Your first Vision in our new series reminded me of my travels to Italy and all the architecture my eyes memorized. Everything was a feast for the visual, even the graffiti. The old buildings had such character with the layers and layers of paint. I thought of how layered and complex we are, each with our own unique story and history, much like these buildings. I started off using moulding paste to create a textured background, then built up my surface from there by adding saturated color, sanding and reapplying the paint to give it a worn, old look. It took me a few tries to get the text right. My handwriting isn’t as beautiful as old, italian script but it is unique to me and allowed me to play which is how I process, learn and grow as an artist.
I photographed an early version of my piece on top of a gorgeous aqua colored peeling door from Caroline Quartermaine‘s book Revealed, one of the all time favorite books in my collection. It is light, fresh, airy and romantic. Her use of vintage items paired with fresh, vibrant, saturated color is AMAZING! She has a unique way of styling so many of the things I love like flowers, vintage book pages, color and art, not to mention her use of script on textiles in lush gold and silver paint. Simply divine. Thought you might like this video on her and thoughts on creativity and studio practice.
Laura’s ReVision 1: Script Series
Laura’s Vision 1 -Script
You know I am a big fan of maps so to see your Vision with the globe got me excited to sift through my collection of maps. Some I have acquired from others who were disposing of them (aka- dumpster dive), some have been given to me, while others I have purchased along the way. I initially thought I was going to draw a map of some sort, but then got very interested in the letter stencils I picked up at the art store. I was doing some research on Jasper John’s use of letters and stencils in his work so began playing with composition randomly. This was great and will continue this either in my own work or for our next Vision/ReVision. I think what I enjoyed about this was the layering of shapes of the letters and improvisation. I started with graphite pencil, tried a few color attempts (and lost), and experimented with a new transfer technique (also lost), so I settled on a little bit of color and a sewn on map element rather than a transfer. I also started on a rough drawing paper but learned I do not like this. I like it very smooth so I can blur and smudge my lines.
As we spoke on the phone earlier, this project is so fantastic because it offers us an opportunity to try something new. The result may not be what we hoped and planned for at the beginning, but the process always leads us to more ideas. What a gift to share with you!
You are right, I LOVED your Vision this week! How fun was that?!?!? Nature surely does inspire. I found my mind wandering back toItaly. Those Italians sure know a thing or two about presentation! All of the food we had while we were there was amazingly displayed and just as delicious as it looked. It was an art in itself so I thought I would share the very first meal Millie & I had when we arrived in Positano. We sipped our wine, drank in the aquamarine sea and savored every scrumptios moment! “Italian daydreaming…”xoL
Tulips are the one flower we do not have down here and I do miss them. We have to buy them in a pot or get them from the florist. The ground does not freeze here during the winter which is what is required for them to grow.
I took a different route for my ReVision this week. You spoke of depth of field and looking through some photos I just downloaded from my camera I found this one that Olin took of us watching Aidan’s basketball game a few weeks ago. I altered it in Photoshop a bit. This photo caught me in a moment that I am often in and enjoy~ cheering on my boys as they participate in sports. This morning I head out to watch Olin play his first baseball game of his life. I believe sports are great for all people as long as there is a healthy balance of joy and competition (which sadly is often unbalanced as I witness how adults coach and yell at their children from the sidelines, but that is another story for another day). Today I celebrate their commitment to learning the rules of the game, how to be a good teammate, how to challenge oneself to be better, and have a good ol’ time. Play ball!
The majestic blue green of the water in your Vision this week in contrast with the light airiness of the feather reminded me of this picture I took while in Italy. I was instantly transported to one of the most magical times of my life. Memories of swimming in the wondrous, shimmering, Mediterranean Sea for the first time flooded my being as I closed my eyes and tried to imagine myself back there, soaking up my breathtaking surroundings. “Italian Daydreaming…”
Tina's ReVision 65
This photo came from the same day you took your picture for the Vision this week. That was interesting to both walk the same path and see what we would individually decide to catch in the frame of our camera. If you look closely (or maybe step back a bit) you can see a rainbow.
I have been WAITING to share this very special guest blogger with you for some time and NOW IS THE TIME!
My wonderful friends and I enjoying a little Positano sun (from left to right) Elyse Gibson, Laura Gaffke, Jenny Girardi
I met the fabulous Jenny Girardi when I was corresponding with her about my trip to ITALY. Meeting her in person while in Positano was to simply a gift. We hit it off right away and became instant friends. She is a thoughtful and talented young woman who lights up a room with her big, quirky smile. She is not afraid of making an impression and has an uncanny ability of making quick and lasting connections with people from all walks of life. Her enthusiasm for life is infectious and she loves a good (and bad) joke. Jenny is also an art fiend of all kinds, trained in Theatre and Dance and worked in film in NYC. In truth, her heart has always been the stage. She is a huge fan of others who find the courage to fearlessly create and want deeply to lead a life saturated with art (and joy!). I just love her to pieces and know you will gain an abundance of inspiration from her thoughtful story. INTRODUCING……
The FABULOUS Jenny Girardi!
