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.


Thursday, June 8, 2017

Missouri Bend Studio is Moving, Meet Me Around the Bend

daily drawing for June 7, 2017

Greetings, all! Despite my absence, I have been quite busy of late. While not spending nearly enough time in the studio, I've been engaged in creating a new website on Squarespace that brings together all the threads of activity here at MissouriBendStudio. 

As my followers know, I've long had an Etsy shop, MissouriBendStudio, along with this blog, which has enabled me to connected with folks across the world. I also was trying to maintain, at some minimal level, my own website, robertspizzuto.com. My husband, Johntimothy Pizzuto, is also an artist (primarily a printmaker) and we recently began collaborating on mixed media prints. Our shared endeavor is supported through our Etsy shop, The Art Filled Home. So, at a point in the early spring, we both realized that we had two poorly maintained websites, two Etsy shops and a blog to keep up with, representing a bunch of different "brands". This also didn't take into account the Facebook pages, Pinterest accounts, etc. Wow! We realized that MissouriBendStudio, our home/studio on the Missouri River, while it had been my face to the world, really could encompass what we were both doing individually as well as collectively. Missouri Bend Studio is both of us....

....so....one brand new website with a blog that captures it all! A search for our individual domains as well as a for Missouri Bend Studio will all bring you to one place. Please come visit Missouri Bend Studio where you can see my work (more forthcoming), Johntimothy's work (more forthcoming) and connect with our blog. From there you can visit our Etsy shops as well! 

What all this means is that this post will be my last here. I am filled with a bit of unease, as if I am saying goodbye to an old friend....as if I'm moving away and leaving my friends behind. I hope that's not the case....really, I'm just around the corner, not so far away. You can find us through probertspizzuto.com, johntimothypizzuto.com, or missouribendstudio.com....all roads lead to Missouri Bend Studio. You have the ability to follow the blog there, which I hope you will do, but please let me know if you have any problems connecting. 

Hope to see you very soon over at Missouri Bend Studio


Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Explorer's Notebooks

Explorer's Notebooks, no.1

I've started a new series of drawings inspired by a delightful book I recently checked out from our local public library, Explorer's Sketchbooks: The Art of Discovery & Adventure.  A delicious feast filled with wonderful images, narratives and biographical information, this book makes you want to get off your duff (is that still a word or is it too old fashioned?) to explore the world....from far flung locations across the globe to your own backyard! There are sketchbooks and writings from familiar names such as James Cook and John James Audubon, but countless folks I'd not heard of....such as Ranulph Fiennes, Vivian Fuchs Henry Walter Bates. Curious and often fearless, these men and women explored the unknown and left us the record of their treks.

While this book presents the sketchbooks of explorations into all corners of the globe, it occurred to me that it might also be an inspiration to explore the frontiers of the imagination and inner worlds that lurk deep inside each one of us. Everything is ripe for discovery and the best news is that even if it has been discovered and/or claimed by someone else, it hasn't been discovered by you and seen with your eyes.

Part of what I'm drawn to in the pages of this book and the pages of other such journals of uncharted territories (I'm thinking of Lewis and Clark and Maximilian de Wied and their journeys up the Missouri River, for instance) is the actual beauty of the layout of the words on the page...often just lines of handwritten text interspersed with drawings. Attempts at capturing something novel, the unknown, a revelation...all while the perceptions and the visions are fresh. Writing and drawing serve as ways of processing. Someone from another far distant future may no longer be able to read and decipher these words, but they will appear in the abstract as marks on the page, interspersed with images. I'm not so sure why I find that fascinating, but I do....and worth exploring.

I'm not a sketchbook keeper myself, but am inspired enough that maybe this is the impetus I need as I explore my own locale. Though I have a series of grumbles about where I live (and who doesn't!?), I cannot deny the beauty and history that flows across my path each day as the waters of the Missouri River make their way down south to join the Mississippi on the journey to the Gulf of Mexico.

Missouri River, looking southeast, from our backyard one recent evening

But, back to that delicious book, now laid open on my lap as I type. I want to share just a snippet from an introductory bit by Wade Davis looking back on his early explorations and what it means to be curious and delight in the many worlds we inhabit.

