10.01.2014

Something New

It's a new month (how did it get to be October already?!), and I've added a new feature to Artventuring. 

In the right column, you'll find the "Blog Galleries" heading, along with links to each gallery.  This will make it easier for everyone to see my work at a quick glance (though I do hope you'll stay a bit longer).  As I create new work, I'll add to the galleries, and as always, your comments are more than welcome.

Happy October!

~Michelle

9.25.2014

Filtering the Input

"Somali Spirit" work progress detail
"Somali Spirit"
 mixed media collage: oil pastel, chalk ink, paper on MDF
24"x5"  ©2014
Inspiration comes in many forms: a vividly colorful sunset, a glimpse of an ancient scroll, a photograph, the design of a mask, the way another artist uses disparate materials--the list is endless. If you ask me how I come up with the ideas and designs in my work, I'll often say everything I've ever seen and done goes into each piece.  While that's not literally true (what a mess that would make on one substrate!), it goes to the heart of what I believe the artist's life is about; filtering the input and molding it into a cohesive vision for each piece. 

For my newest work, I'm going in a bit of a different direction, which combines my recent series of African textile patterns with collage elements.  In this, I'm inspired by the work of African American mixed media collage artists, two of whom I've met personally. 

I met Romare Bearden, the world renowned collage artist, when I was working with his collaborator Harry Henderson on the book "A History of African American Artists".  I was a sophomore at Wellesley, had just declared my Art History major, and was chosen to research some primary source letters for references to the neoclassical sculptor Edmonia Lewis.  Mr. Bearden invited me to meet him at his 5th floor walkup studio in Harlem during my Christmas break. He was very gracious; autographed a book for me, and I was awed by the works in progress I saw in his studio--the first "real" artist's studio I'd ever seen.  Unfortunately, my visit was curtailed, due to his five cats and my allergies, but I've never forgotten it.

I met Charlotte-based artist Monique Luck at Festival in the Park.  Her large-scale mixed media collages are luminous, with great movement and luscious color.  You can see more of her work here.

As for this new direction my work is taking; I'm still refining and learning--it'll be exciting to see where this part of my journey will take me. 

Romare Bearden, with one of his five cats
I saw this piece "Mecklenburg Evening: Heavy Freight"
at the Romare Bearden show in Charlotte, NC a couple of years ago. 
I love the way the sky is painted, and the layered landscape.
Monique Luck with several of her
large-scale mixed media collages



9.17.2014

Pondering Pinterest 1: Design Inspiration

Pinterest is many things.  A giant "time suck:" you visit the site to pin just one thing you like, and when you look up again, it's 2 hours later, and you have no idea how you got to the board you're currently viewing! Or, it's an indulgent, frivolous pastime, or, it's a place where people rip off the ideas of others. 

For me, Pinterest has been a great place to find inspiration to save for when I'm in need of a creative jump start. I've done extensive research on my art class projects there, and I also enjoy discovering new artists working in various media I don't.  I believe in being a good pinner, which means giving attribution to the artist (not just the person who pinned the image before I did), with name, title, and medium, and I'll often go out of my way to find that information to add to a pin. 

So I thought I'd share with you some of the artists I've discovered or rediscovered on Pinterest.  Go visit their websites, or their Pinterest boards (you might want to set a timer for yourself!).  I'll begin with my Design Inspiration board: 

Vicki Grant:  I've seen her work in person, in the Blue Spiral Gallery in Asheville, NC.  It's exquisite.  I love the textures, her color palette, her rhythmic, repeating shapes, her inclusion of natural materials.  I could go on forever!

Nellie Marks Nakamarra is an Aboriginal artist, and I'm inspired by her designs and the stories behind them.  And yes, I love the color palette, too. 

Carol D. Nelson:  another mixed media artist; I love the linear feel, the metal elements, and the sometimes surprising color combinations she uses. 

Have you found design inspiration on Pinterest?  If so, share please!


"Quilted Whimsies" by Vicki Grant
 


"Travelling Women"
by Elizabeth (Nellie) Marks Nakamarra


 
"Wheels Keep On Turnin'"
by Carol D. Nelson


9.16.2014

It's over. It's just beginning...