The Fabulous Jenny Girardi
Jenny modeling her fabulous hand made "tiara" while out on our gorgeous patio in Positano.
The Facet Basket
by Jenny Girardi
Last night, as I was being driven home by a friend, on the glorious road overlooking the twinkling town of Positano I now reside in, something hit me rather hard.
(And let me preface this entire realization by saying – quickly – that four months ago I moved to Italy as a three year long-distance relationship was just too difficult to maintain. I gave up my career and ludicrous schedule for a much more peaceful existence. At times I cannot comprehend that I don’t have to leave this town saturated in magic just yet.)
So… as this drive was occurring, a few things hit me:
This is the most beautiful, TRULY BEAUTIFUL, place I have ever and most likely will ever live.
I wish I could have been sharing this moment with my closest friends and family… or even people whom I was not extremely close to- but the kind of crowd that is prone to celebrate inspiring moments. I wanted to shout “SWEET JEEBUS, THIS PLACE IS AMAZING!”, but found the words lodged in my throat as the throbbing low-bass-pounding music pressed it’s hand over my mouth and silenced me. The passengers were seemingly oblivious to what was surrounding them and felt shouting over the music to remind them would not venerate the moment.
I remembered my past life in New York and a drive over the brooklyn bridge causing everyone in the van to lose their minds about the glory of it all – The city at night, the miraculous bridge, the fact that we were DRIVING. In attempts to understand why exactly I feel I do not fit into to this town, I realized that in New York, to live there (at least for a solid percentage of the residence of the city) you must want very much to be there. You have to find a way to make the city work for you AND, you must want to be around others who think this way. Others who appreciate living in a city you must work extremely hard to stay in whilst inhabiting a shoebox. Others who want so much to be part of such a wild, lively place that the unpredictability of the day charges you in the morning and makes you go “SWEET JEEBUS, THIS PLACE IS AMAZING!”
And then I thought…
As lucky as so many of the folk who live here in Positano are, without leaving it’s splendor to explore other parts of the world to experience different cultures and ways of life, one cannot truly appreciate what they have. Or perhaps one may even miss an opportunity to find another part of their country or even world that charges them in the way I describe. No one can understand what they do not experience (and as an artist, using these moments of self and global discovery only makes my work better) and I believe we should strive more often to seek the unknown. Even if this means taking the right stairway to the beach as opposed to the usual left, so be it! You never know who you will meet or what you will see.
This post honors moments of fearlessness: that moment you actually say YES to something that might not make the most sense at the moment you agree to do it, but something you truly deep down want. The moment you think “what am I doing?!” but go along with it anyway because there is a part of you that absolutely believes in your choice to take a chance. You are pushing yourself into the unimaginable to experience things that may change your entire perspective and discover a new facet of life. It’s like plunging into a facet basket. The BUF, if you will.
The Basket of Unknown Facets
What if we did this every day? Reached out into the universe and pulled out a new facet of life? A new experience? As quickly as trying a new gelato selection or perhaps moving to another country (a bit more time consuming). The universal banquet is as endless as the possibilities our lives hold. I say feast!
To me, art is a personal, honest and fearless experience. It has been said that even conversing with someone else can be considered art as you open yourself up to do so (which I agree with to an extent). I believe that art is putting your heart into every moment you can thus evading conformity.
This is all such a simple concept, but I am shocked by the compliance of so many in this town. The acceptance of a stationary life and the audible sighs that accompany the resignation to a permanent life in Positano.
As we have the power to lead any life we choose, I say dip into your basket, Bella and see what happens!
I will do a dip and report my findings soon.
Go-go gadget Facet Basket!
THANK YOU SO very much Jenny for sharing your unique perspective on art, creativity and LIFE!
Have any of you “had moments of fearlessness” or experienced ”that moment you actually said YES to something that didn’t make the most sense at the moment but agreed to do it anyway”? If so, how did it turn out? Did it change your perspective? We would LOVE for you to share your leaps of fearlessness with us in the comments below. Let us inspire each other…
This was the view from our balcony at La Fenice. The papers we painted are hanging to dry.
