Wishing you and yours a wonderful day.
A fun site to visit....in case you missed my post from a few years ago: SCRIBBLER
What an honor to be invited to participate as a Guest Artist for The Documented Life Project. These girls have been inspiring artists for almost two years with their wonderful art and generous weekly challenge site. When Roben-Marie sent my assignment back in January I was thrilled. Stamps, Stencils & Masks are right up my alley. Not only do I love using retail products, but I also love to custom make all of these tools for making art. I have tutorials on both Stamp Carving and Stencil Cutting if the process is new to you or you want a refresher.
A few words about process....I love to work spontaneously, with no plan, no agenda. But I also love thinking about a project in specific detail, especially if I have an assignment. I make notes and some sketches, and try to discern what I want to express, or more importantly, what is channeling into my thoughts after being prompted with a subject. I love being immersed in the pre-project-thought-process as you give consideration to all the ways your ideas could be manifested. Here are my notes from January:
Last week I revisited the prompts, handcarved stamp and tapestry, and still found myself focused on a mental visual of the things I jotted down earlier in the year. Tapestry > foliage > trees > leaves > Autumn.
This is what I imagine when I think Tapestry. Woven, worn, rich. Lots of color, but a subtle range.
A word that kept repeating itself in my notes - Autumn. A strong influence - we are in full Fall colors here.... although most leaves are now on the ground. I am drawn in by the vibrant colors....especially the reds. I have a favorite quote that I think I will include. We'll see.
So how to interpret this through my own filters, with my own style? Make a few color selections and build a palette, then draw a few things that could be transferred to soft block and carved. Then start painting and see what happens.
The tree I carved is 4" with alot of intricate details so there may be an issue getting a good imprint on a page that has already been layered with gesso and acrylic. Going into this I knew that I wouldn't attempt to stamp the entire tree directly on the page. Through an experience of working on a project with a large (12" x 12") carving, I stumbled upon a trick that I like to rely on when applying an image to a page. Pre-paint loose paper (I used gessoed tissue paper) then stamp with black paint onto several sheets (paint on paint is better than ink on paint). Cut up all the "good" portions and splice together to recreate the image. It's like a paper quilt and makes the composition more interesting. Here is the piece where I learned my lesson of layering, 12" square framed collage painting made from a carved stamp:
My plan was to be tapestry-like but I ended up more quilt-like. This is a good example of how you can take inspiration from a prompt and have some loose intentions, then let the piece begin to work itself out while you are in-process.
I really admire these girls for launching their challenge site in 2014, then beginning again with weekly prompts for 2015. Having hosted my own monthly challenge site for six years I know how much work it is AND I know how much it means to get feedback. It's validating and encouraging. So be sure to chime in when you visit their site and offer your kind words.
Again, here is the link to The Documented Life Project: Art to the 5th Stop by and see what magic the hostesses have conjured up for this week's prompt.
For those who have served and for those who are serving, thank you.
Last year's display of poppies in England is worth revisiting. The English still honor vets with poppies. I was saying last year that I rarely see them here.
The first photo is from 2012 - we were in the UK just before 11/11 and poppies were everywhere. The next grouping chronicles the amazing ceramic poppies (888,246) that were installed at the Tower of London.
This just in, November/December issue of Somerset Studio. My article "Creating Opportunities" is about making the commitment to dimensional elements on your page before you start adding your layers of paint and collage. One of my favorite mantras, as a teacher, is to tell you to "Commit". Just start with one thing, then each decision you make is informed by the previous commitment. That's easy to say when you are working on a painted or collaged foundation. But once you have invested time in making a background it may be a little stressful to cut into it. I've observed this in workshops - we start with paint, then I hope to encourage some slight-of-hand tricks with cutting and folding, but there is a reluctance. So I changed my method of teaching, and we begin with the deliberate cuts and folds, then add the paint, collage, and stencils. The commitment to adding cut-out shapes, and the placement of where they are positioned, is not influenced by anything since the canvas is blank. With dimensional features established, you've created opportunities for how to proceed. See the magazine for more details, and many other terrific articles.
I've been enjoying these glorious days here in Jersey. Cool nights and sunny days. Not alot of leaf color changes yet - although there is an ample quantity of orange, but that's because we have construction everywhere. My roses are mostly done showing off, a few buds are trying to break out. Since I've fallen behind in trimming many of the old blooms have filled out as hips. I admit that I kinda like when I see the color change from green to deep orange, plus I love their shape.
