When testing out some ideas I will often make some quick collages with remnants from my studio table. I showed you some grid studies using paper punches and security envelopes (HERE), and with the leftovers I went organic, cutting free-form shapes....again, land shows its influence.
These posts are a little out of order as I showed you my white on black drawings since the article is out - those were actually done after the security envelope collages.
(This time I made sure my signature was embedded over the image. Last time it was marked just over the photo and someone cut it off before posting to tumblr. While it's nice to be noticed, it's not so nice to have your graphic altered and name removed. The image was then pinned to pinterest without my signature and it's off and running with links back to the tumblr post, not me. It's a good lesson to always mark your work so as the originator, you are findable.)
I will be getting back to my ongoing posts on The Evolution of an Idea. This week I have a few deadlines - both concrete and self-imposed so I'm tending to business. One thing I wanted to share - very exciting news...I will be teaching five workshops this fall in the big apple. I can't begin to describe the thrill of being invited to teach at Pratt Institute's Center for Continuing and Professional Studies this fall. Thank you to my friend Karen for facilitating this connection. Below is an infographic with the dates. I will be uploading the class descriptions and photos to my Workshop page soon - they selected some of my faves plus a new one, Sticks & Stones, inspired by the current mindset I'm in. Pratt's fall catalog is in the works and as soon as I have details for registration I will post here.
There has already been some interest since I posted this on my workshop page a week or two ago. I'm collecting email addresses from anyone that wants updates on registration. If you want to be added to the list send me a note or comment below.
There are some mixed media courses available at Pratt this summer! Take a class with my friends Nathalie Kalbach (July 12, July 19) or Seth Apter (July 18-19) or both! See the Pratt CCPS summer catalog HERE. It is a fabulous venue and the classrooms are superb.
Hope to see you this fall!!
I had so much fun using the white pen (Uniball Signo UM-153) on black that I wanted to keep going. Like, I wanted it to go on and on. So it made sense to move on from flat panels to an accordion. I could loosely plan an overall concept for the evolution of the design, but then work page by page. To me, the format meant it should read well as a whole when unfolded, and that was exciting to me...each portion or panel segueing forward.
What prompted an accordion? Back in April 2014 I shared how I had an epiphany and turned my favorite Escher poster(s) into a folded book. See HERE. Since I did not have a place to hang the four long horizontal posters, they sat gathering dust (for several years) and were in danger of getting damaged or worse, discarded. Now I can hold his masterpiece in my hands and page through blissfully. Escher definitely influenced my desire to work in a connected series of drawings and patterns. I love his panoramic morphing and transitioning of imagery. Genius.
Being in a mindset of two camps, linear and organic, I took two different paths - starting one with a grid, and one totally free-form. You can read about these projects in the July/August Somerset Studio. My copy arrived Friday so if you subscribe yours will arrive any day. If you don't, the magazine should be on the shelves of your favorite supplier very soon. The theme for this issue is Black and White, and it is fabulous!!
I'm not done yet....more to come.
After doing some idea sketches I will pause where I am to test out some options. For instance, I showed you some drawings (here), which I combined through layers in photoshop with a background painting. A few manipulations (layer option: screen) as part of the investigation to determine if I should introduce color are shown below. Turns out I really liked trying one of my simple sketches on black paper with white pen. So I took that information and ran with it.
Results of that part of the process will be next.
I am both architect + artist. So often I cling to the linear approach. I crave order. But I am also drawn to the organic. Using my manipulatives (here), like the sand garden with a rake, has been a motivator to veer off the grid. In an effort to try to be looser, I fed myself with additional aerial visuals. I can't stop visiting Google maps for a bird's eye view of land. I have always loved looking at cities this way, but now I'm obsessed with investigating natural forms. I showed you my collections of images where the central pivot irrigation systems were rampant (here), now check these out....meandering, terraced, winding...ooh! This time we are hovering over Wisconsin.
