February 15, 2011
Goodbye Snow; We'll make a man out of you next year again.
Seasons end; When leaves are falling, I'll remember you then!
December 18, 2010
Creativity without the end in sight
On multiple occasions, more often than not, I will be doing an art project and something will go wrong. For instance, when I was woodcarving a small object I accidentally pressed too hard with the knife and cut a corner off the piece I was working on. My first instinct was to throw it away and start all over, even though I had already put several hours into the carving. I had a firm design or goal in mind when I started carving. I planned it, I drew the lines on the wood, I cut the shape, I began carving, and then ruined it.
Instead of throwing it away though, I began troubleshooting. I asked now what? I thought about gluing, but this would be in a very visible spot on the carving and I was going to stain it. Glue resists stain, so didn't want to do that. Then I had the idea of balancing it out by cutting off all of the corners to make it symmetrical. Beautiful! I did it and moved on. I finished that piece and it looks amazing. It's not anything like what I originally envisioned but I created instead a unique piece of artwork that I had not planned.
Today I experienced the same creative process. I was drilling a hole and the piece of wood broke free and began spinning around with the drill bit. In turn, it broke free from the drill bit and launched itself against the floor! I picked it up and looked at this wasted hour's worth of work with more than a little frustration clouding my vision. I was resolved to throw it away and start over when I saw a ring sitting on my table next to it. I held the ring up to my broken piece and thought, well, maybe if I attach this ring to it in the broken spot. No, but maybe if I cut out the shape of this ring to remove the broken spot entirely. YES! I ended up with a totally new design and shape, and proceeded to create a totally unique piece that I never would have dreamed up from scratch! Just like all the other times this has happened, I had a plan to start with. Every creative process starts with some kind of idea, but I do not always see the end result until I solve the problems along the way.
Category "Journal in a Jar"
February 21, 2010
What do books mean to me?
Irrelevant as some material may seem, it's still something to read. Why do I read anyway? Today I am writing about what books mean to me. I read because there is relevancy in the words we write as human beings. There is relevancy in the act of expressing ourselves because we are relevant. The book, the paper, the font, and the language used are not the relevant part of the story. Susan Weinstein wrote in an article, "We are English because English isn't about books; it's about us..." It's about our conversations, debates, stories, beliefs, criticisms, poems, loves, losses and joys. Our books reflect our human lives as we see them or can imagine them. Books are relevant to me because people are relevant.
Sometimes insolent is a better word to describe some of the books I read. The author's contempt is so thick it can be cut with a knife. But that comes from somewhere and that author may be coming from a position of fear, anger or a belief in something so strongly that it is expressed with insults and force. Do I have to read this kind of material? No, but sometimes I do and I find it relevant to the human experience. Maybe if I am too shocked or insulted by the writing it is my own insolence that is preventing me from seeing the source of it.
When books, irreverent or praising march before my eyes, they are useful to me. In the case of satire pieces, paying proper respect is not desirable and rather inhibits our sense of humor. I am a big fan of satire because I think we take ourselves too seriously sometimes. I love comic strips because of this. I love reading the Onion newspaper too because they don't hold any idea or person too high to laugh at. And I don't want to take my ideas so seriously that I cannot laugh about them.
Digging into my ideology is a key endeavor for me. Books are like mirrors on what I believe and don't believe. We all form our own ideas about human life around us. Sometimes our ideology is the same as what we are taught by our religions or teachers. But I own my own beliefs because I have systematically built them over my lifetime. When I read a book I get a chance to see what I believe about how things are and how I came to where I am at.
And digging leads to introspection about my life. I am a very reflective person and I meditate on the thoughts presented in books and on my own attitudes. Books are great for bringing attitudes to light so I can look at myself. I definitely feel a certain way and react a certain way to the things I read. I experience emotions like anger, sadness, joy and surprise. Books help me to see what I believe and think about and then examine my beliefs.
All that thinking can be insightful. It can lead to solutions to my perceived or real problems. Especially when I read something that changes my mind. For instance, when I'm struggling with how to approach a problem at work or with the people in my other activities, I find that reading helps me understand and solve my problems. I recently read a book about organizational structure and it helped me understand why the top-down hierarchical model was unsustainable in our type of non-profit organization. This was a change from my normal way of thinking about leadership and decision making. Seeing and understanding why something works the way it does is a key to solving problems.
And there can be such good information available to us in books, coming out of people's real experiences. It would be a shame if the flow of information is somehow turned off, inhibited, directed or restricted. That's one thing that happens in dystopian books like Fahrenheit 451 and 1984. The internet also is a huge source of new and old information. More and more information is being put online with greater access by a broader range of people. And the format of information is changing as I type this. The time it takes new information to get to the masses is decreased to milliseconds instead of months. And this also leads to greater collaboration and better information.
As a result of reading books, my intelligence is greater than it was last year and certainly greater than it was as a child. I credit books with that. I learn a great deal from books. How could I not learn if I continuously read?
Whether a book proves good, bad, or ugly, inspiration can be sparked and I will be on fire. I wrote two novels using bits and pieces of things that I have read. And the material presented in arts and crafts books invariably weaves it's way into my creative new work. I don't believe most of the conspiracy theories I read, such as those in books like the DaVinci Code, by Dan Brown, but that doesn't stop me from being inspired by that book.
After all, my world reflects my vision and my imagination. What I create in life comes out of me. And in every paragraph and step in my life, my eyes give me meaning.That is what books mean to me.
"A room without books is like a body without a soul."
