Wishing you and yours a wonderful day.
A fun site to visit....in case you missed my post from a few years ago: SCRIBBLER
What an honor to be invited to participate as a Guest Artist for The Documented Life Project. These girls have been inspiring artists for almost two years with their wonderful art and generous weekly challenge site. When Roben-Marie sent my assignment back in January I was thrilled. Stamps, Stencils & Masks are right up my alley. Not only do I love using retail products, but I also love to custom make all of these tools for making art. I have tutorials on both Stamp Carving and Stencil Cutting if the process is new to you or you want a refresher.
A few words about process....I love to work spontaneously, with no plan, no agenda. But I also love thinking about a project in specific detail, especially if I have an assignment. I make notes and some sketches, and try to discern what I want to express, or more importantly, what is channeling into my thoughts after being prompted with a subject. I love being immersed in the pre-project-thought-process as you give consideration to all the ways your ideas could be manifested. Here are my notes from January:
Last week I revisited the prompts, handcarved stamp and tapestry, and still found myself focused on a mental visual of the things I jotted down earlier in the year. Tapestry > foliage > trees > leaves > Autumn.
This is what I imagine when I think Tapestry. Woven, worn, rich. Lots of color, but a subtle range.
A word that kept repeating itself in my notes - Autumn. A strong influence - we are in full Fall colors here.... although most leaves are now on the ground. I am drawn in by the vibrant colors....especially the reds. I have a favorite quote that I think I will include. We'll see.
So how to interpret this through my own filters, with my own style? Make a few color selections and build a palette, then draw a few things that could be transferred to soft block and carved. Then start painting and see what happens.
The tree I carved is 4" with alot of intricate details so there may be an issue getting a good imprint on a page that has already been layered with gesso and acrylic. Going into this I knew that I wouldn't attempt to stamp the entire tree directly on the page. Through an experience of working on a project with a large (12" x 12") carving, I stumbled upon a trick that I like to rely on when applying an image to a page. Pre-paint loose paper (I used gessoed tissue paper) then stamp with black paint onto several sheets (paint on paint is better than ink on paint). Cut up all the "good" portions and splice together to recreate the image. It's like a paper quilt and makes the composition more interesting. Here is the piece where I learned my lesson of layering, 12" square framed collage painting made from a carved stamp:
My plan was to be tapestry-like but I ended up more quilt-like. This is a good example of how you can take inspiration from a prompt and have some loose intentions, then let the piece begin to work itself out while you are in-process.
I really admire these girls for launching their challenge site in 2014, then beginning again with weekly prompts for 2015. Having hosted my own monthly challenge site for six years I know how much work it is AND I know how much it means to get feedback. It's validating and encouraging. So be sure to chime in when you visit their site and offer your kind words.
Again, here is the link to The Documented Life Project: Art to the 5th Stop by and see what magic the hostesses have conjured up for this week's prompt.
For those who have served and for those who are serving, thank you.
Last year's display of poppies in England is worth revisiting. The English still honor vets with poppies. I was saying last year that I rarely see them here.
The first photo is from 2012 - we were in the UK just before 11/11 and poppies were everywhere. The next grouping chronicles the amazing ceramic poppies (888,246) that were installed at the Tower of London.
Hey there. Just surfacing from my studio overhaul to talk about my next class. I'm really excited to be teaching at Pratt School of Continuing and Professional Studies in Manhattan this fall. It's such a cool place, and the studios are amazing. How cool would be to say you took a class at Pratt?
So first up is ROLL WITH IT, SUNDAY, OCTOBER 4TH. I started teaching this one over ten years ago and it is still one of my favorites. It has evolved over the years to include new tricks. First debuting at Artfest 2004, then Artwerx, Valley Ridge, The Ink Pad, CREATE,...it's definitely a crowd pleaser. If you want a fun day of learning lots of painting tricks, or you want to refresh your view of using paint, come roll with me! (Scroll down for some evidence of past workshops).
