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.


Wednesday, December 16, 2015

The Touchstone Voice

The tug-of-war has gotten underway....well, maybe that's casting a rather negative gloom over the creative process. But, there are moments when it feels like a tug-of-war! Do you often feel there are countless voices at work inside you, each with their own take on giving you just the right advice?

You can't listen to everyone of course, and for me the secret is tuning out the others and just listening to the unnamed voice that I learned to trust probably 15 years ago. I'd been making art before that for decades, but somehow I began to trust myself and the work that is truly my own began to come forth. It was only then that I knew that I'd slipped into my own skin as an artist. Maybe I'll call it my touchstone voice.

It's a quiet voice, one that encourages letting go and trusting. And there's the big struggle....giving over control and allowing the process to unfold in its own time. Patience is required.
Of course, my ego wants to control the work, wants to bring to life the vision in my head. That's the first step in letting go and eventually it happens with me, because I'm forced to admit defeat by hitting the wall. When the work goes badly session after session, I know, if I'm listening to the touchstone voice, it's because I haven't let go. Here's how the touchstone would speak to me, if it happened in straightforward English, which it doesn't, because I think the touchstone speaks in a kind of pre-language.

"Forget that idea in your head, it's coming from the wrong place....you'll see the essence of that idea come to be, but it's not going to happen the way you are going about it. You are waiting and pacing by the front door for something to happen, but the work is going to come to you through the back door, wearing clothing you won't at first recognize. It will come like an apparition, in layers, building slowly. It may take some time to materialize, but you'll recognize it when it does."

And it's true. At least for me, the best work I've made happens that way. You've never seen the other stuff, because it never gets finished. Those pieces get tossed out or those first "cognitive thinking" attempts get painted over and I let the work emerge as it wants to. I quit watching the front door and sit quietly, waiting for the creaky sound of the back door opening.

So the photos here are a work in progress...the back door is unlatched and open. Lots of layers of gouache, lots of letting go, building I know not what exactly. I don't know where this is going....the "me" with the old worn out brush in my hand....I'm the last to know. Sometimes that conversation and the struggle happens in another room out of my hearing and I can actually enjoy the process. Like here....I'm enjoying watching this piece unfold. This is gouache on a luscious, sturdy handmade paper. Eventually, I'd like to have some sewing on it as well....and just whose voice is that?

I must leave this piece for a time as my husband and I travel to visit family for the holidays. Wishing you peace and joy this season. I'll keep in touch on my travels. Cheers!

Monday, December 14, 2015

Reclaiming the Practice, Revisiting Gouache

I'm back in the studio....and it's no longer an office! The desk is now strictly for painting, drawing, sewing and associated musings! In honor of being back in the saddle, so to speak, I finally opened the set of gouache paint that I bought last month. Kind of daunting....as I haven't worked with gouache in decades. Back in those days, when I was in art school, all the color and design assignments were done in gouache. I believe the philosophy was that if you could master gouache, you could handle anything. I'm not sure if that's the case, maybe they were just trying to whip us into shape and toughen our spirits. I don't know what will happen now, but it's a new day and I'm willing to give it a go again. After roughly two years in the academic world, I want to see what I have to say about it all, now that I have time to reflect. 

Now that I am back to painting and drawing, I am anxious to see what is revealed through my hands. Everyday I look at this postcard by one of my painting heroes, Edouard Vuillard. I so love the luscious paint quality, the pattern and the rich color. But alas, I'll never paint like Vuillard, because that's not who I am.

Below is a lovely gouache painting done by Vuillard...probably a study for a larger painting, but not sure.

If there is one lesson I've learned through my creative practice, it's the one of learning to trust yourself. So, I am back to being me, rediscovering the trust in who I am as an artist. The marks on paper below are the ones that come naturally to me. I've broken the ice....opened the gouache, begun the dance. I feel so at home letting my hand glide across the page. Let's see where this goes. I'll go on appreciating Vuillard, along with countless other artists who make works that I wish I'd made. But, the lesson I learn each day in the studio is that those were not my works to make....my works are the ones that come through my hands when I allow myself to dance.

Cheers to you!

Friday, December 11, 2015

December Is Slipping Away!!

Hello friends! I was suddenly alerted last night by my inner time clock that I'd better set some timetables pretty quickly for any sales of work to be shipped before I leave for the holidays! I've put a note on the announcement page for my Etsy shop, so wanted to let my blog readers know that if you want to make a purchase and have it shipped in December, please order by December 15th. I know....it's just a few days away! Some pieces in my shop are framed and that will take extra time to prepare for shipping, so please order any framed piece by December 13th. Please do remember that readers of this blog have access to the coupon code ANCESTORS for 10% off anything in the shop. The coupon code is good through December 31st. As I will be travelling throughout the month, anything ordered after December 15th will ship on January 2nd. Remember you can use the coupon code even if the work won't be shipped till after the new year.

I hope that's not too confusing...feel free to contact me with questions, if so. I'll be back here with another post or two before my traveling days begin, but wanted to make sure you all had the heads up. 


