Month: December 2012

Happy New Year…what happened to the old one?

2012:

An impromptu trip to Paris and Bruges in March with my friend Melinda Byrd

A trip to Ocean City, Maryland for St. Patrick’s Day with my husband’s fraternity brothers and their spouses

A 3 1/2 month long kitchen/bathroom/laundry room renovation

Three months in a boot because of a torn Achilles tendon (yes, it healed)

An amazing party with my entire family for my 50th birthday

A trip to Orlando with the afore-mentioned fraternity brothers (and spouses)

Saying goodbye to old friends who have moved away ¬†ūüė¶

Saying hello to family members who have moved here ¬†ūüôā

3 weddings

1 funeral

An open studio

A blog

Sculptures moving around the mid-west

Good food

Good wine

And lots of little stuff.

On a snowy day in New Jersey, someone got married

Sometimes beauty shines through bad photography. ¬†All I can say is I’m glad I wasn’t the court photographer. ¬†I still have a lot to learn about photography. ¬†But I couldn’t resist taking (and posting) these pictures of one of the most beautiful families I know. ¬†I am grateful to be an honorary Filipino!

 

Clear the clutter

It’s Boxing Day, a day for slowing down and taking stock of my surroundings. (This is much easier when it is sleeting/snowing/raining outside) ¬†I spent several hours tackling jobs that have been yelling at me for the past few months (or is it years?). ¬†Every so often it’s important to de-clutter a portion of my life, even if it is the drawers and cupboard in my bathroom. ¬†It’s quite remarkable just how much stuff I accumulate that’s designed to make me feel better, look better and smell better. ¬†So every couple of years I spend a day throwing out the remainders of herbal “remedies”, musty smelling bandages and shampoos that definitely do NOT make may hair shiny and manageable.

I am notoriously messy. ¬†Not dirty, just messy. ¬†My office, my studio and my brain are filled with huge swathes of things that can only be filed under “miscellaneous”. ¬†I come by it honestly, some time I may write about my mother, the “saving pig”. ¬†I actually am a very good organizer (as she was), I just don’t seem to have the desire to put things away after using them. ¬†It is frustrating when I can’t put my hands on a particular screwdriver or a tape measure. ¬†The problem is, I still have a hard time with this even when things are put away, there’s always something missing from it’s spot and I find this even more frustrating than when everything is scattered all over the room.

My good friend and amazing artist Melinda Byrd says that one of the ways she deals with this problem is to set the timer for 15 minutes¬†before she starts working. ¬†During this 15 minutes, she just cleans. ¬†Nothing else. ¬†She just puts stuff away, wipes down the counter and prepares an area for work. ¬†Perhaps this isn’t such a bad way to do things. ¬†I should try it out. ¬†I wonder if it will work on my brain as well? ¬†For instance, I could spend fifteen minutes thinking of all the things I don’t want to be thinking about while I work. ¬†Like my 91 year-old dad and his problems, the petty annoyances of marriage, the crazy world we live in, my fears of failure/success/rejection, etc.

When I was a girl and I was scared of the dark or I didn’t feel well, my mother would say “Just think pretty thoughts and it will go away.” ¬†So perhaps I need to clear out the clutter in my brain and fill it with pretty thoughts, positive thoughts, thoughts that are conducive to creating something amazing. ¬†I don’t mean live in a “Peace, love and puppychow” world. ¬†I mean just throw out the musty bandages in my brain, the ones that don’t work anymore, and replace them with useful, clean ones. ¬†And then close the drawer and get to work.

Christmas morning

Woke up to snow on christmas…there is a reason why there are so many songs about it. ¬†Of course I would have taken more pictures of snow had I roused myself out of bed earlier, but it mostly melted by the time I got out there. ¬†Merry Christmas everyone, have a peaceful day!

Daily art

For art to be part of our life we must live with it.  In a way, things like museums and Lincoln Center kill art and music.  Art is not for particular people but should be in everything you do Рin cooking, and, God knows, in the bread on the table, in the way everything is done.

