Saturday, April 29, 2006

Pot Pourri

This is one of the digital collages that Fanzorelli’s didn’t take. But my niece Kira loved it so I gave it to her.
Speaking of family, David graduated from Art College on Thursday night, and Emma stayed up until 3 a.m. finishing off two industrial strength papers. Now second year law school is done! I stayed up with her, and fixed my printer. If I had yet another alternative life, I’d be a computer repairperson with a tool belt and a Blackberry. It’s very satisfying work – when it works. John has started calling me Wilhelmina Gates. Of course Bill probably has a ton of lackeys doing his grunt work.
I managed to finish four pages of my book yesterday even though I wasn’t in the mood. I would much rather have been responding to my Texan friend Jeanne Schedler’s long, fascinating email. But I’m trying to be disciplined.
We had a celebration dinner for the kids last night, and then watched Deal or No Deal. (Sometimes sinking to the lowest common denominator is the ideal way to refuel).
I’m off in a few minutes to go to an out-of-town wedding for the rest of the weekend with my extended family. I think it was Thoreau who said: “Beware of any enterprise that requires new clothes”…i.e. I’d like to know if pantyhose are actually designed to fit real women.

Thursday, April 27, 2006

I've Got Mail

This has been an A-Number One week for mail. RubberStampMadness came yesterday, and the 4-page spread on Mary looks great. I’m thrilled to see her creativity get the attention it deserves. I just hope I did her justice in the article that accompanies it. RubberStampMadness also published a letter from a California woman who found two of my previous columns helpful. That was nice to know, and I’m going to reread her letter before I start working on my book again tomorrow .
On Monday, the zines and creativity decks I ordered arrived from Randi Feuerhelm in Iowa. After gorging on all her ideas for a couple of hours last night, I’m inspired to start working on a new journal.
I also received a couple of art supply catalogues from Daniel Smith. Both are packed with a luscious array of supplies and all sorts of creative tips. I wish I’d had the time to visit their store in Seattle when I was at Artfest.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

A Day in the Life

Today started out serenely enough, but degenerated into frustration when I decided to rewrite my lead for an article I was sending off. It took me two hours to rework three sentences. Two hours! The problem is that when you change one word in a sentence you’re forced to change everything else. But enough about writing. Thankfully I don’t find I obsess about it when I’m doing this blog.
I managed to get together six rubber stamp designs together to send off to Teesha Moore’s Art & Life zine this afternoon. Hopefully one of them will be good enough to make it to the zine’s next sheet of rubber. I’ve always fantacized about having my own line of stamps. But when you actually sit down to do it, it’s hard to be consistent design-wise. I don’t know how Teesha and Tracy manage with with Zettiology .
Tonight I got lost in Photoshop. First I formatted and sent off the star map I’d promised Beverly Dalton, and then I decided to play around with a picture of myself from the 70s. Nothing I did seemed to click.
But then I remembered . John has me hooked on watching their old music videos. We watched our favorite – Why Go by Faithless – a couple of times, and then I just had to come upstairs to my own computer, and start looking at Dave Clarke Five videos again. Of course John caught me in the act.
“Are you laughing at me?” I said.
“I’m laughing on the outside, but crying on the inside,” he replied.
What can I say? I saw the Dave Clark Five back in the 60s at Maple Leaf Gardens, and they were FAB. (Fab is definitely a DC5 word).
My, I’ve really gotten off track here. What I intended to write about tonight was France. On Friday night at our art group, Shoshanna showed us this fabulous book of Larousse engravings that she’d bought at a flea market when she was in Paris with Carmi. Well, I don’t know about everyone else, but Cherri and I just freaked! It started me thinking about the time we went to Nice in the early 90s. We stayed in Queen Victoria’s former summer home. The suite we shared with our extended family was actually the ballroom that had been renovated into a two-story apartment. Apparently Henri Matisse lived there too, although not at the same time obviously. Anyway, I dug out this picture I’d taken in the lobby and played with it in Photoshop. The plan was to start adding things to the image, but I think I like it just the way it is.