Gilbert K. Chesterton
November 6, 2008
A new Venture
I created a new "Store" on Etsy.com to sell my artwork...
November 1, 2008
Second aett of Elder Futhark rune
I was creating this natural, pine-wood grained sculpure and titled it "moon dream." It has a moon arc with a transfigureation between human in a prostrate position and crane in a uplifted head position Ths sculpture wasn't a problem until I decided to add a rune to one of the pieces. I displayed the symbol Jera to represent the cycles of change, representing change toward completion. The problem is. now that I added the symbol on one side of the scplpture, it's now out of balance and I need to add more to it. And I'll balance it out, but this is my comment about art; Art is a mixing, fluid thing.
So my end product is not what I started out to create.
September 28, 2008
Renfest 2008 Photo
Here is a photo of me at the renfest. My beautiful wife made these costumes for us a couple of years ago. Although we've been going for years, we've just started going in costume. It's fun and festive. Kind of theatrical. Like being in a Renessaince play. A lot of work goes into making these costumes. I spent several hours friday night reworking a pair of boots to better fit my costume. But the event was fun! We spent all day walking around, socializing, shopping, eating and drinking. A fitting end to the dark ages, don't you think?
July 27, 2008
If you haven't ever been to Franconia Sculpture Park near Taylor's Falls, It's worth a visit. I went there Saturday and this guy was very kind to show me around. Come along little boy...
January 20, 2008
A new skill, a new bag
Over the past month I've been learning a little how to sew things on our sewing machine. It's really an amazing machine. whoever invented this is a genius!
My first project was a simple pocket bag with the top edges folded over and sewn so there are no ragged edges. I used some old scrap flannel material. Now I keep my art cards in there.
My second project was another bag made from a portion of an old curtain. It has a draw string to one side and a loop at the top back to hook onto a belt or something. The loop was already on there to hang on the rod. So I basically folded the material over, creating a bag around that one loop. Call it creative reuse or something.
And my third sewing project is the grandest bag of all.
I sewed this bag with a double draw-string and gray-colored liner, with no raw edges showing. Basically its a bag inside of a bag. That was tough trying to figure out which side to sew together and which order to do it all in. But it worked and it's very cool.
Now I'm having dillusions of grandeur and thinking I that it's possible for me to sew my own clothes! Hats, costumes or something, someday, with a little more practice.
Sewing is fun! And it has tangible, useful results.
January 17, 2008
Inspiration does not always lead to the vision
Last night I went to a writer's workshop and was really inspired. So when I got home I was all energized and wanted to create something. I decided I would finish a small art project I had started a while ago. And it was looking pretty cool until I applied the last two steps in the process, which could not be undone! The vision I had for this picture was not at all what it turned out like. So basically I ruined the art project. Now I have to put the creative process to work and figure out how to turn it into something else that does work.
This experience should teach me a lesson about this particular art technique. And I conclude that experience and knowledge are the partners of Inspiration in achieving a vision.
December 23, 2007
A spoon is carved
Last night I carved, decorated and varnished an entire old-world-style Love Spoon. I was up until 2:30am working on it. This project reminded me how the creative process works sometimes. What I finished with is not at all what I had in mind when I started.
The other thing I noticed is that creativity works much better for me when working obsessively until it's done, as opposed to a little bit of work here and there. I don't like interupting the flow of problem solving thoughts. Unless of course I'm stuck creatively, then I need to step back and away from the project.
Last week I did a Ukranian Easter Egg and the egg kept looking worse and worse until something happened and the tides turned. Then everything started looking better and better until it was varnished. I gave that one away already to my teacher.
Last week she told me that her eyesight was going out and she could become blind this next year. For someone who has been creating Pysanki for so long, what would that do to her? Her house is full of beautiful eggs on display. It's a very visual experience being in her house.
Now back to the workshop. I'm going to try a Romanian-Style painted egg today. For that I have a failed egg that I just couldn't bring myself to throwing away, mainly because of the cool-robin-blue color it has as a base. It's a chicken egg, but the sequence of dipping in dyes and cleaning, etc left it this way. The dye will no longer stick to this egg, so something else has to be done with it. We'll see what happens.
September 30, 2007
The Langoliers did not get me
I thought the Langoliers would get me. (Stephen King.) I was supposed to clean the junk off my lbrary/art studio floor. But I did not get very far. Instead I cleaned as much as I could stand and then created a new Pysanki.
So, I'm alive to create something new. And everyhone knows that creating something new holds off evil.
June 24, 2007
Advanced Pysanky Class
Tomorrow night I'm taking a class from my favorite Ukrainian teacher on advanced patterns and techniques for making Pysanki, Ukrainian Easter Eggs. I'm excited, this will be fun. Beautiful things are worth creating.
April 29, 2007
Craftstravaganza was a huge success!
There were so many people at the State Fair Grounds this last Saturday at the Craftstravaganza that we hardly got a break all day! I don't know what the official count was yet, but there were thousands of people there. The isles were packed with people almost all day!
In any case I really enjoyed talking to people about some of my artwork. And I could not believe how many people actually said they made these Pysanki themselves. It's really cool.
I was not able to give away any of my Ukrainian Easter Eggs to any of my blog readers. Too busy I guess. Oh well, maybe next year.
Overall I would have to say that Saturday was a very positive day for me. Now I'm working at cleaning and blowing out my 23 new goose eggs I picked up on Friday night. yikes.
