Monthly Archives: May 2013

Inspiration Friday: “Superabundant Atmosphere” by Jacob Hashimoto


Check out Jacob Hashimoto’s 2005 installation, “Superabundant Atmosphere“, an amazing installation of thousands of white paper kites hung from the ceiling. I ran across this one via fubiz, and I’m in love.  After a week of being stuck in the static world of paper art, when nothing really moves, it’s a beautiful thing to see the same material set to motion.  In my mind, I’m lying on the floor, looking up, watching the kites move with the air currents.

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Unplugged Sundays

Orcas 11 2010 ed

Tonight, I’m unplugging the router, turning off my cell phone, and going to bed. Tomorrow, I’ll wake up when I am done sleeping. I’ll probably make breakfast for The Hubs, feed the guinea pigs, and see what happens from there. At our house, we started unplugging Sundays, and it’s been amazing to see what develops.

I cook more of the fabulous things I read about online. I fritter around in the studio, get a few projects started without worrying about meeting a deadline. I dig in the garden. I go for a walk. I sleep. I write. Maybe even on the computer.

But mostly, we reset the rhythm of our days. We turn everything back to zero, stop listening to all the buzzers and alarms and alerts, and listen for what emerges out of the silence. It takes the first hours of the day to get used to the idea. Then it takes an hour to get over not knowing what’s happening on Facebook, over missing a text message. After that, we’re too busy enjoying ourselves to know anything different.

What I am discovering is that there is something very simple, very clean, about listening to what you want or need, and then doing that. There is nothing more delicious than looking up, thinking that you are tired, and then toddling off to bed for a nap. Or remembering a scene from a book, and then spending the afternoon reading the whole thing. The rest of my life is so structured, by work, by home, by outings and errands, that this island of peace is very precious.

So I’ll see you all again soon. But not tomorrow. I’ll be busy out in the garden, or walking in the neighborhood, or sleeping. Yes. Definitely sleeping.

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Illustration Friday

Ever been in a rut with your work? I’m tired of making the same old thing, I know I need something new, but I can’t come up with anything. I start fishing for new ideas, nothing seems to work.

Creative constipation.

If you haven’t found it already, one of the best resources for getting unstuck is a project called Illustration Friday. Every Friday, they release a new topic for artists all over the world to work on for the week and submit on the website. One word, any interpretation counts, any medium, any size. The work is beautiful, and there’s nothing like a topic and a deadline to really get things rolling again.

Check it out, or better, submit some work, and see what happens. Sometimes, it just takes one good idea to get things started.

*The lovely work above was for the topic, “Liquid.” By Clyo Parecchini, check out the rest of her work. Beautiful stuff.

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And then, everything ground to a halt.

What with a work trip over the weekend, and being sick like a dog over same weekend, everything that was planned for when I got back flew out the window. The studio still looks like a booth blew up inside, I’ve still got about four half done projects sitting to the left, and a longer and longer list of projects to start on the list hanging on the wall.

Not exactly what I had planned, truth be told.

Time to start over, try again, dust everything off and see if we can still make something out of it. Time to let go of what should have happened, and pull forward into where I actually am. Today, that means returning the library books, putting away the stack of booth boxes, and knuckling down to finish the first project that’s due this week. Today, that means reassessing the timelines I’ve put together, see what will still work, what won’t, and moving on. Today, that means getting ahead on a few other projects so I’m not quite as far behind when I hit the next pothole down the road.

Having a plan for sick days/delays in delivery/whatever is an important part of any business, but I’d sort of forgotten that. You get to the point where you think that because you’ve kept up this pace for a while, you can definitely maintain this pace forever. Hah! So yes, this week is also about making contingency plans for the inevitable, and trying to remember that I shouldn’t feel so smug the next time I’m a little bit ahead. Humility is apparently what’s called for here. Who knew?

So what about you? What’s your plan for keeping your projects moving forward?

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Inspiration Friday: Andi Rharharha “Hopscotch”

In the art gallery in my mind, people could come up, touch the art, hold it, whisper to it, listen to it, and then walk on the next piece.  No museum alarms blaring when you cross a line on the floor, just a space to interact with the art in the way that the artists did.

Andi Rharharha  of Jakarta takes this to the next level.  I ran across the video of his tape installation in downtown Jakarta via the Wooster Collective, and I think I’m in love.  His playful designs and shapes invite everyone to stop, interact, jump, and dance before continuing on with their work. I’ve had some ideas brewing for interactive art projects, and seeing Rharharha’s work just feeds the fire.

Beautiful stuff, folks.

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As my creative process grows, I can tell that I started out as a writer. I start with a general idea, and make a bunch of sketches. I get my sketches exactly as I want them, ink them in, get everything tight, and see that a big chunk is all wrong, and I do it all over again.