"The work you do is just a lens through which to view and experience the world, and only for a short time. The goal is to make living itself, the act of being alive, one's vocation, knowing full well that nothing ultimately can be planned or anticipated, no blueprint found to predict the outcome of something as complex as a human life. If one can remain open to the potential of the new, the promise of the unimagined, then magic happens and a life takes form." -- Wade Davis

We are the lens....each one of us sees and experiences the world in a unique way....there are countless ways to explore those worlds. Cheers!


Thursday, May 4, 2017

Finding Home; or A Sense of Color

This post has a rather odd title, mostly due to the fact that I couldn't quite land on exactly the right words....but I'd like to share some recent thoughts with you about my color palette. Actually, its about more than that, as these are larger thoughts that relate to coming to terms with who we are and finding a balance and a trust in ourselves. Maybe these insights will strike home with you, as well.

In the studio and in life, sometimes we just need to shake things up a bit! Feeling trapped, we might feel the desire to break loose and do something radical....or even slightly radical....which, for me last week in the studio, meant pulling out the watercolors to change up the daily drawing practice. I'm swimming in daily drawings around here....only a small number of them are listed in my Etsy shop and I was beginning to feel like the process was becoming a little rote. So I thought I'd make a shift in materials and scale them up a bit. For some time now, they have been done with pencil and ink on small sheets of rice paper 6"x4" and then dipped in beeswax. So...I pulled out the watercolors, found some watercolor paper and made the size 7"x5" instead. That was on April 27th and you can see the drawing I made that day. More time was spent with details and I liked the drawing pretty well, but something didn't seem quite right. That color, while lovely and bright, felt a bit strange and foreign.

A couple of days went by and I didn't make a drawing. When I did return to the daily drawing practice on the first of May, I found myself almost back where I'd been....on small sheets of 6"x4" rice paper. I still had the paint to add color, but it was much more muted....more the subtle color palette that I know expresses my sensibilities. I recognized it immediately when that deep blue green hit the paper....a sense of coming home. I suddenly felt at home again.....like when you've gone on a little journey and come back, slightly larger from the experience and more in tune with the place you call home.

I realized that I had felt the compulsion to change things up and the need to step outside of my usual routine in order to remind me to trust my own being as a maker. I love color and often bright color, but the work I make with my own hands, the things I want to express, are best said with subtle tones. The watercolor paper is made to take watercolor, but it felt cold and unyielding to me...and lacked the tactile qualities that the Japanese paper has....and so shockingly white! I was happy to be back to my tiny sheets of rice paper. And well, the beeswax, what can I say? It creates a layer of richness....deepening the tones, even of pencil marks, and adds a surface quality that I just love. 

So, all this is to say, sometimes we need to learn the same lessons over again and again. I've spent decades as an artist, learning to trust myself and find the place inside me that is true. Sometimes the voices outside of us and our perceptions of what we should do lead us in new directions, but the truth is in each one of us. We each have our own marks to make, we each have our own sense of color and our own voice. If our work is going to be honest, it has to come from a place deep inside of us.....and we must remain true to that and trust it. That alone is a lifetime of work.

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

A Cacophony of Voices

After a major studio overhaul and spring cleaning, with everything rearranged and viewed from a new vantage point, it seems time to take stock and reevaluate. Which starts a process of rethinking everything! And though there doesn't appear to be anyone else in the room here, I swear there is a cacophony of voices all speaking at once and I cannot hear myself think!!! Do you know that feeling?  

Staring at me are all 190 pieces from MissouriBendStudio, which are piled on the raised surface in the middle of the tables. They represent much of the work from the past several years, but I sense a new direction is in the air. Well, perhaps not a new direction, but a new more coordinated strategy for placing the work into loving homes out in the world....which is really what I want to see happen to these pieces.

I'm looking for my own "never entered path" as I move forward. Between our loved ones, countless websites and gurus, there are a multitude of well meaning voices with bits of advice for each of us. But, I believe the secret for finding our own path is inside us. However, that requires careful listening and watching, as well as being in the moment, so we don't miss the insights when they arrive....for they often slip quietly through the back door when we've got our eyes glued to the front.

