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Saturday, July 25, 2015

Homemade Artist Retreat—Last Thoughts

You don’t have to pay someone else to be inspired. Your artistic friends have a lot to offer and chilling with a new medium can clear out the cobwebs. And, frankly, intense quality time with a friend might be hard to maintain for weeks on end, but three days was wonderful and challenging and really engaging and well worth making time for. All you have to do is say,

20 gelli prints, 4 art journal pages, most of a little Moleskine notebook, a pendant, and a scarf. That’s quite a bounty, but luckily it packed up nice and small for the train trip home.

This is how it all began:

Lynda's fabulous journal pages about the night we began planning.
This is how it went:

Overall impressions:

Thanks for a wonderful two-way journey of art, self-examination, compassion, and good food, Lynda. You are a ray of sunshine, a smart cookie, a connoisseur, and a great friend and I am renewed, inspired, and ready to go for it, whatever “it” is! You rock!

For more, check out Lynda's blog post--just like our art, different things struck each of us.

Homemade Art Retreat--Part III

After a fairly early, fortifying breakfast of eggs the next morning (this was our last day, after all) we got to work on our biggest project. Lynda had sent me this link a couple of months ago when we first began planning and we thought we’d give Gelli stamping on scarves a try. I was out of habotai scarves so we printed on wool/silk scarves. It was soooo much fun, but took a lot longer than I’d have thought, probably in part because we were making the designs up as we went.

I decided to work sort of in the vein of the original video, but thought I’d do a floral motif. If you know me you might be surprised, but, hey, this was the time for departing from the status quo.

By supper I was worried about whether I’d finish covering the space on my scarf before bed since we had to head out first thing in the morning for me to catch the train. I was also pretty sure I’d run out of ideas, but I was pretty chuffed with what I’d done so far.

My scarf in progress.
I picked up some cool lace at Mood in NYC (and got kicked out of the store for Project Runway filming--#brushwithfame) for us to use in printing/stamping, etc.

Lace . . . from Mood! Thanks for your help, Noel!
Lynda used two sizes of rectangular Gelli plates. She painted the entire surface then used the middle lace to lift paint from the plate before stamping her scarf. It was very effective and neat how the fluidity of the lace pattern contrasted with the angularity of her prints.

Lynda's scarf in progress.

By suppertime she was OK with her result but felt it wasn’t done, just as I’d felt the day before about my journal pages. She planned to do some beading and thought maybe fringe or the lace she’d been using to print might finish it up nicely. I figured she was crazy about the beading (you are a stronger, more patient, and pertinacious woman than I, Lynda!!!) but I knew she’d bang it out if she went that route.

We took a break to cook up some mushrooms, Swiss chard, and eggs.

OK--this is the most important thing I taught Lynda during our artist retreat:
Swiss chard IS good!
(Lemon juice makes all the difference--either that or she's a great actor.)

After a little time away and a full tummy Lynda decided to add two sizes of circular stamps that she’d made. She thinks she probably can skip the beading and I think she’s right—it came out great!

I did get mine done after hogging the plate (with her blessing). At the last minute I thought all the little pink flowers might need yellow centers, but I was done!!! After auditioning this on a piece of newspaper, though, I decided I was right.

My finished scarf.
Lynda's finished scarf.

Thanks for checking my flowers for spots, Lynda. Well, for everything!

Taking the scarves off the freezer paper was magical! 
Drapey puddles of color and loveliness!
Lynda's puddle.
My puddle.
We also made double-sided pendants (all Lynda’s brilliant idea). I cut out a 1” x 2” piece of gelli print and wrote a message on the back for her and she did the same for me. Then we chose 1” x 2” pieces of gelli print for the other side of our pendant and, voila! What a meaningful way to remember our time together!

Left: Lynda chose this piece of one of her gelli prints for me.
Right: I chose this piece of one of my gelli prints for Lynda.

Left: I chose this piece of one of my gelli prints for me.
Right: Lynda chose this piece of one of her gelli prints for herself.
I still hadn’t used the lace from Mood yet, so I stayed up a little later for one last experiment. After laying down a beautiful periwinkle mix of colors on the spread and letting it dry I cut out a piece of the lace (the one at the bottom of the lace photo), placed it on the page, sprayed red clay-colored paint on the lace, then carefully lifted it. I love how it came out and am loathe to add anything else for now.

Lynda suggested turning the recycled plastic card scrapers we'd been using into bookmarks. Recycle, reuse, baby! It was fairly well covered by gesso and acrylic paint on the bottom half, so I used a loose lace flower as a resist on it, repeating my page. While it was still wet I used that flower to create a small print in the upper righthand corner of my journal page. One thing leads to another, to another, and another!
Put everything out to dry, then packing and to bed for very sweet dreams before an early departure. Also had a last serenade of frenetic activity from Fern, my furry roommate while I was there, a funny bunny that I firmly believe does not sleep. That didn't stop me from sawing a bunch of logs, though!

You can see Lynda's take on our time together here, but don't stop there. Her whole blog is gorgeous--pages of eye candy along with reflection, compassion, and curiosity. Lynda is a shining light.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Homemade Artist Retreat--Part II

We decided to sleep in a little on Sunday since we'd stayed up late chatting, but we got to work after enjoying leftover scones and some Darjeeling. This earlier art journal entry by Lynda was my inspiration:

Great journal page by Lynda. Isn't her script gorgeous?!
Check out her process here: Step One, Step Two, Step Three, Step Four.

