I have just returned from a lovely trip with Brett to Florida to visit his parents. Although the weather wasn’t as warm as I had hoped (no tan here~boo hoo!) it certainly wasn’t as cold as it is here in New England so I will not complain. Brett & I went tooling around in the golf cart and kept seeing these funny birds. I was very much amused by the way they walked. They made me think of your Vision and the quirkiness of Dr. Suess (ReVision soon to come~very inspired!).
One of the golf cart paths was lined with these trees and I immediately thought how these trees are everywhere in Charleston aren’t they? It makes me even more anxious for our visit together next month. Hoping for warmer temperatures!
p.s. What kind of trees are these? Live Oaks? Do any of you happen to know what kind of birds these are?
This pretty much sums up how I spent my holiday! Click on the tunes and dream a little with me…
Dear Tina & friends~
Happy Happy New YEAR to you!!! The beginning of each new year always fills me up inside. I get overwhelmed thinking of the possibility that it brings. My mind has been racing so much that I haven’t been able to sleep the past few nights. It’s like I have this “excitement buzz” going on.
I have seriously been “unplugged” both mentally and physically from social media of any kind for the past week and half. After having a wonderful New England Christmas with my family in New Hampshire Brett & I set sail for the Caribbean to meet up with his mom & stepfather. They gave us the most generous gift of their time, relaxation, adventure and wonderment all rolled up on one “little” ship holding over 4,0000 people! I am still in awe of how this boat floats!
Our ship, "Freedom of the Seas"
Not having access to the internet literally forced me to be away from my “normal” life in all ways imaginable. I think this may be why people enjoy cruising so much. There is no escape from listening to your hearts desire, whether that be relaxing and indulging in a massage, poolside cocktails, passes through the casino, catching a show in the huge theatre, meeting new friends, visiting the amazing islands of Labadee, Grande Cayman, Jamaica & Cozumel, excursions to exotic places or having indulgent dinners and thoughtful conversations. It was wonderful to give my mind a rest from my everyday life.
Brett & I on our balcony ready for dinner. Not often I can get my husband to wear a tie!
The food was not only delicious it was artfully displayed!
Shocking that we all would be at the bar!
Our favorite bartender, Sergio. Remind you of anyone? I wish we had caught a picture of him with his infectious smile!
Our other favorite bartender, Chris
We had a lovely cabin with a deck overlooking the ocean, room service every morning, cocktails every day (a few days even before noon! hey, “it’s 5 o’clock somewhere” right?). I must admit to having “morning margaritas” at Jimmy Buffett’sMargaritaville before our excursion to stingray city on Grand Cayman! In fact, I convinced Brett take me to Margaritaville in Jamaica and Cozumel! We probably would have hit Labadee too had there been one. The margarita’s were delightful at each port! “What would Jimmy Buffett do,” right?
My heart is filled and grateful for having two very different but special Christmas’s. All gifts and indulgences aside what matters the most to me and always will is the gift of time spent with the people I love. Wishing you all the most magical new year! Lot’s of love your way….Laura
Visiting Monhegan Island last week was such a treat! My friend Amy, whom I met on my Italian adventure made the whole experience of visiting Maine a gem of a trip. A package arrived the week before I left, complete with maps of the area, “moose lip balm,” “moose mints” and a nice note letting me know how much she was looking forward to our trip. How FUN! I could hardly wait to hit the road with Millie.
Our trip to Maine was to mark the first annual “Fig Society” gathering. What is the Fig Society you may ask? Well, the name was coined by all of the wonderful new friends I met in Italy last September for my workshop. (You can read more about it HERE) I personally had never tasted fresh figs before this and they soon became a morning staple for all of us at breakfast. Somehow knowing we would be greeted each morning with coffee & croissants served with nutella and fresh figs served on a veranda overlooking the Mediterranean Sea made the 150 stair hike up the side of the cliffs worth the trouble! It was here that we would get to know each other. By the end of our trip we had come to lovingly call ourselves “The Fig Society”.
Joan Harlow in her studio
While on Monhegan we visited several artists studios. The island is a haven for artists who generously allow you to step into their studios to have a peek into their creative world. The first artist we met was the lovely Joan Harlow who graciously opened her studio to us when we arrived early for her studio hours. I guess we were on “island time,” completely clueless as to the hour! She had the cutest studio overlooking the water. Can you imagine this view for your studio?!? We talked of how she came to be painting on the island and what she loves about the work.
