It has been a beautiful Fall here in Southern Oregon. We have moved into our beautiful home that is now attached to my studio. The studio has a new paint job and a new roof. I think I have finally gotten rid of all the construction dust.
I was wiping dust off my rollers for my demonstration during the Studio Tour a few weeks ago. Since then I have been working toward my annual sale. I am pleased to say that I will have lots of new handmade books and new originals and a few new magnets and cards too. I was a little worried because building our house and moving was all consuming. I didn’t work in my studio from May to mid October. Right now I am in full swing. It feels great.
It was not easy for me to be away from my art for so long. My art work is my soul work in the world. When I am not doing my work i definitely feel ill at ease and un-grounded. All is well now.
I will have some new work at the Art Center for this First Friday.
I am showing work at Hanson Howard Gallery and the Art Center here in Ashland, OR. You can always call for an appointment at my studio, Kester Studio or email me.
I am exhibiting my work at Snow Creek Gallery in Mt. Shasta, CA. and Roby King Galleries in Bainbridge Island, WA.
I am working with White Cloud Press to publish my book “Drawing On The Dream, finding my way by art”. It should be out next summer. I just gave them a fully text coded version, whew!, it’s hard work to get a book out in the world.
I attended a Martin Sexton concert a couple of days before the Ashland Open Studio Tour. I am a long-time fan of Martin Sexton’s music and I have seen him perform several times over the years. All of the other times I’ve seen him paled in comparison to this concert in our local Music Recital Hall. When he came on stage by himself I was struck by how happy he was to be performing in this venue. What I noticed was that he was totally present with us. He seemed to let go and sink into being right here right now, letting everything else fall away, letting all worries or concerns go, to allow himself to be a conduit for a musical creative art form radiating from his heart and soul.
He seemed so comfortable in his body. His guitar seemed to be a part of him, not a separate instrument.I was witnessing an artist in his element creating magic in the present moment. The audience was right with him, totally present and somehow a part of the creative shape shifting quality of his music. This was my experience. He was creating something new right before our eyes. I was witnessing the healing power of music from a master musician. I was very inspired and moved by the shared musical gifting, mind altering, and healing ability of Martin Sexton’s art. I felt that I was in the presence of a modern day mystic.
On occasion while making art I have had the experience of letting go of everything and stepping aside allowing something altogether new and magical to occur. The trust in myself, in my abilities, in the process of creating art, and of course the years I have invested in this practice, have honed my relationship and my connection to and with something that is at the same time bigger than me and also of me, yet it is not me. It is mysterious and true.
What I am getting at is that Martin Sexton showed me how it is done:
Be present. Be comfortable in your body and your abilities. Let go of any preconceived ideas of how it should be. Step aside of yourself. Stepping aside is the key that opens the door to the possibility of magic. The open door allows your muse to be in relationship with you, showing you that you are not in this creative act alone. Receive the gift, honor the gift, and give the gift away.
I was inspired by Martin and was able to be in alignment with myself and my processes all weekend so that I could allow lots of art work and conversations and demonstrations to happen during the studio tour. The monoprints that came through were such a gift to me. I saw the shape of the image in the ink with three random swipes of the palate knife. The people watching saw it too. It is rare to have the images show up so easily. I know a gift from the universe when I see one.
It happens to me sometimes when I am making art, or teaching, or doing demonstrations. There is no time to work out ideas. I have to be present. I have to trust and allow. I can’t be in my head. I have to be in my heart. I have to let go of control. I have to step aside and open a door and invite what will be,
She is one of those older women, you know, a “free spirit” who is always picking up strays. She helps those who are damaged in one way or another. No one knows that she is the Earth Goddess in human form walking among us doing what she can to restore wholeness and repair the broken. What if Gaea does her work through the hearts and hands of women and men-the ones who are willing to be “free spirits” and commit acts of kindness for any who are in need of a little help. What if Gaea is us walking?
monprint with acrylic paste, bees wax on wood 16 X 26 $850.00 2015
As many of you know most of my art pieces have poems or stories that go with them.
I can’t help it. The writing is part of THE process of making art for me. The
art work comes before the writing 99% of the time. The stories started way
back in my career. I believe it began with dream journaling which is a way
of dialoguing with the dream characters. I have been doing dream work since
I was a child. The writing or dialoguing has always helped me to understand
my feelings in my dreams. I would also draw dream characters and figures to
help me understand my dreams on a deeper level. This is where my business
name comes from- Drawing On The Dream. Some times while I am working on a piece of art the image will begin to
speak to me. As I work I am starting to get an idea of what this piece is
about. You see, I do believe that the art is its own self. It does not
belong to me. It has a life of its own. It has its own destiny. I am in
partnership with the art. I depend on the art to tell me what it is about.
When I am pretty sure the art work is finished I hang it up on my studio
work wall and begin to write while gazing at the art. I am the scribe
writing down what I hear. Sometimes the titles are enough. The art says what
it wants to say in the title. The rest of the time the art has a lot to say.
This can take days and even weeks to fine tune the art dialog into the
finished stories. This is not the art’s fault that it sometimes takes so
long. It is my own lack of language and writing skill. My goal is to
translate into English the depth of art language including metaphor,
symbology, sadness, and humor. I hone the stories until it feels right and
resonates in my heart and feels true.Even though I sometimes struggle with the writing to get to the finished
product is an integral part of my work in the world. These stories want
to be told.
Come to find out, I love painting.
