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.


Tuesday, May 31, 2011

A Rising River

Hi Folks....maybe you've heard the latest news on NPR about the Missouri River rising....I didn't hear it, but I am looking at it this very moment.  Remember my post from earlier in the month (available here) about getting tons of rock put along our banks? How we thought we were secure after that?  We didn't know then just how much water was going to get released from the dams up the river....it's a lot...so much so that they are evacuating some areas in our vicinity.  I live in a very tiny community of homes on river and now we've agreed as a group that we need to get rock all the way to the top at each and every homesite...and we need to protect the one small road into and out of our community.  We are so fortunate that the barge and crew are still here in our area and so....here we go again, more rock, more rock, more rock, with fingers crossed and holding hope that the waters don't go over the banks.  Well, actually what would probably happen is not that the waters would rise over our banks and we'd flood, they would just erode the banks and the water would take the houses away.  The very low lying areas of Nebraska, at least straight across from us on this section of the river, will most certainly flood. This is all a nightmare scenario, but increasingly a very real one, as I've learned today that there are 700 National Guard troops in Vermillion (which is our "town" about 8 miles away, safely located up a huge bluff and I'm sure in no danger) to assist folks in low lying areas up river and down river from us....I believe there are evacuations going on, not to mention lots and lots of sandbagging.  I think we're okay, since we are pretty high up on the banks, but many folks are not so well located.  There are still heavy rains and winter snowmelt from the west creating uncertainty as to what will actually happen all along the Missouri, but we're going to do what we can do, which is pay to get rock on those banks as fast as possible.  Last I knew, the water levels released from the dam in Yankton were going to be at their peak by the middle of the month....I can already see that a lot of the rock we had put on our banks earlier in the month is underwater.  The water levels raise a bit each day.

I'm very weary of the strange weather patterns and havoc they wreak on so many folks....here we've had a lot of rain, wind and cold.  Now that I have a new supply of Japanese paper, I can make these little drawings again....here's what I long for....the hot summer sun.

Hope you all have a great week....see you later in the week....heading to the studio to see if I can make something happen!

Friday, May 27, 2011

Connect the Dots


 closer detail...

and another detail...

I have lately found myself very much drawn to connecting the dots through drawing on paper, the larger metaphors for such activity only slowly revealing themselves.  For me, this is the best part of the artmaking practice....relaxing enough to follow my instincts, because they almost always have something to say to me....some dawning awareness about what it means to be alive.  

The last piece I showed you Firmament of the Ancestors from The Pink Pages, had that arching pattern of connected dots in the sky above the boat...each work I engage with seems to want to carry the notion further in some way....so I'm going with it...I want to know where it will take me and what will be revealed.  This is what I mean when I say that I think through my hands and that work itself reveals to me my own thoughts the most clearly.

I'm slowly building the surfaces, scumbling and layering whisper thin very dry acrylic paint and drawing, only lightly covering the underneath layer to reveal the earlier pattern of connected dots. Always there is an overlapping, like the layering between civilizations and histories....always a trace left behind. As time goes on and we look back over events, we often make different connections, see different patterns emerge and yet, there are times when the connections between points are there for life and we draw the same conclusions we'd drawn earlier.  Seeing the layers of drawing is also a way to talk about the fact that, given any group of random dots, the different ways they can be connected is truly amazing and each change in the way two ideas are connected, two events, two individuals....well, it can change the pattern slightly or almost entirely. This life is a dance....each moment could be otherwise.

I've heard creativity described as the abililty to make connections between seemingly disparate ideas or things and I've always found that idea intruiging....finding the connection, forging the connection, seeing life anew through the endless possibilities.

Our weather is quite chilly and dreary this weekend...I doubt there will be too many Memorial Day picnics in this area....but I hope you enjoy the long weekend!  See you at the beginning of the week!

Thursday, May 26, 2011



This is the weekly found text piece that I usually try to post on Wednesday, but almost never make it, since I'm working on it Wednesday evening!  It's now posted in my shop here if you'd like to see more views and details.  

As you can tell, we're back from our fun-filled jaunt to Chicago and I'm still trying to get caught up on everything.  Tomorrow I hope to have some new pieces finished to show you and will fill you in on the highlights of our trip!  