Other artists don’t let it get that far, I think.

I’m learning how to look at the unfinished pieces, how to see how it might look when it’s done. But it’s not perfect. I still often get all the way to the end, realize it’s terrible, and then start all over again.

It’s still more like writing a poem than making a visual artwork for me. I start with everything – all the phrases, all the images, all the curlicues that could fit into the final version. The red sharpie comes out next – cut out the dead space, cut out the crowded places, put back in that last twist in the lower right hand corner. It’s a bit like doing a rewrite. Every bit seems essential, at first, until you start editing. Then you marvel that you ever included that bit in the first place. Over time, the true work emerges out of the eraser crumbs somewhere in the fifth draft, and the art is finally there.

What about you? What’s your process this week?

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You and Your Format

HOPE Detail 2ed

Sometimes, it’s the scale that’s all wrong. I make a sketch of what I think will fit into a 4 x6 inch size, or 5 x7, I ink it in, and then the problems start. Everything is too crowded, it looks too fussy, and the logistics of getting the exacto blade into those curves just won’t work. Argh. So I start scaling it up – something that looks too baroque at 4 x6 looks positively spartan at 8 x 10.

I’m learning to play to the strengths of each size, I think. The smallest pieces, the cards and tags, call for my simplest work. I’m learning to save some projects for the small scale – the cleanest designs, the fewest twirls, the least literal.

I haven’t figured out what the larger work can be, yet. Part of me wants to cram as much activity into every square inch of the page, but I can see what’s coming. Start with an 8 x 10, realize it’s way too much for its own size, and then – scale it up. Who knows where this will end? At this rate, I’ll be churning out six foot panels in no time.

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gallery-Crowd1 mead fest

This weekend, I’ve spent some time in the company of artisan mead and cider makers. In a tent in the middle of the farmer’s market, you can buy $20 worth of tickets that you trade for mouthfuls of delicious hard cider, mead, and fruit wines. It is extremely delicious.

There is something powerful about talking with an artisan maker. These are the people who care deeply about the details that the consumer never sees, the ones who stay up nights dreaming about the perfect way to make their product. These are the people that travel around the world to learn from the masters, and then come home to sink all their money into making art through doing.

In the middle of all the messages about making the things that the people want to hear/see/use, and in the middle of all the noise about marketing/market share, it is so good to sit in the quiet of making one thing really, really well. I visit their island, and I am refreshed, ready to return to the hard work of making better things than yesterday.

What refreshes you this week? What gives you the motivation to keep going in your own creative work?

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Inspiration Friday: Wasteland

I struggle between two directions – first, to make art that stirs the viewer, that makes them see the beauty that is already around them.  Second, to change how we see each other, to change the horror and injustice in the world.  This week, I wanted to share the work of an artist who seems to do both.

Lucy Walker’s 2010 documentary, “Wasteland,” follows Vik Muniz, Brazilian artist living and working in New York, in his project to work with the recyclable materials pickers at the Jardin Gramacho landfill.  The pickers spend their days finding recyclable materials out of the garbage at the dump and hauling it in barrels to pickup trucks, which take the materials to be sold to wholesalers.  They live in crowded, improvised favelas in the shadow of the largest landfill on the planet outside Rio de Janiero.  His work was to make portraits of the pickers out of garbage, with their help to assemble all the materials and place the items in the final work, and then to sell the work at auction to support the pickers’ union.

Watching the film (available on Netflix, doncha know), I was struck by both how simple it is to create positive change, yet how important it is to unwind the tangled threads of the ethical, artistic, and financial aspects of the project and its participants. “Wasteland” is well worth a watch for all of us working in the arts, it’s a beautifully told story about a collaborative approach to making art and making change.


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Wednesday Project Update

Love grows progress ed

Now that I’ve got my basic product line put together for the summer (check it out at, I’m starting to think about a wedding line. Yes, some of this is self – serving, and yes, I do have seven weddings to send presents to. Hopefully I can make this a win – win.

I don’t really want to get sucked into the land of making thousands of hand cut invitations, so I’m trying to come up with a set of good wedding gifts, some wedding cards, and maybe a few items for the day itself. It’s sort of odd to be plunged back into the land of wedding prep after your own wedding is done, I have to say.

Wedding cards come first (I have seven to give out this summer, after all). I was working on these designs surrounding words of love, but two drafts later, I finally got that there was way too much detail for something so small. And the doodle I did in between drafts turned out better than anything else from the day.

Wedding gifts are next on the list (see above, re: seven weddings). I made my own sign (that never ended up being used) with our names and the date, which turned out quite well. I’m thinking of re – working that so that it could stand alone as a framed piece, maybe adding some border work or something.

So, folks – what are you working on today?

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