Capturing & Collecting

I haveJournal_20130210_IdeaNotebook always been a fan of journaling, from my early childhood diaries (with all the things that ARE in the family attic, I sure wish I could find those!!!) to later becoming a devotee of Julia Cameron’s morning pages. Some years my journals consisted mostly of hastily scribbled grocery and other to-do lists, with little time for art or creative thinking. In other years I filled notebook after personal notebook; at other times I focused on writing articles for professional journals, writing solely at the keyboard and rarely using my favorite pen.

In more recent years, I’ve added David Allen’s Getting Things Done methodology to the mix and found that a good excuse to add more, and different, notebooks to my life. Collage techniques and acrylic paints and mediums help to create artful covers to go with the various notebooks: one for “mindsweeps,” daily journals with perforated pages to “collect and capture,” . . . and of course the sketchbooks and art journals we keep to capture all those creative ideas that we must act on asap, or that must age for a time before their time comes. Here is another cover from my recent designs . . . yes, I seem to enjoy red and black these days!


Preserving History . . . Connecting the Dots

Today was one of those beautiful post-blizzard days in New England . . . just warm enough for a short walk with the Studio Pup, which meant lots of time leftover for making art.  Inspiration came quickly by seeing the connections between a box of vintage postcards recently unearthed in the family attic, waking this morning from vivid dreams of abstract acrylic paintings (a sure sign I haven’t been spending enough time in the studio!), and Jane Davies’ recent blog post on the threatened closure of her rural post office. Those who have ever lived in a small town know that the local post office is the heart and soul of a village, so Jane’s plight touched the hearts of artists around the world. Jane is a well-known mixed-media artist and teacher with a generous and whimsical spirit, so the overwhelming response so far is not surprising and certainly well-deserved!



I raided my new-found box of vintage postcards and used gesso, acrylics, thread and fabric to create new masterpieces over the originals.  Antique dealers might question my logic — the entire stash dates to 1906-1907, and many have already been postmarked — though the postmarks are clear, most of the original one-cent stamps have since fallen to the bottom of the box.  One of the cards I’ll likely be sending to Jane was originally printed in Cuba, but others are from far-flung states and small villages like Rupert, Vermont.

I sometimes wonder why I keep some of the things I do . . . but I always know that someday it will become obvious!

If you haven’t already, please send Jane an artsy postcard at:

P. O. Box 45, Rupert, VT 05768

Cityscape Mosaics

Traffic Jams . . . Gridlock . . . Cityscape reflections burned onto nearby windows on a scorching summer day.

I recently met the woman who can turn these stressful events into pure bliss, with her artistic interpretation of the everyday mundane.

As fellow member of the Surface Design Association, I’m always fascinated by the techniques and tools behind an intriguing artwork, and was not disappointed.  Karen Goetzinger generously shared her methods of attaching her collages to felt, and mounting the felt to solid backing (such as acrylic on stretched canvas, or cradled wood panels) with archival bookbinder’s adhesive.  Though her work is textile based and has some traditional hand stitching, if only blanket stitching around the edges, other mediums in her work include printing and even touches of encaustic.  It’s always a delight to meet an artist who is totally comfortable talking about their work and explaining their process. Though Karen’s mixed media textile constructions are featured at the Edgewater Gallery through June 30, you can also visit her online to learn more about her work and her process.

Added bonus:  if you loved “tangerine tango” before Panetone named it the 2012 color of the year, you won’t be disappointed by her color sense!

Synchronicity in the Matrix

AC II: Elements
© Mary Jane Russell 2006

As guest curator for Studio Art Quilt Associates’ May 2012 online gallery, I hope you’ll take a look at the exciting artwork in the virtual exhibit I’ve entitled “Matrix.”

My left brain loves order, grids and structure, and many of these pieces initially called me from this perspective.  Yet my right brain loves it when the matrix begins to slip, becoming slightly askew . . . and I was delighted to discover other images that dissolved into mystery and intrigue from a less structured base. 

While browsing the online SAQA gallery of thumbnail images, I began to identify “matrix” as my theme . . . but I didn’t realize there would be more connections to come.

Some beautiful artwork by Kevan Lunney appears in this collection, even though it represents more of the “mystery and intrigue” end of my theme than any type of grid.  It was her gold, bronze and cream colorway that first caught my eye; then the detail and depth of her surface design captured my attention — and still will not let it go.

It took me a while to connect that Kevan and I had met briefly at the SAQA-SDA conference recently, but only because we’d connected in another online venue just this month that led me to read about her self-portrait project.  But then as I looked at the closeup of her SAQA piece again while writing this post, I also realized that I’d been captivated by another of her pieces at  Art Quilt Elements 2012 — where it won the SDA Surface Design Award.  Kevan has certainly created an amazing body of work in her “archeology” series, so  I hope you’ll check it out!

Don’t you just love synchronicity? Have you experienced it lately?

Screen printing without a net

In the spirit of “make some art everyday, if only for ten minutes,” today I took a short break from gardening to do a little silk screening — on the front of my newest beehive.

This hive has been with me for a few weeks now and still didn’t have a name. I’ve called them “the nuc” (short for nucleus, which is a small colony with a laying queen) or “Pipsqueak,” which seemed rather insulting given their robustness.

A normal artist would have worn a veil; a normal beekeeper would have painted designs on the hives before filling them with bees!

But the day was bright and sunny, and my new bees are fairly gentle. Actually, they were more concerned about doing their jobs than pestering some artist trying to keep a flimsy thermofax screen taut in the afternoon breeze.

I hope that the bees from Ginkgo enjoy their newly decorated home!