Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Creative rewards of another fabulous art retreat

Just back from another wonderful artist retreat ... four days of nothing to do but Make Art (and share and laugh and eat, too, of course). Imagine nine creative women with WAAAAY too many art supplies in a idyllic saltbox farmhouse on a sunny island. It's always amazing to me how relaxed and casual it all is - and yet how productive we wind up being. I find I create things that weren't even in my imagination when I arrived.

Ever since we started these retreats, I've been inspired by Celeste's handmade journal - which is this amazing ongoing collection of quotes, labels, lists and other interesting stuff from her everyday. There's something so rich about putting your real life on the page - including the things that touch you, not editing out what is usually deemed to be trivial, letting yourself play intuitively as the page and the moment decree.

I love the structure of her journal - the "looseness" of it - the fluidity of the stitches, the non-preciousness of the page material, the seeming randomness of its content, and I decided this was the retreat to make one for myself. Since we had an ample supply of red rosin paper (thanks, Michelle!), and magazines to collage from, (and did I mention the WAAAY too many art supplies?) so I started folding and slicing and reinforcing folded page edges and stitching .. and then a few little twists and turns later, it turned into something similar-ish, but not much like her journal. I realized that if you change the size, the page materials, the stitch construction and a few other things - you get something entirely different - in my case "La Musee d'une Vie Inventee" (that's Museum of an Invented Life, by the way).

But the next day Celeste (and Paula!) decided they liked my new journal size, and created their own versions. Celeste's version used maps for the page-edge reinforcement and was stitched with oh-so-appropriate red thread, so now I may have to make one of those, too. I love this group!

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Busy, busy, busy ...

Have had a couple of very busy days ... mostly art-related. Sunday was the monthly trading session of the Vancouver Artist Trading Card Group (of which I am the current coordinator). As well as our usual ATC trading, it was also "hand-in" day for our spring/summer collaborative project: a book of decorated and stuffed envelopes on the theme of "Mail Art". The next step is to collate all the books, bind them and return them to the group at the August trading session. I've had some very generous offers of help in the collating & binding department, and I'm no fool - I said yes to anyone who wants to come help. Besides, we'll finally be putting my sunny patio to good use (I'm hoping it'll be sunny on the day in question!). Who could say no to an art party?

One of the things I LOVE about these collaboratives is how much variety we wind up with. How everyone interprets the theme differently, then uses whatever materials, skills and interests they have to share their best work with each other.

Since Art has become such a big part of how I spend my time, I think it bears saying that 10 years ago I wouldn't have dreamed about capitalizing the word "Art", or feel qualified to call myself an "artist" if it hadn't been for several years of positive feedback on my work from people who I thought of as artists and whose work inspired me to create. I know I'll never get rich making art (I'm not nearly ambitious enough), but I believe being able to tell the stories that live inside us - to express ourselves in a creative form - is a strong force in humans, and the form (for me) is visual as well as verbal. I never know what's coming next - and I've stopped worrying about it - I am happy to create and happier still when people have a positive response to it.

Friday, July 16, 2010

And I stopped resisting because ...

It really is time to have a blog. It's time to expand on my current journal system, which goes something like this: I see neat stuff on other people's blogs, I make a note of the most fascinating details and source information in a pre-formatted document on my computer and eventually I print it out (on real paper!) and add it to my handwritten journal which I keep adding to throughout the year.

There are upsides to doing things this way. In the words of Oscar Wilde: "I never travel without my diary. One should always have something sensational to read on the train." I suspect my journal is sensational for far less sensational reasons than Oscar's might have been, but when I find myself "stuck somewhere" ~ a bus stop, or waiting for an appointment or at The Railway (more about this in some future post), I have something interesting to read, as my journal is crammed full of cool stuff that other people are doing or have done, and I've got plenty of blank pages to play with should I get inspired by what I've just read. And I really genuinely do travel with it 100% of the time. Next time you see me, ask me and, Yes, I will have it with me.

There are downsides to a paper journal though. It's not searchable, which is becoming a tool to be devoutly wished for the older I get. I can't share my paper journal with anyone who isn't within arm's reach. And I have to keep taking my journal apart to put in new pages every time I "update". The limitations of paper I can live with, and I'll probably never stop making paper journals, but sometimes I'd love to share some of the fun stuff a little bit sooner than the few times a year I happen to show my journal to friends.

So a blog will be somewhere they can peruse the stuff in comfort, click on a link and oh, hey - so that's what she was talking about. Sounds cool to me.

I think I'm done with the introductions ... next post will have something of more substance, probably about art. Or at least more interesting than me talking about me. I promise.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

And I resisted because ...

In the words of Piet Hein in his Grook on Long-winded Authors ...

Long-winded writers I abhor,
and glib, prolific chatters;
give me the ones who tear and gnaw
their hair and pens to tatters:
who find their writing such a chore
they only write what matters.

I feel there's a balance required between being out in the world (blog-wise) saying any old thing that comes to mind, and only saying what matters. The problem with saying any old thing is well ... that you're prone to say any old thing. The problem with saying only what matters is that opinions will be held! Reactions will occur! And there'll be (gasp!) conflict. I'm not a big fan of conflict. So I'm hoping I'll strike some kind of balance here. I expect people will let me know when I get it wrong (by no longer reading or sending me snippy comments). But maybe they'll let me know when I get it right. too. That'd be nice.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Everyone says I ought to have a blog

And I've felt it myself sometimes. I know I visit enough blogs, and I really ought to get my toe in the water before it's too late and we're all wired to the net through our cerebral cortex. I thought I'd start by saying something about this image ... She came about as part of a self-portrait collage project a few years ago, and I call her the Art Angel. The angel herself is an announcing angel from a brochure on churches of Italian hill towns. My angel (should you find yourself in that part of the world) is from San Gimignano. She looked a little near-sighted (as am I), so I gave her glasses. And I couldn't resist a little third eye of a spiral on her forehead, or perhaps it's an adornment of some ancient kind. Her halo is the answer from a crossword puzzle book so she is radiating ideas (as do I sometimes). Other than having glasses and radiating ideas, she doesn't look anything like me, so if you're wandering around and happen to see someone who looks like this, I'd advise you not to act like you know her (or her blog). The text along her neckline reads: So many ideas! Must make art! which is pretty much how I feel most of the time. Really.