Monday, April 24, 2006

My Muse

Despite feeling punk all weekend (and I don’t mean hip and cool), I still managed to work on my creativity book, and I’m happy with what I did.
It was almost two years ago that I started making notes on it, and despite the fact I’d accumulated a filing cabinet full of “stuff,” I’ve made very little progress on my book until recently. I owe this rejuvenation to my creativity coach Beth Barany . I’ve been working with Beth for the past several months, and her provocative questions and insights have really helped me to find my focus on this project. And even though Beth started working with me on the writing end of things, she’s really helped me to zero in on where I want to go with my art too. I look on her as my main muse!

Friday, April 21, 2006

I'm finally done!

Complaining to Mary about my difficulty with altering the clock (our latest dollar store challenge) seems to have done the trick. She emailed me back yesterday with this advice: "Take one look at it, tell yourself it's only a plastic clock, nothing more and that you've had much more difficult things to do in life. Pretend it's 2 dimensional, but in two directions. Then you will have psychological control over it and it will be yours to do with as you please. The creativity will then flow boundlessly. (If this works, tell me and I'll market it)."
You've gotta love Mary. She's so upbeat and inspiring. To make a long story short, I took her advice. I decided to drop the plan to cover a mini flashlight with matching paper so people could look inside the clock and just simplify things.
But I can't deny that I found the whole process aggravating. As I said to Mary, I think much better on a one-dimensional surface. I'd rather spread out in all directions than wrap my mind around an object because the object always seems to defy me. I couldn't use Photoshop to erase the scratches on the magnifying glass, for example. However, in the end I think I did answer Carmi's question: "I wish I had more time for timelessness!"

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Bia and Sofonisba

At 3:30 a.m. this morning, I finally finished choosing, printing, framing and labeling 48 digital collages for a display at Fanzorelli’s. Strangely enough, the hardest part of the job was dealing with fingerprints. When there’s an upfront display of them on the wrong side of the glass, you have no choice but to de-frame the picture and start over all over again. Looking at my work today, I decided I’m basically happy with most of my collages, although the one of Bia and Sofonisba is definitely my favourite.
Bia was the illegitimate daughter of Cosimo de’Medici, and she died at the age of five – shortly after Bronzino did this portrait of her. I’ve always wondered what Bia’s life would have been like if she’d lived. Would she have been a political pawn and married off to an ally of the Medicis? Probably. But I like to think Bia might have become a painter like her contemporary, Sofonisba Anguissola.
A popular Renaissance painter who lived until she was almost a hundred, Sofonisba and her sisters – Elena, Lucia, Europa, Anna Maria and Minerva (whew!) – all had artistic talent. It was Sofonisba, though, who found fame and fortune.
While most women painters in the Renaissance (not that there were many of them) learned the craft from their fathers, Sofonisba’s father was a nobleman and her biggest fan. He made sure she studied with accomplished male painters, and even wrote a letter to Michelangelo raving about his daughter’s talent. Michelangelo sent him a drawing for Sofonisba to copy, and was impressed with her talent when he received it back. This just goes to show you what a supportive parent can do for an artist.

Saturday, April 15, 2006

The Well-Traveled Clock

Carmi’s dollar store clock flew out west with me to Artfest – and then back again. I could have saved myself the trouble of packing, unpacking and repacking the clock in bubble wrap because I didn’t do a thing with it. I knew I wouldn’t, but I was afraid if I left it behind, I’d forget what I wanted to do with it.
Fat chance. Basically all I’ve done for the last couple of days is work on that clock. And when I’m not working on it, I’m thinking about it. Typical.
Speaking of Carmi and clocks, I took a break this afternoon to engage in some Photoshop therapy. I experimented with scanning some watch parts I’d encased in resin during a workshop with Carmi. It was very satisfying to end up with an image I liked – and I didn’t have to do any clean up either. John thinks it looks like a Russian poster from the 1920s.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

