10 August 2015

in the studio with :: amy boone-mccreesh

i fell in love with amy's work ages ago [i collected it in my pretend art collection on poppytalk in 2012. you should read this post for more of what i adore about amy's work]. she currently has work up at mixed greens in ny [go amy]. and she was kind enough to interview christine and i about our chroma exhibition for baltimore's premier art blog. 

her studio was across the street from city arts and so she graciously let us pop in for a visit. it's in this super duper cool old brick building and her studio is so full of interesting tidbits. i literally could have spent all day in there. just like her work, her studio is layered, FULL of hidden tidbits, and completely overwhelming in the best possible way. 

please name 5 artists/creatives/makers that you know personally who you find inspiring
and influencing ? 

Carolyn Case, Sara Barnes, Milana Braslavsky, Kyle Bauer, and my husband Adam Boone-McCreesh, he's not an artist but works very hard and influences my artistic life often

And 5 artists/creatives/makers that you don't know but love from afar? 

the last thing or two you read that had you marking or dog earring pages

Honestly, Elle Decor magazine. I am very into interior design right now. I like finding parallels in composing a room vs. composing a 2D picture plane and all of the overlaps in formal sensitivities, like repetition and unity. Maximal interior design, pattern on pattern, a variety of colors and shapes is what has me the most interested. I also just saw the Ruth Root show at Andrew Kreps gallery in New York, so I have been really into the catalog for that show. Art is so all-encompassing in my life that I find it hard to invest in reading books. When I do it's mostly World War I and II related fiction. All quiet on the Western Front and Farewell to Arms are the most recent. I think this period in history changed everything and everyone and meant a lot for art and creativity. 

your top 5 tools/supplies

Rives BFK paper, prismacolor markers, xacto knife, Ink, felt 

a material or idea you most want to try but haven't yet

I'd like to do more with plastics and larger scale work in general

name a song or album you will grow old with

What a tough question..... The album The Warning by Hot Chip always sounds good to me but I feel like music is so tied to time of life that different music will remind me of different points in my life as I grow old. This album by Hot Chip came out around the time I met my husband so it's tied to a really happy and exciting time! 

favorite beverage? 

Seltzer water!

how many studio spaces have you had ? is this current one your fav ? why or why not ?

I am on my third since graduate school, this is one is pretty great because I have my own window, so I feel like I am moving up in the world! 

what is crucial for you to have in order for your studio day to be productive?

The least amount of distractions the better, I try to keep everything in my studio related to work and not leisure 

do you have a studio routine? if so will you share it with us?

I tend to bounce around a lot between projects so there are few constants other than working. I'd say something that is more of a ritual and less routine is every time I finish putting up an exhibition I do a full-sweep studio clean. Everything from that body of work or that show gets put away so that I can start fresh. This allows me to not fall in a rut with materials, colors, etc. just because they are out and visible. It forces me to "start over" every time I start "new" work. This happens a few times a year. 

is there a place that you've been that really resonates with you?

My husband and I visited Scandinavia a few years ago and it was very beautiful and clean. The sensitivity and awareness to design and aesthetics there is pretty amazing. 

where have you felt the most "at home"
Other than at home, I think in a small village in England, Ely. My mother is from here and her family is still there. I visited often as a child and still do (though less than I'd like). It feels very nostalgic and safe, I think a lot of people feel this way about their grandparents home. 

dancing? pro or con?


thanks SO much amy. i hope our paths cross again soon !
you can find more about amy on her website. and her instagram. 

