January 30th, 2023
Like many artists, I work in several different media at the same time. In doing so, I am able to explore multiple approaches to expressing related ideas. A specific example of this is a series I am currently developing, all inspired by a colored pencil and graphite drawing I did a number of years ago.
I often return to past work while thinking about my own personal artistic journey, a journey that continuously circles back on itself. It is, I think, my way of being philosophically and aesthetically two places at once.
In this series, I have taken the basic composition of this untitled drawing and produced the rug hooking titled “DOTTED SWISS”. In addition, I am in the process of carving a linoleum block that will be used to create a multi-colored block print. At the same time, I am working on a collage that is based on this same drawing.
To what end am I conducting this exploration? Simply put I hope to have an exhibit displaying these and other similarly related works.
January 12, 2023
I have been asked, recently, to talk about my fiber based art, more specifically my RUG HOOKED WALL PIECES. Rug hooking is a process that many people are not familiar with, but, very simply put, it is the process by which all rugs that are not woven are created.
Traditionally, this process involves the following steps:
1. Yardage of fine woven wool is cut into thin strips.
2. The plan or drawing for the image to be created, often referred to as a cartoon, is drawn onto a piece of linen.
3. The linen is then stretched over an adjustable rug hooking frame.
4. Using a special punch hook (that looks very similar to a crochet hook, but is not a crochet hook) the thin strips of wool cloth are pulled through the spaces between the threads of the linen. This is done by pulling the strip from the back to the front, and depending upon the length of the strip can, be pulled through multiple times. This is repeated until the area to be the color of this strip is completed, after which another color is chosen and the process is repeated.
5. As desired, the image can be embellished with beads, pearls, ribbons and literally anything the artist desires.
6. Once the entire image has been created, the hooking is removed from the frame, the edges are bound with edging tape, and the back finished with a piece of cloth. It is now ready to hang on the wall.
This, in a nut shell, is how a rug hooking is created. It is not exactly how I create mine.
How, you might ask, does my process differ from that of other artists? Lucky you should ask. I am very happy to tell you.
Cutting the thin strips of cloth, even with the handy dandy little (and expensive) machine drove me crazy. I knew there had to be an alternative method. I soon realized I had the solution right in my own back yard, or actually in my studio. You see, I am a spinner. I have three spinning wheels and for years have been spinning beautiful yarn from unspun fiber. So, I tried using my hand spun yarn instead of the cut wool strips and, voila, it worked like a charm.
So, all the colors and textures you will see in my hookings are produced by using yarn I myself have spun.
Any questions? Feel free to contact me and tell me what you think.
Last Thursday was the third Thursday, traditionally the day of the month that NOMA Gallery artists and any interested public persons are. Gather to discuss things like art. We never really know what direction our discussion will take, serious or humorous, or a combination of both. Last week's discussion, in small part, referenced Fellini's movie 81/2. By coincidence, there was an article about this movie it explains the artist. I have written a response to this beautiful article as it applies to me.
Last Thursday (February 20th), in NOMA Gallery’s monthly artist talk, Fellini’s movie “81/2” was discussed as it relates to our processes as artists and pushing the edge. Coincidentally, this past Sunday (February 23), Sebastian Smee, art critic for the Washington Post, wrote a beautiful article about the effect that movie has had on him. His article made great sense to me, and I am going to react to it here.
Mr. Smee asks, “Why are artists so selfish and entitled ( and often better artistically…Why must the rest of us suffer as they go on suiting themselves, indulging their fancies…?”
I am an artist, a sculptor, and a glass artist; I knew I was an artist even as a toddler, and I can remember an elementary school art teacher telling me that I was making trees wrong. I told her to go away. I have always been a productive artist. I thought of myself better than most of my artistic peers, and I still do. I have always been selfish in the pursuit of my artistic goals, much to the detriment of personal relationships. I had and have a “Don’t get in my way” attitude. But I also suffer from the same extreme lack of self-confidence that most of us hide within ourselves, creating the bravado, bullying, and other behaviors typically observed in artists.
Mr. Smee writes, “for all the attention artists seek” (applying to juried shows, contacting galleries for group and solo exhibits, and becoming members of galleries), there is a kind of shame in being “understood.” Being “explained” is never more than an inch from being “explained away,” rendered redundant, losing the vital quality that makes you unique.” This last quote feels especially personal. It is why I, and many other artists, will not explain their work. When asked, “What does it mean?” I always reply, “ You tell me.” I don’t want my work to match a couch or be automatically understood. The viewer must see something, but I hope it is different for everyone, thus making it universal if intangible.
Smee quotes the poet James Fenton, who wrote, “when everything we did was hailed as superb... We learned about rhythm, and we learned about new ways of making a noise, and every noise was praised.”
Fenton continues, “Because there follows the primal erasure when we forget all those early experiences…”
With this, I totally disagree.at least in my own case, I can remember joy and pain from age two onward, and this joy and pain combine equally to create the constant motivation I have for the act of creation. That is not to say it is not a struggle. It is always a struggle- is it good enough, will it ever leave my studio, should I trash it and start again, do I hate it, do I love it, what does it mean to me, and on and on.
“Genius,” wrote Charles Baudelaire, “is nothing other than the ability to retrieve childhood at will.”
So, I am a genius, but I always knew that. My childhood, indeed, my entire life, is always with me. I could not escape it if I tried, and I have tried. I am arrogant; I am judgmental. But age has given me the ability to temper the flaunting of younger years. Solipsism: a self-descriptor, sometimes.
I am an artist.