Anita, a friend of mine recently handed me a page torn from a magazine with an intriguing short article about a woman who decorates envelopes and sends them to people….perfect uptick in my spirit! The author of the article offered to send an envelope to anyone who contacted her. I couldn’t make it to my tablet quick enough to send out an email to Mary. I told her just a bit about myself, pointed her to my website and respectfully requested one of her envelopes. Her email response was quick stating that she wasn’t really an artist, she mainly used other people’s art but her main creative expression, if she had one, was in writing stories. She promised to send me an envelope! I was delighted by the idea but within a few days of preoccupation with my own envelopes in the studio, Mary’s envelopes slipped into the background of my mind swirling around with dozens maybe hundreds, maybe thousands of other ideas. Within a few more days they vanished into one of the deep holes up there where I think and dream and obsess. TODAY MARY’S ENVELOPE ARRIVED!! I did a little happy dance down the driveway from the mailbox to my front door with the envelope turning over and over in my hands. Mary made the back side of the envelope with the flap become the address side. It has an Ellsworth Kelly stamp cancelled in the upper right corner, and her address in the upper left. What a creative idea? That left the front side, where one usually writes the name and address, for her artistic expression, a smooth surface with no flap to interfere with her lovely miniature painting I’m a book lover and a bird lover and somewhat of a bird brain…..so the imagery is perfect for me….well surely the colorful birds symbolize “fights of fancy.” I clain that characteristic for myself also. If it is based on someone else’s artwork, I don’t recognize it as such. Inside she tucked one of her stories, a one-and-one/third page-long single-spaced sentence! Faulkneresque? She is indeed a writer. I treasure the envelope. Thank you Mary! I’m attaching a picture below.
Tomorrow many will celebrate the one-hundredth birthday of Lawrence Ferlinghetti who, along with Allen Ginsberg, was a leading spokesman of the Beat Poets, of the 1950’s. There was little I appreciated about the Beat Poets whose foul imagery spewed out into the culture, or maybe I just didn’t understand or couldn’t relate to their cause. The undisciplined and often drug-induced vocabulary was frequently incoherent, not only to me, but to many others also. There are however, a couple of ideas from Ferlinghetti that I am willing to single out and celebrate! One is that he said he thought art had the power to change the world and the other is that art needs to be delivered out of the precious world of academia and museums “back to the streets.” His idea of the “power to change the world” is probably nothing like the power that I envision since it seems to me the beat generation did cause many changes for the worse of the world. Did “back to the streets” take the art world not to the streets but to the gutters (but I digress).
There is a nascent movement in the artworld today mainly led by Christian artist Matt Tommey that may indeed change the world. He speaks of a deep spiritual call to “raise up an army of artists,” of mainly Christian artists committed to the precepts and ideals of the Bible. Surprisingly he is himself a basketmaker!! He works in a medium known as a craft of common people, a medium which produces a functional object useful in daily life. He has, however, lifted the medium to the pinnacle of artistic expression. So my thought is, not only are baskets a lovely street-craft but also “from the streets lifted to glorify God.” He is a superb encourager of artists with a huge Facebook following, beckoning artists to thrive, pursue their skills, and express from the inspiration that will reliably rise within any artist who is open to it. He also offers a Mentoring Program that is replete with information, exercises, ideas, assignments and abundant encouragement. It appears that the army of artists is indeed being raised and that the world will not only be changed but will be improved, enriched, and glorify its Creator. If you are interested in this fertile movement: https://www.matttommey.com or check out the facebook pages “Created To Thrive” or “Thriving Christian Artists”
Revitalization!! There’s a newness here, at least it’s a newness for me. I’m making a valiant attempt to step up my awareness of today’s ways with websites. I’ve had this website for a long time but I haven’t kept current by updating to the ways it can be used so more people will find it, and also be intrigued by my works of art. Sharing my inspirations, my thoughts about the creative work I do, and showing the products which become paintings, collages, assemblages and clay works is an important aspect of what I do. Today I’m excited to extend a renewed invitation to you to come into my world of art by showing you what I have created. I welcome a response from you. We can develop a dialog, even possibly a friendship, involving my ideas about creativity and yours too!
