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.


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. 

Friday, February 3, 2017

Homage to the Forgotten Ones

Diary Drawing no. 11

Early February greetings! I've been squirreled away in the studio working on this diary drawing project, which has also been the subject of my most recent posts. I am now up to no. 28 of the 36 I plan to make, so I'll share them in small groups over the next couple weeks. 

Diary Drawing no. 12

Just to recap, these drawings are a kind of homage to the ordinary folks, countless generations of them, whose lives are lived in the richness of days punctuated by highs and lows, births and deaths, milestones large and small....just like ours. Over time and over the course of a deepening history, these lives become anonymous....forgotten. And yet, each one of us lives and breathes because of them, we carry their DNA and our lives are built on the experiences and memory of those who came before.

Diary Drawing no. 13

These anonymous diary drawings pay homage to those ordinary folks, living out their lives across the globe....countless generations of them. These are the "what if" diary pages of the people who have come before.....creating a trace where one doesn't exist.

Diary Drawing no. 14

This theme is not a new one for me, but one that has always been close to my heart. This notion of remembering and forgetting, as well the layering of history and the ephemeral nature of experience runs through all my work. A few recent additions to my bookshelves, which I'll share below, speak to these ideas in different ways.  Personal and collective history, the sense of place and a kind of grounding...the bittersweet nature of a life lived....these are things which unite us all.

Diary Drawing no. 15

Still reading Common People: In Pursuit of My Ancestors....fascinating!

Just started The Shepherd's Life....but was immediately immersed....beautifully written.

War & Turpentine is one of those books that is hard to finish...and I did reluctantly. It has been favorably compared with W. G. Sebald, one of my favorite authors. While I can see the connection,  this one is different. I wouldn't say it is truly a novel....more of a memoir and a memoir within a memoir. 

I'll leave you with a beautiful quote from James Rebanks taken from The Shepherd's Life:

"My grandfather was, quite simply, one of the great forgotten silent majority of people who live, work, love, and die without leaving much written trace that they were ever here. He was, and we his descendants remain, essentially nobodies as far as anyone else is concerned. But that's the point. Landscapes like ours were created by and survive through the efforts of nobodies."

That sentiment is the same one that underpins this these diary pages. Although they are a product of my own creation, they are a simple, quite homage and an appreciation for those who have gone before....the nobodies.

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

The Diary Drawings: Insights and Musings

Anonymous: The Diary Drawings no. 4

Mid-January greetings! I'm reporting in on progress with the the diary drawing series I have begun for an exhibition next month. In my last post, I talked about the idea for the series and the fact that history is built upon what comes before us....the lives of ordinary folks, living out their days in many of the same ways that we do. Over time, we all become anonymous. That may sound like a rather melancholy thought, but I find it compelling, nonetheless. Our lives count for something, our actions and our days are important links in the ongoing chain of human civilization. Our lives have meaning, even if they seem to disappear into history.

Anonymous: The Diary Drawings no. 5

So, these individual drawings, based on "anonymous diary pages", are not about any particular diary page from any particular individual, but are instead a way to talk about the universality of human experience....perhaps. Not what was specific to this or that person on this or that day, but the arc of it all...the way we seek love and security, the way each of us must deal with our basic needs in vastly differing circumstances, the way we struggle with our trials, our mistakes both large and small, and the many ways we find to communicate with those different from us. All of it. 

Anonymous: The Diary Drawings no.6

And so, while I had this large arc of human experience in mind, I still thought it might be helpful to look at the content of some actual published diaries from ordinary folks from throughout history. While fascinating, this was not a good idea for me. My best work comes from the inside out, intuitively, and this effort took me to a place of making work from the outside in. I was quite aware that the drawings attempted after having read a few diary entries in one of the books I checked out from the library were more stilted and I knew that I had moved into the realm of illustration. Now, illustration if a wonderful thing, but I saw the life sapping out of the work as the drawing I was working on became more strained and predictable.

Anonymous: The Diary Drawings no.7

It happened with no. 5 above....I don't know if you can see it or not, but there is the loss of carefree abandon and randomness. I want to suggest connections, but not be descriptive, if that makes sense. I also like things to feel odd, unpredictable...and kind of strange. When no.6 was started down the path of predictability, I tore out the corner and inserted that sewn patch. I am happier when the work is a bit rough, as if perhaps you have to look twice to make sure what you are seeing. Often times, when we see what we expect to see, that is, when everything is predictable and each thing is where you expect it....well, there's nothing interesting to see. We lose the hunger for nuance. 

Anonymous: The Diary Drawings no.8

And so, the stitches are a bit clumsy, things are attached in odd ways and compositions are a bit quirky. I am a maker and these drawings bear the trace of the hand, my hand and in a sense, are the pages of my own diary. Maybe they are your diary pages as well. The drawings are filled with symbols and untold stories....I invite you to create your own.

Anonymous: The Diary Drawings no.9

 I've completed ten pieces at this point and I think my goal is to finish 36. They'll hang together in a grid....at 8" x 6" apiece, it will take a lot of them to have the kind of presence I want. But, I love making them....watching them emerge, listening to the echoes of unknown voices lost to history.

Anonymous: The Diary Drawings no.10

As my time has been spent solely on these drawings, I feel as though I am neglecting my Etsy shop, but there is plenty of work there awaiting a good home. Hope you take some time to see what's there that speaks to you! Until next time....enjoy the rest of your week.