What my art — and making it — is teaching me

A SCULPTURE I RECENTLY   COMPLETED.

A SCULPTURE I RECENTLY  COMPLETED.

Having embarked on a new professional direction after selling my design firm 5 years ago, I dicovered that I loved Intuitive Painting (so much that I became an instructor in that proecess), but that engaging in other personal creative work was a challenge. In time I started writing poetry (as I have always loved words, and that was a comfortable way for me to express ideas and emotions). And, last year I enrolled in a class at Boston's MFA and began sculpting in clay. To my delight, I loved working with my hands and in three dimensions.

On my fall 2015 sabbatical, I took a new big step and enrolled in an abstract painting course at the Corcoran School of the Arts and Design. To say that it was life-changing is not an overstatement. I had a brilliant teacher and wonderful classmates who generously embraced me as a new student, and who all taught me more than I'd have imagined possible in a one-semester course.

Now, I am enrolled at the SMFA in Bosotn, with another brillient painting teacher and inspiring classmates. And, I have continued to study with my sculpting teacher.

All of this art-making takes a lot of time. I wondered, at first, if perhaps I was devoting too much time to this work, as my coaching practice and the programs I offer are so important to me and require so much time and attention. Now that we are four months into 2016, I am taking stock of the decisions I made, and how the balance is working for me.

MY MOST RECENT SCULPTURE, ASSEMBLED QUICKLY AND INTUITIVELY WITH FOUND OBJECTS.

MY MOST RECENT SCULPTURE, ASSEMBLED QUICKLY AND INTUITIVELY WITH FOUND OBJECTS.

What I have realized is that my creative work is richly rewarding — and it challenges me. In the best moments, I make what I feel tangible in my art. I sometimes find myself in such flow that I completely lose track of time. That is an amazing experience, and one that, happily, I often replicate when engaged in my coaching work.

Other times when I am in the studio, and more often this semester in my painting class, I find myself struggling to connect to my intution, unable to create with ease. I had decided at the start of the semester to deliberately use this painting class to experiment with a wide range of techniques, so that I my painting process can flow. I want to find a way to paint that feels like home for me. So, I am perservering and have started to find more freedom as I paint.

Strikingly, when I am at work outside of either the painting or sculpting studios, I realize that I more naturally look for opportunities to be responsive, intuitive, adaptable and, yes, creative — in recognizing unexpected and intriguing ideas, and in the decisions I make and the actions I take. This fluidity is striking to me, and is leading me in exciting directions. And, the happiness I feel with my work is ever increasing.

I am certain that my descion to devote time to personal creative exploration is paying dividends for me, and I am excited as I contemplate continuing my journey to develop as an artist.

A summer of superb art and surprises

It’s hard to believe that the spring melted into summer, and now summer is coming to an end. As I have been busy coaching, conducting workshops and revamping my studio space for lots of new fall events, I have also visited museums and found inspiration of many kinds that has excited and propelled me all season.

Boston museums have hosted many marvelous exhibitions in the last months. Among my favorites was the Quilt and Color exhibition at the MFA. Having entered the gallery with the idea that I'd take a quick look at the Pilgrim/Roy quilt collection and move on to seeing other works in the museum, I was astonished at what I found. The exhibition was organized brilliantly by color and captivated me. I felt as though I was reliving color theory as I’d learned it in college — but this time in a delightful and unique way. The color lessons were provided by groupings of work done by brilliant artists, women who worked in isolated rural communities over a century ago. Their work was never appreciated as fine art or lauded for its brilliance of design, color, imagination and fabulous craft. I loved the variety and the beauty of the fantastic collection, and loved that this art was being seen and appreciated in a major museum exhibition.

quilt strip.jpg

 

The work of a young, contemporary woman artist, also working with textiles, resonated for me this summer, too. I was taken by surprise at The Isabella Stuart Gardener Museum when I saw the exhibition, Carla Fernández: The Barefoot Designer: A Passion for Radical Design and Community. Fernández is a Mexican artist and fashion designer who has documented indigenous Mexican textile making techniques and has honored that heritage by incorporating the materials into striking contemporary fashion designs and accessories. The exhibition also included drawings, photographs, videos, performance and source materials, all of which were fascinating and marvelous.

 

It was a delight and yet another surprise to discover the work of Lesley Dill at the Decordova Sculpture Park and Museum. The 20-year survey of Dill's work was a revelation for me. Her materials, concepts and integration of text in her drawings, sculptures and mixed media pieces were marvelous to explore.

dill-strip.jpg


On a visit to Maine we made two trips to the Portland Museum of Art because there was so much to see and enjoy. The retrospective of Richard Estes’ Realism was fantastic, and the museum's extensive permanent collection was wonderful. 


Of all the work that inspired me recently, one exhibition I loved will be on view until November 2. If you can get to the Institute of Contemporary Art in Boston this fall, I recommend you spend 64 minutes experiencing the video performance, The Visitors. The film, on multiple screens in a large space, documents a durational performance by Ragnar Kjartansson and musician friends. It transfixed me, both with beautiful and moving music and with visuals that are quietly compelling.

 

I am so grateful to have had the opportunity to see such marvelous and brilliantly varied work at great museums in my area. I hope that wherever you live, or wherever your travels take you, you too have the opportunity to experience creativity that opens your senses and fills your heart.