Thursday, August 25, 2011

My TREES Journal and Time for a Break...

I've been posting pages from my TREES art journal, made in a fabulous workshop lead by Orly Avineri and today I'm showing the last page spread...

Two page spread - "wall of pictures" and "rings of life"

We were asked to do an exercise that imitated the rings of trees - each ring representing one year of life for the tree. For the sake of space, we made one ring for every two years of life we had lived...good thing too, since I'm 45 years old and I'm not sure I could have fit all those rings onto the page!! ;)

If you look closely, you'll see me in the center of the rings...

I placed myself in the center of all the rings and began to surround the image with bits and pieces of favorite ephemera, photo copies and natural items from the morning walk of the first day. You can see some of the natural 'debris' in the close up below...

bits of natural debris, photo copies of tree bark and branches, music paper glued onto a sprayed background with plant life imprints...

When I looked at my rings later, I realized that certain words were surrounding me: "good feeling", "she wrote", "book" - all of them have importance in my life...

If you look at the photos I used for my "photo wall", you might see one that I've posted here before...

The three images grouped together: two trees from the old work neighborhood and the fig tree of Ventura - I love each of these trees...

This image is paper ephemera given to me by the lovely lady who hosted this workshop in her beautiful home - it reminds me of one of the trees I included in my 'wall of photos' and it will always remind me of our wonderful hostess...

The back of my journal with small page fold holding a scrap of sheet music

The cover of my journal is all of a piece, with the sprayed background and the spine made from paper ephemera given to us during the workshop. The cover holds my 'cinnamon stick', as Orly called it, which was some natural debris gathered on the walk of the first morning and bound together...I guess it does look like a cinnamon stick!

I really love how the front/back covers turned out on my journal!

 My TREES Art Journal made in Santa Barbara, 2011

I know my journal seems complete, but there are bits I'm looking forward to adding, such as some rubber stamping, written text and special stories that were shared...It was a truly amazing workshop with many magical moments...

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There have been quite a few magical moments that have taken place this summer, not the least of which is meeting a fabulous blog buddy who has traveled a long way to be in California. She has blogged about our first meet-up here, we've had another meet-up she's talked about here, and we have one last meet-up before she heads back home. It's been great fun to meet her and to show her around some of my favorite haunts in and around Los Angeles. I'll be sharing my version of these amazing field trips, but that will have to wait...

For the next two to three weeks, I'm going on hiatus to "unplug" from email, blogging and Etsy listing! I plan on just staying at home, doing some house cleaning and watching favorite costume dramas, though I may do a little planning and dreaming for the future...

It's been a great summer and there are still some adventures to be had. I'll be sure to share them with you when I return after Labor Day - I hope you enjoy the rest of your summer!

Time for a break with a cup of tea - I'll be back before September 15th!

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

My Submission for Great Big Stitched Postcard...

A few weeks ago I left a sneak peek of my submission for the Great Big Stitched Postcard Swap being hosted at Do What You Love. I was reluctant to share the full images since I sent my postcard one day before the deadline and thought my recipient might try to get a peek on my blog before it showed up in her mailbox ;)

I received word this weekend that my postcard for her arrived and she loved it! I'm so glad she loved it because I loved making it - here is how it came together:

This bit of fabric was found in my grandmother's sewing room - these colors make my heart sing!

All the parts of the stitched portion of the postcard gathered together: machine stitched fabric flower, hand made felt center to be anchored with the red button using my wool embroidery thread and decorated with leaves cut from an old but well loved favorite t-shirt...

The flower is now assembled and ready to be stitched onto the postcard...

The flower is stitched onto the postcard by hand. I love hand sewing - I should find a way to do it more often...

Leaves and stem are also hand stitched - I added a blue sky background with a small ink pad and I edged the postcard with a darker shade of blue...

I finished by adding a quote to match the theme of this swap, BLOOM:

"As long as we are PERSISTENT* in our pursuit of our DEEPEST DESTINY, we will continue to GROW. We cannot choose the day or time when we fully BLOOM. It happens in it's own time"
Denis Waitley

It's a great quote and I put emphasis on the words that seemed most meaningful...It got a little tricky to get all the words around the flower, but it seems I had more than enough to go around!

I'm so glad I joined in this swap this time around and I look forward to the next swap...maybe you'll join in too??

* - OOOPS! It looks like I mis-spelled that word on my postcard - sorry about that!

