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, August 31, 2012

August Twilight Hours

Greetings on the eve of the Labor Day holiday...hope you will enjoy the three-day weekend....if you are living here in the States, anyway. Busy days....isn't that the way it is with all of us?! Let's see, where to start? Well, I'll start with the big news, which is that I am the subject of the Artist Profile in the current issue of Somerset Studio, which has just hit the newsstands. Quite honored to have my work seen by so many! I haven't received my copy yet, but I did stop in at Barnes and Noble and saw that it was there on the shelves. If you have a chance, you might want to check it out.

It's also the last hours of the 25% off sale in my shop MissouriBendStudio, if you want to take advantage of it before I wake up tomorrow and deactivate the ENDOFSUMMER coupon code! However, I would like to offer my thanks to the readers of this blog and will create an ongoing coupon code for blog readers that will only be advertised here. So, beginning September 1st, feel free to use the coupon code: BLOGGER any time you'd like something from either of my Etsy shops, MissouriBendStudio or MissouriBendMusings, and receive 10% off. I wouldn't be where I am without the much needed support of my friends here....many thanks to each of you!

I didn't get back here earlier in the week to show you the latest....so here's a week's worth of dailies!
They are all posted now at MissouriBendMusings if you want to see more views or see them without that most vexing horizontal stripe that keeps showing up on here on Blogger!?!??!

August 25, 2012

August 26, 2012

August 27, 2012

August 28, 2012
My lovely new sheets of exquisite Japanese paper arrived early in the week....wow, what a difference. I felt SO much more connected to the process once my hands were gliding across that paper. It holds up beautifully to a little wash too....the possibilities open up! Can you tell the difference in the drawings....there is something different that happened when I started working on the new paper, but I can't quite describe it.

Other irons in the fire and a couple of Notes From the Ancestors nearly finished, so I hope to have other new pieces to share early in the week. I don't know about you, but I'm looking forward to autumn, but it's been well over 100 degrees several days this week, so I don't think it will be coming too soon.  Enjoy your weekend!

Friday, August 24, 2012

The Daily Practice

Notes From the Ancestors no.8

Happy Friday everyone! It's been a good week, although quite busy. The academic year is starting up and there have been potlucks and kickoffs to the new year at the university where my husband teaches, including the potluck we had here for 36 folks from the Art Department....faculty and grads and their families. That was fun and we had a perfect summer evening for being outdoors. I managed to finish another piece in the Notes From the Ancestors series and it's now up (and available) on my website at robertspizzuto.com.

August 21, 2012

August 22, 2012

August 23, 2012

August 24, 2012

Still waiting my for my paper order to arrive, so this week I've been using odds and ends of whatever handmade paper I can scrounge up in the studio, but I've about exhausted the supply. Hopefully the package will arrive Monday. My new routine of getting up a little early to make the daily drawing before yoga is working nicely. It becomes a peaceful way to start the day, allowing it to begin with a quiet conversation with the muses. There's that strange stripe showing up again in that photo above....what gives with that?! Anyway, tomorrow is another work day for me at the library, so I'll head to bed shortly. Hope you have a fine weekend and hope to have some fresh, new work to share with you at the beginning of the week!


Monday, August 20, 2012

Notes To The Ancestors

"Balance is not a fixed point, but rather an ongoing internal conversation." -- Jason Crandell
(Jason Crandell is our yoga "instructor" on our favorite yoga DVD....)

Hello! Hope this post finds you well and having a good start to your week. More developments and evolutions (revolutions!) here during this last week, as each day brought a new insight or confirmation. When I last wrote, I was creating my own "ledger" pages for the daily drawings, which was a vast improvement over the pre-printed ones and brought me closer to the "right"place, which you can only recognize when you are there...well, even then you can't describe it, it's just the "yes" place. I was still using the machine made drawing paper and though I was settling in a little more comfortably with the drawings, there remained a sense of unease and I began to understand that it was the paper itself. I had been trying to use water soluble crayons and some ink washes and was pretty limited because the paper wasn't made for wet media. So, I was anxious to get to the store to investigate paper. Well, living in a small town doesn't provide many opportunities for perusing art supplies, even when one ventures the hour away to the biggest city we've got in the state, Sioux Falls.

