For the past several years I have been the primary caregiver for my in-laws, which became more and more challenging. As you can imagine this effected my life in many ways, but studio efforts especially were a bit stilted. Constantly stopping and starting, plus producing a website made it hard to maintain any effort. I tried hitting reset, but continued to spin my wheels.
My personal life is settling down now and I am back in the studio full time. In reviewing my recent production I find that despite all of the designs I’ve made, I have yet to really distill my ideas. I am a dedicated worker, so focus isn’t an issue. It’s my output I need to find focus with. I’m often chasing another idea instead of following the first one thru to complete fruition. I produce quite a bit of finished artwork regularly, just rarely a finished idea, a complete concept.
To effect a change I am implementing two principles:
“Let go” and “Keep it Simple.”
I need to let go of some good ideas to keep my work life manageable. After all, I am not Superwoman, and just because I am capable of something does not mean I should be doing it. The problem is in the choosing. I love all the aesthetics and products I work with for different reasons.
I also need to get back to basics. The world of print on demand makes it possible to print on hundreds of products. Can you imagine meeting so many different specifications? I was making too much extra work for myself by trying to provide for every possibility. Then making a website with it. That’s just crazy-making.
To begin my journey of getting back to basics and letting go, I will be focusing on one favorite idea from my early creative development. Gorgeous notecards highly detailed inside and out, for the pure pleasure of writing and receiving. Especially in a world full of instant communication, notecards are a way of slowing down for just a minute, inserting a more personal touch in someone’s life, and getting back to basics.
Suitable for framing, these little treasures make an affordable gift.
See currently available designs.
Please leave comments, I’d love to know what you think :-)
Making art is a complex multifaceted endeavor. Part of the equation involves how the outer world influences my inner world, and what comes from that reaction. Looking back I can see three major aesthetic influences in my artistic development, Asian, Antique, and Abstract.
People often mention a feeling of Asian qualities in my art. I’ve always been intrigued with Asian aesthetics, which can clearly be seen throughout my ceramic work as well as much of my current digital work. Some of the qualities that embody the Asian art aesthetic for me are:
Less is more, simple complexities
Pattern, particularly in silks
Abstraction as a powerful communicator
Intriguing color combinations
Wabi-Sabi, which is a traditional formal aesthetic studied in Japan
Perhaps this influence is caused by an emotional connection to Japanese craftsmanship. My father returned from WWII with artifacts from the life he had in Japan. I know he was lovingly embraced by a family there, and I am under the impression that there was a romance involved. No questions were ever directly asked or answered, so the artifacts he brought back held mystery for me. But their real power over me was their remarkable quality. No one can appreciate a maker more than another maker, and I was in awe of these objects made with the highest of skill, thoughtfulness and attention to detail.
Another big influence on my aesthetic development were the weekly antiquing trips my parents dragged us on. I never liked the smell of it, but I do remember being intrigued by the hoards of artifacts from anonymous lives. Invariably I would find something interesting and wonder how that object survived to be in that dusty shop. Of course with so much time spent in the shops, some of it came home with us. My parents favored the early American period, but I enjoyed the more decorative styles like William Morris, art nouveau, art deco, Victorian, Pennsylvania Dutch.
When I was an impressionable teen and really beginning to follow some ideas in art, abstraction and psychedelic art were all the rage. Abstraction created such a huge world for me, with so many ways of expressing an idea. It changed how I looked at the world, which made things exciting. Suddenly I could express an emotion with a few simple shapes. I remember loving the bare bald strokes of Franz Klein’s gestures, the new perspectives of Aaron Siskind’s photography, and the meditative moods of Mark Rothko’s huge canvases.
My aesthetic style is formed by experiences throughout my life, and it continues to evolve. But I have a feeling these core themes will stay with me forever.
Organic Perspectives: The Fern Series is printed and installed at East Bay Sotheby’s!
Now it’s time to catch you up.
In Solo Chronicles: Third Installment, I shared some of the objects I created from the scans I made (Second Installment), which were inspired by my trip to Fort Ross (First Installment). From the resulting work it’s obvious that my favorite object was the “fern,” which is featured in the final series.
Beginning a composition can be problematic when working analog (with physical materials, like paint on canvas, pencil on paper, etc); the blank canvas stares back, daring you to make a commitment (or a mistake!). This really isn’t a problem when working digitally, because anything can be changed. And if I’m not sure I want to change it, I can just duplicate the file. Therefore inhibitions really aren’t a problem.
Interestingly, the exact opposite is true… it’s more about “anything goes” and “what if?” So much can be changed at any point, that the options can take me in many different directions with the same image. As new possibilities are presented, the work leads me where it wants to go. Responding to ideas, rather than having a preconceived notion, allows me to make discoveries (and have a lot of fun exploring!).
The only down-side to this process is the massive amount of work produced. Conservatively, there are over 125 images in this series (not counting objects made). Certainly, not all 125 images are good enough to be shown… but many of them were used to make more artwork with.
Here are some examples of explorations that came early in the process, testing color palettes and combing objects.
Then I develop some compositions, focusing on the balance of objects, how they relate to each other, foreground/background issues, etc.
The final part of the process combines previous results. In some cases it is easy to see the mashing, while in others it is a subtle complication, which might require a keen eye to detect the sources.
In Solo Chronicles: Second Installment I shared how I produce the scans that are the basis of my work. My next step is to use the scans to produce new objects that I can make art with. Here are some of the organic shapes produced from the scans done for this project.
You may have noticed that most of my early work relies heavily on flipping and repeating shapes, reminiscent of Rorschach tests or kaleidoscopes. This is an easy device to begin an exploration with, and while I am moving away from using these repeated shapes in my finished work, they still provide a good starting point.
After a few of these flipped and repeated shapes evolve, I become bored with the predictability, and begin exploring complex shapes without flipping and repeating. Combining unrelated organic shapes creates an entirely different exploration, which can loop back around to flipping and repeating. The final image shows some composite shapes made from several organic selections. All of these shapes, plus many more, form a “library” which I will use to create the work for the Sotheby’s show .
From A Maker
I make things. These are some of my thoughts about making and being a maker.