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Sunday Shorts - Thought Provoking Video...

A dear blog buddy posted this interesting and thought-provoking video on her Facebook page recently and I wanted to post it here. Though it deals with a study done in Australia on artists and how/if they earn a living wage from their work, I found much of the information to be eye-opening...

I was particularly heartened to learn that 1 in 3 artists who applied for funding, received it! Those are great odds compared to the numbers in America. I also found it interesting that though the median income is lower for artists than the general population, the number of people becoming artists continues to increase...

It makes me glad to know that so many people are motivated to create BEAUTY in the world =-)

Thursday, August 18, 2011

More Pages of my TREES Art Journal

I thought I'd share another page from my art journal created in Orly's workshop TREES, held in Santa Barbara a few weeks was quite an experience...

spray inks were used to create the background for this spread which included an exercise in drawing blindly - small pages were created from paper ephemera given to us by our lovely hostess...

detail of journal spread

I had not covered all the pages of my journal, handmade by one of the workshop participants, so I quickly added some spray inks to create a background of sorts and it worked out for the exercise that Orly gave us - contour drawing without looking at your page. It was a challenging exercise, but it was made a bit easier with the use of vintage carbon paper taped onto the page!

Orly instructed us to really LOOK at the tree and start with a contour drawing of the outline - then we turned the page around to draw a closer vision of the tree in front of us, then turn the page again and again as we got closer and closer to the tree. If you look closely at the next photo, you can see the outline of a leaves of the branch that was right in front of me...

you might even see the outline of the tree if you turn your head around this image!

The previous drawing exercise was on the other side of the spread but though I put the pencil down hard, you can't see much of it - I was glad for the carbon paper to make my drawing lines darker and somewhat easier to see. It made me realize I really should do more drawing...

I'll be adding more paper ephemera pages to this spread, but this is how it looked when the workshop had ended - I like this page quite a bit...but I do like white space in my work as I've mentioned here before.

I like it now but this journal spread will change soon...

There is still a page or two of my art journal to share so stay tuned for that!

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Back to the TREES...Art Journal

I've been meaning to share more pages from my TREES art journal made in Santa Barbara a few weeks ago and I think now is a good time to do so...

I mentioned an eco-dye project that we all did in the workshop and the only shot of the process I got was this one:

fabric wrapped and tied tightly around small tree branches and a few loose eucalyptus leaves after the process was complete - it was ALL about trees that weekend =-)

We were instructed to lay some of the found leaves from our morning walk onto the fabric swatches we were given and then roll them as tightly as possible around the tree branches. Then we had to wrap and tie string tightly around our dye sticks. I did the best I could with the fabric wrapping but I can see that I did a better job of tying the string afterward! We then had two pots to choose from: one had fresh eucalyptus and the other had dried. Also, each pot had a different variety of eucalyptus, but I couldn't tell you which was which, so I thought I'd place one stick in each pot to see what happened...

Here are my finished fabric swatches from the dye project...

silk charmeuse dyed with eucalyptus leaves and Spanish lavender

you can see where the lavender left color and imprints on the silk - the eucalyptus created the rust color...

silk organza dyed with eucalyptus leaves - small leaves were placed on the fabric to make an imprint

If you look closely, you can see that the start of each roll is less defined in pattern and color than at the end where I could really tighten the rolling and the string! But I think the final effect is still quite is a swatch made by our lovely hostess and given to me as a gift:

silk charmeuse dyed with eucalyptus leaves

I think this piece had just been thrown into a pot, but there is the imprint of one single leaf - it looks quite dramatic...

Orly encouraged us to use the left over leaves from the dye pots to add to our journals...

eucalyptus left-overs from the dye pots...I have stuff like this decorating my own home - it's part of my favorite color palette and I love anything made of wood from TREES...

And so I did...

Final journal page with gel transfer pocket, eucalyptus branches and leaves and samples of eco-dyed silks

I still have more pages to come, so stay tuned...

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Sunday Shorts - A Quick Craft Project

I had these sitting among my craft supplies...they seemed little plain to me:

I didn't know what I'd use these for until...

So I thought I'd play with the color wash sprays my dear boyfriend bought for me recently...

Warm autumnal colors - I love this palette...

Here is how they turned out...

These are not your ordinary flowers!

Don't be surprised to see these pop-up in another craft one day!

What quick crafting are you up to today?

