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.


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!


Monday, August 22, 2011

Keeping the Flow

Greetings everyone...hard to believe it's the beginning of the last full week of August!  I'm establishing my new rhythms and the structure of my day seems to suit me just right.  Mornings in the studio, beginning with 10 meditation drawings and a short writing practice.  I started doing these meditation drawings as an opening exercise each day at Brush Creek...10 sheets of copier paper and one pencil or pen....just letting my hand make marks on the page and turning it over when it felt right, going on to the next. I love these small rituals and this practice allows me to get out of my own way so that I can see the kind of marks I make at any given time. I am working at keeping the flow going, aware that I am not at Brush Creek any longer, and as much as I want to hold on tightly to that experience, I have to realize that each moment is a new moment and I must be present in the here and now.  A simple thought, but really a tangled web, full of emotions, desires and other things deeper that can't quite be named.  So, I continue on, trying to be open to the ongoing flow, and present to what wants to be revealed in my work and in my being.

I'm trying to shoot the new work and do it downstairs in the studio, so I don't have to be dependent on the fickle natural light.  We have this fancy digital camera that I just barely know how to use and that's if it's set on automatic.  I saw how the shots Johntimothy took of his recent work turned out and I was blown away when I realized he did it downstairs under the fluorescent lights....but using manual settings.  My first attempt at doing this was not very successful, so we're going to have another session tonight and hopefully I can get the hang of it.  In the meantime, here are a few of the new pieces....more to come, I promise!!

so far, untitled

so far, untitled

The top drawing was one of the first....these are all on Johntimothy's handmade paper.  I was in love with the landscape, but I'm not one to work directly from life and so the elements of the landscape began to appear. After the second piece, I understood that it was really the rocks that were the key for me and for the rest of the time the pieces were all about the rocks...like this third one.  I have to reshoot that one, along with the rest of the finished ones in the series, but I'll show them to you as soon as I can.  I am still working on a number of these "floating rocks" and it looks like this series will keep me busy for a little while!

Friday, August 19, 2011

Bringing Home Brush Creek

Greetings everyone!  We're back from our residency at Brush Creek....refreshed and revitalized...what a great experience! As I said somewhere to someone, I was able to relax and feel like myself again...only more so.  The gift of time and space in such a beautiful setting was the perfect recipe for rediscovering who I am as an artist.  As all of you followers know, I have been hard at work in the studio over the last year and a half since I started my Etsy shop, but I've also been on a fast-moving treadmill and although I only make pieces that are one-of-a-kind, I was clearly in production mode. At Brush Creek, I slowed down to a pace that allowed me to see things differently and opened the path for a new kind of work to emerge.  I don't have any images yet, but will shortly. Mostly, I just wanted to share a few more pictures and to let you know that there are some shifts in my thinking and in the way I'm going to go about my life, so that I will feel more balanced.

I will continue to make work for MissouriBendStudio, but I'm going to spend more studio time on other bodies of work that will be featured on my website, robertspizzuto.com  I want to focus more on what I think of as my "other" work, which comes from a deeper place and has more to teach me about living a mindful life. I've come to realize that for me, art making is a spiritual practice and making work for the "marketplace" has a way of short circuiting the exploration that is necessary.  I don't want anyone to think I don't love the work I make for my shop, which will continue, although at a less frantic pace.  There will surely be crossover, but the work on my website will be more involved and slower in coming.
I'll keep you posted here about all the work in the studio and let you know where to find it.

View from the studios at Brush Creek

One of the ways to break with my old mode of operating is not to even touch the computer until after lunch.  As most of you probably know, once you get on the computer, it's nearly impossible to get off.  One thing leads to another and especially if you are involved in Etsy, there are countless ways to spend time online....not a bad thing necessarily, it just has a tendency to eat the daylight hours.  It worked today....I didn't even open the lid of this laptop until 1:00....and guess what, it felt great!!  I feel balanced and more centered....a sure sign that I'm operating in line with my heart and my values.

The back/side of the studio building (contains 4 artist's studios)
with a view to the residences and the schoolhouse, which is 
a restored 19th century school house/home that serves
as a composer's studio and a charming community event
gathering spot.

A section of Brush Creek

Another little view of Brush Creek

I got a lot done at the residency, including some finished pieces and a number of others still to be completed.  I was totally fascinated by the rocks....the rock is everywhere and it speaks quietly of deep time and slow change.  Despite how it seems, our place as humans in the universe is small...we are just individual links in the evolution of life, newcomers really....and yet, each of our lives is so vital and oh so fleeting.  These are the things I'm exploring in the new work....through the rocks that will outlive us all.

See you next week....enjoy the weekend!

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

A Little Bit of Heaven in Wyoming

Hi Everyone....it's been over a week here at the artists' residency at Brush Creek Ranch and I feel as if I'm quite overdue for touching base with my friends and readers!  Johntimothy and I are having an amazing time, immersing ourselves in the studios, which are brand new....we are the first "official" artists for the pilot program of this residency.  Johntimothy is working mainly on screenprints, with some other investigations on the side....here he is in the door to his studio!

And here I am, happily nestled in my studio next door....Studio C! I'm making drawings and now some paintings on handmade paper....totally fascinated by the rocks!

We're settled in a beautiful landscape that includes rocky mountainous views and wide sweeps of rolling valleys....just gorgeous.  The air is fresh and clear here at 7,000 feet and we are going to have a hard time pulling up stakes, that's for sure.  Here's a view of the rooms, taken from the porch of the studio building....with the fire pit in the foreground.  Two of the evenings we've seen a jackrabbit dashing about and at first I thought sure it was a coyote....so big and long-legged!!

Johntimothy has been the picture taker so far and seems we haven't taken too many, but time is drawing nigh, so we'll have to take lots of photos, so I'll have more to show you when I get back!  If you've never done an artist's residency, there are many opportunities out there and I highly recommend it....a residency enables you to reset your artistic life, quiet your mind and heart and more than anything....relax and feel more like yourself!!  And I can certainly recommend Brush Creek....the full program, open to artists, writers and composers, will begin in December.  See you at the end of next week....if not before!

A little addendum here...just found the link for where we are, including some nice shots of the main eating/lounge area!