The art and craft of pysanky

artist

The Fall Show 2016

rcartsThe City of Rancho Cordova is doing a great job of promoting the arts!  Visual arts, public art, and performing arts all are celebrated and supported well by the Cordova Community Council.

 

The Fall Show 2016 Opening Reception will be held Thursday, October 13, from 5:30 to 7:30 PM in the lobby of the Rancho Cordova City Hall, 2729 Prospect Drive, Rancho Cordova, California 95670.  Stop by to meet the artists and enjoy the great variety of art on display .

 

I have three eggs on display at this show and as an added bonus I’ll be playing Baroque music with the string trio Camerata Cordova at the reception beginning at 5:30 PM.


Working in Series

Sometimes design ideas just pour out of my head and onto the eggs and I can’t find enough studio time to complete them all.

 

Then there are other times when I sit staring at a clean white egg and experience what I call “Blank-egg-o-phobia.”

 

You know the feeling.  You want to create and yet you sit and stare at that unstarted project and the longer you sit and stare, the harder it is to get started and pretty soon you realize that your studio is a mess and you should really organize it better but first you need to move everything off your table and you discover it is incredibly dusty which requires a trip to the kitchen to get the cleaning supplies where you remember that you forgot to unload the dishwasher and two hours later you finally come back to your studio and decide you’ll try again tomorrow.

 

Please tell me I’m not alone here.

 

So how do I get past this?  Artists everywhere have discovered that working “in a series” can help unleash creativity again.  A “series” just means creating a body of work with a common theme.  It doesn’t even matter whether you decide to link all your work by color, texture, subject, or style, a series will provide definition and boundaries.

 

It’s very counterintuitive, but limiting my choices requires me to think more deeply about the subject.  It’s an opportunity to explore those ideas fully and to learn from each step.  The same rules that limit me will keep me on track but free me to get creative in discovering new solutions to design problems.  Fear of ruining a piece can keep me stuck but working in multiples can get me unstuck.

 

As I started thinking about this topic, I noticed that God also works in series.  Think about trees, for instance.  God designed all trees with the same basic parts… roots, trunks, branches, leaves.  That could get boring pretty quickly but God, the infinitely creative artist, started playing with all those parts using color and shape and size.  I’d venture to say there is an infinite variation in the tree world but all within the boundaries of those same boring parts…roots, trunks, branches, leaves.  Take a look around you.  It’s not just in trees, it’s in everything…clouds, rivers, rocks, and people too.  Absolutely everything shows God’s creative handiwork within a set of rules.

 

The lesson here?  Rules are your friend both in art and in life.

 

Returning to my studio here…Let me give you a peek at my latest series.  Quite a contrast to my usual multi-colored eggs with lots of fine lines, these Trypillian-style eggs require only three colors…white, brown and black.  The designs are very bold, simple and repetitive but as a group I find them fascinating.  Hope you enjoy them too.

NewTryp01


Arts Camp 2014

VA56_Pysanky-7

Once again I’ll be teaching a week-long class of 5th and 6th graders how to create pysanky.  Oak Hills Church in Folsom, California, bursts with activity as the campus transforms into a vast studio of kids and volunteers all focused on finding God through the arts.

 

Dance, music, theater, visual arts, creative craftsmanship, and even culinary arts come alive as we all learn how to nurture our creative souls.

 

For more information and to register, click here.

 

 

 


Passing It On

More than thirty years ago in my former life (those days before marriage and children) I worked as a registered nurse first in a hospital and then in a doctor’s office.  Another life chapter began when I started teaching Body & Soul, an international program that combines faith and fitness.  Twenty three years later I’m still leading my fitness class weekly and have also been speaking and demonstrating the art of pysanky to individuals and small groups whenever the opportunity arises.

As I reflect back on all those experiences I noticed a common thread…teaching.  I never thought of myself as a teacher before but the more I thought about it, the more it makes sense.  Even when I worked as a nurse, the part I liked best was that one-on-one time teaching.

I delight in taking complex topics, breaking them down to understandable pieces, and communicating those ideas in a simple way the listener can grasp.  I also love the challenge of coming up with different ways to transmit knowledge to help the student gain success.  And I especially love seeing that student’s eyes light up with understanding when the “light bulb” turns on at last.

Arts Camp Pysanky 2In a couple of weeks I get to teach another group of fifth and sixth grade students all about this egg art called pysanky.  Arts Camp 2013 at Oak Hills Church in Folsom is one of the highlights of my year.  Students from first through sixth grade come together for a week of fun and excitement where they explore a particular art and in the process learn more about the God who created them.

If you know of a student who might be interested, it’s not too late to sign up for this great adventure.  My class still has a few spots left and I know there are openings in a wide variety of other arts as well.  For more information, click here.

Let the fun begin!


Quilts and Eggs

The Art & Soul Gallery sits in the lobby of my home church, Oak Hills, and we rotate art through there every couple of months or so.  Currently we’re showing a collection of quilts by Debby Schnabel, a local artist, and the colors, variety, and workmanship are stunning to say the least.

Debby Schnabel, quilterI had the privilege of “hanging” this gallery, which simply means I took part in arranging the quilts and physically mounting them on the walls for display.  It usually takes two or three people to do the work of hanging a new gallery.  This time Debby Schnabel, the quilt artist, and my painter friend, Randy Blasquez, formed the hanging team.

Just as we do with paintings we laid all the quilts out on the floor to arrange them by color.  Then came the process of figuring out how much space we had and making sure we had a good flow to the whole display.  Finally, we mounted the quilts on the wall.  Whew.  Job well done.

As we worked, I noticed both Debby and Randy had an eye for color and scale with those large quilts that I didn’t have.  And both could spot a quilt hung out of level quickly.  It was a different experience for me.  My eye works best in tiny details.  Working with objects this large, I found I was out of my element.

I love seeing those quilts on the gallery wall, but I really loved coming home to my studio and working on my newest series of quilt-inspired pysanky.  To each her own!Eggs in Basket


Go See Dimitri

You can now find my eggs at Village Treasures in Fair Oaks Village.  This eclectic shop combines jewelry services with interesting art, and fine olive oils, chocolate and honey. The owner, Dimitri Grekoff, is quite familiar not only with the art of pysanky but also with its cultural heritage.  Besides that, he’s just fun to talk with, so if you’re looking for a field trip as we head into fall, wander over to Old Fair Oaks and stop in for a visit.

Village Treasures is located at 10144 Fair Oaks Boulevard, Fair Oaks, California


My People

Pysanky artists seem to be few and far between here on the West Coast.  This art originated in the Eastern European area of Ukraine, Poland, Russia, Lithuania etc. and immigrants brought it to this country.  Like my dad’s family, most of them settled on the East Coast or across Canada and not so many came to central California where I live now.  As a result it is rare for me to meet others who share my love for creating this type of egg art.

Thankfully the internet has put other artists within my reach.  Just over a year ago I joined an online pysanky chat group and began learning new techniques and tips from our discussions.  I thought I knew a lot about creating these eggs already, but found a whole new world of fun to explore.  These new-found friends willingly shared knowledge and sparked a renewed excitement in me and my work.

A couple of weeks ago I had the amazing opportunity to meet some of these people face to face at a pysanky retreat.  Forty of us spent time hanging out together at a beautiful retreat center in Dalton, Pennsylvania.  I walked into that place never having met anyone but immediately I felt like I was among “my people.”  The names I knew became faces as we all spoke the same language and got excited about the same things.  Together we took classes, admired each others’ work, freely shared ideas, and continued our own projects.

 

 

 In short, I lived and breathed pysanky.

I think I just got a taste of heaven.