Cakes and more Cakes

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The other night I had a dream that I should draw some cakes. Not just a few, but a whole lot. Here’s all I got started with, then ran out of ideas, so I’ll have to look up some recipes. And I don’t know where that silly elf in the chef hat came from.

johnhimmelfarb1.jpg Here’s probably what inspired the idea of a massive drawing (although not sure about the cake part.) This is a huge drawing by John Himmelfarb that I saw in a private collection in Nebraska. Not sure about the scale? Look at the reflection in the glass — that is a spiral staircase for scale.

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It’s made up of hundreds of little scratchy drawings, sort of silly like mine, but of course more organized and thought out in the layout. I really love this guy’s use of line, which Angela noted, “drives my work.”

We were up there, Lincoln and Omaha, for some International Sculpture Centers meetings and as a consequence, got lots of art saturation — the Sheldon had a really lovely Elizabeth King retrospective, a Christo and Jeanne-Claude presentation at the Kaneko, and a sneak peek at the artist residencies of the Bemis. Enough to make one feel very small and awkward in a world of huge talent and inspiration.

I Like to Draw Ears

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Okay, I have to admit it — I like to draw ears. They are always weird if you look closely, and always different. Was it Monk or Sherlock Holmes who could recognize murder suspects by their distinctive ears alone? But I also have to admit — this ear doesn’t cut it. It will have to be redrawn and recut. I don’t know why it’s wrong, maybe it’s just kind of boring. Also haven’t figured out the proper mouth for this character.

On a happier note, yay, Project Runway is back! Tonight was the first episode of the season, and it looks like a great line-up of new designers/characters.

Open Space, New Projects and Fear

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When I redid my office, I wanted a blank slate — with big project tables and open space to think up new projects. Then I saw a documentary about the architecture of a traditional Japanese house, and I understood what I had been striving for. There is no assigned function for rooms. The objects that are brought into the space define the function of the space.

Here’s one of my project tables, a little cluttered, but flexible space to work. Glass shelves held up by glass bricks, a piece of rusty metal for a magnet board. I’m thinking about painting the wall with magnetic paint (actually it’s not magnetic, it just makes the wall metallic so that magnets stick to it. Anyone tried that stuff?) But I don’t want to hang art on it. I like the white wall, like cloud, like a dream that hasn’t yet developed.

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On the other project table, I’ve brought in a small pin board to study my research. The internet is great for research, I especially am loving Flickr for inspirational photos. Photos like this or these. I don’t copy the photos into my art, only use them as inspiration for things to draw.

Working with new ideas is fun, exciting, but also scary. I wonder if I can really make my crazy ideas work… they seem pretty good in my head, but when I try to write about them or make them real, not sure how well that’s going to work.

Back in the Groove

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Nice monitor huh? Got for my birthday, and it plugs into my laptop to give me two screens for drawing and looking at reference material.

Drawing for quilts is different than just drawing, because I have to remember that eventually it will be used as a pattern, and that I have be able to construct everything that I draw.

Thanks Grace Matthews for this post which quotes Faith Ringgold, “Underestimation is a psychological tactic for artists. When you employ this tactic you convince yourself that the upcoming project is not really so big or so bad, that it will not take much time and that in fact it’s a piece of cake. This method of trickery helps you to tackle the biggest of projects and makes the project less daunting and more manageable.” This is a great idea and has helped me getting started tackling some projects I’ve been worried about.

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But most important, little friends and good music help oil the creative machine. Right now I’m listening to Lemon Jelly.

Working in a Series with Distinctive Directions

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I’m excited to be part of a small group of artists including Jeanne Williamson, Joanie San Chirico, and Deidre Adams who will be showing at the Lux Center for the Arts, in Lincoln, Nebraska, April 4-26, 2008. Lisa Call who is the curator for the show will also have a solo show at the Lux called “Fencing In or Keeping Out.”

Lisa has built a website for the group called Distinctive Directions, with an accompanying blog where each of us will be posting about our art. The first topic of conversation has been “working in series,” since that is the unifying thread between all our work.

I often learn things about myself when I’m asked by others to write about my work and inspiration, so I was glad for the poke. Here’s a quote, but for my full post about working in a series go here.

“For me, creating a series was never my intention. It was more that I was looking for a personal visual language to express my insecurity and anxiety about contemporary life, as seen through my oddly humor-tinted glasses.”

You Make My Day!

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Gerrie gave me the “You Make My Day” award. Thanks Gerrie! Now I have to give it to ten other bloggers, which is hard because there are so many great ones out there. But here’s a list of some people who consistently post things that cheer me up, or get me thinking about or working on some new idea:

Judy, Joanie, Jeanne, Lisa, Alyson, Gwen, Emmie, Jane, and back at you, Gerrie

And I’d have to say number ten is you! Thanks for reading, all the great comments, and sharing  over the past three years of blogging.

Considering Focus for the New Year

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Thanks for the great comments on my last post about Simplify or Play as a key word for 2008. You all gave me a lot to think about.

Another word I’ve been considering is Focus, because lately my brain has been feeling like a big gnarly hairball. In yoga it’s also called a Monkey Mind because it jumps erratically from one thought to the next.

Here’s what these three words mean to me in regards to creativity and art for 2008:

  • Simplify: Get rid of the clutter, physically and mentally. There’s too much clutter around here, in my studio and house, and it’s weighing me down. Streamline work-flows, and cast off self-doubt.
  • Play: Make time to experiment, try new things, and have fun. Don’t worry about what people will think of the art, because when I’m working intuitively and with joy is when I’m at my best.
  • Focus: Shut out distractions, especially those over which I have no control. Set aside quiet time to finish projects and wrap up loose ends. Get it done.

Simplify or Play for the New Year?

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On New Year’s Eve, I volunteered to work at First Night — an Arts Council sponsored event-filled night for people of all ages. Working in the hands-on area, making noise-makers out of paper plates and beans seemed the most fun. With all the kids there, guess who stapled her own finger? Ouch!

When I wasn’t helping kids, I was drawing them. Kids are a challenge because they move so much. Most of my drawings are only half finished.

Thinking about New Year’s resolutions, I liked this post on Christine Kane’s blog about scrapping those lists and deciding on one word as a theme for the year. But most of the words on her suggestion list are words of being, and since I’m in the GTD (getting things done) mode, I want an action word.

Immediately I thought of my friend Emmie’s suggestion to SIMPLIFY. Actually Emmie just posted a good entry that ends with “Simplify, work quickly, spontaneously, and intuitively.” Good mantra for the new year.

But I’ve also been reading The Art of Eric Carle. And this year I want to continue my exploration of new media, so I also like the idea of adopting the word Play. So what’s better, Simplify or Play?

Vintage Christmas

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We’ve had housefuls of company this year, so I’ve had little time to make anything myself, but I always enjoy getting little vintage treasures out of their storage boxes. This is a nativity scene made from a coconut and other nuts that I found in a bucket in the basement of an old house during an estate auction.

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My grandmother had lots of craft parties with her friends, especially around the holidays when they made ornaments from things like wishbones and egg shells. But my favorite is this angel wall hanging that inspires me in my studio.

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Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays everyone!