This week's blog post was written by fiber artist Sherry Bingaman of Nueva Vida.
This poster was all over Facebook recently, and it caught my attention for a variety of reasons. I generally agreed with it upon my first glance and felt it was a version of the “power of positive thinking” thing. After closer examination, I saw more of a blend from both the green side and the red side as a truer reality. I don’t call myself a “thriving artist” but I am pleased with the state of my art and believe there are many aspects to my happiness with my artistic life. For example:
Working to be a “thriving artist” consists of the same things needed to be a “thriving human”!
This week, enter the mind of local artist Ben Gilbert of Crayons and Cardboard, as he shares his latest artistic inspirations and ponderings ...
It's time to return to the basement and see if we can communicate with Molly through the use of the deep dream... I hesitate to go there since who knows how upset she be still even after the many months since the move... But the sacrifice will be worth it..
I have been toying with the Deep Dream computer vision program designed by Google... Darkness, dusk, and dawn are my focus... Layers of glass, mist and reflection... Close up... smaller things... The lighter the light the less intriguing the resulting image:.. Singular well defined entities create the better image...
Shining a red light on black plastic bags with a perfect circle as a hole is creating some intriguing images as well as certain products... Colorful drinks like Gatorade with its rainbow of colors are useful... There seems to be lots of birds lizards and rodents popping up in the creations. I tried a hippo but it didn't warp enough... Bunny and cats did well as well as certain lit humans.. Dark holes and little imperfections in walls and floors make cool images also...
Some staged pieces work better than others... It's hit and miss... I have made some cool cityscapes also... Again at night... ll be making more postcards and magnets in the future... Clearing out most of the stockpile of blank cardboard... I will continue to make things with crayon and can always replenish the cardboard...
This is a time of transformation and movement as well as the dumping of a lot of the crap I have collected over the last 3 years. At least the heat will end soon... Maybe night snow will make some come alive...
Some of the old pieces will survive through careful preparation and luck so I don't regret using the commercial cardboard at all... Just keep watching Antique Roadshow...,
I used Wikipedia to make a Dee painting and a work involving Malden Island... I'll keep using that and a random word generator in the future... I don't know where I will be next year but I'm here in some form until the end I can promise you that
This week's blog post was written by mosaic artist June Martin of Moth and Twig.
“Without the studio, however humble, the room where the imagination can enter cannot exist.” -Anna Hansen
Whether it’s a beautiful space in the corner of your garden, a sprawling live/work space in a bustling city, or a humble corner in your flat, the art studio is a sacred space. A space to dream, create, and to explore; a space where time stands still yet flies by, simultaneously.
I moved from San Francisco to Portland about a year ago (I apologize for being another California-Portland transplant). In San Francisco, space was at a premium, even more so than in Portland. My fiancé and I shared a 650 square foot rent controlled one-plus bedroom apartment in the heart of the vibrant Castro District. My “studio” consisted of a farm table planted in the corner of the tiny living room. Luckily, my fiancé didn’t seem to mind that I took over the living room, especially since the apartment was solely his for about 15 years before my cat and I invaded the space. Though not an ideal space, I made it work, often times spilling out into the kitchen, especially when grouting mosaic pieces was called for.
Before moving in with my fiancé, I lived across the bay in the town of Emeryville where I occupied a 1200 square foot live/work space. Without defined spaces, I was able to set up or transform my art space to suit the needs of the day. Those needs toggled between working on small mosaic projects to hosting large art parties.
I confess to being somewhat of a nomad. For me, the act of moving has always been a source of pleasure, partly because whenever I move, I get to create a new space, not only to live in, but to create in as well. I am highly influenced by my immediate surroundings so each space I have occupied holds a special place in my heart and has been interesting, often unusual, and inspirational. My art space is as much a part of my art as other environments that also influence my art. It is the space where I feel happy, complete, and safe.