August 14, 2012

August 15, 2012

August 16, 2012

August 17, 2012

I settled on a pad of paper made for mixed media....one daily drawing later, I knew that it was a mistake, but it did lead me to knowing what I should have known all along....handmade paper. The commercial, machine made paper doesn't have the life force in it somehow....it's hard edged, stark white and doesn't have any softness or spirit. And naturally, the new mixed media paper was super stiff and thick. Turns out I'd gone in the opposite direction....I was worse off with the new paper, but at least it didn't take long to recognize what I did need.

August 18, 2012

 My supply of Japanese paper and the beautiful corn husk paper I bought last year are in short supply, as that's what I use for the Notes From the Ancestors. But, the next morning I used a sheet of Japanese paper and it felt just like coming home.....not only that, there was the slow dawning realization that if the other body of work I am making is collectively called Notes From The Ancestors then of course, these daily drawings are Notes TO the Ancestors. It's all a conversation with time, memory and our collective history. Home base. Sunday's drawing and today's (19th and 20th) are on the Japanese paper....it all feels just right.

August 19, 2012

August 20, 2012

I've ordered a good amount of delicious paper from Bhutan from Hiromi Paper and can't wait for it to arrive. Then I can focus on envelopes! I love that there is a circular notion to the work going on in the studio....each morning I ask questions and speak to the "ancestors" through the drawings and as time allows during the week or on my precious days off, I work on the Notes From The Ancestors where my thoughts and insights reveal themselves.

All the drawings shown here can be found at MissouriBendMusings. Oh....and I keep forgetting to mention that I'm having a big sale at MissouriBendStudio with 25% off everything through the end of August. It's time for the little dears to find new homes! The long table in my studio that holds the work from both shops is getting quite full! Take a peek....maybe you'll find the just the right thing. If so, enter the coupon code: ENDOFSUMMER when you check out.

Thanks so much for the conversation here....your thoughts and insights are so very helpful to me!!! See you in a few days, I hope! Have a great week....

Monday, August 13, 2012

Ledger Pages 2.0

Wow....hard to believe it's already been a week since I've been here to let you know what's going on in the studio and in life! I must have been pretty busy Friday, but now it feels so long ago, don't know what I was up to! Meanwhile I've been plugging away on the ledger pages and one of the comments by  Susan Bowers on last week's post provided a moment of revelation that changed the course of things. I had mentioned the idea of sending these pages to any buyers in an envelope, like a personal letter. The piece could still be framed or displayed, but the notion of the envelope echoed the idea of documentation. As I had talked about seeking the right envelope, Susan mentioned that she and Fiona Dempster are going to be collaborating on a project that will involve envelopes and they'll be making their own and I might think about doing the same. Of course!!! Why wouldn't I just make the envelopes? Not surprisingly, it was only a short time before it dawned on me that I needed to be making the ledger pages themselves!

It was the answer to the problem I didn't quite know I was having. I had been working on pages that I printed from an online source of various ledger pages in various formats and was planning to buy some, but couldn't quite bring myself to purchase any. The pages were unfolding each day, but I felt somewhat estranged from them, although I didn't actually know it at the time...I only see it in retrospect. But Susan's comment and the subsequent light bulb going on over my head, made me realize that there was a disconnect between the sterile, hard edge grid of the ledger pages and the kind of marks I make. It was working as a daily practice, but a shift was needed for me to feel good about them as visual statements in and of themselves. So I hauled the small tabletop lightbox from Johntimothy's studio into mine and made a bare bones template of my homemade ledger page....not a format that would in any way be useful for an accountant, that's for sure! Now, before I make each day's drawing, I trace the basic grid on the lightbox and then add more lines making the grid denser and incorporating it in various ways into the drawing. This gives me a chance to show you more of last week's drawings on the pre-printed ledger paper and then beginning with Saturday, August 11th on my hand-drawn pages. Hopefully you'll agree that it's an improvement. Susan, thanks so much for the comment and suggestion for the envelopes....you helped me make a huge leap! And now, to develop those envelopes...stay tuned!

My apologies for those fluorescent colored bars going across some of the pieces....they are NOT in the photographs, but seem to be making a guest appearance only here on Blogger, alas.

