draw more

fret less

play more music

renew old friendships, nurture the new

find new outlets for this play that is my work

These are a few of the New Year’s resolutions that are floating around in my head.  I’m sure there will be more to come.  I’m sure I’ll be successful at some more than others.  But I am grateful for the coming of a new calendar year for the sense of a clean slate that it brings.  Time and its passing are relative. We can turn over a new leaf anytime we feel the need to shake things up a bit.  Perhaps that is my biggest hope for 2009, for myself and for others.  To remember that each new day brings the same promise and opportunity that a New Year does.  That each day deserves the same celebratory joy and commitment to a better life that we place upon January 1.  In the end, this is the only way to really live our lives.

Have a safe and happy New Year’s eve.

dog as muse

There is a lovely lack of structured time here in the studio this week with the kids off of school.  Everyone in the house is able to go about their business within the comforts of their own circadian rhythms – within reason, of course.  My 14 year old boy would gladly sleep all day and be up all night, which would make next week’s return to a normal school schedule excruciating.  I plan to get him up just after noon today.

I am always intrigued and somewhat enchanted by how much inspiration seems to head my way when I have the gift of unstructured time.  It is also amazing to me how much longer the days seems to last when they are not committed to the shackles of a regular schedule.  With the holidays finally calming down, I feel the deep need to get into the studio to work, but am a little rusty from lack of daily practice.  And so I turn to the nearest dog and draw.  Caskie is usually where I begin my artistic oiling (think Tin-Man in the Wizard of Oz).  He is basically a live scribble and really, really fun to draw – even when sleeping.

My friend Kim introduced me to a book called The Zen of Seeing: Seeing and Drawing as Meditation by Frederick Franck.  I love this notion of drawing as meditation.  Drawing requires a person to really observe something as the pen moves around the page.  How many people walk through the world each day, shackled to their daily schedules, not really seeing the world they live in?  It’s easy to do, and I am guilty of it myself at times when I have kids to take to school, jobs to do, errands to run.  The other night my husband and I went out to walk the dogs and he observed that the lit-up deer across the road actually move, ever so slowly, if one just watched for a bit.  The question then became, do all lit-up deer move?  Apparently not.  We’ve been watching.

My hope for the rest of this holiday break from routine is a continued awareness of myself in my surroundings.  Perhaps with the help of a daily dog, I can continue this sense of inspiration into the New Year.  Which reminds me, I need to get over to the office supply store for a new library date stamp.  2009 does not exist on my current one!

Happy New Year to everyone out there.  Go out for a walk, find something cool to look at and draw it.  It’s almost like yoga…

Sleep in heavenly peace…

Sometimes the blogosphere might seem like a lonely place.  But I have always known that I keep this blog mainly for my own entertainment and structure.  I appreciate looking back over time at both my website (to which I need to add some recent work!) as well as my blog and seeing a build up of work over time.  Trends and patterns are easier to note when seen in hindsight and amidst a bulk of work.

That said, it is only human to be a little bit tickled when someone else checks out my blog and likes what they see.  LA based artist, Moira McLaughlin has featured my Daily Dogs on her blog, Dog Art Today, a lovely and friendly place to check out all things relating to art involving dogs.  I highly recommend checking out Moira’s site and letting her know you have visited.  I can speak from experience, it’s nice to know we bloggers aren’t alone out there.

Today is Christmas Eve and the weather outside is indeed frightful.  Rain – sideways.  I am grateful that at least it is no longer freezing rain, which had caused me some worry for the holiday travelers.  However you are planning to spend this holiday, I sincerely hope it is a safe and cozy one.  In spite of the rain, it’s pretty cozy here.  Happy holidays to you and yours.

Winter Green

Holiday Season is in full swing here in Cincinnati.  We have even had some recent snow and ice to liven things up a bit and remind us that it is, indeed, Winter.  With winter comes a raw, dry harshness that is difficult to escape.  Even with the presence of humidifiers, houseplants and an aquarium, I still find myself cracking at the seams and zapping everything I touch.

Yesterday afternoon my son Jack and I had some time to spend after school while my daughter was at a play rehearsal (this will be a frequent theme in the next couple of months).  So we wandered up the hill to the Krohn Conservatory to immerse ourselves in the moist tropical air of this beautiful glass hothouse.  The Conservatory is a favorite place of mine to draw for the sake of drawing and I am rewarded with moisture and quiet while I work.  It’s lovely.  Jack got a new camera this past fall for his birthday.  With this new toy and his natural eye for photography, he managed to capture a bit of the winter green magic that can be found at this Cincinnati treasure…

