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, June 29, 2012

Monday through Friday and the Year is Half Over

Hi everyone....hope you've had a good week with some true highlights to balance out any low spots. I'm here to share this week's dailies with you....just posted them over at MissouriBendMusings a bit ago, so do stop by there to check out more detailed views, if you like.

June 25, 2012

June 26, 2012

June 27, 2012

June 28, 2012

June 29, 2012

I'm trying to squeeze in new pieces for the MissouriBendStudio shop, along with some other larger work that will end up on my website. This is a little hand stitched teabag piece I listed at MissouriBendStudio earlier in the week.

Johntimothy is busy these days with the print/book workshops held at the University each summer (Frogman's Print & Paper Workshops), so I'll have more time in the studio in the next couple weeks....I say optimistically! That is, if I don't fall completely under the enchanted spell of the fireflies....I have a hard time tearing myself away each evening!

See you in a few days....enjoy your weekend!

Monday, June 25, 2012

Settling Into Summer

Greetings, friends! I hope I don't sound like a broken record when I say that I feel like I'm finally getting on top of things. I am more relaxed now in the studio and some looming deadlines for other things have now come and gone, so I'm feeling good. I am settling into a rhythm with the new daily format....black and white 6 x 6" pieces for the weekdays and the teabags mounted on bristol for the weekends. I've also found some time in the last day or so to finish up a couple new pieces for MissouriBendStudio, along with adding more dots to a Transcendence piece in the works. I meant to do a blogpost at the end of the week, but better late than never....I can still try for two a week, although it may not always work out. I still haven't had a chance to get caught up on blog reading, which I miss, but that's the next step. The weather has, for the most part, been delightful and we're outside enjoying the fresh air or working in the garden beds when we can....might as well enjoy the summer weather before it becomes beastly hot! I am always grateful for the faithful support I have here....you all are wonderful readers and fans and I thank you for the patience and messages of good cheer! Now, it looks like we've got some catching up to do...nearly a week of dailies since I was last here!

I made a couple of little books with some of the collage pieces I started last fall....both have pages that are dipped in beeswax....creates a delicious translucency! They are just a few pages, held together with a pamphlet stitch. I've just listed this one in the MissouriBendStudio shop, where you can find some detail views of the pages.

The second book, Book of Civilizations Lost and Found will be listed there tomorrow....hope you'll check it out!

Okay....there's still some time left in the afternoon to get back in the studio before Johntimothy comes home and we head out to Sioux City on an errand run!  Hope you have a fantastic week!

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

The Daily Evolution

It's mid-week and the time is flying by as usual. Johntimothy and I had a lovely getaway to Kansas City....enjoyed seeing the art in galleries and museums, exploring some new territory and eating good food. We were both ready to get home by Monday, so that's a good sign that the long weekend had restored our spirits! Life at the library is settling down, which must mean that I'm feeling more confident now that I've gone through the cycle of tasks for a month or so. It feels good not to feel overwhelmed!

On the way home from  Kansas City we stopped at Dick Blick for art supplies in Omaha and I came across some lovely black drawing paper. It occurred to me that it would be interesting to use that for some of the daily drawings...the contrast of white ink or thread against the black could be very striking.
So, here's the last evolution of the daily drawings....sort of like a newspaper with daily and weekend editions, I'll do the weekday dailies on the black paper (they'll measure 9 x 6") and the weekend dailies on the teabags mounted on bristol, as I've been doing. Not a bad thing to shake things up once in a while, eh?!

Given the fact that I pretty much lost a week when I was scrambling around trying to keep up with life last week, I've started fresh with the drawings this week. So, the last drawing I did before the "week that disappeared" is here on June 10th and then the first couple dailies from this week, which are also in the shop at MissouriBendMusings.

Still getting my grounding again. Life at the job is settling down and I'm not feeling so overwhelmed anymore, which is a sign I'm feeling more confident now that I've been through the cycle of a month of responsibilities. I'll get there....always a process. Hope you are having a good week....I'll see you in a few days!

