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, January 27, 2016

New Series of Found Text Poems

Believe it or not, it's actually much warmer than it's been. Temperatures will be above freezing for a few days and then head back down. This is snow left over from who knows when. So interesting to watch the fluctuations of ice on the river....some days none, but others, like today, the river is much more covered in ice floating down from upstream. It's a beautiful view of the Missouri, but I'm not seeing too much of it as I'm downstairs in the studio.

The 27 8x8" pieces are finished and I've moved on to a different phase....

I wanted to move into a more three-dimensional direction and after fiddling around with tiny fragments, I realized that I wanted to talk about language...and words....and I ended up making these little shrines with found text poems drawn out from book pages. Many more will be coming in this series, as they feel just right to be making. They allow me to play with text, pattern, beeswax, beads and stitching on paper....everything I love! These will also be in my Briar Cliff show and will plan to make a half a dozen more in the next week. It feels like a new direction and I had to share them with you!

Hope your week is going well and life has brought you some welcome gifts.


Thursday, January 21, 2016

Infinite Possibility

Greetings from Missouri Bend Studio! I'm seeing a lot of the studio these days, as I immerse myself in creating an entire new body of work for an exhibition in a few weeks at Briar Cliff University in Sioux City. What a perfect opportunity to allow the creative process to unfold, unleashing  unforeseen possibilities and any number of surprises. I spend my days working in the midst of mildly creative chaos as my desk becomes increasingly cluttered, things spilling over into any working space available.

 I give myself a few days of building toward complete chaos and then it all becomes too much and everything is put back in place....buttons and beads dumped back in bowls or containers, embroidery thread stuffed in the basket, all the bits of collage material piled together and pens and pencils shoved into their holders. Not 5 minutes goes by before the bits are all being pulled back out for use. It's quite a comical process, really....but along the way I am amazed with the amount of work I am finishing. That's one of the surprises.

For this series of 8 x 8" mixed media pieces, the plan is to hang them in a grid format--3 sets of 9 each. I am now finished with 22 of them, so 5 more to go. It seems kind of bad luck to show the pieces in their finished state, so for now, I'll just share a few snippets of some. Hope you will forgive the awful photography....taken with my cel phone on the fly!

 I've become ever more aware as I complete these pieces one by one, that the possibilities are truly endless. In other words, I have a sense of infinite possibility. While I have the pressure of the show coming up, I am still relaxed and always aware that I could explore other avenues, do this or that other thing for the next piece. In a way, the creative process actually can be described as a series of decisions.

This was articulated perfectly by Gerhard Richter in the film we watched last night Gerhard Richter Painting, which I highly recommend. I gained a great deal of insight into his process and a respect for his sensibilities as an artist. Artists are always queried about their process and how they know when a piece is finished. For me, it's a conversation with the work and it unfolds in an organic way, unscripted, like a true conversation. But as Gerhard Richter describes it, each piece almost begins with infinite possibilities and moves through a series of choices and the piece is finished when there are no choices left to make. That sounds almost mechanical, doesn't it? In fact, it was quite the opposite....magical, really. It was, for me, both to watch him in the process and to understand that the way he articulated the process of making a work made perfect sense to me. 

I'm still in the flow and feel a bit like I'm in wonderland. So very thankful for the amazingly wonderful and supportive husband I have! For now, being in the studio is where I belong...I'm in the moment....I'm happy to procrastinate about thinking of the future! 

Thursday, January 14, 2016

The Decisive Moment

Most of my time these days is spent in the studio, but I am trying to carve out some time for reading as well, as that often feeds the work. I'm currently immersed in H is for Hawk by Helen Macdonald. The book is beautifully written and spans a range of genres--part memoir and part nature writing, as well as an exploration of the ways that life and death play out in our lives. I love books like this, that weave a kind of tapestry of ideas. One passage I read the other day about photography and capturing the moment has captivated my thoughts.   Henri Cartier-Bresson, a world renowned photographer talked about the "decisive moment." Macdonald quotes him here: 

"Your eye must see a composition or an expression that life offers you, and you must know with intuition when to click the camera....The moment! Once you miss it, it is gone for ever."

I appreciate this idea, especially as it relates to making photographs, but in meeting up with Cartier-Bresson again, I am reminded that the notion of the "decisive moment" resonates in a much larger way for me. The other morning, as I sat down to make the daily drawing, holding pen to a spare sheet of 6 x 4" Japanese paper, I was caught in that decisive moment when my arm and hand began to move, making the first mark with the pen. That split second....that decisive moment charts the course of the drawing. It seems the stage is set with that first mark....is it halting or flowing, a moving line or a closed shape, does the drawing begin in the middle or hover in a corner? It seems so inconsequential, as the drawing unfolds in mere moments, completely intuitively, but it does so in response to that decisive moment of the first mark. I see this as a kind of metaphor for many larger things in life.

As I have reflected on the expanded passage in H is for Hawk, in which she talks about the photographs her father took, capturing particular moments on film, I've thought about this. Those moments captured by photographs are just the ones we see, the few rare moments that are actually caught, stilled for the ages. But those moments are happening everywhere, at all times, and almost none of them are captured, at least by cameras, digital or otherwise. If we are paying attention, they are captured by our senses and stored in our memory, fading (or not) like old Polaroids. But think of this...those moments, those decisive moments, are happening all around us, every day, and we miss most of them. But they are part of the history of time, because they happened, even if no one noticed. It's the way I like to envision all the words spoken, hovering in the air, the sincere and heartfelt ones mingling with the thoughtlessly uttered and the cruelly spoken. In those moments when that image comes to me, I want to limit my words to ones that count, that can add something meaningful, rather than clutter the void with ever more prattle.

