Monday, January 30, 2012


" Creativity requires the courage to let go of certainties"
- Erich Fromm

Creative inspiration can come from many places....but a certainty that anything that I create will actually sell isn't my first thought. Don't get me wrong. There are those things that I manufacture for stores that have been known to sell over and over again, that originally came from an inspired place, but have now become production line items that take me a lot of meticulous time to reproduce, but I don't really have to put a lot of creative thought into. The delight that I feel for these pieces is in the knowledge that there will be a pay check at the end of the process that will enable me to continue creating the things that I'm really turned inside out about. I never know what will sell. If I listen too closely to too many people's advice about what I should be creating, I'm usually lead down paths that have me spending valuable time and resources that I regret wasting.....and it usually turns out that they know about as much about what will sell as I do. I'm always hopeful that if I create things that I am passionate about, with enough work, I will also find the people who will enable me to continue on this path by purchasing a piece or two. I encourage people's criticisms, and advice, but I've learned to weigh everything carefully. Over time I've developed a pretty thick skin.....but I contemplate everything.
Sometimes a piece will pretty drastically evolve, based on circumstance or criticism. An example of which is one of my encaustic collages entitled " Alice is Late"...a piece loosely inspired by Alice in Wonderland. Shortly after the original work was completed, I was invited to create an Alice in Wonderland window installation at Mindful Nest, in Burbank, CA, which was to showcase my work. This invitation lead to the creation of the more literal interpretation of Alice in Wonderland, containing more easily recognizable elements from the stories...circumstance. Alice's face in the original " Alice in Wonderland" piece, was the same face as in the " Alice is Late" collage until it was suggested to me that it was an " off putting expression" and the I should switch it out with a more pleasant face....criticism. I weighed the revision and the change lead to the sale of a few prints. But more importantly, the encouragement of those sales lead to the inspiration to print it onto muslin and to creation of my " Alice in Wonderland" fantasy first published piece.
Thank you to all of you, who have encouraged me with your advice and criticisms over the years. The creative path is a mostly uncharted one and it is nice to know that you are all there to offer directions and hold up signs when I need them...but knowing my nature, I'll most likely head off bumping through the pot holes first!

Monday, January 23, 2012

Art as a Hot Dish.....

Why do I get tongue tied when people ask, " What do you do,"? I never know quite what to say. If I say I'm a fine artist, the next question usually is," Do you paint?" And I do. But I've never really been able to focus on one thing. I have a Fine Arts degree from a university, but even in that setting, I had a difficult time " declaring an area " of focus. For most of my life, my artistic inclinations have been mostly self taught as I grew up on a farm in Minnesota. Which is probably why I'm rebellious when it comes to having too many creative restrictions. I prefer to figure it out, make mistakes, make it up and find my way methodically. Maybe it's the mid-westerner in me, but I've come to look at my way of creating a piece of art kind of like a Lutheran Church basement woman looks at putting together a good hotdish. I like to take a little bit of this and a little bit of that, maybe some leftovers, and combine them together to create something altogether new and exciting. Dressing up things that are no longer interesting on their own and making them into something that people want a piece of is a lovely, exciting challenge. My obsession with learning new ways to present and rework old things is the ' mushroom soup base' that holds everything together. My recipes aren't to everyone's tastes. There will always be people who are bothered by the mixing of mediums, just like there are people who prefer that the foods on their plates " don't touch". I guess I'm looking for the crowd who can take a look at my " creative casserole" and say, " I don't understand exactly what is in this....but I think it looks delicious!"

Thursday, January 12, 2012

There are few days off and no retirement from this entanglement of knowledge, passion and vision that will be molded and converted into creative expression. There are no guarantees of acceptance, understanding or reward, but....The noise inside my mind never ceases. I will paint today, tonight and for as many tomorrows as I am given....

-Frank Howell

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Art in Life

A couple of weeks ago I received an early Christmas advanced copy of the Winter 2012 Belle Armoire featuring romance inspired clothing, and my Miss Braun jacket. It's been such a delight to see my work in print over the past months. I become very attached to every piece that I create, as we spend hours, days, weeks, and in some cases months together, marrying bits of the past into something of beauty that will live on into the future. My work has become a sort of time line for me over the past few years, which have not been the easiest. I work wherever I happen to be. The first thing that is packed into my carry-on bag is a stitching satchel. I put more time into planning the pieces I am going to be working on when I'm traveling, making certain that I have all of the bits and pieces that I will need so I won't have a panic attack from being left with my hands empty and idle, than I do in the planning of what I will actually wear while I am away....although my family will argue that comment....I worry about and plan everything's a curse. Many of my tea dyed pieces were created while I spent months flying back and forth between LA and Minnesota while my mother was fighting cancer. I had pots of antique lace sitting in tea baths in my sister's house while my family cared for her in her final weeks. I sat in a chair by her bed and crocheted her entire last day....I've never been able to finish that scarf. Those are things that I think about when I salvage beautiful hand made lace and doilies, and linens. These are little bits of other women's histories....beautiful things that they created while taking care of people they loved. There are a lot of tears mixed into those intricately knotted fibers, and many of them were there long before I was even born.....I feel compelled to preserve them.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Let's begin this again....

I just finished reading my last post....written MONTHS ago. I don't know whether to laugh or cry. I'm determined to become better at doing this blogging thing this year. I am so focused on producing work, that I fall short when it comes to promoting myself. I have had a few successes in that area this past year, however. The publishers of Altered Couture and Belle Armoire magazines have honored me with the opportunity to share my work with a larger community of people by selecting several pieces of my work for their beautiful publications. I never expect to have my work accepted, and am always stunned to see my pieces in print. It's the beginning of a new year. I am happy for that. I'm hopeful for 2012....the air is heavy with change. The act of sitting down and tapping out a few words is a step in the right steps.