As I mentioned previously, my fiancé and I moved from our small apartment in San Francisco, to a cottage in the John’s Landing neighborhood of Portland. I purchased the cottage 13 years ago with the intention of moving to Portland. Life happened and it took 13 years to finally make the move. The cottage is a 100 year-old Cape Cod-turned-loft, tucked away at the end of a forested cul-de-sac. Though compact, the house serves our needs. I am no longer relegated to a corner of the living room to create art. I have a separate art studio complete with chartreuse and red walls that send a spark through me every time I enter the space. Though not a sprawling loft or a cool space in SF, my Portland studio is unique and it is my sanctuary. A place to dream, explore, and create. A safe space. A sacred space. The art studio.
This week's blog post was written by mosaic artist Colleen Patricia Willams.
This weeks’ post is about not just art, but the creative process and what aids that process. Modern American society is a busy place; work, family and other social commitments tend to take up our time, leaving us little time for leisure activities. This busyness cuts into our sleep, our meals and deprives us of a lot of necessary relaxation.
Neuroscience suggests that this trend has not been a good thing for Americans; it comes at the expense of creative enterprises, which tend to raise our life satisfaction as well as help us to live longer. Those moments when one becomes unaware of the passage of time, when the brain focuses on the project at hand, those moments are called “flow” and those moments are very good for us, not just as artists, but in other areas.
Flow is when we are relaxed, when time slips away, much like when one is driving, deep in thought; we find ourselves surprised when we pull into the driveway, listening to the music, it seemed like the drive took no time at all. This phenomenon generalizes out to the rest of our lives; at work, and especially at play, flow allows us to become one with the project, the concepts, that we are trying to express. It’s a good thing to take the time to experience flow; coloring can do this, which is what is behind the rise of the adult coloring book.
Another crucial area that needs to be considered is the role of sleep in the creative process; sleep not only cleans detritus out of our brains, but sleep allows new information learned during the waking period, to become better embedded in the brain. Sleep aids in healing and growth; growth of neuronal connections is vital to the creative process as is the pruning of unneeded neuronal connections. Sleep allows the brain to reorganize all of the input that has come into the brain during the waking period; this sleep period also allows weaker subsystems in the brain that are overwhelmed during the day, to emerge as the stronger systems are on hold. This is the origin of the A HA! moment. There are many documented instances of the answer to a critical question to a problem that come in dreams, like the invention of the sewing machine.
The inventor of the sewing machine was having a difficult time getting the thread to work; one night, during a dream, he saw the answer in the spear points that he dreamed of that night. They had holes in the tips, which when he applied this to the needles, it allowed the thread to properly loop, solving the problem he was having with his invention, that has changed the world.
The point that I hope to make for all people, artists and those who are not artists, is that we can all be creative, we can all do things to enhance our creativity, with sleep being the number one thing that we can all do, for free.
Stop by Artistic Portland to see and purchase Colleen's illuminated mosaics and hand-drawn coloring books!
This week's blog post is written by local painter and Co-op member John Stephenson.
I have always been intrigued by the infinite combinations of colors possible in my paintings. The mystery of how color changes with the slightest adding of one color to another and to what degree to do this is exciting and often frustrating. These minute changes will ultimately determine how a painting, a piece of jewelry, a fiber artwork, or just about any type of craft will look in the finished product. This includes working with glass, pottery, wood and metals. I have no formula for how to solve the chanciness of color except to apply my past experiences and experiment with the new. It is a challenging and creative process for me.
