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Make Good Art

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I just read Neil Gaiman’s speech which he gave to graduates of Philadelphia’s University of the Arts in 2012. (Http://vimeo.com/42372767). The speech was put into book form by a graphic designer named Chip Kidd and I stumbled over it at the Morrison branch of our library. The book is all turquoise, orange, yellow, and red which gives it the quirkiness you usually find in Gaiman’s writing. (Coraline, the Sandman comics, Dr. Who scripts, et.al.)

The collaboration is a joyous mix of color and text and wisdom. The title is Make Good Art, and Gaiman’s was speaking to a room full of artists of all kinds. Considering my definition of art, he was speaking to every one of us.

The gist of the speech is “Follow your bliss” (Joseph Campbell), but said with great wit and laced with personal caveats. However, this morning the effect on me was to think about my personal definition of art.

What is art? IMHO

Make something. If it has an effect on someone else–love it, hate it, laugh with it, even puzzle over it–it’s Art. Creation + Effect. That’s all I require. Evaluating, critiquing, judging–a different process and not my concern.

I once made cupcakes for my daughter’s classmates. The kids ate them with gusto, inhaled them even. This was Not Art. It was merely eating cake mix food without noticing anything but the sugary taste.
20140110-114307.jpgToday there are shops which sell only cupcakes, and the customers consider each flavor carefully and admire each presentation. Then they purchase and eat with a smile, maybe even a moan. That is Art.

I knit. I follow a pattern–a recipe–a formula. But I choose the yarns, the color scheme, the buttons, the embellishments–even tweak the stitch pattern or alter the shape. I make Art.

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I have a sketchbook. I draw. I’m not very skilled, but once in a while I draw something that makes someone connect and laugh (my favorite reaction). I made Art.

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Steve cooks. Friends actually call and ask to come to dinner. He talks about flavor chords of food as he plans a meal. He uses white porcelain plates because he likes the way it shows the food. We eat, and sometimes we moan a bit. Yep. It’s Art.

So, go. Make Good Art. Your Art.

I would love to react to it if you want to share.

More later–

Yeah—–2014!

Happy New Year! We are delighted to be in 2014. Last year was a tough one for us, but this is a shiny new one with all kinds of possibilities.

I don’t make resolutions. They just invite failure to me and I don’t need the guilt. Instead I set goals. Any progress is positive, and no progress just indicates that I am still thinking.

This year getting back to my blog is one of my goals. I’ve learned so much this year about making things and have had so much fun. I can’t keep all that fun to myself. I did start back knitting a bit and still teach private lessons, but I don’t foresee any classes–unless someone invites me.

DD#1 and family board the plane tomorrow to return from 5 months in Chile. DD#2 is in the air as I type returning from a snowy after Christmas in Wisconsin. Steve and I have had a quiet holiday and we haven’t been lonely thanks to our wonderful neighbors.

I have been applying new collaging skills,

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zentangling,

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And figuring out how to adjust the too long side seam of a new knitted project.

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More later–

South American Artwork

PS Painting on house Valparaiso (27)

Younger daughter and family visited older daughter and family who are in Chile on a Fulbright.  I am so proud of my grandsons who both remembered to get pictures of street art for Nana.  I thought I would share some of them with you.  I’m guessing everyone in Chile is an artist.

PS Valparaiso from funicularThis is Valparaiso and this is the required photo op there.  Taken from the top of the funicular railway, you get a good look at how hilly this city is.  The houses are painted lots of bright colors and decorated with art no matter how expensive the neighborhood.  Valparaiso is a World Heritage site.  I won’t be able to walk it, but I will find a nice cab driver.PS art on house Valparaiso (60)

This building is spectacular.  I love the dancing figures and the splash of gold paint.

PS Santiago (9)

This is an older art style on a building in Santiago.

PS The boys at Santa Lucia Park (2)This is Santa Lucia Park in Santiago.  Remember it is winter there, so the vines are dormant.  Looks a bit creepy, but I’ll bet it will be luscious when summer comes.

Sand art VinaSand art is big on the beaches at Vina del mar.

PS sand castle Vina del Mar we arrive in Chile (21)I had to share both of these.  I am amazed at this work and tortured by its impermanence.  Such skill.

PS Zentangle bird Valparaiso (56)Zentangle art is alive and well down South.

PS Pelicans Vina del Mar

Actually natural art is everywhere you look.  Meghan took this pic of pelicans near Erica’s home . . .

PS the Andes and La Cornisa (15)and this while they went skiing in the Andes.

Travel is the only thing you buy that makes you richer.

Can’t wait to go myself.