Friday, August 12, 2011

The Creative Beast Interview - Kristina Wong

Hello dear blog readers! Today I am so excited to introduce to you a friend and fellow performance artist for today's Creative Beast Interview. Her name is Kristina Wong and she will leave you laughing!

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Interview with Kristina Wong, Performance Artist

I met Kristina Wong back in the days when I was doing volunteer work at Highways Performance Art Space and Gallery, helping out in the box office for the shows and then watching the shows for FREE*. Highways always had great artists and Kristina Wong was one of them. Over time we got to know one anther so when she told me she was conducting a performance art workshop in my part of town I joined in to lend my support and to have fun. Little did I know, what an amazing and transformative workshop I would be participating in...

With Kristina mugging for "faux paparazzi" at one her LA performances!

Kristina has an amazing talent for telling a great story with humor and pathos, as well as shedding light on topics that many would find depressing, such as her show, "Wong Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest" which deals with depression and suicide among females in the Asian American community, yet she finds a way to use yarn as a metaphor for coming "unwound" and she uses the metaphor with great effect. Of course, it helps that she is knitter and crocheter herself!

Not only have I been lucky to watch her performances, but I've also been lucky to work alongside her in workshops creating performance art, as well as to help her by creating unique costumes for her shows. She has a wicked sense of humor which is used to great effect in her recent project, "Going Green the Wong Way" which relates her experience driving a vegetable oil car in Los Angeles...until the day it caught fire! As you can see, she lived to tell the tale!

Kristina is usually touring with her shows, but I managed to catch up with her while she was at home in LA and she was kind enough to take some time to answer some questions on creativity. Thank you and welcome Kristina - let's begin!

 Kristina Wong - Artist, Activist, Performance Artist and Crafter!

Who first introduced you to creating? Was it a family member - a teacher? How did that person influence you?

We used to pass notes in middle school among my friends and I would always draw cartoons of my friends and kids we didn’t like.  They were usually three or four panel cartoons that would lampoon our friends.  These cartoons were silly and sometimes malicious.  Sometimes they were borderline racial caricatures of people. I drew the cartoon version of myself with a peace sign around my neck because I envisioned myself as a peace oriented magical hippie type.  I was a paradox even then.

That paradox is what I love about you Kristina - it certainly adds to the work you create!

What were your first creative actions that you remember? (Sewing, Dancing, Painting, etc?)

I remember finger painting in preschool.  Later, when I was ten years old I was in a car with my grandparents and parents, we passed the same building where I did the fingerpainting and they teased me about how I shat in my pants in that same fingerpainting class and they had to clean me up after.  Because I was so mortified of being reminded of that, I started crying.

This story of early art memories and being teased for pooping in my pants must be a metaphor for something!

And I'm sure it will show up in a future performance art piece!

Do you have a favorite medium to create in? If so, what is it?

I work as a performance artist and writer, that’s surprisingly how I pay the bills.  I used to be obsessed with knitting and crochet until my right wrist got some serious carpal tunnel. That obsession made it’s way into my third solo show “Wong Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest.”  But I have to say I’m enjoying making dolls and working with fabric a lot lately.  I have a Brother Project Runway Limited Edition sewing machine. Sewing up a storm out of old fabrics and clothes is a great way for me to blow off steam and make gifts for friends.  I love seeing how I can transform an old pair of jeans into a stuffed creature that my friends will enjoy forever.

It's great to find ways to reuse old clothing and make it into something new - it's one of my favorite things about sewing =-)

How do you feel when you are creating in your chosen medium?

With my doll sewing, I’m thinking about the person I’m going to give the doll to. I feel calm with spurts of adrenaline surging underneath me. It’s meditation with purpose. 

One of Kristina's soft toy creations

I think many of us can relate to the idea of "meditation with purpose" when creating. Many artists feel at peace when they are working with their hands and creating.

What is the greatest joy you derive from creating? Accomplishment? The process? Sharing it with others? Please explain…

I love the high of performance, especially when it’s going well.  I love it when I really work an audience to the point they are doubled over.  I compare it to holding up their faces and punching them again and again... except not violently.

From her one woman show "Wong Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest"

For me when I give people dolls or scarves I made it’s a great feeling because it feels personal, and memorable and it’s like I really am able to give over my time and creative power to someone else in a tangible form.  It’s something that I don’t feel when I buy gifts for someone. I have a whole closet of Christmas presents I’ve received over the years and can’t remember who gave me what.