-attributed to American architect Benjamin C. Thompson

taken from “In the Land of Temple Caves” by Frederick Turner. ¬†Counterpoint, 2004

The yellow/brown of the soybean field in autumn
The yellow/brown of the soybean field in autumn

The first time I read this quote, it was if I turned and looked at life from¬†a slightly different angle, but one that made everything come into focus. ¬†The quote was written in regards to the fact that the French know how to live. ¬†Their food, music, art…their lives are all about art. ¬†I have seen it in person and I have felt it upon occasion but it is more difficult to access in this country. ¬†At least it is for me.

I have tried to make choices in my life (and I am thankful to have the ability to make choices) that are based upon bringing harmony into my world. ¬†My studio, my house, my property are all set up to be pleasing to me and to make everyday experiences like eating breakfast or making a piece of art even more amazing. ¬†Of course sometimes I have made a choice that doesn’t work (I wince when I think of some of the wall colors I chose when I was in my 20’s.) ¬†But I learn from those mistakes, and sometimes it really does help to know what¬†doesn’t work before you find out what does. ¬†It’s also true that a 30 year-old’s vision of art is quite different than a 50 year-old’s and I’m willing to bet that my ideas will change again by the time I’m 70. ¬†But underneath it all the goal is harmony, an environment that says “There, now, doesn’t that bowl of cereal taste a little better?”

I have also spent time trying to figure out what is the best way to install art work so that it can be part of other people’s life. ¬†Right now, with my big pieces, I have them scattered in various towns around the country (I know, how do you¬†scatter a life-sized giraffe?). ¬†The big thing right now is for towns to have sculpture shows in their downtown area. ¬†This way everybody gets to enjoy them, not just the people who walk into art galleries and museums. ¬†I’ve always wanted to have my artwork be accessible to the general public. ¬†If I didn’t, I would keep them in my backyard. ¬†So the lion is in Sioux Falls being leased to buy by the…um…Lion’s Club of Sioux Falls. ¬†The musk ox and egg are out there too but will be moving onto other towns next year. ¬†The scattered giraffe is in Quiet Waters Park in Annapolis. ¬†I get such a kick out of hearing that someone went jogging in the park and truly enjoyed running by the giraffe. ¬†(And for the record, yes, they are for sale.)

Bringing art into your life doesn’t have to be complicated or expensive. ¬†Nor does it have to be art. ¬†Some of the best ways I have of bringing art into my life is eating a really good meal that my husband has cooked. ¬†Or perhaps I will light some candles for dinner. ¬†Or I will pull the beautifully colored throw blanket over my cold feet while watching TV. ¬†Or I might breathe in the yellow/brown color of the soybean field in autumn. ¬†Art is not just what is on the wall but, like the quote says, it is in EVERYTHING you do.

So my job as a human is to find ways to bring art into my life, by reading books, listening to music, looking at art, and painting my walls a pleasing color (s0me day I’ll get the hang of the color thing.) ¬†My job as an artist is to create beautiful objects that make people smile, frown, ponder and, well, live!

I’d love to hear what kinds of things bring art into your life. ¬†It can be something simple like finding a really good sandwich place for lunch or something more complex like traveling to Europe and going to museums. ¬†Scroll all the way to the bottom of the page and leave me your ideas!

Yup, it’s Christmas.

My Christmas season is not complete without hearing Amahl and the Night Visitors by Gian-Carlo Menotti. ¬†I remember singing all the parts, playing the recorder (for Amahl’s flute) and dancing in front of the big bay window to the music in our house at least once a year when I was growing up. ¬†It’s the one opera that makes my dad cry. (Neither of us are fans of serious opera…too screechy for my tastes.) ¬†I cry and get chills from the beauty and power of the mother’s voice combined with the kings’. ¬† I have the original recording which I think I saw on TV when it was first broadcast. ¬†It is a portal to the past as well as a way to plant myself in the here (hear?) and now. ¬†Because each year, it’s not officially Christmas until I hear it. ¬†And today, it’s Christmas.