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, April 30, 2012

Inspirations: Karen Anne Glick

Welcome to another Inspirations post. For those of you who didn't see my post at the end of last week, just wanted to introduce you to the featured artist for the month, Karen Anne Glick. Karen Anne is also deeply engaged in an artwork-a-day process....with small quilts!
We discovered each other on Etsy nearly simultaneously and had a hilarious period of  conversation crossing the "wires" of cyber space. She is another kindred spirit and I hope you enjoy seeing her work and hearing the thoughtful responses to my questions!  The questions are interspersed with a selection of some of my favorites from her shop....but really, it was so hard to choose from among them...what gems!!

April 24, 2012

I find your quilts such beautiful gems of color and abstraction....just how did you come to the point of deciding to make one a day and post them in a new shop?

I think I just  finally reached a point of disgust and desperation. I wasn't feeling authentic with what I was doing. I was producing work, but sporadically. I had a plethora of ideas, but "the committee" - that group of critics that takes up residency in my brain all too frequently - had gotten the upper hand and was making me second guess everything I did. I felt bludgeoned by them. And by my ego, too. It persisted in claiming "artist" status which felt fraudulent. It was time for a change. So...I took down my professional website and charted a new path. I began listening to my heart more intently. I knew I needed to dedicate myself to climbing the stairs to my studio each and every day and just do something - anything - I just needed to DO IT. I looked at the stacks of fabric I've accumulated and the piles of books on quilting I've collected and I considered the fact that I've sewn for 50 + years and always loved it.  It slowly dawned on me that I could make a small quilt each day, especially if I threw out the rules about turned edges and precise piecing and clipped threads. I kept the tradition of three layers, but nothing else. I also decided that I would offer the quilts for sale. I've always had a hard time selling my original works and I wanted very much to get over that. I wanted to make the quilts, listen to what they had to tell me, and then set them free. Since I already had the Etsy shop set up - it sat empty for many years - it was easy to decide to post them there. No sales yet, but that isn't really important because when I post the quilts they are, in my mind, "sold". I'm happy to report that I've heard nary a word from "the committee" since the first quilt! It's really quite amazing to me that they are leaving me alone, but I guess listening to my heart just drove them away. The quilts have taught me so much in the short time I've been making them - about listening, allowing, accepting, honoring, and letting go - all good things to learn as I embrace the cronehood phase of my life. I've found a peace that's palpable and I'm finding that I'm content to stay and work in the studio now even after the day's quilt is finished and posted. I'm scheduled to have a show in August so it's encouraging to be excited about the work I'm doing for that.

March 21, 2012

Can you tell us a bit about your background and path(s) you've taken in life?

I was born into a Navy family, I was a naval officer, and I married a naval officer, so suffice it to say, I've moved around a lot and adapt well to change. I was always a creative kid with a HUGE imagination so I guess it was inevitable that I would be a studio major in college. Before college, though, I was lucky to be able to attend Punahou (where our president went!) for two years when my father was stationed in Hawaii. Their art program was separately endowed and incredible. It was there that I began to feel confident that I could express myself visually. I attended classes at the Corcoran for a year after high school (I graduated in VA) and then transferred to the George Washington University where I graduated in 1972. The late 60's/early 70's was when the Washington Colorists - Kenneth Noland, Anne Truitt, Gene Davis, etc. were actively making their mark in the art world. Even though I wasn't really aware of their importance at the time, I can see their influence in my quilts. (Robert Stackhouse, the sculptor, taught drawing at Corcoran then and I've always been more aware of his influence on my work.) After I graduated from college I couldn't find a job that didn't require typing and I didn't want to type. I applied for a commission in the Navy and went  through Officer Candidate School and before I knew it I had started a grand adventure! In my first assignment I had a division of 47 men, a male secretary, and equal pay! Not a bad deal in those days! I stayed on active duty for 9 years and then retired from the reserves as a CDR with 24 years of service. I was always able to work my art into my jobs somehow - designing command t-shirts for picnics, being Art Director for a publication, etc. - and I always managed to find time to do small drawings or watercolors along with designing and making things to wear. After I left active duty I did post grad work in Textiles at the University of San Diego and was accepted into the MFA program at CalState Long Beach. Life intervened, however, and I never completed the program. We had our first child, moved to Japan, then moved to RI where our second daughter was born...and moved frequently after that. I always persisted with my art, though, and have been fortunate to gain some recognition and awards for my work through the years. I taught 4k-8th grade Visual Art at a private school in Memphis TN and, after moving to PA I was Curator of Visual Resources at Dickinson College for 9 years. 
Now I am happily retired and can finally spend more time with my work.