Here are some hips from 2009, and some masks I made from Tyvek.
And an old journal page from November 2009.
Hope you're enjoying the Autumn, wherever you are. It's a motivating time of year - I'm always brimming with energy in October.
Hey there. Just surfacing from my studio overhaul to talk about my next class. I'm really excited to be teaching at Pratt School of Continuing and Professional Studies in Manhattan this fall. It's such a cool place, and the studios are amazing. How cool would be to say you took a class at Pratt?
So first up is ROLL WITH IT, SUNDAY, OCTOBER 4TH. I started teaching this one over ten years ago and it is still one of my favorites. It has evolved over the years to include new tricks. First debuting at Artfest 2004, then Artwerx, Valley Ridge, The Ink Pad, CREATE,...it's definitely a crowd pleaser. If you want a fun day of learning lots of painting tricks, or you want to refresh your view of using paint, come roll with me! (Scroll down for some evidence of past workshops).
ROLL WITH IT workshop, is fast moving class where I demo a technique and then you try it. In my own experiments with creating texture I have found the magic properties of gesso. Gesso affords movement, lifting, resisting, but most of all it allows forgiveness. We will learn why it's an important foundation. For example, on a section of roll, we will try a two-step painting process. Next, we’ll reverse the process with step two first, followed by step one. This will allow us to learn from our observations. There is no right or wrong way to lay paint, but hopefully these exercises will inform your future work. We will scrape, stencil, resist, stamp, and so much more. The swift pace will leave the inner critique out of the process as it's all about doing the work. The completed length will then be assembled as a journal. As you fold the page you end up with serendipitous compositions that you never would have planned as the techniques segue from one to another.
FORMAT: I will demo a technique then you will try it on your paper. Then I demo again, and you try it. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat. We will be moving fast so we can complete many different things. It’s important to let go of your concern for perfect composition since this is not the focus of the class. There are no rules here, except to move swiftly so we can plow through the assignments, leaving time toward the end of class for the finishing touch of creating a book from our roll. It always amazes me, with each time I teach this class, how different each journal can look even though we all followed the same directions. Each artist has a different hand and an unique way of interpreting the exercises with their own color palette.
ORIGIN: When I was in college, one of my drawing classes began each morning with an exercise in gesture drawing of the nude models. The models made quick, thirty second poses, which we scribbled onto a roll of paper. After about five minutes(ten gesture drawings), we rolled the paper back up and continued with the day’s assignment. At the end of the course, we posted our rolls of paper onto a display wall, and it was amazing to chart our growth as sketch artists, across the length of the roll. Remembering the impact of this exercise, I began imagining how cool it would be to compose something similar with paint, for a short amount of time everyday, on a roll of paper. I could experiment randomly on the roll, and also use it to catch evidence of work-in-progress on my studio table (cleaning off my brush, clippings of collage, etc).....then, the completed roll could be manipulated into a book, a foundation for journaling. I ended up finishing about 30 feet of painted roll and got excited to see what it would look like as a journal so I stopped and figured out how to fold the length into a book - and a class was born!
Hope you'll join me!
I will get back to my series about the Evolution of an Idea once I complete my studio purge. Do you ever get to the point where you are just sick of yourself and the piles of stuff that impede your process? It has to get to a breaking point then you cave in and start organizing, sorting, putting things where they should be, and along the way you realize you just don't want some of it anymore. Why does it take so long to get started? I guess it's because I'd rather be creating than cleaning.
But you have to do it. Your style has evolved, your tastes have changes, and some of the materials you gathered are no longer candidates for inclusion in art making. You decide you would rather enjoy the space than the stuff. Don't get me wrong, I will never be a full-on minimalist. I love my stuff. I love being able to see my stuff. I just have way too much of it. I want a clear work table. I want to move stations around so that what is important to me now is easily accessible. When I first started using this space as a studio my focus was different, my supplies were different. As I evolved and accumulated new tools I didn't stop to reevaluate where they should go. Stuff got shoved in wherever there was space, without thought to making it easy for myself. As I make time to shift the supplies, I am also allowing time to really consider what I can part with and it feels so good. You know why? Attached to some of the "stuff" is an unspoken connection to projects that either never got launched or never got finished. It was like a slowly tightening noose to constantly bump into these items and visualize what potential they once had. Gathering is fun. It's part of the creative ritual. We tend to collect more than is actually needed, and that's ok. I will never regret being a collector. Being able to part with once-precious things feels like I'm making a personal and private claim for what kind of artist I am now, and what kind of artist I want to continue to be.
