Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Just Say No

Looking at my calendar the other day, I was feeling overwhelmed by all the deadlines and obligations. Most of them are things I have already committed to. And most of those are important, either from a financial or potential opportunities perspective, or simply because they are enjoyable. But one stood out. It wasn't something I was looking forward to, it wouldn't really benefit me, and my absence would not have been a detriment to anyone else. I should have said no.

There comes a point when one has to decide which teaching venues, exhibitions and speaking engagements will further one's goals. I have a tendency to say yes to everything that comes along, but I realized I just can't keep it up. (Took me a long time to figure that out!) I had planned to enter a few exhibitions in the fall requiring new work, but I have decided not to. They aren't really that important to me and will only distract me from other, more important activities. My new mantra is "just say no". So if you're thinking of asking me to get involved with something new - you just might want to wait a little while before asking. I've been practicing my "No"!

Sunday, June 27, 2010

A Day in a Film Shoot

I spent last Monday in a film shoot for a new DVD collaboration with Jane Dunnewold.

The DVD, Vibrant Color: Combining Soy Wax and Dyes for Brilliant Results, focuses on three techniques for adding MX dyes to soy wax. It was my first experience creating a DVD, but Jane is a pro at this. She makes it look so easy!

I spent the previous week organizing my thoughts and materials. Actually it wasn't too much different from preparing to teach a class. Create an outline, gather supplies, make samples.

The one thing that was different is I found myself obsessing about what to wear. Those of you who know me, know that I am not exactly a fashion maven. I wear pretty grungy clothes when I teach. And even when not teaching, I don't really get too concerned about what to wear. But somehow that didn't seem appropriate on camera! And then the day before the filming, a friend of mine said something about makeup. "Makeup! I need to wear makeup?!!" I haven't worn makeup since leaving the corporate world behind 12 years ago.

Well, those things all sorted themselves out and we were ready to begin. James Sanders, our video producer, was a pleasure to work with. He has filmed a lot of programs for the local PBS station. His easygoing style made me comfortable and I know he's going to do a great job of editing and production.

We hope to have the DVD out by the end of July. I'll post more info and a preview later. Below are some photos from the film shoot.

Jane's makeup session

James and his assistant, Josh, getting the camera and microphone set up

The newest studio cat had a great time playing with the cords and tripods.

Getting the shot just right

Pretty Girl, one of the studio cats, is getting bored. Let's get things moving!

Now we're rolling!

Itty Bitty's all tuckered out with all the excitement.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Economy as a Design Principle

I've been very intrigued lately by the concept of economy in art. It's the idea that a piece of art has only what is necessary to convey the desired message or meaning. No extra lines, colors, shapes, images, layers.

I think I am drawn to it because I tend to keep adding more and more layers to a piece. Sometimes when I'm not really sure what is needed, I just do something. I am good at ignoring that voice of intuition that says, "No! Don't touch it! You're not sure about adding that screenprinted image, so don't do it!" I often do it anyway, and it may not detract from the piece, but it doesn't really move the piece forward, either. And sometimes it turns out to be a disaster (like a piece I worked on last week - more on that later).

I think it also ties back to working with intention. It is easy to lose focus, to be unconscious of how each layer, each step, each printed image or handpainted color effects the final piece. Sometimes it's a matter of being lazy and not wanting to take the time to test an idea first.

That's how I created a disaster last week. It was on a piece that was almost finished. It had been committed to an invitational exhibition and I was just finishing up a few details. I decided to add gold leaf, but didn't have the proper tool to achieve what I wanted. Instead of waiting until I got the tool, I tried something else. Of course, I didn't test it on a scrap to see how it would look. Well, it was really awful. It did detract from the piece. Fortunately I was able to save it with a few additional tweaks and now the piece looks great. The final product actually did accomplish what I had envisioned - I just took a bit of a detour to get there. Sure, I received the end result I wanted, but it was a bit hard on my nerves!

I'm consciously trying to incorporate the idea of economy into my work now. Being intentional with each step, each mark, each color. Being conscious of whether or not it will move the piece forward, or just be extra "noise". Listening when my intuition says, "Stop - come back to it tomorrow." I can't say that it's not challenging. I can easily fall back into old patterns, especially when working under a deadline. But hey, I love a challenge.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

A New Acquisition

I recently purchased an encaustic painting by Michelle Belto. Michelle is a local artist who creates her "canvas" with hand-made paper. She then paints on top of it with layers of colored beeswax. I was entranced from the time I first saw her work at The Circle Squared, her solo exhibition last fall. Each piece was beautiful. The layers of wax create a rich surface with a lot of depth.

I loved all the pieces from the exhibition, so I had a hard time choosing one. The one I finally decided on, Mandala, spoke to me with it's simplicity. I also love the texture and dimension. I am so excited to have this beautiful piece in my home!

If you'd like to see more of Michelle's work, check out her website.
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