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!



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!

Not-Quilting . . . by the Lake

There’s no lake at the mid-summer “Quilting by the Lake” conference in upstate New York – at least not since its early days at another college campus.  And despite spending a week at a quilting conference, I actually did not bring my sewing machine!

I enjoyed my week of surface design exploration with Jane Dunnewold tremendously however.  I’d heard Jane speak at the International Quilt Festival in Houston and had participated in several of her lectures and demos there.  But there’s no substitute for getting your hands dirty during a week of surface design.

Actually, there’s no excuse for that either!  Jane is appropriately diligent about studio safety practices and made sure that we did not end the day with dye-stained hands. The light winds and 90+ temperatures dried our fabrics quickly in between steps, while the cicadas hummed in the trees and we enjoyed our spacious air-conditioned studios.   I’ll have to confess that I use most of the techniques in my work already, but the flour paste resists were a great discovery and could be the technique to get past a stumbling block in a series I’ve long considered but never started for lack of the “right” fabrics.

Jane is one of if not the most organized instructors I’ve ever met and she always made sure we completed the preparatory steps in time for the next steps in a process that we’d learn in the coming days.   Other than short breaks for meals, just across the ravine from our classroom, we worked diligently in our studios for at least forty hours that week.  What a great way to spend a “vacation!”