Fortunately there are some guidelines that help when you experiment with the colors. We have learned in our early childhood art classes that mixing the primary colors blue, red and yellow plus using black or white will make or tint new secondary colors. Many artists and some scientists have studied color and tried to devise laws that govern the effects of mixing and placement of these colors. The untrained human eye cannot easily discriminate differences enough to name and describe a large range of colors. For example, although there is a large range of mixes between red and white, we usually come up with the name “pink”. But when fine gradations are placed next to each other, depending of the shape and size of the patch, we can discern which patch is more pleasing to the eye. It is also true that the eye mixes colors when the patch is small and placed close together. The impressionist used this phenomenon to create paintings closer to our experience of light on surfaces of buildings, trees and people. They mainly used pure paint right out of the tube. Our imagination takes over to create colors that aren’t placed there. For me this means we can let go of the compulsion to try and mix every local color we see and instead let our imagination take over. I think this enhances the enjoyment of the paintings and other art objects.
Another consideration in painting is that using pure colors of a rich blue, for example, grabs our attention in contrast to more tinted or shaded colors. Thus space or distance can be created by placement of these brighter colors with muted ones. In landscapes this produces the illusion of background and foreground
Our emotional state or makeup is important as well. We react to colors differently depending on our personal and cultural history. Some colors evoke a more upbeat response associated with bright sunny days. Other colors evoke sadness, excitement or anger. This applies to many artists who have strong associations with certain colors that for them produce excitement or feelings of purity or grief. I think of expressionist painters of the past such as Wassily Kandinsky, Edvard Munch or Emil Nolde who made emotional response to color a major focus of their creative process, not only for themselves, but for the viewers of their art as well.
Knowing these factors doesn’t give a blueprint for using color but helps in considering how we react to colors and how our viewers may react. I’m sure that every artist in our Co-op is well aware of the influence of color and uses it as an essential ingredient in the art he/she creates.
This week's blog post is written by June Martin of Moth and Twig.
In my life I have been fortunate enough to either live in or spend time in various biomes including deserts, forests, and grasslands. My artwork is highly influenced by my love for nature. For example, it is easy to see the desert in the mosaic art jewelry pieces below. Hues of fiery orange and mustard depict the warmth of the sun. Turquoise, occurring exclusively in desert and arid environments, is often featured in my work, either in the form of actual turquoise stones and nuggets or turquoise ceramic earthenware tiles.
Though the arid, desert color palette speaks to me, I feel most inspired when I am in the forest, the tropical forest to be exact. As a child, I spent nearly two years living in the Philippines. The time I spend traipsing around in the jungle as a curious nine-year-old shaped who I am today. I cannot help but connect my love of art to my love of nature. I see art in nature, and I see nature in art. Though I have not been back to the Philippines since my childhood, I do frequent the wilds of Costa Rica, often, and it is there that I feel most inspired!
If you will indulge me for a moment, close your eyes and picture yourself awakening to the guttural sound of the howler monkey. To my ears, even though the first cries of the day may begin at 4 AM, their cries sound like a lullaby to me, letting me know that soon I will be gently awakened by the tropical sun, but for now, all is right in the world as I hear them getting ready for their day. The sun rises early in Costa Rica, usually around 5:30 AM. By this time the world around you is alive and bustling with activity. A cup of hot tea in hand, swinging in the hammock, I am enthralled by the abundance of hummingbirds and butterflies flitting about with their iridescent wings shimmering in the early morning sun. I ponder creating a pendant using dichroic glass to depict the impossible brilliance of color I see before my eyes.
Next, I see a pair of agoutis scampering about, foraging for their morning meal. Their beautiful caramel color fur stands out as they forage next to the lush green ferns near the banana trees. Another inspirational palette to use in my work. A pair of earrings perhaps?
At this point I hear the sounds of the white-faced capuchin monkey; a troupe making its way to my cottage, perhaps to scrounge the compost pile at the foot of the immense bamboo thicket. I see the first monkey emerge: a new mother with her infant clasped tightly around her. How beautiful they are with their cream hued faces and dark brown bodies. They scamper up and down the bamboo stalks. I contemplate a palette of cream, sienna, and the green of the bamboo leaves. Perhaps I will throw in some mango orange or mammon chino. So many choices!