The days have been blustery which causes our most-welcome pecans to fall to the roof of the house, to the yard, to the river. They are welcome wherever they fall so long as it is not on my head. This year they are plentiful and tasty! These windy days make the refuge in the studio or in the art room at the Artist Gallery inviting.
Since I taught an Innovative Watermedia/Collage workshop in October the students have wanted to continue to meet together to paint or work on their creative projects. It’s an encouraging endeavor and while the enthusiasm is lively the students will make an effort to work together every week for several weeks to get the process started and eventually establish a monthly gathering for a studio day.
I’m wishing the best for this group and plan to participate. I know that the camaraderie that can develop will offer much encouragement to the artists. I have my personal responses in that I love the camaraderie but I also find it a challenge to gather some materials together and go out of my amply stocked studio where everything I might need is close by, and I’m so entrenched in the solitude of working alone that I get distracted and am challenged to concentrate. Many artists thrive and are inspired by the interactions and I am too sometimes. I know one well established, mature artist who rarely paints in her studio. She produces most of her work while she is teaching and when she is painting with other artists. I’m thankful for the many ways we work and I appreciate the unique ways of individuality. I’m especially thrilled that my students want to continue to work together, hone their skills and encourage each other.
THE ARTIST GALLERY’S ELEVENTH ANNUAL ARTWALK: FELIZ NAVIDAD
This year the team at the Artist Gallery decided on 6 venues for our historic artwalk in downtown Carlsbad. The Participants were The Carlsbad Museum, Bella, Candlewood, Art Uncorked and Bennie’s Western Store along with us. At our gallery, Dylan Taylor accompanied the many attendees viewing the art at the Artist Gallery with his acoustic guitar and occasional vocal renditions of regional music. Opening the Christmas Season with this traditional artwalk fills Carlsbad art-enthusiasts with a festive spirit. Attendance was brisk, filled with holiday greetings and many chatty conversations. The Artists filled the gallery with their latest works; the selections are outstanding. This year I was eager to show my new figure paintings:
“All Joy Counted” “It’s Been Awhile”
These two are representative of 5 I had on exhibit along with some new clay pieces and a couple of new landscape collages. I always look forward with great pleasure to the artwalk. It is the baby of Loretta Forbes, a painter and member of The Artist Gallery, who first encountered an artwalk among some Northern New Mexico galleries and thought we could adapt such an event to our own locale. It has been a phenomenal success over the years. She continues to do much of the work to make it the joyfully anticipated event it has become.
Each year we send a beautiful direct mail invitation to our clients. This year the invitation bore this remarkable image, “LUV RST” painted by Sonja Bedinger, also an artist member of The Artist Gallery.
Watermedia/Collage Workshop 2016 is fresh on my mind. It happened last week in the Carlsbad Area Art Association’s ROBERT S. LIGHT ARTROOM, behind the Artist Gallery. Busy! it was a busy class. The students were enthusiastic, chatty, positive, and eager. Each exercise I suggested was welcomed with willingness; some remarkable work showed up on their papers; and a generous spirit prevailed as they shared ideas and processes.
A favorite quote of mine from Robert Rauschenberg: “I like to have the maximum lack of control so things can happen that I can’t think of.” I consider “think” to be a key word in this quote. Letting go of rational “thinking” processes and trusting the intuition to guide does truly cause things to happen, allow for surprises, and let some “gifts” develop on the paper.
We started with a playful
application of paint, not thinking of anything but enjoying the paint, experimenting with it’s flow, checking out our brushes. Then we began to look for tiny compositions, discovering that the paint had indeed deposited some gifts we could work with:The class moved from this tiny start to more complex layers of paint and papers, preparing collage papers, making stamps to use for creating texture and holding off on composing. Yet, keenly watching all the while for shapes, directions, values of color that would appear from the intuition and guide us, we moved toward a composition. Rich layered and textured surfaces were created and compositions inviting final details called for completion.
