The Fall Show 2016
The 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.
It’s Calendar Time Again
This just in…the 2016 Incredible Egg Calendar is finished and it’s beautiful. So many wonderful artists around the world contributed photos. I’m honored to report a couple of mine made the cut.
Clicking on the above photo will take you to the calendar page at Lulu.com and once you are there click on the tiny word “Preview” directly underneath the cover photo to scroll through the month by month photos.
Summer Camp for Me!
Doing what you love is a good thing…but doing it with a bunch of other people who also love it is an amazingly good thing. I spent last week in Pennsylvania with 60+ other pysanky artists at an egg retreat learning, teaching, connecting and laughing with friends old and new. To put it simply, I went to summer camp for adults…and I highly recommend it.
This is my third year attending the Pysanky USA Retreat. I took a few classes, taught a few classes and mostly hung out in the “play room” where we could work on our own projects as we talked and shared about egg art and life in general. The room population ebbed and flowed throughout the day as classes started which allowed me to meet new people with the luxury of unhurried time on our side. Free flowing ideas sparked new techniques, new color combinations, new dyes to try. Wow, my brain got full fast!
I came away from this week not only with a renewed enthusiasm for this art but with a sense of community and connectedness to my fellow pysanky artists across the country. And I’m already looking forward to next year!
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.
In 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!
Me on TV???
I am a “behind the scenes” person by nature. I do not like being the center of attention. And that sentiment goes a long way back. In second grade I remember vividly a time when our classroom ended up with an extra red rubber ball after recess one day. My teacher asked for a volunteer to return it to the neighboring classroom and everyone jumped up waving arms ecstatically in the air. That is, everyone except me. I sat quietly with hands folded thinking, ”Why would anyone want to go and do that?” Sister Mary Vincent settled the class down and then imagine my shock when she called on me. I began quaking in my saddle shoes as she handed me the ball. I can still feel the terror of leaving the safety of my classroom to walk that long hallway, knock on the door and then enter the other classroom, all eyes fixed on me. Oh the horror!
Given my aversion to the limelight, it’s rather hard to imagine myself on television but that’s what happened on the Friday before Easter. With just a few days notice Channel 31 Good Day Sacramento’s Cody Stark and his camera man came into my kitchen to highlight my egg art. Me on live TV, just like that. I didn’t have much time beforehand to fret and get nervous which is probably a good thing. And talking about pysanky and demonstrating the process was easy. While I can’t exactly call myself a television star, I can at least say,”Want to see me on TV? Click here.”
My 15 Minutes of Fame
I got a package in the mail this week. I knew it was on its way but had nearly forgotten, so seeing it in the postal box and tearing it open brought a Christmas morning thrill. At last, the promised September 2012 issue from the Egg Artistry Guild of Australia. And on page 19 I found an article with my name and some photos of my eggs. I’m practically famous!
In case you’re wondering, here’s the path that led to this article. At the egg retreat in July I took a class on etching emu eggs and posted a photo of the finished egg to my pysanky chat group. The editor of the Australian Guild saw it, contacted the owner of Pysanky USA, the online store that sponsored the retreat, who called me to ask permission to pass on my information. A flurry of emails back and forth and voila, people in Australia are now reading my one page feature. Small world, huh?
Floral Blues at the Kennedy
As part of the 4th Annual Spring Flower Show at the Kennedy Gallery you can see some of my classic blue and white eggs in various sizes from quail to ostrich.
Join the artists this Thursday, April 12, from 6 to 8 PM at the Preview Thursday Reception.
And don’t forget the Second Saturday Artwalk April 14 from 4 to 9 PM.
I believe God built into each of us a desire for community, both with Him and with our fellow travelers on this earth. As an artist, I find that rubbing elbows with other artists inspires my in my art and in my spiritual walk in a way nothing else does. And I don’t get to experience that very often. That’s why I so look forward to the annual conference on faith and art called Intersections, held at Oak Hills Church in Folsom, California.
This conference covers a broad range of the arts, from drama, to dance, to music, to film, to visual, technical, and even the culinary arts. Throughout the day we were encouraged to use the supplies on our tables to paint a small section of plastic that we could stick to a window in the back of the auditorium. As the day progressed, so did our group “stained glass window.”
The visual artists were easy to spot. They dove right into the paints and started producing multiple pieces right away. I found watching the non-visual artists even more interesting. In some I saw the initial reluctance give way to experimentation and finally a joy at simply playing with paint.
Even more fun, was watching people add their painted pieces to the growing design on the window. Intricate designs and plain colored pieces randomly combined to create beauty where before there was nothing but empty space.
Great speakers, God-breathed conversations, and thought-provoking words filled our time together. The icing on the cake for me came as we wrapped up at the end of the day. With the light from outside shining in, our group “stained glass window” became a physical representation of community to me. And I needed that. I really needed that. In fact, we all do.