How about any paths not taken....anything you wish you might have done differently?

You know, when you've taken as many paths as I have, there really aren't many you haven't taken - so, no, I'm really happy with all the twists and turns of my life. I've been so fortunate to experience so much and live in wonderful places all over the world. I fantasize every now and then about getting an MFA because I've always loved the idea of diving head first into my work for an extended period, but then I realize that's what I'm finally doing each and every day and I'm not having to pay tuition! 
March 20, 2012

Are you currently and/or have you been working in with other mediums in your artistic  practice?

Photography, collage, drawing, (these three in digital formats, too) painting, sculpture  - they all come into play in my work at one time or another. I'd get frustrated if I had to limit myself. My work is a response to questions I have - and I want to be able to answer in whatever medium works best for that particular query. I just started some sculptural work that I'm excited about - using rug canvas and window screening- and I've recently started some sewn collages using cut up images of my quilts. And then there's always jewelry to make when nothing else intrigues...:-) My firstborn was married last August and I designed and made the invitations, made her dress, did all the flowers - and really wanted to make the cake and do the photography, but my sister forbid me to do anything else. We had the reception at our home in the garden that was draped in it's entirety with white fairy lights! Magical! So, as you can see, there are no real divisions anywhere; my life ismy artistic practice. It can drive my family nuts, but, thankfully, they love me anyway.

Where do you find inspiration?

From being quiet and looking and listening. To everything; what is in front of me and what is inside of me. Most recently I've been inspired by simply doing. When I'm sewing the quilts in a silent studio, my mind is free to wander and all sorts of ideas pop up. I don't think I'll ever run out of inspiration. I'm a Reiki practitioner and I really feel that my practice has been key in 
allowing me to find and maintain the quiet that feeds my soul - and, as a result, my work.

April 22, 2012

How do balance your time and priorities?

An unanticipated benefit of my daily practice of making the quilts is having a more structured day now. Before I started them I would have aimless, unproductive days with my time just frittered away. Now I see how I feel in the morning after a cup of coffee and either go to the studio right after breakfast and then exercise and do things for the home in the afternoon, or reverse that and end up in the studio after lunch. Our girls are grown and have full lives of their own now, and my husband is wonderful with all he does around the house. He does the grocery shopping, laundry, changes the sheets, and cleans the bathroom - how lucky am I?!?!? Having tried to find time for my art when I was working and raising a family makes me grateful for all the time I have now.

March 11, 2012

Artists and/or writers you admire?

Oh - many! Agnes Martin, Alexander Calder, Lenore Tawney, Gerhardt Richter, Andy Goldsworthy, Henry Moore, Louise Nevelson to name just a few. And writers? Kathleen Norris who wrote Dakota: A Spiritual Geography (we went to Punahou together - her dad was in the Navy, too), Barbara Cawthorne Crafton (The Sewing Room), Caroline Myss (Anatomy of the Spirit) Sena Jeter Naslund (Ahab's Wife), Sandra Boynton (Moo, Baa, La-La-La) ...I've drawn a blank on others for the moment!

April 28, 2012

Plans for the future?

Happily continue what I'm doing now. Take time out to travel with my husband every now and then, and to always be available to my family (and puppy Jake!) when they need me.

April 8, 2012

If you could gather a few folks from any period in history for an evening of lively and fascinating conversation, who might be on your guest list?

What a fun question! I think I'd have a Ladies Night even though there are some great men I'd love to invite for another time. I'd have a small, but varied group: Madeline Albright, Mary Magdelene, Marilyn Monroe, and Louise Élisabeth Vigée Le Brun - the 18th century French painter. All unique women who were influential in different but powerful ways. I'd love to hear how their paths were similar and/or different, whether they found being female to be a curse 
or a gift, and what words of wisdom they would offer today's young women.

