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, December 12, 2016

In the Round

As I make initial preparations for a new suite of drawings for an upcoming show in the early spring, I find myself contemplating a circular format. I made this piece today as a way to get my feet wet, so to speak. And I started making a list of things that are round....writing them down in my sketchbook as they came to mind. Coins, the sun and moon, the earth, spirals, buttons, spools, wheels are all round...or circular...or spherical, I suppose. Since I am thinking in two dimension (drawing on paper), I think of all these things merely as round. Then there is "circle" or "round" as a metaphor, which called to mind the cycle of the seasons, mirrors, magnifying and looking glasses. Somehow I stopped there....at the notion of the "looking glass."

I thought about the notion of the lens and how we are continually seeing the world through the lens of our own experience and physicality. And too, there are magnifiers, microscopes and telescopes to extend our vision, to see the far reaches of the cosmos....the infinitely far away, in time and in space, as well as the infinitesimally small. We continue to learn about the vastness of the microscopic world and the interconnectedness of the roots of trees and plants, the microorganisms that dwell there....seemingly infinite worlds reside in a speck of dirt...or of dust and somehow these worlds seem to mirror or echo what we see in the larger cosmos. Or maybe they form a kind of circle. I think there is something worth exploring in a new group of drawings....in the round.

Like much of the country suffering from frigid temperatures, we've been plunged into the winter season and are finding the cold a bit of a shock. Already there is ice flowing down the Missouri River and I suspect soon it will appear more like a solid sheet of ice. In the last 9 years, I don't recall the river has actually really frozen, as there are always some channels open, but there is a definite frozen quality to the surface that makes you feel as if you could walk across to Nebraska on the other side. A little snow on Friday served up the gentle reminder of the coming months.

I'll leave you with today's daily drawing....hope it brings a note of cheer! Enjoy the rest of your week...hope it is full of inspiration and joy.

Monday, December 5, 2016

On Drawing: Food for Thought

"Drawing can be a potent problem-solving aid for both children and adults. A drawing can let you see how you feel. Putting that another way, the right brain, by means of a drawing, can show the left brain what the trouble is. The left brain, in turn, can use its own powerful skills--language and logical thought--to solve the problem."  -- Betty Edwards, Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain

"The scribbling of any....child clearly indicate how thoroughly immersed he is in the sensation of moving his hand and crayon aimlessly over a surface, depositing a line in his path. There must be some quantity of magic in this alone." 
-- Edward Hill, The Language of Drawing

"The object, which is back of every true work of art, is the attainment of a state of being, a state of high functioning, a more than ordinary moment of existence...We make our discoveries while in the state because then we are clear-sighted." 
-- Robert Henri, The Art Spirit

"To be shaken out of the ruts of ordinary perception, to be shown for a few timeless hours the outer and the inner world, not as they appear to an animal obsessed with words and notions, but as they are apprehended, directly and unconditionally, by Mind at Large--this is an experience of inestimable value to everyone." 
-- Aldous Huxley, The Doors of Perception

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

On Drawing....The Search

The ongoing conversation about drawing continues in this post...there's much to talk about, it seems to me! Do feel free to chime in anytime, as I'm happy to have a dialogue and hear about your experiences with drawing. For the past couple of posts, I've been talking about my daily drawing practice, as a form of mediation and as a way to let go and watch what unfolds. 

It helps to approach the process from the inside out, rather than the outside in. That may not make much sense at first glance. Drawing in this way uses your brain, but the "thinking" comes through the senses, through the body, rather than just a cognitive approach. As a kind of meditation, you are open to the conversation and to what is happening within as well as without. 

I'll share some specifics with the drawings from the last couple of days to illustrate what I am talking about. Yesterday morning, I sat down with my little 6x4" sheet of Japanese paper and my trusty mechanical pencil. After dating the page, I began with a dot toward the top and without picking up the pencil, had the sense to let the the line wander from there, in a kind of aimless search...for something....for the drawing itself, I think. The meandering lines continued, making one shape then moving to another when the moment felt right. I understood through the mark-making that this meandering line was about "the search"....both in a literal sense and as a metaphor. 