We're enjoying a gorgeous, although quite cool, day with the sun shining....this, sandwiched between days of heavy rains, gray skies and chilly temperatures.  Those zinnia seeds I planted before we left appear to be sprouting....along with all the weeds, alas. Yard work later today...one must take advantage of these windows of opportunity....more rain tomorrow!! See you then.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Ebb and Flow

Happy Monday....already!  Time does have a way of moving in ways that continually confound me....let's just say my perception of time confounds me.  Now that I'm working on larger pieces...relatively speaking...large for me is 11" x 15", which is a full size of the handmade/homemade paper that I use....the work proceeds more slowly and my understanding about what happens next on each pieces comes more slowly than it does on the smaller pieces.  I hesitate more, because I want to be sure that the thing I'm about to do is the thing I'm supposed to do....I suppose they feel more precious because the process is tied to finding the content...so it's kind of an unearthing process, in a way.  I've finished just one of the pink pages, although I've moved the other two along several stages, there is a lot of hesitating and walking away for a time of percolation.  This is one of those percolation periods...perfect for doing a blog post and introducing Firmament of the Ancestors.

Firmament of the Ancestors

There's one full shot of the piece, but it's hard to see, so there are three detail images.  I'll be listing this in my shop later today.  Here's how the piece came to be. Most of it is that pattern that slowly built itself into an abstraction of waves in the ocean....in the beginning I didn't know where it was going...I was just making a pattern. Also in an early stage I made an arching pattern of connected dots in the upper portion (now buried under the one you see), that I realized was like a view of the constellations. I had a strong sense this piece was about history....that's when I knew there was a tiny boat riding those ocean waves.  There we are on our very solo journey in a tiny boat...navigating the waves (just where are those oars???) under the timeless firmament of history...our collective ancestors. Time continues on...each moment adds another layer of waves to the ocean current, more dots are connected as we pass through our lives....history builds itself into eternity.

Very soon, we are off on a short jaunt to the big city of Chicago to immerse ourselves in inspiring art, good food and more as-of-yet untold discoveries.  I'll see you next week, with more from The Pink Pages and hopefully some good stories to tell!!!  Right now, as it's a gorgeous day outside, I'm off to plant some zinnia seeds....wish me luck....planting seeds has never worked for me before, but I dearly love zinnias!

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Just One Thing After Another

Hi Folks....a crazy time the last few days.  I guess everyone had trouble with Blogger being down for a while.  All seems well now, except that I received a couple delightful comments on my last post from Carole and theFairyyellowbugQueen, which I published, and now they appear nowhere!!  They've disappeard and I can't seem to bring them back. So, to Carole and the FairyyellowbugQueen, I say many thanks for your kind words!

That was just the beginning of my computer frustrations, however.  I've been so behind on my blogs that the other day when I went to read the backlog, I had nearly 450 posts to go through.  My poor computer, a dear Mac that has served me so well, is six years old and quite elderly now.  They say every human year is seven dog years...so, how does that work in computer years?  This poor baby is pushed to its limits from the first thing in the morning til nearly midnight and I fear it is beginning its decline.  As I scrolled through the blog posts, endlessly, the fan kept cycling on, which I never hear....a sign, I'm told, that the processor is just working really hard and may not be quite up to the task.  The battery on this poor baby, has long since died, so I can only use it if it's plugged in.  That means, if I want to move it, I have to shut down and then reset the time and date every time I bring it back up.  My main work desk is upstairs here in a little alcove off the kitchen, but the printer is so big (it's also a copier/fax...not that I can use the fax, since we don't have a landline, ha!) that in order to print, I have to take the computer downstairs to the printer, because the wireless doesn't reach and it's the only way to connect to the printer.  You can imagine what a pain this is....clearly, Ms. P. needed a new computer.

Well, now I have one, but only because I flew into a panic in the middle of the afternoon yesterday when I'd spent an hour making an Etsy treasury and just as I was about to "publish" it, the computer screen went black....dead! Not having backed up in some time, I was practically having heart palpitations, thinking this was the end.  I quickly packed the computer up, got in the car and drove the hour to Sioux Falls to the MacDoctors....alas, on the way, it slowly dawned on me, that it was possible that all that had happened was that the plug had come loose and with no battery, naturally the computer just shut itself down.  Ugh, I groaned, as I was probably in the middle of an unneeded venture....aha, I thought, at the very least I'm going to buy a battery for the computer.  But, once I got to the MacDoctors and we found out that yes, all was well, and that the plug had just come loose from the power strip (SILLY ME!), but no, they didn't have a battery in stock but could order one...I was in a tailspin.  Did I really want to put over $100 into a battery for a computer that was clearly a geriatric case?  I sat in the car for quite a while, before heading home, as I rationalized going ahead then and there with the purchase of a new computer.  I mean, really, I am trying to run a "business" and am clearly giving the poor machine a workout everyday....it took awhile, but I marched back into the MacDoctors, which also sells computers and in no time at all, I came away with a MacBook Pro.  Now I have to buy software....it's only money, which grows on trees...a laugh a minute!  I still sit at my desk off the kitchen, typing away on Old Faithful, but I will make the transition to the new computer, which should be noticeably faster and quite worry free....and what will it be like to be able to operate the computer on a battery when necessary??!!!