"Whatever it is you're seeking won't come in the form you're expecting." -- Haruki Murakami


Friday, April 21, 2017

Rearrangement of Memories and The Essence of Home

Greetings from the Missouri River, where spring is in full swing! I know because after my initial foray into the garden beds, I have my first case of poison ivy of the season...alas. While it felt good at the time to clear all the debris and to watch the day lilies and irises grow a couple of inches a day (it appeared), I am now paying the price. I'm sure this will only be the first of many bouts of the rash this spring and summer.

Actually, most of the time since my last post has been spent in the studio, in what started to be a simple rearrangement of the furniture and turned into a major spring cleaning and overhaul. There were days when I was overwhelmed by the amount of stuff I'd accumulated and an extreme longing to be free of the weight of it. Unfinished drawings, finished pieces that had been relegated to the purgatory pile of failed drawing projects, mounds of cut up bits of drawings that might one day be good for something, not to mention pounds of postcards from far flung places, museum visits, and exhibition announcements. Books, books and more books....doo dads, tiny souvenirs from memories I can't quite recollect, beads, push pins, tubes of paint, bottles of ink, pencils and pens.....all the things that make a working studio a personal space....it was all moved hither and yon, from one pile to another....sorted and kept, tossed or recycled.

chaos unfolding

In the end, I managed to free myself of quite a bit of the weight of my own history, and that made me pause to consider. Or reconsider. I've always been of the mind that the objects we surround ourselves with....the items that we live with day after day...those things hold memories in some uncanny way, vessels of silent witness to our lives unfolding. They are the souvenirs of our experience. I've always attributed my inability to be a thrift store for more than a few moments without becoming antsy to the unbearable weight of those cast off memories that fill the space. And yet. As I freely flung many of those things I'd hung onto for decades into the trash (many of which were later pulled out by my husband), I had to wonder about my own philosophy. If those things held meaning, why was I finally so happy to be rid of so much of it? Do we, at some point, grow weary of carrying the relics of our years? I think we do, at least some of us, and I suppose I have arrived at that point.

some order returns

But, I also acknowledged my own belief that our memories are inside us, in our cells and our bones and the rushing blood that circulates throughout our bodies. In the same way that we have countless memorable meals, afterwards, we can never really recreate the actual sensory experience of that meal. Time is fleeting and the moment ephemeral. But that meal, both the nourishment of the food and the richness of the whole experience, has been transformed in a physical way into the body.  Our body is the vessel of memory. It becomes easier to let go of things. At least for me.

still, so many things

creating sanctuary

So, this morning, with the space pretty well situated,  I finally sat back down at my newly relocated desk, and began to work. I dug through the piles of drawing fragments (oh, still plenty left behind!) and sewed a little house collage...and thought about home. About the yearning we carry within us for home...the essence of home. But, I've rambled on long enough here....that's a subject for another day.

Enjoy your weekend! I'll be back again soon with notes from the field, so to speak.

Monday, April 10, 2017

A Delicate Balance

Despite the drop in the temperature (80 degrees just the other day) and the drizzling rain now turned to wet snow flurries, I was delighted to see the daffodils enjoying the spring weather! How can you not be cheered by these bright yellow flowers?

Spending my days in the studio lately, interspersed with computer time, as I navigate the best ways to promote Missouri Bend Studio and our new venture, The Art Filled Home. I am making works for both shops, and observing how the ways in which I approach the pieces overlap and inform one another.  Those of you who are familiar with my work know that I love the repetitive mark, dots and lines over and over to create rhythm and pattern....a way to give voice to the passage of time and being in the moment.

I am drawn to the richness of pattern, but also the quiet elegance of an unadorned cup alone on a shelf....one handmade object imbued with the story of its own creation, the hand of its maker and the unfolding of days.  The piece above and the one below are part of the ongoing series of what I think of as diary drawings....small 8" x 6" pieces that seek to highlight the people who have lived out their lives in quiet anonymity.

While Missouri Bend Studio and The Art Filled Home are separate ventures, at their core, they spring from the same source...and yet, I sometimes struggle with figuring out how to hold the creative process for each in balance. It feels something like trying to get your eyes to bring one thing into focus when you are suffering from a sudden onset of double vision. 

