Thursday, February 08, 2018

A good beginning is half the work

Here we are, already heading into the second week of February and just like clockwork, every single year, I find myself wondering how the month of January flew by so fast. 2018 is 1/12th over! I've barely had a chance to catch my breath from the busy holiday season to even think about all those New Year's Resolutions. I mean, it's already February, why even bother now?

Is it even worth it to begin something new if we have gotten off to a later start than everyone else seems to have? Sound familiar?

In one form or another, this self-defeating belief creeps into our thinking and keeps us stuck in old behavior patterns, preventing us from stepping out of an established routine to try something new. I didn't take the traditional pathway to becoming an established career artist, no degree or MFA or any formal training, it wasn't in the cards for me. But where would I be now if I hadn't decided to let go of the security of the known career path when I was approaching my forties, to start experimenting with mixed media and collage?

The faulty thinking of "why bother now" can be even more amplified when we have started strong down a particular path and gotten sidetracked by life somewhere along the way. Then the "why even bother now" messages get reinforced with the good ol' "I had my shot and blew it". 

"It's too late..." is a roadblock of a self-protective thinking pattern gone-awry, making us weary of starting something new when we have grown accustomed to the way things are. We come up with rational and reasonable sounding excuses not to try, but the bottom line so often comes down to fear of the unknown, or what author of The War Of Art, Steven Pressfield, calls "resistance". 

After much experience with these mental obstacles, I now recognize that when it comes to stepping out of my comfort zone to achieve something I've only dreamed of doing, taking the first step is the hardest. I don't always know exactly how to begin, so I don't even try. 

That's why I firmly believe that half the value of taking an art workshop isn't only about learning a new technique, but in finding the freedom to let yourself try. 

In my Wax, Paper, Scissors workshop experimenting and trying something new is the name of the game. And because I know that a common obstacle to trying a new technique is the expense of purchasing supplies and tools you have never used before and don't even know if you'll like, I've decided to include nearly everything you need in my February class. This is one of the biggest benefits of taking a workshop in the artist's studio - I don't have to be selective about what I bring for you to use, because we are in my personal workspace. Everything I use is right there. 

Won't you join me in giving yourself permission to try?

Friday, February 02, 2018

Why Not Wisconsin?

"It is so fine and yet so terrible to stand in front of a blank canvas."
~Paul Cezanne
(Kenosha, Wisconsin North Pier Lighthouse, photo featured in USA today by Phil Koch)

Hello friends,

I am getting set to head to the studio for the first time all month. Short of running in for an hour to pack supplies and returning to dump supplies and pack more supplies before running back out the door, I have not had the opportunity to just spend time creating for what seems like an eternity. 

There are a few projects on the work table that I need to spend time finishing up, and I'll start shooting video footage for my new ecourse this month (yes, finally!) but it is also time for me to get out a few blank canvases and start a new body of work. There are times that facing that blank canvas is a thrill and times where it really is a dreaded task. After such a long time away, it is sometimes hard to get back in the proverbial saddle again and let the creativity flow. 

Reflecting on the workshop I just wrapped up in California and looking forward to the latest addition to my schedule at the Sedona Arts Center in October, I realized that many people choose which workshop to register for based on the location where I'll be teaching. I get it, It is fun to travel and explore new regions of the country, especially those that are known for their scenic landscapes and surroundings, but it made me wonder, why not Wisconsin?

I grabbed the image above from a recent post on USA Today's Facebook page taken by a local landscape photographer, Phil Koch. The image is literally what I consider to be my back yard. Okay, my actual back yard is a parking lot of the townhouse we live in, but it is a half a block to Harbor park where this image was taken and where we walk daily. Lake Michigan offers a never ending display of splendor and photographers from the world over have captured it's many moods on any given day. One of the hotels that I recommend to people traveling to take a workshop at my own studio is right there at the other end of that pier- the Wyndham Garden Harborside.

A 15 minute drive down Sheridan road, my studio is located in Racine, Wisconsin and my drive there offers me great stretches of Lake Michigan views. So often on my way to work, I cannot resist stopping at one of the roadside parking lots and walking the beach looking for driftwood and sea glass. Granted, my February workshop might be a few months shy of the perfect beach combing weather, but did you know that Racine is also the home of the Racine Art Museum, which offers a world renowned collection of contemporary craft - the largest collection in North America? 

Free Ice Skating at Monument Square just a short drive from the studio, outstanding local galleries to explore in Kenosha, and plenty of great restaurants and cute shops in each location, there is plenty to do when class isn't in session- oh, and there is always the cheese castle or one of the many Racine Kringle bakeries, to get a taste of that true Wisconsin flavor - after all, we are America's dairyland!

Nestled a mere 30-45 minutes away from Milwaukee, and just over an hour to Chicago, the studio is perfectly situated for a stop during an extended vacation. Take a workshop and then leave yourself plenty of time to explore these two great cities. 

Next up is my Wax, Paper, Scissors workshop and if I haven't managed to convince you based on the studio and great location alone, I'm currently offering to supply your art panels when you enroll, two 18" x 18" panels will be waiting for you, along with all the supplies and tools the fee already covers; encaustic and cold wax, adhesive, watercolor paper, and other supplies and tools you'll need. All you need to bring is your own collection of ephemera and found papers to make your projects more personal!

Two months from today, I will be welcoming mixed media artist, Michael Shemchuk as a guest artist/instructor in my studio and chances are, the weather will be warming up enough to explore the beaches, as if having the opportunity to explore collage with this abstract master isn't enough! Check out the description below and sign up soon, the class is nearly full!

