Friday, May 29, 2009

The Blank Page

It's a frightening thing - the blank page, the blank canvas, the blank anything, if one is expected to fill it with something. As a mixed media artist who sometimes writes, I have been intimidated more than once by the blank, white canvas/page. What is there to do when you stare and nothing comes? I suppose it's a common thing for those who compose, whether using musical notes, images or words. It's nice to know I'm in good company, but it's not a comfortable place to be.

There are discussions about when to stop - how do you know when a piece is finished? But what about how to begin? Sometimes, if I can just make the first mark, or cut a piece of fabric, or put one sentence on the paper, I have a place to begin. The first mark can be quite intimidating, however, especially if I let that old inner critic have a say; or if the fabric was pricey, it can be anxiety producing to make the first cut.

Make a mark, then another. Write a word, then another. Make a cut, then another. Off we go. Still, I'd like to know how others deal with the beginning.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

What's in a Name? (more on titling art)

In posing the question of whether all art needs a title, I was hoping to generate conversation. It did just that and I'm appreciative of everyone's thoughtful responses. They were somewhat varied, but most agree that art should have something that identifies it, whether it's a full title or an identifier such as "color study: blue and orange". I also read several articles I found on the internet regarding the subject.

According to Robert Genn, author of The Painters Keys, " . . . titles serve to confirm what's seen but also to add knowledge, insight, and a glimpse into the author's mind set." In keeping with Genn, Holly Huffstutler's article at stated "art can be imbued with greater meaning with the addition of a title" and discusses how a title can capture the viewer and draw them into conversation about the work instead of dismissing it. She sites the example of Marcel Duchamp who took a urinal and placed it in a different context and titled it "Fountain". Both authors are worth the read.

The conversations are convincing. One should have some type of identification for each work of art. How else will you know which is which, after all? One wouldn't want a list of works with "Untitled #1", "Untitled #2" etc. That would be boring.

The title of the work in the photo is "Blooming". The title of the piece from yesterday's post is "Stormy Seas".

Friday, May 22, 2009

Does Art Always Need a Title?

I've been thinking about titles and art work, and wondering if it's necessary to title everything. I know there are many untitled works hanging in galleries world wide, but the majority of my work is titled, and today, I'm wondering why I find it necessary. The meaning of every work of art is decided by the viewer. I suppose if the artist wants to lead the viewer, a title might be helpful, but I wonder if even then, a title really makes a difference.

This is a piece I just completed, with full view and detailed. It's hand-dyed cotton with thread, paint, iridescent gel medium, and dyed cheese cloth. I have not titled it. I'm wondering what others see in it, what thoughts and/or emotions are evoked in the viewer. I look forward to comments, and think I'll leave it untitled. At least for now.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Nature's textures

Isn't this grand? Birch bark has such wonderful irregularities. The textures of bark fascinate me. I'm gathering a library of photos of textures so I can begin to explore different textures with my art. The woods and trails around Greenville provide excellent subjects for photography.

Walking through the woods here has been wonderful. Yesterday as I walked the path, along with the wonderful textures, I noticed the steady hum of bees all around. The honeysuckle is just beginning to bloom. It wasn't a soft humming either, it was as if I was in the middle of the hive. To stand still and listen, while breathing in the sweet scent was magnificent. A treat for the senses.

Today is the final studio day. I will use the time to explore some new materials.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Greenville Arms, Greenville, NY

The confusing part is that there are three Greenville, NY's, each in a different county. For someone from the Midwest where spaces are fairly open and distances between things are spread out, it's a different experience. The Greenville Arms was originally built by William Vanderbilt as a summer home.

It's a beautiful place, which served as a private home until 1952 when it became an inn. The hospitality is top notch and the setting wonderful. There are hiking trails nearby, which I have taken advantage of, and will again later in the week.

The studio is in the carriage house, where there is plenty of light, room and electrical outlets. An important piece for an artist who uses a sewing machine to draw.