Since The Art Filled Home is based on a collaborative premise, in those works I am responding to the layers of silkscreen printed pattern laid down by Johntimothy. But as I start from a place outside myself, which is the color and pattern in front of me, I've sensed myself being a bit too reserved with those, slightly too careful and restrained. The creative process for work that is strictly my own, at least until this point, has been completely intuitive, bring the drawing out into the world from nothing but the mark of my own hand. It's just a bit different with the collaborative process and I'm finding it interesting to see how I respond. 

The piece for The Art Filled Home, below, is still in process, but I broke through my restraint and took the chance on responding to the work through the repetitive mark that is more familiar and somehow it felt more right. 

It's a delicate balance to endeavor to stretch yourself and grow, while remaining true to your own vision and aesthetic. And because I work back and forth on multiple pieces at a time....things are still a bit blurred. But....it is, after all, a continuing process of discovery. Feel free to head on over to the Etsy shop, The Art Filled Home, and be sure to keep up with the blog at TheArtFilledHome.com. 

The daily drawings are ongoing, so I'll share a few of my favorites in the next couple of days. In the meantime, hope you are having a good start to your week!

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Out of the Ordinary

Greetings, friends! Johntimothy and I recently returned from a trip to New Orleans for my nephew's wedding. We had a wonderful little family reunion, complete with wedding festivities and some sightseeing in the French Quarter. I love this lovingly festooned tree above, which perfectly captures the spirit of the place. 

On the other hand, I was also captivated by the richness of the colors on the buildings up and down the avenues....I found myself mostly photographing color swatches!

Those colors, especially in combination, are good enough to eat! Now we are settling back in, reacquainting ourselves with the studio and watching our world slowly turn greener by the day. A sense of renewal is in the air and I eagerly await the longer daylight hours to relax outside on the front porch.

I'm adding some new pieces to the Missouri Bend Studio shop, as well as working on collaborative pieces for The Art Filled Home . My daily drawing practice was a bit sporadic last month, but I have gotten back to a steady balance and am making sure to make a drawing each day. 

Making these little 4x6" drawings is so rewarding on many levels.....it's always a surprise to see what happens on the page, as I have no idea what will emerge when I begin. But also, the drawings inform me, as if lifting the lid off something somehow just underneath the surface, hidden from view. This morning, as I made the drawing, I acknowledged the desire to go back to drawing small vessels.....cups, bowls....as they are a metaphor for so many things. I'll leave you with that thought and pick up with it in a few days....see you then.

Friday, March 24, 2017

Announcing A New Venture (And A Balancing Act!)

This latest addition to my Etsy shop is a pretty apt description of life right now....just stacking one more rock on top and hoping to maintain the balance. But, I love the challenge and I love being immersed in a new venture! First, I'll tell you about the venture and then how it came to be....and I'll try to wrap it up in a small nutshell....or maybe a large one.

After reading this post, I invite you to head over to Etsy to take a look around a new shop, The Art Filled Home, which is a collaborative adventure for my artist/printmaker husband and me. The works in that shop will be primarily print-based mixed media works. Johntimothy is the printmaker in the family and for many years has been trying to entice me over to the printmaking side, as he sees the possibilities of turning my drawings into etchings, drypoints, and even screen-prints. On several occasions over the years, as visiting artists, we have collaborated on projects that have become print-based mixed media pieces. In fact, the first pieces in the shop now are part of a series of screen-print/drawings that are the result of a recent collaboration. So, while we primarily make work separately in our own studios, we've been known to team up and we enjoy the synergy that happens when we create work together. It's sometimes a challenge, but in the end, we are always surprised and happy with the results.

You know how sometimes some small thing happens....maybe an offhand comment, maybe the eventual notice of something that's long been right under your nose....and suddenly everything changes and you are off on a new path? Well, in a way, that's how the idea for The Art Filled Home unfolded. One recent morning, I think I was expressing a kind of frustration about my work and a lack of focus that was needed to create a unified vision/brand for Missouri Bend Studio. Because I enjoy making so many things, visually, the shop seems to be all over the place. And Johntimothy then made a comment about my work being small and intimate and perfect for small scale spaces....I make art for small spaces. That was a moment of revelation somehow and brought my focus away from the work I make and onto who my audience might be. Isn't that the first rule of marketing....or at least high on the list....knowing your audience? As far as I knew, my audience was you all, the faithful readers of this blog and the folks who appreciate and buy my work. And you are certainly appreciated! A marketing focus though, it just wasn't there. But those words of his just hung in the air....art for small spaces.