It's Over
Our 2014 show season is over; our last outing was the African American Cultural Festival in Raleigh (AACF).  I serve as the Art Program Director for the festival, which means I not only show and sell my own work there, but I'm also responsible for recruiting artists and merchandise vendors; managing the processes of application, jurying, acceptance; and acting as liaison with show management during the festival itself.  As you might imagine, it's exhausting but fun at the same time.  This year's festival welcomed 40,000 people over the two days, and was a great success. 


Kindred Spirit Studios
Art-to-Wear Glass Pendants
$20 each
It's Just Beginning, Part 1:  Back in the Jewelry Business?!
Longtime Artventuring readers may recall that I designed porcelain jewelry many years ago, which was my very first foray into an art-related business.  I've loved cool necklaces since way back
when pop beads (remember those?!) and candy necklaces were the height of a 7-year-old's fashion sense (although I didn't particularly like the candy). I enjoyed jewelry design, but always knew my first love was painting. 
1960s era pop beads
Recently, though, an idea for art-to-wear pendants occurred to me after seeing a demo at a Carolina Mixed Media Art Guild meeting, presented by Iris Musslewhite.  It was fun for me to get back into jewelry mode for a bit, including researching suppliers of glass, findings and display items (A&B Fixtures in Raleigh is a gold mine!).  And, while I won't veer off permanently and irrevocably into jewelry land, I was surprised and pleased to see how well the pendants were received at the AACF. As you'll see, some are abstract (colorful alcohol inks on Yupo paper), and others contain reproductions of my larger wall hangings.


Just Beginning, Part 2:  stay tuned. (here's a hint: November will be a VERY busy month!)

9.15.2014

What's The Story?

Recently, a reviewer of my blog suggested that I tell more stories about myself and my work, as a way to better engage my readers.  I took awhile to think about that, and decided it was worth a try. So, here goes:

Once upon a time,
It was a dark and stormy night,

When I last left my story, I had just done Festival for the Eno for the 10th time.  Between then and now, I've made more art, gained some new collectors, and more opportunities have arisen to exhibit and sell my work.  As Artventuring readers know, I am involved in several art-related activities, sometimes all at once.  This confluence of events and responsibilities often results in something getting left by the wayside.  My blog has been one of the things languishing there (and just where is "the wayside"?)  The "Strange English Idiom" site describes it this way:


A ‘wayside’ is the part of the road which we do not use. It is the ‘edge’ of the road. If something is ‘left by the wayside’ it is forgotten about, or discarded.

If something or somebody is left by the wayside, they have been forgotten forever – it s not a good thing to happen. We also use this expression in English to express that somebody or something has failed.

Hmmm, has my blog been forgotten forever?  No.  Failed?  I suppose it has, in a way.  My initial aim in having a blog was to share my artistic journey, and the people and places I encountered along the way.  I've done that here.  Recently though, I've done it more consistently on Facebook, since it's a more immediate way to connect directly with friends, readers and potential collectors.  We're all used to getting our information from the quick sound bite, the brief headline, the Tweet (though I'm a holdout there; no tweeting for me!), so reading a blog post takes more time and effort. 

But sometimes, you need or want to do more than just skim the surface, and that's what I'm going to commit to here.  So, my story today is about recommitment; to posting more often about what's important to me and my artistic journey.  Yes, I'll still show you what I'm working on; yes, I'll still talk about upcoming events, and places you can see my creations; but I'll also pull back the curtain a bit on the stories behind what you see. 

I hope you'll be interested in learning about the magic behind these lovely red drapes.  If so, read on, and thank you for your comments, questions and suggestions--I do appreciate them.

7.07.2014

Show Report: Festival for the Eno 2014

We've definitely lucked out in the excellent weather category for shows this year.  Last weekend's temperatures in the mid-80s and low humidity were a joy.  Typically, the weather at Eno is a challenge, with high temperatures, and sometimes even higher humidity, making it an ordeal to sit through for us, and a not very pleasant experience for the customers. Not so, this year, our 10th at Eno.