April 1, 2012

Delighted to share these beautiful pieces with you!  Please visit Karen Anne at her Etsy shop, blog and on flickr!


Friday, April 27, 2012

The Real Work

It's the end of another week and I've had a busy "day off", running to Sioux Falls to deliver a piece of artwork, making the daily for today, adding it to the pile from the last few days, photographing, posting, etc. etc. All is still well here....that is, I still love the job and the people I work with and although there is a learning curve in the kinds of tasks I'll be doing, I will be growing and gaining new insights and skills...never a bad thing. I have some thoughts to share for this post, but first I'll show you the drawings from the last few days...all of them are now listed in the MissouriBendMusings shop.

April 24, 2012

April 25, 2012

April 26, 2012

April 27, 2012

I made a new friend some weeks ago and now I'm not quite sure how I first found her, except that I was struck by the fact that she was also posting a new piece each day in her shop. I was dumbfounded that she was making a beautiful art quilt that was a bit free-form around the edges with the expressive qualities of drawing and painting....one each day.  We began an online correspondence and found we share many similarities in our thinking and the kind of obstacles we were facing when we began our little daily practices early in the year. In the course of some conversation, as we'd been "talking" about the daily pieces as opposed to our "real work" she said something that made me pause...."maybe they are the real work". Oh. Oh. Oh. That notion is still echoing in my head as my life shifts with the currents. Once I began really to see this daily practice and the drawings that result, not as something separate, but as an integral part of the "real work"....well, I can't quite describe what has happened. At the end of the week, when I show you some newly finished pieces of what I was calling the "real work", you'll see that it is all the real work...the marks, the images, the ideas conveyed....it all comes from the same place. I'd toyed with the idea of giving up the daily practice when I began working at the library, but I quickly abandoned it....this is just as much the real work as anything else I do. And yet, that notion still echoes....it's a VERY big idea if you let it sit next to you in the chair....pretty soon, you feel crowded out....what IS the real work? What am I called to do by my innermost being, the one with the almost audible voice? When you are doing that thing.....I think that you are truly inhabiting yourself in the fullest sense of the word. So many people never find their real work....I hope you are finding yours.  Oh, my new friend's name is Karen Anne Glick and you'll meet her on Monday...she's the feature for the Inspirations post.  Have a great weekend!

Monday, April 23, 2012

Time Opens Up and Out

Greetings at the beginning of a new work week....well, as I have Monday off, my work week begins tomorrow, but I'm still hard at work in the studio. As I continue to adapt to my new life of work in the library, I am finding somehow that the hours of the day grow to accomadate my needs when I am at home. I somehow have time to put new plants in the ground and admire the way everything has grown so quickly this spring....I swear the plants grow by inches a day! The irises are already blooming and it seems things in the garden are about a month ahead of their normal routine. I hope this will be a nice, long summer. There is also time to read and be in the studio, not just making the daily drawings, but the other works I've had in progress.

I know there is a shift inside of me, because  today when I was working in the studio....doing the slow work of hand stitching a large wishbone on one of those pieces....the echos of my thinking bubbled up like they used to. It's hard to describe, but it's the thing that happens when I am relaxed and working that causes me to say that I think through my hands. It's how I understand myself and my place in the world. And here's what my innermost self said to me quietly today as I made stitch after stitch...."we are always on the inside looking out." It came as a whole sentence and I understood what that meant immediately. Those are the moments of connection....those moments of the nearly audible thoughts bubbling up, with the insights that help me know I am "in the moment" and in the flow....that's where I come to know what it is I know.

Let's see if I can elaborate on that thought...we are always on the inside looking out. We are our bodies....we cannot help but see the world through the filter of our own history, culture, and the sheer physicality of our being, which governs so much of how we move through the world. In a way, we are trapped here inside ourselves....and this is not a negative, it just is how it is. We can never be really walking in anyone else's shoes, not matter how much we empathize. We can love another person with all of our being and as close as we often are, think of it, the gaps between each of us is so vast....and yet, it's all part of our humanity....don't we do the best we can? It's just good to remember that the way we experience the world is just that, it's our take on things, and for someone else, it is entirely different. Knowing this....does it make it easier to be kind to one another....to know there are infinite ways of seeing and experiencing anything? I suppose it begins with accepting ourselves.

