Monday, October 12, 2015

The Adventure to Skopelos

The Storm

Connections to internet were sporadic in the Sporades. Skopelos Island is lush and green, a surprise of beehives, goats can drink salt water, some pine trees can grow in salt water, plums, olives, flowers and fish, and few darker forces such as weasels that suck blood, like vampires. And dragons sleeping. And quite a few snakes.  Also, some interesting weather. Those sirens? They sing here.

The Storm: We woke up one night from fitful sleep. The loudest thunder, and lightning, and rain in waterfall fashion kept us awake. This epic event of angry gods and waking dragons, was  devastating, and all things, including cars, trucks and motorbikes, most of the supermarket and all of a favorite restaurant were swept into the sea in a raging wall of water. If it had been the high season, with people out in town, things would have been much worse. A lot of livestock was washed away. We witnessed Greek people at a time of great stress, and their ethics and dignity is a life lesson we will never forget. The next day, melons, tomatoes, produce of all sorts, washed back onto the beach. The sun came out.

The man we rented our apartment from is the president of a civic organization. He runs a center which is the social heart of town for the Greek men. He, Christos, took on the task of feeding the army three delicious meals each day.  He did this because there is no money for the government to provide food for the army. At his own expense, on top of all his other work, Christos fed the crews because they had to be fed, and because that is the kind of people Christos, and his wife Elainie, are. 

Elainie demonstrating her famous cheese pie. She made some for my last day. She widely considered the expert.  

Weather cleared quickly and parts of island looked unchanged if you could get there, but many remote places were without services.  Water lines, roads and power were out.  It will be a year before things are back to normal. 

At the Foundation we all got back into work after a day or two processing the event.  But it affected everything and everyone.  Still though the water cleared for our afternoon swims, and nature as it does, began to repair herself.

The Living Situation: The directors of these beautiful studios perched on top of the hill provided every support.  Accommodations are blissfully simple, with little terraces over the town and the port.  Food in Skopelos does not have to call itself organic, farm to table, or artisan. Honey, yogurt, local meats, greens, a vast supply of seasonal vegetables and fruits, and of course fishes and calamari, are all part of daily fare. Visiting a beekeeper, we understand that everything is done to keep chemistry out of food.  Life is relaxed, wine is served by the pitcher, but much is accomplished in a day. As day turns into night, and eateries and bars stay open late. And still . . . much is accomplished. Because life is vertical, we are in pretty good shape from going up and down from town to studios.

The Work Situation: Residencies require flexibility and adaptability. Artists need to give and take a little. It isn't the private home studio some of us are used to. But these things are all part of the experience. I find that I lose concentration during work time if someone wants to socialize. And I like to socialize, and to share ideas during social time. But when the time frame for working is short, let's just say diplomacy is needed, and it seems possible that this might not be my strong suit!

Now: I have been home for three days, and wake up thinking I am there and planning the next phase of work, being directed by invisible forces. It is the space of art where I seek to live life.

The Deal: The directors of the Skopelos Foundation often take work from residents into their fine collection, which will be toured at some point. I was asked to do one thing before they will choose a piece. They are going to hold me to it.  They asked me to show the pieces together first in a good venue.  Time to work on that end of things. Also not my strong suit. 

Tuesday, September 01, 2015

The Kind Of Trees You See In Rome

We are preparing to travel back to Rome again for a few days. This will be a complicated trip. Athens, Rome, then back to Greece to The Skopelos Foundation for a month.  In a flurry of cleaning up and packing, I searched for the moleskin notes from the last trip to Rome and found forgotten sketches and notes. I used to have a cheap office supply pen, a ballpoint with ink that ran when wet.  The pen had a nice solid line that could be made into a semi controlled wash or a blurred line, and still allowed for the holding of the structure. Structure is much of what Rome offers to the eye. 