It is my dream to host workshops in Costa Rica, where I can share with others my love of the art of mosaic as well as my love of Costa Rica: A seven-day intensive mosaic jewelry workshop to be held in the remote, yet accessible, Southern Nicoya peninsula. My hope is that not only will students come away with gorgeous works of nature-inspired mosaic jewelry, but that they will also come away with a sense of awe and appreciation for the jungles of Costa Rica. Adventure and art awaits! Stay tuned!
June Martin has a Mosaic Jewelry Workshop coming up in June! Check out our Classes page for more information.
This week's blog post is written by Colleen Patricia Williams.
As an artist, I find that the creative process is one that is, as the old saying goes, 10% inspiration and 90% perspiration. This is a factor that many of those who buy art don’t realize; the time that it takes to create a piece of art as well as the time it takes to learn how to use the chosen medium.
Art is not just a talent, but a skill that must be exercised daily to maintain skills and to learn new skills, as well as mastering the nuances that are an inevitable part of any medium. In my case, this means that I went to art school, and then I spent decades learning my art and my medium, in order to learn to bring my expressions to life.
Teaching other people that want to learn a medium is an excellent way to learn more ourselves, as art is a lifetime of learning. In our gallery, many of us teach our hard-earned skills to other people, so they also can be part of a creative process.
By taking a class, a person not only learns a new skill, but makes new connections in the brain that also assist in problem solving abilities. The more art that a person does, whether adult or child, the richer the connections that are formed; these rich connections can assist in prevention of dementia, according to research studies. This makes sense; dementias often involve the loss of neurons, the more neurons a brain has, the more the buffer effect.
Taking classes also allows for social benefits; these benefits apply to both kids and adults. Social networks enrich life for seniors, and homeschoolers can meet new friends in an intimate, yet safe environment that the parents can also attend.
Artistic Portland artists have many different mediums and many different skills, from ceramics, to jewelry to mosaics both big and small, to visual, 2D artwork and wearable art represented in our gallery, and many of these talented people will be teaching classes at Artistic Portland throughout the year. The classes that we offer can be signed up for by phone, mail or in person at the gallery, itself (Click here to what's currently being offered).
A class can make an excellent gift or it can be a supplement to a homeschooling curriculum, as well as a unique family experience, as the entire family can take a class! This creates a lasting memory that kids will treasure as they become adults as well as fostering art appreciation for later in life.
So come to Artistic Portland, where we have classes now, and will have more in the future!
This week's blog post is written by Marianne Wilson Stein of Gifts from the Earth.
German artist Gustav Klimt is one of my favorites. He was born on July 14,1862 and lived in Baumgarten, Vienna, Austria. He was an Austrian symbolist painter and one of the most prominent members of the Vienna Secession movement. Klimt is noted for his paintings, murals, sketches, and other objets d'art.
What inspires me about Klimt’s work is his use of repeating patterns and designs. His paintings were organic in design and filled with symbolic shapes. He was also a master of use of color, not afraid to create bold color combinations. Bildnis der Adele Bloch-Bauer
He painted various subject matter. I think I love his paintings of women the most. Klimt was not afraid to paint a woman’s body in all stages of life, like that of The Three Stages of Woman and Death and Life Completed. He loved the erotic and painted his subjects with a very feminine touch.
His work is sometimes ethereal leaving me with a haunting feeling. His body of work is bold and timeless. Irrlichter (Will-O’-The-Wisp)
One of my favorite periods of his work is his Golden Phase:
I have studied his body of work and I bet he was a man who loved and appreciated beauty in the world. What are your thoughts about his work?
This week's blog post is written by Sherry Bingaman of Nueva Vida.
I have been thinking about a topic many creative people discuss over and over but on which they seldom agree—“What is ART, and what is CRAFT?”
I have been a textile artist for most of my life, exploring various techniques and media to help me express my visions. I weave, felt, fuse, sew, crochet, knit, collage, papier mache, paint, whatever form I need to use to create the ideas in my head. Is it ART or is it CRAFT? I really don’t know, and I really don’t care. I love what I do, and it brings me great joy. My work is something I am compelled to do or I am sad. I feel lucky to be obsessed like this!