It is now the beginning of the second day of the workshop, and the sun is shining beautifully. I am anxious to get to work.

Monday, May 11, 2009


The drive to Greenville was beautiful and virtually no traffic. We arrived at the Greenville Arms around 3:30 pm. Wonderful place with lots of character.

Today we will finish setting up the studio and preparing for the workshop. Studio space is great. It's set up for any type of media and lots of electrical outlets.

I plan to walk some today and see the town and surrounding area.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

On the way to Jamestown

Today we decided to change our route and get off the toll road and heavy traffic. Left I90 at Erie, PA and finished the day in Jamestown, NY. I saw this flowering bush at a rest stop. I'm not familiar with it. Perhaps a mountain laurel, my traveling companion said. Not sure, but it's quite beautiful. So much inspirational countryside and visual stimulation.

Jamestown is a wonderful place. The downtown is fun. This is Lucille Ball's birthplace. The photo at left is painted on the side of one of the buildings. Many references and business names connected to Lucy and Desi here. We took a little drive through most of the downtown area. Would like to spend a little more time here one day.

Tomorrow we will reach our destination, the Greenville Arms, in Greenville, NY.

Looking forward to more beautiful countryside. So many shades of green, so many different types of trees and plants. A visual feast along the way.

Travel day

Our first stop is South Bend, Indiana. There really isn't an alternative route to I80 through the Chicago corridor, and our timing wasn't that great. We hit it right at the beginning of rush hour in the middle of construction season. Sigh. Stop and go for many miles. At least they've widened this corridor in the past few years. It used to be worse.

South Bend is an interesting town. Several colleges and universities clustered together. Beautiful campuses and the downtown area was fairly easy to navigate. I know this because we missed our first exit to get tothe motel and took the scenic route through town. One of the highlights was spying the "Cat Nap Inn". I presume it is a "Kittie B&B". Large silhouettes of cats all over the outside of the house-turned-business. We got a good chuckle out of that one, and wished it wasn't so late so we could stop and get a picture.

Today we shuffle off to Buffalo. More later.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

The Road Less Traveled

I love road trips. Not only do I enjoy driving, but I love being able to see the countryside along the way. I'll take interstate highways when I have to, but I prefer roads less traveled. They take you through the heart of the country. Passing through towns and cities, one is forced to slow down. Watching people as they do their daily work in their environment, while I remain somewhat invisible - just a passing car, from out of state no less - gives me a glimpse of life in that place. While it is only a glimpse, I can learn much. Does the town seem to be thriving, or does it look a little dilapidated and in need of more commerce? What might be the main industry here? In smaller towns, one can usually surmise that it's the agriculture surrounding it, that keeps the businesses afloat. But what of the midsized towns? I look for clues as I drive through.

Tasting my way across country is always fun, too. I prefer locally owned establishments to chain restaurants. I'll eat at the chains if there's nothing else, but I like asking someone who lives there, where they like to eat. I've found some gems in unlikely places.

I'm heading out for a road trip. In the next two weeks, I'll be blogging about where I am and what I'm doing. My destination is Hudson Valley, NY for a week long fiber art workshop. I'll be blogging about that, too. The entire experience is food for creativity. My camera will be busy. So check back frequently. Find out what little gems I may discover along the way.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Ground Hog Day

This little guy came to visit yesterday. I knew there was a ground hog that lived behind our fence along the railroad track and next to the creek, but I never expected to make his acquaintance. I'm glad I keep the camera right next to the deck doors. If I didn't, I would miss some good photo ops!

It's been an exciting week at our house. The orioles have returned! Bright orange and black arrive at the feeder and feast on grape jelly and oranges. So far we've seen two males which means there are probably two females around as well. Then the cat bird made his/her appearance. He/she eats the parts of the orange the orioles leave. I'm sure the hummingbirds are right around the corner. Must get the feeders up.