ROLL WITH IT workshop, is fast moving class where I demo a technique and then you try it. In my own experiments with creating texture I have found the magic properties of gesso. Gesso affords movement, lifting, resisting, but most of all it allows forgiveness. We will learn why it's an important foundation. For example, on a section of roll, we will try a two-step painting process. Next, we’ll reverse the process with step two first, followed by step one. This will allow us to learn from our observations. There is no right or wrong way to lay paint, but hopefully these exercises will inform your future work. We will scrape, stencil, resist, stamp, and so much more. The swift pace will leave the inner critique out of the process as it's all about doing the work. The completed length will then be assembled as a journal. As you fold the page you end up with serendipitous compositions that you never would have planned as the techniques segue from one to another.
FORMAT: I will demo a technique then you will try it on your paper. Then I demo again, and you try it. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat. We will be moving fast so we can complete many different things. It’s important to let go of your concern for perfect composition since this is not the focus of the class. There are no rules here, except to move swiftly so we can plow through the assignments, leaving time toward the end of class for the finishing touch of creating a book from our roll. It always amazes me, with each time I teach this class, how different each journal can look even though we all followed the same directions. Each artist has a different hand and an unique way of interpreting the exercises with their own color palette.
ORIGIN: When I was in college, one of my drawing classes began each morning with an exercise in gesture drawing of the nude models. The models made quick, thirty second poses, which we scribbled onto a roll of paper. After about five minutes(ten gesture drawings), we rolled the paper back up and continued with the day’s assignment. At the end of the course, we posted our rolls of paper onto a display wall, and it was amazing to chart our growth as sketch artists, across the length of the roll. Remembering the impact of this exercise, I began imagining how cool it would be to compose something similar with paint, for a short amount of time everyday, on a roll of paper. I could experiment randomly on the roll, and also use it to catch evidence of work-in-progress on my studio table (cleaning off my brush, clippings of collage, etc).....then, the completed roll could be manipulated into a book, a foundation for journaling. I ended up finishing about 30 feet of painted roll and got excited to see what it would look like as a journal so I stopped and figured out how to fold the length into a book - and a class was born!
Hope you'll join me!
I've updated my Workshop page with details about my classes at Pratt this Fall. I'm so excited about this new venue! You can see the entire catalog HERE. To find my classes, type in Michelle Ward in the search box. Registration begins 7/27. To enroll, click HERE and insert course code number.
I shared this quote a long time ago and it's how I still feel about teaching. Being in class with other curious creative individuals who want to expand their visual vocabulary and experience is so rewarding - we all learn something from each other because we all have unique ways of interpreting the assignments. As Jefferson wisely speaks about light spreading rather than diminishing, so too do ideas multiply when we learn something in an enthusiastic, safe and nurturing group environment.
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.
I'm going down a path....not sure where it's leading. I have a few ideas and a few projects underway. I love being in this place - where you can feel so much potential and you are channeling and reigning in all the directions you could take with this concept. One thing leads to another....here's one of the starting places: overhead views of farmland, specifically the markings made by central pivot irrigation systems. I had seen scenery like this out the airplane window, but never caught on film so I captured the views below from Google Maps. Fascinating, don't you think?
I will tell you more in the next post.
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?
Twenty-five years ago today, on a very frigid Friday evening in St. Paul, Graham and I were married in front of friends and family. While it doesn't seem like yesterday, it certainly doesn't feel like twenty-five years. We have built a happy life together. We have three great kids, we have lived in four cities in four states, have had six addresses, and archived a lot of traveling miles, good memories, and are ready for more . Our first wedding dance was a Bon Jovi song, and our secret private vows included the same lyrics, "I'll be there for you". Serendipity....that track is from the album "New Jersey", where we now live. 25 years ago we never would have believed that NJ would become our home.
Silver anniversary! I married a good one. Graham is my best friend, a wonderful man, partner, and father. I always say I'm a lucky girl, and he continues to make me feel that way. I know he doesn't like to be featured on the blog, but I can't pass up celebrating US today. Love you.
