Posts Tagged ‘collage’

Canadian Comfort

Saturday, February 18th, 2017

Lately I’ve enjoyed portraying particular trees, either for the great stories associated with them, or because of their exalted status as Designated Heritage Trees. In my search for a tree that might exemplify the true Canadian spirit to honour Canada’s 150th anniversary (and to submit to a local juried show), I came across a truly marvelous specimen who lives in Pelham, Ontario in our Niagara Peninsula.

The Comfort Maple on home turf

The Comfort Maple is believed to be the oldest and finest sugar maple tree in Canada. It lives on half an acre of land purchased by the Comfort family in 1816 and later entrusted to the Niagara Peninsula Conservation Authority, to protect it for its historical and biological significance. In 1975, the tree was estimated to be 400-500 years old by the Ontario Forestry Association. This tree towers about 80 feet at its crown, with a trunk circumference of 20 feet, which is crazy huge for a sugar maple. Despite its age and exposure to at least two bouts of lightning, this is one stunning tree in all seasons.

How to portray the story of this lone giant? I looked at all the available images from winter to fall, checking colour variations, bark texture, position of branches and location in the landscape. I found several articles that discussed its history, age, and issues of preservation. I was struck by the thought that, at 500 years old, this great old maple must have germinated in old growth forest, yet now it finds itself surrounded by tilled land with no other trees nearby. I wanted to bring this contrast of past and present into the piece.

I started with a coloured thumbnail drawing that included a field and shadowy forest in the background, shown during the day, in the fall season. But sadly, the design lacked that certain ‘je ne sais quoi’.

Drawing #1

Why not change it to night, I debated, for a stronger sense of mystery? The shadowy forms behind the tree would recall the primordial forest which existed when the maple was a tender seedling. In front of the tree could stretch the rows and furrows of its newer agricultural surroundings.

Drawing #2

Fine then, Drawing #2 it was! But… maybe a change of frame shape… should I make it a bit deeper to show more of the field rows? Hmm.

Time passed (insert sound of sewing machine, and some thread, cottons, silks, yarns)….

And voila!

The Comfort Maple
Framed textile 24×36″

In my sketches for a new piece, I rarely put in all the details. A lot of the good stuff happens right on the piece itself. I trust that as I focus on the theme for those long hours, fresh relevant ideas will come. As I began the background work I wondered how to address the long interval in time between sapling to ripe old age. What if we could tap the half-century long memory of this magnificent specimen? So I added a small closed door in the trunk, to honour the stories it might love to tell us, if only it could.

Because I’m an artist. I can do anything.

The little blue door

For colours – that particular bronzy yellow/orange from one of the fall photos was a frustrating challenge to capture. After some experimentation, I combined five different shades, colours and metallics in tiny snippets to get the right effect.

And the moon… well a rare tree like this can only occur once in a blue moon…. so that choice was made for me.

Happy birthday, Canada!

Blue Moon for the Comfort Maple

Wood artist Marv Ens of Pelham is making beautiful pens from the wood trimmed from this tree. Proceeds from their sales go to the Niagara Peninsula Conservation Foundation to continue their good work. It comes with an embossed display case and a Certificate of Authenticity. At $75, this is THE perfect gift for any environmentalist. To order one, contact Genevieve-Renee Bisson, Foundation Coordinator, Niagara Peninsula Conservation Foundation at (905)788-3135 ext. 260  Website: www.npca.ca.

Comfort Maple pen by Marv Ens.

 

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On a Wing and a Prayer

Monday, December 5th, 2016

Earlier this year in mid-May, I received an invitation from Evan Mitchell, the Musical Director of the Kingston Symphony Orchestra, to create a small suite of works inspired by a special performance of classical music compositions, all of which incorporate birdsong. The three pieces to be performed are: Jennifer Butler’s “And Birds do Sing”, Mozart’s Piano Concerto No. 17, and Beethoven’s Symphony No. 6 ‘Pastoral’.

The concert hall is the Isabel Bader Centre for the Performing Arts in Kingston, and the lobby is large, beautiful, open, and enclosed by floor-to-ceiling glass overlooking Lake Ontario. The performance is scheduled for March 5, 2017.

