Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Portland Waterfront

This will be brief, but I wanted to do a check-in of sorts. I've been at the Portland Waterfront for about ten days, and will be here until July 7th. Hubby and I have been living on our boat, moored at the public dock at the Riverplace Marina right in the heart of downtown Portland. There are dozens of boats here in preparation for the Waterfront Blues Festival, which runs July 3-6th. My days have been leisurely, filled with reading, sunning, occasional walks, and even a smattering of art-making. I've been able to spend time with all three of my kids and my four grandkids -- it has been a restful, renewing time.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Matchbox Shrines for Recovery

I had the pleasure of leading my Matchbox Shrine workshop last night at Serenity Lane in Salem. It was the “award” for one of the Intensive Outpatient Groups who had the best attendance in May. As some of the patients straggled in, their faces brightened when they realized they would be doing a creative project rather than their regular group (no offense, Paul!). There were nine patients and their regular counselor; five women and five men, so it was a great mix. The shrines that everyone created were filled with thought, emotion, and significance – all reflected hope in their sobriety and a commitment to their recovery.

The room set up and ready for the patients to arrive:

Some of the many supplies I shared:

Their creations!

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Workshop #3: Squash the Critic

Our final workshop started on Monday, Memorial Day, and went through Thursday. The time flew by we were so engaged in the daily process. The workshop, Squash the Critic: Praise the Process, was led by Lauren Mantecon, a little bundle of creative energy. Here is how Lauren promoted her class:

Symbol, color, and metaphor provide a subtle language that we can access at any time to express creativity. In this mixed-media idea-generating workshop we will examine how each of us possesses a strong creative ability. The instructor will facilitate individual engagement with the creative process through exercises and visualizations designed for inspiration. A variety of materials and techniques will be explored including drawing, painting, collage, wax, and hand made gesso. This is an excellent class for all those seeking to stimulate their hidden muse.

Each day began in a meditative circle in a sparse studio next to our working studio. Lauren prepared the space by burning sage and having a candle burning in the center. We would do wake-up stretches, share how we were feeling, maybe discuss our dreams from the previous night, and then Lauren would take us on a guided visualization, exploring color through our chakras one day, a mandala on another. From our gathering circle, we would quietly shift to the working studio and begin the day’s project.

An artistic response to the chakra visualization:

Several of our projects were collaborative, getting the artists to move around the room working on each other’s pieces. Some sessions began with a writing exercise, which we translated into visual images. Amidst these idea-generating sessions, Lauren began to teach us techniques and introduced us to new materials. My very favorite was making homemade gesso! It’s a miracle material the way it goes on and then allows you to carve into the yummy surface. I have a new favorite medium! After experimenting with the gesso, Lauren introduced us to melted wax as a means of adding yet another surface to our piece.

A collaborative piece, which started from a simple drawing representing responses to random words:

Me at work using a lot of green for some strange reason!

A collage in process, using pieces torn from one of our idea-generating sessions:

Lauren demonstrating handmade gesso:

Me playing with handmade gesso:

A few of my pieces in their early stages (I was going with the sea foam green theme because I need something to hang in the bathroom on the boat!):

It was a fantastic, productive, inspiring, and motivating four days! Thanks, Lauren.

Workshop #2: Puddles and Pours!

After having Saturday off to gunkhole in Lincoln City, we were refreshed and ready for our second workshop: Abstract Watermedia Extravaganza, also with Patricia Baldwin Seggebruch. Patricia described this class by saying:

This workshop will focus on producing wild, creative compositions with watercolor, ink pours, and puddles. We will cover color choice, the incorporation of pastels and crayons, texture options, over-painting with watercolor or acrylics, and abstract composition. Abstraction and rich color play is the key. Any skill level will have fun and benefit from these flowing-energy-rich, emotional painting techniques. It’s a painting frenzy so come prepared to enjoy and let loose.

Once again, we were eager to get started:

But then, not too much later, we hit the wall!

We both ended up witn a pile of beautiful background images ready for the next step: paint and embellishments!

Workshop #1: Encaustic Painting

First up, Encaustic Painting: The Beauty of Beeswax with Patricia Baldwin Seggebruch. Here is her description of the class:

This workshop will introduce you to painting in hot wax. Using the sumptuousness of beeswax, natural and refined, this workshop concentrates on the many techniques compatible with encaustic. We will explore collage, texture and smooth wax application, transparent layering, incising, image transferring, and glazing with oil paints. Additionally, you will learn alternative materials to use with encaustic and have plenty of studio time to experiment with these new techniques. Come enjoy this exciting paint technique and learn how versatile it is for every artistic style.

That said, here we are waiting to get started:

We learned and experimented with all that was outlined in Patricia's description and both Vicki and I had great fun. Patricia was an energetic teacher, and once she demonstrated techniques, she set us free to play and try things for ourselves.

Patricia was kind enough to pose for a photo with me:

Vicki and I with a few of our finished pieces:

Sitka Bound - Part I

I've just returned from a glorious week at Sitka on the Oregon Coast with my friend Vicki. Where to begin? Well, from the beginning I imagine. The beginning was getting packed, no easy chore with the plan of being gone for over a week. I didn’t need many clothes since I would be wearing my paint shirt for six of the eight days, but the art supplies, now that was another matter. Oh, and we were also lugging groceries for most of the week – and, of course, I brought along my espresso machine so I could have my two and sometimes three chai soy lattes every day.

The cabin where we stayed was located on Cascade Head right across the street from the Sitka center.

This is emphasized because in year’s past, I’ve stayed in Neskowin, about 15 miles to the north. The other option is staying in Lincoln City, located about the same distance to the south. So to be able to park and walk to class, was a delightful treat. The cabin, owned by our former neighbor Hazel, is a pole house, which means there are four poles running from the ground right up to the third floor loft. The walls were unfinished wood planks and the floors were pine. We weren’t roughing it, however, as there was a bath and a half, a full kitchen, and a washer and dryer. The view to the north was a sweeping vista of the Cascades and to the west was the ocean in the distance. Here are some shots of the pole house:

Vicki and I met up at the cabin and got ourselves settled, lugging in our tool boxes filled with art supplies, bags of papers and ephemera, groceries for a week, our clothes, a bag of movies and reading material, and my espresso machine. We settled into the beginning of a rhythm that would become our life for the next week: visiting, writing, reading, working on our visual journals, reading art magazines (a pile of Somerset Studios I had brought from home), cooking, and watching a movie each evening. The cabin had no TV, just an old VCR, so both of us had brought along a few VHS cassettes and the cabin had a modest library. During our movie sessions, we sometimes worked on our Visual Journals, sometimes snipped and cut out images for use in collages, and for a couple of the movies, we just sat on the couch, ate popcorn, and watched. Our movie selections were:

84 Charing Cross Road
Runaway Bride
Primal Fear
Billy Elliott
Heaven Knows Mr. Allison
Angel at my Table
20,000 Leagues Under the Sea

Here we are at our "art station," the eating bar overlooking the living room (and where the TV was located):

Our view to the west:

Coming up, the art workshops!