30 July 2015

c h r o m a - in baltimore

oh hello ! 

it's time to show you a million pictures of the chroma installation. i had grand plans to show you things while we were getting it up, but yeah. that didn't happen. a friend joked that he thinks i should get a trophy/award for most brutal/intense installations. OK yeah. well... at least this time i had a partner in crime in christine buckton tillman

so it's UP ! for a couple more weeks [through August 19th] at gallery CA

we used cyndi's submission in the title area as an "intro" to the show

so yes. weeks and weeks. months and months of collecting these loving little mini collections paid off. 

when we started we knew that we had to keep the "transitions" between colors fluid. i had a LOT of practice from photographing all the stuff as it came in and christine and i agreed that it was the white space and the the way you moved from one color to the next that was going to be crucial to the big piece working. that the edges should be "organic" not a perfect shape. 

prior to flying out i sent out EVERYTHING pre sorted by color to christine....

when we got there the first thing we did was dump the bags in front of the wall. we quickly realized that we needed to lay everything out. we were going to have help, but we couldn't leave it to people to randomly place things. we knew, too, that if we laid it out in front of the wall we could control the spacing. how high it went on the wall. how it filled the space. 

 this was both tedious/tiring, and exhilarating...

as we got further along i think we realized that indeed it was going to work. and it was going to work well [huzzah]. 

oh and there were opportunities to see where what you wore fit into the spectrum. 

this might be my favorite process shot [christine took it - her work is on the walls - LOVE IT]. 
we ended up taking and printing photos of each section and using them as guides to place things on the wall [if you are curious we used mostly HOT glue ... yes. hot glue. and pins, and poster putty]. 

the photos were a guide, but we didn't expect the wall to end up 100% accurate. 

slowly but surely things moved from the floor to the wall. [it was kind of like magic]

me on scaffolding at the end of a 12 hour day. 

we had helpers of all ages and sizes and places. it felt like camp. [it always feels like camp]. 

and then finally the last pieces were put into place. 

this is the stuff we overlook [a lot] on a daily basis. we are surrounded by color. it is a constant in our lives. this is the stuff we call "junk", what our kids play with, what we toss into a drawer, what we discard... 

all together it becomes something else. [those are my kid's ballet slippers]. why are there so many more blue things? 

my kid looked color by color to tell me what she would want to keep in each area [mama there isn't a lot of silver. why did the sliver and gold end up by itself on the little wall.... excellent question. it just wouldn't fit on the big wall. and we thought neutrals/metallics would look good on their own]. 

looking in through the door. 

THE WHOLE THING !! all the things. we used almost everything that was sent to us. a few things had to get edited out because we didn't have the space. we mostly removed redundant things [for example i think we had 50 of one color green button. about 25 made it in]. 

this is us. high-fiving because well... because it deserved a high-five. so do all the people that helped. and every last person who sent something in. [once again it takes a small army]. i keep thinking about how amazing it is to pull together all these people, things, ideas in one space. 

if you want to read more about our process or the piece then check out this great interview that amy boone-mccreesh published on the b-more art blog [btw that is MY FAMILY in the header photo. hi mom, hi dad].  

oh and the other day the MAYOR of baltimore was speaking in front of our piece. crazy-town. 

a bit more on the show an all my east coast adventures in subsequent posts... hope summer has been treating you right. 

30 June 2015

baltimore workshop + podcasts

hi there - just a couple of quick FYI's [longer post on buddha hands and letterpress a coming]


i head to baltimore next week !!! crazy chroma installation here i come. i will be teaching an embroidery workshop while i'm there - on Saturday July 11th from 10:00-1:30. we'll be doing embroidered portraits, but we'll also be eating and chatting and at the end i'll show/discuss my work a bit if people are interested. 

tickets for the event are available here. it's $75 and the artist hosting the event in her studio has all the supplies [altho feel free to bring your own floss/fabric]. if you are in Baltimore i'd love to stitch with you !


the very sweet and talented Sandi interviewed me for her podcast... we met at craftcation and she's an amazing quilter/maker. we talk a lot about being happa [she is too] and the social practice aspect of my work and and and.... 

and did i ever link to my other podcast with Meighan O'Toole? [one of the coolest ladies on the planet?] well she just redid her site. so it's a new link... and so i'll tell you about it again. 