April 26, 2007
Saturday is the Craftstravaganza at the State Fair Grounds in the Fine Arts Building. Be there or be square. I'll be there. Come and say say hi. Do you know what my craft is? The first person to show up and tell me you heard about it on my blog gets a free one! I'm serious. I'm really good at it and I want to give you something special. I'm so excited. This will be a blast. Last year we bought a cool woven plastic bowl made from recycled plastic heated up. It is awesome. Also, if you are into Zines, I picked up a few good ones there from around the country.
Did I mention there is live music?
Hope to see you there. 9am to 4pm Saturday, April 28th.
March 11, 2007
Peruvian Carved Gourd inspired Ukrainian Easter Eggs!
Here is the photo I promised. I'm working on the third egg now, based on other Peruvian carved gourds. Like in the Ukraine with eggs, gourd carving and staining in Peru is an ancient tradition dating back thousands of years. The gourd colors are pretty much all the same, with some red thrown in. I thought the patterns and colors were very fitting for Pysanki using the wax-resist dye method.
Gourds are also a pod carrying seeds, much like an egg, representing birth and life. The patterns in these eggs are like the patterns on a sea turtle's back, also found on other gourds. Many of the Peruvian gourds are carved, burned and stained with detailed stories. Abstracted geometric patterns like these are more recent, but still use the same technique and colors. Of course the same gourds and techniques that have been used for centuries are still being used today
March 10, 2007
As I was working on my artwork tonight, It hit me that sometimes creativity is what happens when you run into a problem (ie., it just doesn't look right,) and you modify it until it does look right. Revise, revise. Finding a solution to a problem.
The Craftstravaganza is coming up soon and I'm going to be there, so I had to get started on some artwork. That's what I did tonight. More about that tomorrow. I'll have pictures...
October 15, 2006
Do you want to trade artwork?
In anticipation of an upcoming trade, I created two new ATC's (Artist Trading Cards). This morning while sitting in the coffee shop I created a color-pencil drawing, then later at home, I cut out two cards from this drawing. I then embellished with pen and paint and colored the edges. Finally I finished them with a brushed coat of clear acrylic and numbered and signed the back.
Now that I have this collection going, Do you want to trade? Make an art card the size of a baseball card and let me know when it's done. Put your name, a title, if you make more than one copy of the same thing number it, and sign it. There is nothing like original artwork to share with your friends! I'm going to host an ATC creation/swap party at a local coffee shop in November. It will be fun and everyone will go home with a small deck of inspiration and new art friends. Sign up here, now. Art is cool. Artists are cool. You know it. You really want to do this. You are creative and fun! (Jedi Mind Tricks).
October 14, 2006
St. Paul Art Crawl
In case you haven't heard, this weekend is the St. Paul Art Crawl where thousands of Artists open their studios to the public. I love this event and today went to visit my friends in the Lower Town Lofts. It was very nice to talk to them and see all of the new artwork they've been working on.
You still have a chance to go. It's free. It's very hip. Sunday, October 15th, noon to 5pm.
Artist Trading Cards
Today I received the second Artist Trading Card (ATC) in exchange for the one's I made last Spring. That was fun. I'm now looking forward to meeting and exchanging ideas with other creative people. I was not disappointed by the creativity in this card. My collection is started, with my four cards, one card I got from someone who I talked to at the Craftstravaganza and one who found my cards through this blog. If anyone else makes these let me know and I'd be happy to trade.
I also have the idea to organize an Artist Trading Card workshop and swap at a local coffee shop, probably in St. Paul, since I live in St. Paul. My friend and I put on several artist workshops where we took over a coffee shop for a half a day and ate, drank coffee and created artwork together with a theme. It was really fun and successful, so I think an Artist Trading Card session would be equally as fun and rewarding for everyone involved. Just smaller artwork. It may even be more accessible for more people given that many people don't really feel comfortable painting.
So what do you think? Would you attend if I organized and held such a workshop? Do you have any creative blood in you? Do you want to make stuff and trade with others? Do you want to meet creative, crafty new people? If this interests you, let me know. I'll set one up sometime this winter.
April 20, 2006
St. Paul Art Crawl
If you haven't ever gone to the St. Paul Art Crawl, it's a great, energizing event where the Artists of St. Paul open up their studiios to the public, like a giant open house. It's fun to talk to the artists and see all of the artwork. Check it out! It starts Friday and runs through Sunday. http://www.stpaulartcrawl.org/ You have to at least come and see Jaak's bike art! He'll be displaying his artwork made from bike parts at the Renessaince Box building at 9th and Sibley. He has these really interesting guitars and banjo's welded out of bike parts.
Also, The Sibley Bike Depot will be having an open house, serving Peace Coffee. And of course, I'll be displaying my artwork. Remember the offer? I posted it on a previous blog entry. I hope to see you there! I'll be there and would love to meet you!
April 8, 2006
Pysanki Demonstration Success!
Today I did my first ever Pysanki demonstration. It was a lot of fun! I love talking to people about art anyway and explaining how it's done and exchanging artistic ideas, etc. Art is a good way to connect with other people I think, and we are all artistic in some way, though we often feel self-conscious about allowing ourselves to be creative and worried about what others think about our creative efforts.
I spent about six hours in the Lisan gallery of art and design today talking, showing my work and demonstrating. Actually I was only supposed to be there from noon until three pm, but I was having fun. I didn't sell any eggs, but it was still fun. My next event is to display my eggs in a coffee shop downtown St. Paul. We'll set them up during the middle of this week. Then on April 21st, 22nd and 23rd is the St. Paul Art Crawl. A busy month for artwork. Thankfully then the pressure will be off until July for any kind of displays or demonstrations. Then I'm teaching a workshop on Ukrainian 'Pysanki'. So I guess today's demo was a good taste of what's to come and good early preparation for July.
