CPS Studios-Summer 2010

MN Women's Press-Oct 09



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Reflections on the Art Crawl


This past weekend I participated in the St. Paul Art Crawl--opening up my home/studio to show my artwork to the public. The mission of the Art Crawl is to provide an opportunity/venue for artists to share their work with the public. It is an artist-run event and resident artists share their work from their studio, giving the public the opportunity to see "where it all happens". 

I have been participating in the Crawl for the past four years. Some may say that fact alone makes me a glutton for punishment. Since I am still in recovery mode, I will not beg to differ. Initially, I participated in the Crawl from my Jax studio, which was located outside my home (I no longer have this studio). Two years ago when I moved into the Tilsner Artist Co-operative, a live-work space for artists, I began participating in the Crawl from this live-work space.

It's not easy opening up your home for such an event. Not only is there artwork to hang (something I hate doing!), but deep cleaning as well! The week prior to the event is a whirlwind of cleaning, painting, hanging, and rearranging furniture to turn our home into a gallery for the weekend.

This is the "Before" shot (with set-up in progress):



As you can see by the first photo, some serious rearranging was done for the Crawl!

Besides the cleaning for the event, there is also what I call the "Weather Watch". Somewhat like a bride prior to the Big Day, I start watching the weather about ten days out to guage how it might impact event attendance. Too cold and people want to stay cuddled up at home. Too nice and people want to savor the outdoors. Rain? People don't want to get wet. And snow? Don't even bother opening your door. Believe me, I have experienced all these weather scenarios.

This year the weather seemed to be largely a non-issue. It was unseasonably warm for October, but had been all week so people weren't afraid of squandering the last nice day of the season.

So Friday night finally arrived and whether I was ready or not, the event was set to begin. As the Crawl kicks off, I am always filled with anticipation and hopeful expectations. There is a mixture of nervousness as I wonder what sort of feedback I will get about my work. And even though I try to caution myself, I am always hopeful that maybe, just maybe I will sell some of my work.

Friday night the crowd is light, but the mood is festive. It's not hard to feel the electric charge in the air as artists open their doors to the public. This art crawl I have my two art buddies, Sam and Tara, showing their artwork in the hallways outside my apartment. The Tilsner, like many other buildings, have guest artists showing in available space. The three of us enjoy a Friday night visit from our WARM mentor, Brenna. Other friends stop by as well. The visits from friends keeps our spirits up, but it has been a long night with no sales.

The night ends and it's time to catch a few winks before the Crawl begins again. Saturday is a long day with hours from Noon to 8 pm. I wake up and feel exhausted. The busy week is catching up with me. I drink a cup of coffee and get my game face on.

Crowds are typically light the first few hours on Saurday and this year was no exception. People venture in and out, commenting about what a beautiful unit we have. I feel as if I'm talking more about my home than my art. Since I am one of the few units open on the first floor, our unit is the first that most visitors see. And I'll admit, our place is striking...18 foot ceilings, floor to ceiling windows allowing light to pour in, the brick all grabs your attention. I also know that seeing these artist lofts is part of the appeal of the Art Crawl...but for a while there, I thought I was trapped in the Parade of Homes, not an Art Crawl. People would walk out saying how much they liked our unit and then almost as an afterthought, add that they also liked my art.

I get it...I really do...and I did sign up for this misery. But it was hard. I poured a lot of time and energy into preparation for this event...and I love having people come see my art. Ask me any question you want about my work, my process and I will gladly answer. That part I love.

But you take the good with the bad and move on...

Crowds were still lighter on Saturday than anticipated. And again, no sales.

One last day...Sunday--Noon to 5 pm. Sundays are generally more mellow and although I'm tired as a dog, I look forward to this last day. Not just because it is the last day, but because it is another opportunity to share my work. And since I try to be an optimist, I hope that things will go different.

Crowds are still light on Sunday, but better somehow. I had several wonderful conversations with visitors about my work. And while no one bought a painting, I still love this part of the Crawl. It's exciting to connect with new people and exchange ideas with them. I enjoy talking about my work and my process. I love hearing what people like about my work, what excites them, and if they have a favorite piece....It inspires me to get back in the studio and keep painting.

So, I gave myself a day (Monday) to relax and mope a little. I'm trying to catch up on sleep. But today I knew that what I needed to do was get back in the studio and go to work. I did just that...I cranked up the music and started working on some new pieces...motivated by feedback from visitors this past weekend.

It will take me a few days to digest the whole experience. I am still uncertain if I will participate in the Spring Crawl, but I have time to figure that out.

For now, I will work in the studio and do what I love.



Watercolor...back in my life


This summer I re-discovered my love for watercolor. When I was a student back in high school, I worked in watercolor quite a bit. Folks would often ask me if working in watercolor made me tense...since you have to work quickly, can't really "undo" or cover up "mistakes"...On the contrary, I found working in watercolor soothing, even relaxing. It is, naturally, a very fluid medium...and I always found it very easy to, in a sense, "go with the flow"--to let the piece I was working on lead the way.

I took an art class this summer that didn't quite turn out the way I expected, but it did lead me back to watercolors. I needed to work on something in class that would be easy to carry back and forth each week. Hauling my acrylics and canvas to and from each week didn't seem like a good fit. Watercolor did.

And so it began. It has become something of an the best sense of the word. I am not sure where it will lead, but I don't think I will be giving it up any time soon.

Just as I remembered, it is very soothing. When things were very busy this summer and there was little time to work in the studio, I could clear a little spot at my work table and spend any where from 10 minutes to several hours on painting with watercolors. On stressful days it has become a sort of meditation. It is also a quick way to work with color and get ideas out of my head and onto paper.

I have some pieces ready to show for the Art Crawl. I'll give you a sneak peek soon!


A change in seasons...

Somehow summer slipped by...not that I'm complaining--it was hot, humid, and my time was splintered between too many obligations. I spent as much time in the studio as I could...and my time was quite productive. But while I found time to paint, finding time to write about my art didn't happen much. (Sorry).

With the arrival of fall, life seems to be easing a bit. I'm enjoying even more time in the studio and am determined to make writing here part of my weekly routine. I have new pieces to share, have been working with some new techniques and materials and have some new adventures in the works.

Stay tuned here for more details.


(Painting: Midnight Dream, 6"x6", acrylic on wood panel)



Learning to Play...


Earlier this summer I was in a bit of a creative slump. I decided the best way to work my out of that slump was to surround myself with creative inspiration and to shift my focus from finished product to the creative process itself. It has become a summer filled with creative play and experimentation.

It was a struggle at first. I mean, when I'm painting I'm usually focused on creating a final piece that is polished and ready to show. It's hard to shift that focus. But as I started making my primary focus the creative process itself, I began experimenting with different techniques and products. Painting started feeling a lot more like play than work.

With that came a bunch of ideas and inspiration for new pieces. I still have to battle with feelings of being "stuck" and fear that I'm not creating anything that's "finished", but when those self-doubts hit I try to go back to my original concept--focus on the creative process, not the finished product.

Two months in, the shift in focus is paying off--not just in how I feel about painting, but in regards to creating a new series of work I think I will be ready to show this fall. I'm determined to stay focused and keep producing...but also to enjoy the process along the way.





and Welcome. I'm ready to kick things off here at my new artist blog/journal.

This will be a place where I write about my creative inspiration and process. I will share artwork throughout the creative process, along with photos of finished work.

I hope you will follow along and share your thoughts and feedback.

I'll be back soon with regular entries.

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