I respond to drawings, to paintings and all manner of works that allow the sense of the search to come through. Some artworks appear to have emerged into being fully formed, but I need to see the quest, the false starts (there are none, really), the evidence of the search in the process of making. As a maker, it is through the search that I find the meaning, just as that little moment was revealed in the making of those meandering lines yesterday. After the initial pencil lines, I picked up my white ink pen and overlaid more searching, meandering lines.

The notion of "the search" reminded me that the process of drawing from life, from observation, is also fundamentally about the search. On another larger sheet of paper I began to draw the not-so-well-tended-geranium in a pot on my desk. If you want to draw from life, it begins with seeing....with looking, with the search. I allowed a searching line to flow from the pencil (and later that white pen again) as I let my eyes wander up and down the stem, following the edges of leaves, as they overlapped and intersected. My hand became an extension of my eyes...Drawing from life is fundamentally an act of eye-hand coordination. As many of my readers know, I'm not all that keen on drawing from life, as my work takes a much more indirect route. And yet, it's all a search....for being in the moment, for meaning, for discovering and describing what we see or what we know to be true.

Today's drawing began much as the one yesterday, but the dots came first, for the most part, and then a meandering line was back, wanting to connect these dots in most indirect ways....circling, looping, wandering in ways that made loose connections between these random dots. And there it was again...the moment of understanding through the work. We all attempt to construct meaning in our lives and this process of making connections between points, between events, is how we do it. Sometimes the connection between dots is a pretty direct, straight line...a kind of cause and effect, but so many times, it seems that the line between this point and that is meandering, looping, intersecting and overlapping with other lines. It's the never ending search.

Maybe this gives you a bit more understanding (maybe not!) as to how the process of drawing tells me what the drawing itself is about. It is a process of "inside out" where the meaning emerges through an evolving understanding as my pencil moves across the page, rather than one where I know what I want to say and set about saying it. The insights come through the searching marks.

I make many of these drawings available in my Etsy shop with the hope that they bring some moments of contemplation as well as joy and delight to others. I'd love to hear from you with your thoughts and experiences about the power of drawing.

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

On Drawing....From Within

In my last post, I mentioned the idea of inner language. I first understood this notion when I engaged in a drawing process that I think of as a kind of meditation. There is a great deal of information on meditation out in the world....on the internet, in books, recordings, etc. Recently, I found a nice explanation and guide to the process here.

The idea is to let go of any concern with results, as you are not engaged in making art, per se. Sit alone, in a quiet space with a piece of paper and a pen...or pencil or ink filled brush. Be somewhat still and focused for just a few moments while you let your hand move where it will. In a more traditional form of meditation you might focus on your breath as you breath in and then out...but it in this case, you watch, in a detached way, as your hand goes where it will. If you are one with the moment, you will know when to stop....it's not a process of thinking, but a process of "knowing" from a place deep within. Letting go in this way is very relaxing, even for just a few moments and while it is not about "liking" or "not liking" any particular drawing, I believe that if you do this for a number of days, you will begin to see that the marks you make....the marks on the page that come straight from you as easily as your breathing, are a part of you, syllables of a language that is yours alone. This can be very powerful and over time, allow you to trust your instincts....in the studio and perhaps in life. 

I never know when I sit down what will emerge in those few moments of drawing, but often I am delighted and always I feel a moment of satisfaction, of grounding and of peace. Sometimes the observer in me will see something that will come into play in a future artwork...perhaps some way of placing this next to that on the page, or a different way of mark making that seems ripe for exploration. Maybe you'll notice that those trees from November 20th showed up in this longer drawing I made yesterday, shown below.

I have been doing this daily drawing process pretty steadily, with different materials, for a number of years. When I stray away and don't do them for awhile, I begin to feel a bit lost and it doesn't take long to realize that I need to get myself grounded once again with the daily drawing practice. I began listing my daily drawings in my Etsy shop as a way to share them with the world. Over time, I have heard from many folks that they communicate in ways that are profound and that people find meaning and their own delight in having them. That means a great deal to me on many levels. It also reminds me that we communicate with one another in countless ways, but that drawing has a power to reach places that words cannot. 

I hope you'll try this process and see if you don't find it rewarding. I'd love to hear from you with your thoughts!

Happy Thanksgiving to friends near and far!

