Tag Archives: puppetry

Big Art

Suddenly, it’s the middle of May!  Spring is always a busy time, with Red Cross puppetry in full swing.  But there is a lot besides puppets making things exciting.  First, the ArtWorks project I worked on January – March is finished and has been professionally installed.  I have not had an opportunity to see it in situ between the Convention Center‘s hours and my busy work schedule.  But I had some spies visit it last weekend and below are a few pics!  (Special thanks to Jeni for the awesome shots!!) I am so excited to see it and to celebrate it’s completion with my team, the wonderful folks at ArtWorks, and of course, our sponsors at the Convention Center at a dedication reception May 27th from 5-6:30.

Keep in mind, the work itself it 13 feet tall and begins about 3 or 4 feet off the ground!

Below are the three faces I painted.  I look at them and can’t believe I did that!

In the midst of all of this, Drawing Down the Vision is really shaping up.  We have a new and improved website that changes often with blog posts from both me and Adam.  We are both putting immense amounts of energy into writing as often as possible to convey to visitors to our site the basic philosophy that drives the practice of Drawing Down the Vision.  Check it out!  And of course, check back often.

Meanwhile, a huge labor of love is finally, officially underway.  On Big art projects, so much work goes into the front end of it.  Raising money, figuring out sites, supplies, fabrication etc.  All of this is guided and driven by the artist in charge, in this case, Jessie Henson.  I have watched in awe as this talented artist has navigated all of the pieces to this crazy puzzle of building a large scale sculpture.  She has, with grace and smarts, put all of the pieces into place, gotten all of the various parties working together and we are on our way.  Steel fabrication is happening at Vulcane, glass blowing at the Art Academy’s River City Works facility.  Below are a few photos from the glass blowing.  There will be hundreds of spheres in the blue/green range of color in size of 3″ to 15″.  It will be beautiful.  It already is.  I think Esme would be proud of every part of it.

And so spring continues.  I was out in the dark the other night getting some veggies into the ground before the rains came.  For mother’s day, my amazing husband built me a little cottage style flower garden.  Everyday I try to get out for even just a few minutes to pull a weed or coax a seedling out of the ground.  I am learning to be a gardener!  And loving every minute of it.  Next week I am putting my roady hat on again and heading to NYC with Kim. She has her work to do there; I plan to leave my computer at home and just draw a lot and listen to an inspiring musician do her thing.  I am blessed.

Respite

It’s been a whirlwind, maelstrom of a time around here lately.  Months of work suddenly seemed to come to fruition recently and I have been working feverishly to keep it all afloat.  Drawing Down the Vision has had multiple pilot workshops and, coupled with a new and improved website, is ready for sale to receptive corporate audiences and beyond.  My business partner Adam and I are tremendously excited to see almost a year’s worth of work and research finally see the light of day.

The Artworks project for the Cincinnati Convention Center is “rounding third and heading for home” as they say here in Cincinnati.  Tina and I are in the finishing stages of making this huge project a reality.  We are technically ahead of the long list of things that need to be done, but it is still stressful as we prepare to move the work in a few weeks to the auto body shop for a finishing clear coat, and then finally on to the Convention Center for installation.  There is still much to be done, but we are plowing through it.  Yesterday I worked on two more faces, those of Christian Moerlein and Louis Hudepohl who will be in the part of the design that looks a bit like a brewery…

Being springtime, at least according to the calendar, it is also tornado season and that means puppets!!  (At least for me and my fellow Red Cross puppeteer Jeni!)  We did our first show of the season a couple of weeks ago and made it through with no discernible mistakes.  It is amazing to me how well we can remember our lines after only a couple of run through rehearsals and months off before that.  The depths of memory have no bounds it seems.

The Make a Book/ Fill a Book class at the Art Academy is approaching week 6.  Cody and I have a great group of 10 students who are bravely forging their way in their newly-made “re-purposed” journals.  Cody taught us all how to take an interesting old book cover and fill it with blank paper using traditional book binding techniques.  I have been introducing students to the various materials and techniques I use to then make a blank journal into a one of a kind, personalized sketch-journal.  The results have been delightful!!