My World

I am busily formatting, printing and framing my digital collages to put up in Fanzorelli’s Restaurant in downtown Brampton next week. This all came about when Andrea and I were having coffee there, and Crystal (a member of the wait staff) wanted to buy the picture I’d given Andrea as a present.
Of course what happens when I start looking through all my digital stuff is that I’d rather create new ones than market the collages I’ve already done. In a perfect world I would just hole up in my studio Photoshop-ing endlessly without having to think about the business end of things at all.
I did give into temptation today and finished off My World, a collage I’ve been working on – off and on – for months. It’s one of those pieces that’s taken a tremendous amount of work. For example, I removed all the perspective lines simply because they annoyed me. The truth is: after about twenty hours of work, I’m not that happy with it. The rainbow gradient I used looks cheesy, but ongoing experimentation hasn’t resulted in anything better. Now that I think about it though, My World might work better in black and white.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Randi Feuerhelm

If I had enough time, I’d start a Randi Feuerhelm fan club. She was one of the most interesting people I met at Artfest, although I didn’t actually speak to her until just before I got on the plane to Vancouver. But I recognized her dark eyes, pink hair (I’ve always loved candy floss) and cowboy boots right away. She was also carrying one of her journals, which looked to be about two feet long and about nine inches wide.
Randi gave me a copy of her Visual Journaling Zine based on the diaries and artwork of Frida Kahlo, and I spent a couple of wonderful hours today devouring her visuals, writing and ideas. She’s fabulous! I really feel inspired to try some new things in my own journal. And even though I’m trying to cut back on all the stuff I seem to be accumulating, I had to go to Randi’s website and order her other zines and two creative decks.

Sunday, April 09, 2006

Artfest – Day 3

Okay, so it’s been over a week since Jane Wynn’s workshop, and I finally finished my project a few minutes before we were leaving for our 25th wedding anniversary party at Pam’s. (What does it say about me that I was more focused on doing art than the fact John and I were celebrating twenty-five years of marriage?)
Anyway, it wasn’t Jane’s fault I was so slow; she was a wealth of information and so helpful, but I was completely distracted by all the neat tools and patinas she brought to class, and I spent the workshop dithering around trying to make decisions.
I was also intrigued by what everyone else was doing. For example, Colleen cut the heads off her plastic animals and then interchanged them. Very cool. It was so much fun watching her work – Marti and Nadine too – that I ended up way behind everyone else.
But it didn’t really bother me. Thinking in three dimensions is always a challenge, I find. In the end, I was actually happy with how my assemblage turned out. Now all I need to learn is how to take proper photos of my work!

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Artfest – Day 2

Anyone who knows me well would agree that it takes a lot to make me mad. But Anne Grgich’s class did. There were way too many people in her workshop and the room was too small. Because we were so crowded together, it made trying to do two paintings a real challenge. Plus I had a terrible seat. Every couple of minutes or so, I was interrupted by someone trying to get past me. Not their fault of course, but I found it difficult to concentrate and ended up having to stand for most of the day because there was no room for my chair.
Another thing that bugged me was that Anne showed slides of her work for almost an hour and a half. I discovered afterwards that I wasn’t the only one anxiously thinking: “How will there be enough time to do any painting?”
Now that I’ve finished complaining, I do have to say that I got a lot from the workshop in terms of discovering what I could do with my digital images in a painterly format, and I hadn’t expected that. It was an enlightening process, but I just wish I’d had more time and more space to take what I did farther.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Artfest – Day 1

I did this shadow box of Emma on my first day at Artfest in Claudine Hellmuth’s class. If you ever have the opportunity to take a workshop with Claudine: go for it! Not only is she a terrific artist, but she’s a great teacher too. She explains things so well, she’s so helpful and of course, she radiates that wonderful Claudine energy that inspires everyone around her. Because I know how much work it is to prepare and teach a class, I couldn’t help but admire both her generous spirit and the ease with which she gets everything across.
Oh, and another thing I appreciate about Claudine is that she gives you a little booklet that explains all the techniques she’s sharing so you can refresh your memory afterwards.
P.S. Emma loved her box.