Yesterday we watched an Art:21. The theme was humor. All four artists used an element of humor in their work. They weren't necessarily laugh-out-loud funny (although sometimes they were) but humor was a starting point. My favorite artist in the episode did beautiful paintings of Audobon-style scenes of wildlife, but with something disastrous going on. One painting featured a branch full of passenger pigeons, stealing each other's eggs and mating and stuff. But the branch had fallen off the tree and was about to crash into the ground. That sort of thing. My favorite quote from him was "I just want to paint a sexy monkey."
I listened to an Art Biz Blog podcast the other day, and it was about taking out things from your workday that weren't working anymore so that you could add something else in. I was dismissive of the idea when I first heard it but now I think it's something to pay attention to. We really only have so much time, and sometimes things take a lot longer than we think they will. So we need to allow ourselves the time to do the most important work in.
I watched another podcast today. It was a lecture by an artist who works in very small, detailed embroidery. His "patches" were usually about 3 inches squared. His work was very high quality. It must take a lot of time and practice to learn how to embroider that well. He said that in a very productive year he could produce 10 of them, but it was usually less than that. He did scenes from his life, such as things that inspired him about his backyard (I don't know many people who love their backyards as much as this man did!), or a reflection on his grandmother, things like that. It's kind of nice to see artists celebrating the mundane, the everyday, as a blessing.
I got a book on spinning out from the library. I spin a little but I'm not very good, probably because I haven't done very much. Also, I have a spindle rather than a wheel, and most spinning books are about using a wheel. I don't have the money or space for a wheel at this point in my life, so I'd rather use a spindle. Anyway, this book, Respect the Spindle, by Abby Franquemont, is about just that. I have been reading about the author's spinning journey and about different types of spindles. I learned why I have trouble getting thin yarn: my spindle is too heavy and the yarn will break if I make it too thin. So I might want to pick up a lighter spindle eventually.
I have been working on drawing from imagination for the past few days. It's an exercise from Burt Dodson's Keys to Drawing with Imagination. I got this book and his original Keys to Drawing from the library. The exercise I'm working on is called doodling and noodling. First you doodle a shape, quickly and spontaneously. Then you fill in the shape with some kind of decoration which is some kind of meticulous pattern. I spent a few hours on this. I thought it would be a fifteen minute exercise, but I listened to three albums' worth of music while doing it.
I haven't done any work on surface design in the past few days because I'm running out of supplies and don't have the chance to replenish them quite yet. I have a bit more to do before I'm totally out though, so I'm hoping to get back to that tomorrow.
Also, I'm helping another artist who is doing a project on illness. I'm going to write my illness (bipolar disorder) on some vellum tags with my thumbprint on them. Then I'm going to tell a story about overcoming my illness. She's going to collect these tags from many people and put them in glass bottles, I believe. In any case I'm glad that I'm helping another artist.
I'm also continuing work on the panel for a blanket that I'm knitting that will end up being sewn with other panels and distributed to the homeless. It'll be a scramble trying to finish it on time but I'm working as hard as I can on it.