Sunday, January 14, 2018

First To See

"First to see things as they are
then to meet things as they are."
~Mark Nepo   

I am home resting on the couch after a week long trip nearly 500 miles from home. This first full week after the holidays trip has become a favorite time of the year - an annual tradition of gathering with artist and teacher friends, hanging low, creating art, gathering around the table with no real agenda other than renewal in preparation for our individual and collaborative schedules in the year ahead.
The quote at the top of the page contains my word for the year: "See". The choosing of a word, or the letting a word choose me each January, has also become an annual tradition. It helps me to focus on the meaning of that word to set an intention or theme for the year, rather than make New Year's Resolutions.
When "see" first started presenting itself to me, I resisted. It sounded too simplistic and lackluster, nearly feeling like I hadn't really tried very hard to find my word. So I asked for verification and sure enough, the confirmation started rolling in. It isn't about seeing visually, but having an internal knowing. To be able to see what is underneath, a discerning if you will.
Life has a way of being our teacher if we let it. And I have been giving life permission to teach.
I loaded up the car for my annual road trip to the castle, and started listening to the new book I had downloaded on audible. And then about halfway there, I was in the throes of an anxiety attack, something the author said made me aware of the emotions I had been carrying. Each year, this gathering has grown, beginning with a small group of just 3, this year we had 11, and for some reason I hadn't been able to put my finger on, I was feeling a great deal of apprehension about going.
And then there it was, sitting behind the wheel of the car, suddenly I was back in junior high. 
Geeky, pimply, oily faced and awkward, sitting alone at the lunch table listening to the popular kids tease me. Growing up, I never fully belonged to one group or another, and heading to this week long intimate gathering, I realized to a certain degree, I still feel like that sometimes. This group of women represented all those cool kids at the table and I subconsciously walked in carrying the shame and the weight of those childhood wounds fully expecting to relive the experience.
Of course that isn't what happened. Though I have to admit, the first night I was a bit of a mess and had to fight the urge to flee. But I woke the next day able to "see". And it was healing.
First to see things as they are, then to meet things as they are.
If I hadn't been able to see my 13 year old self, I may have carried the emotions with me all through the week unaware, preventing any possibility of true connection with the other artists. I would not have been able to meet myself at the table to know that I really do belong.
And so do you. There is room for us all at the table

Saturday, November 25, 2017

Now Available Annual Postcard Sized Art Sale - US and Abroad!

It's the most wonderful time of the year!

This really has become one of my favorite events of the year. I get to sit down at the table with all of the scraps I've collected while working on larger works throughout the year, with all of the inspiration and all of the design ideas that I've collected for the last twelve months, and make these small postcard sized works of art to offer up to you.

For only $30 you will receive an original postcard sized collage. Compare to my original 4" x 4" works, which typically sell between $75 - $150. 

These special edition works are each one of a kind, signed on the front, original works of art done in the same abstract style and with the same materials I've been using on bigger works throughout the year. They are suitable for framing, collecting, and gift giving.

To allow me to make such a special offer to you, I get to surprise you with the design-grab bag style. Each work is crafted with the same care and attention to detail that I give to all of my original works of art, the only difference is the time I save by not photographing and listing each one individually. 

The art comes to you packaged in a clear cellophane wrapper. Enjoy your original art displayed on a small easel, frame it and hang it salon style on your living room wall, or even mail it to a friend as mail art! 

This is a limited time, limited quantity opportunity that sells out each year and this year they are available internationally too! Be sure to get one while they last!

US or International

Thursday, November 09, 2017

Welcoming Master Collage and Mixed Media Artist Michael Shemchuk To My Studio

Michael Shemchuk: Abstraction By Design: A Mixed Media Workshop

Join me in welcoming collage and mixed media master artist, Michael Shemchuk to teach in my studio Spring 2018.

A Mixed Media Workshop
$350 per student
March 24 - 25, 2018
10am - 4:30pm Saturday and Sunday
1405 16th Street; Racine, WI (easy flight to Milwaukee and half hour drive from the airport, recommendations for accommodations provided upon request)

This workshop focuses on the triptych. Our goal is to create 3- 20”x20” wood panels to work as a synchronized series, as well as individually stand alone artworks. We will be using the Abstraction by Design process in this endeavor. The ABD approach enables the artist to use their painting and collage experience in tandem with their design & layout skills. We put into practice the physicality of painting and collage as well as our sensibilities of design and layout.

We work with paint, paper and clear mediums, as we focus on textures, color selections, surface manipulations, de-constructing and visual balance. 

Michael Shemchuk (shem) is a San Francisco Bay Area artist, who is represented by several fine art galleries in the US and Canada.
Please visit. 

3-20”x20” wood panels. (Bring additional panels to work on ,if you wish)
     A variety of collage papers (colors,graphics,text,handwritten, aged etc).
1- qt. white latex (satin or semi gloss) house paint.
1- qt. black latex(satin or semi gloss) house paint.
1- qt. acrylic satin varnish
1 pint or qt. Primary Color  (acrylic artist or house paint). Students choose this color to be used on their panels
5- mixing containers w/lids ( plastic yogurt, cottage cheese, qt. containers work well.
4-5 2” chip brushes & artist brushes. Pencils, graphite.
1- small squeegee (only if you have on hand). Scissors
Various wide and narrow putty knives.
Scrubber sponge & rags for clean up.

1-sheet 100 grit sandpaper + sanding block.