As the ideas evolve, I'm branching out in several areas of study. More to follow. Thanks for coming along.
Can't stop. Kind of cheating with pattern-making, no pens required. No carving or ink pads. Studying how the simple shapes of a circle and a square interact and behave when they aren't a solid color. Security envelopes, which I can never discard, are an easy material to manipulate. Thin enough to punch out then attach with a gluestick.
Very therapeutic, especially when paired with my zen music. Relaxing. Enjoyable. Addictive. Always lessons in composition as you consider the markings, the color, direction, shape, balance of dark/light and positive/negative. I'm off to complete a few more spreads. I bet you'll be looking at your incoming bills differently now :)
This is still part of my Evolution of an Idea series - illustrating how curiosity about certain concepts can take you in unexpected directions. The work we do in our journals can be just plain fun, or purposely expressive, or may inform future work.
p.s. for those of you who are going to call me out or tease me for using blue, couldn't be helped...it's how the envelopes arrived. I almost took artistic license and photoshopped to teal.
Last time I showed you some of my research and sketches....the intention was to start painting, to see where the fresh perspective and forming ideas would take me. However, I couldn't find solid blocks of time to paint so I spent little blocks of time carving more stamps. Test prints go into my journal.
On an evening walk I came upon the decaying leaf. I can't even see anything up close anymore without glasses so I love that I can zoom in with my camera for a magnified view. The skeleton veins look like maps, don't you think? The thicker ones could be rivers...the smaller ones might be divisions of farmland?
I'm curious to know more about shapes and details and I want to feed my need for more visuals. I turn to books. I go down a deep rabbit hole when I find the WoodenBooks.com site. Lovely little books, beautifully presented, and packed with fabulous images. BTW, they are not made of wood. The site gives thorough previews - you'll want them all. Let me recommend their "epic bind-ups", Sciencia, Quadrivium, and Designa - more than 400 pages per book! The other titles are much smaller - 64 pages each.
Along the way I got interested in Andy Goldsworthy. Ordered a few books and a dvd. This man is amazing. Poke around online and look at his installations if you aren't familiar with his work. Love his rock formations. Hope to go visit Storm King this summer! I had told Lynne about my interest in his work and she sent a photo she took of his cairn/cone she got to see! Into the journal it went.
more to come....evolution of an idea....thoughts behind the process....
As I said earlier, the new sounds prompted a shift - in my imagination, and in my drive to create visuals that were prompted by what I was hearing. I began collecting what I call "manipulatives". Remember using those in grade school? Colored rods of varying lengths, foam die-cuts of geometric shapes, and even building blocks - meant to reinforce mathematical concepts.
So here are some manipulatives for grown-ups....organic and natural materials that will support my visions, assist me in creating compositions, and inform and inspire the new direction for my artmaking. I even set up a little zen sanctuary at the entrance to my studio. Love clanging the chimes as a ritual on my way in to play.
Next: the process of evolving ideas continue
I think the universe knows when we are ready for a shift. An opportunity presents itself and we can either pay attention, or shrug it off and carry on. What is it that makes us engage and embrace? Timing perhaps. Being open minded. Recognizing a connection, whether defined or abstract. Our willingness to dive into new territory can be driven by many different forces, interior or exterior or both. Why do we impulsively get distracted by a new concept when we already have enough commitments and responsibilities and unfinished work? The universe knows.
So we are still back in September 2014 and I’m teaching Frond Chronicles for the San Diego Book Arts group. Pnina Gold, a wonderful artist and warm soul, hosted the workshop in her studio. She gifted me with Six Healing Sounds, a cd produced by her husband, Richard. The intention of her generous gesture was that I would play it for my son Sam. I learned from his website: Dr. Richard Gold is a psychologist and a teacher, practitioner, writer, researcher, and life-long student of the Asian Healing Arts, including acupuncture, Chinese medicine, Qi Gong, T’ai Chi, shiatsu and traditional Thai bodywork. He has studied neuroscience and the evolving scientific understanding of the effects of sound and meditation on brain function. Foreign stuff to me, but fancy and fascinating.
