Thursday, December 3, 2009

What's your art?

I was visiting with some long time friends recently and as I looked around the table I thought what a creative group we are, we maker of things. My friend Karina is a maker of relationships. She has an amazing capacity for intimacy. Connections with people are foremost for her and the way she loves and nurtures her friends and family is deep and juicy.

My friend, the incredibly talented artist Ann Georgia, is diving into the art of hanging shows of artist's work. Picture this, several artists with different styles and mediums bring in their paintings, sculptures, drawings, metalwork, woodwork, and so on. Their works of art are now the medium she gets to create with. It is a lot of work and no small feat to hang a bunch of different artist's work and present it all to advantage. To create a conversation between the pieces. To bring all the parts together to create one work of art made up of the many. Thank goodness someone likes to do this. And this artist does it very well indeed.

We are all putting our energy somewhere, hopefully we are making our lives and those of others more satisfying and beautiful. How do you honor your creativity? What is your art?

Tuesday, November 24, 2009


I want to tell you about a wonderful ongoing project my friend Barbara Helfand stewards. Several years ago Barbara started taking paste paper and book making classes from me. Now lots of people do that too, but what she does with what she learned is the interesting part. She makes lots of books and also teaches others to make them. They then donate the books to the project. These are distributed to social service agencies to give to both children and adults who are clients, to a local residential school for teenage girls who are separated from their families, and some are tucked into the suitcases of friends and acquaintances who are traveling to far off lands. The books and journals are given to the children of these countries. Barbara especially likes to get them to Africa and many books have reached children on that continent.
She had it in mind to make over twenty books for the holiday season this year so our art group, which I call Artful Intimacy, decided to help. We meet once a month and started the books in October. We decided to make soft covered books this time so we painted white gesso on Stonehenge paper to make sturdy covers and when they were dry we painted them with acrylic paints. This makes them kind of leather like. Barbara sewed a bunch of them together with fancy yarns and threads and embellished them with all kinds of cool stuff. S he has found a source for colored pencils that are about 4 inches tall and pastes an envelope on the back cover containing a few pencils. Sweet. When our art group met this month she showed Suzanne and Willow how to embellish and sew them and now the pile of books ready to give away has grown.
Last year she needed books and was running out of time so I went through a box of my hand made books, some finished but not very interesting, and other's in various stages of production and gave them to Barbara to, as another another friend of ours puts it, "tart them up". This is our technical term for embellishing. So she added beads and yarns, did some stamping and collage and transformed them into colorful precious gifts of love and caring.
We are planning a holiday get together. We'll have a potluck lunch to celebrate our good friends and good fortune. And we will share the love and bounty of our lives by inviting our captive audience to join us at the art tables to spend a delightful couple of hours making books to give to those who might appreciate a journal created just for them to record their wishes, dreams and the moments of their lives.


Suzanne, Barbara, Willow

Suzanne, Barbara, Albie

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Bonnie and Albie enjoy life together

Bonnie came to visit me. She is my dear friend who lives in Mill Valley, California and who shares deeply from her heart her love, enthusiasm and amazing sense of style and beauty. I met her about 20 years ago at a Painting Experience intensive at Esalen Institute in Big Sur, California. We were both painting with Michelle Cassou and Stewart Cubley at the Painting Experience in San Francisco but were on different schedules so hadn't met there. Everyone was telling me I would love her when I met her and because my experience is often that I do not like what other people insist I will just love, I was sure I wouldn't be able to stand her. WRONG. Though very different from each other, we are solid partners in a friendship that keeps on bringing pleasure and continues to expand and endure. Bonnie turned me on to paper making which led to book making which led to me teaching. We had plans to do arty stuff this visit but what we did do wasn't what we expected. Being game for new experiences, Bonnie willingly checked out a designer/artist I have started to work with named Diane Ericson who has a studio at the fabulous new Ashland Art Center in Ashland, took in a dynamic, intense play at the Oregon Shakespeare Theater, ate a couple of times at New Sammy's Cowboy Bistro in Talent, and saw a Portugese film held over from our International Film Festival. Plus she had time to do some knitting, take walks and help me finish the move out of my old studio. What a gal!! I could go on and on about the fun we have, the things we share, the interests that light us up but you get the idea. Through everything life dishes up she has been here for me. As she says, you are in my heart always. And she is in mine. Who is in yours? Don't forget to let them know.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

She's back...

Ages have passed and lots has happened since I last wrote on this blog. However, I am back now and settling into my new home in the charming town of Jacksonville, Oregon. This has been a huge move for me, out of a big house with a amazingly spacious studio into a much smaller place with my studio space being wherever it is I decide to work!! Not the ideal situation, but it will do for now until I discover what is next for me.

Teaching at Art & Soul in Portland was such fun for me this time. (It helped that I didn't get sick this year as I often do when I stay in hotels for any length of time, work hard, play hard and am around tons of folks mingling germ pools.) It really helped being in the same room for three days in a row and not having to unpack and pack all those supplies every day. My assistants Christine Hendry who is my daughter, and Lisa Crawford did a fabulous job and made mine so much easier. I am always amazed at the creations that come out of the workshops and am thrilled by the joy people have in exploring and learning and the pride they have in their accomplishments fills my heart.

I received some very good feedback about how the workshops could be tweaked, things I could cover more thoroughly, and ideas for change. I cannot say enough about how helpful thoughtful feedback is. In the bookmaking workshops it is a real challenge to complete a project in a day. Along with the sheer amount of tasks to complete there is the finding your way to creative, right brain activity and then having to switch to more linear, left brain work near the end of the day. If any one out there has anything to add that could help improve the experience, please let me know.

So we instructors come home from an event and have to wrap our heads around creating proposals for next year and have them submitted by the end of the month. Usually I get a bit pissy and resistant about this, but right now I have ideas and excitement riding on the energy created in the workshops.

All these years I have been teaching at various venues I have always brought most if not all the supplies. Next year that is changing, I will try to do things the way the other instructors have been doing for a long time and have students bring most of their supplies. I know this is a hassle and an expense and I will try very hard to not have you bring anything you will not use. What I want you to know is that Maria who owns the store Collage in Portland will have an on site store for all Art & Soul events. She will be able to have most if not all the supplies you need for my workshops (and most other classes) waiting for you when you get to the event if you pre-order with her. The suggestion has been made to Glenny that in the future this information be posted on the website so that when people are choosing their classes they will know they can easily get the things they need. Using the Yahoo group site for Art & Soul you will be able to communicate with other participants and do some sharing on supplies too.

I will be applying to teach at Art & Soul Portland 2010 and am toying with the idea of applying to Art Fest. I haven't taught there in years and many people don't know it was Teesha Moore of Art Fest who actually gave me my first opportunity to teach at the national level. It was great to see Tracy and Teesha at Art & Soul playing and taking classes themselves.

My workshops in Hampton 2010 are filled (joy!) and Madison Wisconsin registration starts soon, we'll see how that goes.

There is still space in the 2010 three day retreat An Artful Journey in February 2010. I am excited about teaching at this event, having three days with students and doing very different things than the book forms. Check it out!

The sun is shining, the leaves are turning and I am going for a hike. More later.