Old Habits with New Directions

lost time looking over edge background lo res

This is a large watercolor paper sheet that has been chemically rusted and then rinsed. I was using up the chemicals at my studio that were left from a recent workshop. I colored about twenty of these sheets then moved on to every sheet of protective papers from wax foundation sheets for bee keeping. After those were all dipped and rinsed I had enough left to do about ten large sheets of vellum.

I had a request to think about doing illustrations for a children’s book last week. After doing some research on how to go about that, I decided not only don’t I have the time it takes, but I am also a bit low on the photoshop savvy needed to lay it all out with sizing and backgrounds. It is more than just drawing pictures anymore. So I said thanks for the faith in my skills, but no thanks to the project.

But the idea of drawing in graphite again had its appeal. That combined with these pages from above, I decided to try to find places to put illustrations within the designs that occurred in the coloring process of making these papers.

lost time traveler with walking stick detail lo res

Here is a detail of the first drawing. After I did this one, I placed it over another sheet of patterned paper and realized that it would be fun to turn the work into a small edition of books with the subject being looking for lost time. Each illustration has a clock just beyond the searcher’s vision. In the image above it is underground in a cave. Here it is behind her on the background sheet as she is sailing off on turbulent waters and looking out ahead.

In Search of Lost Time boat detail lo res

Next she is peering over an edge and still looking for that lost time.

Lost Time Peering over Edge lo res

I think I will age her as she looks, and looks and looks for her lost time. Also there will be some text. Probably written by hand in graphite below or within the image. It might be an accordion style book. Because of the details of the drawings it seems that no less than six inch illustrations will do. That makes it a fairly large book. After each image is drawn I scan and adjust the colors to what they are supposed to be and work over the contrast/brightness. When I have enough drawings of her endless and fruitless search I will decide on a format for the book and decide how many in the edition I want to print. More later on that. For now I am completely absorbed in the idea of time and where to look for it. Start in the studio!

Another Week of Possibilities

peonies from Andys

Finally back to normal here….well sort of. Last week was a fun filled and very packed workshop on Experimentation with Materials. Eight students trying everything as fast as I could show them and then trying to put it all into a lovely book of samples.  Here is a bit of their efforts.

contact print

Bonnie's bubbles and string

I am glad the class is over. It is exhausting preparing for the class and cleaning up my space here at home when it is finished and all the spare materials, tools and equipment are brought back to the studio. Some things I take of the walls and bring in to show them ideas after they have played with a technique. Like the one below using National Geographic images that have been collaged and then carefully gessoed in places to emphasize and add designs.

Sandy's nat geo with gesso lo res

Nothing terribly original here other than the arrangement and choice of colors and the drawing with gesso. Really anyone can do this and have something interesting to look at.  When I look at it I remember how much I liked the time involved with making so many marks with a toothpick and gesso to get fine lines….or maybe I used a tiny squeeze bottle. It seems that the bottle would have clogged, so if I do it again, the toothpick for sure.

This week I will read the text for a children’s book that a friend has written and asked me to illustrate. It sounds like fun and I hope I am up to the task. I would like to do it in graphite because it is about woodland critters and I did a limited edition of books titled, “When the  Woods Whispers” several years ago.  Here are some of the images from that tiny book…only 2″ x 2″ square.

deer rabbit owl

Of course the author may have a different idea. The challenge is the thing here and it is solitary work. Just me and my medium. No students, no hauling bits and pieces everywhere, no cleaning up. I am going to enjoy this next week.

But for today Art Group arrives in less than two hours and I need to get the studio ready for their work and all our ideas, thoughts and sharing that comes with that work.

Creativity Classes, Workshops and How To Books – Seriously?

Have you noticed how many are selling books and workshops on how to be creative?

I found this definition in a Google Search for the definition of “creativity”. So if you focus on the words originality, individuality wouldn’t the influence of someone else’s points of view and direction negate these factors at least in part? And then, is the resulting work uniquely your own? Or some sort of vague type of collaboration? And if you wanted to be “creative” the next time does one have to find another book? Refer back to previous notes from a workshop on “How to be Creative”? Tune into someone else’s thought processes to get back into the “creative” zone? Take a refresher course?




  1. the use of the imagination or original ideas, especially in the production of an artistic work.
synonyms: inventivenessimaginationinnovation, innovativeness, originalityindividuality

Steve Jobs is quoted as saying, “Creativity is connecting things.”

Isn’t that all one needs to do, just sit there with the materials you know how to manipulate and create what you want to say. Keep moving them around and see what happens. Come up with a unique expression and not something that looks very similar to everyone else’s work in a workshop. It seems that if we all worked this way there would be so much more out there to inspire the rest of us to keep using our own voice. And give us the confidence to carry on alone in our studios when we need to create another way of saying something that matters.

I wish all of us could do this. So many images of artists’ works look like so many others. We used to be more unique pre-internet, pre-workshops taught over and over, in places worldwide on how to “make this”. It is really hard to find the original and individual. And it is very easy to find the derivative.  My mistake here is thinking that all of us want to be unique in our artwork. Some have told me, “Sandy, please, most of us just want to make stuff.” And that may be true. We simply want to make stuff.

Later today I will start my week long workshop on teaching as many techniques as I can to a class of eight students that I hope will take their resulting samples books home to their own studios and find a way to use some of those techniques to create something original and individual. Find their own “creativity” without relying one someone else’s directions.

Experimentation with Materials cover page lo res

Harvesting Cloth

Harvested shirt 1

Two days ago I decided that there were too many clothes in the closet that were not getting worn as often as I thought they would be. I bought them from stores, op shops and even made some of them.  Most of them were linen. That was where I started anyway. Next came softer linens with some worn cottons.

I took them all down to the studio, took out the circular cutting tool and a cutting mat. Without any second thoughts or sentiment I hacked away. Just cutting large squares or rectangles. No ripping of seams to get larger pieces. I just cut on the grain and stacked them up. Then I looked over what colors coordinated the best in tone and weights. Taking one of my favorite shirts that I have worn completely out but saved in case I wanted to make one, I sized out what I would need to make it. Patches were sewn to patches until I had enough for the top area plus sleeve length front and back. Then what was left was pieced together to add the rest of the front and back. Once a piece was stitched to another, it was top stitched in place. Here is a detail of the shirt above that took two pairs of slacks, two shirts and bit more from another pile. Beige, cream, olive and khaki. the slacks were Flax company as well as one of the shirts. Another shirt was Match Point. All very nice linens, worn and with a good drape. Here is a detail.

Harvested shirt 1 detail

It has a boro feel to it because it is pieced from older used fabrics. Below is the boro coat a friend gave me and then a picture she took of me wearing it to her house in St. Louis after I made the changes into something more useful.

Boro Jacket lo res

Sandy's boro shirt jacket

I like how this feels on. It is very comfortable and just enough of a jacket/big shirt to be fun to wear. It also carries the history of the previous owner and mender as well as some of my own old clothes and stitching.

There are two sorted piles of coordinated patches for two more shirts like the one above. There is also so much more room in the closet. Below are four shirts, one pair of pants and some cutoffs from a long vest from the cooperative clothing store, Marketplace India.

Harvest shirt 2 cloth

Harvest shirt 3 cloth

I will show them here on my blog when I get them sewn up.