I found a few sketches worth sharing, tiny and minor, not works of art in any way, but offering the seeds of such. They are worked on  tiny two page spreads in the smallest notebooks. I was looking for the name of a good restaurant we went to with dear friend five years ago. On that same day we saw the starlings in wild waves of murmuration right outside the Pantheon. Maybe we will go back there. Notes are incomplete. Why write or draw if you can't even record the names and streets of one of your favorite cold days in winter, in Rome? Maybe fingers were frozen, maybe you thought for sure you could find your way back through narrow streets and blurred lines, forgotten stone landmarks. And probably it is true that you could, or will, or else you will find something else. But I would love to find that pen, but alas, many things are lost.

Rome from Hadrian's Tomb

This one is not Rome

Santa Maria de Trastevere

Drawing at one of the bridges looking toward Trastevere across the Tiber river

Thursday, July 09, 2015

Education Secretary Needs Educating

Drawing found in the lab of the engineer/technologist.

British Education secretary Nicky Morgan wants us to know that people who choose study art do it because they don't know what else to do. 

She is a proponent of the STEM subjects.  STEM stands for science, technology, engineering, and as they say in the UK, maths.
The idea behind the STEM is to educate towards a career choice, early.  Get the sausage factory making sausage as it were. 

Just to put it back into the real world.  Quite a few people are artists, and come into this world that way, and give great gifts to the hungry young minds who will indeed work in technology, making things which work best when designed well from the inside out.  Those people will work in buildings that must be designed to provide comfort and beauty, if I may use such a backward term.

Science has used the drawing tools to think, since way before Leonardo's day.  Drawing and brain function are linked in powerful ways and the overlap is used by scientists, technologists, engineers, and the maths peoples.  But there are also actual artists living and working and teaching in the midst of, and with, these thinkers and doers. 

As a teaching artist,  I teach near a naval station, and Boeing.
Most of my students have some connection to designing and making the products of these places.  Also, most of them are continually studying art, and are good at working with a conversation between the head and hands.  I just put some of the heart part into it.  It is certain that these people do their jobs better for taking the time to study art.  Many of them had art teachers in school.  A situation that they all say gave them something that they use in life and work, and when they retire, it is what keeps them learning.

The technology world here makes things which would be nothing without design, and art. Every screen we look at, and the guts behind it, requires a measure of form, composition, clarity, and color.  

Whatever Nicky Morgan may think, art is here to stay.  But what she says about art courses being chosen by the lost and misguided. That is an insult not just to artists,  but to everyone.

In the end here, I feel as though I am trying to justify something that does not need, and never has needed justifying.  Out to my studio for the rest of the day.  Never for one moment have I been unsure of my path in life, and the artists I know, the one's who do it full time, and their tech and science and maths and engineer friends and patrons aren't lost either, although many are hungry, for art every day.

I guess we can be happy that she isn't the US Secretary of Education.  I hope someone fires her.


Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Flower-Fall Series

As yet untitled monotype,  18 x 12 on Somerset paper, printed on my Sturges etching press.  One plate printed three times.  Once with yellow, once with magenta, and once with blue.

 I am working a great deal of the time these days. Moving between several absorbing projects and preparing for Fall shows, and a studio open house in October. The work shown here is a monotype.  Why monotype? Velvety layers of primary (process) colors overlaid in multiple printings makes for great depth and beauty.  Balancing technique with the surprises, (make it good, make it magic).  I will be returning to my aquatint experiments in hopes of being able to edition work with this kind of color saturation, layering, and the random neon edges smearing out a bit. I have requested some high level help.  More later.  

As of today there are eight images in this format, but some are horizontal, some are lighter in tone with softer pastel-y colors, and greys. During the Summer Solstice it seems a little counter-intuitive, but the darks work for me.  

There are subtleties that cannot be reproduced here. Maybe you can see the boats, or the skull, or the ghost of my father. Next up, the moon, a lizard, tango shoes dancing with the dahlias and the arugula.

Studio News: 

This is a new blog. The Wake Up Station was a gas station that my husband remembers from Indiana.

I am going to Greece for a residency soon.  I may continue the work in monotype there.  But we shall see.  It is nice and portable, there are two presses at the Foundation, and all of the supplies.  One thing (among many things) learned in the past two sessions in Venice:  Be Flexible,  Try it a New Way.  Let some Magic in.