Friday, November 18, 2016

On Drawing...Or, Drawing on Drawing

I've been thinking a lot about drawing lately, as it is central to my artistic practice. No matter what materials I am working with, I think of everything that I do as drawing. I also feel that, as a general rule, the definitions out there of what constitutes "drawing" are too limited. It is such an absolutely fundamental process, like breathing, that it becomes an integral part of the process of making, whether you are a painter, sculptor, mixed media artist....or almost anything else. I'm certainly not a singer, but anyone who is a singer knows that breathing is a central to being able to sing well. Understanding the breath is fundamental for singing, dancing....so many things, and a connection to drawing (broadly defined!) is central to the process of creation.

I feel very strongly that each person possesses a core of creativity, though in our culture, almost everyone I talk to who is not an artist, doesn't believe they have it within them, which fills me with a kind of sadness. I believe creativity is part of our humanity and despite what our years of schooling have done to us, it's still there. It is this passion about creativity that has gotten me thinking about drawing.

In all my decades of being an artist, it has never occurred to me that I was a teacher or that I was interested in teaching, but these ideas I have about creativity have, for the first time, gotten me thinking about doing workshops. Each of us has an inner language, a way of mark-making, that is unique, like a fingerprint. Drawing, it seems to me, is fundamental to connecting to that inner core of creativity and being able to "draw" from within.

Below is the Merriam-Webster definition of drawing:

Simple Definition of drawing

  • : a picture, image, etc., that is made by making lines on a surface with a pencil, pen, marker, chalk, etc., but usually not with paint
  • : the act or art of making a picture, image, etc., with pencil, pen, marker, chalk, etc., but usually not with paint
: an act of choosing something (such as a winning ticket) from a group without knowing which one you are choosing
That seems pretty limited to me. "Not with paint"... I'm not buying that. I haven't yet come up with a satisfying definition of my own, but the one above doesn't capture it at all. The process of making with the hand is essential.....there is a flow from the senses, through the brain, back through the hand that is part of drawing. The body is part of drawing. Going back to my metaphor of the breath....we understand that breathing is a process that involves quite a bit more than the nose or the mouth. So, while I cogitate further on a suitable definition of drawing, I'll spend the next few posts sharing a few images from some of my favorite artists, whose works seem to me to be based in drawing.
The pieces below are paintings by Rick Johns, a painter from here in Vermillion, South Dakota. Rick is a fine painter, but also a fine craftsman builder....of houses, kayaks, you name it. These paintings have a wonderfully layered surface and a sensitivity to mark making that leaves a trace of the search. I love them....yes, they are paintings, but these are also drawings, according to my still nebulous definition.
No. 21

No. 43

So, I will continue to cogitate about this teaching idea and how I can create a workshop that will connect people to their inner language, allowing them to discover the richness within. It's important, because the process of making is fundamental to our humanity. 
Here in South Dakota, we've just had our first snow of the season....yikes, we were all caught off guard, having enjoyed more than our share of a perfectly lovely autumn. And now, here's to a perfectly lovely winter! Enjoy your weekend.

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Restored By Reading: The Current Stack

"Knowledge sets us free, art sets us free. 
A great library is freedom." 
-- Ursula K. Le Guin

I just have to say, there are never enough books in my life. Our house is filled to the brim with books, in literally every room (okay, minus one guest bathroom, which is too small), many of which I've not read....and yet, I am forever making the trek to the public library or making purchases for more. I love a day with nothing on the schedule, with nowhere I have to be, so I can sit with a book, savoring the language that sparks ideas, deepens understanding and that takes me to destinations far flung and unknown.

Most of my library treks take me to the public library in Vermillion, but the other day I was on campus and made my way to the university library, which has a sizable collection of new fiction and non-fiction available for checkout. Uh oh....I couldn't resist coming home with yet another stack of "impossible to finish by the due date" books. In case you can't read the titles in the photo above, they are, from top to bottom:

Bottomland: A Novel / Michelle Hoover
The Exiles Return: A Novel / Elisabeth De Waal
The Blind Astronomer's Daughter / John Pipkin

My husband and I have a little ritual of "story time", in which we read a book together....me reading aloud to him. It doesn't happen every day, as life gets a little crazy, but it is the goal to have a chapter read at some point during the day. The book currently on our story time docket is The Last Days of Night, a novel that takes you into the intrigue between Edison, Westinghouse and Tesla in the early days of electric lighting. In my own reading, I am nearly finished with The Exiles Return and have already dipped into The Hidden Life of Trees. I'm like a kid in the candy shop!