Joan took this painting outside so we could see it in the magical light Monhegan is known for. Such an arresting interpretation!
Seeing as it was such a hot day Millie & I stopped for a little beverage. Just the perfect size to take with us to the next studio!
Coronitas on a hot day! The perfect size for sipping
Don’t you just LOVE the entrance to this artist’s garden? (on the right)
*need to get this artists name
I loved this artists work! We learned that she works intuitively on Yupo paper, creating vivid abstractions. My artist friend Diana Sartor uses this paper with THE MOST interesting results. You might remember the collaboration we did together? Although she didn’t use Yupo paper for our collaborative piece you can get a little flavor for her work. In fact, just recently visiting her studio I was blown away with the colored inks she is using on this paper. She is able to use a variety of techniques to get a wide range of textures. We may have to schedule a studio visit so she can show me how to use it. What do you think Diana?
The fabulous Millie Donovan buying some art
It is hard to resist the whimsical fish in Mike Stiller’s garden which lead you in to the gallery he shares with his wife.
Mike Stiller's cute fish
Mike Stiller's artwork
Mike Stiller's cute birds! I love how they are popping out of the wall!
The last artist I want to share is Stan Moeller, one of my ALL TIME FAVORITE teachers. I had taken many classes with Stan while living in NH and was delighted when I sat down for dinner at the Monhegan House and looked up to find his gorgeous paintings on the wall above me! I hadn’t seen his work in some time and was blown away at how much it had changed! He is both a gifted artist and teacher. Here are a few pictures of his work. The first painting is the interior of the restaurant where we ate. How cool is that?
It is such a small world! When I contacted Stan about using his images for the blog he wrote back and told me that he had been in Rockland, Maine recently and thought he had seen me. As it turns out it was THE SAME day I had been there visiting the Rockland galleries! How weird is that?!?!? We hadn’t even planned on going but it was so foggy we decided to take the later ferry to Monhegan and went out exploring. It is another reminder to be open to where things lead you. I am grateful for reconnecting with Stan and for the generous use of his paintings as well as all the other artists who shared their time with us. Happy day to everyone! love, Laura
It is interesting to look back at some of my old work and see how drastically my color palette has changed. I just got back from Port Clyde, Maine and spent a night on Monhegan Island while I was there. Monhegan is a quaint little community abundant with artists and alive with color and history (I will share more about my studio visits with the artists in another post). It has been years since this last visit and at the time I was primarily painting landscapes. It feels like a lifetime ago. Although I am still very interested in the landscape I was looking at the island from a very different perspective this time around than I did back then. I had a deeper curiosity and connection to what I was seeing. I remember feeling the history of this magical island but not knowing how to interpret what I was feeling. It took me a long time to understand that I don’t have to have a literal interpretation of what I paint. It comes out in many ways.
I have been working on a little series of whimsical umbrella paintings. They started out as a carved block but I decided after I printed them, I wanted more color and started to hand embellish them, making each one unique. The splashy colored paint and patterns give them the look I was going for. Even though I felt they could stand on their own I experimented further by painting old book pages which I cut up and used for the backgrounds.
This series believe it or not was originally inspired by the tragedy in Japan. Wanting to find hope during such a sorrowful time, I began thinking about the brightly coloredumbrellas Japan is known for. After researching their history I was surprised to learn they became popular in the middle of the 18th century as a way to stimulate the local economy after a series of floods. Each umbrella was handcrafted back then and provided a way to supplement the income of the impoverished lower samurai (warrior elite). I found this fascinating!
I have always loved the little umbrellas that came in the Shirley Temples of my youth. It was always a special treat to go to the Chinese Restaurant and allowed to order one. I remember many times being there with my grandparents. I had a special connection to my gram and as I worked on this series SO many memories flooded back to me. Happy times where I learned to just laugh and be myself. She would often say, “let’s laugh for no reason” and we did. I still do! These colorful moments are what I try to translate into my work.
I thought I would share a few pics from Monhegan. Such a MAGICAL place! I would love to know what your favorite places are to visit?