Upon my return home I played the cd. Immediately I had a connection to the sounds. Peaceful. Relaxing. Piled on my nightstand there are collections of zen category discs – falling rain, gentle ocean waves, whale calls…. Each work their magic and lull me into restful sleep. However, Six Healing Sounds was even better. I listen to it every night, and nearly every morning. It makes me feel centered, balanced, deliberate, focused. You can hear a sampling here: MettaMindfulnessMusic.com
From the liner notes (Six Healing Sounds), ways to use this music: Enhancement of mental focus and openness to artistic inspiration while immersed in the creative process of writing, creating visual art, dancing, writing poetry, etc. They were talking to me!
The music had a profound impact on me. I didn't feel a gradual shift of influence; it was drastic. I postponed all plans and projects that were on my desk or still developing in my mind, and blasted head on into unfamiliar territory. I yearned to explore and discover more about the impressions that were forming in my imagination simply because I was listening to new sounds. I’ve always had that sensory connection between sound and visuals. I welcomed the bombardment of ideas that were channeling in, and was curious to know how this direction would manifest in my art.
So my crop circles and farmland got shelved for a bit....had to make room for the introduction of another new perspective, a shift in awareness. Lots of things will eventually collide and overlap as the Evolution of an Idea continues to unfold. More on that soon.
In the meantime, go have a listen to Six Healing Sounds and see if it resonates with you as deeply as it did with me.
With some of my handcarved stamps, I tested them for map-making.
Let's rewind a bit....to September 2014, when my awareness of earth shapes was heightened and kinda became an obsession. I was flying across the country and spied the round markings of land outside my window. I had been impressed on previous trips to the midwest - views of divided farm land and the occasional interruption by organic terrain, but I'd never seen such extensive patterning like I did on the way from New Jersey to San Diego, most specifically on the approach to a layover in Phoenix. The polka dots of green went on for miles, then suddenly ended at the edge of rock formations that grew and grew....likely part of the formation that would become the Grand Canyon further north. I pulled out the sketchbook and recorded some notes on my impressions, then started drawing. I got distracted by some other thoughts that channeled in....here are the pages:
More thoughts on the Evolution of an Idea coming next.
The land-forms I showed you in the last post sent me spiraling off on several tangents. I'll explain the full scope in more detail later. I really love the organized plots of vegetation, especially the ones that are benefiting from the circular watering system. I also love when the orderly latitudes and longitudes are interrupted by organic terrain, like a stream or rock formation. To investigate this topic further, and to see how it might influence or appear in my work, I needed some new tools. So I carved some stamps. Working off two different sizes of a grid, I cut many blocks then began carving patterns.
Evolution of an idea, part 3 coming soon.
May is nearly here so that means the rose buds are starting to form, and the new Somerset Studio is showing up on shelves and in mailboxes. My column is about making your own songbooks, celebrating favorite lyrics to beloved tunes. I will be teaching Bohemian Rhapsody at The Ink Pad in NYC on Saturday, June 20th. To learn more see HERE, and to reserve a spot, call 212·463·9876 I'll provide the music, the lyrics, and the accordion book. Hope to see you there!
Consider making a song book as a gift - this one was made for Graham.
Don't you love that reading the lyrics makes the tune pop in your head? What song will you illustrate?
I've been working on some accordion folded songbooks. I will show more detail at a later time as they are for an upcoming article. Filled with lyrics and inspired by music, these are fun self-imposed assignments to keep practicing making art. Just as musicians need to continually pick up their instruments, artists should stay plugged in and work as often as possible. Turning up the volume in the studio gets me motivated, as does the gorgeous Spring-like weather we've enjoyed recently. This is a new color palette for me - first time buying purple paint!
