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, March 26, 2012

Time and Space

Good afternoon, dear readers!  I'm here to show you more of the unfinished work that is just so demanding of me.  I've really come to realize how much space I need to work.  I'm not talking about physical studio space, which thank goodness, I seem to have in great plenty.  It's the space that lives inside of time...that allows the time to open up into an infinity that invites creative flow. Now that I am working part-time, the days seem to close in even more than they used to, and although I should have time "in theory" to work, I can't seem to work when I know the clock is ticking, so to speak.  I take care of the many, although not all, must-dos each morning and try to leave myself enough "open space" to work, but inevitably I stall....because it's not open time and open space....it's closed and very finite.  I need to know that I don't have to be anywhere but in the studio in an hour, two hours, three hours....ever.  It's an illusion, a trick of the mind I realize, to try to fool oneself into falling for the ruse, but sometimes it really works.  If you've never done an artist's residency, I really encourage you to apply to any one of a growing number of them available all over the world....that's where the illusion works....it works really well, when you know that you have a month where all you have to do is feed your belly and your soul with working. Amazing things happen and the creative process unfolds in ways you can't foresee when you are squeezing the work into slivers of space.  All that is a way to say....these works which I want to move to completion are inching along at a snail's pace. I've just taken some shots of them in their current state because obviously it's going to be a long time before I have the space and time I need to really move them along any faster.....but I do love the way it's going, for as much as you can see, I hope you can gather a bit of what's happening.

They are all on my husband Johntimothy's handmade paper, around 15 x 11".  Those extra bits are just laying there in the third shot, waiting to see if they belong anywhere on the piece or not. All the pieces will have "roof" sections attached like you see in process on the fifth shot. There is a lot of layered drawing at this point, but the pieces will all have more drawing and embroidery by the time they are finished. I just need some space.

It's interesting to see now how my morning drawings (the 10 very quick meditation drawings I do each morning) and the dailies on the teabags are all informing one another, as well as these new pieces I've shown you in process. Maybe those of you who know my work can tell, I'm not sure, but it's fun to watch it all unfold.  Here's today's daily drawing posted at MissouriBendMusings.

I do hope you have a fascinating and fruitful week ahead!  See you in a few days!

Sunday, March 18, 2012

So Much Going On In The Studio

Hello dear readers! I'm busy these days in the studio, but really, you'll have to take my word for it, because for all the time I spend down there....well, it's two steps forward and one step backward.  As you may remember from a recent blogpost I have lately found myself enamored all over again with the notion of letters....that is, correspondence....of the handwritten variety....the kind rarely engaged in any longer. All sorts of layers of quasi-handwriting appear in the new work, in a variety of inks, many of which become a smeary mess when I scumble over them with a layer of paint.  The idea is to build the work in layers, with the drawing/writing appearing through the layers, but even if an ink describes itself (or its manufacturer does) as permanent, that, it turns out, is not the same thing as waterproof. I was working with Higgins Indigo ink, which I loved and which I swore was permanent and waterproof when I bought it, but alas it is dye-based and it's the blue ink that is waterproof. The blue is just a bit too bright for what I want, so I continue to build the layers, even in the ones that have become a smeary mess, because it still retains the writing and with enough light, drybrush layers of paint, well the surfaces eventually becomes interesting.  All this work, just to get the piece to the point where I can begin layering shapes or image or whatever else will come.  And that became the next problem.....there are at least six of these pieces going now....and I get them to a point where the top layers of drawing or sewing will be and I'm terrified of messing something up and I'm confounded as to what it is I wanted to say after all!

Does all this sound familiar to anyone....I bet it does....you have your own version of the dance of the creative process.  The other conversation going on in my head while I'm working is expectation and the desire to make something that I have an elusive glimpse of in my mind....probably based on other works out there that I love and the desire to make "that".....but "that" is not mine to make....I must make "this" and it's the work itself that must unfold in its own time.....the conversation, then, is not about that, but about this.....listening to the moment, allowing for the unexpected and for surprise. Humbling, isn't it?

