Monday, January 9, 2017

Creative Art Workshop

Happy Monday!  It's in the single digits here but yesterday an intimate group of creative people stayed warm by joining me for my first in a series of creative art workshops.  It was held at the Sunrise Yoga Studio in my hometown of Branchville, NJ.   After taking part in a paint and sip hosted by a good friend of mine, I decided that I would like to try my hand at teaching an art event.  Now, I'm no painter - as many of you who have viewed this blog before will attest to.  So, I decided to make it a workshop that focused on various processes and layering to create unique pieces that spoke to the individual.  I used my recent Yin-Yang series as a guide and here are the results.

We started with some thoughtful under layering of images and text that spoke to each person.
Then we painted the first layer of paint.  We used analogous colors and and blended them with some acrylic blending medium.
You can see how the under layer comes through the first layer of paint and even when it is obscured, the intention is in the piece.
We cut some stencils of the Yin-Yang - it required a bit of math but everyone seemed to survive it - and there was wine available.
One the stencil was cut, we used painter's tape to hold them in place so we could add our second layer of paint.  At this table everyone chose the same first layer colors, however each of their pieces turned out very different from each other.

After the second layer of paint and a bit of outlining, the artists added some extra collage pieces in the negative space and Voila! Personalized and meaningful art pieces.  That's a good Sunday afternoon spent!

Thanks to Cassia, owner of Sunrise Studio and all the participants for a fun afternoon.  I'm hoping to get some folks out on February 5th for my second workshop.  Yeah, I know it's Superbowl Sunday - but we're going to start early and you'll still have time to get to the guacamole and chips and to watch your favorite commercials and musical artists at halftime.  Let's face it, if your favorite team isn't playing that's the most interesting part anyway.  Hope you can join us!

Thanks for checking out the blog and feel free to leave a comment.

Saturday, September 24, 2016

Yin-Yang Series

Thank you for visiting, I've been away for a while.  I usually take time in the summer to produce a lot of art, but this summer was more about getting outside and doing some hiking, biking and kayaking.  Now that I am back to school, I seem to have better time management and have been back in the studio.

Over the summer I was lucky to take a 2-week training course with Robert Peng, an internationally renown Qigong Teacher and Healer.  It was intense and energizing all at once.  I am adding this work to my Reiki Master work and have been treating people for various health concerns since my return.

So, I decided that on one of the blank walls in my treatment room, I wanted to hang a Yin-Yang.  Any of you know how about Chinese healing would understand the meaning, but I won't go into it on this forum.

So I made three pieces so far and I am trying to figure out what color to make it so that I can make one that is 24" X 24" to hang in my treatment room.  So far I like the ones that I have made but none of them are the color that I will use on the larger piece.

No. 1
12" X 12"

Someone gave me this red, laser-cut, tissue paper a while back and I believe it is to protect your home in Chinese culture.  So, I figured this was a good place to use it.  I also collaged book pages and paper bits.  Then I painted it various shades of blue.  I hand-cut a stencil and painted the Yin-Yang in metallic champagne.  Finally, I gave it a wash of quinacridone nickel azo gold and added a few finishing touches.

Here's the close up...

So far I have made three but none are the color I will use in you treatment room.  But as I practice, I am getting different results and I like the whole process.  

No. 2

8" X 8"
I used some old paper towel that I had cleaned up a spill with for the turquoise.
The doilies were from some restaurant dessert plate.  I would never go and buy doilies.  I'm not very girlie.  

 6" X 6"

I included some papers that I rusted last year in the base collage on this piece.  

So, thank you for stopping by, especially since it has been so long since I last posted.  I would love to read your comments.  Wishing you good health and a lot of Qi.  (pronounced chee and meaning life force energy)  

Monday, May 9, 2016


Onto my third Buddha inspired piece.  The first one reminds me to be present - and you can see a presence of a Buddha once you stop and become aware.  Which is how presence works.  The second one was called Stillness.  It reminded me of stone and so the name was born from the quality of using stillness to just be in meditation.  And so, here is the third piece, it is called " Happiness".  Often being present and just being is all you need to achieve happiness, even though we often think that it requires so much more.

11" X 14"

Here is a piece that certainly has movement and so it might not appear as stillness, but I love it because it is all the colors that I see when I meditate and just close my eyes sometimes.  So, to me it represents the happiness that I feel when I am still and present in my quiet meditation space.

I mounted it on a gallery canvas with the edges painted black.  Simple but effective.

Feel free to leave a comment or question.  Any of you fellow meditation enthusiasts, I'd love to hear from you!  Thanks for stopping by the blog.  Have a great day!

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Experimentation and Getting Back Into the Swing

So, along with creating a beautiful new studio in my former living room, there were a few other changes in my life.  My husband came out of semi-retirement and took a full time + job.  Which shouldn't affect my day but, it has.  With his time being fully committed to his new job, many of the tasks and errands I had grown accustomed to not having to do have been put back on my plate.  Here's the problem with that.  Once they were off my plate, I filled my plate with other things - so my plate was never empty, just replenished with other things.  Art took on more of my time as I not longer had to go food shopping or do specific things around the house.  I was very aware of this and grateful on a daily basis for my new found dispensable time.  Now, here's the rub - I created a new space and have less time to spend in it.  But, I'm working on it and finding ways to get back into the studio.

