“Where do you get your inspiration from?”
I was asked this question this past week. It is a question I hear pretty often. My answer is usually “What doesn’t inspire me?” A bit snide perhaps. But honest.
The person who asked the question was a teenager and in some ways I feel like I dropped the ball on the answer. There was a lot going on, I had a group from one of the local high schools visiting the sculpture gardens and studio. We were on our way from one place to another and he quietly asked the question while the others were occupied with the kangaroo. It has been a while since I led a group of teens and I had forgotten how shy and quiet they can be with new experiences. If I had it to do over again, I would have talked about it differently. I might have brought the question up later when we were all gathered, and answered it seriously and at length. Because I think that it is the crux of being an artist.
Here’s what I would have answered:
“I am inspired by everything I take in sensorily. Patterns, rhythms, smells, colors, animals, plants, tastes, weather, books, music, textures, life experiences, feelings, sports, politics, psychology, philosophy, religions, interactions, how things work, how things don’t work, theater, film, dreams…okay, you get the picture. I hope. The fact is that when you are an artist, not a day goes by where nothing happens. Every day, something registers in my brain, either consciously or sub-consciously. Some artists like to take photos of these moments, others like to sketch. Journaling is a very effective way of processing these daily vignettes. I like to simply experience them. Because I know that at some point the experience will come out in my artwork. It could be days, weeks or months later. I might not even be aware of it until after it has appeared. But there will be that moment when I think ‘Oh, I know what this piece is about now.’ So my advice to you is to always look, listen, smell, hear and touch, write, draw, photograph…but most of all…live.”
The exhibit at the new gallery in Taneytown, MD starts this week. I will be exhibiting there along with an amazing photographer, Alyssha Eve Csük. You are invited to join us on this Thursday (the 20th) from 5 to 7 for an opening reception. (Address: 107 E. Baltimore St., Taneytown, MD) I am super excited about it, the guys have been bending over backwards to get the space finished and to accommodate us for this show. It promises to be a wild event! For more info, click here or go to Buickster Gallery on Facebook.
I was able to spend an entire day in the studio today, something that has not happened for a while. Spent some time just playing…and in one day I finished this study with masonry nails. I really like the shadows!
Have a wonderful Easter/Passover/whatever and I hope to see you on Thursday!
Well, it’s hot. If you’ve been wondering whether I have given up working in the studio during this heat the answer is…sort of.
I am not welding but there is plenty of other stuff to keep me busy. I finished the second of the seed pods on Friday and managed to get it into the garden on Saturday. I don’t know if it’s going to stay there forever, but I’m not moving it until the temperature goes back down to the mid-80’s. Or lower. Much lower.
So for now, here’s a sneak peek at the pod in its temporary place. We decided maybe it should be called “Pod de Deux” since it is the second in the series.
I have started the third piece, but again, it will have to wait a bit. In the meantime I am busy doing research and thinking and drawing and thinking some more to come up with the next designs that I will be tackling. Stay tuned!
In other news, my installation, “Pipeline”, is still ensconced at the Delaplaine gallery in Frederick. MD. The opening was well attended. The show is up until Saturday the 30th (I know, not much time left to see it). I was happy to see it up, but I have to admit to some trepidation over this particular installation. I had had to jerry-rig it due to an oversight when I was packing all the tools for the installation. (I forgot to add the special nails I was using and had to make do with regular nails.) So even though I was the only one who knew how fragile it was, I spent some time last Monday fixing it. It is definitely stronger and more stable now.
And finally…it is official! We are hosting a fundraiser event in September. Creative Alliance is a community arts organization in a cultural dessert in downtown Baltimore. It has grown over the years and now provides an amazing focus for the arts in that community. Every year they offer a group of events that are designed to raise money for the organization. These events, titled “Art to Dine For”, are a combination of art and good food, put on by various local artists and board members. This year, Rich and I will be hosting an event called “Art Camp”. Here is the write up on their website…
Look forward to an afternoon of pure fun and bring the kids, too! Explore the 100-year-old barn Virginia Sperry has converted into her welding studio where she creates life-sized animals and birds out of steel. Wander through Virginia’s six acres where several of her animal sculptures are carefully installed. Enjoy homemade ice cream sandwiches made from fresh cookies and Hoffman’s ice cream and watch your kids play together in rollingdownhill races, creating masterpieces with sidewalk chalk, and riding a handmade rocking llama.
2–4:30pm | Adults $55 | Kids $25 (Call 410-276-1651 Tues – Sat to purchase Kids’ Tickets)
Food: Fun Treats | Attire: Country Comfy | Location: Carroll County
You can find this information and sign up for the event at http://creativealliance.org/calendar/art-dine.
I urge you to check out all the offerings. There are some really fun evenings planned throughout the fall and early winter.
Please note…this is the only other time this year that the sculpture garden will be open to the public. This event is not free but 100% of the money that we make goes to fund community arts education and programs. It is really going to be a lot of fun!
I thought I would leave you with a photograph that I took recently. There have not been many butterflies in my garden which is too bad, because this has been a wonderful year for flowers. But I did manage to capture this beauty while it was dining on my echinacea.
The open studio is over and life has returned to its normal peaceful, ordered state. I spent the day recovering from being super hostess and will resume being an artist tomorrow. For right now, I am content reliving the weekend in all its glory.