Pysanky artists are few and far between here on the West Coast so I was glad to find an online group centered around these eggs. Over the past year I have been enlightened and encouraged not just in this art, but in friendships across the world as well.
Recently one of our more computer literate members put together a 2012 calendar featuring pysanky from group members. As I flipped through a preview of the pages I was surprised and delighted to find a photo of my eggs graces the month of February, which also happens to be my birth month. A wonderful early birthday present! Just call me Miss February.
If a Tree Falls in the Forest…
Sharing our art with others brings up the question, “Is it still art even if no one else ever sees it?” I used to think the answer was a total yes, but now I’m not so sure. Art has both a giving and a receiving aspect. It involves both the artist and the art patron. I believe it was actually meant to be shared with a wider audience and not hoarded by its creator.
As some of you may know, in addition to being an egg artist, I also play the cello. I have been taking lessons for a while now and find it’s the most absorbing and yet most difficult thing I’ve ever attempted. I work hard when I practice and enjoy it tremendously. What I don’t enjoy are the recitals my teacher schedules two or three times each year. Thankfully he has separate ones for his younger and older students. Believe me, it really helps to know I won’t have to follow a fourth grader playing a piece much more difficult than mine. Still, I get nervous at the thought of playing in public. And just so you understand how much of a weenie I am, this particular “public” is only the other adult students and sometimes a few family members. Even so, it is PUBLIC playing, not my usual me-and-the-cello-with-the-door-to-the-rest-of-the-house-closed.
I’ve been told repeatedly that the more you do something, the easier it gets. I know lots of “real musicians” who say they love playing before an audience. I have to say I’m still waiting for that to happen with me. On the feeling scale from “terrifying to fun,” my score is still a lot closer to terrified. But I keep at it because I want to be able to share my music with others. As a growth area in my life, this is not easy but I’m convinced it’s absolutely necessary. My prayer is that I will continue to step outside my comfortable boundaries to see what God has in store for me out there. In the meantime, I have to go practice!
In the News
Here’s a link to the May 2011 Sacramento Talent Magazine. Check out page 16 for an article on me and my eggs.
And if you want to see how they are made, come to Bella Fiore on Saturday, May 14 where I’ll be demonstrating the process from 5 to 9 PM.
Second Saturday in Fair Oaks Village
April 9, 2011 from 7 to 9 PM
Enjoy a relaxed evening at the Fair Oaks Village Second Saturday Art Walk. I’ll be a Bella Fiore Florist from 7 to 9 PM answering questions about these eggs.
In addition this Saturday evening will be a time to say farewell to current owners, Bill and Deborah Brown, and say hello to new owners, Dawn and Chris Conyers. See their blog for more details.
St John’s Art Festival
St. John’s Art Festival opens with a reception Saturday, March 12, 2011, from 5 to 9 PM at St. John’s Lutheran Church, 1701 L Street, Sacramento. This collection of religious and spiritual works runs through Saturday, March 19.
One of my pieces was accepted to this show, and submitting a piece to a juried art show is scary, there is just no way around that. Fear can keep an artist from sharing and sometimes even creating work. I know because I’m all too familiar with the self-talk that tells me my pysanky eggs are just a “little thing I do” and not really art.
When I stopped to think about my art-related fears, I realized they mirror my personal fears. “Will-anyone-else-like-my-eggs” is really just me saying “will-anyone-else-like-me?” “My-art-is-no-good” becomes “I-am-no-good,” and on and on.
I know to survive as an artist I must learn to separate my art from own self-worth. And to grow and thrive as a person I need to embrace this separation. The tricky part is putting this simple truth into practice. But practice takes…well, practice, so one step at a time I’m working on this personal spiritual discipline by putting my art out into the “real world” beyond my comfort zone. It’s not always easy, but it’s worth the effort.
Layer by Layer
…or Making the Leap from “I Do This Art” to “I am an Artist”
It’s taken me years to actually refer to myself an artist. And I think I’m not alone in my reluctance to claim the label. There is something mysterious and wonderful and scary about that term. If I call myself an artist, then I have to produce art, and be good at art and sell art, and make money selling art, or so we think.
Truthfully the title “artist” is helpful because it describes a way people look at the world…not simply as things you can see and touch and define, but in a way that pierces the thin veil between our finite world and God-breathed eternity. And whether I call myself an artist or not doesn’t change the fact that I am an artist. Simple, huh? Well, not really.
Let me take you layer by layer through my own gradual journey to claiming the title artist.
Layer 1—I Can Create. As did many others, I began exploring creative avenues early in life. For most of us it starts with school projects. Those simple drawings led me to creative writing to playing at miniatures to quilting to cross-stitch to clothespin people and eventually to discovering the fascinating world of pysanky. And now looking back I can follow the thread of creativity through the years.
