What is Quartz Inversion?
No, it’s not a quart of milk standing on its head. It’s the point at which silica crystals in clay change their molecular structure during the rise and fall of temperatures in the kiln. Heat serves as a catalyst for permanent change. Very cool idea. I think of it as a metaphor for most things in life. The transformational power of art can change us at the very core. Our actions change the earth every day, for better or worse. The choices we make, the thoughts we have, and the words we say change us in every way at every moment--from the inside out. I like to think that I go through a quartz inversion on a regular basis....and once quartz inversion occurs, there is no going back.
Get more Quartz Inversion

Thursday, December 31, 2009

The things that can work for or against me......

These are the things I struggle to keep at bay when I am working:
1. Becoming derivative of rather than inspired by
2. Being influenced by other peoples praise or criticism
3. Rushing too quickly to judge a new piece
4. Frustration, discouragement, lethargy

I have to remember it is best to live with a new piece for a while before deciding whether it is worthy of keeping, re-working, or discarding. I have decided to let this piece live.....

Work keeps coming.....

I'm not sure how I feel about this new triptych. I'm still experimenting with the material and with the different ways it can be used, but I feel like these three small panels are a bit too "designed" and thought out. They came more from my head than my gut, which is where I always try to work from. The head is the worst place to start. Once you start thinking, the intuition is smothered, and for me, the creative process is more about letting the intuition speak and keeping the brain quiet.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

More Christmas Creativity...

Christmas weekend was very productive. I'm experimenting a lot with different encaustic techniques and trying to find my voice with this medium. The possibilities are endless, but so is the risk of being derivative of all the other encaustic art that is out there. Although it's a very versatile medium, it's difficult to find originality and make your work look different from everything that has been done with it before. There's a lot of juggling the challenges of the medium itself with the challenge of developing one's own voice. I think I am getting there, slowly but surely......One must repeat, repeat, repeat until the breakthrough comes.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Christmas Time is Here!

In keeping with my annual tradition of spending Christmas Day in my studio, I had a very productive day. I really can't think of anywhere else I would have preferred to be....

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Giovanni's Notebooks......

My new muse is my grandfathers notebooks.~~ beautiful yellowing sheets covered in fancy, floral, old-world script that looks like a cross between ancient palimpsests and Cy Twombly drawings.

Every Sunday after lunch my grandfather would retreat to his club chair, pencil in hand, and write for hours on end. No one ever bothered to ask what he was writing, and when he died the notebooks remained in a pile on the TV stand along with his dictionaries, newspaper clippings, and crossword puzzles. I have recently begun to translate the notebooks with the help of various Italian-speaking friends and to my utter surprise they are filled with the most amazing musings on politics, religion, and philosophy. Some pages contain quotes by Dostoyevsky, Thoreau, and Churchill. Others are drafts of letters to his beloved sister Corradina in Pozzallo, Sicily.

My grandfather was a simple, quiet man, a blue collar laborer, an immigrant who became a patriotic American, yet remained steadfastly loyal and devoted to his homeland and it's traditions. I am now discovering that there was another, more complicated side to him. The notebooks are a window into the person who was my grandfather, a man who I adored, a man I am still getting to know.......

Saturday, December 5, 2009

To Make...or Bake....

I spent the day simultaneously BAKING cookies, and MAKING art. FYI, it's more fun to make art. The 'baking' part, which was supposed cookies made from scratch, is for a party in which 6 or 7 women bake cookies and exchange recipes. My recipe is pretty basic: Betty Crocker chocolate chip cookies mix, one egg, water, and vegetable oil. OK, I did embellish with some frosting and sprinkles, but that was just about as complicated as I was willing to get.

The 'making' part was going on while I was checking the cookies in the oven. Somehow, the art-making was much more of a cooking experience than the baking was. Working in encaustic or clay (my two favorite mediums) is a wonderful combination of mixing, stirring, forming, combining, and heating. You finish with something that looks good enough to eat. If that's not cooking, I don't know what is.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Mario Giacomelli....my new Italian boyfriend

I've been meaning to post info about this amazing Italian artist I discovered while I was in Italy: Mario Giacomelli. I had never heard of him before, and Wikipedia has only a few words to say about him:
'Giacomelli was a self-taught photographer. At 13, he left high school, began working as a typesetter and spent his weekends painting. After the horrors of World War II, he turned to the more immediate medium of photography. He wandered the streets and fields of post-war Italy, inspired by the gritty Neo-Realist films of Vittorio De Sica and Roberto Rossellini.'
This is a photographer worth checking out. His aerial landscapes in particular, blew me away. If I could make ONE piece of work in my life that inspires in someone what his photos inspire in me, I would die a happy and fulfilled woman.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Giving thanks to Number 5....

Just before Thanksgiving I made a list of 5 things I was grateful for ~ they were, in no particular order, as follows:
1. good health
2. family and friends
3. my home and work space
4. laughter
5. my ability to create something beautiful out of nothing

It would be hard for me to put these in order of importance, and of course good health usually trumps most of life's other blessings, but lately it is number 5 that I feel most grateful for. It is number 5 that gives my life a sense of purpose. It is number 5 that gives me deep satisfaction and satiating pleasure when I feast my eyes upon something that "tastes" delicious to them. And it is number 5 that is the ONLY thing in my life that cannot be taken away from me. Everything in life is temporary, transient, and ethereal. But creativity - wax and wane as it may - is permanent, innate, and immortal.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Work in Progress....