Wednesday, December 9, 2015

In The Round

Hello on this fine December evening! I'm excited about getting back in the studio to create a new body of work and am thinking that my upcoming show will be made in the round! I am going to play with this lovely 8" round cradled birch panel. I think I may attempt to do a small painting a day....well, perhaps I should call it a mixed-media drawing, which is more what I make.

I think a small gallery full of small round pieces could be rather enticing! But first, I must cross the last mountain hurdle, with one more final paper to complete by the first of the week. Today I passed the big exam I was dreading, so that's now behind me...whew! I guess this is like climbing some sort of mountain and I'm nearly at the top. I'm not sure if the view will look any different once I have a masters degree in Adult and Higher Education. January will be a time to focus in the studio. Then I will be able to think about my next steps....as I've said many a time here in these posts, I think with my hands, so the process of making will allow me to see the path unfolding before me. 

I'm so pleased the tiny daily drawings I've been adding to my Etsy shop are making people happy....just added the three below from the pile I found from a couple of years ago.

Hope you are having a good week. I had a birthday on Monday and am recovering from the shock of adding yet another year to my age. Isn't it funny how we feel so much younger inside than we often are chronologically. I read somewhere years ago that we each carry an image inside us of ourselves at a particular age, even as the years pile on. I think of myself as in my early 30s....say 33... and am often quite taken aback when I am confronted with the realization that I am a long way from it! Do you have this sense about yourself? What age are you inside?

Saturday, December 5, 2015

Counting the Days, the Studio Awaits

The November daily drawings, seen in the two photos below, have been dipped in beeswax and now make a lovely (and much taller!) stack. They join the ranks of the September and October drawings seen in the background of this first photo. I'm not sure if these dailies will feature in my upcoming show at Briar Cliff University in Sioux City or not. The show opens in mid-February and I hope to make all new work for it, but first have to finish school (counting the days).  After the holiday travels, I will spend January devoted to being in the studio full-time....can't wait!!

These drawings were just listed over at MissouriBendStudio on Etsy. These are from the daily drawings done in February of 2014....seems so long ago!! I'm sharing some of my favorites from that group and hope some folks out there will give them a loving home.

After an amazing winter wonderland start to the week, seen below, our temperatures are climbing into the 40s for the foreseeable future....the snow is nearly gone.

Enjoy the rest of your weekend. May moments of inspiration take you by surprise.

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Inner Language: The Individual Mark

Hello again! I've been meaning to do a post about something that I hope will touch a chord...a glimmer of recognition, and that is...the power of the individual mark. That's a rather ambiguous term, I realize, but it's a way of talking about how each one of us, whether or not we consider ourselves artists, has a way of making marks that is unique. And that is a very powerful thing, it seems to me. I have spent years drawing, making my marks, and I've come to understand how impossible it is to deny that we have a personality that expresses itself in the marks we make.

I believe it still holds true that our fingerprints belong to us alone and I think we all agree that each person has a unique handwriting. So, if we are free from fear, from the inner critic, along with all the "shoulds" and "musts" that follow us through our day....and if we let go of thinking to let our hand wander, I believe that our inner language flows through the ink tracing its path across the page. 

I spend a few moments in this activity every day, in a kind of ritual that I call the daily drawing. I don't try, I don't think, I let my hand go and watch the dance unfold. Day after day I watch this process, as if looking over my own shoulder, and the same thoughts occur. The marks I make are absolutely consistent....across time, across media...my body expresses itself in an effortless dance
in this daily ritual.

Below are a couple of pieces I started a month or so ago...just as drawing on handmade paper with a layer of acrylic. These drawings will be heavily layered with alternating and intertwining paint and drawing that both reveals and conceals. It seems quite obvious that I can't quite get away from myself, as the marks on these upper drawings absolutely resonate with what comes through my hands in the daily drawings seen below. I've just posted a couple from the last few days, along with one that reveals bits and piece from the November pile....now ready for their long-awaited dip in the beeswax!

All this is not to tout these drawings in any way, but to express the notion that each one of us has the capacity to express ourselves in unique ways. Rather than follow all the latest trends out there that have you following the lead of others, why not experiment with a simple practice that allows you to find your own voice and your own mark. 

Try this. Take seven small sheets of paper and a favorite pen (or other mark-making tool). Find a quiet space and a quiet time each day...even 5 minutes is enough. Close the door and leave that inner critic outside. Without thinking, let your hand move the pen around the page, stopping when something inside says stop now. Tomorrow do the same thing...and again for the rest of the week. I have a sense that what you will find is that, if you have really let go and not tried to make a "Drawing", then you will begin to see yourself in a new way. You will find that the way you put pen to page will be gaining consistency and that you can discover and recognize yourself in the marks you make. These drawing don't have to be "good" in the eyes of anyone else....there is nothing better than you being you. It's a dance and you are free....don't think, just be in the moment. I think the discovery of your own creative self is a very powerful thing.

I'd love to hear from you if you want to share what you've found! Hope the rest of your week is full of hope and moments of inspiration!