Layer 2—I Can Do This Egg Thing. Pysanky, the layering of wax and dyes on eggshells, is a simple art yet it holds endless possibilities in terms of color and design. I taught myself the basics from a book and found I loved the challenge presented by each new egg. Even the failures provided valuable lessons as I honed my craft.
Layer 3—I’m Improving. The finished egg was never the goal for me but the process of creating was. I treasured my quiet time creating, leaving the rest of the world behind. My family got to see those works but rarely did anyone else so years of finished eggs lay hidden away in a closet.
Layer 4:—Am I an Artist? Eventually I began to give away some of these treasured creations to family and close friends. I was so used to seeing these eggs and thinking them commonplace, that the response they evoked surprised me. It made me realize that in sharing my work, I not only gave pleasure to others, I felt incredibly blessed as well. Gradually I let others into the private world of my art, and with much prodding from other artist friends, I “went public” with a solo show at the Art & Soul Gallery in 2006. Developing a website seemed like a reasonable next step but it took years and much hand-holding. Making the eggs is easy, marketing myself and my work is not.
Layer 5—I Am an Artist…I Think. By releasing my work to the world at large, I opened myself to praise and to criticism. This is where real and imagined fears come to the surface and they can paralyze an artist. I know, I’ve been there. And sometimes I’m still there. Thoughts like these race through my head. What will they think or worse, what will they say? What if they don’t like my work, and by extension me? What if my work really isn’t good and no one told me? What if…? I have to remind myself continually that what people think of my art, doesn’t change my work or my passion for it.
Layer 6—I Am an Artist…and So Are You. Having come this far, I sometimes have the privilege of seeing and encouraging other fledgling artists in their own journeys. Being an artist is mostly a solo gig. There’s no getting around the hard, often solitary work it takes to produce art. But because of that, there is great need for community among artists, for standing shoulder to shoulder, for walking together, for helping others to see themselves as God-created artists. Whether we practice our art or not, each of us is an artist and fellow traveler in life’s journey. How much sweeter is the trip when we link arms and help each other along the way.
The Art of Christmas
Oak Hills Church in Folsom, California, houses a lobby art space called the Art & Soul Gallery. This Advent season it featured “The Art of Christmas,” a very atypical collection of Christmas art The show was the result of local artists meeting together regularly for the past few months to encourage each other in creating art based on Scriptures related to Christ’s birth.
If you missed seeing the art in person, you can still enjoy our combined efforts on the Covenant Artist’s website.
The Artist in Community
Truth be told, I love stealing away to my workspace alone, leaving the rest of the world behind as I immerse myself in the work and play of wax and dyes and eggs. There is something healing and soul restoring about the quiet, repetitive actions these eggs require. I can’t seem to get enough time alone like this so when I do, I enjoy it thoroughly.
Interacting with other artists is just as valuable to my soul, yet I don’t make nearly enough time for it in my life. Why is it so hard for me? I understand the value of community, I enjoy learning about the art and soul journeys of others, and I get inspired when I hear other artists speak with passion about their art.
I realize I love my comfortable “alone” zone so to push against these introverted leanings, I meet monthly with other artists. In the Sacramento area, the Covenant Artists meet on the third Thursday of each month and artists of all media and skill levels are welcome. This group exists to share, discover, and learn about ourselves, our art and our God.
If you would like to stretch your artistic side, I highly recommend connecting with other artists. Isn’t it time for you to step out of your comfort zone too?
I Hate Orange
I don’t know why, but I hate the color orange. Intellectually I know a world without orange would be boring, but given a choice, I’ll pick any other color over orange. Even as a kid, I remember my orange crayon would remain in the box, tall and pointed, while the blue crayon wore down to a nub quickly. I don’t wear orange clothing, there is no orange inside my house and when I see orange in Fall decorations, I grit my teeth and try to remember that Christmas reds and greens will replace it soon enough.
This aversion creeps up more often than you’d think. A few years ago my husband, Dave, and I were choosing plants for our new back yard. When the landscape designer asked about our color preferences Dave responded “lots of color, all kinds,” while I said, “anything except orange.” Being the old married couple we are, we came to a compromise—bright orange goldfish in the pond but no orange flowers in the yard.
As a result of this dislike I tend to avoid orange in my art, a fact I did not realize until recently while going through some of my egg photos. When I compared color choices and looked at a wide variety of examples from other pysanky artists I saw what a difference it can make. I’ll even admit that orange can add welcome contrast and depth at times.
I still don’t like orange but if I want to grow as an artist I have to stretch beyond myself and experiment with new things, even the color orange. So I’ll try…if I have to…I guess.