So much of what I have read about ART vs. CRAFT is about how different they are from each other, like comparing philosophy to engineering or something. So often you will read that ART is the communication of an idea or emotion, while CRAFT is the physical manipulation of material. One object could be viewed two ways: if you look at the way it was made and the materials used, you are looking at it as CRAFT. If you think about its emotions and ideas, you are seeing it as ART.
Artists all work with some type of materials whether it’s paint and canvas or yarns and dyes. So much satisfaction comes from the process of using these various materials, no matter what they are. I spent 13 years teaching kids in grades K-12 and so enjoyed seeing their pleasure while creating, no matter the quality of the end result. Their circle of joy became complete when they were also proud and inspired by the results of their work. Did they make ART or CRAFT? Does it matter?
The ambiguity inherent in the question “Is it ART or is it CRAFT” is part of the mystery of creating. Many people are very rigid in their definitions and feel ART expresses emotion while CRAFT represents function. I believe that the best work is a combination of both.
Creating is a personal experience with different rewards for each of us.
In my work, I aim to express an idea using whatever materials I choose and create it in the most excellent manner I can. I like to think my best piece is my next one and hope to continually improve and evolve. My heart speaks when I make something from ordinary materials in such a way as they become extraordinary.
This week's blog post is written by Laura K. Maxwell.
Before I began actively creating and selling my own art, I was an elementary art teacher. I taught students how to draw, paint, and sculpt at an elementary school in Dallas, Texas before moving to Portland. I believe a big part of teaching is learning with your students. A classroom - especially an art classroom - should be a place where everyone involved, including the teacher, are discovering new things and learning from each other. This turned out to be especially true in my situation. My students taught me how to be an artist.
Before teaching, I had earned a Bachelor’s degree in Art History. Looking back, I think it was because I was more comfortable reading and talking about art, rather than making it myself. For sure, Art History is super interesting - learning how visual culture has changed throughout time and history - but by the end, it felt hollow. I wanted to pursue something more meaningful. So I endeavored to teach little ones how to engage with and appreciate art themselves. I got a Master’s in Art Education and began teaching K-6 art. As I said, I wasn’t really creating much art myself at the time, and so a part of me didn’t feel quite qualified to be teaching others. Either way, I dove in and determined to learn as I went.
A big part of teaching is giving pep talks. Creating is a scary process, and when a piece turns out differently than you plan, it can be really frustrating - for kids and adults alike. It was not uncommon to have a student in tears, so upset that their artwork wasn’t turning out the way they hoped. I tried to combat this from the very beginning of the school year, by reading books like Beautiful Oops by Barney Saltzberg -- which is about how any “mistake” can be turned into something beautiful. Also the books The Dot and Ish by Peter Reynolds, which both encourage embracing the unique way you create, even when it’s not exactly what you were expecting.
It’s hard to give a pep talk without some of it seeping into yourself. As I encouraged my students and watched them create without fear, I began to hunger to do the same. When I had extra time in the evenings and weekends, I pulled out a sketchbook and some pens and started to draw. At first it was just to prepare for specific lessons, but then I increasingly began to do art for its own sake. I especially tried to challenge myself to draw in pen, so that I could really embrace the “beautiful oops” philosophy and be forced to turn my mistakes into something beautiful, rather than erase. This really drove me crazy at times. It is also freeing - to let go of fixed outcomes and see where the process leads one step at a time.
I don’t teach full time anymore, but I still value the lessons learned from teaching and continually am inspired by the uninhibited creativity I see in young artists. I agree with Pablo Picasso who said, “Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once we grow up.”
I believe the drive to create is part of the human condition. Don’t suppress that- - don’t be afraid of making mistakes or comparing your creative path to another's. Get out there and make something.