Bohemian Rhapsody is a new class I will be offering with The Ink Pad in New York City on Saturday, June 20th. Visit their site for details on registration, www.TheInkPadNYC.com or call 212-463-9876. Hope you'll join me for some fun with music, paper, and paint!
As I mentioned in the last post, we visited the New York Botanical Gardens in 2006 when Dale Chihuly glass sculptures were on display. Not just a few chandeliers, MANY. Not just a few little installations of his orbs, spike, tendrils - MANY. It was extraordinary. My friend Anne and I were clicking away on the cameras, but we also took time to just admire. To just experience it. It was special to share the experience with my daughter and her friend who were 10 at the time. Both of them fancied themselves roving reporters with film. Loved seeing them dash around the grounds, trying to get the most artistic view in the frame.
I had watched many of Chihuly's videos and understood the passion he brings to the process, with enough enthusiasm to power up the teams who create on location - like Venice. That was my favorite. Could you imagine being there and seeing colorful glass balls bobbing along the canal? When you reflect on what he does - creating all those pieces, wrapping and shipping, unwrapping and assembling on location.....it makes you even more in awe that someone would go to those lengths to share beauty. A visionary.
Last summer on our road trip we stayed in an Indianapolis hotel with a lobby jewel. Fallon and I gasped because we knew who made it. Lovely.
If you are in Florida, near Coral Gables.....you have plenty of time to make plans before the end of May....
Thanks for coming along on my homage to Christo and Jeanne-Claude and the 10th anniversary of The Gates - Central Park, New York City. It was a soul-touching mind-bending joyful experience to witness in real life - one of those you-had-to-be-there events. I was glad I did - twice! How I envy those who got to see them in-progress, then visit daily. I will always be impressed and respectful of the colossal undertaking, and the courageous vision behind the saffron curtains. To walk under them was a privilege. Sixteen days was fleeting, ephemeral....wish it was a little longer. But the short-lived existence adds to the specialness, and that was their point. Sixteen days meant you had to make the effort to get there, to be part of it.
Christo is still pursuing Over The River, a temporary fabric suspension over the Arkansas River in Colorado.
There is a new book on the artists, due for release March 24. Christo and Jeanne-Claude In/Out Studio. Christo will be signing books on April 1st at 192 Books, from 7pm. (192 Tenth Ave at 21st Street, NYC)
Although The Gates was a once-in-lifetime event, there are many opportunities we can take advantage of as curious people, hungry for visual stimulation. Nine years ago we got to see a Chihuly installation at the New York Botanical Gardens. It was another example of getting to witness a grand vision by an artist. There is a Chihuly experience awaiting you at Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden in Coral Gables, Florida through May 2015. Wish I could see it! Last summer I met with friends at the Grounds for Sculpture in New Jersey. I will be going back soon to see an art installation by Jae Ko - 20,000 lbs of recycled kraft paper will be transformed into sculpture along a 80 ft. wall. I have plans to visit Storm King later this Spring - to see a monumental Andy Goldsworthy stone wall in real life. Is there something going on in your neck of the woods? Get out and see it! Whether it's an annual flower show, a new museum exhibit, or a parade, or fireworks - it's good to make a change to our routine and expand our visual cues.
Obviously art isn't about being epic, but it is really cool when we can participate as an observer, something that is really big.....so big that you can experience it dimensionally. Here's to the visionaries.
Thank you Christo and Jeanne-Claude.
The final page of my Gates journal - using up the table cover newsprint, with a parody postcard. This image made its way around the internet ten years ago and recently I found a shop selling "The Crackers" at CafePress.
p.s The Gates of NYC have never been far from my mind, particularly these last three years while our town is undergoing serious road construction....we have miles of saffron orange barricade curtains along our local roads. Here are the daily views during summer and winter.
