Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Lynne Whipple Workshop

I was fortunate enough recently to take a workshop conducted by nationally known mixed media artist Lynne Whipple.  Lynne and her husband (an outstanding artist in his own right) held a collage workshop in downtown Ann Arbor last week hosted by Found (a wonderful little shop in Kerrytown which specializes in art and found objects just waiting to be turned into art). 

My art journey in recent years began with collage and eventually evolved into assemblage.  I signed up for the workshop in an attempt to return to my roots.  I wanted to revisit the techniques I had used in early journals and collage efforts.  This is a particularly turbulent time in my life as my son is shortly getting married and I have been hip deep in launching my art business.  I thought that a lovely collage course taught on a sunny Saturday afternoon in one of my favorite cities would be soothing for my stressed soul, a balm to my raw emotions sorta speak.......

Well, I couldn't have been more wrong.  Ms. Whipple's techniques along with the persistence of her talented husband had me so on edge by noon, that I nearly use the lunch break to jump in my car and go home!  

The problem? The techniques being taught to me were so far out of my comfort zone, that I became increasingly agitated.  I had a beautiful collage assembled on canvas.  It was well composed, interesting, and whimsical.  In short, it was exactly like many other pieces I have made over the years.  Once I had completed it, the peace and calm I had achieved while pulling it together was instantly shattered.  John Whipple came to my table and instructed me to edit my collage by painting over most of it with white paint!  What? Cover my collage?? He then took particular interest in me as he sensed my reluctance to "let go" of the tried and true.  Each time I tried something new at his insistence, he would come over and challenge me to do something else.  A soothing balm? not even close!  But, a wonderful, frightening, agitating, exhilarating experience? Absolutely!  Thank you Lynne and John!

Monday, July 11, 2011

Rust Belt Market................

Well, I had my first market showing this weekend.  I was so nervous!  It's been a year since I decided to retire from teaching and embark upon an art career.  The year was fraught with ups and downs, including financial adjustments, empty nest syndrome, a house fire, and a total remodel.  Two studios later, I was finally able to spend two solid months creating and finding my creative voice.  Though I've received positive feedback from family, friends, gallery exhibits, and my contemporaries at Loving Mixed Media,  this past weekend was my first public exposure to all I've done. 

The most rewarding part of the whole experience, was the feedback I received from the artisans working the same market.  It was so rewarding to meet other artists who understood me and appreciated my work.  They were encouraging and supportive.  In addition to that, they bought lots of my stuff!  I would say that the public opinion was overwhelmingly positive as well.  I did receive four comments that I took the time to write down because I found them amusing:
  • "Oh wow! This stuff is soooo creepy.....but in a sweet way!"
  • "Ooooh, this is totally morbid......but cool ...I guess"
  • "This all reminds me of Tim Burton and Beetlejuice!"
  • "Oh wow!  I'm really creeped out here"
These four comments were definitely in  the minority, so I didn't take offense.  At the end of the second day, a gentleman came and spent a great deal of time looking at everything I had done and then he very quietly came over to me and said, "I really like all of the decisions you've made" and then he walked away!  I thanked him and said that was the nicest thing anyone had ever said to me!  I know he was referring to my art, but it almost felt like a very cosmic affirmation of the decision I had made to pursue art at this point in my life.  It was very cool................

The above piece was sold at the market to a woman celebrating her tenth year free of breast cancer.  She loved the sense of Hope in my piece, what an extraordinary compliment!

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

In the garden...........

One of my favorite things about this medium (assemblage) is the journey.  I love walking around my garage, my garden, or my art room looking at all of the bits and pieces that I (along with my family and friends) have collected with an eye towards putting them to use in a future project. On days when I am very lucky, something will jump out at me (though I may have passed it many times before without a similar reaction) and I will know exactly what to do with it.

I have often heard people refer to their "muse".  I'm not sure what that means, but I will say that something definitely comes over me when I look at a piece of discarded metal or a block of wood and realize that it is the "perfect" fit for the piece I am working on at the time.  Is that what a "muse" is?  

My brother recently told me that he can't figure out how I come up with my ideas.  He loves my work but having come from the same gene pool is at a loss as to where I get my inspiration from. I can only pray that it continues to guide me as I love what I do and would be bereft if the "muse" ever left for good.  The above piece, "In the Garden" is assembled with broken garden fixtures, vintage door handles, exotic wood, flea market doll head, old faucet handles, and found wire.
PS  I will be showing my work at the Rust Belt Market in Ferndale this weekend!