During these reflections on the decisive moment,  I came back to something I like to remind myself, which is that every moment is a moment of choice. The decisive moment implies making a choice. But those moments are, in effect, every moment. We can choose to respond or react in a given situation, we can focus our attention or avoid noticing, we making countless choices...without even paying attention to the fact that we've done so. 

So for me, this short passage, related in less than a page in my book, has expanded in numerous directions. I am reminded that each moment is a moment of decision, that those "decisive moments" we have recorded in our collective memories through still photographs and are happening all around us, all the time. They'll remain with the ages, just beyond the reach of our awareness, or if we slow down, use our senses more mindfully, we can record them through our own engagement. And the decisive moment is very much with me during my time in the studio, creating new work that is made through the result of an endless accumulation of decisive moments.

Nothing like hours at the desk in the studio to fuel the wondering mind! Glimpses above of works in progress and a slowly expanded lineup of new pieces for my show. The plan is to have 27 of these in 3 groups of 9. That will mean roughly one piece a day....not much time for reading, but plenty of time for reflection!!

See you again soon. Enjoy the rest of your week.

Friday, January 8, 2016

Finding Flow

Oh, so wonderful to be back in the studio. It also doesn't hurt to have a focus of getting new work made for an upcoming exhibition! In a month, I'll begin installing the show at Briar Cliff University in Sioux City, so between now and then I will make a whole lot of new pieces. The nature of the work, as well as the way I plan to hang it, will end up being more of an installation....which is somewhat of a stretch for me.

What's so wonderful is experiencing "the flow". This concept of the "flow" has very important implications for living a full and meaningful life, at home, at work and at play. If you are not familiar with the idea, there is a full explanation here. For me, what is significant, is that only when I am fully immersed in the studio, do I really experience flow. It is then that the "shoulds" stop....for instance, often when I am reading, I think I should be doing the laundry, or when I'm online I think I should be doing this or that other important thing. But, when I am in the studio, in the flow, there is no place else I should be. That is significant, I think. We can learn a great deal about ourselves by observing when we experience the timelessness of flow. It holds the key to our motivation, our creativity and what engages us to be fully ourselves.

In between the new pieces now finished for the show, I finally finished a piece for my Etsy shop that has been in the works for some time.

I'm excited about the other new pieces that are being made....here's a sneak peak. At this point, they are all untitled, but that will no doubt change. These piece are all 8x8" and will be hung in a grid pattern....3 sets of 9. So....4 down, 23 to go!

Hope the new year has started off well for you. Enjoy your weekend! I'll be in the studio, but at this point, there's no place I'd rather be!

Sunday, January 3, 2016

Rediscovering Creativity

Greetings in the New Year! Hope the holiday season brought some joy into your life. My husband and I had a much needed vacation with a meandering road trip across the country and a delightful visit with family.  We are finally back at home, settling once again into the winter weather with a good bit of snow on the ground. That's fine with me, as I have work to do in the studio and a whole parcel of new books to read!

The drawings above represent the transition to the new year. The one on the left is the daily drawing for December 31, 2015 (now dipped in the beeswax) and the one on the right is the first drawing for 2016. The practice of the daily drawings continues. I find it a delightful exercise and a source of surprise and wonder as the drawing emerges each day.

I am not a big one for new year's resolutions, per se, but that doesn't mean I don't think about changes I'd like to make in the coming year. I like to think in terms of recommitments and reconnections with the things I value that I've let slip by the wayside in the turmoil of life. If I call them resolutions, I already feel doomed to drop them. 

I am reconnecting with my trust in the body. I've said numerous times here on this blog, how I think through my hands when in the studio, which means that the best work comes from the flow that happens when I am in the moment. I am out of my head (only) and experiencing the moment through the body. In saying that, it still sounds as if I make a distinction between the mind and the body, which I don't think really exists....the mind/head is just a part of the larger whole. 

If I want to do my best work and live the fullest life I can, I must honor my body. The author Barnet Bain speaks of this in the book I am currently reading, The Book of Doing and Being.

Here are a couple of quotes that resonated with me:

"One of the greatest secrets to living a creatively vibrant life is to recognize that your feelings occur in the body and not in the head."

"Not only do our feelings occur in the body and not in the head, but creativity itself is born in the body. In other words, the body is the home of our creativity."

I think that we forget that we experience the world through our senses and thus our body. So it should not be a great surprise that the expression of our experiences, which is the essence of our creativity, would most fully come into the world through our body. For me, it is most keenly felt through my hands. 

Often though, I feel disconnected from the rest of my body. I become lazy and would sometimes rather nap than take a brisk walk or do yoga. But, I want to be in touch in a more vibrant way with my creative life, so I must commit to moving my body in new ways....for my health and to invigorate the creative life I want to live. I just finished a short session of yoga....rather than that nap I wanted on a gray, wintery afternoon. So glad I made the decision. 

I was also pleased to see another truth I hold dear quoted on the back cover of The Book of Doing and Being. "Your whole life is a creative act." Amen!!! We are creative beings and each play a part in the dance of life.

Hope you have an inspiring and creative year!