Yes, there is something about live performance that really makes you feel ALIVE and giving gifts of things you've made can also make you feel alive, since you are giving a part of yourself as you do in performance. I can relate to all of that Kristina!

Do you think a creative life comes from ideas, doing or being?

A creative life for me is about finding ways to add invention in every day living. I think ideas that go unrealized, that sit in you heart as “should of's” result in some kind of crazy.  I say this because all the ideas I have stirring around my head that I haven’t quite spit out onto some kind of creative canvas drives me nuts!

What I like about crafting with textiles is that I can always make a new piece and work out a new idea in a new piece.  And yet, each of my “drafts” are tangible pieces of work that audiences can still enjoy.

Another one of Kristina's soft toys - he sure has character!

Performance work is such a live unpredictable medium and comes alive depending on who is in the audience.  I have tons of drafts which have been “consumed” in the form of readings and works-in-progress showings.  I’m usually going crazy when I make live work up until the show goes up and finally is released out of my head.

Kristina in her latest show "Going Green the Wong Way"
I know about those unpredictable audiences Kristina - you just never know how they will react to your work. Sometimes they laugh when you mean to be serious and sometimes they are serious when you mean to be funny! But you right that you must give birth to you ideas or it drives you crazy...I know I have several ideas rattling in my brain now!

How do you express your creative life? Is it integrated in your daily life or is it a separate part of your life?
I am very fortunate that I get to do creative work for a living.  But because I draw an income from my work, it often means doing the same project again and again for paying audiences, even if I have emotionally moved on from the project.  My show “Wong Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest” was about the high rates of depression and suicide among Asian American women and toured for five years. It was an extremely heavy topic for me to create something from and at times I was emotionally destroyed by the process of making and touring the show.

From "Wong Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest" - she was also interviewed in Vogue Knitting for this show!

What really saved me in the process of making that work was knitting and sewing for me.  It was somewhere to put my creative energy, a way I could meditate and see progress happening.  And a way I could exercise creativity without the pressure of money.

I think it's a good practice to have different types of creative projects going at one time, but not TOO MANY projects at once!

Can you think of a time when someone else’s creativity fed you? What was that like?

I watched a children’s theater show at the Bootleg Theater here in LA.  They had a great series called the “Fun Family Festival of Tragedy” where they turned Shakespeare’s tragedies into fun 30 minute plays.  I love children’s theater because there is no ego, no pretension, and it’s just about spectacle and telling a story in the most simple and brilliant of ways.  In my theater making and writing, I often get wrapped up in obsessing about being literary and meta-theatrical that I lose track of all reality pretty quickly.

What is the most significant creative event in your life to date? Was it a defining moment? Was it a milestone or a lifetime goal?

I think my first major public project had a lot of significance for me.
It was a mock mail order bride website and was set up to deliberately piss people off. This was huge for me back then.  I’d always been raised to make everyone happy and to not rock the boat.  And back then, not everyone had an internet presence the way they do now on Facebook.  So it felt weird to know that while I was sleeping, someone was experiencing my ideas.  This is normal now, but back then, it was a totally trippy idea to me and scary.

As a result of the site, I would get both love letters and hate mail.  It really thickened my skin and now I try to go as far out on a limb as possible when I make my work.  I say things that piss off audiences and I don’t feel as apologetic as I would have in college.

I remember when I first saw your website Big Bad Chinese Mama - that site had me laughing so hard, I had a tummy ache for a whole day afterward! I really loved how you turned some stereotypes upside down and inside out - it was a great creative project Kristina and very empowering for women...or should I say womyn?!?

What is it like to be a self-sustaining artist?

It felt really terrifying the first few years out, like “Am I really doing this without a safety net?” But here I am six years later, and I can’t imagine ever applying for a job again. Paying a mortgage and living a healthy financial life as an artist often means I am juggling up to ten projects at once. And that requires an intense amount of focus which is not really my strong suit.

I’ve really had to learn about better time management, efficiency, but also, how to take breaks and find time for renewal.
I often feel like I could have been as happy at a desk job, doing art on the side. Sometimes I’m extremely happy that I have no boss to report to, other times I just feel extremely isolated from the outside world. It’s a day to day battle, but I’m learning how to create structure to my life.

