

Also finished up a few more of the pieces I started at Brush Creek Ranch in Wyoming and those are going on my website tomorrow (http://www.robertspizzuto.com).  Once again, I am rather disappointed in the quality of the photographs as compared to the actual piece....can't seem to get things adjusted as well as I'd like.  I did some fine tuning, but never could get them quite finely enough tuned, but here they are anyway!

Still have more to finish and I've started some new pieces in this series as well.  Some, like the last one shown here, have a good bit of embroidery on them, which takes a fair amount of time.  I like the slowness of the process of hand stitching....I know I've said this before, but I'll briefly revisit it here, as I've been thinking about the notion of slowness again.  

It occurs to me that perhaps time is like one of those newly styled suitcases....you think it has just so much capacity, but look there, a zipper pocket....what happens when you open it...it expands allowing you to fit in so much more.  Suitcases have lots of those pockets, but they aren't always obvious....time has a way of unfolding too, when we slow down....those pockets of time open up here and there.  The thing is, not only can more happen, that is, there's more capacity, but also experience feels richer and deeper when we slow down. It's fuller....in terms of quantity, but more importantly, in terms of quality.  So why is it that we go racing about so?  

Enjoy the long weekend....see how you can make it fuller and richer!

Monday, August 29, 2011

A Rearranged Life

A new week beginning and so far, so good. According to the calendar of course, the week began yesterday, but as my entire life has been wrapped around the academic calendar (even now, because of my husband), the week always feels as if it officially begins on Monday. Our weekend was spent in reorganizing the studio spaces....a task that needs to be repeated endlessly, it seems.  This time, though, I think I've got it right! There was just so much clutter in my space, in John's space and in the large outer shared area, that it was hard for me to concentrate.  I would have cleaned up before, but we didn't actually have places to put things, so bits of this and that were piled everywhere, including all over the ping pong table, which we'd like to actually use sometime to play ping pong!  A trip to Target netted two sets of wire shelving on sale, and with a swing over to Lowe's we came home with a number of nice looking garden bricks and two more 6 foot boards for my studio.  Having the new set of shelves in the outer area allowed me to use the space for storing art supplies that we often need to retrieve, but don't need cluttering up desks and spaces underfoot.  And I finally figured out the ideal arrangement for my studio (how many tries has it taken!?!), so that the room doesn't feel like a trailer (12' x 24')!  The spaces feel just right now and the clutter is slowly disappearing everywhere....even into the newly organized storage area, which I am now referring to as "deep storage"....available, but not visually in view!  I was pretty tired by the end of the day, but entered the studio with a new enthusiasm, since the spaces had a better flow and the clutter was gone....at least temporarily!!

The little sitting area is now somewhat sectioned off and the 
brick/board instant shelving extends the entire width of 
the space (the bookshelves moved to the other end of the room)
so everything above it can be "pin board" space!

The sewing machine table/desk is also where I do my morning 
meditation drawings and my morning pages (a short writing practice)

The tables now form kind of a rectangle....the table closest to the 
front is all the work in my shop, MissouriBendStudio.

One of the things I'm making sure to incorporate back into my life is books...reading them, that is.  John and I both read a beautiful little book while in Wyoming, The Solace of Open Spaces, by Gretel Ehrlich when we were at Brush Creek.  A little reading throughout the day kept my mind open and fresh.  Now, I've just finished Bird Cloud, a new book by Annie Proulx.  I'm very sad to have finished it, but it was the perfect read for easing me back into life here....Bird Cloud is her property in Wyoming in the very area where we just had the residency.  This is a lovely memoir about her life in Wyoming, the search for the property, as well as the trials, tribulations and joys of building a dream house.  There are sections in the book about here French Canadian roots, about the wildlife in the area and about the deep history of the land.  I identified with every last inch of that book....I too have French Canadian roots on both sides of my family, I too am in love with land in Wyoming and although I've not built a house anything like she has, I have built two houses and was able to share and delight in the tale of Bird Cloud's construction.  Needless to say, I loved this book....but must tear myself apart from it and move to other things.

I've mentioned numerous times my interest in the rocky landscape of the area where we were in Wyoming and how it has influenced my work. Since I know very little about rocks and the earth sciences, I'm happy to be learning all kinds of new things in this book I just bought to assist me in my amateur geological pursuits!

That's it for now....there is enough time left in this day, I hope, to post some of the new pieces on my website...FINALLY!

Thanks so much for reading and sharing your comments....always great to hear from you!

Friday, August 26, 2011

Rocks on Paper

A busy week, trying to stay balanced and maintain my new outlook.  Of course, none of those life demands that seem to take so much time exist while one is at a residency. No bills to pay, plants to water, groceries and other necessities to purchase....the list goes on, of course.  But, so far so good, I think.  Do I sound just a bit less confident than a week ago....maybe....it just takes more work.

I finally have some decent photos of a few of the new pieces.  As I think I mentioned in an earlier post, some of the new work will go in my Etsy shop and some on my website, robertspizzuto.com.  How do I choose what will go where?  Well, I guess the more miscellaneous pieces will go in the shop and the work I want to focus on building as a coherent series will go on my website.  I'll be sure, as I post the pieces here, to let you know where to find them.  Just an FYI, my website allows purchase of any of the work directly. It will go through Paypal, just as it does in an Etsy shop.

The first two pieces are more like meditation drawings, inspired by the landscape and the rocks.  The first one is posted in the shop and the second one will be posted tomorrow.  They are made on a most luscious handmade paper that Johntimothy bought for me from an artist, Sandra Anible, who was at the Frogman's Print and Paper Workshops this summer.  He bought three sheets of the paper which I brought with me to Brush Creek, still safely rolled up.  Once I unrolled it, I knew immediately that I was in love....the color, surface and the crisp thinness was just perfect.  Of course I went through all of it in no time, even tearing each sheet into quarters to make it last longer.  I have since been in touch with her to order more and have found out the paper is made of corn husks!

Rock Meditation Drawing no.2

The next two pieces are from a much larger body of work that is still evolving, and they'll find their way to my website as they are finished.  I have a number of these pieces finished and quite a few more underway.  Still, the focus is on the rocks, but not in any specific way...these are not actual rocks, but point to the idea of rocks and time, aeons of history and the search for understanding.  They seem to float singularly or in groups upon the page.  Something new in the work, besides the subject matter, is the way I began working while at Brush Creek.  I'd never used a stencil brush before and I had a couple that I brought with me to play with, so much of these new pieces are made using stencils and a kind of pouncing technique both in the background and in the rocks themselves.  Before I used to scumble layers of color on top of each other and here I am building the color with layers put on with a stencil brush.  Always interesting to discover a new way of working!

I think rather than having individual titles, they'll just be numbered in the series, which has yet to be given its full name.  This red piece has a layer of pseudo-writing on top of the red, behind the rocks, that alludes to a written text, as if this is a letter or a message from the deep past, knowledge long buried. I started by folding both these sheets of paper in half, thinking they might end up as book pages...it didn't happen that way, but I kind of like the fact that they still suggest "bookness" in subtle ways.

I must say, it is very difficult to photograph these pieces or even get them edited accurately...the color is not this vivid in the actual work...it's still rich, but more muted than shown here.  That's why the professionals get paid the big bucks!!  I just make the work...I can't seem to get the hang of it's presentation to the world!

Hope everyone is going to have a great weekend!  Any special plans?  Nothing too exciting here....the semester starts next week, so my husband is getting ready for the start of another academic year...it'll be our 7th in South Dakota....Florida was a long time ago, it seems.

Stayed tuned for a report on what I'm reading these days!