Such crazy antics I go through, most times feeling like a fool....does any of this sound familiar to anyone?  Needless to say, my work in the studio this week, with the rock adventure at the beginning and the technology mishaps toward the end, has been most sporadic.  I can only show you fragments of works in progress...I'm calling these collectively "The Pink Pages"....a little enticement I hope!

That's my report....we're off this afternoon to a very lovely nursery in Nebraska to buy a few plants....it's actually a cold, grey day in the 50's....what happened to 95 degrees?  Hope you all have a fine weekend.
Violett sends greetings to all the well-wishers!!!

Cheers and see you soon!

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Time and Place, A New Found Text Piece

This found text piece is supposed to be posted on Wednesday, but it was finished too late last night for me to photograph and post it, so here you have it on Thursday! Normally, Wednesday will be a posting a found text piece....what I was doing on my other blog, Missouri Bend Paper Works, will now happen here.  For the most part, I don't include any commentary, but will just post the piece and the text itself, so you can read it.  Enjoy!

so it goes
time and place
carried somewhere
far away,
a faint 
bluish light

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Rocks That Won't Roll

I have had quite a week, I must say!  I'll try to make my long-winded story short, but it's been very exciting around our neighborhood.  Sometime in the early spring Johntimothy noticed how unstable our river banks were....as many of you know, we live right on the Missouri River, but we're high enough up that we don't have to worry about flooding.  What we do have to be concerned about is our banks and how the wind and water, the level of which is controlled by Mother Nature and the dam about 35 miles upriver, can erode them....enough so that chunks of land start falling into the water.  One section of our bank was really getting undercut and bits of it were falling into the river....the section where the satellite dish for the internet sits!  Having some serious tonnage of rock along the river's edge can help and we were clearly in need of new rock, but it's expensive and if you have the tons of rock dumped in your backyard and send it down the bank, you're just as likely for most to end up rolling into the river as staying where you need it.  But, it turns out we weren't the only ones in the little neighborhood going through this and our very resourceful neighbor organized a major feat...to engage the services of a barge to the load the rock...they were about to finish a job up river and would be heading back down river past our houses.  Many of us got together and ordered the rock, which was loaded by the tonful with major heavy machinery onto the barge and ever-so-delicately placed just-so by the backhoe operator along the edge of our banks.  It was an amazing process to watch....our lot was done yesterday and as I type this, I hear the barge heading down the river to yet another home in our neighborhood, carrying another 40 tons of rock.  I thought we were going to have to move the satellite dish, but they were able to grade the bank with the backhoe, taking care of the undercutting, and now we are sitting pretty....and our banks are stable for years to come!!!   Here are a few shots of the action, of the river, and our precariously located dish, along with the barge way down river, loading more rock this morning.

The weather has been divine...even if it did get to 92 degrees yesterday (did I miss spring altogether?) and I've spent a good deal of time outside.  Got the beds weeded (pretty much), our 9 tomato plants are in the ground and things are looking just fine.  There seems to be huge leaps in the transformation in the plants and trees from one day to the next...amazing how quickly it all happens when the growth spurt really starts.

For the first time, we have some lovely tulips...the bulbs came from Holland as a gift from my niece who travelled there back in the fall.  

I have to admit, it's getting hard to be inside working in the studio, when the air is so fresh and clean and the days are so gorgeous....but I have been working, even if not steadily.  A newly finished piece....

Passing Cloud

The other big news is that I got my website finished....kind of in a hurry, since I thought we were going to be without internet for a time while the satellite got relocated.  Because it's so easy to tweak, I thought I might as well get it out there for the world to see and have it available to help promote my work.  You'll see a lot of framed pieces there that you won't find in my Etsy shop, along with some you may have seen.  The great thing about this is that anything can be purchased directly from my website and it automatically goes through Paypal.  So far, I have a section for framed pieces and another with a few found text pieces, but my task now is to decided which work should be on the website and which in my Etsy shop, since there's really no need to duplicate....although there is some of that now.  The site is not perfect, but a good start and a work in progress....it's just so easy to make changes and additions, that it's not a big deal.  I invite you to check it out and let me know what you think!

I think that's a pretty full report for the day!  See you tomorrow for a found text posting...uh oh, that's tomorrow, I better get cracking!  The problem is I just went outside to take the picture of those tulips and found out how absolutely gorgeous it is out there....think I'll have to spend some time this afternoon in the out of doors!!!

Have a great week everyone....thanks for reading this rather long post!!!


