I cannot begin to describe how incredibly grateful and fortunate I am to be able to do this 2-week residency in this Chateau in Orquevaux. It is beyond anything I could have imagined. I have a studio, a real studio where I can splash paint around and create pieces that are much, much bigger than anything I could have dared imagine back in my workspace in New York City. It is like being in a dream. Seriously. And here’s the thing, I’m practically in tears because I’m just overwhelmed at how lucky I am to be able to do this, to have this opportunity, to have this kind of space, to be able to create without distractions, to be able to make a mess… it really is a dream come true.
My studio for the next 2 weeks.
This is the piece I brought with me and have begun working on…
I am doing a new 5-day workshop! Improvisational Stitching!
But what does that mean, exactly? Well funny you should ask, because I’ve given it a great deal of thought. Improvisational Stitching is what I call what I do when I begin with a piece of fabric, usually a piece of hand dyed linen, with no preconceived notion of what I’m going to do other than follow the striations in the fabric and begin stitching. I don’t sketch anything out, I just begin stitching.
Over time the piece develops and I begin adding other elements. Sometimes I’ll add other materials, other times that means painting directly onto the fabric and even over the stitching, as I did with my piece, Perseverance.
Eventually the piece takes on a life of its own and then it’s up to me to follow as best I can.
Olea began as a 14″ by 16″ piece of olive green hand dyed linen. I started stitching and adding things, like the hand painted t-shirt strips to the left.
Eventually it became this, which I titled, “Olea” but my friend Anna Bates called, “After the Wedding”.
Improvisational Stitching is so much fun! There are no rules, nothing is forbidden, anything goes. I absolutely love it!! Which leads me to the workshop I’m doing: Improvisational Stitching!
Have you ever wanted to create an improvisational piece, but felt too intimidated to start? This is the workshop for you!
We begin with a hand dyed piece of linen, loosely woven cotton or wool. I suggest starting with a piece that isn’t too large – say 14” x 16” or smaller. It can be a square or a rectangle. Choose a color that you love for the background. It can be any color, just make sure you LOVE it! If you want to piece a background together, you can also do that.
This is a “hands on” workshop, in other words, everyone will be working and creating during the workshop with me cheering you on. Using a wide variety of threads, and other materials, we will embellish with no preconceived ideas. I will hold your hand, encourage you to explore and try new things. Each week you will be given a challenge to expand and add to your piece. This is a dive-into-the-deep-end workshop. We will have a blast. All levels of stitchers are welcome. You will not be alone. I will be with you every step of the way.
Workshop Length: 5 Saturdays from 1pm – 4:30pm EDT
There was a show at the David Lewis Gallery that my husband and I recently went to, which absolutely stunned me. It was one of those exhibits that takes your breath away. A solo show by the artist Thornton Dial. I walked in with no expectations and left profoundly moved. It was a visceral response to a work that brought me to tears. The jarring juxtaposition of discarded carpeting, remnants of fabric staple gunned down and then painted over with house paint and spray paint was exhilarating to see. There’s a rawness to the work, an immediacy, and yet the pain, the tragedy of life, the turmoil as well as the joy and beauty are all invoked.
This piece is in the entrance and the last thing you see before leaving.
If you’re interested in learning more about this amazing artist, you can watch The Art of Thornton Dial.
Last month I went to Hudson River Valley Arts where Jane Davies was teaching a week long workshop. I found Jane on Pinterest, which led me to her website where she has tons of videos showing her process and work. As with most things I find interesting, I soon became obsessed and began systematically going through almost all the videos she has created. When I saw that she was teaching at Hudson River Valley, a place friends have urged me to look into, and an easy train ride from New York City, I decided to sign up.
It was above and beyond my expectations. First of all Jane is a fantastic artist and teacher, which is not always usual that one leads to the other. But in her case it does. She gives great demos, has a sense of humor, is smart, talented, and she plays the ukulele and might even sing, if encouraged to! The class was full, with 18 people, all strong, interesting women from various parts of the world, including Chile, Quebec, Germany, and Norway! I didn’t get permission to post photos of any of the other women or their work on this blog, so I’m just posting photos of the work I did while there.
We began by exploring lines with different mediums and then moved on to making collage papers that we would then use in our work for the remaining days. Making collage paper is a rabbit hole one can easily become lost in! There are so many ways in which to combine the paint, get it on the paper, scribble, smudge, streak, spray, dribble and the end results can be wonderful. Here are a few of mine.
Reluctantly and with Jane’s encouragement we began using those papers in our work, while also incorporating a variety of techniques that Jane demonstrated. These first two photos are two of six pieces I worked on simultaneously. The other four are still works in progress. They are collage, acrylic paint, and ink and measure 11.5″ X 11″.
This next series were all worked at the same time and are collage, acrylic on paper, measuring 11″ X 11″.
My son, Nic, who is a teenager and has been painting since he was old enough to pick up a brush, just won an award from Scholastic Art & Writing for one of his pieces. It’s a portrait, done in acrylic on a large piece of wood, of a friend of his. That painting will be hung in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, here in New York City, in an exhibition featuring the award winners. To say that I’m proud of him would be an understatement. I’m beyond ecstatic. Every time I think of him and his beautiful painting I smile. A big, sweeping, all-encompassing smile. A smile that makes my cheeks hurt and my whole body feel as though it were filled with sunlight.
When Nic was little he began painting every day. We have drawers filled with his work. When he was three, a friend of mine wanted to buy one of his paintings, but it was one of my favorites, so I wouldn’t let her purchase it, even though Nic was happy to have her buy it. He sold his first painting to an art collector when he was 8 or maybe he was 9, I can’t remember now. It had a Basquiat feel to it, lots of color, playful and yet there was an undercurrent of something deeper. Nic was thrilled with his first sale and said he was going to save the money so he could buy himself something important, “like college”. He was 8 or maybe 9.
Nic’s always been a collector of sorts and, like both his parents, tends to get obsessed with things that interest him. I see this as an excellent trait. Every member of my immediate family is passionate (another, more accepting, word for obsessed) about their line of work. I say YAY to obsessions! I cannot imagine life without obsessions. This is also something that some people frown upon in the world of disability, particularly autism, where an obsession, having a passion for something, is called, “special interests.” There’s something so condescending about that. Why should a passion be called anything even remotely derogatory? Every human should be so fortunate as to have passions in this life.
Here’s to a life filled with passion and obsessions. And here’s to my son, Nic, his talent and this award! You’re amazing and I’m so proud of you!!!