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Summertime Rituals and the Magic of Fireflies

Hi....it's me, at long last! I can't explain it, except to say that life has just gotten incredibly busy and it's getting harder and harder to get into the studio, much less keep up with the two Etsy shops and the blogs. My apologies, especially to my friends here in the blog world....I might have time to read posts once a week and by then there are a hundred and fifty or more to go through and I scroll pretty fast and don't have time to comment. And it's quite obvious that I haven't been keeping up with posting on my own blog. The days at my job in the public library, which I still really love, are very densely packed and I come home rather exhausted. I'm not so good at suddenly switching gears, so I can't quite get it together lately to focus on my artistic and creative life as easily as I did. Let's face it, I'm in a time of transition and things will work themselves out. I obviously can't work 4 days a week and expect to keep up with everything I was doing when I wasn't working outside my dearly loved studio/online life. So, I'm trying to pay attention to what stays, what needs to be let go, etc.  My husband and I are having a long weekend anniversary (18 years!) getaway this weekend and it will give me a little break to think and regroup. I'm quite looking forward to spending time in Kansas City, which is just about 5 hours away....art museums and other sights, along with wonderful dining experiences await us, I'm sure!

In the meantime, I'm also trying to take advantage of the beautiful weather when we have it and spend time enjoying the birds and the fresh air. We drink our tea here on the front porch in the mornings and enjoy a glass of wine and our latest reading in the early evenings here as well, especially when it's too windy to be on the back deck overlooking the river. But the best part of summer for me is that twilight hour when the dying light brings a deer or two out from the woods across the street and the fireflies begin their magical dance. In the mornings there is much chatter and birdsong and in the evening the creatures leave the scene one by one, retiring for the evening....in their wake, an almost audible hush. It's a lovely way to unwind.

There are some new dailies over at MissouriBendMusings, but I confess I'm behind there as well. I do have another piece in the Transcendence series posted on my website  which I'll share with you here. Another piece developed from my love of dots and the power of the multiple!

Transcendence no.2

I do hope you are having a good week and apologize again for my absence....look forward to seeing you again early next week! Have a fine weekend!

Monday, June 4, 2012

Inspirations: Kaija Rantakari

Sorry for the delay in posting the Inspirations feature for this month....we had a communication snafu and the interview was lost in the ether for a bit! I'm so pleased to bring you the work of Kaija Rantakari, an artist in Finland whose work I've dearly loved for a very long time. She makes beautiful books and intimate, poignant works with matchboxes in an open-ended series called Letters to You. You'll get to know her through her work and words which follow!

Can you talk a little about your background....how did you come to be making the works that you make?

I come from a long family line of crafty people and I’ve always been encouraged to make things by hand. After a childhood of making stuff at home, I ended up studying writing and bookbinding. I wanted to put my talent to use and make something that could encourage others to feed their creativity, so I’ve mainly focused on making blank notebooks in the hopes that other people would write their hearts out. Lately I’ve created more and more things that are entirely useless pieces of art, small sketches of my emotions and aesthetics.

I'm especially drawn to the intimacy and poignancy of the matchbox pieces....the Letters to You series....can you talk about them....how they started and how they've evolved?

At first I made little matchboxes to keep my creative juices flowing when I started at a new job and found it difficult to find time for bookbinding. Later I realized how well it suited me to make tiny things loaded with meaning and beauty, and I started to take my matchboxes more seriously. I made matchboxes with tiny poetic letters in Finnish and sent them to my foreign friends. I’m terribly good at keeping my own secrets but it felt good sharing them, so as the matchbox project expanded, I began to sell the finished pieces on Etsy and share my stories with strangers. Nowadays hardly any of the pieces include actual letters with writing on them but I still feel I’m conveying a message; these are still my letters to you, to anyone out there, intimate and thoughtful.
My original idea was to make art out of materials I already have and focus more on the act of intuitive creating than on having a plan, and luckily I’ve been able to be faithful to my intuition in the creation of every single piece. Of course some matchboxes are dearer to me than others and I never know beforehand how each one is going to turn out. Still I make a huge mess in the living room and try to make a miracle out of it every time I begin a new matchbox letter.

Is there a typical day....if so, how does it unfold? How do you engage with the work in the studio?

I’ve been fighting depression for years now and it has made it very difficult to maintain a creative routine.  I’m sure the melancholy that comes with depression has made its mark on my work – I’m actually happy about being able to show the fragility and sensitivity to minor details through my work.
Nowadays I tend to work in bouts whenever I have a good feeling about the days to come. I’m a very messy person when I create (actually, always), so I usually begin my work by spreading the possible materials on the living room floor and find just the right combination of textures and colours for whatever I’m making.  I do have a desk that’s dedicated to bookbinding and art but I seem to think better on the floor. (I’m very grateful to have a fiancĂ© who is not only the bee’s knees but extremely patient with my messes too.) Books I make in small batches even though the vast majority of my books are one of a kinds; it really helps me concentrate when I can go into the glue-state-of-mind and spend a couple of hours just stippling glue to various book covers and forget what comes next. One step at a time, one day at a time.