But there's something else I want to share. The Ursula Le Guin quote that began this post, which pays homage to art and libraries, as well as the life of the mind, is one that I found on Brain Pickings, an online newsletter that provides a cornucopia of riches. If you follow the link here, you'll be taken to an issue with an article that highlights the sacredness of the public library. In revisiting that issue today, I just realized there is another book I need to add to my already-too-full list of reading material....The Wave in the Mind: Talks and Essays on the Writer, the Reader and the Imagination by Ursula K. Le Guin. I urge you to check out Brain Pickings for yourself....there is much thoughtful research that goes into its creation. Of course, I must admit, I don't really have time to devote to reading it, as I have all those library books to get through. And really, I should be down in the studio right now, but tomorrow is another day!

A couple of not-so-recent dailies I just added to my Missouri Bend Studio shop. I had a stack of these 3 x 3 inch pieces and had forgotten all about these little collage items from a few years ago. Kind of fun! Enjoy your weekend....happy reading! Since you know what a book fanatic I am, feel free to share your reading joys here...always looking for wonderful finds.

Saturday, November 5, 2016

Savoring Slowness: A Progress Report

In my last post, Exploring Borders, I shared the first piece in a new series of mixed media on paper works. Now that I've fully settled in to the exploration, I'm here to report that progress is slow....but like a long slow meal that allows you to savor the experience, I'm fully immersed and enjoying the moments. Engaging in this kind of tiny, repetitive mark-making is like a kind of homecoming for me. I delight in the push-pull of watching the pattern and richness slowly unfold, even as I become antsy to move faster. My sessions last only an hour before my eyes start to lose focus!

As I've mentioned in more than one post, I am truly in the flow when the creative process becomes a kind of conversation between the piece unfolding and my inner being. The quiet and slowness allows me to understand the content. The truth of that experience came upon me once again as I realized the piece above to be a contrast between the worlds of the micro and macro. The right side of the drawing speaks of the micro.....tiny seeds, or perhaps cells, filling the rectangular shapes ....a cross section of some botanical form, perhaps? At a certain moment, I knew that the opposing side will express the macro, perhaps with countless dots, made with paint and ink, that suggest galaxies...the infinite cosmos. Ultimately, I have a sense that those worlds are not so far apart. The paradox is that they are not polar opposites perhaps, as we often think, but part one infinite whole. Infinitely small and vast, simultaneously.

This piece above (details below), also in progress, is related to a kind of fascination I have with language, with the alphabet and with words. In a way, it's somewhat like the childhood game of connect-the-dots. Any number of us may experience the same set of spoken or written words, yet we will construct different meanings, based on all manner of variables....background and experience, our physical boundaries, mood, etc. Each of sees the world through a different prism and sometimes we see the same set of words through such opposite sets of lenses, it's no wonder there is so much turmoil in the world.

On the right, lines of text are represented by the tiny dots of ink on each line....words or pearls on a string.

On the left, a scattering of dots....maybe those very words on the right, fill the space and are connected to form a constructed shape. But those dots could be connected in any number of different ways to make different shapes....to create different ideas, meanings and experiences. 

It's all a metaphor for the complexities we encounter through life....making art is how I make sense of the world.

The two little drawings above are about to be listed in my Etsy shop, MissouriBendStudio. These are a couple of the daily drawings (3" x 3") that I made in early 2013. You know, when you make a daily drawing....as in, a small drawing every day....before you know it, you are swimming in little works of art. If you do that over a period of years, well....there seems no end to them! Rather than sitting in little piles in my studio, they are slowly making their way out into the world. If anyone is interested in gathering a set of these, let me know and I am happy to work with you to create a delightful grouping!

Enjoy your weekend, wherever you are!

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Exploring Borders

When setting out on a new adventure, it's best to decide a mode of travel first. I suppose if you knew the destination, that would help. When I'm in the studio, I never know the destination....I just set out! I do find when setting out to explore some new ideas through the process of making art, choosing some of the formal qualities, helps me set sail, so to speak. I love the square format and as my readers know, I also love paper! I'm also intrigued by compositions that are split in half, with both sides having a kind of conversation with one another. And pattern....well, I could get lost in making tiny lines, layering drawing on drawing, delighting in the surprises that unfold.

So, I'm off on another exploration with these parameters: 11" square (suitable for a 12"x12" shadow box frame), B.F.K. Rives paper (sturdy enough to take a bit of paint, as well as ink), in compositions that are divided in half. I don't know the destination, but through these formal means, I can explore:

the way different patterns interact with one another
the way different materials play against each other
the notion of borders, as the content on one side comments on the other
the idea of juxtaposition
illuminating sameness and difference
relationship of micro and macro
an expression of an as-yet-unknown content

and more!

Because I work intuitively, I find the meaning of the work through the process of making itself. This means that I am often frustrated, as I can never seem to set out with the content of what I want to say in mind, and make anything worth sharing with the world. The flip side of this is that, through the process of observation and listening, both inside and out, as I draw....the work tells me what it is about. I never know....until I know....through the inner voice that speaks, in a language only I can hear. 

The piece above, is a kind of prototype, a maiden venture in the new 11 x 11" "vessel". I came across some of the paper my husband often uses for printing and found it suited my needs....good thing he has a nice stash of it! I'm not sure where I'm going with this, but I'll report in on the progress. 

Here are a couple more just started....I think this will be fun!

Today's daily drawing continues the exploration of the format!

Daily drawing, November 1, 2016

Amazingly warm here in South Dakota for November 1st...upper sixties and pushing 70. I keep hearing people say it's supposed to be a bad winter, which remains to be seen. At least we will have had the longest lasting autumn I can recall! Cheers!

Saturday, October 29, 2016

Uncharted Waters

Hope you are enjoying your weekend! The piece above is a new listing at MissouriBendStudio, a companion to one I shared recently titled Dead Reckoning. They both started with that graphic and ink lined background, which was originally one long narrow strip. I was trying to break out of my comfort zone and change up the format, but I seemed to go nowhere with it until I tore the piece into two equal pieces, roughly 12" x 9" and then they seemed to make themselves. 

So, now I realize it is a little bit ironic for me to write about the notion of uncharted waters the way I intended....since, in a sense, I reverted to a safer zone and an already mapped territory. I understood this piece to speak about the notion of uncharted waters in terms of daily life. The sea, for me, is a metaphor for the journey we are each traveling through life. 

Since I'm not working (at a real job), but home in the studio, I struggle to stay motivated and I struggle with the balance of making work that is meaningful to me and making work that I want to sell to bring in at least a modicum of income. Ideally, those two are not separate realities at all. Yet, sometimes I feel like I am in some sort of vacuum, insulated from the outside world. I look about the studio with the nearly 200 pieces of art listed in my Etsy shop for sale, not to mention the decades of other work that lean against the walls several pieces deep and I wonder why I need to make another piece of art to add to the piles. 

When I am there, in that low place, I remind myself of the journey....that life is what we make it, despite the way it seems that each day is much like another, merging into a blur. The metaphor of sailing on uncharted seas, allows me to see each day as unique, full of possibility and my tiny boat as a vessel for navigating new territory. Each day we must be open to discovery. In the spirit of charting new waters, I hope your day is full of new possibilities!

Monday, October 24, 2016

Dead Reckoning

  1. dead reck·on·ing
    noun: dead reckoning
  2. the process of calculating one's position, especially at sea, by estimating the direction and distance traveled rather than by using landmarks, astronomical observations, or electronic navigation methods.

    The title of this piece, Dead Reckoning, came to me from some deep interior, as an echo, as if calling it out its own name. I wasn't sure of the precise definition of the term and so have looked it up in the online dictionary. Since then, I have been pondering the meaning, as I make sense of it as a title for this drawing and as a metaphor for life's journey. 

    Dead reckoning...I think it is what we do....I think it's the way we navigate our life at sea, each of us charting unknown waters in our tiny vessels. Somehow. Our internal ways of knowing allow us to look back to see where we've been, estimate the course of our recent passage to figure out where we are. And there are days and times, when we are lost at sea, as common experience for me, when our sense of dead reckoning feels less reliable and we wish for sure landmarks or other sound methods of navigation, to find our way forward. 

    And yet, I remain certain, that each of us knows more, we carry more intelligence inside us, than we credit. And even as I often wish for more accurate navigation, I find myself wondering if those outside pointers, mileage markers and other voices from our culture are interfering more than we realize. The sky goes on forever, but we are each crossing our own ocean and we must listen for our own dead reckoning.

Friday, October 21, 2016

Fleeting Moments

Missouri River  view October 20, 2016

There is a morning glow of magical light on the river that happens just after the sun appears over the trees in the east. It's a regular occurrence, but so easy to miss, as it is fleeting....as so many magical moments are. Yesterday morning, I turned around in the midst of the mundane morning activity of clearing the table or maybe I was refilling my tea....but I looked up and there it was, that magical light, the golden glow along the water and distant shores. I reached for my phone and was out the door into the chilly morning before I knew it. 

I captured it, but of course, not really. All moments are fleeting and perhaps it's good to keep that in mind, so we can fully be there when they happen. We try desperately to hold on to time, to memory, and we take photos to capture the special ones, but no matter....it all slips through our hands. And yet, we are compelled to record, to capture and these photos serve as reminders, place cards and souvenirs of the journey. Those magical fleeting moments of glow on the river that I glimpse on many a morning remind me of what a special place I have here on the Missouri.

And in my further attempts to capture and to hold, to record the passage of time, here are a couple of drawings from my recent dailies. Hope you have a lovely weekend, full of inspiration and insight!

Monday, October 17, 2016


I'm drawn to yellow of late, that is, the color yellow. Perhaps it has to do with how my world turns to yellow in the autumn. In many locales, with the change of seasons, there is a predominance of red in the colors of the land, but where I live in South Dakota....it feels mostly yellow. And so many yellows....soft yellows, like the grasses, to the deep rich saffron yellows that cover the soybean fields for a brief period in the early fall.

The cottonwoods and other trees across the river are on their way to a luscious yellow. When I bought flowers at the store the other day, I chose yellow to boost my spirits. These little stems below were left behind on the counter so they got their own tiny vase!

When I sit down to make the daily drawings lately, I find that I reach for that rich yellow ochre ink so it can play a role. I do love the way yellow mingles so beautifully with grays and all the various "shades" of white!

October 14, 2016

October 15, 2016

These recent daily drawings haven't been listed in my shop yet....they need to live in their little pile on my desk for awhile before I am ready to send them out into the world. For now, I delight in the warmth of their yellows!

Wishing you a wonderful week ahead....cheers!

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Autumn Suite: Sumac

Those rich, red sumacs! One of my favorite things about fall here on the Missouri River....they line the banks of the river in our back yard. While most of the year the sumacs are not all that interesting, not to mention highly invasive, it is in the height of autumn that I fall in love with them all over again. I forgive them all previous annoyances!

This is the latest in the Autumn Suite series, inspired by those beautiful sumacs. If you want to see the drawing in closer detail, follow the link above, which will take you to my Etsy shop where there are some closer shots. The leaves are made with many, many tiny dots in various colors....mostly red, of course, but also green, orange and brown. The beeswax only makes it richer.

I'll leave you with another little surprise....a few weeks ago, I started combining some of the little bits from the artworks (unfinished and/or cast aside) laying about the studio. I guess I was inspired by all the prints laying in piles all over the ping pong table in the large open area my husband and I share. He had been cleaning out the flat files and I laid claim to a pile that was going to be thrown away. My husband, Johntimothy, is a printmaker and this pile contained all sorts of yummy printed paper....woodcut, silkscreen, intaglio....it's a goldmine! I made a couple of tiny collage/mixed media pieces....this is one below. It measures probably 3" tall and is practically dominated by that big round button at the bottom that feels to me like a kind of wheel. I can see a whole installation of tiny 3-d collage pieces pinned randomly on a large gallery wall.....I'll continue to make these little items as the spirit strikes!

Temperatures are dropping here....tonight we have our first freeze warning....really???? This autumn business is getting serious and sounding suspiciously like winter is on its way soon. Enjoy the rest of your week! Cheers!