April 2, 2006
Box design and creation is very slow!
I didn't realize something as simple as creating locked display boxes to hang on the wall would be so complicated and difficult. It's seems to be a complex wood-working project. Another thing I discovered, is I have 'Almost' the right tools, but not quite, so I improvise and have to be creative. That takes longer. I have to keep working on these boxes all week to make sure I have them done by next week. After the Art Crawl, I already have another coffee shop lined up to display these eggs in, plus my paintings and batik prints, so it's kind of fun! That's another reason I'm trying to make very nice display boxes. Well, as nice as I can make them with my so-far-limited skills. But it's coming along.
March 28, 2006
The Year of Art
Here is my latest work of art...
March 20, 2006
Announcing an Eggstravaganza Demonstration!
I'm doing a demonstration of the traditional Ukrainian artform of Pysanky on Saturday, April 8th. Here is the postcard I made up to mail to my friends. If anyone would like the actual postcard mailed to them, send me an email with address. I'd love so see some of you there. I'll even let you do some of it yourself and help remove some wax (the best part in my opinion)
March 19, 2006
God as Place
Today I created this piece of 'word-art' that displays God as a sense of Place. God is everywhere. God is my life. God is my hometown, where I come from and where I currently live...
March 4, 2006
Last night I did not blog, because I never made it home. I spent the night in my studio creating Trypillian designs on eggs. It's a favorite of Pysanky artists because of the Trypillian history in the Ukraine as well as the swirling designs and three colors of red, black and white that work so well on the eggs. The Trypillians had very advanced pottery techniques and used clay masterfully in many things they did. Here is a link to a company that makes modern pottery in the style of the Trypillian pottery found in unearthed Trypillian villages. My eggs look very similar to this pottery. However I decided to use brown eggs, which gives a soft, light brown color to the white and makes the red slightly darker. It has a very nice effect.
Want to know more about Trypillia in ancient Ukraine? This site seems to have a lot of information:
St. Paul Art Crawl, April 21-23, is one of the coolest events ever and you can see me there with my Pysanky and other artwork. It will be eggsellent!
February 27, 2006
I'm officially in...CRAFTSTRAVAGANZA!
I'm offically signed up for the CRAFTSTRAVAGANZA on Saturday, July 8, 2006. I'll be there with my eggs and wax-resist prints and also demonstrating how it's done. Cool huh? It'll be fun.
Things are shaping up for the St. Paul Art Crawl. Today I got permission for JAAK to display his cool Bike Art in the entryway next to the Bike Shop during the Art Crawl. He'll be the door greeter extraordinaire! His guitars and banjos made out of bike pieces welded together are awesome! You have to see these in person to believe them. But the pictures on his site are good enough to get the idea.
February 20, 2006
Artist Trading Cards
Well, I'm nearly finished with my first set of ATC's (Artist Trading Cards). ATC's are like Baseball trading cards, same size and meant to collect. But the difference is they are not supposed to be sold, but traded with other Artists. An Artist participating in this hobby gets to meet other interesting Artists and get a collection of artwork that acts as inspiration. Each Artist creates some original artwork at a small size and then trades, in person usually. Nowdays artists are trading online and mailing their cards all over the world. It's a strange but fun hobby. I like this better than trading baseball cards. I made a numbered/limited set of signed cards with four sketched designs. I have my first interested Artist to trade with, we just have to connect soon and trade cards. Probably at the Art Crawl.
Aside from the Artist Trading Cards, I'd like to offer a free piece of my artwork to anyone who reads my blog that comes to see me during the Art Crawl. I'm making these wax-resist mini prints for you. But you have to mention to me that you read this free offer for a print on my blog. I'm really interested in meeting people anyway, and I don't bite and I'm happy to make new friends. You can buy a Pysanky for $25.00 too if you want. It's a great gift for your mom for Easter! The last two designs I did were probably the best I've done so far. They turned out so nicely that I don't want to sell them, haha. I'd just like to display them and have people see the beautiful eggs and artform. But truthfully, I can make more, I have the technology and creativity to do this. That's the beauty of it. And the process of making them is better than the product themselves anyway. It's very cool. I'll announce for sure when my demonstration is and you can help create one yourself. I'll even give private lessons and help you get started if you like this artform. Life should be fun and full of art. Why do we keep trying to make it dull and stripped of creativity? I think our attitudes get in the way. Like the attitude that life should be all work and no play. Or like the attitude that we need to make a fortune and our activities all have to be focused around that. We need balance and living creatively can be rewarding in all aspects of our lives. But it doesn't always come naturally, we have to practice being creative and nurturing that part of us. Then when we run into problems in life, we are equipped to deal with them with creative solutions. Anyway, Back to where this started. I created ATC's and already it's going to pay off with a new friend, and a collection of interesting, inspiring mini pieces of original art. I'm excited to see where this leads.
February 19, 2006
Wax on Paper
Yesterday I tried applying my Pysanky techniques, wax-resist dying method, to paper. I did a nice design with white, yellow red and dark red in the shape of an egg on a piece of tagboard. I used a cue tip swab to brush on the dye. Then I heated the paper next to a candle to melt the surface wax off. It turned out nicely and is pleasant to look at. I experienced a little bleeding of colors though, so I'm not sure if this was a function of the paper or the process of melting wax making the ink flow more. Anyway, it's not too bad so the picture still looks nice.