The second piece of the inspiration for The Art Filled Home came as we picked up the conversation a bit later. We reminded ourselves about how important it is for us to be surrounded by art in our daily lives and how our home is a kind of gallery of works we love from artists near and far. We feel enveloped, nurtured, uplifted and inspired by having art in our home. And we reminded ourselves of all the people who have come through and have commented how good they feel when they come to our house....we've heard it over and over again....it's like a museum, or that people feel inspired and nurtured here in our home. It's an art filled home and we both believe that there are benefits to living in such spaces that are very real, yet hard to define. And so, before we knew it, we were hatching a plan to have a new shop with a clear focus....creating fine art for small spaces. You can have art on your walls, even in a tiny apartment and even large homes have small walls and spaces just right for intimate works of art.

A third piece of our inspiration was and is the conviction that anyone can collect original art and surround themselves with handmade art and craft. As a printmaker and the partner to a printmaker we have strong feelings about the difference between reproductions (glicee, etc.) and original hand-pulled prints. Hand-pulled prints are original art, as each one is made by the hand of the artist. Some of the works in our shop will be small editioned prints made by Johntimothy and some will be mixed media one-of-a-kind print based pieces. 

We've got the shop up and running and are making new work to add on a regular basis. We started with the shop name, Art For Small Spaces, but all derivations of that were taken, so we expanded the idea to the basic philosophy that a home with art is one that inspires....and so The Art Filled Home was born. There is the Etsy shop, but also a website and a blog....oh, and a Facebook page. So, in addition to MissouriBendStudio, I am now running two shops, blogs, etc. While I was in the swing of creating new social media opportunities, I went ahead and created a separate website/blog through Etsy for MissouriBendStudio as well....so, now missouribendstudio.com is a thing on its own. So, as you can see, I've just stacked a few more stones on my balanced pile, but I have to say, I love this kind of creative life.

I've come to realize another kind of balance over the past few years. I can go out and get a job to bring in an income and be less than happy, or be here in the studio making work and trying to find good home for it and be very happy, even with little income. Those are the trade offs we make in life and when I check in with myself as I sit at my studio desk, I know that it is where I belong...

...right here, at this desk. Well, that was a long story, so thanks for reading to the end. Now, when you have a moment, head on over to The Art Filled Home and keep up with our blog at theartfilledhome.com

Oh, and don't worry....this blog is not going anywhere. Part of me thought that perhaps it would be redundant now that missouribendstudio.com has a blog component, but you all are too near and dear to my heart.....this blog will still be active and full of stories of Missouri Bend Studio and probably tales from The Art Filled Home as well. 

Thanks so much for your cheer and support across the miles!

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Gigantic Spring Sale....Have a Look!

Greetings, everyone...please forgive the rather long absence. Somehow life has gotten a bit busier than I anticipated...we all know how that goes! Thought I'd share a few of the latest daily drawings and let you in on a new project underway. But first.....a big opportunity this week...now through March 22nd.

It's nearly spring (officially) and therefore time to do some serious spring cleaning! Here's a fabulous deal that I hope you'll take advantage of. I just started a 50% off sale for anything in my Etsy shop today, March 15th through March 22nd. You can help me give good homes to my work and get a great deal in the process. I'm just asking that there be a $40 minimum purchase....but still, think of the 50%!!! Use the coupon code WELCOMESPRING2017 when checking out. So....after reading this post, head on over to Missouri Bend Studio on Etsy and browse around!

My much loved printmaking husband, Johntimothy Pizzuto, and I are collaborating on work for a new Etsy shop. We both believe strongly in the power of the arts to make a difference in people's lives. We also know that a home filled with art is one that is warm, cozy, inviting and nurturing to the spirit. Any room can be filled with art that has the power to transform the space into one that becomes a kind of sanctuary. That's the philosophy behind the venture....I'll keep you posted and invite you to take a look in the coming days when I have more of the shop in place. 

