Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Who Has Shaped Your Creative Journey?

One of the topics last week in my online creativity class was acknowledging those who have had an impact on one's creative journey. I would like to take this opportunity to acknowledge someone who made a big difference in my life.  While working in my former career in human resources I began taking watercolor classes. I took a few classes, but the instructors were uninspiring. Basically they just taught us to paint the way they painted. The class was structured so that we all painted the same thing.

I was about to give up on watercolor when I decided to take one more class from a different instructor, Veronica Potter. What a difference! She gave us tips about working with watercolors and showed us some techniques, but we were free to do what we wanted. She opened my eyes to a new way of working. I wouldn't call her a mentor, because we didn't have a long term connection, yet she had a huge impact on the course of my journey. The bottom line is I would never have pursued my art full-time if it wasn't for her.

Fast forward a few years. I often thought about Veronica and felt that I wanted to let her know about the impact she had. I wasn't sure how to get in touch with her since she wasn't teaching at the school anymore. Then one day I saw her at an art supply store. She was teaching a painting class there. I took advantage of the opportunity and told her how much of an impact she had on my journey. It felt great to finally thank her in person and I think she really enjoyed hearing it.

Who has shaped your creative journey?

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Art Movie Night

Last year we implemented art movie night at our house.  A couple of times a month, we check out an art documentary from the library. We started it as a way to spark our creativity and gain some inspiration.  We don't limit ourselves to visual artists, we've watched documentaries about performing artists as well.

I have found it both enjoyable and inspirational.  I always get something out of it.  Even if I don't particularly care for the artist's style, I like to see how they approach the creative process and hear their philosophy. Often I find a serendipitous message that comes just when I need it.

Last month I discovered a website, Top Documentary Films, that offers streaming video of many documentaries.  That is a good alternative to the library, if you don't want to wait for the dvd to become available.

Below is a list of some of my favorites.  I'd love to your suggestions, too.

Wasteland – follows Vik Muniz as he creates portraits using items reclaimed from a recycling facility in Brazil
Marina Abramovic: The Artist is Present – fascinating documentary about the performance artist’s retrospective at the Museum of Modern Art in New York.
Andrew Goldsworthy: Rivers and Tides – the documentary follows the artist as he creates art in natural settings with organic materials
Ai Weiwei: Without Fear or Favour – compelling story of Chinese artist Weiwei’s work and fight for artistic freedom
George Harrison: Living in the Material World – great insights in to the life and work of Harrison
Exit Through the Gift Shop - documentary about Banksy and other street artists, with an interesting twist
My Kid Could Paint That – documentary about Marla Olmstead, a girl who received renown for her paintings at the age of 4

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Open Studio This Weekend at Art Cloth Studios

Fred logo

Please Join Us!

The new Art Cloth Studios is complete and we are having an open studio this weekend.  Join me, along with Jane Dunnewold, Leslie Jenison, Linda Charlton and Miki Rodriquez, this Saturday and Sunday.  Enjoy a studio tour, fabulous artwork, demonstrations and refreshments. I'll have my new line of hand painted and ice dyed scarves for sale, as well as ready-to-frame and canvas-mounted artwork.

Mural painting in progress on the new studio
The open studio is part of the On and Off Fredericksburg Road Studio Tour, which features over 70 artists and 40 galleries. The tour kicks off with an opening reception Friday night at Bihl Haus Arts, which features work from most of the artists participating in the tour. Mingle with the artists while enjoying the artwork, live music and refreshments.

I hope to see you there!

Opening Reception
Friday, February 15, 2013, 6-9 pm
Bihl Haus Arts

Open Studio
Saturday, February 16, 11 am to 6 pm
Sunday, February 17, noon to 5 pm
Art Cloth Studios, 1803 W. Woodlawn, San Antonio, Tx (about a mile west of I-10 at the corner of Elmendorf)

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Tote Bag Art

If you are like me, you have a pile of tote bags somewhere in your house or car. Some of them, like those from Quilt Festival or Wegmans Grocery, are works of art in their own right.  Others are rather plain and boring.This year, the Surface Design Association came up with a great idea for the 2013 conference in San Antonio.  They call it the Snag-A-Bag Swap. Instead of receiving  a plain tote bag when you sign in, you can trade in a tote that you have re-decorated through painting, dyeing, printing, scribbling, tufting, embroidering or other form of embellishment. Then you will receive a one-of-a-kind collector’s item created by someone else. Think of it as wearable art. (You can read more about the Snag-A-Bag Swap in the SDA's latest online newsletter.)

A few weeks ago, a group of local artists got together to "prime the pump".  We painted, fused and stitched to transform new and gently used tote bags into tote bag art.

Jane Dunnewold provided lots of paints and raw materials for us to use

Robin Early takes an abstract approach
Laura Ann Beehler adds a few finishing touches
Jean Dahlgren collaborates with other artists on design ideas

Marshall, the studio cat, was a bit overwhelmed by all the activity

We left a lot of bags drying on the clothesline
More bags drying outside
A few of the finished bags
Snagging a Bag is reason enough in itself to attend the conference, but there are a lot of other great reasons to go, too! Check out the SDA website to read more about conference happenings. And get a behind the scenes view on the SDA blog.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Online Art Portfolios

There are a lot of ways to put your art on the internet. You can put it on your blog or website, you can participate in online selling venues, such as Etsy or Fine Art America. There are also sites that act as a viewing gallery.

I'm still trying to figure out the "best" way to approach this. I do my website myself, so you'd think it would be easiest just to put everything there. But I'm not completely satisfied with the gallery pages on the software I use.  I've been putting photos of my work on a website called Behance. I find it easier to work with and I can group my work together by series. (You can view my portfolio on Behance by clicking this link.)