As I ponder the weekend, I am struck by how much we as a society are stuck on numbers to qualify our happiness and success. How many home runs did someone get in a season, how many people voted in an election, what score did your child get on the test, what is your IQ. The list is endless as to how we measure ourselves. Endless, but limited. For we don’t always measure the stuff that is really important. How many people dropped popcorn while they cheered for those home runs because they were so excited? How many people were affected by the policies put into place by the elected official? How many times was your child polite to other people? And how many times did you smile today? Perhaps those are the questions we should be finding the answers to.
I am not immune to the numbers game. Throughout my career as an artist, I have avidly counted things. Dollars I made at a craft show, new names on my mailing list, visitors to my gallery, lizards sold…it all added up over the years. But quite honestly, I can’t say that any of it was really important. I continued to make stuff, people continued to buy it and I wasn’t any more or less happy after I had figured out the bottom line. Or if I was, it was fleeting because I always thought the numbers should be higher.
And yet I continue to do it. I carefully count the names on the sign in sheet for the open studio trying to figure out how many people came. But as I do so, I wonder exactly what is the magic number? What is the number that means that the weekend was a success? That I can use to tell other people so that they will be impressed? And then I think maybe I need to come up with some different numbers.
So here they are:
Number of people who smiled when they were here: All of them.
Number of people who thanked me for opening up my property to the public: I lost count.
Number of people I thanked for coming out to see my work during the weekend of solid rain: Everyone I talked to. (At least I tried, if I missed anyone, consider yourself thanked).
Number of people who told me my work was amazing/phenomenal/fill in any number of adjectives: I lost count.
Number of kids who rode the rocking llama: over 30.
Number of adults who rode the rocking llama: Probably around 20 but I don’t know for sure, I think there were some who did it when no one was looking.
Number of chocolate chip cookies eaten: 7 dozen.
Number of people reached by my facebook post of the article in the Carroll County Times: 1,770. (This last number is quite ridiculous. It is my first encounter with the power of social media. And it doesn’t count the people who saw the article in the myriad of other places that it was posted or shared. It also reminds me of the still strong power of the press. The newspaper may be a dinosaur, but don’t count it out, especially in the smaller communities.)
Number of kids who stuck their tongues out at the kangaroo: Only one was caught on film, Others may have as well. I will never tell.
Number of tire ruts in our lawn: doesn’t matter.
Number of happy, successful artists living here: One.
Okay folks, I have racked up another bunch of minutes on my 15 minutes of fame clock. As you may know, I am hosting an open studio and sculpture garden on my property this weekend. The local paper found out about it and asked to do an article. Of course I said yes! It came out online yesterday and it is really a lovely article. Many thanks to the writer, Lois Zymanski, the photographer, Dylan Slagle, and Jim and Susan who said such nice things about me.
To read the article, click here.
In the meantime, I am aware that, like many previous days this spring, it is probably going to rain on Saturday. Ugh. I really wish that the weather were working out differently, but there’s nothing I can do.
So here are ten reasons why you should come out even if it is raining:
- You can pretend you live in Seattle. Seattle is a nice city. People there do things in the rain all the time. If they didn’t, nothing would get done.
- It’s a good chance to see if your rain gear is weather proof. Wouldn’t you like to know this before you go on that camping/hiking trip?
- You will get to meet all sorts of interesting people…including me! You have to figure that anyone who comes out in the rain to see steel animals is going to be interesting.
- I will have binoculars so you will be able to see some of the sculptures from the dry, warm studio.
- Wine. I will have wine.
- This is the only time I will open the gardens to the public for free this year. (Unless I change my mind. I have been known to do that before. I am fickle that way.)
- I will be bored if you don’t come. Boredom is bad for your health. Keep me healthy.
- Photographing the sculptures is better when it’s cloudy.
- I have extra umbrellas.
- It will give you great joy.
So see, there is no excuse for not coming to see me this weekend. Don’t forget…10 to 5 Saturday and Sunday (May 21/22, 2016). 415 Heath Dr., Eldersburg. I will be waiting.
I admit it. I was ready to give up on this blog. After four + years of writing fairly consistently, I became less and less inclined to write to the known and unknown general public. The breaks between posts started getting longer and longer. The days filled up with time in the studio (a worthwhile substitution), gardening (ditto) and life in general. I will also admit that for a while, my depression deepened and I was uninterested in writing anything. Don’t get me wrong, I had lots of ideas, lots of subjects, it just seemed that when I sat down to write, the words seemed unimportant or off kilter somehow.
Tonight I told my husband that I was thinking of discontinuing this blog. And he said one of the sweetest things he has ever said to me.
“But people will miss reading it.”
Sometimes I forget that people actually read what I write. Unless someone clicked the like button or left a comment, I really had no idea who read my words or if you enjoyed/hated them. But over the years I heard comments from some of you that you enjoyed reading my posts. Sometimes those comments came at a party with friends, sometimes they came at the end of the blog post. You are the silent readers, the ones I sometimes forget are out there. But I know you are real.
So here’s the deal. I will continue to write. I will not worry about the best time to post or how many people are seeing my blog. I will write for myself…out loud. I will be more diligent about being consistent.
Because the bottom line is that I enjoy writing. I enjoy putting into words the thoughts and feelings that runaround in my head all day, while I am working, walking, eating and driving. There is so much happening in the world and in my life. There are books to read, philosophies to absorb and current events to watch. Not to mention sculptures to create!
As you may know, I like to show at least one photograph in my posts. Well, tonight you get a bonus (mostly because I couldn’t figure out which was my favorite). The mahonia in my backyard has berries which, combined with the color of the leaves, is absolutely stunning. Enjoy!
Cheers and Happy May!