Lately, with my schedule being somewhat more open with fewer teaching gigs and such, I have been reconnecting quite a bit with my studio space and my own personal art work.  I have so many ideas recently that it is hard to pin them all down.  This is a wonderful place to be and I write it here so that when an Art Desert scenario returns someday (which it will), I can remind myself of the ebb and flow that is the life’s work of a creative.   There will be dry spells I must work through, usually by simply maintaining my sketchbook and feeding my spirit with little field trips like yesterday’s Krohn visit.  Author Julia Cameron calls these little field trips “Artist Dates” and I like that notion.  Like one is wooing the inner artist out of her shell a bit.  It works.  I have always known that work begets work and yet I am often guilty of the self sabotage that is easy to fall into when life intervenes.  There is often not enough time to just wander and take in the world.  Recently I find myself blocking out time in my calendar as simply “Studio Time”.  Often this time is most fruitful when spent not actually in the studio, but rather out in the world, exploring.  Through my own practice and in my classes, I have become accutely aware of the power of keeping a sketch journal alive and well.  I am swimming in the power of this practice right now, and it feels right.

“Go outside, move deliberately, then relax, slow down, look around.  Do not jog. Do not run…Instead pay attention to everything that abuts the rural road, the city street, the suburban boulevard.  Walk. Stroll.  Saunter.   Ride a bike and coast along a lot.  Explore.”

John Stilgoe, Outside Lies Magic

on dogs

I’ve been in the studio working lately which feels really good after what has been a bit of an art slump for me.  As constant company and inspiration, I have my three dogs, two of whom are beginning to act more like dogs, and less like puppies.  Above is Caskie who winds up getting drawn more when I am writing.  His black and white fur lends itself more to simply drawing without the painting.  The problem is then sometimes sketches of him wind up trapped in the daily griping and list making that occurs on occasion in my journals.  Thank goodness for Photoshop, right?

Meanwhile, Iris and River grow and grow and grow.  Yesterday River got nibbled by a spider (at least that is what the vet thinks, he says he sees it a lot around this time of year) and looked like a boxer who had gone a few too many rounds.  He is fine now with some injections of things like benadryl  and seems really no worse for the wear.  I wonder about these spiders however and have a date tonight with the shop-vac.  So a warning to any biting spider/insect in Chez Bogard…. run for the hills before sundown or else!!

Iris is my little naturalist, camped by the back door of the studio each day counting deer, bucks, squirrels and birds.  Constant vigilance, and nothing less from this little lady.

I love spending studio days with the dogs.  It’s really the best of both worlds; cozy companionship coupled with the healing balm of solitude.

bad work

One of my favorite artists from back in the 60’s was Eva Hesse.  Not only did her sense of form resonate with me artistically, but I also feel a kinship with her in how she approached the nature of art work in general.  Unlike many successful artists of her time, she openly struggled as a person in making her work.  Hesse regularly wrote in her diaries and to her friends about her fears, anxiety and depression and how these things affected and were echoed in her work.  And still she worked.  She was fortunate, as am I, to have friends who acted as sounding boards for her and who often fed her great advice.  One such letter was from Sol LeWitt:

“…Just stop thinking, worrying, looking over your shoulder, wondering, doubting, fearing, hurting, hoping for some easy way out, struggling, gasping, confusing, itching, scratching, mumbling, bumbling, grumbling, humbling, stumbling, scrambling, hithing, hatching, bitching, moaning, groaning…..grinding, grinding, grinding away at yourself.  Stop it and just DO…. Try and tickle something inside you, your ‘weird humor’.  You belong in the most secret part of you.  Don’t worry about cool, make your own uncool.  Make your own, own world.  If you fear, make it work for you – draw and paint your fear and anxiety.  And stop worrying about big, deep things such as ‘to decide on a purpose and a way of life…’  You must practice being stupid, dumb, unthinking, empty.  Then you will be able to DO!  I have much confidence in you and even though you are tormenting yourself, the work you do is very good.  Try to do some BAD work.  The worst you can think of and see what happens but mainly relax and let everything go to hell.”

I love this letter to her and seeing the amazing, prolific legacy of work Hesse left behind, she must have taken some of it to heart, in spite of her self torture.  This week I have been in the studio a bunch simply trying to re-engage the space.  I realized recently that with it being so cold, I have been avoiding coming out here.  Some days it just seemed like too much effort to build a fire and wear so many extra layers.  So here I am in my beautiful, chilly, glassed in art space.  Re-engaging.

Lewitt’s letter to Hesse seems so fitting to my own process these last few days as I have been timidly approaching the wax table a bit in the hopes that I can come up with something that won’t eventually wind up in the fire-starting bin.  I need to allow myself to make some BAD work as I find my way around and through this tricky medium.  I need to have faith in the process and not so hard on myself when in the midst of it.  So here is the first few layers of what will probably be a bad painting.  Not a finished work, not pretty.  Just a sign of progress, of work being made, of forward motion in the studio.  And that is enough.