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.


Friday, July 29, 2011

Wyoming Bound!

I do have good news....we're going to be at an artists residency in Wyoming for the next two weeks!  Brush Creek Ranch Arts Foundation is hosting a brand new residency and they are starting with a pilot program for a sort of test group over the next few months to give feedback before they begin the program in earnest in January.  The only window that Johntimothy and I have is these next two weeks, because after that he'll have to start the new academic year at the university....so we're on our way!  We weren't sure it was going to be a "go" and we're the first ones that will be there and, who knows, maybe the only ones for the next two weeks, but that's fine too, although it would be great to meet some new people.  The residency is open to artists, writers and performing artists, composers and musicians....we'll have our own studios and two weeks of bliss to just be immersed in making, without the river, without laundry to do, meals to prepare, a lawn to mow or weeds to pull....bliss!!!

As many of the readers of this blog know, I've been kind of struggling lately, trying to come to terms with making something new, trying to feel my way into the three dimensional world of the object.  Well, I've slowly come to understand that maybe those desires were coming out of a kind of misplaced need for more success in the sales department and the notion of branching out to open a second Etsy shop or perhaps capture a different audience.  I am most interested in making objects and expanding my creative process in new ways, but some sort of frantic search had set in and I was putting the cart before the horse, as "they" say.  For me, any work that is made out of a wrong motivation (market-driven) is bound not to be successful.  The sale of the work has to be a by product and not the reason for the work, or it won't have authenticity.  So, I'm taking a stack of John's handmade paper, plenty of paint, embroidery thread and beads and I'm going to make the work that my heart knows how to make, if only I will listen.  These may or may not be pieces that end up in my shop....I don't know, as I don't know what conversation will unfold in that studio.  All I know is that Johntimothy and I both feel very fortunate that this opportunity came our way.

Here's what I'm leaving behind for the next couple weeks:

(the barge that loaded all our rock is still parked next door as there is no
boat traffic allowed on the river these days and they can't get it home)

(somewhere beneath those fallen trees on the other side of the river 
is a trailer now sunk into the river at a 45 degree angle)

(those are the very tops of trees just visible on the far right....
the farmland across the river is quite flooded and on the left so
many trees have toppled and so much land has fallen in that
the whole shape of the shoreline has changed)

But, guess what....I'm taking with me the poison ivy, the nice outbreak of chiggers and a host of bug bites...along with a bunch of ointment and some Benadryl.  My weeding brought a short amount of satisfaction, but I never finished the job....the weeds won!  I don't know why I'm so sensitive to all these things....nothing ever happens to John, but I always end with all manner of known and unknown rashes and quite miserable.  But, this too shall pass....

I don't know what life will be like for the next two weeks or whether I'll do any posting here or not.  But, you'll hear from me sooner or later and I hope to have plenty of new work to share and some stories to tell.  Thank you all for the wonderful support and good cheer....I so enjoy hearing from you! Enjoy your August....see you soon!

Monday, July 25, 2011

The Latest

(those are my fingerprints that form the background!)

I'm gaining on those weeds!  I'm yanking them out by the barrelful, along with all the volunteer mulberry trees (tenacious buggers), sumac, daisies and the rest.  I've cut most things back so I can see what I actually have...lovely to discover the phlox in bloom, barely visible before I whacked and pulled enough stuff to let the sun shine on them.  We also finally got the poor tomato plants staked up...so top heavy they had pulled their cages over.  Despite the fact that we've not had any rain to speak of for weeks (after a spring of practical deluge!) they are hanging in there.  Of course, we planted way too many squash plants for the space we have....I guess we never quite believe anything is going to actually grow, so we hedge our bets!

The internet was SUPPOSED to be fixed by now, but no one came this afternoon....but here we are up and running...for now.  I've seen more of the inside of our local McDonalds (using their internet access) in the last couple weeks than in the previous five years I'm sure.  So, maybe tomorrow?

I also hope to have some really good news to share in a few days.  Just waiting to see if this opportunity will become a reality and then I'll share it with you.  Hate to keep you on the edge, but don't want to jinx anything!  A couple of the latest Fragments....no. 15 will be listed tomorrow.

Fragments no.15

See you in a few days....hope you all have a great week!