I have completed a couple of pieces that I am posting here.  One is a faux encaustic experiment that I really like.  The other is a quilt that started as a random piece and then showed itself to me as the Buddha - and so it is.
7 3/4 " X 7 3/4 "  on 3/8" thick birch board

Here is a portion of the piece that shows the eye.

Here is a detail of the Third Eye that has been accented by an earring that I repurposed.

Here is the entire Buddha quilt, which is not an entire Buddha.  It takes a moment to see it but, then the face appears.  The measurements for this piece is 19" X 40".

So thanks for checking it out.  I appreciate any comments you want to share.  Have a fantastic day!

Monday, January 4, 2016

It's a Movement!

Please keep in mind Arlo Guthrie's "Alice's Restaurant" as you read this blog post.  It came to me in the final hour of moving my home studio to it's now current and wonderful location.

I live in a center hall colonial in northwestern New Jersey together with my husband, Gary and Radar and Shadow the cats.  Somewhere around Thanksgiving my husband agreed to allow me to move my sewing studio and painting area from their respective places - upstairs in a small office space and downstairs in a partially finished basement, to our woefully underused formal living room.  We donated our furniture to a young couple just starting out and whoosh empty space!  We painted the walls - my husband calls the color white - but I keep reminding him it is actually called "spun cotton",

I was so excited that I started to map out the space.  I used graph paper and measured all the furniture, floor space and wall space.  I proceeded to map the room out to scale to be sure that moving all of my stuff into one place would make sense.  I mapped the northwest corner, the southwest corner the approach and the getaway.  This was done using both aerial views and a scale diagram of each wall and all of the things that I planned to hang on each wall.  With circles and arrows and a paragraph on the back of each one.   I repurposed as many items as possible and I also used a vintage cabinet that I bought impulsively at an auction for $10.  (It was a small impulse, dumb, but not financially impacting.)  I also took all the dividers out of a cabinet that held CDs and stereo components.  Finally, I had to purchase some new plastic storage containers.

And so we removed the Christmas trimmings on December 26th, prepared the room on December 27th and painted on the 28th.  After that the task of sorting and organizing was all mine.  I admit that there was a little bit of self loathing when I realized all that I had accumulated.  Some purchased but many things that were given to me and I just couldn't say no.  There were also items that were purchased to take or teach a class and the leftovers piled up.  I just kept putting it all in bins and a closet so I wouldn't have to take out the garbage for a very long time.  However, this move produced at least 4 or possibly 5 large Hefty bags worth of garbage - which we threw in the garage for later removal.  I started by leaving the garbage bags in the upstairs studio and downstairs but finally decided that rather than have 2 small piles of garbage it would be better to have one large pile and so we threw them in the garage.  Today my wonderful husband will be putting them in his red CRV (updated version of a VW microbus) and taking them to the dump.

And so after a productive and non-stop Winter Break from school, here is my completed studio.  I finished last night just before dinner and am anxious to get in there and actually create something - now that I have created a great space.

The Northwest Corner

This area holds the sewing machine, thread, sewing tools and some bins of sorted and labelled fabric.  It has a little natural light but the whole room is illuminated by a 4 foot long LED fixture that is so bright you need very little extra lighting.  And according to the package, I can leave it on for 35 years or so 24/7 before it burns out.

The Northeast Corner

This area has the painting table, buttons, fabric, mixed media and my extensive collection of painted papers and ephemera.  There is also a shelf with all of my mediums.  It is jammed with supplies both on shelves and in the cabinet.  There is a stool back there too.

The Approach

The French doors lead into the family room.  The table folds down on both sides so I can have more space when I need to move around and more surface area when I need to work.  On the far wall is a design wall that I created from a piece of foam insulation sewn into a sleeve of white flannel and white duck cloth.  

The Southwest Wall

This side of the room has the $10 auction purchase on the left, a track with steel cables to hang my finished work and the CD cabinet on the right.  The hanging system is made by Gallery One and is very easy  to use.  The work you see hanging is headed to a Skylands Gallery in Wantage, NJ for exhibit today.  

Here are some additional images.
Vintage linens below, fabric sorted by color  or type inside and on top.  

A view from behind the sewing machine.  I tried to keep the  most used tools within arms reach.  

Everything in this picture was repurposed.  It was removed from my studio walls and rehung here.  My button collection in vintage jars just makes me happy every time I see it.

A view from behind the painting area.  Everything in this picture was repurposed from the original area.  Notice how bright the ceiling light fixture makes the room from corner to corner.

So thanks for visiting my new studio with me.  Feel free to leave a comment or ask a question.  I'd be happy to help you if you are deciding to take over a space that could be put to better use.  In fact, I recommend it whole heartedly.  

So imagine if one person creates a new space, they might call it an inspiration.  If two people create a new space they might call them rebels and stay out of their way.  But if three people, can you imagine, three people create a new space well, they'd call it a movement.  And that's what it is the The New Studio Anti-Wasted Space Movement.  

