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, 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.


  1. Thank you for this thoughtful post. I often feel that my work doesn't evolve, that it's always the same. Is it because I have found home? I'm going to think about it.

    1. Hi Francoise....you have posed a tricky question! I have those same feelings and ask the same question, which I guess is what prompted me to branch out with that brightly colored watercolor piece at the start of my post. I have a sense that it is important in life and in the studio to keep moving forward, as if there is no evolution, things become static and wither. Maybe the secret is to find that balance between growth and change and staying true to your own compass. This is no doubt the quest in the studio as well as in the rest of our lives. Thank you so much for commenting and posing the question. Happy to carry on the conversation if you have further ideas to share here. All the best, Patti

  2. Oh isn't that the truth? For me, who writes every day, sometimes I need to step way and draw and paint for a few days to then come back to my trusty pen and paper able to declare, 'Oh,THIS is who I am, this is what I love!'
    I do love your watercolour pieces, btw, especially the door/threshold :)

    1. Claire, thanks for your comment! That is a good feeling, isn't it...the moment of coming home and being confident in who you are? Even if the moment is fleeting, it's like slipping into your own skin. I think that is the place where we can be the most honest and the only vantage point from which to "speak" with the voice that belongs to no one else. That being said, it doesn't mean we shouldn't always be trying to grow, learn and expand. Each new experience adds to the creation of who we are. I'm glad you like the watercolor piece! It's a fine line to walk, creating work that comes from the inner core, especially if one is trying to sell artwork. One part of me liked it....the content of the archway/threshold, but another internal battle ensued over that bright color. That's when I realized, yet again, that I should remain true to my own color sensibilities and not try to be all things to all people or make something to pitch to the marketplace. All of the questions that surround these issues are ongoing, as I'm sure you know! Happy to hear from you....take care, Patti


I'm happy to hear from you...comments and questions are welcome!