Before I sign off and head for bed to rest up for the work week ahead, wanted to show you the latest two additions to the Notes From the Ancestors series...no.5 and no. 6 are here and can be found (and purchased) through my website, robertspizzuto.com. I do love making this series....the format allows for so many possibilities to play together on the page.

Okay, it's late and I'm quite tired....hope your week has started off on the right foot and your week unfolds with delightful surprises and revelations!


Monday, August 6, 2012

Ledger Pages Unfolding

The first full week of August already....wow! Just a quick few words here as I show you the first few days of the ledger pages. So far, I haven't found any of the blank ledger pages in the stores that I like, so I'll probably buy them online. In the meantime, I've found some blank ones online that can be printed, so I'm just printing them here at home on Japanese paper that I cut down to a standard 8 1/2" x 11" size. It could get expensive to do that forever, but better paper allows for more possibilities, I suppose.

Thanks so much for the encouraging comments....your support means a great deal and helps me stay the course at the times when I second guess myself. Still in pursuit of the envelope idea and finding just the right ones to use. In the meantime, these new pieces are posted at MissouriBendMusings just as they are.

Hope you have a great week. Still hoping for rain here....whatever happens though will be too little too late....it's a grim scene in the farm fields these days. See you in a few days!

Friday, August 3, 2012

Ledger Pages

I've got it....the answer to the vague question I wrote about early in the week. The notion that change was in the air, that the dailies were about to take some kind of turn, but I wasn't sure what that was. I'm always amazed how these ideas float to the surface, as if held underwater and yet by their own will, they slowly rise to the surface as if searching for air. One minute, still just a shadow barely visible beneath the surface and then...the gentle moment of breakthrough and the first breath where the idea is able to speak of its own accord: ledger pages.

It happened this morning as I was drinking my tea on the deck, vowing that I wasn't going to push myself too hard today on my day off. Once the breakthrough occurred, I realized all the little notions that had come together to help it to the surface. In the post last Monday I had talked about the need for a daily practice that honored the day, that marked its passage, that left a trace. And then there was the struggle of art vs. product and the need to make something visual, but not wanting to be too concerned about the weight of making "art" and yet, there is an Etsy shop dedicated these daily ventures
and so they must be something that communicates in some form, that might make a connection with someone who will want to invest a small sum to have it. And then there was Diana Behl, the artist featured in the Inspirations a few days ago.....and my favorite piece of hers always lurking in the recesses of my mind, and which I really must have....

Diana Behl

The ledger page represents an accounting, a balance sheet of the day....a record of the pluses and minuses, the events and non-events of a given day's business. In this case the practice of creating daily ledger pages builds a metaphoric record of the accumulation of my own history and the quiet passage of time.

Part of the problem of late is my inability to be able to set aside time each day to work on the drawings. I come home from work with my energy pretty well spent and mostly just want to sit with a glass of wine on the deck or front porch to unwind. I understand now that the daily ledger sheets will have to be made early in the morning and perhaps become an intuitive unveiling of the previous day. We're already getting up at 6:20 in the morning to do yoga (with our neighbor Sue and our favorite yoga DVDs with Jason Crandell or Rod Stryker) at 6:45. So, I'll just get up earlier and start with a ledger drawing to set the tone for the day. It clearly isn't working in the evening. This will take me back to my days years ago of rising early to do the morning pages exercise in the Artist's Way. You don't think you can get up a moment earlier, but you do and turns out your day unfolds with more energy and balance for having started with that practice of writing....in my case it will be something happening on a ledger page. Of course, I couldn't wait to get started, so I printed a couple pages from some online templates and spent a little time in the studio playing this morning. I think that when I list these in my shop, they will be featured more like a letter and I will mail them in a related hand-drawn envelope, rather than as a work of art to be framed. Still playing with that idea...

August 3, 2012

detail 1

detail 2

detail 3

Clearly the idea of the ledger drawings for the daily practice is informed by this latest body of work, Notes from the Ancestors. I have two new ones to show you, although they photographed poorly. The tones are much warmer in the actual pieces, as the beeswax gives the paper the color of butter, which is not so evident here. I'll have to rephotograph them before I post them on my website.

Notes from the Ancestors no.3

Notes from the Ancestors no.4

Enjoy your day, keep your eyes open.....you never know where your inspiration will be coming from.
Thanks for taking part in the saga of my "dailies"....see you in a few days!