Sing it with me:

You can get anything you want
At Claude's new studio
You can get anything you want (exceptin' Gary)
At Claude's new studio  
Walk right in, it's around the back
Just your favorite things and a cool thread rack
You can get anything you want
At Claude's new studio. 
Da - Da - Da - Da - Da -Da - Da - Da
At Claude's new studio....

Sunday, December 6, 2015

New Series - Marbled Fabric All in a Row

It's been a while.  I've been busy.  How about you?  I have been producing work and taking 20 and 30 minute stops in my studio but slow the work has been finished.  The biggest issue I am having is being able to take photos of my new work in order to post it.  I generally take it outside on a day with flat light and click away.  However, now when I get home there is very little light outside and getting a day with flat light on a weekend just hasn't happened.  And so, these were taken on a sunny day - no flat light available.  But you will get the idea, after all, you are creative people.

I have been trying to use up stuff I already have.  Because truth be told, I have an embarrassing amount of fabric (not to mention other supplies).  So, I picked the box of marbled fabrics that I made a couple summers back and decided to start there.  I picked out a bunch of fabrics that I thought would work well with what I had in mind and jumped off there.

I also decided to make them all the same size in order to have some cohesiveness to the series.  This can change at any time but, for now it is one guideline that I have been following.  I also decided to put them all on a canvas for easy hanging at the gallery where I exhibit my work.

So here they are:

In order of appearance here is number 1.  marbled fabric, hand woven cotton, silk and hand dyed cotton.  12 X 12 inches on canvas.

Number 2. Same materials as 1 and same size.

Number 3. Same as the others but a little bit more lively color palette.

Number 4.  My personal favorite of the group.  The marbled fabrics has more depth in person and taking the photos on a sunny day was certainly not the best idea but, hey I just needed to touch base with my blog.

I've got another piece on my sewing table and it will be up soon, hopefully.  The holiday craziness is also usurping my time - it's hard to be creative when you feel rushed or over scheduled.

Anyway,  If I don't blog again before Christmas, Merry, Merry to all of you.  And Happy Hanukah to those of you who begin your celebration today.  Until next time - be well.  Feel free to leave a comment.  I always read them and do my best to respond to each one.

Saturday, October 10, 2015

New Series for my October Gallery Show!

Well, September is pretty far behind us now, which is good for me as a teacher.  September brings, along with crisp days and wonderful moonrises, a return to the sometimes overwhelming task of starting off another school year.  Yet, having joined an artists' coop has kept me on course with completing some projects.  This recent series bas started with one inspiration fabric and then a thorough investigation of my fabric stash to add complimentary fabrics and TA-DA!

The first piece that I started (and last one I finished) was this piece, titled "Earth Goddess".  It was conceived just as we were about to become grandparents - no coincidence.  I had birth and renewal on the brain and I used my vibrant color palette to bring my idea to life in full color.

Dimensions: 18" X 24"

The inspiration fabric is the batik on the left and the other fabrics include some hand dyed cottons, shibori dyed cotton, silk scraps, hand dyed table linens and even some upholstery scraps.  I kept it pretty simple and added both machine free motion quilting and hand stitching to draw in the viewer.  The fabric that appears a bit orange is a crossweave that I bought on my summer trip to New Mexico and it is a hand woven linen that is absolutely gorgeous.  If you are ever in Taos, you must go to The Common Thread/Uncommon Fabrics - it's in the plaza area and it has a wonderful selection of very unique fabrics.  I indulged there quite a bit.

The Earth Goddess was followed by my paired pieces, Sunrise and Moonrise.  The collage started with no particular direction and when I stepped back, there it was - one looked like morning and one looked like evening.  
Dimensions: 8" X 10"

Dimensions: 8" X 10"

Onto the next piece, which goes with my Earth Goddess, The Divine Blue Lotus.  Keeping true to my color palette and machine and hand stitching, this piece just evolved naturally once I had the background collage completed.  I never really planned the focal point of the piece - it just spoke to me when I laid it down next to the goddess.  

Dimensions: 9" X 12"

Little French knots help make the flower pop and are meant to create highlight to the piece.  I think the batik acts like water on the bottom of this piece - serendipitously.

Finally, not ready to release the beautiful linen from New Mexico, I made a small 6" X 6" piece.  The plan was to make 4 and arrange them in a grouping, but the show deadline called and perhaps the other 3 will appear down the road.

Dimensions: 6" X 6"

Rather than raw edge collage I pieced the fabric and machine stitched it in lines about 1/8th inch apart.  I added some hand stitching with some hand dyed cotton floss and then a few vintage buttons.  Again, I imaged it in a grouping of four.  I haven't put away the collection of fabrics yet, so maybe I will get to those before my next planned project.  

Thanks for visiting the blog.  I hope you enjoying reading about the meaning and process of these pieces.  They are currently on exhibit at the Skylands Gallery and available for purchase there during the month of October.  Feel free to leave a comment, I'd love to read what you think.  Have a wonderful day and happy stitching!