The dangling carrot for me in getting this studio revamped is to be able to embark on another new project. I've had gigantic drill press sitting in a box since Christmas. There is nowhere to install it. I can't begin the work until I can use the tool. A clear table means room for my drill, and the freedom to start something I've been visualizing for over a year. Be gone old stuff.....I have new things to do.
Another intention is to try filming myself. Maybe just for tutorials. Maybe for classes. If I have a clear table I will have room for a tripod. I've been visualizing that since I got a camera way too long ago.
I'm entering week three of the purge. Ok, it hasn't been a full time project, but now I am so far into it that I am getting ruthless about what stays, and what goes. As with most things that are worth the effort, it often looks worse just before it's better. That's where I'm at. One look and you'd never believe I have already pitched bags of stuff. But I know I'm getting close. There is light flickering at the end of the tunnel. And I feel lighter, more free.
You know I like rock+roll. It's usually playing in here to keep me upbeat, motivated, moving swiftly. I love that music transports me, distracts my thoughts so I can tend to tasks - whether it's creating or cleaning. However, the past few weeks have a soundtrack of a different order. I've pulled up my Zen sounds. Remember when I shared about the Six Healing Sounds gifted to me from Pnina and Richard Gold? That is what I'm listening to - peaceful, calming, and driving my enthusiasm for less chaos. I've also pulled up the New Age channel on DirectTv. (The Zen channel is too frantic, New Age is more my speed.) The music is literally compelling me to free my attachment from 'the stuff' and toss without regard. Ahhhh. Feels good.
As I said, I will be back to continue my series. Just have to stay off the computer for a few more days so I can complete this overhaul. *waves*
p.s. Love this quote. The more you use, the more you have - is about creativity, not stuff. You don't need alot of stuff to make art.
I've updated my Workshop page with details about my classes at Pratt this Fall. I'm so excited about this new venue! You can see the entire catalog HERE. To find my classes, type in Michelle Ward in the search box. Registration begins 7/27. To enroll, click HERE and insert course code number.
I shared this quote a long time ago and it's how I still feel about teaching. Being in class with other curious creative individuals who want to expand their visual vocabulary and experience is so rewarding - we all learn something from each other because we all have unique ways of interpreting the assignments. As Jefferson wisely speaks about light spreading rather than diminishing, so too do ideas multiply when we learn something in an enthusiastic, safe and nurturing group environment.
Using a grid as a foundation for a painting is a default process for me. I love that grids can break down a larger surface into smaller assignments. Wanting to move toward interpreting inspiration with paint, I started with a gesso and acrylic background, plotted my lines, then started stamping with handcut circles and squares. My intention was to introduce my carvings of landforms but I ended up sticking with just the basic shapes and felt myself moving toward moon phases. Sometimes you start out with a plan, but once you are immersed in the process another opportunity reveals itself. Since I painted several backgrounds on accordion folded substrates I can use one to go in the direction that is unplanned and the other to go with the original idea. It's all good - nothing is wasted when you are open to discovery.
Whew! It's been a busy few weeks. I haven't forgotten about the series I started a few weeks ago. Let's get back on track. We will pick up again where we began, looking at topographical maps. This time we are hovering over Ireland, Tuscany, and China. The regional variations of land forms is fascinating to me. If you've been to Ireland, you know the divisions and borders of farm land is typically walls of stones, likely gathered from the fields. In Tuscany, you can see the orderly lines of trees - or perhaps rows of vines. And then the area of China I have captured shows vegetation growing in tiers. Much different than what we saw with the crop circles of Kansas, and the undulating curves of Wisconsin.
I admit I pick a location nearly every week and just prowl around thanks to the satellite views of Google maps. It's not always farmland that I seek - love looking at cities too - especially ones I've been to or hope to visit. I think that will be enough of showing maps....I'll move on to how my painting was influenced next.
