Field Trip Day

My son’s 7th grade science class is working with the Mill Creek Restoration Project testing water samples from the creek for things like Ph levels and the presence of pollution sensitive invertebrates. In the fall and spring his class gets take a few field trips to do this research which is loads of fun and interesting as well. Not a whole lot of art gets done on these days. But that’s ok.

Here’s yesterday’s Daily Dog sketch….

working for a living

As most artists know, being an artist involves operating in multiple spheres. It is an unusual artist who gets to (or even chooses to) do nothing but “make” 24/7. Artists I know, myself included, generally put together somewhat of a piecemeal living of odd jobs and teaching assignments (hopefully art related) that allow for art to be made at other times. It is a balancing act, to be certain.

Lately, I have had the great fortune to land some of these other types of work. One of the most exciting is the position of Teaching Artist for the Family Saturdays program at the Carnegie Visual and Performing Art Center in Covington, Ky. Every month, on the second Saturday of the month, families with kids of all ages are invited to the Carnegie Center’s educational room to make art projects inspired by and related to the current art being shown in the galleries. In the future, these projects will probably involve what’s happening in the theater too. (There is a suggested $5 donation per family to help cover costs).

My first Family Saturday as an instructor/art-guide in this program will involve projects inspired by the work of glass artists…

We’ll explore how glass artists approach transparency and color. We’ll also look at the art of Frank Satogata who uses brilliant color as well as an interesting calligraphy signature (we’ll make our own!!)

We have plans to use the concepts in the work of Anne Straus to approach some nature friendly art ideas for the fall time frame….

I am looking so forward to meeting the families who attend these art-parties at the Carnegie Center on a regular basis and hope that we can encourage more families to join the fun in coming months. I also look forward to teaching people some basic drawing techniques by providing an “Anyone Can Draw” table each month to try out along with all the usual gallery themed/seasonal art stations. So if you’re in the area, stop by and join us. It’s sure to be a great time making some cool stuff!

stepping it up a notch

“All your life you are told the things you cannot do. All your life they will say you’re not good enough or strong enough or talented enough; they will say you’re the wrong height or the wrong weight or the wrong type to play this or be this or achieve this. THEY WILL TELL YOU NO, a thousand times no, until all the no’s become meaningless. All your life they will tell you no, quite firmly and very quickly.
AND YOU WILL TELL THEM YES.” (from a Nike ad)

For the past two years I have been learning to play the Irish Tin Whistle. I have no previous musical training or experience but love the tunes and feel like I am waking up this whole other part of my art-brain that didn’t even know it existed. Although the whistle is, in and of itself, a wonderful instrument, I have often wondered if I could step it up a notch and learn a more complicated instrument, like the flute.

Today I had my first lesson on a borrowed flute with amazing flute player/teacher John Skelton. The subtleties will take years to manage, much less master, but it felt really good to just begin with the basics. When I first started the whistle, I wanted so badly just a be able to play a few tunes in a session with my friends. I now do this on a regular basis and it brings me a ton of joy. Maybe a few years from now I will be able to do the same on the flute. ‘Til then, I am enjoying the process of learning something of which I never thought I was capable.

what’s stewing in studio

Current projects brewing here in the studio include a second music video for my friend and fab music maker, Kim Taylor (this gal makes a mean mocha latte too, btw). This time around, now that I have gotten my feet wet in both the movie making software and in the moving pictures realm, the video will probably include some stop motion animation. In searching for examples of others doing this type of “art meets music in video” work, I have stumbled across the following two videos:

The first is Rock My Boat by a band called DNTEL. I had never heard of them and really like this song as well as the amazing animation that accompanies it here.

The second video is one I came across on an art blog while researching a completely different project regarding Blue Heeler dogs (more on that later). It is by a band called Mum for their song They Made Frogs Smoke til They Exploded off of their album Go Go Smear the Poison Ivy. The art work and motion in this video are stunning, to put it simply.

I now know what to shoot for (at least eventually) in this line of work and I feel inspired that there are other artists out there doing it so beautifully. As for today… I am still in Daily Dog mode. Stewing and brewing these new ideas.

Right work

I read somewhere once that Zen Buddhists believe in the concept of Right Livelihood, or more simply, Right Work. To me this concept has something in common with the idea of “do what you love, the money will follow”. As an artist, it is sometimes difficult to get out of my own way and just show up everyday and do the work without questioning why or how. When I get into this frame of mind, I do an exercise I call the daily dog that gives me something creative to do. A small job that might get my art motor running.

Here is today’s dog. I saw this dog on top of a horse in Nashville Tennessee.  Here he is talking to my mom.  He was part of a horse drawn carriage tour of the city and seemed very Zen in his job. If only I could be so sure of my own work each day!

Nashville Dog

Hanging out in Nashville

Nashville boots This weekend I went to Nashville, Tennessee with my mom and sis for our annual girls getaway. I’ve been to Nashville before and have found it to be an eclectic, friendly, interesting place to be. This time, we stayed primarily downtown where most of the country music flavored culture is to be found. Here’s a list of some things I saw:

Cowboy Hats (zillions)
Boots (even more of these, and got a pair myself)
Boobs (come on girls, can’t we leave SOMETHING to the imagination?)
Homeless folks (this is a large problem in Nashville but there seem to be advocacy groups there doing research and talking to people about how best to help)
Guitars (everywhere! Lots of rising stars running from gig to gig with them on their backs)
Legendary likenesses (tons of Country Music lore and the images are everywhere)
Dogs (on horseback, on leashes, in stores, busking for change)
Music (talent was oozing from this place. I’m not a fan of country music but there was not one wrong note anywhere near this town!)

All in all I enjoyed Nashville in spite of my distaste for and ignorance of most things relating to country music (I do love the roots of it, however). We topped off our visit with what has to be the best breakfast and cup of coffee in town at Fido’s Coffehouse.

lady pilot

This past summer I had the opportunity to be involved with a community art project in which artists and non-artists alike collected interesting garbage and junk and other seemingly useless items. In this Collect Project, local artists then created works of art using the discovered discards. The results were amazing! All works were finally auctioned off a week ago to benefit ArtWorks, a non-profit arts organization based in Cincinnati that promotes job training, creative services and public art.

Fellow artist Tina Westerkamp and I created three mixed media pieces of work together. Lady Pilot, below, was my favorite of the three. We started with a metal paper towel holder, an old watch, some (clean) hospital tubing, and parts of a bicycle wheel. We then added some other “art goodies” from our own eclectic stashes. I could write a dissertation about our artistic process but basically, it was the magic of putting two rather different styles into what became an Other. It was a blast.

One of my favorite sayings goes something like “If you don’t stir the pot now and then, all the good stuff sinks to the bottom.” This is so true for art. Collaboration with another artist is a great way to discover new avenues of making and stirring that proverbial pot. I highly recommend it.