More later–

Checking in

It is September . . . almost October.  We’ve been busy with family matters, but that’s all okay now.  I think about blogging, but I am not always sure that  what I am up to is interesting since it usually isn’t knitting.  But there is even some of that.

I’ve been asked to teach at the Carolina Fiber Frolic in 2014.  More on that as plans develop.  This is the weekend that Jan Smiley organizes each year in Sapphire Valley, NC.  It is always a great weekend of fun, fiber stuff,  and fabulous food.

We were in Nashville recently and went to a car show at the Frist Art Center.  It was called Sensuous Steel.

Art Deco Extraordinaire

Art Deco Extraordinaire

Cars from the 1930s. They were lavishly made and I felt a bit elegant just standing beside them.

1933 Pierce Arrow IMG_0217 IMG_0292

Click on these to see a larger view.

I am drawing and painting and gardening and planning my new screen porch.  I have been sorting Steve’s mom’s photographs and have found a treasure trove of vintage pictures to use for mixed media work.  The girls will get the originals, but I have scanned and scanned.  Check out these:

Steve's mom in her senior play.

Steve’s mom in her senior play.

HS Basketball team 1939

HS Basketball team 1939

I have mainly been working on 6 x 6 inch collages lately. I’m preparing to go to a workshop and I want to know what techniques I can do and what I reallllllly need help with. Here is one I like.

Embrace the reality of who you are

Embrace the reality of who you are

I used Photoshop to put the letters on the picture. I also used it to make the manniquins kind of wavey and ugly. Might be just a bit of jealousy there. I’m still working on this philosophy. I won’t overload your bandwidth with more examples, but you can always check out my artwork on my flickr site. Check the sidebar.

I’m working on some Halloween stuff which I will show you when I can.

Keep making things of your own.

More later–

It’s been a long time . . .

I actually feel guilty that I haven’t blogged, but life has been family issues and you don’t need to hear about it.  The knee is better.  That’s my good news.

I’ve been making and making and making.  I have a new collage based on a scan of my grandmother’s wedding picture.

We have no idea who the woman in the back is.

We have no idea who the woman in the back is.

I painted the paper with watercolor and stencils.  Then added the pinkish color with pastels.  The definition is from an old dictionary we once received because we donated to the local PBS station.  The lace is from my MIL’s sewing box.  The flowers were waiting for me on the clearance shelf at Michaels, and the purple beads I sewed into their centers have been around here forever.  I did spray a fixative on it when I finished.

I tried several things here and they all worked.  Wish it were always that way.

Gift from the girls about 1981.

Gift from the girls about 1981.

This is my favorite mug.  I start every day with coffee in this mug and I think about my girls.  I broke it.  I cried.  I wrote an impassioned letter to both of them about someday replacing it. Meghan brought this back from Chile when she went to visit her sister.

It is very thin.  Really fine workmanship.

It is very thin. Really fine workmanship.

I look forward to visiting the gallery where she found it when I go to Chile.

One stitch at a time.

One stitch at a time.

I’m still knitting the hat I’m designing for my pharmacist.  It is the challenge I love, but I need to work on it more often.

Steve and I at the game.

Steve and I at the game.

My BFF Jennie gave me tickets to the Steelers-Panthers exhibition game last night.  She knows I like to go and lust after Troy Palomalu even though he never plays in an exhibition game.  Doesn’t matter.

He stands wonderfully.

My favorite defensive player

My favorite defensive player

During the interminable TV timeouts, I drew these.  Beware—some strong opinions here.

Beer and B____s

Beer and B____s

Just my opinion . . .but it is a strong one.

Just my opinion . . .but it is a strong one.

Hope you are making something, too.

More later–

Art, Family, Thoughts

Z goes to school in Vina

Family first.  The folks are in Chile.  The other family goes to visit Friday.  I wish I were there.

Here is the American boy in the British school in Vina del Mar, Chile.  He is doing so well with the adjustment.  Has his first futbol (soccer) game is today.  I’m sure the team is glad to have him.  The school has welcomed him so warmly.

Unusual travel fact.  In Chile, heating is not necessarily part of the rental agreement.  We’ve been warned to bring winter pajamas.

More-Collage-Paper

More-Collage-Paper

The October Collage workshop will be here soon and I am preparing.  More Citrosolv papers to share.  I said I would update you about the National Geographic search.  I went to Sleepy Poet, a local antique mall, and found some—well, lots.  The guy that worked there had these for sale:

Note the brown boxes

Note the brown boxes

Seven years worth–in lovely boxed sets.  Total $10.00.  It seemed ridiculous to ask how much for one or two.  I bought them all.

Then I found the two from DSIL2.

Then I discovered that I really liked the size and weight of the ones I was creating with my ESPN mag.