I had a hard time with the process. Laying down the initial colors was easy. Coming up with a concept was easy. Making a rich work of art was a lot harder. We each gave the other one of our gelli prints to incorporate, which was a fun challenge.

My print on the left.
Lynda's print on the right.
I immediately knew I wanted to use the spiral stamp on the left side of the page as a clock face.
Lynda went in beautiful directions with her pages and it was a lot of fun to see her creative process in action. Her challenge was that she chose paper from me that had a lot of red in it. It’s funny—she uses a lot of pink, but red, even the idea of red, gives her mental hives. I think she proved to herself, though, that red is definitely a color she should use—or at least she proved it to me! J

After working all day (with a quick break for grilled cheese with excellent ripe tomatoes) I had accomplished this in my handmade journal and had a slightly desperate feeling in my stomach:

I was done but it wasn't really finished.

Then we went out for an al fresco supper at in Providence, ate (in my case) a lovely seafood pasta dish while listening to live big band music, went for a little walk, made some goofy selfies, and topped it off with sublime lime tart and iced mocha.

We also spent some time while waiting for our food capturing what we’d done and felt so far. And that was the key for me.

My concept was about letting go of time every once in a while and how that’s uplifting and it was based on my stay with Lynda. When we got home and I saw my work from across the room I knew what was missing: all the experiences I was having. So I added text about that in the background along with some marks to separate concepts . . . and a circular stamp to mirror the clock face . . . and a square stamp to mimic the shape of the clock. And then I got out the Antique Linen Distress Ink, and that pulled it all together.

It unified everything and toned it all down a little and did some other indefinable thing, but I came to the conclusion that

Another page in my little Moleskine.
Time and space sometimes are the key,
and in the end I was really satisfied with my first foray into art journaling.

Homemade Artist Retreat--Part I

We can see from the length of time between my last post and this one that neither New Year's Resolutions nor public shaming have a tremendous effect on my posting behavior. Inspiration does, though,

My family and I recently spent several exciting days in New York City.

From Roosevelt Island toward Manhattan on the 4th of July.
Statue of Liberty and Manhattan skyline.
One World Trade Center behind the South Tower Pool.
Tibetan street party including folk dancing to celebrate the Dalai Lama's 80th birthday.
From the High Line in Chelsea.
The Guggenheim.
 Along 5th Ave. on the Upper East side.
Glass bamboo forest in the Met.
The vestibule in the iconic NY Public Library building.
The sky the morning I left NYC.
Then they drove back to Tennessee while I took a train to visit my dear friend Lynda for three days of nonstop art, great food, and stimulating conversation and I’d like to share a bit of that.

Preview--a little piece of paper that looked like a landscape at the bottom of my Moleskine journal page.
Lynda does beautiful art journaling and I thought this might be a good opportunity to learn to let go in my art, to be free and spontaneous, to not work things to death. And it was, but it was not always easy. 

I’m really glad Lynda was willing to take the lead and teach me—it’s good to be a student every once in a while and she is a patient, enthusiastic, creative teacher.

The day I got there we had a lovely dinner on the ocean with her daughter—it was lovely to catch up with a delightful young woman I’ve known for so many years and to hear about some of her future plans.

Madeleine and me chatting at dinner, manipulated by Lynda.
I woke up the first full day to smell scones, Lynda's homemade sour cream scones! 

We enjoyed a little feast of scones with blueberry jam and clotted cream and Assam tea, and then we got to work. In the morning we gessoed, I pages for my hand-stitched art journal and we pages in Moleskine notebooks we used to document our time together.

After walking to Gregory's in Douglas for yummy calzones Lynda explained how to sew my journal together then we gelli printed all afternoon. 

The table before we started.

Printing well underway.
I’ve gelatin printed before, and though I do miss the gradual breakdown of the gelatin plate and the artifacts that leaves, I do love not having to make a plate and skim the air bubbles off and I certainly like the fact that it’s always ready and doesn’t mold. I will definitely be getting at least one—just have to decide what size/s and shape/s.

We took turns creating prints and passed the gelli plate back and forth, leaving the ghost images from earlier prints so there were artifacts of Lynda’s choices in my prints and artifacts of my choices in hers. Interesting how each of us is distinct despite that in color and pattern. We made 41 prints altogether. Had a great time creating secondary patterns with the way we applied the paint.

Lynda's prints
My prints

We also began our little Moleskines.

Paper towel bits from our work surface, paper resists, and a stamp made out of a foam food container plus leftover ink from the brayer.
That evening she took me to Minado, a fantastic Japanese buffet in Natick, MA. First of all, the food was amazing.

First trip to the sushi/sashimi bar.

Second of all, the variety was stunning.

1/3 of the Salad Bar
Steak and salmon tataki, etc.
1/4 of he hot bar

Third of all, Jen and Tom Wahlund I got you a gift certificate as a housewarming present. It’s a bit of a drive from South Hadley but you won’t be sorry I made you drive there.

1/4 to 1/6 of the sushi bar
Fourth, conversation all day, while driving, and during dinner was lovely, by turns deep or light-hearted, absent or heartfelt, practical or whimsical, and it was all good.