So, what I can share with you now is nearly a week of the daily teabag drawings, which have taken a few twists and turns of late since I began using the water soluble crayons to loosen myself up a bit! Fun!

March 13, 2012

March 14, 2012

March 15, 2012

March 16, 2012

March 17, 2012

March 18, 2012

All these are available in my shop MissouriBendMusings and a new one appears each day....so far, I'm still on track, whew!  Have a great week....see you in a few days with some shots of those other works in progress.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Days of Sunshine

Hi everyone....pardon my unexcused absence, but I'm about to give you an excuse anyway! I started a very part-time job at a nearby library toward the end of January and have been working more hours due to the absence of another staff member....my schedule and time is in a bit of flux these days. But I surely haven't forgotten you all....just behind the power curve.  So, here is an update post with what's been going on in the studio lately....the dailies, of course...a couple new items for the MissouriBendStudio shop and I've been trying to work on a new series that is slowly unfolding. These pieces are beginning to invoke the notion of writing and are using a lot of indigo ink....a color I dearly love. When they reach a stage that I can show you, I surely will share them. Today's daily drawing is here, but know that there are a growing number available for viewing and purchasing, if you are so inclined, at MissouriBendMusings.

This little hanging drawing below is now listed over at MissouriBendStudio. When I first showed these, I wasn't sure how to describe them, except as badges, which didn't feel right at all. I asked for some responses from readers and another Etsy artist, Anca Gray, also a follower of this blog, used the most delightful phrase to describe these pieces..."pocket mirrors for the soul".....now I can't think of them any other way!  Thanks so much for that bit of poetry, Anca!

This little piece below has been in the works for quite some time, in an on-again-off-again pattern. The drawing and I struck up the conversation again a couple of weeks ago and became friends again....finished it up today with the stitching at the top and the tiny text pieces falling into the bowl.  I'm quite fascinated with text and all that it implies....so much to explore!  

Warm Yellow Spring 
(don't hold me to this title....this piece will be listed tomorrow at MissouriBendStudio)

Hope you all are having a good start to the week. Here in the southeast corner of South Dakota temperatures are due to be in the mid-70s this week....we are pinching ourselves and hoping that this weather is here for good!  Happy Spring....and for my dear friends in the southern hemisphere....Happy Fall!!

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

We Are All Historians

Hi everyone! I have some catching up to do here since my last post!  Hope everyone enjoyed meeting and seeing the work of Christine Mauersberger in the March 1st Inspirations segment.  After I posted that we dashed off to Omaha for a weekend of festivities connected with the opening at the Bemis Center for Contemporary Art where I had a couple pieces in the Regional Juried Exhibition. It was a very interesting show, with a wonderful variety of work.  The opening was Friday and Saturday at noon we attended the juror's talk, which really amounted to many of the artists talking about their work....we were fortunate there were so many of the artists who had traveled to be there. As usual, I become tongue-tied when trying to talk about my work, as there are so many ideas, so many layers, it's hard to know where to start, what to include and what to leave out. Great experience though, hearing from so many of the artists! You can see many of the pieces from the exhibition here.

Now, I'll get to the topic that led to the title of this post, which is the subject of letter writing....the lost art of correspondence. It's something that's been on my mind a lot the last couple of weeks, since I began reading As Always, Julia: The Letters of Julia Child & Avis DeVoto which has me enthralled.  I picked the book up casually to glance through it at the small community library where I began a very part-time job some weeks ago. I was transfixed, not only by the actual correspondence between these two women, but by the sheer fact that the chance beginning of the letters that went back and forth shaped history. I won't go into the story, which you can read about by following the link. What I find fascinating is to know that this somewhat chance encounter that led to a deep, abiding friendship, at first through letters, was instrumental in creating Julia Child as a household name through the country. It's also quite interesting to be reminded, in many ways, that for all the changes in the world, well, much remains the same.....reading about the political climate in the 1950s from those living through it feels something like looking at our times through a fun-house mirror!

