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, February 29, 2016

New Works and Shop Update

Hello, everyone....it's the start of yet another week and almost another month. They do just keep rolling along, don't they? I have been busy in the studio, making some adjustments to the Etsy shop and squeezing in a bit of reading as well. Last week the weather was so much warmer, we were sure spring was on the way. I was able to get in a daily walk most days, but now we are back to gray and cold and damp. But...the good news is that it's quite temporary, as we will have upper 50's by the end of the week! Surely spring is just around the corner.

Below are a few of the new pieces recently posted in my Etsy shop.

It felt good to be working on the more layered Notes From the Ancestors piece. I have loved that series and missed working on them. It is hard to see all the detail here (more views on Etsy), but there are bits of text fragments glued to the backing sheet that are visible floating above the chairs through the beeswaxed paper. On the left panel, I layered the letters of the alphabet to create a dense field. Once again, this is all a reference to the buried text, the forgotten history, and the wisdom lost to the ages.

I have a new scroll piece underway as well. Some of you may remember that these scrolls began some years ago with an homage to the alphabet...Scroll for the Letter A and Scroll for the Letter B. Each was done differently, but focused on a particular letter. I am working now on Scroll for the Letter C, which will be filled with a series of words from the dictionary (unknown words, at least to me) that begin with the letter C. Should be done in a day or so and then I'll be happy to share it with you.

A couple of other updates to share. As I may have indicated, I did close my 2nd Etsy shop, Missouri Bend Musings, which was dedicated to featuring daily drawings on teabags from several years ago. I've selected my favorites from that series and am slowly adding them to Missouri Bend Studio, so browse the Daily Drawing section where you will find a number of them. 

I also added a 10% coupon code to show my appreciation for those who purchase my work from MissouriBendStudio on Etsy. It is set up so that the coupon code is sent automatically to anyone who makes a minimum $20 purchase and gives the buyer 10% off a future purchase. Just a way to show my appreciation and let you know I'm always happy to see you back in my shop!

Well, time to get back to my reading of Hamilton by Ron Chernow (it's a hefty one, but wonderfully engaging), with a glass of wine and a bit of cheese! See you soon.

Monday, February 22, 2016

The Wisdom Scrolls

The scroll is an ancient form and was a dominant vehicle for relaying written information until the book replaced it around the first century A.D. Well, I still think it is a delightful vehicle for conveying information, though as you all know, I do certainly enjoy the book, as the book page itself is the basis of much of my work. Having said that, my new scrolls are coalescing around a single series which will allow me to explore the creative possibilities. The series is called The Wisdom Scrolls and will combine text and visual information to highlight the timeless wisdom of the past with poetic quotations. 

I think of this series as a kind of outgrowth of the Notes From The Ancestors series, one of which is seen here.

Over time, many cultures have come and gone and there are many, many cultures alive and well today. I can only speak to the perceptions I have of the culture in which I am immersed. I think we are so fixated on the latest trends, the here and now and our own image in the mirror that we seem to behave as if we came to be fully formed out of the ether. This is not so, for this culture, nor any other. We don't know it all and in fact, we seem to so casually turn our back on the wisdom of the ages that each generation has to learn everything all over again from scratch. Maybe that's the nature of things, but maybe it is why we behave as if we invented everything. The truth, as I see it, is that everything evolves and is an outgrowth of what came before. I don't advocate living in the past by any means, but I do believe there is much to be learned by turning our gaze to look in the mirror of the millennia of human history to see that we are not so much smarter and that there is wisdom to be found in our collective ancestors....from all cultures. 

I begin the series with Rumi, whose poetry astonishes and reminds me that I am part of the history of humanity -- our experiences are shared. From centuries ago, come these words (translated) from Rumi:

It may be that the satisfaction
I need depends on my going away,
so that when I've gone and come back,
I find it at home.

Rumi was a 13th century Persian poet, Islamic scholar, jurist and Sufi mystic. You can read more about him here. His work can be found in numerous translated volumes and I would venture to say you can open to any page and find some passage that speaks to your own experience. 

The scroll shown here is The Wisdom Scrolls: Rumi, It May Be. I listed it today in my shop and will get started on the next one tomorrow. The scroll contains the text running along the bottom and a long line of white cups against the teabag surface that is also accented with colorful dots and strings of tiny white pearls. Those cups and pearls appear over and over in my work, as they allude to domesticity, the quotidian and the preciousness of a single moment, slipping through our fingers.

The next scroll may include Rumi, but maybe another gem from the ages. I do love the teabag surface, but also want to expand on the materials I use, so am giving that some thought as well.
Hope you have a creative and inspirational week ahead! 

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Thinking and Rethinking

Thinking and rethinking, I suppose that's what we spend our days doing. I sort of half expected a huge sigh of relief and a big let down after the exhibition was up (see the previous post) and the reception was behind me. That hasn't been the case, which is a good thing! Creating all that new work energized me and I think it is a good sign that I just started the next day in the same way...let's get to work on what's next. So what has unfolded over the last several days? Well...

There's The Scroll for Meandering Lines that was quite fun to make. And, just finished is a book page inspired by the idea of mirrored histories and parallel lives. It is kind of uncanny to meet up with someone, even in the online world, who has had such a similar journey through life that it seems as if the two of you have lived parallel lives. This little freestanding piece, The Book of Mirrored Histories, speaks to that idea.