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Inspirations: Diana Behl

Hello! It's the first of the month and I'm here to introduce you to a new artist, Diana Behl, whose work I very much admire, which serves as a never ending source of inspiration for me. This is the first time I've done an Inspirations post on an artist that I actually know in real life and it's a treat to bring her work to you. Diana is an artist here in South Dakota who teaches printmaking at South Dakota State University in Brookings, which is about two hours from here. She's a delightful person and makes beautifully sensitive work. You'll get to know her through her work and the responses to my questions below. She has also included an insightful statement on process at the end. Hope you enjoy this work as much as I do!

Can you tell us a little of your background and what brought you to making art?

For as long as I can remember I’ve been interested in making and creating. Imagination and play in childhood naturally unfolded into the choice to seriously pursue art.

As an artist or as a student, did you start out as a printmaker or did you migrate to that discipline from somewhere else?

As an undergraduate at Bowling Green State University I started out in graphic design, and gradually shifted over to printmaking. I discovered intaglio with copper plates while studying with Janet Ballweg, and the process just clicked. I haven’t been able to shake it off yet!

Where you find inspiration?

My ideas are gathered from everyday life, memory and simply the idea that form is content (an idea inspired by Ben Shahn). I’ve recently been very interested in Corita Kent–a former screenprinter who taught at the Immaculate Heart College in California. I found a list of “general rules for a student” that she wrote that has really helped me find solace in my recent studio work. And of course, offer to my students. My favorite rule is:

It’s very true! Steadfast commitment in the studio often creates ideas with which to build an entire body of work.

Who are the artists who have inspired you along the way?

Squeak Carnwath, Cy Twombly, David Carson, Crown Point Press

Any special books, films, music that have special meaning for you?

The Shape of Content – Ben Shahn
Letters to a Young Poet – Rainer Maria Rilke
The End of Print – David Carson

Can you talk a little about your process? Do you work intuitively or do the printmaking processes require you to have a more careful plan for each work?

I work on many different bodies of work at once–various works on paper including drawings and collages, mixed media works on panel and intaglio prints. Working in this way informs each process (and process informs the images, and their construction) and keeps me on my toes. It helps to combat monotony in the studio.
In general I work intuitively, and I have as many as 15 images in the works at any given time. Each mark informs the next. And each piece informs the next image. Each medium has its own language and I think that is evident in each body of work.
Because the intaglio medium can be costly and arduous, a bit more planning is required than a collage or drawing. Therefore, I try to have a loose plan when I begin a new print and aim to embrace the unexpected as the image evolves.

What's the best part of being and artist?

Boundless possibilities.

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?

I think I would be more interested in observing a lively conversation around a dinner table! Guests could include: Ben Shahn, Cy Twombly, Noam Chomsky, Squeak Carnwath, Carson McCullers and Chan Marshall.

On Process

My work explores an assortment of paper-based media in the forms of prints, drawings, collages and cut-paper installations. Paper has a presence that captivates me. The expressive and aesthetic qualities it embodies when coupled with favored materials articulates a poignant language. Its texture, color, and weight captures a variety of markings: the tactile sense of a graphite line moving across its surface; observing the liquid of a marker gracefully being absorbed into its fibers presents contentment. Similarly, delight and challenge are discovered when pairing items to work with, engineering small details on copper plates or carefully crafting objects.

Memory plays a role as an impetus to record. Stimuli are derived from snippets of the seemingly ordinary, to an ineffableness that challenges clarity. These visual moments of inspiration are boundless. This begins as fodder; the outcomes have arrived through a process of investigation, reinvention and trial and error.

Each mark, addition or deletion aids a fraction that defines a comprehensive whole; slices are pieced together to form a nonlinear narrative. The physical journey within the space of a composition creates a backdrop for metaphor or story-telling. Each chosen medium characterizes this space. Printed information from a copper plate becomes imbedded within the surface of paper, while thoughtfully selected ephemera treads in a more shallow navigation. Moody atmospheres and intimate or heavy mark-making lead to paths that are unanticipated, and may create an earnest whimsy. Ideas uncover, solutions unfold. Working intuitively with paper-based media pilots a profound, selfless moment. Artist unites with spectator. Invited to make connections, they meander or reflect, and observe findings of a shared nature.

Find out more by visiting directly with Diana through the following links: