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.


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.