As I turn my attention once again to creating more of a living from my work, I realize I need to be smarter about my Etsy shop. Lots of tricks of the trade don't seem to apply to people who make art and especially those sellers who create one-of-a-kind works, but that's who I am. I don't think in terms of multiples and I don't feel good about creating reproductions (often called prints by most folks out there, but not in this house when you live with a real printmaker) because for me, the work I make is about the one-of-a-kind and about the actual mark, the texture of materials, paper, beeswax, teabags, thread....all of it. I can't bear the idea of the flatness that would come of only having an image of the pieces. I appreciate others who make there more expensive originals available in a more affordable reproduction, but for me, it just doesn't work.

So....I just have to streamline the way I proceed in other ways and operate a bit more efficiently. I'm thinking that if I limit myself to working in just 2 or 3 standard formats/sizes then shipping the work won't become a new invention each time. As it is now, each sale becomes a new challenge as I have to find and cut cardboard to the right size and then buy the appropriate shipping envelope at the post office when I trek into town each time I make a sale. Surely, this is a pretty inefficient way to operate, but then....well, my focus has always been the studio. But, the new promise I've made to myself is that I'm going to get smarter and more efficient. I'll have a store of shipping materials on hand, ready to go, in anticipation of an increase in sales!! Well, that would be nice, but I'm not going to focus on it.

For now, I've spent my morning trying to work on learning more about search engine optimization (SEO), using Pinterest in new ways and rethinking the listings I have already on Etsy. I need to get into the studio....I am an artist first and foremost and get a bit antsy when I'm not making. I know many of you are seasoned artists and have learned these lessons in working efficient....I'm certainly open to suggestions and happy to hear from you.

Thanks so much for your interest and support in my work! Cheers and enjoy the upcoming weekend. We're going to have 60 degrees tomorrow here in Burbank, South Dakota. Woo hoo!!

Friday, February 12, 2016

Exhibition Highlights

Hello again! Reporting in after the reception for my exhibition at Briar Cliff University last evening. Nan Wilson and I installed the show in a day and a half earlier in the week, with the help of a couple of students and a trusty glue gun! None of the work was framed, but was attached to the wall with the hot glue...who knew!?! I managed to make it through the gallery talk, which is not an easy thing for me to do. But the group that gathered was supportive and engaged with the work, so that made it much easier and enjoyable. Below are a few shots of the walls and then some individual pieces, so you can get a better feel of the work.

The longest wall to the left of the entrance was hung with daily drawings from the last 5 months, September through January. Although it took a bit more thought, I wanted them hung according to the calendar and days of the week, rather than as a straightforward grid. So, the set above, for instance, is from January, which began on a Friday. 

Moving clockwise around the room, the next wall contained 27 mixed media pieces that were made as individual works, but hung in 3 sets of 9 pieces each. Because my work is small in scale and intimate, I thought the pieces would be lost if hung in a straightforward line, so I envisioned them as hanging together in a grid. The color palette of each grid is related so they hold together. Collectively, this group, for me, formed the heart of the exhibition. I called the show The Art of Wonder and these pieces comprise The Art of Wonder, Suites 1, 2 & 3. Below are a couple of individual pieces from each suite.

To the right of the entrance was a series of freestanding paper shrines-like objects that contained found text poems. One of them is featured below....sorry, I can't transcribe the poem, because I didn't write them down!! There were made with pages from discarded books on handmade paper dipped in beeswax. Nearly everything in that gallery is dipped in beeswax....except the last wall.

The last wall was a series of randomly hung drawings, made with tiny marks that resemble stitches. I loved making these....so meditative. The paper size varied, as did the pen color, but when finished they each resembled small textiles in a way.

Often after such an intense period of engagement, there is a bit of letdown when it's all over. But my intense month of creating all that work (except the dailies, which are an ongoing project), has left me energized and ready to keep going with new work. 

The Energizer battery hasn't worn down yet! I'm now refocusing energy on my Etsy shop and creating new works to share with my friends here on the blog and across the world. I haven't made any teabag scrolls in quite some time, so that's the next group. I just finished the first one this morning and listed it in my shop, The Scroll for Tiny Drawings. There are a couple of additional detail views in the shop. Oh, what fun to make!

Thank you all so much for following my efforts, for your comments and support. I am amazed how bonds across the world can be made through the blog network....what a wonderful thing. And now, I must get back to it....there is work to be done!

See you soon and hope you enjoy your weekend!

Thursday, February 4, 2016

The Repetitive Mark

We were paid a memorable visit by winter storm, Kayla, this week. She was quite something! Johntimothy and I were nestled safely inside for a beautiful day of snow and more snow. I'm quite sure we got at least a foot of it, wouldn't you say? I heard that in Vermillion, just 8 miles away, it was 17 inches. We had an amazing sculptural overhang, as seen below, along the length of the roofline in the back....alas, we had to knock it down. So, we eventually got ourselves dug out and life has returned to normal. 

Shoveling after the blizzard delayed my getting into the studio by a bit, but I got back in the rhythm of making marks on yet another series of new pieces. There is something so meditative about making repetitive marks....I just love it! I'm sure my focus on tiny marks would drive many others quite mad, but for me, it puts me right in the zone. What's been interesting in making these drawings is that, while I often use hand stitching as an extension of drawing, these are basically drawings that come to resemble stitches. And it's funny how the finished pieces almost look like bits of cloth. Here are a few details of this new series. I'm not sure I'll have time to properly photograph all the work before the show, which is installed next Monday, but will certainly do it after the pieces come back.

Hope you are having a good week....the weekend is nearly here! Enjoy!