Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Post Portland

Art and Soul in Portland was a week filled with classes, new friends and time with "old" friends. I had a ball. Best of all was seeing Bee and being able to catch up with each other a little. I haven't seen Bee since ArtFest last spring and for one reason or another, emails between us have been few and far between, so having time to just be with a dear friend was especially lovely. She's just as funny, insightful, creative and nice as I remember. And she doesn't even snore! (Too bad the same can't be said of me.....it's a good thing that the one night we shared a hotel room that Bee was so exhausted that she fell asleep long before I did and didn't move for several hours after I got up the next morning! She was way too tired to hear my snores...I hope

I took two classes from Anne Bagby, the human dynamo. Anne always manages to pack her classes with so many techniques and creative ideas that I emerge mentally zonked. So much Anne stuffs into your brain in such a short period of time that it's amazing any of us are able to speak after class! I learned a lot, as always, and enjoyed so much seeing the work Anne is currently doing. Watch her explain her design process is as informative to me as the actual techniques. I guess I learn by watching as much as anything. One of Anne's classes, the stencil class, has given me a couple of ideas for framing some of my South American photos from the summer that I am really looking forward to trying. Anne suggested that we all sketch faces daily and while I haven't turned out a sketch a day yet, I am working in a sketchbook more often and can see the value in working more consistently. I like the idea of a face a day, but I just don't seem to have the drive to force myself to sit down and do one every single day! Another thing I should try to add to my list of things to accomplish daily, now that I've got this tooth brushing and hair combing thing down pat!

I also took two classes from LK Ludwig, another artist I greatly admire. LK is a good friend of Bee's, so I got a chance to sit and chat with LK that was not in a classroom setting, and I found her to be very funny and great fun to talk with. Her classes were fun, too, and LK is another one who jams so much information into a class that it's hard to take it all in at once. I felt like a voyeur for a while one afternoon as I sat and watched LK at work, picking and choosing what to use on the page she was working on, trying out ideas and then discarding one and trying another. Again, watching the artist in the process of creating was very, very helpful to me. LK's journals are things of beauty with layers of meaning and I love how she incorporates her photographs into her visual journaling. Her connection with the natural world is especially strong and by watching her work and studying what she does and how she does it makes me realize that I need to pay more attention to levels of meaning in my own work and that expressing myself in terms of water and woods should something I do more of. It's how I relate to the world around me and I don't think I've truly learned to work from that attitude. More things to think about!

I also took a very enjoyable soldering class from Sally Jean Alexander and enjoyed myself greatly in the class, even though my soldering is abysmal! I found her process interesting and liked the way she approaches her designs. Besides, Sally Jean has a wonderful sense of humor and we all laughed a lot during the class. The PMC clay class I took from Shari and Wendy was fun, too. I would really love to get into PMC and hope I may get there in the new year. It's rather pricey buying another kiln but making little items from PMC for gift giving is more likely to be truly appreciated by the recipients than large stoneware or earthenware items! I don't think anyone I know would turn down a bracelet or a pair of earrings, but most everyone has already a cupboard full of too many platters and bowls. Something more to think about!

I spent quite a bit to time last weekend working on an art journal that is part of a round robin I am involved in for a year. It's the Sensual Journal project and whatever work you do on some one's journal must engage four of the five senses (taste, touch, hearing, sight and smell). Now, that's not always the easiest thing to do on a journal page! I have now worked in two journals. The first had a theme of TIME. I really enjoyed that one and found that while I found the subject quite difficult to narrow down for my sub theme, it was a challenge and ultimately I really liked the work I did.

The latest journal has a theme of PLAY. I tried to work into my sub theme the natural world as I do think it resonates in me and makes my work (to me) more layered and meaningful. I have almost completed the page for this journal and am only awaiting the arrival of a birdsong CD in the mail. I chose to work on the idea of birdwatching as something I have come to find as play as I've grown older. (On some level it does sort of appal me that I have come to actually admit I enjoy birdwatching! I always thought of birdwatchers, when I was a girl, as sort of weird and quirky-in-a-not-good-way type of people who wore funny hats and un-stylish glasses----not cool like, ah, me!) Now, I readily admit, I consider myself a novice birdwatcher and I don't really care if my glasses are stylin' or if my new straw cowboy hat is silly. I am very pleased with the work for this journal, too.

Nonie, Susan P., Sandy from Juneau and I are going to take a class from Autumn in early November. I hope to do another wood carving to use as my Christmas card this year. I hope we have as much fun doing the class this year as we had last. I loved being able to send out cards I'd done myself.
I am working on a little journal project for myself at the moment, too. I think I'm going to call it The Caffeine Chronicles, but that may change. Right now I have taking a lot of photos in different coffee shops (and one must sample the wares while one is snapping away, right???) and saving the cups to use as the journal pages. It's all very experimental right now, but I think I may be onto something that is personally pleasing. We'll see.
Now that all my chicks are healthy or on the way to being healthy, and I have returned from Portland, my blood pressure has returned to normal. Jen had my pressure right up there when she announced she was diagnosed with a case of MRSA (drug resistant staph) behind her knee! NOT what a mother wants to hear. It was a very difficult time for Jen. Besides feeling awful and having to be on crutches and stay at home with the leg elevated, it kept her from training for her Ironman marathon next June. I was really concerned about her mental health as she sounded so depressed and down on the phone. Now, since she's been cleared for exercise again and had such a good experience both biking and running last weekend, she is much more positive and sounding like my happy, up-beat daughter. Whew! Annie continues to have an uneventful pregnancy, knock wood, Alex came through her third eye surgery quite well and the doctor is pleased with the results, and Kellie should be starting her first round of IVF drugs in a week or so. Everyone seems healthy, proactive in their own lives and happy. I am so blessed.


MomPhD said...

Healthy and happy? Are you trying to curse us, woman?!? Quick! Throw salt over your shoulder or something!

Michele R. Unger said...

Yep, the big fires all over San Diego County are directly attributable to my comments on the blog. The fact that you had to exacuate your home was caused, also, by my comments. I am to blame. Entirely my fault. Please forgive me.

Salt has been thrown.

Grove Street Journal said...

Mom, you are such an amazing artist. I love watching you take flight! : )

Catherine Anderson said...

Michele, I would love to visit and see everything you have been doing. I love the idea of taking photos in coffee shops. What a great project (great one to submit to Life Images). So glad your family are all well, we worry about them more as they get older I think. So great to be able to read about what you are up to. xoxox