Monday, December 27, 2010

Being Sharply Aware

Can you remember color?

Do you recognize scents?

Can you visualize the room you had as a child?

Can you call up the taste of your favorite dish or the taste of something you didn't like?

I think artist's brains are 'wired' differently, that we have heightened sensory abilities; a heightened awareness of their surroundings; a fuller reception, better connection and recall of the senses.

Maybe that makes us artists in the first place.
Maybe because we have the sharpened tools, we naturally develop into artists.

How many far-sighted artists do you know? Most of them I know either have very good eyesight or are near-sighted.

Could it be that because of the physical make-up, we DEVELOP differently? Nature creates nurture?

Think of Leonardo for instance. He must have had exceptional sight to have been able to observe and then draw birds in multiple positions of flight. He had to have a heightened understanding of this movement to then interpret THAT into a mechanical example of flight.

His studies of the movement of water are a revelation. He 'saw' what was going on within the motion of a transparent medium.

Not only could he observe acutely, he could interpret and produce visuals of what he understood.

Along with heightened senses, we also must have tactical skills as well. We must control the movements of our hands in concert with how our brain works in order to command them to produce what we want or conceive in our heads. Not everyone can do that either.

Take a look at his visualization of the local landscape AS SEEN BY A BIRD IN FLIGHT. In Leonardo's time, there was just no way he could have actually seen this.

Many of us can visualize a piece before we make it.

One of the early frustrations I had as a child was that I would 'see' what I wanted to make, but what I made didn't turn out like I 'saw' it in my imagination.

No one I tried to talk about this with understood what I was trying to convey. I would get very puzzled looks.

It was because I was trying to describe, analyze and work through a problem that just didn't exist in their scope of experience. And it probably never would.

My assumption was always that everyone had the same perceptions and conceptions I did. I was buffaloed by why they didn't get what I was trying to describe or understand why I was frustrated.

I have since learned to live with a blending of the vision in my head and what progresses and develops as I work and to be conscious to seeing the avenues that open up during that process. To make the choices of which way to let the flow take me and explore the possibilities that are presented.

That's what is so engaging, so fascinating and so mysterious about making art. No wonder those artists who have gone before talk of the Muse.

Do you have a Muse? Several Muses? Museses? Musii?

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Christmas Wishes

May you




and Make

All the


you Have

in your


Sunday, December 19, 2010


So our friends have invited us to a party and asked that everyone bring a joke gift.

Since in the desert, we live with marauding javelins*, I decided to make a Javelina Repellant Jar.

(Small jar with a rock inside)

Disclaimer: I never throw rocks at Javelinas. I just watch them while my Schnauzer becomes hysterical.

*Small, pig-like wild peccaries, native to the desert.

They aren't really bad, just busy running in herds and foraging for food. If stressed or excited, they exude a skunk-like odor.

They are protected in Arizona and can become a hazard to humans if cornered or feel threatened. They are very protective of their young.

Males are equipped with sharp tusks.

I respect Javelinas.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Prophetic Tile

About 7+ years ago, I made this tile in a workshop.

The workshop focused on drawing with underglazes on pre-bisqued tiles. I had never tried this before and had no expectations going in about subject matter or technique.

After a short demo, we were handed the tile, given access to colors and told the "draw something".
I was stymied. My mind went blank. I couldn't think of one thing to draw. None of my lexicon of images or designs floated to the surface of my mind so I just began to doodle directly on the tile. I laid down a square. I added lines on the diagonal. Then I began to draw a landscape in the square and drew two snakes.

All totally out of character to what I usually did.

Years later. Guess where I am. In the desert, looking at landscapes like this one. Surrounded by these colors but, thankfully, so far---no green snakes.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

The Mexican Agate Necklace

I finally finished my Mexican agate/bead necklace yesterday.

I decided to put the big clasp on, at least temporarily because in all the time since I bought the beads last year, I have not been able to find another that I liked.

I still feel this isn't the final clasp but it will do until I find the right one.

The beads are threaded onto a very fine silver chain. The spacers are African clay beads (black and white) and antique black glass beads.

I wound up making the jump rings out of pieces of regular dress pins. Anything larger in diameter wouldn't fit into the fine links of the chain.

It works well, actually, since I have this nifty pliers tool for making links.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Paper Cranes

Once upon a time, I learned how to fold origami paper cranes.

We found ourselves in a hotel at Christmas in Bahrain. We had packed a medium sized artificial tree into a big trunk along with toys and took the whole lot with our luggage (in those days when you COULD take luggage) on the trip from the East Coast, through Spain and to Bahrain.

Every time we had to go through customs, I had to take the kids far enough away that they couldn't see what was in the trunk. The contents amused and puzzled lots of customs agents along the way.

We couldn't squeeze in ornaments too, so I took sheets and sheets of colored paper and, instructions in hand, we all folded paper cranes in the hotel until we were cross-eyed. It was a beautiful tree, though. The hit with all the hotel staff.

None of those cranes survived to return with us two years later......but cranes have been associated with Christmas in a small way ever since.

One year, with the help of a wonderful old Mac program called Super Paint, I designed a way to include features on the cranes before the paper got folded. I made lots of those cranes and gave them away. I still have a few left, but alas, I can't use Super Paint again. (I loved that program.)

They look like little Concordes.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Paper Christmas Stars

It's time to start unloading the box of Christmas ornaments and think about decorating the house for the holidays.

I ran across boxes brimming with folded paper stars.

A few years ago, I got the Martha Stewart kit for folding Moravian stars and went totally mad making basic forms and then inventing variations.

I made them in three different sizes and three colors.
A video with instructions and examples of stars and star May baskets (which I had never seen before) is available on:

Wonder if you could make them out of gift ribbon?