Left:Ginger Price, experiment
Right: Renee Boyd, experiment
Left: Gerri Mattson, experiment Leslie Smith, experiment
When artists gather and stretch to see new ways of expressing, good things happen. There was talk of meeting to create/paint/collage together. A gathering of artists working, no instruction except feedback and encouragement from one another. What a splendid idea!
Judy Lanier, experiments
It’s been several years since I have taught a class or a workshop. Early this year Frank, the workshop chairman, for Carlsbad Area Art Association asked me if I would teach. Without really thinking, I heard, “sure, Frank” come out of my mouth. The possibility lay quietly, but not exactly silently in the back of my mind for a long time. I wanted to teach, I’ve taught a lot over the years, I like to teach and I don’t like to teach, I have a lot of experience and I don’t have enough experience, I have worked hard, not hard enough, and have learned a lot I can share. I had my doubts that anyone would be interested in my quirky ways of creating, and I doubted that I had the physical stamina. Sometimes I listen to my critical self yammering in my mind. Round and round the thoughts went but the creative spirit (The Holy Spirit) reminded me that I had said I would teach and that whatever I have to offer would be sufficient.
Then I encountered a Lubbock artist who asked me about teaching, and encouraged me to offer a class. Within days she had spread the word that I was considering a workshop in Carlsbad. Other artists called saying they would come. I set a date in September, chose a title: “Innovative Watermedia/collage Workshop” then vascillated between cancelling and pulling it all together as I witnessed the enrollment numbers rise.
On September 10, 11, 12 the class became a vital, creative, moving reality. It was amazing to see the enthusiasm of 15 diligent artists who listened to my suggestions and worked with such intensity. We all checked our critical selves at the door and let the spirit flow. From day one when I asked them to paint along with me and put paint randomly on the paper, keeping it in light to middle range of values we progressed through painting-along to experimenting, and into a variety of explorations and demos with discussion. I offered techniques and materials and suggestions to play with. The move of the creative spirit was obviously dynamic whether the students were grappling in confusion, happily creating stamps, gingerly painting tissues for collage material or testing their eyes to see what might be showing up on the papers.
Experiment by Carol Hammond
It’s a non-rational, intuitive way of operating that comes out of a part of the brain and heart that is absolutely trustworthy. Learning to trust it is like no other experience…..it has no language, no system of orderliness, is usually not logical. Often, and dramatically so among beginning students, it feels like chaos. It is pulling images confidently from our histories, from our heritage, and sometimes seemingly from no where. Sometimes the paints begin to show us recognizable representative images and sometimes the colors challenge us with abstract shapes that intuitively communicate wholeness. When we become like children and play with materials we allow ourselves to paint the worst painting in the world without judging whether it is a keeper or not, and we also allow ourselves to paint the best painting in the world.
Experiment by Renae Winters
Experiment by Laurel Weathersbee
Experiment by Judy Lanier
I would love to publish more of the student experiments here but alas, I neglected to take pictures when we put our works out on a common table to share what we had accomplished. I have put out the call to the students to send me pictures but when students leave the classroom, life envelopes them and the demands of home and work and play rise to the forefront and sending pictures to the teacher drops to the bottom of priorities.
Collage by Grace Lipps Collage by Carol Hammond
Below is a demonstration painting I worked on in the class. I will post other pieces I started with my students as I get them completed and photographed. They will be on the pages of this website.
Not really in San Antonio, but almost, and not really in Boerne, but almost. It was an invitation from Chicago, from Crystal Naubauer a collage artist I have admired for a number of years. It was also an invitation from Laura Roberts, (aka Hasty Pearl) gracious hostess with the innovative idea of having an art workshop in her home. Laura: artist, collector, gardener, who lives in a wooded area on the outskirts of San Antonio welcomed participants to her exquisite home and gardens with handmade name tags, delicious lunches, and a garage/workshop that could compete with any studio/classroom.