Every time I work on eggs now, I'm going to do a small print using this method also. I have to wait for the eggs to sit in the dye anyway, and I'm expanding my experiences and applying this artform in a new creative way for me.
Tomorrow I will work on more artwork in my studio and produce a second print in a different color scheme.
Today I met with George at a local gallery and tentatively set a date for a Pysanki demonstration in April. There is a lot of art-related activity going on for me in April! Hope i can handle it all.
February 10, 2006
Hiawatha Cyclery Window
Ok, Here is the sign I painted for Hiawatha Cyclery in the window. And here is Jim also...
This was a fun project! More large art to come.
See the new shop info and blog at:
February 5, 2006
Window Painting Letters
Today I was painting some letters on a store window. This is an interesting project. Writing very large and making sure all the letters are aligned and the same shape and thickness is a challenge not only visually but mechanically. I had to draw big arcs to get the guidelines on the window, and even that was more challenging than drawing on paper. It's big! So getting lines straight and even is a challenge. Anyway, all of this window painting is still good training for one of my ultimate goals of creating a mural somewhere. I'm still looking for an appropriate wall in public view that is free for me to paint on. If I got paid to do it even better, but that's not the point. I just think it would be fun to do a huge mural. Someday the opportunity will present itself and I'll be ready. I'll have experience at least on a larger-than-life canvas such as a window. Granted these were only letters but they are large letters that require spacing and alignment over a large expanse of glass.
Today I had fun laying out and painting the outline of the letters. Now it's starting to look like something! Too bad I was running out of dailight to the point it was difficult to see if the paint was becoming opaque. I had to do two coats of paint on the letters to darken them. But I'm not sure how well that turned out yet. I might need a plan b.
I'll finish this at the end of the week, then I'm planning on doing another window painting on the bike depots windows. Not yet sure what I'll paint there, but I'm sure it will come to me when I get to it. I still have to finish my wheel table.
Art and life go well together. Having and doing artistic things in life is very fun and rewarding. I think it's mainly our desire to be creative in things we are doing. Human beings like to create things I think. It's part of who we are. We don't have to be professional artists to use art in our daily lives and live creatively. It's part of who we are.
February 4, 2006
The Art Store
Tonight I made it over to Wet Paint art store on Grand Avenue. I just love that place! I can easily drop 50 dollars each visit haha. But I got the paint I need to paint Jim's window, and a few other art supplies I wanted to get and a book I just had to have, lol. Oh yes, and a pencil that's guaranteed to draw on glass, which wipes off easily. Much better than a china marker with a softer material, more like pastels or something but in a pencil. We tested it on glass before I bought it. I'll be drawing on the outside of the window, then painting on the inside, then erasing my lines on the outside. So I needed something I could sketch with. I would just sketch on the inside since I'm painting on the inside, but I'm doing lettering so it's easier for me to not have to do that in reverse. It has to be legible from the street.
Wet Paint is a crowded little store full of art stuff. Very full. I've never been disappointed by their selection of supplies. I highly recommend it and the staff is very friendly and helpful. Now I'm off to do some more sketches and other fun stuff with the art supplies I bought.
January 15, 2006
Today I visited Jim at his new bike shop. So far so good Jim! I like what I'm seeing so far. And I'm looking forward to trying the new iFlash light system for my commuter bike. Batteries are a pain. Generators on the wheel are a pain. Bulbs burning out are a pain. I have high hopes for this system of LED lights with magnetic pickups on the wheels. To me this type of system makes better sense than what I currently have and is exactly what I've been looking for. Jim is selling these lights and I plan on installing mine tomorrow. Then tomorrow night on my ride home, I'll see how well they'll work for me. I'll make sure to write something up about them soon.
I am a bicycle commuter and use the bike as my primary mode of transportation. There are a lot of things I'd like to have but you know, I can ride a bike pulled from a dumpster with no lights and all bent out of shape. Riding a bike for transportation is mostly attitude. Equipment comes out of necessity then, based on what will make our ride smoother and easier. But the main thing is getting out there and doing it.
I like Jim a lot and I support locally owned small businesses. There is plenty of room for more businesses like Jim's and it will only improve our cycling community and atmosphere in the Twin Cities. In a couple months I'll blog more about Hiawatha Cyclery and other shops in the Twin Cities. Yes, they are out to make money, and it's good to support the local community bike shops who are really interested in the bicycling scene and helping their neighbors to succeed at bicycling.
So, the reason I went there today? To give you something to anticipate....haha. I have the pleasure of painting his window! So next week on Saturday I'll be riding over there on bike, loaded down with my paints and creating a nice sign in the window. Next week I hope to be able to post a picture of my handiwork along with an update of how my new lighting system is working. I've done other window paintings before, and I look forward to doing this one to freshen up my experience.
Keep on Cycling!
January 3, 2006
Where do I begin?
When I'm creating artwork, deciding what to do and how to do it is one of the hardest parts. I have an idea, but to translate that into a piece of artwork it's like going through mental gymnastics and slow torture at the same time. Then once I decide, I have a plan. And once I have a plan I can do it. Today it took me a while to create two new designs on eggs, which I won't be able to start coloring until Thursday. And tonight as I was examining the two I finished yesterday, I see I need a new method of totally clearing out the insides without wrecking the dye on the bottom edge of the egg. Waxing over the bottom portion of the egg works pretty good, but after I thought the insides were cleaned out, it continued to drip a little and left a blob near the bottom, covering part of the design. It's too bad, but I researched and discovered someone else who has had this same problem and the solution is a new kind of drying rack which I'll have to build ASAP. I just wrote a note to myself to get the right size nails for this. They have to be long enough and skinny enough to go into the bottom of the egg and support the whole egg so it's suspended above the base. This allows the entire contents to continue to drain, while the pin acts as a wick to draw the remaining water and egg out and downward so it doesn't collect around the hole until it builds up enough weight to fall. Anyway, tonight I got two more eggs drawn so I'm excited. The studio effect is working. I'm isolated there and there are no distractions. Hyper-focus definately works for extremely detailed, time consuming artwork like this. And they are beautiful. I love creating beautiful things.