I'd love to hear how you all approach this. Do you prefer to have all your artwork on your website, or do you combine different approaches for getting your work out there? If so, what sites/software do you use?

Thursday, February 7, 2013

The Power of Negative Thinking

After reading the title, some of you may be thinking, "Wait a minute, is she advocating negative thinking?" No, I'm not.  I am generally very positive, however I am occasionally susceptible to those inner demons who see the worst in everything. And I have seen how powerful those thoughts can be. They can completely take over our mind and reframe events. I had a sharp reminder of that yesterday.

I had a small artistic setback in the morning.  The day was pretty busy and I was focused on the task at hand, so I didn't dwell on the setback. When things slowed down in the evening, my inner critic came out and began berating me. Pretty soon, that voice picked up on some other things that happened during the day and put a negative spin on those, too. By the time I went to bed, I had a sick, sinking feeling in my stomach. (I discovered a short-term band-aid.  I was reading the comics in bed and found myself laughing out loud.  That's when I realized I didn't feel as bad anymore.  I guess laughter really is good medicine.)

While this was going on, I was aware of it, but I just couldn't seem to change the course of my thoughts. This made me think of that old story about the man and the sinkhole.  Have you heard it?

A man walks down the street and falls into a sinkhole. The next day he does the same thing.  The third day, he does it again, but this time he thinks, "Hmm, I fell into that sinkhole again.  I better go a different way tomorrow."  The next day he walks down the street and falls into the sinkhole.  But this time, while he is falling, he thinks "Oh, yeah.  This darn sinkhole.  I need to go a different way tomorrow." He does this a few more times.  Then one day, as he is walking down the street he thinks, "That sinkhole is coming up, I better go a different way."

The element of awareness is crucial for change. Last night, I knew I was falling into the sinkhole.  Maybe tomorrow I'll remember the sinkhole before I fall in.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Overcoming Creative Blocks, Part Two

Last week, I wrote about some of my favorite ways to open up the flow of creativity.  They focused mostly on things to do in the studio to get the juices going. This week I'll share some ideas that are more about cultivating an atmosphere and a mindset of creativity.

Go Out
In the book, The Artist’s Way, Julia Cameron describes what she calls an artist date. It is a commitment to spend time alone each week doing something that feeds your soul.  It could have absolutely nothing to do with your craft (a walk in the zoo, ice skating or taking cooking lessons) or it could be related to your area of focus (a conference for fiber artists, an art exhibit, or browsing an art supply store). This time can reduce stress that can block creativity and it exposes you to new things, which may inspire new ideas.

Cultivate Silence
Most of us have a constant chatter in our heads that leaves little room for our creative voice. Creating silence can be as simple as taking a few deep breaths before you begin your creative work. If you want to do more, incorporate short “breaks” throughout the day in which you focus on your breathing for 30 seconds or longer.

Creative Environment
Is your workspace conducive to creating? Only you can determine what that means.  Do you prefer quiet, do you like music, do you enjoy scented candles or incense, do you work best in daylight? What about clutter (or lack of)? Is your chair or stool comfortable, your table the right height?

A ritual is an intentional action in which one is focused on a particular thought, action or task. Rituals give us a feeling of consistency and stability.    Beginning your creative time with a ritual that is uniquely yours can create a sense of space and time apart from your normal day. The ritual signals to your body and mind that it is now time to create. The specifics of the ritual are different for everyone.  You may begin with a cup of tea, with a meditation, with a list of intentions or with a creative warm-up.

Apparently I'm not the only one focused on the topic of creativity right now.  Susie Monday recently wrote a blog post in which people sent in their suggestions for getting unstuck.


Donna Kallner began the new year describing a creativity exercise, something she writes about periodically on her blog.


How do you create an atmosphere or environment for creativity?

Read about some of the common blocks to creativity.

(If you are a regular reader of my blog, you've already seen mention of my online creativity class.  I promise this is the last time you'll see it this semester.)

If you could use some help in overcoming your creative blocks, join me in my online class, Re-Discover Your Creative Self.  The materials are now available online and you can sign up through the end of February. Work at your own pace and join in the class discussion if you have questions or want to share your thoughts.(For more information, visit my website.)

Monday, February 4, 2013

Vive La Difference

We've all heard how difficult it is to get a group of artists together into a cohesive group. (Like herding cats, some say.) I have to congratulate Janice Elaine Cooper and Steven Smith, two local artists who have succeeded. They have organized an invitational exhibition of 13 local artists at one of the premier office buildings in the city. 

A range of media is represented, including acrylic painting, photography, sculpture, mixed media and fiber.  I am honored to be included with this group.  We hung the show Saturday and it is a magnificent representation of the talented artists in San Antonio. The opening reception is this Wednesday and I hope you can join us. Details are below.  

What:  Vive La Difference: 13 Artists, 13 Voices

When: February 6, 2013, 5-7 pm (Exhibition runs through March 31, 2013)

Where: Weston Centre, 112 East Pecan St., San Antonio, TX (Free parking in Weston Garage on Soledad south of Pecan)

Why: Stunning art in a stunning location, great wine and great conversation and 10% of all sales proceeds go to Make a Wish Foundation


Pam Ameduri
Lyn Belisle
Lauren Browning
Janice Elaine Cooper
Nancy L de Wied
Charles Ingram
Lisa Kerpoe
Luis Lopez
Ruth Mulligan
Steven Smith
Scott Vallance
Cody Vance
Deborah Wight
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