Dear Tina & friends,
Millie (our fabulous guest blogger) and I are back for the second part of our three part blog seriesabout our AMAZING Italian adventure!!! We have been having so much fun reminiscing and reliving the most special parts or our trip and are OVER JOYED to share these intimate moments with you!!! So here we go…
Treasure hunt in Positano…
Laura photographing treasures. Photo credit: Millie Donovan 2010
Millie & Laura's "treasures" from Positano
Reflections from Millie’s journal:
Our task to mask our lives felt big and confusing. We all embraced the opportunity to play this little game, a scavenger hunt in Positano. So we went out, searching for items on a list that we had to create. This list quickly became too difficult and contrived to fill. This little fishing village on the Mediterranean is full of treasures; some are bought, some heard, some are tasted, some are observed. Laura and I made little notes on a large sheet of brown paper. We collected lines of words that seemed like poetry, if only we could write them and say them in the melodic, Italian we heard all around us. We layed out our treasures upon our return to the garden by the sea and were a bit disappointed by how humble our piles were in relation to others.
Millie getting help from a stranger doing a rubbing of a mosaic.
But, as the day progressed I realized that the collection I had decided upon was not one of trinkets but instead, included the memory of a day where a complete stranger instructed me how to do a rubbing of the mosaics, where a street vendor pinched my cheeks and proudly talked about the Murano glass and coral beads he used in his exquisite jewelry, the bride being led down a long alley by her parents, glowing in her antique gown, the trail of little paper hearts that lined the via that she must have emerged after pledging her vows to her new husband.
"Coral Beads" Laura Gaffke 2010
Later that night I took a midnight swim and drank red wine with Laura. We talked about love, life, friendship and about being blessed with all of these treasures. We talked about our freedom and how empowered we felt after conquering this day. We talked about having seen the face of heaven on the steps of Positano and we realized that all we had to do was look within.
Got to love the Italian vino! Photo courtesy of Millie Donovan 2010
Thank you for sharing part two of our Italian adventure with us. Stay tuned for part three, soon to come! xo Laura & Millie
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?
As I prepare for my trip I have been in a bit of a quandary as to whether to bring my computer with me to Italy. From what I hear the internet is a bit splotchy and I have debated whether it is worth the effort of lugging my lap top around with me. The pros are: I can blog easily and therefore will be able to share my adventures with you, I can upload pictures and organize them as I go, I can watch movies and catch up with work related things on the long plane ride and on it goes…. The cons: the computer is heavy and it might be nice to be “unplugged” both literally and mentally while I am on this holiday (SO need that right now). I guess the pull toward my computer made me realize my dare say addiction to it! So much of my time is spent blogging, reading favorite artists blogs, emailing, and “connecting” with others virtually. What I have realized is that I need time to reconnect with myself and my art. My wish is that Sabrina’s workshop will allow for this. Five days of bliss at a little B & B called, La Fenice which ironically means pheonix in Italian. Translation: n. phoenix, legendary bird who consumed itself in fire and returned to life from ashes. I am going to allow myself this time to simply “be”~ with myself, with my thoughts and with my good friend, Millie whom I will be traveling with. I will embrace the different senses in my new surroundings and plan to come home refreshed and alive. In the meantime my camera, journal and paints will be my muse. I will look forward to sharing my adventure with you! Until then…
Laura Gaffke, Soulful Essence, acryilc on wood 12" x 12" 2010
Hello Tina & friends!
I found the title Arrivals and Departures fitting for the new show at the Artists Cooperative Gallery this month as I will find myself soon departing CT and arriving in ITALY! This painting, Soulful Essence is one of the new paintings that will be in the show. It is highlighted on thispostcardalong with the work of Steve Tulka, the other featured artist this month. It is really exciting to see the work all up and hung on the walls of the gallery! I have been working hard on two different bodies of work, one is a continuation of my wine series and the other is the start of a series I am currently calling garden friends. Some of you might remember me promising to be more present in my garden this summer and this painting is an expression of some of my time spent there. I have SO loved sketching, thinking, writing and dreaming of new work and hope I have sketched enough to tide me over through the harsh winter months ahead. The shows opening reception/party is on September 1st and will include wonderful art from all our members as well as libations and delicious treats. I hope you can join all the fun! Since I won’t be there in person I have created a distinct piece of artespecially for the show, which I turned into a postcard just for YOU! You can read more about them HERE. Share some sunshine and get them while they last!