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.
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!
Look at those happy faces! Imagine what it felt like to finally see your dream realized. Beginning in 1979, the couple began the proposal process to the city of New York. Several administrations later, Mayor Michael Bloomberg gave the approval, and The Gates were installed in February 2005.
There is a terrific documentary that chronicles the journey. First aired on HBO, it is available on dvd through Amazon, and can be streamed with Amazon Prime, or on Hulu.com. More information can be found on Maysles Films.
Preview, showing some footage of Christo before he was gray:
Ten years ago today would have been a Sunday. All the newspapers came out, reporting on the unfurling event. HEADLINES! Art on the front pages!
I was so happy to see that the anniversary got covered yesterday. See The Daily News revisit HERE. I was kinda hoping Google Doodle would have celebrated it. I'll continue tossing the confetti over here.
Did you experience The Gates?
Today, February 12, is the 10th anniversary of the unfurling of The Gates - Central Park, New York City.
An epic undertaking by visionary installation artists Christo and Jeanne-Claude. In 2005, 2/12 was a Saturday, and the news, both local and national, covered the story of this significant event. The following morning every local newspaper had ART on the front page. Saffron glory.
The Gates remained in the city until February 27. Beginning today, I will be celebrating with 16 days of blog posts. It's my way of saying It Mattered. Come along with me.
I can't show you the cards I made this year since they are in transit. If you haven't gotten started on yours, you don't have much time. I think Valentine's Day is the perfect time to make it your own. In fact, (you've probably already heard me say this) when Fallon was born I had a stamp made - looking ahead to elementary school trades. "Won't you be my Fallontine?" While the cartoon and Disney princess boxed cards were tempting over the years, it was fun making and embellishing our own.
Here are some past heart projects. Maybe you'll be inspired to fire up the craft table to make some cards and/or gifts, with love.
Tomorrow....something orange saffron.
I rarely do orange. Here are some pages from 2005, where I was under the influence of orange. And again, a spread from 2012 where I had to journal about some new-to-me Cara Cara oranges. I don't even have orange paint - had to mix to two of my faves to get there. Coming soon - a blog series that will focus on that hue that is found between red and yellow.
I just received the lastest Somerset Studio! Inside you'll find a collaborative article by me and my friend Lynne Perrella. It's the third year of working in tandem, exploring a theme with our individual interpretations. It's also a sneak peek behind the scenes for some of the material we will cover during our workshop in May. For the pieces you'll see in the January/February issue we focused on the ever classic phrenology head diagram. The workshop will encompass much more - but we can't give it all away in an article ;)
I had a blast reinventing the image, and altering into a movable-parts object...think of the things you could have swirling behind within the mind!
When we were brainstorming about plans for the upcoming workshop, we easily reigned in the ideas about a concept but were struggling with a title. Lynne proposed that we consider incorporating two phrenology heads as graphic elements for the announcement. It was a perfect suggestion since we have a running dialogue each December about a pair of ceramic phren heads that appear together each year in the Bergdorf Goodman holiday windows in New York City. The talented designers adorn the twins in a festive manner and place them in the elaborately decorated vignettes. Every year it’s a hunt to find them among the countless extraordinary visual delights behind the glass. Lynne had another epiphany: to borrow the name Curiouser & Curiouser* for the three-day class - an ideal choice to accompany the double-head logo we devised, for a workshop offered by two teachers who love to encourage curiosity, especially when it comes to creativity. Here are some of the appearances in past years:
*Curiouser & Curiouser was the theme of the 2009 BG Windows, inspired by the works of Lewis Carroll, author of Alice in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass. Our workshop will not be related to Alice, we will certainly be advocating for all participants to adopt her sense of adventure.
We hope you'll join us in May! Three whole days with two teachers in an amazing studio space at a lovely location with other eager and enthusiastic artists! For details visit Workshops here, or on Lynne's site www.LKPerrella.com