A Different Way of Seeing…

Looking to improve my composition skills, February 2014 I purchased a book called “Finding Your Own Visual Language: A Practical Guide to Design and Composition” by Jane Dunnewold, Claire Benn & Leslie Morgan.
At random, I decided to try “Visual Exercise #13: Colour & Pattern Collage”.
The process:
     -Stack a collection of the same size colored or painted papers on a cutting mat.
       (I used 3 to 5 sheets sized 8 x 10″, 5 x 7″ and 4 x 6″);
     -Paper clip the edges to hold in place (4 places).
     -Cut a shape from all the layers using a craft knife, ending up with 3-5 pieces of paper with the same cut-out shape in the same place. Keep cutting, varying the cut-out shapes and the places they comes from.
     -Separate the pieces, spreading them out as individual sheets.
     -Begin exchanging cut-out shapes with each other; nothing should end up where it came from.
     -Play with interchanging the cut-out pieces until you have a variety of compositions.
     -Use Scotch Tape on the back to hold the pieces in place.
     -Square up the four edges for better viewing.
This process was fun, and the results fascinating. I challenged my fiber group to try it and they enjoyed it, too.
I now have a new tool to add to my work, creating compositions in a variety new and interesting ways!


Blue Heaven & Dismantling the Committee

 Blue Heaven & Dismantling the Committee
In April 2014, as I was getting quilts ready to be hung in our local guild show, a woman in the guild (whom I had never met) tried very hard to get on “the committee”. As I was unpacking my quilt, she walked up, pointed at it, and stated “What’s that?!?”  “What’s what?” I replied. “What’s that?!?” she reiterated, like it was some despicable piece of cloth.“It’s an art quilt”. “I don’t get it.” she sneered and walked away. “Okay” I said to myself and proceed to help hang the show.
A bit later, I happened to be near my quilt when the judges where hanging ribbons. I watched in awe as they pinned a blue ribbon on my quilt, winning for the Art Quilt/Pictorial Small Category.  It was a very surreal experience! Since this was my first art quilt, my first guild show and first judged show, this person could have done real damage. Thankfully, years before I learned to silence “the committee”.
In 2002, “the Committee of the Masses” disabled me from doing my work. Real fear set in when I couldn’t figure out how to create art without it becoming “product”.  What would I make? Who would want it? How do I price it? Where & how would I market it? The pressure was debilitating; my response was to shut down and do nothing.  While I do not know who the anonymous committee voices were, I do know their target was my validation as an accomplished individual and artist. For the time being, they had won.
After a few years (2004), my need to create and the desire to paint reignited my journey into making.  I had sent a few pictures of my painted abstracts to my aunt, who is also a painter and fiber artist.  She sent a letter back that changed everything.  In the letter, she said that for her it was “all about the process of making the work, not the results. Make your work and trust to keep on making it in order to get to whatever the next step is. Don’t skip any of it. Remember–it doesn’t matter what others think, whether work is accepted or rejected in shows, by friends, by piers, in galleries. What does matter is having the incentive and desire to do the work, to move forward and allow the work to lead the way—not the brain or voices of others.”
I decided right then to focus on the process of doing the work. Period. The Committee of the Masses was dissolved.
While other committees “attempt” to form from time to time, I’ve learned to keep them out by staying in the present moment, breathing and moving forward; if the messages that come my way are not uplifting, edifying or helpful in some way, they are discarded. Meditation, hypnotherapy, energy work and EFT/tapping are tools I use with great success to clear out committees that tend to show up in other areas of my life.


Tribute – Graziella Patrucco de Solodow

My desire to paint led me to Creative Arts Workshop, New Haven in the spring of 1987. On a tour of the facility, hanging in the hall were student’s paintings of flowers done in a watercolor class taught by Graziella Patrucco de Solodow. At that moment, I knew I had to learn how to paint botanicals from this instructor.  I learned a great deal about painting, watercolor and nature by studying with Graziella. Her enthusiasm for finding beauty in all living and non-living natural things was fascinating and contagious. She seemed to have an endless supply of reference materials, including an extensive library, beautiful flower gardens, and stories to go along with them. I was her student until 2002.  At that point in time, it was clear that I no longer had the desire to paint botanicals. It was not my work—the thought being that ‘it’ (the object) had already been created–so how can I improve upon perfection? Why not just take a photograph?  

Making a radical shift, I chose to try my hand at mixed media collage and acrylic mediums. The process of creating collage–completely opposite the control of botanical painting–became my segue into painting abstracts. While our paths did not cross for a time, Graziella and I reconnected—getting together every few months in the past several years for tea & cookies, show & tell, and tales of her upbringing in Argentina and Peru.

On December 1st, Wayne and I went to her art opening at the Da Silva Gallery in New Haven. Graziella had been planning “A Collection of Watercolors” show for 2 years, and wondered if anyone would come. Come they did ~ the turnout was amazing. It was the happiest that I’d seen her in a very long time. It would also be the last time I’d see her. I had an inclination to call Graziella on March 3rd; pondering this, I decided to wait until the 30th, as that would be her 71st birthday. Two days later, her husband Joseph sent out an email stating that Graziella had died suddenly the morning of the 4th while out feeding the birds.  [obituary]

A memorial service was held for her on May 1st in a chapel on the Yale University campus. Many of her family and friends got up to speak, myself included. Graziella had always wanted me to show my work; there was even some discussion about having a show in her barn studio.  I made a promise at her service that I would one day show my work to honor her memory and for all she had done for me. It is my belief that she’s been a primary force behind my becoming an artist.I am so blessed and grateful that Graziella was such a part of my life. Peace and sweet dreams, dear friend.

Graziella Patrucco de Solodow. Born in Argentina. M.F.A. from Escuela Nacional de Bellas Artes, Peru. B.A. from Columbia University. Exclusive designer for H. George Caspari. Has more than 1,400 works in the market. Paintings in Fitzwilliam Museum (Cambridge University) and Hunt Institute for Botanical Documentation (Carnegie Mellon University). [source: creativeshake.com]



A Body of Work

I have created works of art or craft for as long as I can remember. Dabbling in a variety of media, I felt my work was never cohesive enough to show.

Until now.What changed was reading Austin Kleon’s “Steal Like An Artist“.  In chapter 5 he writes “If you have 2 or 3 passions, don’t feel like you have to pick and choose between them. Don’t discard. Keep all your passions in your life.”  He quotes the playwright Steven Tomlinson, who suggests that if you love different things, you just keep spending time with them. “Let them talk to each other. Something will begin to happen.”   Kleon continues: “Don’t throw any of yourself away. Don’t worry about a grand scheme or unified vision for your work. Don’t worry about unity–what unifies your work is the fact that you made it. One day you will look back and it will all make sense.”

Creating is where it all makes sense for me.