But just beneath the level of fascination, I felt an immense emptiness as I pondered the fact that we no longer write actual letters....there is no paper trail, to be saved and archived, that tells the story of our days, the history of our lives and how the events of the twenty-first century are slowly transforming us. And also, to be sure, how we play a part in the course of history, as we live out our lives day to day. Where will the future historians turn for the "stuff" that tells the story, the daily lives and the relationships of men and women everywhere? We are certainly quick to write an e-mail, but we are in a hurry and we don't elaborate. And will we save them as we once did letters? Texting....I haven't gone there yet and don't plan to....I still prefer to speak in sentences....or at least, sentence fragments! Is it the blogs, certainly a source of material....but will they last? I lament the loss of true correspondence--the thoughtful paragraphs, expounding on ideas, events, joys and sorrows....the materiality of paper and pen or typewritten text. We don't have the time for it and surely we can't stand the thought of waiting for days for the letter to be received and even longer for the response to be returned to us....unbearable lengths of time! 

And so. I'm reminded of the notion of writing and how it has cropped up in my own work, often in the form of something illegible that only points to handwriting, as in these snippets from a piece in progress.
I'm interested now in investigating more letters, that is, reading more correspondence....what a fascinating way to read history....it's the next best thing to being there. But I'm now ready for my own work to go farther and not just point to writing but actually incorporate the text...we'll see where this leads. 

The other piece to this story is the notion that we are all historians and I think that is the underlying sentiment behind the daily drawings....a documentation of the day. This day, I lived, I made this little drawing in commemoration of all the pleasures and frustrations of the fleeting moments in my small corner of the universe. Even that is not enough...

March 6, 2012

March 5, 2012

March 4, 2012

March 3, 2012

March 2, 2012

March 1, 2012

February 29, 2012

These are the drawings since I last posted them....please visit MissouriBendMusings to see more views and the rest dating back to mid-January! And do keep an eye out, for the unfolding of days....and do pay attention to the moments of your life....they are your history and just as importantly, they are part of the history of those in your ever expanding circle of relationships. Thanks so much for being part of my circle!


Thursday, March 1, 2012

Inspirations: Christine Mauersberger

Greetings on the first day of March!!!  I'm delighted to post here the second in the monthly series, Inspirations, which presents the work of artists that truly inspire me.  It's been a delight to get to know Christine Mauersberger through her thoughtful responses to my questions and the images of her work are certainly an inspiration for me...hope they will be for you as well.

Wall Fall, 111"wide x 12' long

Can you briefly describe your background....how did you come to be a maker and have you always worked with stitching?

Throughout my life, I have been an observer of people, surroundings and nature. My first grade teacher told me that I was an artist and I believed her. In high school, my art teacher taught me to weave and helped me take classes at the Cleveland Institute of Art. When I was 20, I studied 19th century American weaving at a little private school in VT. Life changes ensued and I had to earn a living over making art. In Jan. 2009, I quit my job as the assistant art curator at a major local hospital. I told myself that I didn’t want to do anything that didn’t make me happy. I started to draw small marks in my sketchbook using a red marker. These drawings were pleasing and meditative. Soon these marks started to create a formal language for me. I realized that I could daydream about places(both real and imagined) & allow the marks to evoke my movement through those places. Those drawings wanted to jump off the page to become stitched marks on fabric. Thus, my hand-stitching practice began.

Mind Map, 40" x 41", hand stitched silk/wool thread on linen

Can you talk about your creative practice....maybe in terms of flow, where you work, when.