There is such MAGIC in visiting an artists’ studio, don’t you think? You get a rare little peek into their private, creative space and are given this amazing gift as they share their soulful environment with you. You never know how you will be moved and invigorated and I find that so intoxicating. Maybe you will learn what inspires them, a new technique or simply how they manage their time. I was lucky enough to get a taste of all of the above when I went to visit my friend Marlene’s studio in Oakland CA. I had the luxury of seeing her work for the first time in person and I must say I was a bit giddy! Marlene has a cozy little nook at the Hive where 30 other artists reside. My first impression was how great it would be to be surrounded by so many creative people! Just having people who understand this “artist life” and who can offer critical feedback, encouragement and support is SO essential in keeping the creative juices flowing.
One of Marlene's groovy paintings!
Going to grad school with Marlene was also a gift. I got to see first hand how video became part of her creative process. Many of the paintings she made during this time are HUGE! This little sheep is one of her newer pieces. I love how she left the wood showing through, as well as the groovy patterns. You may remember I have quite a thing for polka dots!
One of Marlene's sketchbooks
I got to peek into the many pages of wonder as Marlene shared her sketchbookwith me.
I delighted in seeing where her creative ideas originated.
Marlene's "inspiration board"
Marlene is also very organized and I noticed how she used this chalkboard to record some of her ideas and creative goals. I keep a similar board in my studio with inspiring images and ideas. Seeing her “inspiration board” reminded me that I need to revisit my own which I had tucked away before my Open Studio. I am presently ablaze of new ideas from this trip!
Marlene's "scroll sketchbook"
I appreciate how Marlene will use materials she has on hand or that people at her studio leave in a common use area. This clever “sketchbook” was created using some inexpensive brown craft paper on a roll. I loved watching her unroll them down the hallway and seeing the mass of patterns, drawings and color.
detail of Marlene's artwork
Earrings or miniature paintings?
Marlene also makes miniature versions of her paintings into earrings. Aren’t they so fun and colorful? They look even better in person where you can appreciate the detail. She has been VERY busy since I left California preparing for her own Open Studio at the Hive. It is enthralling to see how the “beginnings” of some her paintings now finished. I am especially loving her book cover paintings and the backgrounds she created for them. You can see them on her groovy BLOG along with some of the new wood burning she is doing! I love LOVE Love my friend MARLENE WHITE!!! and cannot thank her enough for her kindness & generosity in sharing both her studio and herself with me! She is certainly an artist you will want to follow for constant inspiration! You never know what she will have brewing in her studio!
love ya dolly!
p.s. It would be lovely if you would say “hello” to Marlene and send her good energy for a successful Open Studio!
Here is a link to one of Marlene’s Magical video’s. There are SO many, you will want to see them all! I had a little trouble embedding it:
Traveling heightens my senses on so many levels. I become aware of both the similarities and differences of my surroundings and always relate that back to what I know, which is my home in New England. Because my art work is often inspired by nature I am particularly aware of what is happening in my garden as the seasons change. When I traveling I tend to look at what is blooming around me and am particularly delighted when I find things I haven’t seen before like GIANT succulents and trees that I have no name for.
Arriving in San Francisco filled me with giddy anticipation for what was I was to do and see. I soaked in the newness of it all from the first moment I arrived. As you know I was visiting my good friend Marlene. I met Marlene in grad school (just like Tina) and we taught together at Holderness. She had always talked about her beautiful Oakland garden and how special it was, but I had no idea just how gorgeous it would be until I got there. EVERYTHING was a feast for the eye! I was especially impressed with her roses, as I no nothing about growing roses myself. There were SO many gorgeous shades of soft yellow, pinks and lavender! To say I was enchanted is an understatement. I was enthralled! I was treated to the “guest house” which used to be Marlene’s studio. It the cutest little bungalow overlooking the garden through two sets of doors and light filled windows. Aaahh, I can still smell the sweet scent of jasmine tickling my nose in the morning…
Marlene had made prayer flags for her open studio in her garden (how cool would that be to have an open studio garden party?!?!?)
They even have a hot tub tucked away among bamboo and flowers in this magical garden! (side view of house)
These roses smelled SOOOO delicious!
You never know what you may find in Marlene's garden...
A place to pause...
I am now addicted to smoothies which I had the luxury of having in this magical garden to start my day!
Henry keeping me company while I was visiting! He went for hikes with us and followed me around the house. I just LOVE this dog!
Hospitality: note the Andy Goldsworthy book and gorgeous flowers Marlene put out to brighten my "bungalow" oasis and make me feel at home~she thought of EVERYTHING!