Isabel Bader Centre for the Performing Arts’ lobby

Isabel Bader Centre for the Performing Arts’ lobby

I know NOTHING about classical music (picture inner struggle here), but YES struck me as the more interesting option in this case… a new experience! So much to gain, so little to lose! I love birds! So I said YES.

And the invitation gave me plenty of time – an eternity, it seemed! The director provided links to the music, and programme notes to explain the composers’ creative inspiration for each piece. I listened to them while working on other projects, read the back stories, and then hoped something magical would happen.

Time passed…… and passed…

 

When all else fails, I think the greatest motivation possible is a deadline. Having lots of time to do something doesn’t necessarily make the result any better – in fact, it can have quite the opposite effect. So, eager to quit procrastinating, I gave myself a two week time window in November 2016 and trusted I would get there somehow.

leap

Leap of faith

 

How to begin? Obviously, listening (with intent) felt like the best first step. I recorded my main impressions as they progressed: which colours came to mind? how did the music fit the background story? How did I feel along the way? what might all those instrument sounds LOOK like?

I started thinking about the physical form of the pieces. How on earth to capture the various movements and the passage of time? After all, music moves through time but visual imagery needs to encompass everything in one shot. What about this: because a musical piece builds on itself while it plays, and previous sounds lodge in our memory even as we hear the new ones, perhaps the pieces should be tall and vertical, and read from the bottom up!

It didn’t feel right to use representational imagery alone – I wanted to show the feeling and colour of the sounds and didn’t want to limit my visualization. Abstracts they must be! As I began the drawings, I also realized they must be quilted wall panels, as the designs resisted being hemmed in by frames. And technique? It felt most logical to plan for a loose (might we say, imperfect?) form of fabric collage that would allow plenty of freedom of shape and background changes.

It takes hundreds of small decisions like this just to get to first base with any new project. Sometimes I think this is why we tend to procrastinate – it’s hard work and it’s scary! At times, the answers are easy and obvious, but other times we must make a leap of faith, hoping experience and wisdom will serve well.

Mozart Piano Concerto No. 17

I decided to begin with the Mozart which was the most accessible to me: a rich melodic piano piece. It had a charming story to match: Mozart tried to teach the theme to his starling, but the bird couldn’t get it quite right. Mozart was so tickled he wrote the bird’s mistake into his journal.

img_2193

Click on the starling to hear the Concerto

In the design of this wall panel, the starling became the central motif, with the three movements of the concerto settling around him in swirls and swoops of colour.

the-mozart-2016-42x20s

The Mozart 2016 42×20” Fabric Wall Panel

 

Jennifer Butler “And Birds do Sing”
https://soundcloud.com/jaebutler/and-birds-do-sing-2010

The second, by Canadian composer Jennifer Butler, is a modern piece written in 2010, and is the most abstract of the three compositions. The sounds begin with drums in cool waves, dark and tumbling and pierced with high flutes, eventually resolving into a lullaby composed for the composer’s daughter. What does a drum sound look like? Maybe circles… oblong circles? And flutes…. might rise up in long strands? The overall feel of the piece was cool and spring-like, hence I stayed with blues and cooler tones. The panel begins at the base with the rhythm of the drums, then another layer, upon layer until the clear notes of birdsong and lullaby surface.

the-jen-butler-2016-42x20s

The Jen Butler 2016 42×20” Fabric Wall Panel

 

Beethoven’s Symphony No. 6 ‘Pastoral’
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iQGm0H9l9I4

The Beethoven piece was the most complex. Although I incorporated elements of the movements, like a walk by a stream, a storm, birds, and a reference to folk art to represent a peasant dance, I was more interested in the smoother cadence and feeling of the performance, the melodic swings and eddies. The sounds were less emotional than the previous two pieces, so I used a more sophisticated colour palette.

the-beethoven-2016-45x21s

The Beethoven 2016 42×20” Fabric Wall Panel

 

Each of these pieces grew and evolved completely differently. In focusing on and working with them, I learned something intriguing about classical music: that, just like visual art, it begins with a personal story – now I will listen for it. And perhaps when the music lovers at the concert see my interpretations, they might learn something about abstract visual art. My fondest hope is that the music provides an entry point for understanding the abstract imagery, and in return the visual art enriches the appreciation of the music. As with many other occasions when I took the leap, I enjoyed every single minute, and the effects will last a life time!