I can’t stop. I don’t want to stop. When I come out of the studio it is hard to switch gears because I am in total “art head”. Making decisions and follow through with the art is all consuming. It is hard to leave the works in process and attend to life outside the studio.I love how the paste paint looks on the ghost prints. It is like magic. Here is a little sample of a paste paint print.
Here is one of the finished pieces that will be on display in August:
(A note of caution, my husband says I am whining. I say this is my art life and it is what I am thinking about.)
One of the things I really like about working in the Ashland Art Center is being in community with other artists. Another thing I like is meeting and talking to the visitors who come through, especially if the visitors take the time to see and experience my work. An Artist’s life usually means lots of hours spent alone in the studio. I do get plenty of time alone working in my home studio. This time is important and essential to my process. So, it is nice to visit with people who come through the Center. It is the one thing I liked about doing art fairs and the one thing I miss about doing art fairs is talking to and meeting the people who buy my work. When I am at the Art Center I work on projects like making books or drawing that I can do while people are watching and walking in and out.
This summer has been particularly slow for me with regard to visitors and sales at the Art Center. This creates all kinds of worry for me. I worry that I have saturated the market with my work. I worry that people don’t like my work anymore. I worry that people are buying on the internet and not in person. I worry that I have too much art work that hasn’t sold. The Art Center is unique in that you can look at art and you can talk to the artists who are working. You can see works in process. You can do this 10:00 to 6:00 everyday. I try to make my studio space comfortable and calm, a nice place to visit and to be. I like being off the beaten path, but there are lots of people who don’t make it all the way to Studio #1 because it is far from the front door and out of the way. People have to go through a lot of other art and mirrors to get to me. I try different things to make my space more attractive. I rearrange the furniture. I rearrange the art. I bring in new work. I have made new signs. Maybe sales are slow because it is hot outside. Who wants to be out and about when it is this hot? Thankfully it is nice and cool in the Art Center. I wonder, is it me? Is it the weather? Is it the Center? What can I do differently? Where is everybody? Is it time for a change? Last week while I was working in Studio #1 and pondering all of this I had a visitor from Washington state. We connected right away, in fact I felt a genuine kinship with her. As promised she returned with her husband and three lovely friends who I also felt a genuine and strong connection to. Her husband has just begun learning about and doing mono printing. There is nothing I like more than talking about the process and magic of mono printing. Even if they hadn’t bought several handmade books and several original works of art from me, I was happy to meet them all and now call them friends. I am grateful for their generosity of spirit in taking the time with me and my art. Thank you friends. Making connections with people who enjoy my work whether they buy from me or not restores my sense of purpose and well being and reminds me (especially during slow times) that what I am doing is important on many levels. When I go through dry spells it is amazing how quickly I can adopt the way of the worrier. I guess I need to make a connection with people. My artwork also needs to make a connection. In the past month I have asked myself “would I still make art if I never sold anything”? I say yes because it is my conversation with my self and the universe.The images and the stories they tell are gifts for me and for others who take the time to see. I do like sharing my art. And the fact is, I love art making. I love the conversation. Thank you to all of you who have supported me and my work. I am grateful for every sale no matter how small and I am grateful for everyone who has taken the time to see my art and strike up a conversation.
Lately I have been thinking a lot about doubts and how I create when I have doubts.
Having doubts is part of the process of creating. It is also part of being human.
I believe people think that I always know what to do when I am creating a piece. I don’t.
I used to say creating is about deep listening and follow through. This is still true, but there is more. Creating a work of art is like figuring out a puzzle. It is coming up with the right pieces and fitting them together in the right way so that it fits together to make a whole story. Sometimes I don’t have a clue as to what to do. The trick is to not be intimidated by not knowing.
Once I have created my monoprints and printed them on paper, there is still work to be done. I would say that most of my monoprints require more work, like drawing, painting, or collage. Sometimes they become encaustic wax pieces or they become covers for my handmade books, or they end up as parts of my Creative Clippings bags. I usually pull at least 3 monoprints from the same plate. Each one is similar yet different. Sometimes these monoprints tell different parts of the same story and sometimes they veer off into a new story altogether. I do not control or steer the art.
At first when I choose a monoprint to draw or paint on, I try to figure out how best to bring out the story or image. The big question is what to do? What is this piece about? I have no idea. So I sit with the unfinished piece waiting for inspiration or a clue. I can get very antsy and uncomfortable, and I wish I were anyplace but here with this piece of unfinished art. Sometimes this is excruciating. There is a lot of sighing on my part and I usually reach for chocolate, which helps by the way. It is a process I have gone through probably thousands of times.
But I stick with it and here is why. I override my doubts and fears of screwing it up and I begin. It doesn’t matter where on the piece I begin. It could be on the far edge of the print that isn’t critical to the piece. The important thing is to begin. Pablo Picasso said “inspiration exists, but it has to find us working“. He is correct. You can’t just sit and wait for inspiration. You have to take some kind of action even if it is just a tiny mark or step.
So, I start drawing and shading, or painting. I usually know right away if what I have done is not right and I back up and erase, or re-paint with a different color. Then there is a tipping point. I have taken enough right steps or found enough of the correct puzzle pieces that the image begins to take shape and I suddenly know exactly what to do. It is a glorious feeling to get past the doubt phase.
This is the cool part, because what happens is that my hands begin doing things before my mind has decided what to do. Athletes describe being in “the zone”, this may be similar because the feeling is luminous and timeless and worth every minute or hour of the uncomfortable doubt phase.