I am glad you used the word, flow, as it does define the meditative state that occurs when I work. When I stitch on linen, I cannot help but to want to stick a needle in the fabric. Linen has a beautiful hand where it calls my fingers to want to hold it and move across its surface with thread. Almost at once, my mind goes into a zone where I feel the same when I meditate or do yoga. The stitching is almost automatic and without much thought as to where the thread goes.  I do a fair amount of mark-making in my sketchbook and I take pictures of anything that sparks my interest. These marks on paper and the photos inform my brain and set the stage for the stitching. Just like musician might practice music for hours, I practice marks on paper before I put needle & thread to fabric.
I work seated with linen in front of me on an ironing board. I adjust the board to be a level to meet my body at a comfortable height. The board works to hold the weight of the material off my body and allows me to move about as I might like.
For smaller works, I sit in a comfortable upholstered chair or on my sofa with the fabric supported by a flat surface held on top of my lap. I do not use an embroidery hoop.
I wish I could say that I work at the same time each day, this would be my optimal practice. What happens now is that I try to keep one day sacred for stitching and then stitch whenever else I can.

I could be off base, but it seems to make that anyone involved in the slow processes of mark making must enjoy the meditative quality....anything you'd like to share in this area?

You’re correct. To hand stitch with purpose is to become quiet and contemplative. It is my intent to become calm enough to be encased in an altered reality while I stitch.

I've been seeing your facebook entries and the wonderful food you've been preparing....could you talk about your new dining habits and how it is integrating into your life!

I’ve always loved to cook and to bake. More recently, I have taken an active role to become educated about my health by becoming fully engaged in eating foods that are beneficial for detoxification and promote good living. I want to eat satisfying, tasty, nurturing meals so I started to eat a Raw Food diet combined with a Whole food diet. I eliminated ‘white’ foods, starches, sugars, high carbs and low-nutrient foods from my lifestyle.
I do CrossFit about 3 times/week. If you’re not familiar with it. Google it, find a CrossFit box and begin the best darn work out you’ve ever experienced in your life. It is addictive. I can deadlift 245#, jump up on boxes, do squats, situps, pushups, swing heavy kettlebells and run a mile for a cool-down…to name but a few of my skills. Did I mention that I am 51 years old?

Any Favorite books, music you'd like to share....
I’m currently listening to DJ and record producer,  Kascade, and can never get enough the ambient and electronica music pulled together by a man named TC in Rotterdam, the Netherlands. His podcast is called Spacemusic and I’ve been listening since 2005.

I played harp in my 20’s and love modern classical music written by composers such as Debussy and Erik Satie.
I listen to a full-deck of NPR and PRS programming. From Terry Gross’s Fresh Air to Diane Rehm and Studio 360. And I do listen to Howard Stern.

Guide, 20" x 21", dismantle wool skirt from thrift store, felt, eco-dyed silk patch, silk & wool thread

Where do you find inspiration (or through whom?!)
I know several women-business owners who are doing exactly what they want to do. One friend started a business upcycling spent architectural samples to pass them onto local artists and art teachers, rather than to go to landfill. Another friend started a skin care salon where she sells and provides services using organic skin care products. Another man friend rehabs sacred statues and opened the Museum of Devine Statues, he's also a makeup artist and is the go-to person for makeup that makes one look fresh, clean and lovely.
All these people inspire me to create artwork as I am compelled to do  & to take it seriously.

I can give you 50 more people who inspire me. Most are artists themselves. All are incredibly devoted to their work.

There are almost too many contemporary 20th c. artists that inspire me, here are but a few: Agnes Martin, Louise Bourgeois, Robert Irwin, Marina Abramovic, Mark Bradford, & Beatrice Coron

The inspiration for my artwork comes self-analysis of what I think, see, hear, do, and dream.

If you were to have a small dinner gathering and could invite any group of folks from history....who would you gather around the table?
Great question!
Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Women’s Suffrange Pioneer
Margaret Sanger, Birth Control pioneer
Eleanor Roosevelt
And Louise Bourgeios

Affliction, 8.5" x 12", linen, silk & wool, commercial embroidery thread

I just fell in love with Christine's work the first time I saw it online a couple of years ago. Who knows how we come across someone's work....that's the beauty of the web.  I'm glad I found her, though, and I'm so happy to learn more about her background and process.  You can find Christine on Facebook and she also has a wonderful blog here.