On the final weekend of the event, I visited a second time with my friend Anne. Snow had fallen and the view was much different. The clouds hung low and the sun barely made a presence, but the park was lit with color, and still filled with pedestrians, and photographers, to catch the last impression of an epic art installation. It was very special to see with Anne, as we had been at the Met exhibit the previous summer.
I could smack myself for passing up a saffron fabric tote, being sold the summer of 2004 at the museum. I don't know what we were thinking....that perhaps they would still be available in February? They weren't. So as a consolation prize, I ordered us each one of the Met logo bags last month....with orange base. After completing my Gates journal, I have moved all my remaining souvenirs - books, postcards, the HBO documentary dvd, a subway ad, and few other things that go with my Christo collection, into the tote.
More views of the park....with snow.
They were born on the same day. Christo in Bulgaria, Jeanne-Claude in Morocco, on June 13, 1935. They met in Paris in 1958, and moved to New York in 1964. They have a son, Cyril Christo. Together, the artists proposed many temporary art installations. The Gates was their 19th to see completion.
Jeanne-Claude departed for the pearly gates on November 18, 2009.
I didn't get to see the installation but followed the progress in the news with great anticipation. I can imagine that for regular visitors, it was both a nuisance and a thrill. Kinda like getting your house ready for Christmas. All that glorious color introduced during the dismal colorless days of winter. In reading the interview above, I loved hearing that the artists chose the park because it was part of their life, in their new home town. Cool.
Another friend of mine, Seth Apter, has written his observations about The Gates to share with us here. Seth is an artist, author, designer, and workshop instructor. His website is SethApter.com, and you can find his blog at TheAlteredPage.blogspot.com, and his stencils HERE.
Hard to believe that 10 years have past since this event took place in NYC. It truly seems like just yesterday. I recall the buzz that spread throughout the city when this installation was announced. There was a call put out for volunteers to assist in the set-up. I decided not to participate given that it was in the middle of winter. That is a decision I regret now that time has passed.
As I mentioned, it took me nearly ten years to finally commit to making my Gates journal. Waiting, or procrastinating, provided the opportunity to utilize decorative washi tapes. They weren't even on my radar in 2005. I collected these knowing I would use them in the journal. An orange pencil bag, found several years ago, sat patiently in the file and was the perfect tip-in to contain some loose items I wanted to keep with the journal. For instance, a mini-book from the Central Park Conservancy.
In my journal is a fax exchange from 2005 between my friend Lynne Perrella and myself. We met the Perrellas on the steps of the Met at noon on Sunday, February 20. It was freezing cold, but super sunny, and a glorious afternoon to spend with friends, enjoying the energy filled park.
Lynne has graciously shared her experience. She's a dear friend, an artist, designer, author, columnist, and workshop instructor. You can find Lynne online at LKPerrella.com.
“After the last “no”…..is a “YES!” Or, What I Learned About Life, After Seeing The Gates
By Lynne Perrella
The Gates was an experience that offered itself to me in several waves. I expected to be wowed – and I was. On the sunny ultra-cold day that I saw The Gates, I was caught up in the pure delight of parading and processing through the various fluttering saffron-colored draperies. The best part was being able to look ahead and see that there were more, more, more, and still-more of them ahead, beckoning. All throughout Central Park, uphill and down, undulating and preening in the sun – the stunning panels of fabric welcomed people from everywhere to come and make up their own mind. I am sure the doubters came with a treasured chip on their shoulder, but I predict they went away with a smile on their face and a lilt in their step.
All of the joy and hail-fellow-well-met applause for The Gates was preceded by……angst, difficulty, uphill battles, and dark days. For decades, Christo and Jean-Claude met with NYC officials who, alas, did not “get it” about The Gates. Blank stares, ridicule, pointless meetings and presentations that resulted in……nothing. They proposed fluttering artistic panels of orange, and encountered stone walls of unwavering resistance. But, the artists held to their vision, never gave up, and eventually a remarkable thing happened. The City gradually, over many years, became READY for The Gates. Administrations had come and gone, “out with the old, in with the new”, house-cleaning, upgrading, back-sliding, financial miscues and windfalls. Instead of hanging out a big “Open For Business” sign, the City came up with an even better idea: It allowed Christo and Jean-Claude to come and do their thing.