Friday, July 22, 2011

Just Out Of Alignment

So, here is a view of one of the garden beds that is full of weeds, amid all the beautiful flowers.  Every bed around the house is in a similar state...is it any wonder?  I've vowed to take it slowly, but firmly in hand, and get to each bed and have it weeded by the end of the month.  The other night John and I tackled the area right in front of the house, until the mosquitoes got the best of us.  Looks much better....each day, a little bit more.  I mean, you might as well enjoy the garden for the rest of the season, rather than have its untidy appearance plague your sensibilities and fill you with guilt!  Weeds be gone!

Meanwhile, the internet service has been pretty dismal lately and I continually curse the satellite internet service we have, as I spend unusual amounts of time online just doing the most basic tasks.  But lately, it's been much worse than usual and often I can't get online at all.  Of course my worry all summer is that the dish, located on the very edge of the bank, would just topple over into the river, but there it stands like a sentinel day after day.  It was my friend and neighbor Sue who mentioned that it could be out of alignment and we should call the company, who can tell remotely whether it's in line or not and can even sometimes adjust it from afar!  Duh! Sure enough, it's no longer pointing in the right direction....could it be the 300+ tons of rocks loaded onto the banks with tremendous force....perhaps it's not a surprise, given this summer we've had, that the thing needs to be put "right"...so Monday someone will be here to get things straight!!!  I'm a bit out of alignment myself.....maybe this will help me too!   

I am in town at the grocery store using the wi-fi to write this post....will keep it short and sweet and write more, including new work, at the beginning of the week.  I'm so behind even reading blogs....my apologies to those of you whose blog I subscribe to.  It's just torture waiting forever for things to load...hope to get back in the swing next week!  Have a wonderful weekend!

Monday, July 18, 2011

A New Week Full of New Possibilities

I'm working in the studio in fits and starts these days, as I continue the Fragments pieces at a slower pace, as well as mull over what is next. Still playing with those little wooden discs, all yet unfinished, as it remains unclear just where they want to go and what they want to be.  For someone who thinks through their hands, as I do, I must constantly remind myself that not much of value will happen for me staring off into space....I just have to keep at it, even when the energy and the will are at a low point.  It will happen when I least expect it...it always does.  It's like keeping your eyes glued to the front window waiting for the visitor to arrive, but you almost always get surprised when they come in the back door....good thing it was left open!  Here are a few of the latest Fragments pieces I've not yet posted here.  

Took advantage of Johntimothy being home today and on a whim, we did a bit of rearranging in the studio.  It's been quite a mess lately (could be part of my low motivation!) and since it was time to regroup anyway, I was suddenly moved to do a little shifting here and there....that's always a bit of an energy boost to come into a fresh looking space, with all the cluttered bits tucked safely back in their places....until tomorrow when it will probably be a mess again!

A neighbor reported the other day the river is down a few inches...which may not sound like a big deal, but at this point, every inch means something!  Another couple of weeks and they'll slowly begin backing off on the releases from the dam.  Should see some changes after that.  

Hope you all have a great week...see you in a few days, if not before!


Friday, July 15, 2011

Premonition of a Flood

Look what I found in one of the boxes of orphaned fragments I've been playing with. It's a house and it looks to me like it's in the middle of some flooding waters!  I stitched it to larger sheet of handmade paper and listed it in my shop here today. This print, done some time ago, was a collaboration between Johntimothy and me, made in preparation for a visiting artist week somewhere. Since I'm not a printmaker, he handed me an etching plate and said "draw" and then worked with me to make this drawing into an aquatint.  We didn't end up using the plate, but several prints were made and he played with adding a screenprint pattern on top of this one. Given the summer we're going through, I was dumbstruck when I came across it!

I've added more fragment pieces this week to the shop....here are a couple of the new ones, but there are more added since I last wrote and a couple still yet to come, so keep your eye on the shop!

Am also experimenting with making tiny abstracted still life paintings on round 1 1/2" and 2 1/2" wooden discs.  I have a bunch of them going, but I think it's still too early to share them with you....looking pretty rough around the edges, shall we say.  I'm not sure what will become of them....hang on the wall in various arrangements....sort of like a still life of still lifes?!  Or perhaps magnets, or pendants (the 2 1/2" ones would be too big for that!)....I just don't know.  I'm trying to make something useful and practical, but maybe that's not where they're headed....time will tell!