I had such a good time in California and want to thank Marlene (& Elana too!) for giving me such a warm welcome and making me feel right at home! You guys are THE BEST! I have many more adventures to share with you including a peek into Marlene’s groovy studio at the HIVE! More soon…xoLaura
A glorious hello to you!
I am back from California feeling invigorated and full of new inspiration and gratitude. There is so much to process and reflect on as I get back into my groove. It seems like things have been such a whirlwind for the past few weeks. It is hard to believe our delightful Open Studio was just two weeks ago! Just as soon as we put the studio back together I was packing my bags for California, ordering paint for a groovy workshop I was taking while there and then coming home on Thursday to giddily head to the Brimfield Antique show!!! You can plan on hearing more about my many adventures and inspiration from my painting workshop, trip to Big Sur, gallery nights, new artist friends, and time spent with my FABULOUS artist friend Marlene the next few weeks. I just wanted to pop in and say hello! Until then, enjoy your weekend and know that Tina & I will be back to our regular posts this week! Yippee! xoLaura
We thought this week we would leave our regular posts and share our plans, experiences, and thoughts of working side by side rather than our usual mode of working long distance. These times are rare for us and we thought would be worthy of a whole week of posts. The last studio visit we had was at Laura’s house in July. During that visit we re-created our brand for this blog (the banner), completed our Collaborative Book Exchange, drank way too many mojitos, created our first Wish Ceremony, and visited the gallery scene in Providence, Rhode Island. Remember this photo?
Laura & Tina in Providence
For this visit we have plans to visit art exhibits in Charleston (Halsey Institute of Contemporary Art), attend poetry readings (Billy Collins and Cassie Premo Steele), work on our teaching proposal, continue our TAOS project (we can’t believe we have not posted about this yet, but we promise to fill you in on our first completed TAOS and our in-progress second round), a few fun adventures, as well as our second Wish Ceremony.
Tomorrow we will announce information about being interviewed on the radio this Friday. Stay tuned!
Millie & I giddy after climbing over 200 stairs to the beautiful Country House in Positano where we had a magical dinner overlooking the Mediterranean Sea with friends. We were sitting in this FUN hammock admiring the view before dinner--SUCH a wondrous night!
Dear Tina & Friends,
This is the first of three in a series of reflections from my FABULOSO Italian adventure. I will be collaborating with Magnificant Millie Donovan, my good friend and travel buddy on this trip. Together we will be sharing images, insights and reflections from our journey abroad. We hope you enjoy the revelations we gained from travel and would love to hear how travel inspires YOU!
This was the first of many delicious meals in Italy. Millie & I sat outside and toasted the beauty of our surroundings at La Fenice.
Reflections from Millie’s journal:
As artists we are forever observing what goes on around us and interpreting what we see so that the world makes sense. We task ourselves with the responsibility of defining beauty and some of us are able to live that creative life, to see beauty in all things and to be able to write, sing, paint, and draw it so that it communicates and touches and connects. I knew very little about the artist teaching our Positano workshop and thus I had very little expectations for what the week was going to be like. All I knew was that I had an incredible opportunity to travel abroad with a friend and that we were bravely going to expand the scope of our little worlds with a plane ticket and possibilities.
The giant piece of linen that we all swam with in the sea and then painted on collaboratively. I loved how the umbrella's shadow cast itself on the linen.
What I did know about Sabrina Ward Harrisonwas that her chosen path was rich and messy, full of dimension and complexities. In her book “Brave on the Rocks,” Sabrina spoke of her previous Italian adventure. She wrote about traveling, the smells, colors, the humidity and how it affected her hair. She made lists of items she needed and even longer lists of the people she would miss. Life was and is messy! So it was no surprise to me that the very first thing we did was trek down to the sea and swim with what would eventually become a tarp to paint on then a canvas to work with. We mixed paint with our hands in the hot afternoon sun of Positano. We were encouraged to think only of the process and not the end result. We were told that by living and thinking creatively and through this messy uncensored process the art would reveal itself. The thing about revelation is that it requires patience, persistence, practice and dedication so, really, the only thing we could expect from a workshop such as this was to catch a glimpse of how an established artist works. But perhaps there are no answers, instead more questions because the process of creation is unique to the individual. We are so conditioned to have something to show or prove. We are so product driven. We have a need to check things off lists and be able to count how many things at the end of the day so that our day can be considered meaningful. How do we find meaning and purpose in our work, our life, our art? How do we live a creative life? For me, my work and my art comes from the connections I have with people, the conversations I have, the reactions I get, the people I meet, the people that decide to include themselves in my life and those that have blessed it. For me the opportunity of making connections and learning from an exchange of ideas was much more revealing than the process of mixing primary colors on linen cloth. ~Millie Donovan
This was a little window nook Millie & I created for painting in the afternoon.