As artists, we thrive on those moments when a great new idea erupts, and we have the luxury to move forward immediately and harvest all that is fresh and new about it. But sometimes the Universe decides that a brilliant idea must marinate, percolate, and shimmer below the surface……until the moment is right. And the artist has no choice but to tend the flame.
The back story of The Gates taught me about the duality of passion and patience – and the endless rewards of work, work, work.
Thanks Lynne! It was so much fun to experience The Gates with you and John.
For ten years I kept a file for The Gates. It included the newspapers, articles, postcards, my precious swatch, the lanyard, my own photos, and even a NY subway poster. The intention was to make a journal with large enough pages to host all the items. I procrastinated, got distracted, moved on to other things. Knowing the anniversary was approaching, I determined to make a commitment to getting it done. Ten years is along time to hold on to a bunch of stuff when it could be enjoying proper celebration in book form. A little research led me to a multi-ring portfolio binder, with black pages in protectors, that were the perfect size. Leaning on the pre-made system felt really good because I was finally moving forward, and I knew I could still make it my own by contributing to the backgrounds with paint and stencils. I had several items that fit a 8.5" x 11" page protector so I added the extra holes required to fit the binding, then tiered them in.
Is there a project you're working on where progress is hindered because you think you have to go fully custom? Get out of your own way and find a short-cut that will jump start the process. You'll always find a way to make it your own.
Back in 2004, from April to July, The Metropolitan Museum had a special Christo exhibit. My friend Anne and I attended, quite by accident, as we were there to see something else. As we walked in, we observed several rooms dedicated to The Gates proposals - hanging were dozens of large framed artworks, altered photos, and maps, portraying the artists' vision to install thousands of saffron draped archways throughout the park. The scope of the project changed over the years, as reflected in Christo's artwork. His study of the location was evident - black and white photos from many angles were altered to show how The Gates would appear.
As Anne and I went room to room, following the process, I felt my heart racing....recognizing that I might get to witness a Christo event - nearby! The last room of the exhibit had a prototype gate, complete with saffron fabric. Approval! There were cards for the taking - directing you where to apply to become part of the installation team. I wasn't able to make that kind of commitment, but knew I'd be back in just six months to see Central Park all decked out....because Christo and Jeanne-Claude had the vision, persistence, and full blown passion to see it through.
I've asked a few friends to share their impression of visiting The Gates. First up is my friend Andrew. He is an artist, designer, and teacher. He makes frequent visits to the city so I was interested to see what he thought of the event. You can find Andrew on his blog, AndrewBorloz.blogspot.com, and his stencil designs for StencilGirlProducts are HERE.
If you watched the film from yesterday, you saw several Gates docents, clad in official gray vests. They were there to answer questions, and were passing out saffron swatches. Scored one! It is a very special souvenir. I also managed to collect a lanyard from ebay. Here is the first page of my Gates Journal, completed only recently. Pages are 14" x 17". I will show more soon.
As I was trolling around on youtube to find some Gates footage, I found this one. A terrific view through the moving lens of a film maker and skateboarder. Shot and Directed by Coan Buddy Nichols and Rick Charnoski. They filmed as The Gates were being installed, (no part of the park sustained damage - no holes, just weights) then you get to ride along after the unfurling. They run into Albert Maysles (at 3:23), one of the directors of the HBO documentary, and caught footage of Christo and Jeanne-Claude (at 3:34) in Central Park (you could spot them there daily). In just under four minutes, these guys provide a real-life glimpse into the immensity of the project. Coan Nichols granted permission for me to share their short film here, courtesy of his company, SixStair.com Cool, right? Thanks Coan!