For purchasing information, please click HERE. All the photography of my work is done by my very talented and dedicated husband, Janusz Wrobel.

starling-1

European starling from frasersbirdingblog.blogspot.co.uk

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Heart on my sleeve

Saturday, February 14th, 2015

I spent a good part of my youth and young adulthood in constant inner and outer turmoil. Great leaps of faith and trust routinely led to an array of unfortunate experiences. But, being young and having the energy for it, I pulled it all together, time after time, and somehow, with great luck and support, came out stronger and better. Though I am grateful for those rash decisions because they led to where I am now, experience showed me that my life is connected to many others, and there is no such thing as a solo jump into the abyss. Everyone comes along for the ride. A sobering thought for this mature, yet still adventurous, spirit.

It’s not this:

SYLVAN SPIRIT #11  2005 16x15"

SYLVAN SPIRIT #11 2005 16×15″  Just me.

It’s more like this:

BURNING BUSH #11 2009 30X10" A dangerous solo leap.

BURNING BUSH #11 2009 30X10″
A dangerous solo leap, don’t know where to.

Enter ART….

And this is how I can officially say: I have not said goodbye to adventure each and every day, and I still wear my heart on my sleeve. Every morning, I get a chance to leap before I think, with the only negative consequence my own disappointment, and perhaps the odd *sometimes* relevant zinger from an itinerant critic. Just last week, I took apart an entire large abstract piece THREE TIMES, frustrated and crying, dumped it all, began again.

LIGHT RAIL 2015 12X36"

LIGHT RAIL 2015 12X36″   Okay, so this is the piece I took apart three times.

No one was hurt, and I didn’t end up on the street! Yet if and when the effort leads to success, there is learning, there is growth, there is enormous satisfaction and pleasure, and there is the chance to share what is in my heart. ART is the WAY. Therefore, on this day devoted to LOVE, I share with you a range of works I made over the years, which were either leaps of faith, or that speak of love in various forms.

I love what I do, I love where it has taken me, and I love sharing it with you. Happy Valentine’s Day!

Below are trees with their seeds, and tree seeds: Seeds are the product of tree love, yes?

RED HUCKLEBERRY 2012 16X8"

RED HUCKLEBERRY and SEED and LEAVES 2012 16X8″

CASUARINA SEED 2008 24X12" From my Seed and Earth series

CASUARINA SEEDS 2008 24X12″ From my Seed and Earth series

CASUARINA DETAIL

CASUARINA DETAIL – Machine embroidery

Who says a heart must be red? Trees see it all so differently.

VERDANT HEART 2013 12X6"

VERDANT HEART 2013 12X6″

Love bridges divides,

SECRET HEART #5 2014 8X8"

SECRET HEART #5 2014 8X8″

… and occasionally goes into dormancy

SECRET HEART #3 2013 6X6"

SECRET HEART #3 2013 6X6″

It’s intensely biological

Ovulation Series #1 2007

Ovulation Series #1 2007

The result of opposing, but complementary forces

COUNTERPOINT DIPTYCH #9 2003  Quilted wall piece

COUNTERPOINT DIPTYCH #9 2003
Quilted wall piece

No container can hold it…. well, maybe this one can?

People always asked me, So what are these for??? Sigh.

Box #6   6x10x6″ People always asked me, So what are these for??? Sigh.

It can be somewhat undecipherable….

LOVE LETTER 2000 43X24" Quilted wall hanging

LOVE LETTER 2000 43X24″ Quilted wall hanging

Or delicate and ephemeral….

BOUQUET #9 2004 37X18"

BOUQUET #9 2004 37X18″

Or very very risky. I made the wall piece below as a gift for a couple who married in a beautiful quarry. I wish I could say that it safeguarded them both as they took their leap, but it did not. Art can’t do everything.

WEDDING IN THE QUARRY 2008 Quilted wall piece, commissioned.

WEDDING IN THE QUARRY 2008 Quilted wall piece

But there is safety in numbers

FISSURE #4 2011 15X30"

FISSURE #4 2011 15X30″

And the solace of a box of bonbons, no matter how things turn out.

