Navigating

There has been a lot on the proverbial plate here lately which is mildly stressful.  But mostly, excitement reigns as I navigate an increasingly busy schedule.  Our kids are back in school now and we have settled into something of a schedule with new bus routes and school hours.  Having them take the bus to and from school most days has opened up some more time for me in the studio and I have been taking full advantage.  The wax table has seen some activity and I am enjoying creating new works involving stones and pebbles.

For years (as long as I can remember actually) I have collected small stones from everywhere I go as minute physical reminders of a place.  Once at home, these pebbles are usually to be found lying around here and there as decoration and inspiration.  Sometimes I just like to carry one in my pocket.  I like to think I am borrowing them for a time until someday when I am done with them and they will go back outside.  I know other artists who use pebbles as not only inspiration, but as material.  Jennifer Neilsen of Solstice Designs creates beautiful jewelry out of stones she finds on the Maine coast and I am a proud owner of one of her pieces.

In recent encaustic work, as well as in the sketchbook, I have been meditating on how lovely each and every stone is and how no one is like any other.  They are a good bit like people.  I don’t use actual pebbles in these paintings but rather create simulacra of stones and pebbles that look as much like the real thing as possible.  I like the effect and the pebbles are convincing, even in person.  But why re-create pebbles?  I don’t really know the answer to that at this point.  I just know that I enjoy making them, which for me is half the battle in the studio.  If I am not engaged with my subject, I get easily sidetracked.  So for now, I am sculpting little stones and considering the notion of landscape from a top-down perspective.  Years of beach combing are finally paying off perhaps.  Here are some samples of what’s cookin’ at the wax table…

Kayaking continues to be my new love as I learn more about being comfortable in my boat.  We have had numerous opportunities to be out on the water recently which allows me to gather stones, take photographs and draw.

One of the unexpected things about kayaking that I find particularly enjoyable is the solitude and quiet to be found when out on the water, at least in mild weather and calm waters.  I get time and quiet to think about things, which is something I don’t allow enough of in my daily life.  Even when paddling with a group of people, there is enough space and time to do my own thing here and there and I love that.  Here’s a sketch I did the other day while out on the Ohio River at Manchester Islands.  Instead of swimming, I sat and drew.

Drawing is the other thing that has me busy in the studio right now.  Funny thing is, it’s not so much the act of drawing, but rather research and writing about drawing and its inherent value as a quintessential right brained activity.  For the past few months, a former student, now friend, Adam Siemiginowski and I have been developing a new course in drawing and visual communication in general which we intend to pilot locally to large scale businesses.  We call this project Drawing Down the Vision.  It all started when Adam, a systems analyst, data sort a guy from P&G took my class at the Art Academy.  He was looking for a way to synthesize disparate ideas into one concise place as a way to monitor trends in his own thinking and idea gathering.  By the end of the course, it was clear to both of us that my relatively simple process of keeping a visual diary (i.e. sketchbook) could potentially be a powerful tool in knowledge management in the corporate sphere.

So we began working together.  I have a fairly steep learning curve when it comes to business lingo and navigating the corporate way of doing things.  But I am learning.  The more we research what boils down to a discussion of creativity in the work place, the more there is to discover.  Everyday there is more and more evidence that the old models of generating creative solutions to problems (be they business-esque “bottom line” solutions, or an outside of the box new medical breakthrough) are outdated.  Dan Pink’s recent TED talk speaks to the power of this changing landscape of problem solving.  He is one of many who believe that inspiring creativity in the work place may involve a new approach involving mixing the boundaries between professions such as business, art and science.

All of this is tremendously exciting, and scary, and I write about it here because writing helps me organize my thoughts in a way that simply thinking or list-making can’t.  In the end that is why I blog.  I sometimes discover a way of viewing my own work or thought process that I hadn’t considered.  So I’ll certainly be writing more about DDtV and its progress, as well as keeping you posted on the more day to day simple things that keep me not only occupied but in awe.  Thanks for reading.

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