18 June 2015

me and my sizzix

i don't know where i've been, but i had no idea what a sizzix was. then i went to craftcation. and there they were.... it's a home die cutting machine that can cut through paper, fabric, felt, leather.... um yeah. coolest thing ever?

especially for people who are obsessed with repetition like myself. they even have shapes like hexes [although they also have circles, clamshells, squares, need i go on?]. maybe i'll actually make a hex quilt??? [maybe. when i have 36 hours a day to work with]. 

the really cool thing is that the footprint of the machine isn't very big - i got the big shot.  it's sturdy - easy to crank, and it's not going to fall apart after just a few uses. i also really like that you can cut through multiple layers at once. sizzix products are perfect for quilters/scrapbookers/crafters, but i wanted to see how else i might be able to incorporate it into my studio practice. i immediately thought of all the time it could save me - cutting out the same shape over and over and over. now i have to just crank over and over - easier on the carpel tunnel. 

i found a cloud/airplane die [remember when i used clouds and airplanes in my work?] and immediately had to cut out a bunch of felt clouds. 

it's pretty neat. there's a base [some of the dies come with their own base], you put what you want to cut on top and sandwich it between two sheets of plexi. you roll it thru the machine and VOILA !

all the pretty clouds in all the pretty colors. 

i've been working on collaborative drawings for the chroma exhibition. christine sent me a stack of amazing "rejects" and "incompletes" and i've been stitching and adding felt to them. this piece screamed for the clouds. 

i played with all different arrangements and glued them down. 

then i cut off the excess 

here's a detail - i'll show more of these works once the show is up. [july 12th is when we start install]

i also got a fortune cookie box die. [yes, i am sure i will be using these for some upcoming event for the little]

the dies are so precise that you get perfect tabs to fold and glue... as well as fold lines to follow. it's idiot proof.  TADA [skittles for size]

what i'm SUPER excited about, though, is a custom die is on the way. i was able to use a buddha hand drawing to have a die made for this machine. i can't WAIT to see how that turns out. [i'm thinking gold paper. yes i am]. 

12 June 2015

art for all seasons

my good friend susan schwake [artist, curator, gallery owner, author] is at it again. she recently published her FORTH book. and it's a good one. i'm one stop on her book blog tour and i asked her some questions....

one of my favorite projects - inspired by heather smith jones 
1.      You've taught both adults and kids for quite some time now. What is your FAVORITE thing about teaching kids? and how does it differ [or is the same] as when you teach adults?

Over the years I have found that there are so many similarities in teaching kids and adults. There are the shy ones, the bold ones, the tidy ones, the messy ones (that's me) and so on. The biggest difference is that most of the kids are almost always willing to jump in and try whatever I ask of them - and usually with little hesitation.  Adults want to try - but often some hold back due to self judgement. Often they giggle a little and say "Oh I wish I had the boldness of a kid' or similar statement before starting. Giving one's self permission to play is not always easy for adults. This is what I stress most in my classes - both online and in the studio - play like a kid and experiment as you go. It's my favorite thing about teaching children - that they will take the leap and try something new and exciting because you invited them to.

2.      OK, let us in on a secretŠ What is your favorite project in this book ?

Hmmm, that's a tough one! I love the embroidery portraits fashioned after your work - a lot because the students were so proud to be using thread and needles! {pictured above} They loved it and continue to make them on their own and bring them in to show me. My favorite project however is the Tin Can Prints. As a printmaker and lover of cheap materials - this project works on so many levels and can be expanded upon easily.  Craft foam is easy for all ages to manipulate with scissors and a pencil or pen  creating tracks as suggested and can be transformed into shapes, flowers, anything the student can imagine.  When putting this lesson together I thought it would be fun to mimic nature with the snowy footprints we see here in New England every winter. It would be easy to create murals with a group or one person could make wrapping paper on a long piece of paper.  i presented this lesson at a teacher's workshop for the state council on the arts and the teachers thought it would be great to try outside with a large barrel and make industrial sized prints! I am getting ready to try it on some fabric as it could be a lot of fun making yardage with this process.

