Short and Sweet with a Bonus

"The worst enemy to creativity is self doubt."   -Sylvia Plath 
                                             Sketchbook Page   2/7/2024
                                              Making Marks with Collage 

I used to write a blog.
I was looking back over some of the work and topics I wrote about.  My primary interest in writing the blog was to make me accountable for thinking about and documenting my work.  So kind of like a sketchbook and writing journal combo
on my laptop.

I wanted to use this month's Newsletter to let you know that so far I am keeping up with my intentions to keep a visual sketchbook and a written journal.  Since I am not doing it as a blog these two things are physical, paper documents of those two processes.  And I am enjoying both.  I didn't realize how much I missed the sketchbook and a written journal. 
I also 'banished' my ritual of writing notes-to-self on many little bits of paper to be recorded later. Or more acurately, to be lost, misplaced, thrown away which was the reality of this misguided system.

I  am working on getting some images of my Waste Management series printed and for sale on my website.  It is taking longer than I thought it would but I think I am getting closer to making this happen.  It has been kind of a big learning curve.

 My next Newsletter will have that informaion along with some updates on exhibits.
 If you live in Northeast Ohio you might enjoy taking a one day workshop I will be teaching March 23 at the Valley Art Center in Chagrin Falls.
This Book-in-a-Box is a fun way to combine art and writing into a 3 dimensional 
object perfect for gifting or as a keepsake. 

For more information Look Here

Book-in-a-Box Workshop

As a Bonus for reading and commenting on my Newsletter you can download a handout that I have often used in my classes:
 One Way to Start a Mixed Media Collage.
Of course there are lots of ways to start but this might get you going.
Click the link above and download the PDF.
Until next time, keep mixing it up!  

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Waste Management

    "I think my painting is autobiographical if anyone can take the trouble to read it."
                                                   -Lee Krasner

                                           Waste Management no. 5

In July I wrote about some new work where I painted and collaged onto cardboard instead of the Stonehenge paper I usually use. For me this was a way to use the cardboard that I get when ordering online.  You know, Recycling is important.

Six pieces were exhibited in the Fall at the NewNow Exhibit held at Tri C East Campus in Beachwood Ohio.  I was thrilled to be in this show with this work.
The series has grown to 33 pieces, is changing and developing and I still want to make more pieces because what is happening is excting and encouraging to me.

The first pieces were more spare and simple with an emphasis on design. Lots of white and texture from the packing paper.

                                      Waste Management no. 24 
Then I started using darker colors like my favorite paynes grey.  The development wasn't necessrily a straight line from light to dark.  Obviously there are several pieces in between these two.  Some days the work was about what I saw laying on my work table left from other projects.  Sometimes it was an intentional choice to work with something new...a color, a shape, a remnant of another artwork.

                                            Waste Management no. 27
                   More painting as opposed to collage.  More cardboard innards.      
                                                           and now
                                           Waste Management no. 33
Now we're really talking about color!  At least for me this is a lot of color and colors I don't often use, like that orange and green.

I am having so much fun with these and learning alot about paint, color, composition and myself as an artist.  I have used cardboard to construct the hanging devices on the back as well so it is a commintment to using cardboard throughout.  You can see the whole series so far on my website.

I plan to sell prints of these pieces on my website so look for that soon.

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                                       Until next time, keep mixing it up! 

Resolutions or Intentions / Journal or Sketchbook

                "My sketchbook is a witness of what I am experiencing,
           scribbling things whenever they happen."   Vincent Van Gogh

As 2023 ends and I think about the new year ahead, I start to  review what I have accomplished and what I might want to pursue, change or continue in 2024. That brings me to the idea of making New Year's resolutions.
Resolutions seem to me to be demanding, a firm decision to do something.  You either accomplish it or you fail.  Kind of intimidating when you think about it.  But an Intention is more open ended and about the journey to achieve something, An intention has actions that will guide you to your ultimate goal.  So I prefer to use this more positive term for things I want to change or pursue in the coming year. 

I think the beginning of a new year is a good time to start new art practices. Or for me personally, to return to an old art practice that I have neglected...journalling or keeping a sketchbook.  This post is about some of the ways you can journal.  So what is a journal. One definition says it is a daily record of news and events of a personal nature.  It is often referred to as a diary.   It is often kept over a long period of time.
A sketchbook is also a record for the artist of something they see and want to capture and remember.  It is a visual journal. It can be a daily or ongoing record for the artist in the same way the written word is for some one who keeps a written journal or diary.  

I have kept both written journals and art sketchbooks for many years.  But most recently I have captured my ideas and thoughts on scraps of paper instead of keeping them in a notebook or sketchbook.  I have lost many ideas, interesting titles for artworks, lists of books I want to read, words from reading that I find inspiring, ideas for new work.  So my main intention for 2024 is to return to keeping a sketchbook where I will do both some writing and some drawing/ collaging/ and painting. 

This leads me to the main point of my newsletter...the various ways one might keep a sketchbook or journal.  Here are a few examples of sketchbook or journal formats
     * Keep lists...of words, books, films, techniques to try, artists to study, 
          social media feeds, art materials to experiment with, museums or galleries
          to visit.  What else?
     *Sketch/draw...drawing and studies for new work. For me these most often have
          words that accompany them with color notations, size and material notes.
          I also collage and paint in my sketchbooks, after all I am a mixed media 
     * from magazines, photocopies of intriguing images that 
          might lead to new work or refresh a stalled work.  This kind of thing I just 
          tape to the page without any explanation.  Down the road these images 
          might speak to me a new way than when I first encountered them.
     *Dream Journal...I envy people who make art from their dreams.  
           My dream often seem like my everyday life, no ahha moment, no incredible
           image or scene of colors and composition.  But recording dreams might      
          work for you. If so keep your journal/sketchbook and a pen nearby.  Dreams     
          are illusive things and disipate easily and quickly once you are awake.