I realized after I wrote the last post on Friday that I'd mentioned the two new pieces in the MissouriBendStudio shop, but then I forgot to show you! They are shown above and were quite fun to make....all those little round bits on the lower one are the punched holes from an old map. Might as well get caught up with the dailies since Friday as well....they are all posted at MissouriBendMusings, but here's a view of each.
April 19 2012

April 20 2012

April 21 2012

April 22 2012

April 23 2012

So, the hour is late, but I'm off to do some reading before bed. Hope you have a great week!
Thank you once again for reading and sharing in my new adventures in the back-to-work world...such great friends I have here!

Friday, April 20, 2012

Easing In To A New Rhythm

Hello everyone....reporting in after my first week back in the working world...well, almost the end of my first week, as Saturday is one of my work days. It was a good week...I learned a lot and really like the people I'll be working with and I'm in a library, one of the most magical of places to spend one's days. Now that I'm about to show you the finished pieces for the week, I have to say, I'm kind of surprised I still made the "drawing-a-day" on each and every day as well as finished up two other small pieces for the MissouriBendStudio shop. Working at developing the new rhythm for the days and getting a feel for how the weeks will unfold, but I think it's going to be just fine. Now, if only I could stop this incessant drive I have to keep up the relentless pace in the studio. I've declared 5:00 quitting time, just like the work day and when I've finished this post, I plan to take up residence on the deck overlooking the river with a glass of wine and the wonderful book I've just started, Cutting For Stone, by Abraham Verghese. I'm going to try to get it read by Thursday evening so I can be part of the book group session held at the library....nothing like getting in the swing of things at my new workplace!

Below are the drawings for the week....haven't photographed the drawing from today yet, but perhaps I'll see you again on Monday with the latest news.  These are all listed over at MissouriBendMusings....with close-up views to give you a better look! Hope you have a great weekend....we plan to have a fun plant buying excursion at a fabulous nursery on the other side of the river in Nebraska....hope you will be doing something wonderful as well. Thank you again for all the support and warm wishes...I am so cheered by them!

April 14, 2012

April 15, 2012

April 16, 2012

April 17, 2012

April 18, 2012

April 19, 2012

Friday, April 13, 2012

Nip and Tuck

Hello, friends! It's been quite a week, as now that I've signed official documents, the job at the Vermillion Public Library seems to be a reality for me. I've been racing around tying up loose ends with my other two very, very part-time jobs, along with getting some work into a great show space up in Sioux Falls. For those of you in the area, you can see my work adorning these luscious walls at Rug and Relic, a gallery showplace that features beautiful rugs and objects from Turkey, along with a selection of other art and objects from artisans both near and far. It's a feast for the senses as soon as you walk in the door and my work is going to be very happy on consignment there....don't worry, there's still plenty left in my online shops, although you may have noticed the amount of work at the MissouriBendStudio shop on Etsy drastically reduced this week.

While I transform my psyche from living in the studio to the living 30 hours of the week at the library, I've been slowly tweaking some things...you know, a little nip and tuck, as I try to fit myself into this new metaphoric set of clothes. While not wanting to give anything up, I'm adjusting the way I do things in various ways. Sometimes it's the little things....like pulling my writing desk area away from the way and facing into the room, rather than into the wall....it opens everything up in a new way!

I've been experimenting this week with different sizes and formats for the daily drawings, but by now have come straight back to the original format, although in the absence of teabags (as is my current situation) I'll work on a small piece of Japanese paper adhered to the bristol board. The difference will be that I won't post daily in the shop or on facebook as I have been doing. As much as I have enjoyed the great comments and cheer over on facebook each day, it's enough to just get a drawing-a-day made, without the pressure of photographing and posting daily....now that will all happen weekly. 