{that project is actually one of my favorites and is pictured below.}

3.      I love the idea of art for every season. What is your favorite season and why?

I love summer here in coastal New England. It's short and intense but it's our reward for the long winters we endure. The ocean, swimming holes on the rivers and the lake regions are a true treasure here and to spend time at either is one of the most single refreshing experiences I can think of.  Being a life long swimmer, water is where it's at for me. The White Mountains are also most beautiful to me in the summer. I feel like a traitor not choosing Autumn....

4.      You have 2 kids of your own. Were they the ultimate testers for this and your other books? are they both creative or pursuing creative endeavors?

When my girls were school aged, art was an integral part of our life. We painted, drew, crafted and sculpted many times a week and of course they were part of the studio classes as well. Many of the lessons in Art Lab for Little kids were projects we did when they were little - the crowns comes to mind !  (chloe age 3 with a crown she made)  As they grew up my eldest daughter became more interested in creative writing and kept a journal from age 8 . She also had a knack for foreign language and loves books more than anything else. After college she became a children's librarian and runs the children's room and young adult room now in a local library. She creates programming for their activities and is very happy with her job. My youngest is a creative art dynamo - making beautiful art with whatever media she touches. She has settled with fashion design and is a junior at Massachusetts College of Art and Design. She loves surface design and has created beautiful fabrics and garments already - as well as keeping her hand in working with clay.  Having both girls and the 1000s of students over the past 20 years has informed my work as a teacher and author for sure. Bonus! It has been an endless supply of inspiration and joy for my own work as well.

susan has graciously offered a GIVEAWAY of this book. i'll be hosting it on my instagram account. to win you'll have to follow her on instagram [and me]. leave a comment on the photo and share it with someone else you think would like it. for an additional chance to win - repost the photo with the hashtag #artforallseasons - the winner will be chosen by random next friday the 19th. good luck.

10 June 2015

hello neglected blog

i have had big plans. i have wanted to write manifestos on teaching. on doing too much. on doing to little. on the gorgeousness of peony season. 

on the sutro baths and the beauty that is amazingly so close to where i live. 

on the pure joy of seeing ducklings meandering across our paths. 

on what it means to be the parent of an almost FIRST GRADER [blink of an eye i tell you. blink of an eye]. and the parent of a child who seems to looooovvvveee flying through the air. [so fearless. so bold. i love the look of determination on her face when the teacher gives her notes. and the pride. the pride of job well done]. 

on the importance of keeping up with a sketchbook. of just looking at something. of slowing down enough to move a pencil across a page. of finding that line. the right one. and letting it appear. 

on the chroma installation and work for that show [coming up so very soon]. on doing crazy 15' wall installations just for the heck of it and on artists talks where someone asks if artist statements are still relevant and you emphatically say YES they are. just because you don't like something doesn't mean you get a pass. [this seems to be a reoccurring thing w/ the little as well]. and where someone else talks about marketability and a little part of you just cringes and wants to re-assert the idea that it can be done authentically, but you instead just keep your mouth shut. simultaneously wondering if that last newsletter you sent out was ok. 

on summer. on summer. on summer. on how there might just finally be a moment to breathe. classes are done. grades are in. crazy 3 day online class filming is in the bag. it is time to do the work that feels the most like the "real work" [no offense to teaching. which is incredibly REAL and demanding, but...]. to be in my studio. or in this case, this summer to also print at kala.

i don't think people read blogs the way they used to. and that's just fine. i still plan on writing occasionally because truth be told i like the writing. i like the way it organizes my thoughts. in the end this has always ultimately been a space for me.

i make no promises. but i'm hopeful that i might just find a bit more time to be present here. i for sure will be back on friday w/ a book to talk about !