Sunday, September 13, 2009

Hill Country Retreat

I spent a few days at a cabin in the hill country last week. This was something I'd been looking forward to for a few months - a few days in the peace and quiet, with no to-do's, no schedules. The photo above is the view from our patio. We stayed at a wonderful little cabin that was fairly secluded.

The weather was a nice respite from the two months of 100 degree weather we had this summer. We even got our fire "fix" with the outdoor fireplace.

We brought a few DVDs, some games and lots to read. I was a little concerned that I would be bored. It's hard for me to spend a lot of time not "doing" anything. As it turned out, the time went by very fast. I spent most of the time outside on the patio. The view was great and there was a hummingbird feeder with a lot of action. I found that I really didn't read that much, I enjoyed watching the wildlife.

The time there reminded me how important nature is to my peace of mind. Although I love San Antonio, I miss the variety of natural areas we had in the Chicago suburbs. There were 5 different natural areas within a 10 minute drive of my apartment. Some were small, but they provided an oasis in the middle of the concrete suburbs. Here I have to drive 15-30 minutes to get to one of the parks. But this trip made me realize it is worth the time and effort to do so. Even 20 minutes in the woods can lighten my soul. So now, this week, as I get back to my schedules and to-do's, I feel a bit more contented, lighter and have a smile on my face.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Color Studies - Color Blending

I am embarking on a research project to expand my knowledge of dye mixing. I was inspired by the color blending exercises I did with paint.
We all know that mixing together complementary colors (red/green, yellow/violet, blue/orange) gives you brown, right? In theory, yes. In practice, you get a wide range of colors, some browns and some duller, earthier versions of the unmixed colors. Since I prefer earth tones, I thought it would be helpful to prepare color studies by blending the primaries with their complements. I do that now to get earth tones, but I wanted to do a controlled test to see the range from one color to the other. In addition, I am using a new set of primaries for these tests. I had been using a set of warm primaries and a set of cool primaries to mix all my colors. As part of the Artcloth Mastery Program, we are using one set of primaries that are very close to the "pure" color wheel primaries. So I am not as able to predict my outcomes as I would be using my normal primaries.

I used Procion MX dyes and did a 5 step gradation between each color. The blue/orange combination yielded some of the best browns.

The browns from the yellow/violet combination were ok, although I didn't find them as rich as the blue/orange browns. I normally use a warm yellow to make browns with violet and they come out quite different than the colors below.

The red really dominates the blends of red/green. In order to get a nice deep earthy green, it's obvious from this experiment that you wouldn't need much red!

My next step will be to do the same blending exercises with the secondary and tertiary colors on the color wheel. I may also do some more experiments with the primaries using a larger gradation. I'll post photos when I get that completed.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

One People Many Paths: The Sacred Art of Altars

This year is the sixth year for the exhibit and silent auction of altars created by artists in South Texas. I have participated 4 of those six years. The event benefits The Celebration Circle, a local spiritual community. Each participating artist is given an unfinished wooden box to use as the basis for their altar.

This year, 55 artists transformed these wooden boxes using a variety of styles and media, including metal, fiber, painting, sculpture, and found objects. Below are photos of my altar (Photos by GaryO Smith —capturing now for now ).

The altars can be viewed and bid on at the Bijou Theatre at Crossroads Mall, September 1 – September 30, 2009 during the theater’s normal business hours. The auction concludes with a reception with live music, delicious food and the screening of the movie Happy Go Lucky. It is definitely worth a visit, even if you can't make the closing reception.

Many thanks to Gary O Smith, for his beautiful photography. He has captured the essence of these works in his photos, which can be viewed at:

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

What is Success?

I've been thinking a lot about how I define success over the past 4 months. As a matter of fact, I have been stressing myself out due to my lack of clarity on that issue. It started when I read the book, "I'd Rather Be in the Studio", by Alyson B. Stanfield. As a precursor to planning, the book suggests identifying what success would look like to me. From the time I first pursued my art, after leaving a career in the corporate world, I have said that I only want to make a simple living at my art. I didn't care about being rich or famous. And I can't really say that has changed. I still don't care about being rich or famous. But, I've been wondering if I have been selling myself short by not striving for more. It could be fear that prevented me from aspiring to more. If I set really lofty goals, then I would look foolish if I didn't achieve them, right?

Clarifying how I define success is important because it impacts the actions I take. I have created a long-range vision for my life, but there are still many paths that can take me there. Do I want to pursue gallery representation, or sell my work through other venues and focus on getting my name out there through teaching? How much teaching do I want to do? Am I willing to travel around the country to teach? What impact will travel have on my lifestyle and my marriage? Do I want to aim for a particular market, such as the interior design or fashion industry? How much money do I really need to support the lifestyle I want?

At this point, I have a lot of questions and few answers. I am faced with balancing the workaholic side of me with the side that longs for more time to enjoy friendships, nature and caring for my home. I don't expect to have a sudden insight that gives me all the answers (although that would be nice!) I expect the answers will unfold, day by day. So, I have decided I will be more gentle with myself as I go through the discovery process. Patience is in order, with a little faith and trust thrown in.
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