An eclectic group of artists reveled in the delightful setting and especially in the gentle/kind/generous/creative/ spirit of Crystal Neubauer. By her, we were led through a number of mark-making/drawing/painting/stamping/collaging exercises designed to assist us in accessing the intuitive artist within. Her quiet/rich/deep/confident personal nature, nourished by the Holy Spirit, established a comfortable working environment. The heady atmosphere of nine working artists fed each individual artist as we grappled with materials and ideas and stretched ourselves to let go of control and trust our intuitive natures.
Below are photos of our expressive attempts. I apologize for my quick shots, some of them may be presented sideways or upside down, (which is a good test for artists to see the quality of composition) and unfortunately I cannot credit the individual artists with each of these experimental works of art:
Pregnant with possibility? Some of them seem to have a full delivery of expression already. Only two days together, yet bonds were formed and each artist went home with several “works” or “starts” and an impromptu handmade paint brush culled from Laura’s garden:Fun? Fun! not a frivolous zany kind of fun, but a fun that had within it some Texas hospitality and an overflowing cup of creative juice, mixed gently with spoonfuls and tidbits and pinches of new ideas. I’m charged anew with energy for creative endeavors in my studio. Thank you Laura and Crystal!
Painting thirty images in thirty days, fascinating challenge. Today I’m posting the latest few. There may be another small batch, if I get the finishing touches on them today, but getting them photographed and posted will take longer. I can get the best photos when I take the works outside and use my camera, so I know I won’t get that done today. I seem to fall in love with the work when it comes together, but sometimes when there’s been a wrestling to get my ideas to manifest themselves on the paper or panel, and I’ve had to do some serious pursuit, the love develops without the same passion. Right now, I’m truly in love with “Opening.” The blue/ochre/rusted deep colors, layered over old Bible pages and Greek text with suggestive containment in distorted circles, drops of power expressed in a triad of red touches make me think of an ancient wall embedded with a convoluted, rich history of events. The poignant angled ridges of built-up color give a roughness to the wall with the contrasting rusty streaks of color over smooth metallic gold paper. High in the composition and off-center the “Opening” breaks through to light and joy and beauty. A pot of geraniums catches the light; the exquisite organic life of red blooms and cool green leaves with dark shadows falling on a ledge offers the expression of newness and liveliness opening through the ancient, historic, rough wall. OPENING
(watermedia/collage on paper, 14X11)
EARTH ANGEL: An angel is like an arrow of light cutting through the dark.(sold)
(smoked, embellished clay)
EARTH ANGEL: Listen closely and you will hear angels
silently cheering you on. (smoked embellished clay)…..(sold)
EARTH ANGEL: The pure joy of angels is like fresh air for the soul.
(painted, embellished clay)…….(sold)
I must say the thirty days of September have been flying along and my works and I have been flitting along with them. I think I will actually have 30 new works, maybe even a few extras! Two or three are larger pieces which have been developing alongside of the smaller ones. I’ve been saving the finished pieces in the studio, not consigning them out to galleries, so I can look at them altogether. Although they seem to be a hodge-podge without much of a focus, I can see clearly that they are mine. In the early days when I heard concerns among fellow artists of “developing a style,” seasoned artists advised that it shouldn’t be a “concern.” A “style” would develop naturally over the seasons of practicing the craft of expression. I have found that to be good advice. My ways of expression have truly become mine. Some of the works continue to pursue ideas that I have been exploring for some time: newness, beginnings, strength, endurance, words, fragility. Others have landed on the papers without much context. Maybe they are invitations to explore new realms.
Because tomorrow is “change around” at The Artist Gallery here, I plan to hang many of them. It will give me a new view of them, grouped together on a wall (I don’t have space in the studio to hang them all). So, “take note” if you who want to see what I’ve been doing. These are some of the latest:
(acrylics on cradled panel, 10X8X2 inches)