January 2, 2006
Revealing a bad design
Well, today I removed the wax from the two Ukrainian Easter Eggs I made and the first one I did was kind of a disappointment, mainly because it was an experiment in design and it didn't look very good. I had these big white diamond shapes on them and those were the only things that were white and they stood out too much and detracted from the more intricate designs on the rest of the egg. So I spent the next couple hours experimenting with the bleach and dyes trying to fix it. I didn't fix it but I did learn a few things and created an acceptable, new design. It kind of looks like a turquoise egg with etching on it. The color is not even but it adds character right? Haha, it was a creative learning experience and I can always use that egg which is quite a nice color as a background egg to show off the others.
Sometimes we get into things and start working with them to reveal a mess underneath that wasn't readily visible from the outside. A lot of things we get involved in could turn out this way. But I've found the process of creatively fixing things is a great experience. We don't have to throw it out or get disgusted and quit. Often I look at things as opportunities not failures and then it becomes an adventure. This is artful living that I'm slowly becoming more accustomed to. When a bad design is revealed, it's not time to give up, it's time to begin.
In the book I'm reading, The Chronicles of Narnia, I finished book four out of seven, Prince Caspian. The characters echoed this idea in one part of the story. I'd like to say that it's that easy in real life. It takes practice to be creative and I guess that is what we are doing when we try to fix things that are revealed to not be working or show up as ugly to us. We are practicing being creative. I think the more we do this the easier it gets to find creative solutions and create beautiful things out of what could have been complete failure.
January 1, 2006
Old Dye Doesn't die, it just congeals
Tonight I started working on Ukrainian Easter Eggs again and used some colors that I haven't touched in a while. They are in Jars and sealed up. They last for a long time in the Jars but there are two things that happens to the dyes when they get more than a couple years old. First they congeal on the bottom. It's like a thick, syrupy, rubbery blob that won't remix in with the water. Secondly, the dyes no longer work as well. I have to leave the eggs in the dye much longer to get bright enough colors. So, I may just pick up some new dye packets soon and start all over with a fresh batch of dyes.
On a positive note, I just used my new electric kistka for the first time and I loved it. It's a little akward to hold with the cord attached, but the wax goes on smooth and it's much faster work then trying to keep the tip heated by candle as I have been doing for years. So I'm hooked after one use. I did two eggs tonight. I still have to remove the wax and blow out the eggs tomorrow, so it will be an exiting day for me. As I've said before, removing the wax at the end of the process is the best part of the process! It reveals the image underneath all of that wax and it's beautiful. It's like opening up a really good present.
I know this is kind of a transition, having an art studio of my own, seperate from my home. There are many reasons why I chose to do this, which I won't go into now, but I did discover that there is a logistics problem. It'll take some getting used to. For instance, I brought all this stuff in there thinking I had everything, but I needed some paper towels or napkins for removing the eggs from the dye. I didn't have any. I did have a rag though, so I used that. But I was getting different colors of dye transferring from the rag back onto the egg. That's not good. Anyway, tomorrow will present another issue. Blowing the egg out requires a sink. I'll have to leave my studio and go to the bathroom and blow out the eggs, then go back. In my own home there is a lot of infrastructure I took for granted. It is interesting though and there are no challenges that can't be resolved with creativity. One major advantage that outweighs the disadvantages is that it's a great isolation cell with no distractions. Once I'm in there working, I'm working. So, I got two eggs nearly done tonight. After I finish with these I'll start posting some pictures online of my artwork. Next weekend I'll have to go get some new dye packets. For now, I'll use colors that are still good.
In the Chronicles of Narnia, I just finished reading "The Horse and his boy." I'm really enjoying reading this series of Children's books by C.S. Lewis. It is very artfully written. Now it's bedtime. Tomorrow is another day of revelations, in the book I'm reading and the eggs I'll be removing wax from.
December 29, 2005
The Art Crawl and my Crawling Art
Today I went to my pocket studio and was working on my wood sculpture, "After Midnight," the Norwegian Butter Knife and started carving the spoon I sketched out. None of this is Ukrainian Easter Eggs which I want to start soon, but I have to finish these three projects first so I have enough woodcarvings to display. Which leads me to another thing. I am meeting with someone tomorrow to show my art in a local coffee shop for a month. I'll announce it once I have the dates. Also I received the official St. Paul Art Crawl entry form today in the mail. Now I have an official studio and can get my name in the book (If I register and pay the 30 dollar entry fee). But I will. It will good publicity. So the Art Crawl is coming again in May. If you have been to it, it's a great FREE activity to do and it's fun. Most of the Artists in Downtown St. Paul open up their studios and show their art. You get to meet the artists and talk and look at their art. Some places even have snacks and music. It's fun. But as the Art Crawl creeps up, I feel like my artwork is creeping along at a snails pace. That's just a feeling though, because in truth, I've produced more artwork since September than I have in the past two years! So it's all relative. My art crawls while the Art Crawl creeps up.