BONBONS 1 2008 28X28" Who doesn't love a boxful of bonbons?

BONBONS 1 2008 28X28″
Who doesn’t love a boxful of bonbons?

I invite you to subscribe to my blog… there’s a box up on the right sidebar where you can enter your email address. You won’t get deluged with posts, I promise!

Going somewhere? Start with a Map!

Friday, January 2nd, 2015

Today is the second day of January 2015. Nearly a full year ago, I received a grant for a special project, mentioned in this blog. Much has happened since, and in the next few posts I am going to show you some of the developments.

Just to recap: my new textile art project is inspired by recent scientific research on how trees share resources and communicate through their roots, with the help of mycorrhizal fungi. This amazing root/fungus system is important for most plants on the planet, but trees are especially dependent on this symbiotic relationship. In fact, without these fungi, trees would quickly die of thirst and starvation. Moreover, fungi not only help plants draw water, they also facilitate the transfer of nutrients amongst trees, and, even more amazingly, they actually deliver messages, even to other species (more about this later). It’s fascinating stuff, and the more I find out about it, the more inspiring it becomes.

The mycorrhizal network http://www.botanicalgarden.ubc.ca/potd/2010/03/mycorrhizal_networks.php

The mycorrhizal network

I am treating this project as a journey. It began the moment I first saw Prof. Suzanne Simard’s short video about her research. The ideas presented in this talk so aroused my curiosity that I couldn’t get it off my mind: MUST do something with this! With OAC grant in hand (or, more specifically, in bank) I could proceed with my itinerary.

How does one begin a journey? Why, with a map of course! Mine is a unique map, the product of several years of research by Prof Simard and associates. Using multi-locus microsatellite DNA analysis, they studied how two fungal species connected a group of Douglas Fir in a 30 m section of forest. The green fuzzy dots represent trees, and the lines connecting them are the fungal paths. Even without much technical knowledge, it’s easy to see that the system is extensive and intricately woven. One tree was found to connect to 47 other trees (see arrow)! I wanted to see this for myself.

From: Architecture of the Wood Wide Web New Phytologist (2010) 185: 543–553 www.newphytologist.org Reprinted with permission of the authors.

From: Architecture of the Wood Wide Web New Phytologist (2010) 185: 543–553 www.newphytologist.org Reprinted with permission of the authors.

So, in May, I headed out to BC to meet Prof Simard and to spend four days with her and her generous grad students. Wielding a shovel and gear, we drove through the mountains to locate and examine some of their research sites.

Us and 'Rob Ford', our trusty SUV.

Us and ‘Rob Ford’, our trusty SUV. Julia, Prof Simard, Deon, me and Melissa.

It was an eye-opening experience – far from the shelter of the cozy lab, we encountered all the elements the mountains could throw at us, except for bears and bugs who were waiting in the wings for summer.

End of May. Really.

End of May. Really.

Undaunted, we dug up some fascinating root/fungal structures.

The white fungal strands connect one set of tree roots with another.

The white fungal strands connect one set of tree roots with another.

We also spent time in the lab (more about this in a future post). When I got home I had plenty of material to ponder. For the past ten months I experimented with lots of crazy ideas and materials, came up with a plan, and in November began to approach public galleries with the proposal. In the next few blogs, I will share some of the ups and downs and images of the process. Every journey implies a destination, and mine is a touring exhibition in 2017 called Woven Woods.

OAC 2014

Below is my first interpretation of the Schematic map of the Douglas Fir research site. In it I stitched as many words I could find that meant ‘connection’. My initial intent was to make a very large version of this piece as part of the exhibition, but this idea did not make the cut. Perhaps for a future project?

Tree Chatter 12x12" 2014 Machine collage and embroidery on printed and plain fabrics

Tree Chatter 12×12″ 2014
Machine collage and embroidery on printed and plain fabrics

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On the Rock: Merging Art and Ecology – a new exhibition!

Monday, February 17th, 2014
THE OUTCROPPING 2014 24X48 copy

THE OUTCROPPING 2014 24X48

Hello everyone,

Thought I would post a short note while I wait for my very cold studio to warm up. For weeks, it’s been in the minus tens here in Southwestern Ontario. The hot summer and cozy fall feel like distant memories and we are all longing for a touch of spring. The snow on either side of our drive is neck deep.

