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 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.

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Anonymous: The Diary Pages

Diary Page no.1

I have a longtime interest in history and in the trace we leave behind, as individuals and as cultures. This exploration if really at the heart of the work that I make in the studio. The quiet intimacy of the details of a life lived out day by day is reflected in the scale of my work. The pieces are meant be seen one-on-one, that is, not from across the room like a large painting, but like one would look at the page of a book...or perhaps...the page of an anonymous diary. 

I've been invited to participate in a show of a select group of women artists here in South Dakota at the South Dakota Art Museum and I'm excited about this new series of "diary pages" I've begun working on. Much of what we know about how people lived in different times and place comes from personal narratives in the form of diaries. The broad sweep of culture is echoed day-by-day in the lives of each one of us, whether we keep a record of it or not. 

Diary Page no.2

The diary page seemed a perfect format to bring together my interests and my joy in making works on paper. Each page is made with two sheets of 8" x 6" Japanese paper. The backing sheet contains the "writing", that is, drawing that echoes the pattern of words on a page. The top sheet is the "drawing" that brings the written word to life, possibly evoking a day, an event...or a moment in time. 

The process of making the anonymous written diary page is very meditative, as I imagine the person who might have written the "words." Afterwards, the page that is the drawing flows naturally and somehow echoes the writing both visually and metaphorically. After the drawing page is dipped in beeswax, it is attached to the written page with tiny stitches in the corners, but also through sewing, beads, buttons, sewn on collaged drawings and other bits. 

Diary Page no.3

These "diary pages" are perhaps filled with the imaginary record of births and deaths, festivals and special occasions that mark time and allow us to look back at the fulness of our days. Yet, while these pieces are filled with words and language, my sense is that they are filled with longing.....for lost days, loves found and then forgotten, for the ability to stop time and to hold on forever to everything we hold dear. 

Speaking of marking time, I've just posted a random assortment of some daily drawings in my Etsy shop. I think you can get the sense of how the daily drawings from my own life inform the drawings in the diary pages. Below on the drawing from January 9th...those acorn-like seed forms showed up later that same day on diary page no. 2.

I don't have the title yet for the series of diary pages, but it will come to me in due time and I will know it when it arrives, I'm quite sure. For now, they will just be numbered as I make them. I plan to have over 40 finished for the show and hang them together in a grid. With their small size, it will take a lot of these pages to hold together on a large gallery wall in the museum. Though each one is delicate, I hope that together they will have enough presence to beckon the viewer from afar.

Hope your year has started off well. Except for the cold that has turned into a sinus infection (modern medicine now at work), my year has started off on a positive note. Cheers!

Friday, January 6, 2017

Happy New Year Greetings

Greetings to all in the new year! I've been away on holiday travels, with family near and far and am finally getting settled in back at home. As you can see from the photo above, we have no snow to speak of, but that doesn't mean the temperatures aren't frigid! It's mighty cold out there, as evidenced by the ice chunks gliding down the river. They remind me somehow of white clouds floating across the blue of a summer sky. 

Today was the first day spending any time in the studio. Above is a brief snapshot of the start of a drawing that is now underway. I'm easing my way into a new body of work and feeling a bit pressured, as I've been invited into a group show of women artists at the South Dakota Art Museum in Brookings in the early spring. I'd like to create another grouping of pieces similar to the Art of Wonder series which I began last year at this time. As those of you who have followed my work and/or this blog know, I have to draw my way into an understanding of just what this new work will be. And so, I just begin with play and letting my hand draw what comes naturally. I know this much....the series will be made on 8"x 8" Japanese paper that will be dipped in beeswax. The more I draw, the more I'll understand when I've "got" it. After an hour or more on this drawing, I know I'm not there yet, so we'll see where this one goes....if anywhere!

Still getting over a nasty cold, so it's slow going, but I know I'll soon find the groove, so to speak. Sorry for the long absence, but as everyone know the holiday season makes for busy days. I'm glad to have had time with family and friends, but I'm now more than ready to have my days spent in the cozy studio. Hope you've had a fine start to 2017!