Well, I decided with my upcoming Italy trip it was time to learn how to use the fancy camera my sweet husband surprised me with LAST Christmas! It is one of those amazingly beautiful cameras where you feel like you are going to totally mess it up simply by picking it up. Yes, I dare say I have been a bit afraid of it! Trying to bypass my fears I decided to challenge myself by actually using it. I have been having so much fun playing and staging little “still lives” of the seasonal peaches I have been devouring like candy. There is something so sweet and lovely about the vibrancy of their color, texture, scent and taste. These are not your store bought peaches, that is for sure. I have SO enjoyed playing and creating this way without expectation, just for the pure joy of it. I would love to know what you think of the first efforts with my camera. Is there one image that strikes you over another? Maybe you have some pointers for a new “photographer”?
I would also suggest you go out and find yourself some glorious summer peaches!
In anticipation of my trip to Italy and the workshop I will be taking with Sabrina Ward Harrison I decided to pool through the pictures of the first workshop I took with her in California a few years back. Dreaming of all of the lemoncelloI look forward to indulging in while in Italy for her upcoming workshop in Positano, I remembered the pictures of the lemon trees growing in the yard at the Carol Parks Studio where the workshop was held. I wanted to use these images as inspiration for the special postcard I have been working on for the September show at the COOP. Everything was magical about my time at the Carol Parks Studio. From the moment you entered the place you felt immediately at ease, greeted with the simple word “UNFOLD” printed in chalk on the sidewalk entrance. Even though the studio was in a residential neighborhood and the houses were close, the studio felt cozy surrounded in lush flowers, trees and even a white picket fence. Adirondack chairs in bright red and chartruse green with big umbrellas and sassy birdhouses adorned with jewels sprinkled the yard and gave it a sense of whimsy. There were even tiny birds with excited chatter in vintage birdcages scattered about.
Entrance to the Carol Parks Studio
The workshop proved to be an extraordinary time spent with my friend Liz who lived in LA at the time and took the workshop with me. I remember driving with her to find Carol Parks Studio, anticipating what it would be like. I had come across Sabrina many years ago after reading about her in one of SARK‘s amazing books (if you haven’t read any SARK go now and immerse yourself). Sabrina had just published her first of many books called Spilling Openand I couldn’t put it down. I was enthralled by the way she wove painting, photography, collage and text through each page. It was like she was speaking to me. While now there are a plethora of blogs in which to learn about artists lives, Sabrina was the first artist I had ever come across (besides SARK) who shared her art and life so openly. I responded to the quotes, poetry and uplifting books she noted. Spilling Open gave me a glimpse into the creative process I was craving at the time. It reaffirmed for me that all things are possible when you remain true to your authentic self.
I remember questioning what I was doing with my own art at that time, as I was at a point in my life where teaching both filled me up and consumed me. I longed to have the time to “spill” and had finally found someone close in age to me who was following her creative dream. This gave me hope and inspires me to this day as I have followed her journey through her other books. Being an avid journal keeper myself I continue to reflect and have sought ways to integrate image and text into my own work while staying true to my own personal intentions as an artist. I will leave you with some of the pictures from that magical weekend and you can anticipate many, many new images and experiences to share from my upcoming trip. Until then…
Laura Gaffke, "Friendship is..." mixed media on wood, 12" x 12"
There is so much goodness going on for me lately I have to pinch myself to believe it is all true! First off I got a call this week from the lovely Dora Szekely with a wonderful opportunity to show my work along with several other artists in a bright, airy storefront in downtown Mystic for the month of August (possibly longer). The shop is located at 3 Pearl Street and is directly across from Harp and Hound, a favorite local Irish Pub. It will be open for the Mystic Arts Festival THIS WEEKEND, making that the icing on the cake! The Mystic Arts Festival is a magical event which features the work of over 250 fine artists and over 60 craftsmen. I plan to get a little Christmas shopping done at the show as it is my wish to buy most things handmade this year.
As if this opportunity wasn’t amazing enough, I have been busy getting my work ready for TWO upcoming shows. One is at ACGOW where my work will be featured with the fabulous Steve Tukla, a woodworker I have a special affinity for as we were both juried into the Cooperative Gallery at the same time. The show opens September 1st from 5-8pm and runs for the month. I am sad to say I won’t be able to attend the opening as I will be inITALY!!! I am however working on something special for those of you who go to the opening, so stay tuned as I see if I can pull it off… The other show is with the Stonington Printmaker’s Societyand will be held at the LaGrua Center. You won’t want to miss the preview party Septemeber 17th from 5-7. I would LOVE to share my Italian adventures with you then! Cheery smiles your way…xoLaura
I just put my deposit on my trip to Positano ITALY!!! I will be going with a friend to a workshop given by Sabrina Ward Harrison, one of my favorite artists ever! More details to come but I will leave you with a video created by Jenny Girardi, one of the people I will meet there. It will give you a little flavor for this magical place. Have any of you ever been to Italy? If so, what are your favorite places? xoLaura