Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Empty Baskets

Two and a half years in the making and now it is finished. When my second and last dog Jasper passed away nearly three years ago, I was devastated. Anyone who has lost a pet can understand the huge emptiness that I was feeling. Although I could not find the words to express the loss, I remember taking a picture of his empty toy basket. That visual echoed the words that I could not find.

As I do, I tried to heal myself with art. It was working....but it wasn't. Struggling with the piece, I wanted so badly to express what I was feeling through stitch but nothing seemed to work. I put it aside for quite some time. Last year I kept busy with my 52 Collage Project and the basket piece sat...waiting. Recently I came back to it. I really just felt the need to finish it, to put it behind me and to move on. Even though I am still not completely satisfied with it, I was having a hard time starting anything new until that piece was complete.

The basket is once again filled with toys. Rather than chew toys and bones, it has been replaced by little balls with bells and catnip mice. Although the basket is not as full as it once was, I find comfort whenever I see one of our new furry family members fish out a toy from the basket that once held Jasper's prized stuffed animals.

Tuesday, February 6, 2018

Reflections on 52

A month behind me, I feel like I have had some distance and can now reflect a little on my 52 Collage Journal Project. While writing my 2018 goals, I found some old notes and goals that I wrote before beginning on the 52 for 2017.

"purpose: have a goal, strengthen composition skills, strengthen confidence in decision making, create a cohesive body of work, show all 52 in 2018"

There were several keys to making a project like this work. The first was accountability. If you have a goal, declare it loud and clear! I wrote about it in my blog and made a habit of regularly posting it on Instagram with pictures from each week. As people began to take notice, my accountability grew. During more difficult weeks, I kept going...there was no way I wanted to let myself down and with people watching and expecting a piece a week (or at least in my own mind they were), I had to pull through.  Another major factor was forcing myself to go into the studio even when I was tired or uninspired. I found that just being in there surrounded by fabrics and papers eventually led to a shot of inspiration.

So did I achieve my purpose? Midway through the project, I was getting much more efficient in my pieces.  There were some that were more labor intensive but the general idea and overall plan came together more quickly.  In the past I would agonize over every little decision which would ultimately cause a paralyzed creativity block.  Now there was no time for that.  I learned to follow my gut and just do it.  I began to trust that once I made a decision, I could choose my next move based on the result rather than double or triple think each move. I grew confident in my compositions and my decision making. My final goal was to show all 52 in 2018. Currently I have three shows lined up! Writing out your goals, declaring them out loud, and doing the work leads to positive outcomes.

When the 52 came to a close, I gave a lot of thought to a new project for 2018 but decided to give myself the year to dive in and explore the lessons learned from the 52. There were subjects and areas that I touched on that I want to go back to and work through on a large scale. Since each piece was worked in only one week, there were times when I felt like I wanted to do more with a technique or carry through on an idea but there was not enough time.

The ultimate lesson learned was the importance of practice. I know that I am a better artist after this year. I know that if you put in the time and effort of doing something nearly daily, you will get better. It's a freeing concept really...this can apply to anything. There is nothing you can not do.

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

Weeks 49-52 of the 52 Collage Journal

Well, here we are.... One year ago I was just beginning my journey.  Today finishes the circle and the project is complete. 52 pieces in 52 weeks.  In the near future I will reflect on all that I learned from all of this but for now, I am just happy that I completed my goal!  Here are the final four...

49/52 "Ties that Bind"
...the path...roots...stuck...

50/52 "Messenger"
...never forget...spirit animal...create...

51/52 "Home" plate...

52/52 "End/Begin"
every ending is a new beginning.

Sunday, December 10, 2017

Weeks 45-48 of the 52 Collage Journal

Only one more set of 4 to go before I hit my goal! I can't believe the year has gone by so quickly.  When I started I was afraid I would not be able to complete it.  Almost every week I have that same fear creep up.  But one thing about me is that I am a woman of my word.  I try to be truthful and authentic in everything I do. I think things over before I make a commitment because if I say I am going to do it, I do. This is why, I have thought long and hard about 2018. Even though I will have reached my goal, I feel somewhat like I am giving up by not continuing with a new 52.  However, I also know that I learned so much from doing this weekly practice and it is time to move on. It is time to take the skills I have learned and apply them. I will be sad to post the final #52 but I am also feeling the excitement of new adventures!

45/52 "Connections" 
...full heart...enriched...grateful...connections...friends...women artists...respect...

46/52 "fragile"

47/52 "Quiet"
...organized chaos...back to nature...the search...

48/52  "Mend"

Thursday, November 9, 2017

Weeks 41-44 of the 52 Collage Journal

This week I ran a little late on my collage.  It is getting harder to get done on time.  I am not sure if it's the fact that I am in my busy work season or if it is because I am feeling more confident in my ability to create my collage more quickly due to more decisiveness. Another factor that has been affecting my collage productivity is my new found love of knitting. My friend Laura taught me how to knit this year and it has been sometimes pulling me away from my stitched collage work. In the end, I believe all creative endeavors benefit one another.  It all works together and each new skill opens up ideas that can cross over various art mediums.
 41/52 "Autumn"

42/52 "Expectations"
...horizon...reproduction...daily responsibility...feminism...choice...

43/52 "Unfolding" in the contrast...

44/52 "Unwritten"
...the stories we tell...the ones we don't...choice...

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Weeks 37-40 of the 52 Collage Journal

As I get closer to the finish line and into my busy season as well, I am finding my life filled with obligations, distractions and time crunches.  It is getting harder and harder to find the time to do the collages.  Interestingly, I believe that some of my most effective pieces have not been the ones that have taken the most time.  It has me thinking about something Elizabeth Gilbert discussed in her Ted Talk, "Your Elusive Creative Genius". According to ancient Greek beliefs, genius is something you have rather than something you are.  It is described as something like a spirit who comes out to visit and it is up to the individual to grab onto it and run with it. I can only imagine the Greek were describing 'flow'. It is in those instances where a collage comes about so easily and all time stands still. In this set of 4 pieces, 3 out of the 4 came about easily. The one consisted of struggle.  In the past, a struggle would happen more often than not. This is another positive result of a weekly or daily art practice; just being there to receive the gift from the spirit.

37/52 "Highway"

38/32  "How I Go To The Woods"  ...mary oliver...asheville...road trip...magical mountains...

39/52 ...worn...ecodye...changing seasons...

40/52 "never mind."  ...fade...

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Weeks 33-36 of the 52 Collage Journal

One thing that you learn by giving yourself a regular art practice is more confidence.  I have learned that with each week comes an idea, the start of the projectand then the fear of the piece not working out.  In the past, I let that fear sit with me.  Sometimes it sat with me a week, more often it sat with me a month or longer before I was able to jump back in and begin.  With a weekly challenge, I do not have that luxury. I have to push through and make decisions. I have to try something and make it work.  It has led me to feel a sense of comfort that I can make it work. Sometimes the result is more successful than others but in the end, the challenge was met and usually I am happy with the end piece. Below are the results from weeks 33-36.

33/52 "Inside Out"...the world is...

34/52 "Messenger" 

35/52...changing directions...retreat vs nest...

36/52 "Saudade" ...lovely bones...beautiful melancholy