I chose to display my most recent work; the Talisman and Adornment Series wall hangings.  Below you'll see my booth, and the Inspiration: Wax-Print Cloth bamboo bowls featured on one panel. 

Festival for the Eno 2014 display
As usual, comments were positive, and as I've often said, I'd love to have a dollar for every time someone utters some variation on "Ohhh, I LOVE your colors!" This was not a big art-buying crowd; most were there to hear the music, eat the festival food (yes, the ubiquitous turkey leg was popular as always), and buy little trinkets.

However, I did gain some new collectors, and several pieces have now found new homes.

To end the show, we had two "firsts" as we were packing up to leave:  1.  A new collector came by to purchase another piece which she'd had her eye on the first day.  Since it was already packed up, I had to pull it out of its packaging, whip out my Square, and make the sale.  Thanks, Phyllis!
2.  While I was making this final transaction, Stan was breaking down the tent.  He stepped outside the walls to loosen a bolt on the tent bars, and when he went inside again about a minute later, he found a woman sitting on the grass in the center of the paneled area, breastfeeding her baby!   We thought we'd seen/heard it all before. Perhaps now?  But no, after I posted this incident on an art fair Facebook page, I read an even wilder tale of an artist's tent which had been used for a clandestine tryst (after hours, thankfully).  I think that trumps our story!

Looking forward to a bit of downtime before the African American Cultural Festival at the end of next month.  I'll be doing a custom order generated from Eno, and a few new pieces, too.  Photos to come....
The Inspiration:  Wax-Print Cloth panel

6.23.2014

Show Report: 2014 Columbia Festival of the Arts

Excellent show management, beautiful site, easy load-in/load-out, helpful volunteers, returning collectors, and friends to share it with = a great time had by all!  The Columbia Festival staff is one of the best I've encountered, and the show runs smoothly because of it.  And, when something happens to upset that, they take care of it.  Case in point:  on Saturday evening, everyone's lights were intermittent; something to do with the main line to the booths.  This was distressing, since we really needed our lights inside the tent once the sun set.  When management couldn't fix it immediately, they came around and apologized, and said our electricity fee would be refunded.  We appreciated that gesture; not every show would have handled it that way.

I also very much appreciated that my email postcard campaign worked its magic.  Three collectors from prior year's shows came to visit and purchase (and of course, they received their 20% discount as a result).  It was great to see them, and in one case, I got to see how three wall hangings from the early Talisman Series are hung on the wall of a law office!  My collector says they're the first things everyone sees as they enter or exit the main conference room, and they've gotten many positive comments.  I may also be doing a large, commissioned piece for his home (!)...details on that as they become available.  Another collector returned after last seeing me 5 years ago; the last time was at  Artscape, Baltimore 2009!  She received her email, and because she fondly remembers me and my work, she now is a "true collector," becoming the proud owner of a total of three Kindred Spirit Studios wall pieces. 

And, I have two new collectors, who immediately gravitated to the pieces they ultimately purchased.  I'm always fascinated by how that occurs.  Usually, the person is drawn in by one piece, moves closer to examine it, reads the title, then slowly looks around at the other work in the booth.  Sometimes, they don't even get around to everything else; the first piece which resonated with them calls them back.  I observe this, and when they look up (I try not to disturb this process as it's happening), I ask if I can tell them a bit about the piece they like.  This interaction is what works for me; it may not be the best "sales tactic," (I always envision someone saying "Okay, so what do I have to do to get you into this wall hanging today?!) but it's effective.  I'll be the first to admit I'm not a salesperson, but I can certainly speak about my inspiration, my techniques, my research, etc., which I think is what "sells" the work to those who are already interested in it. 

Here are the pieces which have new homes, and I will show you them in their new environments if their owners send me photos as promised. 

Bese Saka, Talisman of Abundance
 
Inspiration:  Adinkra 1
 

Faraja, Talisman of Joy

Huru, Talisman of Independence


Neema, Talisman of Grace

Inspiration:  Adinkra 2