The evil that has entered Narnia when it was only 7 minutes old was all due to a lack of wisdom and awareness by a young boy doing something without knowing the consequences. Then his fixes for the problem led to more disasters. He unwittingly unleashed a monster on a new, fledgling world as it was being created. So now the boy and girl have to be part of the solution. I wonder when I take action, what am I unwittingly causing. For every action there is a reaction. I am thinking more and more about what it is I'm really creating in life. I said before that we all create something. It may not be what we think though. In my artwork I'm trying to create beautiful things. In life too I'm trying to create beautiful things. It's all very artful. Life can be artful instead of destructive. And if we make a mistake, we must be part of the solution.
December 28, 2005
To Narnia and back
Today after work I went to my pocket studio and locked myself in for a couple of hours working on three projects: A Norwegian Butter Knife I'm carving out of some really hard, dark wood that feels like I'm cutting stone. I'm also still working on my wood sculpture that in my head I'm calling, "After Midnight" made from pine. The grain looks so cool on this one and gives nice flowing, dream-like lines running through it. Then I started sketching another spoon-carving project. It should be pretty interesting, fun and unique.
I felt like I had gone through a magical door. I was listening to some good peaceful music by an angel, and no distractions. It was pure creation. It reminded me of the founding of Narnia chapter in the book I'm reading where the Lion's thoughts were coming to life through his singing. As I sculpted wood, smoothed and shaped it and smoothed it and shaped it more, I became more pleased with what I was creating and it was fun! Then my second CD ended and I decided it was time to go. This is probably what it felt like going back home for the boy and girl in the story. It all seems a little mundane and drab to crawl through a dusty old attic when you've just been travelling to other dimensions. Home is good too, but it also felt good to be totally focused on creating my artwork. Except I did not drag a malicious evil queen home with me when I returned from the netherworlds. Just me. Now I'm off to read more in the Chronicles before going to sleep. I know I'll start dreaming about this book soon. It's a good story though and I'm having fun with it.
December 15, 2005
A Pocket Studio and a Spoon
A little while ago, shortly before the Art Crawl, I decided I was going to move myself in the direction of doing more art. I practice the trumpet off and on, I write, I paint, I draw, I do woodcarving, I dye Ukranian Easter Eggs, I sculpt, among other things. I have had a pretty artistic life so far, but over the past couple of years I have felt like I need to do more artwork. It's part of who I am and I think it's a good use of my time here to create beautiful things. The lesson I learned from dying Ukrainian Easter Eggs is a lesson of love. Each egg takes appoximately 3-4 hours to create so it doesn't make a whole lot of economical sense to try to make a living creating and selling these eggs, especially since each egg can really only sell for about $25 dollars. But they are beautiful and it's fun to make them and melt the wax off, revealing just how beautiful they are. I am really creating beautiful things just because they are beautiful and it's creative. I would call that a labor of love. The same is true for many of my woodcarvings. It takes a while to make something that I think is beautiful, but really it's the process of getting to the end result that I love. I appreciate the end result and am constantly amazed at how creative human beings really are. That's beautiful. I wish a creative life on everyone. Well, let me rephrase that. We are all creating something in our lives, but I wish for everyone the ability and desire to create beautiful things. Not just visually but emotionally and spiritually also.
So right after the Art Crawl, I found a nice little, actually very little, isolated, quiet, and peaceful art studio that I could afford. I set it all up with someone elses discarded or donated stuff. The work table, the adjustable lamp, the soft cushioned chair for sitting and reading, the carpeting, the floor lamp and an extension cord. To relieve some stress I've been working in there and it's absolutely peaceful and meditative. My first project in my 'pocket studio' is a spoon I'm carving for my mom for Christmas. She already has a small collection of spoons I've carved for her and it's time for another one. The spoon shape and design are getting closer to being done. I'm carving this one out of pine, which is tricky because of the splintering, but when it's pulled off correctly, it provides a beautiful natural pattern in the light and dark layers. I'll have it done by Christmas and I can't wait to give something beautiful away again. Isn't this also a benefit of creating beautiful things in life? Creating beautiful things allows others to enjoy beautiful things.
What am I creating in life? At work I am defending myself and my coworkers against a bully. I'm learning how to stand up for myself. Is that beautiful and artful? Or am I just creating more hostility and pain? My boss is lying to protect himself and to make me look bad. Is that artful? But carving wood is beautiful and artful and that brings up another benefit of creating art; it's a stress reliever. After spending a couple hours in my pocket studio tonight carving a spoon I feel much better. And in a week I get to give this special carving to my mom. I sent another special gift to my brother in New Mexico also. I hope it made it safely through the mail! ;-)
Life can be beautiful.
December 10, 2005
A Glass Dome
Today I found a small glass dome on a wood base at the Goodwill store for a couple of dollars. It had two butterflies in it on a stick with some other decorations. I have been looking for ways to display my Ukrainian Easter Eggs and have bought these before for about 9 dollars new. I removed the butterfly scene, covered the base with some black velvet from and old leotard my daughter used to use, put an egg on a brass stand and ta-da! A very nice display for one egg.
My plans for the other eggs? I'm building my own display case with thin black-gloss shelves, mirror back and lights. It'll take me a while to get going on that though. I have the frame and the mirror back, but need to make shelves and put the lighting in. And I need to paint the frame and shelves. So it's a big project but the results should be very nice and hold about 20 eggs on the wall. It will also be a unique and display the eggs very well.