More money went into rock for the river banks after the big storm last Sunday night.  Apparently there were half of the lots that lost enough rock that it was worth it to get the barge crew back up here to do the work.  So, we're feeling more secure in terms of bank stability....river bank stability, that is, but less secure in terms of the financial bank stabililty!  If you're interested, I'm doing the free shipping again on anything in my shop through the rest of July.  Be sure to use the coupon code MISSOURIFLOOD when you check out.

Want to thank all of you again for your warm wishes and unflagging support and good cheer!  Have a lovely weekend.

Monday, July 11, 2011

When In Doubt, Read A Book

Things haven't progressed so well lately and in often I find that my frustrations are running high.  I figured I was putting too much pressure on myself and trying too hard to make something happen in the studio, instead of letting things evolve.  I realized by the end of the week that I had nothing to show for myself...not even any new fragment pieces, so it was clearly time to take a break.  A slow, dawning realization hit me just about that time...why, I needed to read a book....input, food, nourishment....I was running quite on empty, which was part of the problem.  

So, I gave myself time for some delicious naps and reading time on the front porch.  Sometimes it's too sunny to sit on the back deck in the afternoon and lately I've come to feel the river as kind of a menacing presence, so I'd rather be in front.  I have several books going at once, one of which is this latest Bill Bryson book, At Home, and of course, after lo, these many months, I'm still reading Swann's Way by Marcel Proust (almost finished though!).  My new issue of Selvedge arrived on Saturday and that's always a delight for the senses.

Alas, just as I was really starting to relax about this whole Missouri River flooding saga, since we're still dry and the water releases are stable (still high but not going higher)....a really big storm came in the middle of the night last night and more erosion on the banks, rock down in the water and bare dirt in spots on a number of lots.  More cash out to re-stabilize....it seems endless these days.  I'm hoping to have a more cheery report in a few days!!!

Monday, July 4, 2011

More Bits and Pieces

Fragments no.3

Fragments no.4

Fragments no.5

Fragments no.6

The Fragment series has been continuing, as you can see, and I'm having a delightful time surprising myself with the juxtaposition of little bits and pieces.  Often I hesitate to tear one of these unfinished cast-off drawing or fragments into even smaller bits, but what it there to lose, I ask myself....I mean they've already been tossed aside as fodder for other projects! Fragments no.2 is the only one listed in my shop so far, but they'll be added throughout the week.

In my last post I mentioned taking a wire bending class up in Sioux Falls, which I did on Thursday evening at The Bead Co., a store where one could easily while away the hours of an entire day. I'll have to go back for an outing very soon.  This was just a two hour class and as I knew, I'm pretty clumsy and kind of slow to learn these maneuvers in space, handling new kinds of tools and making my hands do what I want them to.  This will take practice for me!  The focus was on making jewelry, but  I find what I'm really interested in is making small objects...mixed media objects that combine things like sticks, wire, beads, found objects, mementos, etc. I'm slowly working in that direction and somehow I think these fragment pieces are moving me along.  Right now the fragments are sewn to a sheet of paper....the world I'm most comfortable with, but I have begun to have glimpses of these tiny collages being their own thing, existing in some other form in real space.  I don't know yet, I can't articulate it and for me this is like being poised on the edge of a diving board....I've been here before on the high dive and I've chickened out and gone back to my very comfortable two-dimensional world....but I need to stretch and I need to make the leap.  This is both exciting and frustrating, because I lack the skills to work with a whole new variety of materials and must practice being okay with clumsiness and with failure as part of the learning process.  Unfortunately, I also lack patience and want to make wonderful things right away....I've always thought of myself as one who loves the learning process, but I think that's probably not entirely true...I love having learned and I love the discovery, but I'm not so keen on the hard bits.....but isn't it true, that if we're honest with ourselves, we'd really rather avoid the hard bits of life?  Okay, so I'm telling myself to enjoy the journey and not to covet what other people make, because as I learn I'll begin making something else, the thing that is in me to make....even though I don't know what it is....but that's what it means to learn by doing.  Stay tuned!

Does anyone else have this very real struggle between working 2-d and 3-d?  Would love to hear from any one of you who have worked through this leap to thinking in three dimensions....it's not something I can really do yet!

Have a great week!