Perfect time to give you the scoop on an upcoming group show, soon to open at our local Carnegie Gallery in Dundas.

Just in the past year, I’ve had the great pleasure of learning about an international Christian organization called A Rocha. Their mandate is to engage in scientific research, environmental education and community-based conservation projects, and they are open to all faiths and cultures. A new A Rocha centre is becoming established in Ontario, with a 95-acre rural property in Flamborough, just south of Freelton (a pleasant 20 minute drive from my home). Cedar Haven Farm has both wild and cultivated acreages, as well as a historic house, a pond, a few barns, and animal enclosures.

FENCEROW 1 2014 24X24 copy

FENCEROW 1 2014 24X24

What better way to promote this organization than with art? We decided to approach ten artists, all working in different mediums, with an invitation: to visit the property and create unique visual responses to the land, with the results to be shown in an exhibition. The artists were delighted with the idea, and Carnegie Gallery accepted our proposal with great enthusiasm. The exhibition runs from March 7 to 30, with an opening reception at 7:30 on March 7.

Of course, I am fully involved with the project, and so is my photographer husband. I will tell you more about the other artists in a future post, but for now I wanted to share my resulting work. On my many visits in three seasons, I was most taken with the way wild areas and fencerows contrasted with the cultivated fields. Bedrock and swampland prevented full use of all the property for agriculture, but a system of trails made all the land accessible. The photos in this post are of the three works I made for the exhibition. I am looking forward to seeing it all come together on March 7!

WILD APPLE 2014 24X36 copy
WILD APPLE 2014 24X36

WORKSHOPS AND BREAKING NEWS!

Saturday, February 18th, 2012

Hello there,

Been a long time since my last post. Good reasons for that, including the fact that at this very moment I am working on a new website, soon to be launched. From that moment on, I will be able to do all the updates, all by myself! Welcome to the New Age!

So, for now, below are my latest upcoming events. On my new website I will also be able to provide links to the Application forms and supply lists for my workshops… but for now, just email me and I will send them to you as attachments.

Thanks, and see you soon on the ‘other side’!!!

Lorraine

Lectures and Presentations
“The Embroidered Tree: My Journey with Science and Art”
for the Plant Agriculture Lecture Series offered by the University of Guelph, Guelph, ON
Friday, April 13, 2012 at 3:00 pm
This free event will take place at the Arboretum Centre. This is the first time a textile artist has been asked to do this kind of presentation!
“Stitching the Sylvan Spirit”
Lecture and trunk show, as part of The Piecemakers’ Quilt Show
St Mary’s, ON
Friday, April 27, evening Time to be announced.
Workshops
Basic Net Collage – Two one-day Workshops
April 27 and April 28, 2012
Location: St Mary’s, ON
Please click on the link for more information or to register.
BASIC NET COLLAGE WORKSHOP – A Two-day workshop
Saturday, May 26 and Sunday, May 27, 2012 9:30-4:30
Location: Dundas, ON
Please reserve early to avoid disappointment!
Contact me for more information.
Upcoming Workshops in Edmonton, AB and Vancouver Island, BC …. October 2012….. details coming up soon!