Any books, films that have special meaning for you....do they influence your work?

I’m terrible at remembering names and I even forget the plot the moment a book or a film ends. I only remember the general atmosphere and whether or not I liked it. I’m certain that the art I see/hear/read influences me and my work more than I can ever know. I’m over sensitive, how could it not, but I find it really hard to point out where exactly can you see my adoration of e.e. cummings or David Mitchell. Films I can remember liking more than usual: Blade Runner, Never Let Me Go and Drive. The new Wuthering Heights was visually gorgeous, too, though it did leave me a bit cold as a whole.

Where do you find inspiration?

Colours are my number one on the inspiration list. They never fail me. Fashion, which is pretty directly linked with colours. Materials, naturally. I watch more films than I ever thought I would, I browse through all sorts of vintage things online and I go treasure hunting for vintage materials. London is my favourite place in the world (British people have realized someone wants to pay for their old trash and turn it into art – I never find any cool materials here in Finland) and going there is like taking a vacation from me.

If you could have a small gathering for lively and interesting conversation around the dinner table...and you could invite anyone from history....who might be on your guest list?

Saima – my great grandaunt that I’ve never met but dreamt of many times

Albert H. Munsell – the father of Munsell colour system and therefore must know a lot about colours

Joseph Beuys – a German artist that my mother could have met when she was young but probably didn’t

Alberto Giacometti – a sculptor that made things I want to touch to see if they’re really melting

Find these delightful matchbox works, handmade books, delicate pins and more at Kaija's etsy shop
Paperiaarre. She also has a wonderful blog which you will enjoy! Thank you to Kaija for her generosity in answering these questions and in sharing her beautiful work and process with the world!

Friday, June 1, 2012

Moments of Transcendence

The breeze at dawn has secrets to tell you.
Don't go back to sleep.

You must ask for what you really want.
Don't go back to sleep.

People are going back and forth across the doorsill
where the two worlds touch.

The door is round and open.
Don't go back to sleep.

From Essential Rumi
by Coleman Barks

I've been listening again to one of my favorite pieces of music, Monsters of Grace, by Philip Glass. Beautiful, ethereal and otherworldly, the text is based on the poems of Rumi. These fields of dots take me to such places and that's why I love making them....I am transported to that opening where the two worlds (any two worlds....infinite worlds) touch....where an unnamed presence is able to move unseen. I cannot find ways to speak of it, except by laying one dot, one small particle, next to another. 

I've been trying to think of the name of this series (more are in progress), but it occurred to me that these are also nocturnes like the ones I began last fall at the residency in Wyoming. For those of you that haven't seen any of these, here is one from the series and the rest can be seen on my website. For now, the series is called The Second Nocturnes.

Earlier in the week, as I was making dots, I began to realize that the world these dots evoke could be superimposed on something more concrete, an image more tangible. I immediately found some of the old photographs my mother took from her youth and made some photocopies to see what happened.

This field of dots is layered on a copy of a photograph of my own mother and father in their happy youth while my father was in the Navy during World War II. They are both gone now, my mother's an unhappy ending with alcohol, my father's a long life lived even with a weak heart. I know how those lives unfolded....in their innocence at the moment of this photograph, how could they know where their life would take them. Maybe that's the reason I find it so compelling and I'm curious for your reaction. Does this layer of dots perhaps evoke something unnameable and does it hold possibilities for creating a new layer of meaning, for moving an ordinary snapshot closer to the threshold where the things move easily back and forth. Perhaps for you it is just an old photograph with a pattern of dots. And that brings me to another big question....what is it that makes something transcendent? And what does it mean to be transcendent? That's what I'm after in the work. I am so happy when there are even momentary glimpses.

If we can make our daily lives more transcendent....wouldn't we be floating through life? I don't feel as if I'm floating, but as long as I have glimpses through art, music and literature, my life feels connected to something much larger and I am lifted ever so slightly from my plodding. I'll leave you with the latest dailies from MissouriBendMusings. Have a great weekend!

May 29, 2012

May 30, 2012

May 31, 2012

June 1, 2012