The daily drawings shown here are all listed in my shop....along with a ton of other dailies, mixed media pieces, etc. etc. It feels good to be immersed in the daily drawing practice again. When life gets busy, it is easy to let it fall away, but I feel so much more balanced when I spend a few minutes grounding myself with the practice. That way, if I don't have time to be in the studio for a longer period, at least I've made my marks for the day, so to speak.

I do look forward to seeing this most recent snowfall melt away....spring is due to arrive within a few days and I'm quite ready!! Hope to see you at MissouriBendStudio!

Friday, February 24, 2017

Glimpsing Infinity and Other Musings

One of the many things I meant to write about while I was working on the Anonymous: The Diary Drawings series (see recent posts!) was the idea of glimpsing infinity. I know, of course, that infinity is a notion, a concept and not quite something that you catch a glimpse of, but still....the idea resurfaces each time I sit down to draw. The notion of glimpsing infinity lingers with me, so I will attempt to explain and see if the idea or the experience resonates with you.

A drawing, or any artwork for that matter, is created through a series of decisions....sometimes split-second decisions, sometimes ones that involve more contemplation and thought. What occurs to me as I am working is that there are virtually unlimited possibilities from which to choose. Any mark that I make could be otherwise, its location could be otherwise on the page, which might be of a different material entirely. If you do a little thought experiment and multiply the many tools you might use to work with, by the surfaces there are on which to work, by the placement on the page, by the countless colors that could be employed, by the ideas in your head....well, it makes me dizzy! 

The idea that it's all been done before, that there is nothing new under the sun, doesn't quite hold water if you open yourself to all the endless possibilities before you. Multiply all those things above by all the different moments in time, by the various incarnations of the self that evolve over time....well, it really is endless. I can't buy into the notion that there is nothing new to say or any new ways to say something that's already been said time and again. The world is wide, the possibilities are infinite. There is always room for what you have to express, because each one of us embodies our own set of infinite possibilities. The marks and images that land on the page through the work of my hands are the expression of my experience....that's my calling...to make those marks. And your calling is to make those marks only you can make, through whatever means you have at your disposal....at any time and place in the sea of infinity.

Until next time....enjoy the possibilities!

Saturday, February 18, 2017

The Unfolding Story

Please forgive the long absence....I've been immersed in the studio most days working on finishing the pieces for Anonymous: The Diary Drawings. All 36 are now finished, mounted on foam core and, as of yesterday, in the hands of the fine folks at the South Dakota Art Museum in Brookings.

In my last posts, I shared with you the most recent pieces along with my musings about the ideas behind the series. I just checked back on my last post and realize that I left off with number 15...wow, that was less than halfway through the series. Well, I won't post the next 21 from the series, but will give you a view of a selection of some of my favorites. Eventually this work will make its way to my website.

Anonymous: The Diary Drawings no. 18

Anonymous: The Diary Drawings no.19

Anonymous: The Diary Drawings no.20

Anonymous: The Diary Drawings no.21

One of the things I realized during the course of this work was that while I had these ideas about the content of the series....history and the anonymity that inevitably happens over time, these diary drawings were ultimately my diary drawings unfolding over the course of my recent days. I can see the references and symbols that speak to the events unfolding in my world, both the outer and inner worlds that ground me in time and place. 

And so, these drawings are really, in a sense, the "everyman" diary drawings....that is, the "every person", whether man or woman....we all experience events through the lens of our culture as well as our place in the flow of time. Each of us experiences hope and sorrow, the rush of experience and the press of our own immortality. Each one of us has our own story to tell. And so, these diary drawings are fragments of my story.

Anonymous: The Diary Drawings no.36

As I neared the completion of the series at no.36, I could feel the anxiety creeping up...the sense of loss and the let down that often looms after an intense period of work. I experience this even with approaching end of a book in which I am immersed. I pause more during the reading....I savor and try to forestall the inevitable. But there it is...no.36. The end. 

And yet....there is always more to the story. Perhaps another such series will soon be underway.

I'm so pleased to have been invited to be part of this upcoming exhibition of 18 women artists in South Dakota, Women At Work: South Dakota Artists. The show will open in the next couple of weeks, so if you are within a reasonable proximity of Brookings, South Dakota in the next couple of months, hope you will have a chance to see it. I'm honored to part of such esteemed company! 

Enjoy your weekend and thanks for your support and encouragement....and for checking in here on this blog.