Embracing imperfection

Monday, March 14th, 2011
CAN SPRING BE FAR AWAY?
First, the News of the Day: I’ve been asked by the Janome sewing machine company to be the Featured Artist for their booth at the upcoming International Quilt Festival in Long Beach, California slated for July 28-31, 2011. The theme this year is The Four Seasons – right up my alley! I will post more about this exciting event as the date approaches, and will let you know what I decide: should I go in person this time? It seems that my work shows up in many of these Quilt extravaganzas, but the maker (me) never seems to follow. Let’s just say, maybe it’s time.
On Perfection/Imperfection:
Many many times, viewers of my work make the comment that I must be a perfectionist. While I know this comes from a good place with the best of intentions, I find it incredibly puzzling. Without even looking hard, I see dozens if not hundreds of flaws: threads hanging, yarns in less-than-ideal positions, colours and contrasts that don’t work that well, stitching that could have been more in keeping with the lines…. not to mention lack of classic balance and ignoring the rules of design with predictable results. Just off the top of my head, I can think of all kinds of improvements to make in even the best of my pieces.
But I can let that be, and I’m not shy about it – I might even say that in some cases I allow these imperfections to flourish. Below is an excerpt from an interview I did a few years ago with Dr Bernie Herman, in answer to his question about how I feel about imperfection in my work:
“I humbly believe my art is a microcosm of what is happening each day on this Earth – that each piece I make captures (in the best way I can) one moment in a continuum of moments. It is not perfect but it buillds on previous experience, and is a step to the next level.
Just because one individual piece is not perfect does not mean it has less value. On the contrary, it has much to offer someone who is truly observing and searching – the mistakes, the inconsistencies, the omissions, the triumphs and failures – they are all there, plain to see. Each viewer enters it, contributes to it, and grows with it, in his own way. The viewer is a co-creator with the artist. This would not happen if the piece was perfect. The static state of Perfection is death for the soul.
Take the processes of Biology. A static grid could represent the orderly and mathematical process of cell division. But, during this process, even if everything proceeds as it should, surprises can happen at any point. How species adapt and evolve to deal with these surprises leads to their eventual wins and losses. Winners pass it on to the next generation. This is what drives evolution.”
Nothing moves without change.You could even say imperfection is BUILT IN to the DNA of life. And this fleeting moment is what I look for in other artwork too, not only in my own. The works I admire most contain within them a welcome mat, a place where I can cozy up and ride along with the maker. It is not about answers, but about intriguing questions that spur my imagination and challenge my preconceived notions.
So, no, I am absolutely NOT a perfectionist. Allowing and embracing imperfection and mistakes is how I evolve within my own work. This is what I want to pass on to viewers: I want to let them in, I want them to join me in my journey. I don’t have all the answers, but I believe that together we can explore those exciting questions, combine our strengths, and grow along together.
Till next time…. Lorraine

February 2011

Thursday, February 3rd, 2011

First, here’s a link to a nice interview with me on the World of Threads Festival website. This International festival is a bi-yearly event that happens in Oakville, a town not far from where I live. I’ve been participating in it for years as an exhibitor, speaker, and juror. Each year it gets better. I am getting harder and harder to please with textiles, and yet last year’s showing just blew me away!!! So if you are a textile artist I strongly recommend that you visit the event if you can, enter your work in Common Thread exhibition or keep an eye on what’s happening there (even if you’re from VERY far away)…. I have a strong feeling that this year’s festival is going to be a knockout.

Also, I will be teaching a 3-day workshop in London, Ontario this coming May, as part of the Gathering Threads conference organized by the Canadian Embroiderers’ Guild. I suggest booking early for any of their events and workshops – they are filling up fast!

OK! Down to the day’s discussion.

The Gathering Thread interview stirred up some great topics and got them buzzing around in my head. This is why I rarely turn down interviews, especially those that go beneath surface. First of all, it’s flattering that someone, anyone, might be interested in what I’ve got to say. Heck, how often does THAT happen? And the other thing is, especially with the written ones, they cause me to really think about the reasons why I feel as I feel. Most of the time, space constraints don’t allow me to put it all in the interview, so I’m going to make a list and do it here in my blog.

Why I love my technique

The most important quest for any artist is to find a medium that resonates with her vision, her abilities and her personality. I love my technique. I do.

And after a lot of thought, I believe this is why: from start to finish, there is a lot that ‘just happens’. That is to say, chance plays an important role in the finished product. For example, although I have a huge, and I mean huge, collection of fabrics, I rarely have ‘exactly’ the right colour envisioned for the piece. Or it’s there and can’t be found, in spite of the relative order of my storage system.

So what’s a girl to do? Go out and buy new materials each time? Not an option… the nearest fabric shop is a good 20 minutes’ drive and in the heat of the creative moment I am not a good risk behind the wheel. SO – I make do. Yes, I make do with what I have. And this just happens to be the most important and salient and exciting part for me: the medium itself, the fabrics I have now, become part of a ‘conversation’. I am no longer the dictator.