I've said this before, I choose to celebrate my sister's life on our birthday, May 17. Then comes July 10, her departure for heaven, one of those dates on the calendar that weighs heavy and I wish we could skip over. To fend off the sorrow I revisit photos that make me happy...like the one below of Shannon with Fallon from July 1998. Fallon was not quite three. In the back you can see a young Peter, nearly eight, with my brother John. We were in Minnesota for the 4th of July and spent the day doing fun stuff with the whole family. Happy memories.
I haven't shown you my rose garden yet this year. Here are two sections showing about two thirds of the roses. They were late bloomers this year but when they did finally come out it was glorious. A sign of connection. Sam and I walk the neighborhood in the evenings and we always take a path to visit the local tribe of deer...another sign.
Tonight while I was alone in a store, this song came on. I was checking out and close to tears. Escaped to the car and it was on the radio. Another sign. Chasing Cars will always tug at my heart. I listened to it on my ipod repeatedly when at the hospital with her. It's such a sweet and gentle song. Every now and then I will hear it, and I know she's there. It's good to remember the things that make you smile in remembrance, but it's good to cry too. She mattered.
A page from my sister journal, April 2009. I was so thrilled to see my roses, after their first winter, come "bursting into life".
When testing out some ideas I will often make some quick collages with remnants from my studio table. I showed you some grid studies using paper punches and security envelopes (HERE), and with the leftovers I went organic, cutting free-form shapes....again, land shows its influence.
These posts are a little out of order as I showed you my white on black drawings since the article is out - those were actually done after the security envelope collages.
(This time I made sure my signature was embedded over the image. Last time it was marked just over the photo and someone cut it off before posting to tumblr. While it's nice to be noticed, it's not so nice to have your graphic altered and name removed. The image was then pinned to pinterest without my signature and it's off and running with links back to the tumblr post, not me. It's a good lesson to always mark your work so as the originator, you are findable.)
I will be getting back to my ongoing posts on The Evolution of an Idea. This week I have a few deadlines - both concrete and self-imposed so I'm tending to business. One thing I wanted to share - very exciting news...I will be teaching five workshops this fall in the big apple. I can't begin to describe the thrill of being invited to teach at Pratt Institute's School of Continuing and Professional Studies this fall. Thank you to my friend Karen for facilitating this connection. Below is an infographic with the dates. I will be uploading the class descriptions and photos to my Workshop page soon - they selected some of my faves plus a new one, Sticks & Stones, inspired by the current mindset I'm in. Pratt's fall catalog is in the works and as soon as I have details for registration I will post here.
There has already been some interest since I posted this on my workshop page a week or two ago. I'm collecting email addresses from anyone that wants updates on registration. If you want to be added to the list send me a note or comment below.
There are some mixed media courses available at Pratt this summer! Take a class with my friends Nathalie Kalbach (July 12, July 19) or Seth Apter (July 18-19) or both! See the Pratt CCPS summer catalog HERE. It is a fabulous venue and the classrooms are superb.
Hope to see you this fall!!
I had so much fun using the white pen (Uniball Signo UM-153) on black that I wanted to keep going. Like, I wanted it to go on and on. So it made sense to move on from flat panels to an accordion. I could loosely plan an overall concept for the evolution of the design, but then work page by page. To me, the format meant it should read well as a whole when unfolded, and that was exciting to me...each portion or panel segueing forward.
What prompted an accordion? Back in April 2014 I shared how I had an epiphany and turned my favorite Escher poster(s) into a folded book. See HERE. Since I did not have a place to hang the four long horizontal posters, they sat gathering dust (for several years) and were in danger of getting damaged or worse, discarded. Now I can hold his masterpiece in my hands and page through blissfully. Escher definitely influenced my desire to work in a connected series of drawings and patterns. I love his panoramic morphing and transitioning of imagery. Genius.
Being in a mindset of two camps, linear and organic, I took two different paths - starting one with a grid, and one totally free-form. You can read about these projects in the July/August Somerset Studio. My copy arrived Friday so if you subscribe yours will arrive any day. If you don't, the magazine should be on the shelves of your favorite supplier very soon. The theme for this issue is Black and White, and it is fabulous!!
I'm not done yet....more to come.
After doing some idea sketches I will pause where I am to test out some options. For instance, I showed you some drawings (here), which I combined through layers in photoshop with a background painting. A few manipulations (layer option: screen) as part of the investigation to determine if I should introduce color are shown below. Turns out I really liked trying one of my simple sketches on black paper with white pen. So I took that information and ran with it.
Results of that part of the process will be next.