November 8, 2005
It's a very interesting coincidence that happened to me yesterday in the past two days. I went to the art store on Sunday and bought a book on Linoleum block printing by Francis Kafka. Then yesterday I got an interesting book of collected works by Franz Kafka. What do I do with this? This coincidence is very artful. Block Printer and Writer. Francis wrote a book about block printing. Francis is a self-publishing illustrator using block printing. Fanz was a Czech-born German-speaking writer who did not allow many of his works to be published. Much of his acclaimed work was published after he died. Now Franz meets Francis in my hands, two Kafkas with similar first names intersecting in time and space. I'm enjoying both.
November 6, 2005
That black spot is my social security number
Today as I was dozing off on the couch, in a state of half-awake-half-asleep, I had an inspiration. I had been researching block printing in order to get going on producing the cover of my next 'Zine' issue and as I was in my state of delerium somehow an earlier conversation with my wife crept in about not throwing some of our old bills out in the garbage because they had our social security numbers and other revealing information on such as bank account numbers. Earlier we had discussed getting a paper shredder to help prevent identity theft. In my dreamy state it came out like this:
Cut the documents up, blend it with water, make paper, print on them with the linoleum blocks. Use some for hanging on the wall and some for the covers. Cool idea. So I got everything I needed and made paper tonight! It is really cool. And I assumed that those little black specks in the paper are the spots with ink, such as my social security number. I doubt if anyone can use it now, hehe.
Paper making is fun and I discovered something artistic that my wife will do with me. That is even better! Except she's going to use the new, recycled paper for making home-made cards and I'm going to print on it.
I never thought that distroying old records and recycling could be so much fun and lead to such a nice product. Now I'm going to do a few more sheets before bed. This time with color added! ;-)
October 13, 2005
Final Two Eggs Before the Art Crawl
I did squeak out two more Ukranian Easter Eggs for the Art Crawl, which is about all the time I could manage. I also pulled out a lot of my other artwork to display. It will be interesting to see what people think and to talk to them about the different artforms - woodcarving, eggs, painting, photos, etc.
The St. Paul Art Crawl is a really cool event. I'll be in the Ren-Box - #15 on the Art Crawl Map I believe...
My work will be displayed with the Creative Arts High-school students on the Third Floor, close to Jonathon Stavole. His work is very interesting also. I love the way he puts animal features on human bodies. The faces he draws have a lot of expression and character. You can almost tell what they are thinking.
Also, the Sibley Bike Depot is having an Open House during the Art Crawl. If you stop by you can enter a drawing to win two free tickets to a play at the Walker Art Center for Saturday or Sunday. (The Play is by the Builders Association from New York) The Walker has their schedule posted online.
If you stop by and tell me that you came because you read this blog, I'll give you a free Twin-Cities bicycle map by Metro Commuter Services. It's a little out of date but it's still a great map.
Now is your chance to meet me in person. I'll be held captive in one building for two days. I look forward to seeing you there!
September 27, 2005
Two more eggs
It's like the chicken that layed the golden egg. You just can't rush some things. After dinner my daughter and I worked on Ukranian Easter eggs again and I completed two more. At this rate I won't have very many eggs by the time the Art Crawl arrives. Then I have to think about presentation and how to make them stand out.
Two of the greatest experiences in dying these eggs: When the wax is removed to reveal the colorful, beautiful egg, and while working on them, talking with my daughter. Four hours is a long time to have her with me, talking about whatever comes to mind. It's a great bonding experience. I am so lucky. I love my daughter. She is such a nice, warm, funny person and is very creative with her designs.
Two more eggs means more opportunity to be thankful for life.
September 25, 2005
Ukranian Easter Eggs
Today I went back to the bike depot to clean more and reorganize. It's looking much better but I kind of lost steam. Besides, I had a date with my daughter to make Pisanka, Ukranian Easter Eggs. I had to be home by four oclock in order to have enough time to do them. I got out all of the dyes, the kistka, the bee's wax, candles and some paper towels and together we began to draw on the eggs. It's interesting to note that my daughter veered away from the traditional Ukranian designs in order to do a couple of scenes with hand-drawn characters.
What are Ukranian Easter eggs? They are eggs; either chicken, duck, goose, ostrich, etc, brown or white. Brown eggs simply add a muted tone to all of the colors. The eggs are drawn on first, then using the kistka, beeswax is drawn on the egg in a pattern. The egg follows this process: Draw more lines on the egg with wax, dip the egg in the dye, wax over some more spots, then dye again. Repeat this process going from light colors to dark colors.
Traditionally the eggs mostly ended up with a black background, but I've seen hundreds of eggs that have some kind of veriation to that. At the end of the process the wax is melted off to reveal the colorful egg. The whole process takes about 4 hours. We each decorated two eggs. I did similar designs so that did cut my time down considerably.
We are setting up a display in the Ren Box for the Art Crawl in a few weeks so it's going to be a challenge getting enough of them done in such a short time. Guess what I'll be doing this week almost every evening? Yes. I need to do about 10 to 15 more eggs before October 15. It'll all work out ok. The main thing in my opinion is the chance to do some artwork with my daughter. I don't care what the end results are. The process has been great so far. The next few weeks will be very good I think.
Last night I finished two eggs completely. Tuesday night we are doing it again. I learned how to do these the traditional way using a handmade tool and candle from a very nice old Ukrainian woman who was teaching me Russian. Except I now blow the eggs out after they are decorated so they don't have a chance to explode, sending everyone running from the house. It can take years for an egg to dry out inside and many of my eggs were destroyed during the heat of the summer. Here is a photo of some of the first eggs I created years ago...