This way, my process begins to record where and how I am at the moment, with the materials I have, with the machines, studio and life that I’ve got. Me, and my life, not ‘just me’. By pushing it just a bit further, by using scraps that are just lying around, cutting them in a random way, throwing them on instead of carefully placing them, sewing over them in unplanned patterns and lines, letting the raw edges fray, going for BOLD rather than FUSSY… I live in the moment, turn the ego off and experience a direct connection with the muse, no longer getting in my own way.

Letting go is exhilarating. It means accepting the risk of failure. It means overcoming obstacles in new ways. It means learning to live with and embracing imperfection. It’s the ONLY way to exceed my own entrenched ideas. Plus, no problem worrying about running out of this or that. I KNOW nothing is going to impede my creative energy.

I think all life should be like that … as in art, so in life. Or so I hope. As I explore this idea in my art practice, every day, I hope snippets of ‘letting go’ will drift into my daily life. In that way, art is definitely my teacher.

I know there are all kinds of great new products out there, glues and sprays and sparkly things, tools and machines and threads and storage options… There are all kinds of ways I might be able to ‘improve’ how I work, do it better, faster, quieter, bigger…. but I resist, for all the reasons above: those ‘things’ will find their way to me if they are meant to. Otherwise, I am fine, content and free of want.

That’s all for now… It’s winter, the most beautiful of seasons. Stay warm and we’ll talk again soon.

JANUARY 2011

Sunday, January 16th, 2011

    Just lately I’ve been reading plenty of blogs, many of which are, at least to me, beyond inspiring. and beautifully written. They put me to shame! AND they are filled with all kinds of fascinating details. So where do I fit in? So far I’m not even updating by the month, let alone every day, and what to write about? My list of resolutions for this year was so long, I simply couldn’t face adding “To blog, every single day, or at least often enough to keep on radar.” Sadly, all I can do is my best, which is going to fall short of all expectations, including mine.

    Well, at least I can tell you a bit about what I’ve been up to for the last few weeks. Back in November a tall, beautiful couple approached me, having noted a photo of my work in the local newspaper a few years ago. (This happens a lot! The three year wait period is a standard joke around here lately.) They knew exactly what they wanted and where, and today my husband and I installed a triptych in their master suite. And I must say, it is gorgeous! Very few things are more satisfying than fulfilling a commission that ends up looking even better than anticipated.

     People often ask how it feels to do commissioned work. Many believe, sometimes rightly, that it must be uncomfortable and limiting for an artist to create on demand – particularly in cases where clients might wish to match their decor, or force her to deviate from her usual work. Well I’m here to say that in most cases, I’ve found the process fascinating and empowering. It’s all in how you look at it. It’s an opportunity to allow another person who may never have had the chance, to enjoy the power and joy of creation. My clients become active participants in the process, co-creators and collaborists. It’s a different way of working but not one bit less satisfying. One of the side benefits is that, more often than not, I get to stretch my own limits and try out ideas I may never have explored before. Maybe because of this attitude, I am starting to draw new clients who want customized art – I have had more commissions in the past year than ever before.

Having said that, I can empathize with horror stories I’ve heard from artists who were required to bend over (ahem) way too much. I was once asked if I would make speaker covers featuring Marilyn Monroe and Elvis… true story! Never mind… it gave me something to write in this blog, so, not a complete loss after all, eh? 
Or, there are artists whose vision is entirely focused on a particular path that will not accommodate other views. Perfectly understandable… most of the artists I know don’t like working on commission. As sensitive as artists can be, it is impossible to get inside a client’s head and ‘see’ what they want to see. Mistakes are made all the time. One of the ways I deal with this fear is that I don’t require clients to purchase the piece if it doesn’t suit them. Now I KNOW that’s something no one and I mean no one would ever recommend. But, doing it this way gives me peace of mind. I am then free to work on the piece to the best of my abilities, and finish it with my own aesthetic values at the fore. At least at that point I have satisfied myself. And although no client of mine has ever exercised that option, I am prepared to face the possibility with a calm spirit. For sure, if I love the work, it will eventually find a good home.

Well, there isn’t much else happening around Hillcrest Studio but Studio work. So far, my next registered event is a 3-day workshop that I will teach in London in May. You can get more details by checking Upcoming Events on this website.

So… till next time, hopefully sooner than later!

Lorraine

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