All life is a work in progress, a constant re-working of every situation, every challenge, every task. The trick is to know when to stop. Everyone knows this simple rule - don't over do it, don't overwork it, don't try too hard.
The same is true, (IN SPADES!) with art. Knowing when to stop is the moment we must be most aware of. It's that moment where a successful piece of works starts, and a hot mess begins -- and vice versa. I've always credited myself with being a good editor and having good selectivity. To me that is more important than being the most adept at technique, or being the most talented colorist, etc. What to keep in, what to throw out, where to place objects within the frame...or as they say in filmmaking the 'mise en scene'.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Calling in sick......

I just love calling in sick to work and then spending the whole day in the studio. For some reason, weekdays are always more productive than weekends. There is something about knowing that everyone else is hard at work in their offices, and you have all those free hours to do what you will, that gets my juices flowing. Saturdays and Sundays are not the same. There are so many other chores and things to do on the weekend, that even when I have an entire Saturday or Sunday, I still feel like there is never enough time to get down and dirty in the studio.

Today was one of those wonderful "call in sick" days where the sun was shining outside, a cool breeze was blowing in my apartment, and I was on a creative roll by 1:00 in the afternoon. Got multiple mono-prints done, and two new encaustic collages to add to the "family history" series.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Dreary Friday 13th....

Well, season 3 of Mad Men has come to an end, my trip to Italy is becoming but a mere memory, swine flu season is here, the weather is getting colder, holiday season is approaching, and the one year anniversary of my mom's passing is right around the corner. Things are starting to feel a bit dreary. Even my plants are barely hanging on to life....

I'm certainly not giving equal weight to all the things I just mentioned - I mean Mad Men is a great show but the end of season 3 was certainly not as big a blow as my mothers passing last January. Having said that, my life always flows more smoothly and productively when I have a goal, project, or some little thing (like a brilliant TV show) to look forward to and not having one at the start of winter is not a good thing. I have started taking Italian classes, this time with a group rather than privately, so that might give me a small jump start. But it's gonna take more than learning the 'congiuntivo presente' to get me through the next five months.

I've always loved getting cozy and reclusive during the dark winter months in my rustic, sun-drenched, book-filled, top floor apartment in Park Slope, but that can backfire if I don't have some big creative mess going on in the studio. Gotta keep myself accountable to myself and get things rolling in there. Time to get my ass to Pearl Paint and get me some early Christmas presents......

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Italian hours.......

So what was the most amazing thing about spending three weeks in Italy?....The fact that I came home more inspired creatively than I have been in a very long time. First let me qualify that by saying it was not the ONLY amazing thing. Seeing new places, like the incredibly fantastically wonderful Bologna, was also great. But even the most wonderful thing about Bologna was the way it inspired me creatively and how much I couldn't wait to come home and start incorporating those warm colors, the shapes of the arched porticos, and images of graffiti into my artwork. The whole city is like a living collage; layers and shapes seem to overlap one another in the most natural way--like the city was always meant to be seen that way. The barrage of graffiti-covered walls and scraps of peeling advertisements and posters do not take away from the burst of deliciousness that assaults the eyes on every street. It actually enhances everything about the city.

I was only there one day and two half days, but I made the most of every minute. I visited the Morandi Museum, the Casa Morandi (Morandi's former home and studio), MAMBO (Bologna's modern art museum which houses one of the most wonderful Sean Scully's I've ever seen in person), and the mind-blowing Santo Stefano church (known as Sette Chiese because it is a series of chapels, courtyards, naves, and rooms all inter-joining one another in a heavenly maze of connected-ness). But I digress......sort of.

Let me step back to my first two weeks in Tuscany. The first couple of days were almost, dare I say, a disappointment. The teacher, Julian, a wonderful English art teacher with an undying penchant for all things Renaissance, was a virtual Bernini's Fountain of Knowledge! Unfortunately, it was a subject that could not be less interesting to me. But I stuck it out through the first few days of basic water-color lessons, visits to churches filled with Fresco's, and mini lectures on god-knows-which-Renaissance painter, and waited for an opening to start my own work in the studio independently of the other dilettante participants. Then one day, Julian showed me a new technique which he called 'monoprinting' and the flood gates opened. I spent the rest of the week cranking these things out on cheap newsprint paper, one after another. By the end of the week I was so wound up I decided to extend my stay for another 4 days. It was heaven on earth! Waking up every day with nothing else to do but work in the studio, eat the three delicious meals prepared by Julian's lovely wife Amanda, and at night drink all the yummy wine my liver could handle. E' stato stupendo!

I'd like to recommend this place to anyone who wants to take some time away and spend some unstructured time working in a light-filled studio one hour away from Florence, Arezzo and Rome, perched on a sun-drenched Tuscan hill on the border of Umbria. The website is www.artistinitaly.com. Tell Julian and Amanda that Jo the New Yorker sent you....Buon divertimento!

Monday, July 6, 2009

More work...

Back to life....

Well, I am FINALLY back in the studio. After a very long and hard two years, I am back to my life and in the studio again. It feels GREAT to be focusing on myself and on art again.....