There will be more goodness to share but I will leave you with these questions to ponder and perhaps comment on (we love getting comments):
How do YOU find meaning and purpose in your work, your life, your art?
Aidan looking in the reflective sculpture "Cloud Gate" by Anis Kapoor at Millennium Park, downtown Chicago
Dear Laura and Friends,
We made it – 2,400 miles round trip driving to visit family and friends. I thought I would share one experience from the trip about going to the Art Institute of Chicago with my whole family (14 of us), but first…… I want to THANK Laura for writing all the blog posts while I have been gone. I will return the favor as she heads to Italy soon.
Soon we will both be done traveling for awhile so we will return to our regular posts, correspondence, and mail art.
I am not sure how I got everyone in my family to agree to take the train downtown Chicago and see the sights. Just getting on the train in the morning was a feat all in itself, but we all did it (even with coffee in hand). I wasn’t sure how each family member would respond or even enjoy the Art Institute of Chicago, since I am one of the few artist’s in the family. We got there and decided it would be best to split up and meet back in a few hours. I went right for the contemporary art wing while everyone one else rambled off in their own directions.
One artist that keeps me returning over and over again to his work is Joseph Cornell.
view in the gallery
He informed much of my work in graduate school and the sculptural work I do today. I have previously only seen two of his boxes at the National Gallery in Washington D.C.. This day at the Art Institute I saw 38 pieces of his art. Many I had never seen in the numerous books I have looked at. Yes, I felt like crying when I stumbled upon the work. You know that sound of the angels singing in a moment of awe~ that is how I felt. I only had a half hour with Cornell’s work, but I took every minute to look at each one slowly at least two times. All that art work was there as a generous donation from private collectors Lindy and Edwin Bergman, who knew Cornell very well and bought the work directly from him. They also collected numerous pieces of Surrealist artists such as: Jean Arp, Andr Breton, Leonora Carrington, Salvador Dali, Jean Dubuffet, Max Ernst, Wifredo Lam, Rene Magritte, Joan Mir, Francis Picabia, Pablo Picasso, and Yves Tanguy. VERY impressive personal collection! I am grateful they donated this body of work so I could see in person all the intricate pieces that do not translate in a photograph.
So, you may be wondering how the whole family responded to the art museum? I am happy to report that each person found at least one gallery they liked. The artwork they liked had to do with some sort of interest in their own lives. For example my Mom and Dad have an antique business and enjoyed the antique furniture displayed within each exhibit. My Dad liked the Monet’s and his use of color. My brother liked the Native American weavings. My nieces liked Jackson Pollock. My husband and sons liked the Art & Architecture exhibit. My other brother liked Van Gogh.
Overall, the day was a success. Who knows what I will have planned for them next summer!
I sit in my new home studio for the first time this morning thinking about what lies ahead in the near future. This Fall will be full of new prospects as my boys return to school, I start a new job, and begin a new creative rhythm of having a home studio. In the last remaining weeks of summer time, we always hit the road to visit family in the Chicagoland area. It is always a wonderful journey of camping, driving, site seeing, and time well spent together.
Sometimes it is hard to take a break from my art practice. I am always thinking, planning, sketching, and writing. It is not one of those professions you “leave at work” then do your other business of life. Sometimes I wish it was easy to turn off, but most times I am grateful to have a creative drive that keeps me curious all the time. So….I will take my sketchbook on our roadtrip, take notes and draw daily. Often this proves to be one of the most productive times for clarifying the ideas in my artwork.
Leaving home and getting out of the daily routine leaves unexpected moments for this clarity to surface.
In the meantime I leave you with a picture of some work I have recently completed. I have not shown this to anyone besides Laura. I feel this work is very close to my heart and feel vulnerable about it so have hesitated to share it yet. I have five others and plan to dive deeper into this series when I return from our roadtrip.
Until then, I leave Laura in the driving seat for the blog – what a benefit to creating this collaboratively. She has wonderful travel plans (I am secret jealous…which I guess is no longer secret!) with her friend Millie (who I adore) that I hope she will share with you all.