My Artful Journey, continued

I left off my art journey story at 2009, when I had last played with the silver. A that time, I was still making glass beads, and continued until 2012 when I had the call to dive into glass micro mosaics. (I just spent some time looking at old blog posts from that time. Boy, that was some fun, and I made some really cool stuff!)

When I started working with those teeny tiny little pieces of glass I never thought that that would be the end of me making beads. But, one thing led to another, and found myself only on the torch to make the small components, and to pull the fine stringers of glass for the mosaics. It was still a lot of torch time because each tiny chip of glass actually has anywhere from 5 to 11 layers of glass.


I did that for two years and made some really cool pieces but then I veered again, to making glass stringer stacked murrine.

Getting deeper and deeper into detailed work, as is my way, I didn’t create a a lot of finished pieces. The work that I did make was pretty spectacular, if you ask me. That whole process is a little mind-boggling.

That phase of work only lasted about six months. I’m happy to say, as with most things, I’m glad I took the time to learn the process.

November 2014

I decided that I was going to try my hand at writing again. I really do love writing, and it seemed like it would be the perfect job at the time. You see, my kids were in the tween stage and it was getting increasingly hard to find the amount of uninterrupted time that I needed to continue working in the studio. Writing would let me be in the house with them.

[insert HUGE laugh here from my writer friends]. I love you more than words, and especially the fact that you didn’t actually laugh in front of me at my naivete. Mwah!

We had also started a major construction project, adding on 1500 square feet of new space that included a recording studiol, so I couldn’t work in the studio. I don’t remember how long I tried the writing gig — maybe two years? During that time I learned that I could craft a story and I managed to write two almost-complete first drafts. I also realized that while I love writing, in the form of blogging, and how-to articles, fiction was just not my thing. It was disheartening to realize that after trying to force it for a couple years. I was miserable.

So, still wanting to do a “book thing” I decided I’d create coloring books for adults.

August 2016

I started publishing my coloring books for adults on Amazon and set the goal of publishing 12 books in 12 months. And I did it. During that year the new studio was finished and I jumped into journal art, paper art, and bookmaking.

I realized something very important. I need to make art. I’d missed it so much.

August 2017

I published my twelfth, coloring book. It would be almost a year from that time before I’d be back in the jewelry studio. I’ll pick up there in the next post. To tell you the truth, I lost track of a lot of what I did after the coloring books. My struggle with depression was at it’s lowest. I slept a lot, and was hiding from the world most of that time.

January of 2018

I found a good naturopath and I spent a lot of time working on digging out of that dark hole. The good news is that I made some major lifestyle changes and we figured out what works for me to be mentally healthy. I haven’t been on anti-depressants since September of 2017, and have never, ever, EVER, felt better.

Hand-drawn Mandala work.

Still plugging along on the coloring books for adults. All of the images for the first book are finished and about 20 for the second book.

I’m back on the big studio tour this year, in November, and every once in a while I think, “How in the world am I ever going to pull myself away from drawing to make inventory for that show?” I’m trying not to think about it and push it to the back of my brain.

Zoom view of mandala WIP

Above is a super zoom-in of a mandala I’m working on for book two in the series. I’m pretty proud at the neatness of my hand-drawing. I do wonder if it looks too precise though, to the point where people will doubt that I did it by hand. I used a fuzzy line pen so it doesn’t look too computer-generated.

I’ve been thinking about how to describe the current designs I’m working on. They’re not your typical flowery, soft-edge style that you see a lot of. More industrial? Masculine? Maybe I don’t need to describe them at all and just let you all check them out. I can’t wait to share them all. next month, y’all!

I’m missing color a little bit and have spent a lot of time sitting at my computer for the last month. I think I’ll go out to the new, and neglected, studio for a little bit and work with some media that doesn’t require a keyboard or a screen.

Art Informs Life

I just got back from the Artfest Rising retreat where I attended six workshops with six fabulous artists. I’ve taken a lot of classes but this was something totally new. First of all, it was paper art and a lot of paint techniques. I’ve been trying to put into words the difference between what I experienced this past weekend and classes I’ve taken. The best that I can come up with is that these were workshops, not classes.

We created blank art journals, 11″ x 15″ and each two-page spread was used for a different workshop. The first image is Tracy Moore’s workshop. Having done a lot of doodling, these techniques were in my wheelhouse. One of the main focuses was social journaling…journaling in public and how it can lead to meeting people. Not my thing, but maybe I’ll be more brave and try it in the future.


So, what is the difference between a class and a workshop? In this instance I would describe a class as something where the instructor leads you step by step through a process, to an end product. You learn technique, and while you may be be encouraged to explore and try new things, exploration is usually left to do on your own at a later time. This is for a couple reasons. One, you really don’t have time in a glass class to explore. Once you start a glass piece, you have to finish it–it’s not easy to come back to later, and most times you don’t do that anyway. Second, teachers do want you to take techniques and change them to find your own style, not just copy theirs. I’m sure there are more reasons.