April 10 2012

April 11 2012

April 12 2012

April 13 2012

Many of the long-time followers of this blog will remember that one of my structured daily practices has been doing a quick group of 10 morning drawings each day....these are really just marks on the page....letting my hand move where it wants and stop when it wants.  The whole thing takes less than 10 minutes, but I've been doing them since the beginning of August and the pages are piling up quite high, 10 pieces of copy paper per day since August (minus the days here and there that I miss) well....it's quite the stack...

I'm moving this little practice into a small moleskin and just doing five pages instead of ten. I think this will evolve and merge with the actual journal writing (if you can call it that) that I do each morning...just a page or so of writing down whatever is on my mind.  I've never been one to keep a real artistic journal, but I'm beginning to see myself moving in that direction. Today, I just did my little drawings in the book, while the pile of previous drawings from April beside me on the desk looked on as if they'd been abandoned...well, they kind of have.

Actually these little drawings are more involved than they usually are...I suppose a sign of them evolving in some way. I think life in the studio, even though the time will be more limited, will be more rewarding. The financial and marketplace pressure is off....I have a feeling I'll settle into the work with a better flow....so you'll continue to see it pop up in MissouriBendStudio, MissouriBendMusings and on my website.  I'm not giving up this blog at all....I've made too many valuable friends this way and I'd miss you all terribly! I don't suppose I'll have time for posting more than once a week, but that's what it's been lately and who knows....I may find all kinds of pockets of time tucked away in those library shelves!  

Thanks for reading my ramblings! I appreciate your comments and do hope you have a fine weekend!

Friday, April 6, 2012

Changes, Changes in Store

Greetings! Hope this week has been a good one for you and you'll have an enjoyable weekend. Life is about to change for me as I've accepted a 30-hour-a-week job at the public library....I'm quite excited, as it will make a huge difference for us financially, and I've always worked in libraries, so I will feel quite at home!

While I have anticipated this possibility for some time, now that it seems to be a reality, I must face the fact that the hours in my days will have to be drastically rearranged. What to give up, what to scale back?  Surely, I can't keep up all the things I've been doing at the same pace, which truth be told, I haven't even been able to keep up with the demands I place on myself as it is. While I contemplate how to manage two shops, whether to merge them, whether the "dailies" become a weekly digest, etc. etc., you can peruse the latest daily drawings and perhaps head on over to MissouriBendStudio or MissouriBendMusings where I'm having major spring cleaning sales with a 20% discount on all the work in both shops! The sale goes on through April, as I hope to pare down the amount of work I have piled high down in the studio. I look forward shipping pieces out to loving homes....please stop by and take a look to see if anything strikes your fancy!!! Perhaps a little enticement....including tomorrow's drawing already done since we'll be gone all day on a fun little field trip! 

April 7, 2012

April 6, 2012

April 5, 2012

April 4, 2012

April 3, 2012

Enjoy your weekend and I'll see you at the beginning of the week, maybe with some things resolved.
Thank you all for the continued support and a warm welcome to the newest followers here!

Monday, April 2, 2012

Inspirations: Cathy Cullis

Welcome to April and another installment of Inspirations, the first-of-the-month feature highlighting artists that inspire me....and I hope will inspire you too! This month, we'll learn quite a bit about Cathy Cullis, an artist from England I was introduced to a couple of years ago by another artist who thought I'd find her inspiring.  I fell in love with her work and her blog right away. I hope you find Cathy's work and her answers to my open-ended questions give you some new insights! All the images come from her Etsy shop, Cathy Cullis. Direct links to her shop and delightful blog are posted at the end.

Your creative work comes from so many places and takes so many forms. Can you tell us a little about your background and how you came to a place where you work through writing and poetry, sewing, painting, drawing, sculpting, dyeing, publishing zines....have I left anything out? Do all the various strands of your work inform each other and you as well....does something happening in writing influence your painting, for instance?

I do work with a variety of media and yes I am a writer too. I've always been interested in a variety of 'making things' and playing with words and imagery. As a child I loved the crafts book section of the library and I remember making some very ambitious pipe cleaner dolls and a dolls house or two. I still make dolls houses..... 