Ain’t life funny?

The Sea

The Sea

This is #1, The Sea, in my collage prep series.  I have made a collage before, but always just sticking pictures together with no real purpose.  I read about using  a small sketchbook to do a collage a day.  The idea is that if frees you to explore.  This is a 6X6 sketchbook I bought at Arrowmont.  I like the size.  Not too much pressure.  I used some pearlescent watercolors, a greeting card, a magazine photo and a stamp.  I like the subtleness and the purple.

My Brain

My Brain

This is #2, My Brain.  This really is my brain.  I used pastels, washi tapes, the phone book, music paper scrap and a drawing of a brain.  Yes, the pink thing.  Then I wrote in some of my worries.

The “Everyday” thing doesn’t work for me, but that is okay.  I do like using a quote as a starting point.  I also have a collection of words snipped from magazines that could serve as a theme.  Anything to keep me focused.

hunger games pin

I’m doing a 30 day free trial of Amazon Prime.  Free shipping and free videos of movies and TV for $80 a year.  There is also a free book rental each month if you have a Kindle.  I watched The Hunger Games last night.  It reminded me again of how much fun it would be to teach that trilogy.  Then I reminded myself that students do not always see in literature what the teacher thinks they will.  Once, when I taught To Kill a Mockingbird to Juniors, I discovered that the dominant theme to many of them was Child Abuse, not Racism.  I think that shows how the world has changed.  It certainly supports the notion that responses to literature should be essays, not multiple choice questions.

Knee still wonky.  Don’t want to talk about it.

More later–

Citrasolv and National Geographic Mania

The Miracle Art Product which will also clean your tires.

The Miracle Art Product which will also clean your tires.

Do you make cards or scrapbook? Do you do collage or art journaling?  Do you wrap packages or just like making a mess that surprises?  If yes to any of these, you need to know about Citrasolv.  Citrasolv is a solvent that will dissolve certain inks and make wonderfully subtle patterns out of magazine pictures, not just any magazine, but a National Geographic magazine is what you really want to use.  Not even a new one, but the older style.  They have changed the clay based paper ones for a cheaper printing cost.

Well, I didn’t have A National Geographic magazine, or at least, I couldn’t find the one that my son-in-law had given me, so I just grabbed what was around.  I used some calendars, magazine covers,
some slick dark magazine ads, even some of that day’s junk mail.

A freebie calendar from a favorite yarn shop.

A freebie calendar from a favorite yarn shop.

First, I used Citrasolv on a few pages and I tested it right away. See the fingerpainting on this particular calendar print.  Once I saw that it would dissolve this ink, I began to play. I just put it on everything I had and waited to see what would happen.

The three-finger painting technique

The three-finger painting technique

I wasn’t sure anything was happening so I used my fingers to smear around on this W Magazine.  I thought it looked like really cool finger paint.

Note: My manicurist always says to wear rubber gloves when you paint like this. I didn’t. Had to scrub hands for a long time. Suggestion: wear gloves.

Pour then stack--or close magazine.

Pour then stack–or close magazine.

Second, after smearing the Citrasolv over the various papers, I stacked them and smushed them, and rubbed them around a bit.  If the ink wasn’t dissolving, I just trashed the page.  (The orange smell was nice.)

Smush and Pull

Smush and Pull

Then, even better, I peeled them apart and got these fabulous effects as seen above.

Purple marble page

Purple marble page

Finally, I saw that I had some neat blends and effects, sort of like marbleized paper, only easier to make.  Hmmmm, I can use these in bookmaking.

Old Vogue Patterns cover drying on the porch.

Old Vogue Patterns cover drying on the porch.

Anyway, I took the papers out on my porch to dry overnight.  Once dry they are ready to use.

ESPN magazine cover

ESPN magazine cover

I am going to explore what will write and paint on them.  I do know that alcohol inks work well, and many scrapbookers use those.  They also do well as a collage base.  I would even use the purple one for the front of a card without doing anything else to it.

Text page

Text page

Can you still see the model underneath it all?

another mag ad

Now, grab a friend or relative and try this.  The only hard thing is to find the Citrasolv Concentrate.  I looked and looked in cleaner sections, even the auto parts store.  I could find the spray, but knew I needed the Concentrate.  Finally, I ordered it from Amazon.com.

Next day I walked into Binders and it was sitting on a shelf.  Try your local art supply store.

Dang, this always happens.  So it stands to reason if I buy an old National Geographic, the one I have will show up.  Well, that’s a story for another day.

Great reference video is here.  Cathy Taylor does a great job. There are 5 parts to this series to show you other ways to play with this.

More later–

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