Below is my unfinished collage spread form Teesha Moore’s workshop. This may look familiar to you because I’ve been following her Artstronaut’s Club from the beginning and have been practicing her techniques from her video presentations. The Artstronauts Club is what launched me into doing flat art, drawing, collage, pastel, pens, etc.


Artiest Rising spread from Teesha Moore Workshop

So, back to the difference between workshops and classes. In these workshops we were taught some technique but more importantly, we were encourage to find our own story. Put some stuff down and see what the pages tell you as you go along. What emerges? What comes to mind for you? Put it in your piece, extract it from what you see, cover it up if you don’t like it. Look deeper, listen to your inner voice and vision.

Below is my unfinished spread from Orly Avineri’s workshop. She taught revealing one part at a time. We didn’t know what the end goal was. This could be anxiety-raising for some people–many people. It was messy and organic. We flopped objects that had been dipped into paint, onto our canvas and let it do the work. No deliberate positioning! Again, letting art be freeing and letting it drive the design rather than us driving the outcome.


Artiest Rising spread from Orly Avineri’s Workshop

As the days progressed, the inspiration grew. I couldn’t wait for the next day. I found myself, not thinking, “What will I learn next?” but rather, “Where will they take me next? Where will I go next? What will I uncover?” I didn’t “learn.” I “workshopped.” I lived the work. It spoke to me, through me. It opened me.

Below is my unfinished spread from Angela Matus’s workshop. Layers and layers of color, and collage. It was at this point that I realized that the images that had been emerging for me are all flying. Definitely my sub-conscious speaking to me and a fun idea to keep exploring!!!


Artiest Rising spread from Andrea Matus’s Workshop

So, that is the difference, for me, between a class and a workshop. Maybe I’m wrong, maybe I just haven’t found the right word. I was immersed and engrossed in my art in a way that goes far beyond technique. I’ve always searched for ways to express myself through my art and have come up short. This type of working, these media, these methods, liberated me in some odd and welcomed way. It’s like looking into tea leaves and being able to see the past, or future. Not that I can do that, but I’ll use it for lack of a better metaphor.

Below is my unfinished spread from Michael DeMeng’s class. So many layers here and you can’t get it from the image. In person mine turned out to look like a thick piece of aged leather. Pulling out images using washes of color and highlighting. When I was making glass beads I loved the depth I could get from layering many many colors. This process, and some of the others play well to that desire in me.


Artiest Rising spread from Michael DeMeng’s Workshop

Last but not least, Jesse Reno’s workshop. Oh my. This was my first class on the first day. It was out of the comfort zone for some people because at one point we were painting with our fingers and entire palm. I loved this workshop as it set the tone perfectly for the next five workshops for me. Again, more of the let it emerge, let it tell your story, add to it, take away from it, work until you feel satisfied.

Below is my unfinished spread from Jesse’s workshop. I got the basics but kind of bunged it up with that gray. Wait. One thing I learned is that nothing is ever ruined. Anything can be turned into something. Sometimes it takes a long time, sometimes you have to walk away for a while. Sometimes you need to cover half of it in black again and just focus on one area until you receive inner guidance.


Artiest Rising spread from Jesse Reno’s Workshop

On the way home I couldn’t wait to get home and dig deeper into paints and collage so I pulled out my iPad and tried to imitate the techniques in Procreate. Below is the start of my Jesse Reno-style digital musing. I’ve worked on it for a couple nights while lounging in bed and listening to PBS.

What came out? Faces. Faces everywhere. Now, I’m seeing faces in everything. What I experienced has me continuing to look at the world in a new way. Patterns, layers, texture, imagery. The universe that has always been speaking to me became more clear. Better yet, I am feeling confident and bold in my work. This is the woman who has always said, “I can’t draw (or paint)” while always having a deep desire to do so. I always thought I needed a class to learn technique when all I needed were some workshops to learn freedom. Lookie there. It might not be hyper-realism or anything realistic but, look mom! I’m drawing! and painting!

Artiest Rising Class Pages

Once again it reminds me of why art is so important. It can change your life, your attitude, your outlook, your self-esteem. It challenges you to solve problems, to look more deeply (inside and out). It soothes the soul and calms the mind.

I am finding that going deep like this spills over to the rest of my life. I am feeling the tugging in my writing and how I approach things. It is meditation in motion and it is informing my life.

Thank you to Teesha and Tracy Moore for putting on Artfest Rising, and for the fantastic teacher that shared their hearts and art with our small group of 144. You’ve impacted my life.