Friday, May 6, 2011

Two Blogs Become One

Happy Friday everyone!  Here's the latest piece, which has just been listed here in my Etsy shop.  I posted it the other day in its unfinished state over on my other blog Missouri Bend Paper Works, and realized as I was about to do so, that the day had dawned when the two separate blogs would become one.  I'd been thinking of it for some time in a roundabout way, but I figured the right time would announce itself, which it did quite clearly.  As I mentioned there, I started that blog in January 2010 as a daily posting of found text poems which I created with cut words and phrases from old books in my studio.  It was a way to have a daily practice and it allowed me to jump into the online world in anticipation of opening my Etsy shop, which I did the following month. It was much later that I started this blog that centered more on my other artwork, studio practice, inspiration and frustrations.  After the one year anniversary, the found text poems on the other blog became weekly postings, rather than daily....as you can imagine, that was a lot to keep up with...and slowly they transitioned from being words and phrases of a poem laid out and photographed on a painted up desk to works available for sale in my shop.  With this piece, it seemed pretty clear to me, that there is no longer any difference between that work and my regular art making practice.  The line, slowly fading, has now disappeared, so I'll no longer post on that blog, but will continue to create found text pieces, hopefully weekly, and will show them here.  I've invited any followers from Missouri Bend Paper Works that aren't already readers of this blog to join us here.

All that being said, this little piece had its beginning with the idea to make the poem on an origami folded text page house that I'd seen in a book.  I thought the instructions looked like something I could follow and I was excited about making a three dimensional house form...I imagined making them by the hundreds...that is, until I tried to make just one.  I know that I suffer from certain disabilities because I don't really have a great three-dimensional space thinking cap in my studio....I'm very, very 2-d oriented. Let me just say, I did really well, cutting the 21 text pages into 2 1/2" x 4" rectangles.  I even got them folded as instructed.....but once that little house was ready to turn itself into something in space...well, it was nothing but frustration...I couldn't envision quite how those instructions were supposed to be followed, much less hold the thing together as this bit tucked into that space, etc. etc. I gave up in frustration, realizing that my village of tiny paper houses would never get off the drawing board...oh, if only it had just been on the drawing board!!  After I walked away and had a few sips of tea, I came back and picked up some of those folded bits and ended up making a 2-d little altarpiece, doing a little tucking of folded pages into slots here and there...I was delighted when I realized I could just fold those outer leaves a bit and the thing would indeed function in a three-dimensional world!  The text announced itself  little by little, as these poems often seem to come together, and once it was pasted on the center panel, I painted out everything else with white.  A few rubber stamps and the beeswax to enrich the surfaces and my little 2D/3D structure lives!  

I've spent a fair amount of time outside this week, pulling an amazing number of weeds...mostly daisies.  My friend gave me some daisies from her garden a couple of years ago, when we first moved in and needed things to fill the beds...she did warn me though, making sure I knew what I was getting into...but, innocence is bliss.  Naturally, I've got daisies coming out my ears, forming carpets in the mulch where the walking path is supposed to be, not to mention taking over every inch of space and crowding out all the other delightful plants.  She did warn me, I remind myself, as I yank yet another monstrous daisy out.  It's still pretty cool here, it seems to me, and every other day seems to be too windy to be outside...we'll be in the thick of summer before spring even has a chance to get off the ground!!  Who's complaining, at least the sun is shining and the snow is fading from memory.

Hope you have a great weekend.  I have to finish up my new website and hope to have a live link for you at the beginning of the week.  By the way, if you are an artist in need of a website, I highly recommend Other People's Pixels  as a site to work with.  They have a great number of customizable templates and it's all geared toward making it possible for artists, even non-tech savvy ones like me, to have a website that they can manage themselves.  If you can do a blog, you can build a website through them....I'm a living example!  Very user-friendly!!!  

See you Monday...hope you have a great weekend everyone!

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Spring Fever

Well, I've really got spring fever now!  While the days were gray and cold, when the rain poured down endlessly, it was easy to keep it at bay, but now....the sun shines, the skies couldn't be bluer and although it's only 58 degrees out there, I can't wait one minute longer to get out and work in the garden beds.  We're having some serious issues with bank erosion and I thought I was going to have to sacrifice one of the garden beds to get some rock dumped there, but now we're doing it another way, so the bed has to be weeded.  Well, weeding is one way to look at it...maybe its more accurate to say, I'm going out to see where the plants are among the weeds!

I've been working downstairs in the studio off and on, but realize that I'm in serious need of fuel...you know the kind that inspires ideas, sustains energy and jump starts creativity.  For me that comes, in a large part, from reading, which gets my mind going and ideas flowing.  Haven't taken nearly enough time for that lately.  But on a day like this....there's no stopping me...I'm going outside to the garden!

Here's what's new in the shop....hope to have more to show you in a few days, but it may just be the dirt under my fingernails!!!  Hope there is spring in your area...and for those in the southern hemisphere...hope you are enjoying a lovely autumn.