This week's blog was written by polymer clay artist Laurel Swetnam of Sequels.
January inspires many of us take stock of the past year’s accomplishments and challenges, honoring cultural rituals or making resolutions to pursue new goals or do better on old ones. Growing up, my best friend’s German family always invited me to make three wishes for the new year while breaking off a piece of warm Neujahrsbrezel, a delicious sweet pretzel which symbolizes good luck. My husband’s family was a bit more dour. Honoring an Appalachian tradition - think backwoods Kentucky - my father-in-law boiled a pig’s head on New Year’s day, because hog jowl and black-eyed peas keeps you humble for the next year. When we lived in Spain we capped off very late celebrations by stuffing grapes in our mouths - the idea was to chew twelve grapes at once!
Artists seem especially attracted to the idea of new beginnings, perhaps because we’re always searching for inspiration and relishing a reset. My studio partner Kirsten Carpentier invites friends to choose and embellish their word of the year, focusing energy into a single intention.
One of my favorite bloggers, artist and bookbinder Roz Stendahl, advocates doing a little bit of everything you love on the first day of the year, sort of priming the pump with joyful activities. This year I followed Roz’ advice, practicing a Bach cello suite I’m learning on classical guitar, drawing a couple of pears, taking a walk in nearby snowy woods with a couple of happy dogs, and working on some canes for a new bowl class I’m teaching.
Personally, though, I love most of all to spend part of each new January 1 by diving into color, mixing hues and making Skinner blends, polymer clay gradients which are the basic building blocks of many of my pieces. Mixing colors is a lovely antidote to gray skies, as relaxing as meditation and a functional activity which helps me in my work. Since my polymer clay art is all about color, it’s a great way to get in the groove of new palettes and new designs. Sometimes I check out color trends like the Pantone color predictions for 2019, peruse delicious Design Seeds photos with their composite photos or take a trip though my Palettes Pinterest board. Mostly, though, I just merrily fiddle around. Here’s a pair of blends I made on January 1, 2019. These colors could be jungle leaves, Carmen Miranda flowers, or eye-popping polka dots.
Stop by Artistic Portland in a few weeks to see what they become!
This week's blog was written by visual artist Jennie O'Connor.
I first joined Artistic Portland in June over five years ago; it was the first month the co-op initially opened in the Hollywood neighborhood. I was very excited to belong to a group where I could meet like-minded friends and have a brick-and-mortar home for my paintings. I was there a year and then rejoined the store a few months after it moved to the current location on SW Taylor downtown. In total, I’ve been a member a little over 4 years.
I have been painting and drawing on and off most of my life, but became more serious after I moved from Seattle to Portland 18 years ago. I began by working in watercolor and after several years began to experiment with acrylics and collage. While I loved watercolor, making beautiful hues by mixing water with paint it began to feel a bit tedious, acrylics gave me a kind of freedom that I enjoy.
When in my creative modeI I tend toward messy whether it be in the kitchen, garden or in the studio. I have the most fun when I am slinging paint around, hopefully, getting more of it on the paper or canvas than myself, walls, and floor.
I currently work in a very small studio that I have created in my home, the size of which can be a problem given my tendency to be messy.
Inspiration comes to me in various ways, sometimes a reference photo is helpful or a scene out-side my window but most of the time I am simply inspired by the process of adding color, shape and texture to the painting surface.
I like to listen a book on tape, or podcast when painting. I find that it helps to keep my brain busy so that I can be more creative. I actually do like to start out in a somewhat ordered fashion. It’s nice to have cleared my workspace, lay out chosen paint colors, brushes, texture making tools, and perhaps collage papers, etc. However, that often changes rather rapidly when I get inspired in the process and there I am again, messy!
When I first started working in acrylics, quite by accident, I was introduced to collage. I put together my very first collage piece which has always been my favorite, it is an abstraction of my brother’s home which sits on the Gulf of Mexico in the Florida Keys. I love the scene, the colors and feeling that I was able to create.
If I could magically be a different artist, I would like to be a sculptor. It would be awesome to play with and mold clay.
When I am not creating art, I can often be found in the kitchen stirring up a stew or some other equally yummy savory dish.
It’s that time of the year again. A brand new shiny year means brand new shiny New Year’s resolutions. A blank slate! I once took a poll of my friends to see who partook in this yearly ritual. To my surprise, not many of friends like to create yearly resolutions. The reasons vary from “I can’t be bothered” to “Why would I set myself up for disappointment if I don’t follow through on my resolutions?” I read somewhere that less than 10% of resolutions are kept by year’s end and there is a failure rate of 25% by the end of January. Yikes! Even though I’m equipped with this information, I still enjoy creating resolutions.
This year I thought I would create New Year’s resolutions related to my art. My 2019 mantra is to work smarter, not harder. In order to do this, I need a plan which is where resolutions come into play. Also, by putting my resolutions out there to the world so to speak, perhaps I’ll be more likely to stick to them.
In no particular order…
I created small actionable steps for each resolution to help me get and stay on track as this is the only way I will be able to achieve my goals. It’s all about knowing myself and knowing how I work (play). I’m excited to get started! I love blank slates, especially ones that are 365 days long! Are you an artist? Have you created resolutions? Feel free to share them in the comments section!
Happy New Year!