Often, when I am in the midst of teaching this class or when I have a time of great externalized efforts, like recently, my sketchbook is along for the ride in my car or my bag, but doesn’t see much action inside.  I can go for weeks sometimes without sketching or writing.  This is a pattern with which I am familiar and I have learned not to be to hard on myself; that I will get back to it when things settle.  Last week, this pattern was shook up a bit.  In the middle of everything – I took a trip.  A badly needed respite from all of the work as well as the stress and grief from the trial of Esme’s murderer.  Although work has been so wonderfully busy, this trial opened up and salted wounds that had only gingerly begun to heal over the past year with all of our positive efforts to create a lasting legacy to someone lost so young.  Some time away was in order.

Months back, Tony and I had planned to join a group of Cincinnati area kayakers on a trip to the Gulf coast of Florida to swim with some manatees and to enjoy everything the Nature Coast has to offer.  We set up a hip yet responsible house sitter to hang out with the kids and dogs and off we went for paddling, snorkeling, and for me, some serious time in the sketchbook.  I am excited to share the fresh pages with my students this week when I get back to class.  Here are some highlights from my trip and from my sketchbook….

The drive to Florida was just under 900 miles and I slept a good bit of the way.  Once I awoke to look out the window at a huge peanut on top of a building.  Ah, Georgia.  We wound up in Cedar Key, Florida, a sleepy little island town and I was instantly smitten.  (My good ol’ friend Carol did remark, when have I traveled and not fallen in love with my surroundings?….. I think she has a point!)

We had hoped to paddle in the morning but awoke to storms.  Instead we walked around town and visited the museum and some little galleries and had some wonderful chowder at a place called Tony’s.

By the time we got to the campground the rain had pretty much stopped.  We were in for a week of majority sunshine!

Day one, Rainbow River.  It was the clearest water I had ever seen!!!!  So many gorgeous colors.  We kayaked and snorkeled and by the end of the day, I knew I needed a new wet suit top if I was not to suffer hypothermia….

Day 2 – Three Sisters springs, and swimming with manatees!!!  Thanks to my new friend and awesome photographer, Jamie Trammel, I have some shots of our time in the water with these gentle giants.  I could have done just this every day and would have been satisfied.  We wound up going back on day 4.  I love manatees.  Simple as that.

Under the water, they are very purpley in their grayness.  That is how I sketched them.

Day 3 – the Weeki Wachee River.  More clear blue water, snorkeling, rope swinging and even a few manatees toward the end of the paddle!!  This place is famous for its mermaid shows but we simply paddled and swam it’s waters.  Given more time, I would have liked to see the show.  Maybe next time!

While part of the group took the cars to the end of the line, those of us left behind arranged the kayaks for a colorful picture.  Here’s to random acts of guerilla art.

Later in the week, at the end of the trip, a few of us headed back to Cedar Key for a paddle to Atsena Otie Island which used to be where the actual town of Cedar Key was located.  It was washed away by a hurricane in 1896 and only a cemetery and building foundations are now present.  It is a lovely, quiet and haunting place and we spent quite a bit of time there poking around and drawing.

While paddling over, our friend Don picked up a little swallow that had died and brought it to shore so I could sketch it.  A sad but beautiful little thing.

I also sketched some horseshoe crab shells.  Tony found this one, completely intact.

The gravestones at Atsena Otie are old and beautiful and covered with lichen.  I took some rubbings into my book and wondered about the people that somehow managed a living on this far flung island.

So here I am, back in Ohio, on a cold, rainy Monday.  Vacations have a way of shaking up things and getting me far enough away from the norm that I can really take stock of things.  While away, I made working in my sketchbook everyday a huge priority, even forsaking the occasional paddle.  I simply can’t express how soothing this was and a huge reminder that I need to make it a priority in my daily life here in Ohio.  I found upon returning that I am feeling more centered and focused than before I left.  This is due in part from just resting and getting away from it all.  But I attribute it also to all of the drawing I did in my sketchbook.  As Adam and I move toward marketing our Drawing Down the Vision workshops to the generally non-drawing corporate crowd, I plan to practice what I preach more than I have been amidst recent stresses.  The act of picking up a pen and mapping out ones surroundings on paper (be they internal or external worlds) is crucial to staying centered and seeing broader connections.  This past week has reminded me of that.  I am grateful for it.