A great resource for the written journal is Julia Cameron's The Artist's Way.
I used this book one summer to complete all of her prompts and found it so helpful and an exercise I looked forward to each day.  Maybe I should revisit this book as I start the new year.
As I was writing this post there was an update to my iphone that had a journal app!
How serendipitous. I looked in the App store and saw a number of journalling apps.  I think I will experiment with one.  Although I have a feeling that for somethings I would rather write it in a paper journal.  I tend to be somewhat "old school".

I have already gathered together some sketchbooks for my 2024 Intention of returning to journalling and sketching.  I am not making a Resolution to do it everyday.  I am making an Intention to keep my thoughts, ideas and studies for my artwork in a book (or an app!) of some kind so I will be able to access them, review them, expand upon them, revise them and know where I can find them!

     "Fill your paper with the breathings of your heart".   William Wadsworth
                    Below are some images from my past sketchbooks.


                  Happy Holidays and many Wishes for a Creative New Year!
                              Until next time, keep mixing it up!
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                     " Sculptural Book no. 4"    mixed media on vintage book                              

Fall is here, the garden has been put to bed and that means more time in the studio  and more time for reading.  I belong to a book club.  And yes, we do read the book and disuss it.  This is a group of amazing and creative women who are artists, writers, great cooks, educators, quilters and gardeners.  These are just a few of their atributes.

At our last meeting we were discussing different books to read in the future and one suggestion was that we could each read a different book...a biograpghy of any one we wanted to learn more about, and give a synopsis of the book at a future meeting.  Then a dsscussion ensued about what would constitute a biography.  Would historical fiction count?  Nothing was definitely decided but I came home and thought about who I might like to read about.  That sent me down a  rabbit hole of looking up artists I admire and would like to learn more about. Which sent me to Amazon to look for books about various artists.

I came away with a broader idea of books that were biographical in some way but not always the "definitive" text on that particular artist.  It also lead me to looking beyond artists I knew and led me to other works that really peaked my interest.
Here are some of my findings:
     Clara Schumann, the Artist and the Woman by Nancy Reich, selected because
         I took piano lessons for 8 years and because her name was Clara!
     Broad Strokes: 15 Women Who Made Art and Made History by Quinn and
        Congdon.  I liked the comprehensive nature of this book.
     Lee Krasner: A Biography by Gail Levin. I've always liked her work and we've
        watched the movie "Pollock" several times.  I'd like to know more about
        her and the work she has created.       
     Artemisia Gentileschi (Illuminating Women Artists) by Sheila Barker.  I read this a
        number of years ago and it was a fascinating insight into this Baroque artist
        and the ways in which she influenced and triumphed over terrible
Here are some others that really peaked my interest: 
     Identity Unknown:  Rediscovering Seven American Artists by Donna Seaman
     Elizabeth Sparhawk-Jones: The Artist Who Lived Twice by Barbara Leeman
     Skein: The Heartbreak and Triumphs of a Long Distance Knitter by Christine
         Mattix. Who doesn't want to see what that is all about?!

So I guess I have a good reading list for the winter and beyond.
It was fun to do this little search whether my book club decides to follow through on this kind of an approach to one of our meetings.  Maybe there is something here that will send you into your own search for biographies about people you'd like to know more about or intriguing processes or materials.

What are you reading? 
Does your reading influence your work?  In what way?
Sometimes a word or a phrase in a book strikes a cord with me and I find myself wondering how I can interpret that word or idea into a mixed media artwork.

Reading is truly food for thought and as an artist I am always hungry!

                                  Until next time, keep mixing it up!
                            A list of my current exhibits can be seen here.

Finding Inspiration

                                         "The Weight of Winter"   2022 
                                     oil and cold wax with collage on panels

Where does your inspiration come from?  
I know I get a lot of inspiration from nature and gardening.
But I am also influenced by things that I read.  I often write down phrases or words that I find intriguing when I read.  I like to think about how words that describe emotions or abstract qualities can be interpretd and made more concrete through painting or collage.

The above works are an example of this.
Someone described winter as being heavy or having a sense of weight to it.
That idea resonated with me.  In what way is winter "weighty"?
How can I depict that in paint and collage?
What colors are associated with a winter in Ohio?
Using the idea that winter in my part of the country is often a dark season because it gets dark so early I chose to use a lot of black along with white. I limited the objects in the piece creating a sense of isolation.  The use of pastel colors along with the black and white is an admission that I don't dislike winter, but I recognize the power this season has over my emotions.

Travel can be another geat source of inspiration.
A recent trip to Morocco, a trip of a lifetime, has left me with lots of influences especially when it comes to color.  I loved the colors of the earth, the stones, the buildings and the sky.  I have already started some work based on the these elements using the many pictures I took for reference.  Stay tuned for that in a future Newsletter.   Here is a sample of the colors that  inspired me on this trip.


On another note, you can see some of my work if you are in Canton or Massillon in the coming weeks and months at Malone University for the "Under $200" exhibit October 25-December 15, 2023 and at Massillon Museum's Stark County Artists Exhibit November 30, 2023-January 14, 2024.
Here are the links for more information:
        "Under $200" at Malone University    Canton Ohio
        "Stark County Artists Exhibit" at Massillon Museum    Massillon Ohio

                                 Until next time, keep mixing it up!