Friday, October 7, 2016

Explorations (In Progress)

Something I saw recently reminded me of my fascination with dots and that sparked an idea for a new venture in the studio. Regarding dots...the question in the back of my mind is, "what can you say with the dot, a simple and elemental form?" A dot is a like a single unit and, in a sense, becomes a metaphor for the beginning point of all things....the first single-celled creature, the Big Bang, life on earth, perhaps. If nothing else, the dot is a building block and I'm interested in exploring how it can be used to create pattern, surface, texture and meaning. 

I am used to working with smaller tools....things like pencils and pens, and I can mesmerize myself for quite some time making all manner of dots with such utensils. But I suddenly saw myself returning to paint and turning that pencil on its end, quite literally, by using the eraser as a tool to make dots. It became a way to scale the process up!

Since I didn't have any panels that weren't already "finished", I looked over to the shelf and decided to sacrifice this little trio of 6"x6" cradled panels. They were pieces I'd made a couple of years ago that I was never to happy with. Well, they are long gone now, buried under so many eraser-painted dots! These are still very much works in progress and may even turn out to be a single work in the form of a triptych. 

I don't know where this is going, but isn't that the point of an exploration....heading off into the unknown? For now, I'm pausing to get my bearings, but will continue the voyage over the coming days.

Hope you enjoy your weekend!

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Blessings and Curses (of the Internet)

Many contented hours were spent stitching on this latest piece in the Notes From the Ancestors series. I'd lost count, but when I went back to the files, I see that this is no. 20! That's a nice round number and I think this will be the final piece in this ongoing series. Something else will emerge, I'm sure. 

I thought I'd devote a portion of this post to sending out an alert to all my artists friends in the blogging world. As we all know, the internet has made possible the amazing connections between people across the world whose paths would never otherwise cross. It is such a positive vehicle for connection and for broadening horizons in so many ways. But, as with everything, there is always at least another side that is unleashed, which is not so positive. The internet also paves the way for all manner of interesting ways to scam people and now I've had a chance to experience it first hand. Scammers prey on all sorts of folks, through a variety of means and making a query to purchase art is just one of them. 

I was the victim of what is known as the Distant Buyer scam....well, almost a victim, in that I caught it in time. I was contacted by someone to purchase two pieces from the Art of Wonder series that they had seen on my website. The correspondence went back and forth for a couple of weeks and rather than purchase the pieces through Etsy, which was what I suggested, this buyer wanted to send a check. Here's the crux of the scam, in case you are unfamiliar with how it works. You come to some agreement with this distant buyer (they are basically smooth operators, but there are tiny red flags along the way, alas) and when the "check" arrives it is for an amount far beyond the agreed upon price. They then direct you to go ahead and deposit the check and just send a check to refund them for the difference. When this happened to me a couple of weeks ago, the buyer (who was supposedly in Miami) sent a check that had a return address of North Carolina, drawn on a bank in Minnesota. In this scam, the check is bogus of course, and if you are caught in the snare, you will deposit it and send back the balance before it comes to light that the check is no good. Apparently, this happens fairly often in the buying and selling of all manner of things on the internet. As I don't engage in anything but selling my artwork, I never thought I'd be entangled in such a scam. So, all is well, as I learned quickly enough what was happening and didn't fall for it, but I just want to remind folks to pay attention to those little internal red flags that go up when something doesn't seem right. We all know the old saying, "buyer beware", but in this case and in these times, "seller beware".

On a ligher note....another little book has come together....The Book of Endless Time. It's a theme I often return to...the magic of the written word, which I describe through lines of dots and a kind of handwritten pseudo text. On top of the text that alternates the dots with the looping writing, a series of little spirals forms scatter across the pages. The pages are made with pencil and white ink on Japanese paper that is then dipped in beeswax. I love the translucency and how wonderful the beeswaxed paper feels in your hands. Time seems to flow in a linear fashion, but there are moments when it does feel circular and indeed endless, which is hard to quite fathom.

Just the other day, I had the desk all cleared and ready to work. It doesn't take long to turn into a little whirlwind of chaos....now that the Notes From the Ancestors is finished, time to head back downstairs, regroup and put things back in order.

Hope your week is going well! It's a beautiful autumn day here in my corner of South Dakota. I know it is not calm many places and my heart goes out to the victims of the hurricane Matthew....hope it will skirt the U.S. and cause no further damage.