’tis the season

Ok, so maybe it’s still 20 degrees outside.  Yeah, and maybe it snows, at least a little, almost every day.  And, I’ll admit to some pretty nasty icy patches out on the drive.  In my mind, however, it’s just about spring time.  Perhaps its just me in psychological survival mode but there are real signs that things are thawing out.  Just a few minutes down the road in Kentucky, my friend Justin‘s chicken’s are laying eggs already and we are delighted to take a dozen home each week.  They are from happy, free roaming chickens and are lovely shades of browns, blues and greens.  Way more fun than the plain white ones.

Meanwhile, my old amaryllis bulb is back up for it’s late winter show.  It never ceases to amaze me the life force to be found in a flower bulb.  This plant grows so fast and furious, it doesn’t even seem real…

But what is really telling me it’s spring time is my schedule.  It’s Tornado Season once again so Jeni and I are already on the road with the Red Cross’s delightful puppet show, The Wind Around the Toy Box, spreading the word to little kids about how to stay safe in case of a tornado.  Just as I got home from Key West, it was time to start rehearsing.  We were back up and running just as the sirens started blasting here for the seasons first batch of storms, headed our way from Oklahoma.

Tornados are serious stuff, but the show we put on helps make things a little less scary for young kids, while still getting the important messages of safety across to them.  Last season we did the show for over 10,000 children and we may break that record this year which would be great.  Below are some sketches I did last season of these crazy characters with whom we spend so much of our spring time…

Puppeteering is hard work.  Physically it’s exhausting, dragging the set in and out of dozens of schools plus performing sometimes 3 shows a day.  For me the most demanding part of it all is getting up in front of people and Performing.  As an introvert, I’m usually toast by the end of the day.  That said, I love this job.  It’s good work for decent pay.  I get to promote the work of the Red Cross and spend most days hanging out with my BFF.

A few things may fall by the wayside a bit in the coming months…. especially this blog.  On my long daily to do list, the blog usually sits at the bottom.  But I will do my best to update when I can.  I am back to teaching at the Art Academy for the next 6 weeks.  My students are a great bunch of people whom I’m sure will have exciting work that I’ll want to post.  In the meantime, my hope is to get outside and watch for signs of quickening.  Perhaps you should do the same…. and send me an email if you find something cool; better yet, draw it!

Mad Wax

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Last night the kids and I attended the Cincinnati Area Puppetry Guild meeting which was held at the headquarters of Madcap Puppets. We were treated to a tour of the facilities and even got to play with and manipulate some of the incredible creations Madcap is famous for. In the photo above (taken on my cell phone, hence the quality), the “Hunchback” character is actually my daughter Maddie wearing a backpack puppet. She is showing signs of being a good puppeteer…

Also in that picture (next to Maddie holding the fish) is Kevin Frisch, the fearless leader/president of the Puppetry Guild. Kevin brought with him a handsome new marionette he just made for a car dealership commercial. This little guy can raise his eyebrows, move his eyes, sit down and cross his legs. He’s amazing! We were all enchanted, as usual, with Kevin’s latest creation.

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Recently Kevin has been working on a new and improved website for his Frisch Marionette Company. It’s a whole virtual world just waiting for exploration. Check it out!

After the guild meeting, I came home and stoked the fire in the studio and got to work with some wax. I LOVE to work at night and find it is when I am most creative and loose and playful with materials. The tough part about this night owl tendency is that I have my “real life” commitments as mom and worker to which I have to attend the next morning. I am a little sleepy today to say the least. But it’s worth it, I think. I am continuing to play with my new materials and exploring ways to make different things happen. Today I will just drink a lot of coffee and maybe fit in a 20 minute power nap…. so I can stay up late again tonight!!

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I embedded a mirror in the one above which is more successful in person than in this photograph. The mirror is so small that the viewer only sees a small portion of themselves when looking at the painting. In the other two works I used some fish vertebrae (above) and some small knotted bits of thread (below). There is a suture-like quality to this which I think plays well with the skin-ness of the wax. This will bear more experimentation…

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Yesterday a really cool video was sent to me by my friend Amy in Maine. This just goes to show that not a lot of money needs to go into a powerful bit of art work. Another wonderful video shown to us at the puppetry guild meeting is that of the work of Gaia Teatro out of Peru. With minimal props and merely the sensual use of their hands, these puppeteers create evocative characters that are simply magical. These are some things I am finding inspiring these days.