As a young adult I went to university and studied both English and Art. The art part of my degree course was as a 'minor' subject. It was a mix of theory and making, and to be honest I didn't enjoy the making very much. I did choose to write my final paper on Outsider Art and that has had a big influence on my own art making. I became very interested in intuitive, folk art and the work of artists outside the mainstream - I was offered the opportunity to continue on with my research but I didn't! For some reason, I will never really fathom, I decided instead to go on to a different university and study for an MA in Creative Writing, focusing on poetry. I've always felt a little push-pull between wanting to be an artist and a writer. I did well, and very much enjoyed my year with a great poet mentor Philip Gross. But ultimately, I have never aggressively pursued a writing career - I do write but I have no huge ambition. My creativity has evolved to being far more visual.... When my daughter was a baby I co-edited a small poetry journal and did drawings for it, that was hard work but a good experience. I got more interested in just making for the sake of and having small children made me realise again the potential of 'play' and improvisation.

I'm a lone parent with two children. My younger child, my son, is diagnosed autistic. Going through the process of diagnosis, supporting etc.. has influenced how I see people and the world. I've realised that I have some introverted aspects to my own personality and I feel we all in are so individual and have particular needs....

Over time I've experimented with all kinds of media and techniques, because I love the feel of different things and like to combine ideas - teaching myself how to do it in my own way, whether that's re-jigging a sewing machine so that I can stitch free-motion, or working out a way of making monoprint drawings without a press. My work pulls on all kinds of interests and obsessions: poetry and romantic literature, art history of varying times, nostalgia, melancholy, childhood, abstraction..... My work is not directly about my life experience but has evolved to become my way of exploring the sensual world, its histories, my history - and what I make each day is not about me but is recognisably my own. It has taken time, years, to feel now that what I make is a part of who I am and I am so very grateful to the people who have encouraged me along the way.

Making and repeating and re-thinking, I've come to develop a style that's 'me'. I've created perhaps my own little world of recognisable faces and patterns, motifs and moods..... I am asked sometimes by people interested in my work and interested in developing their own style: how do you do it?  And the answer might be a little boring but it's simply to do do do. And never stop looking at what interests you, visit galleries, read books, make notes, keep sketchbooks. 

Because you have so many things going on, I'm curious about how you structure your time. I know you also have a family, so I'm always amazed at how much you accomplish....what's your secret?!

So nowadays, I am looking after my school age children, raising them by myself, and working a lot! I love to be making and feel very fortunate that I am able to be working as an artist and supporting my family, I am there for my children at the end of the school day and we are a close little family. Perhaps its in my genes, but I have always had quite a strong 'work ethic' and sense of self-discipline, and I've learned over the past few years that having a structure and planning my week really helps. My art-making is a small business, but is not just about that, I'm wanting all the time to develop as an individual and get better at what I do! I'm living a creative life, and am very grateful to everyone who shows an interest in my little world of dreaming....

I don't think there's a 'secret' to being prolific, but I do know my children inspire me greatly, and are my best critics. And I do know that if I go for a few days without making something I feel tetchy and depressed even. Being creative is about a physical process, a work-out, even if its tearing up paper and glueing. Or scribbling a lot of nonsense in a notebook. Perhaps I have a lot of nervous energy! If I have a project on the go and something brewing, I am happy. However, I don't like making for the sake of and have a very high rejection rate. I put work to one side and then I will come back to it in a day or two and if I don't like something - even if someone else might - I won't offer it.

Favorite materials or way of working?

Despite the fact I've experimented with various media, I still like the basics best: paper and paintbrush, needle and thread. There's nothing really too sophisticated - it's all hands on and timeless. Intricate, high-tech and conceptual making just isn't for me. I like art and craft where you can recognise the maker's thumbprint:)

I suspect you are also a real reader....care to share any favorite books or authors?

Yes I love to read and like to read a broad range of new and classic books. I've recently been reading lots of short story collections and love Mollie Panter-Downes, her stories published by Persephone Books. I'm also a big fan of American literature, my favourite American author being Toni Morrison. I'm keen to read new authors and love poetry and re-read collections.

If you could have a small dinner party and invite anyone from history (time periods aren't an issue here) who would you gather around the table for lively and thought-provoking conversation?

Can I admit I hate dinner parties! I would prefer tea - with the Emily's: Emily Dickinson and Emily Bronte. I think they would understand if it all felt like too much and the scones were shop-bought.