I think many free lance artists struggle with creating structure in their day-to-day work schedule - I'm still working on it though I have a few things that are a daily routine like my morning walk.

Is your life different from the time when you worked for others?

I’ve had a few part time day jobs as an adult and there’s something to be said about being able to “leave work and go home.” I don’t have that. I sleep, eat, and work in the same house. I have had to create work hours for myself just like the working world so that I can have the “leaving the office” time.

But just like when I worked for others, I measure time with projects, deadlines, and meetings. It’s just like the working world, except the thing I’m selling is me!

If I had a day job and was making this work on the side, I think that I would have the freedom to make without the pressure of drawing a living from it. That I could coast creatively from idea to idea as it beckoned me. The issue is I might not have time or the venues available to me as I do now as a working artist.

It's true that as a free lance artist there are still meetings and deadlines, and the crucial difference is that we sell OUR IDEAS and OUR WORK, instead of someone else's ideas and work! Thanks for pointing that out Kristina!

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Many thanks to Kristina for making time to be interviewed! I hope you enjoyed reading it as much as i enjoyed creating it! Be sure to check out the many places where you can find Kristina and see what she is up to:

Her short film "Yarning for Love"
(which I highlighted at this blog recently)

Her show "Wong Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest" has been made into a film** and will be screened at the Burbank International Film Festival coming next month - if you're in the area, check it out!

Kristina tours to many places so check out her schedule to see if she's coming to a town near YOU! 

* - You KNOW that FREE is my favorite four letter "F" word! ;)
** - If you check out the trailer, you'll see the green sweater I created for her show - it's designed to come apart and 'unravel' in many ways!

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

My Creative Color Challenge Project and Other Goodness...

I nearly forgot that my Creative Color Challenge Color Wheel was due TODAY!! I've been quite busy these days, but I managed to create a color wheel this morning to share with you in time for the deadline...

My color pencils made a nice little color wheel...
I looked through my color pencils and embroidery floss and I managed to create two different styled color wheels, using a printed one as a base to go by...

 The printed color wheel I used to work from to create my own versions of the color wheel...

From a large collection of embroidery floss that I found at a thrift shop - the colors of the wheel were all there...

...But I also made a small version of the wheel using my color pencils... color wheel made with color pencils surrounded by embroidery floss make up a color wheel duet...

I do love a color wheel, but I've mentioned here before how much I love the color spectrum...and I could play with making color wheels all day, but I still have another project due this week: The Great Big Stitched Postcard!

I already received my postcard from a lovely lass in England...sadly, she is not blogging at this time, but I do hope she will soon!

I'm always excited to see mail from across the pond - it makes me feel so special!!

oooooh...this is a beautiful postcard...

The theme for this round of Great Big Stitched Postcard is BLOOM and I love how it is interpreted in this beautiful card...

A thoughtful quote completes the beauty...
Here is a sneak peek at what I will be sending to a different lass across the pond:

A scrap of fabric from my grandmother's fabric stash that I now have - I love the happy bright colors!

I know I still have pages from my TREES art journal to share and I will be sure to do that in the next day or so, but I've got to run and make a postcard to mail before Sunday!!

Are you busy and bursting with creative projects? I'd love to hear about them!!

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Sunday Shorts - Amazing Blog Post...

A friend pointed me to this blog a few weeks back with this particular blog post and recently, she pointed it out to me again with this blog post, which was so amazing I wanted to share it with you all today...

I love this blog post because it reminds me of the wisdom of women and it reminds me of how much I owe to my very special Wise Woman for her guidance and support in times of need. The wisdom of women is a special and sacred thing that we do not always value in this society, which is why I dreamed of my "Currency of Strength" project for so many years before I actually created it. I hoped it might inspire other women to look at other female figures from history and take pride in the history of our collective accomplishments.

The thoughts expressed in the blog post about our disconnection from ourselves rings so true, and the critical question that is asked, is perhaps one of the most important questions we can ask ourselves:

"How do we hold onto who we are at our very core as women?"

I hope you take a little time to check out the link and think about how you can hold onto who YOU are as a woman or as an ARTIST.

Here are two other fabulous "Wise Women" in my life: Diana on the left and Gwynnie on the right. Do YOU have a Wise Woman you want to celebrate?

Many thanks to all of you "Wise Women" and "Wise Women in Training" who come here to read my blog, and many thanks to the fabulous men who support and CELEBRATE the Feminine =-)