Monday, January 31, 2011


Yesterday we (Ade and I) finally got my supplies back into the studio.  The weather improved over the weekend but its predicted to turn nasty on Tuesday.  The studio is a 240 sq. feet of MESS! but it felt soooo good just to be in the space even though I wasn't there even long enough to take my coat off.  On our way out I ran into a new tenant, Don, and chatted his head off.  I'm a fairly reserved laid back person but there is something that happens to me when I'm inside Mellwood...I have these spells where I become a chatty cathy...when it happens I'm totally comfortable, but it always makes me notice myself because it is out of the ordinary for me.  Anyway, Don is a painter, who has a corner studio with wonderful natural light.  Mellwood has started a blog.


I also made it to hear Jane Dunnewold give a juror talk (she juried the LAFTA exhibit there) at the Patio Gallery in the Jewish Community Center with Mo and Petra in tow.  It was a great crowd but not so much so that it prevented me from introducing myself.  I identified with her perspectives on art-making and I have my fingers crossed that this will not be Jane's last visit to Louisville.  She is teaching her second workshop today and tomorrow on lamination.  I didn't feel the need to take that since that is what I did last year at the Crow barn and that is what I've been doing since my return.  The exhibit itself is one of the most well selected exhibits I've ever seen and had me questioning my relation with answers...but it is a "bright" exhibit and I see my own work as "subdued".  But I'm always reaching for intensity in colour which I don't think I've achieved yet.

As for making a prediction to returning to doing what I do at either the basement or the studio, I'm refraining.  I'm going to try to be loose enough to go when the weather is less threatening to me health-wise and be satisfied with that 'til the season breaks.  I'm still collaging and sketching and working through some of the exercises from The Learning Curve Curriculum here at home.  Now that I'm home alone during the day I've been spending a lot of time travelling the 'net on all subjects that interest me, genealogy, furniture painting, junking, cooking, photography...whatever strikes my fancy for the day.   Here is a recommendation from my travels: The 1st Annual of Iranian Contemporary Art.   My personal favorites from this collection are the works by Hamed Behrozkar and Raheleh Filsoofi.


"Art thrives in constraint but dies of liberty." - André Gide.



Friday, January 28, 2011

How to speak of disappointment...

Internal dialogs are sometimes complicated.  Logic and Emotion speaking to one another.  It starts out slow, one listening to the other and then each vies for the last word forgetting they are not the separate entities that they think of themselves to be.  Forgetting they reside in one dark body...making the host exasperated.  

Since Wednesday night, the above reference has been me.  I'll just say it started on Monday for the sake of sanity.  I ran a short errand and the weather was not as cold considering it was in the low 40s...but it didn't matter, I still came in with a scratchy throat but not feeling really "sick".  Took some aspirin, sucked on a lemon, drank hot tea, rested, and stayed in on Tuesday.  Wednesday, my soul/sole goal was to gather supplies for the 3-day Screenprinting Workshop w/ Jane Dunnewold and hopefully attend her lecture.  (the back drop since the previous weekend has been a stream of annoying, not too serious, issues with our cars.  Pair this with the cold and you can fill in the blanks).  While loading up the last of the supplies, I could feel the pain settling in my lungs along with fever.  I was still thinking, "when I get home, I'll relax, do breathing treatments and go to bed, I'll be go".  Peter kept asking me how I was feeling (yeah, I knew it was showing) which annoyed me, but it was pushing the thermostat up past 80 and still complaining that I was cold (everyone else was too warm) when he finally came out and asked (I was thinking it but not wanting to admit it), "do you think you should go tomorrow?"  It was the answering out loud that helped me make the wise choice and forfeit my spot in the workshop.  Say damn! 84000 times.

My beloved Doctor called in all the necessary scripts, Peter is riding in my car that use to be his car with all my workshop supplies, and I'm home...will probably be here until Spring. DSC_0156

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Lizzie's photo is highly prized.

Img097I am blessed to have some old photos of family born in the late 1800s.  This is a rarity for African Americans but due to the traveling photographers and the interest in imaging oneself and working for income it was an important thing to do in claiming one's own identity and sense of self during the period of so-called Reconstruction.  Although this image was taken in the 1960's of my 2nd Great Grandmother I do have one that was taken in and around the turn the 19th century.  I only recall meeting her when I was around 5 and was frightened of her as she seemed to be sooo old and feeble and "witch-like".  When I met her she couldn't talk but loved to reach out and hug young children.  It was only in my young adulthood that I held appreciation for at least having meet her.  This is my sketch of the photo printed on heavy cotton fabric.  I think I'm going to attach it to a mail bag (that I've yet to make).

Img096I concentrated on all the darker values to make this loose sketch.  I think this would be cool to free motion embroider on a white or unbleached cloth.

It is cold here today but daylight is stretching out longer and longer by the day and that is encouraging.  In a few hours I'll brave it to go gather my supplies for the workshop that begins tomorrow with Jane Dunnewold on Screen Printing at Univ. of Louisville.  She is speaking tonight at 6pm at the Chao Auditorium at the Ekstrom Library on campus.  I have every intent of going to hear her speak but since will actually make the judgement call once I'm out and about.  

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

I need to go see a man about a horse...

My mother says this when she is asked about her destination when she heads out and it is her way of kindly saying "none of your business".  Carter has picked this up from her and says it sometimes when he is getting his coat on to go out.  Carter is 2; my mother is 83.  

I'm a babysitting Nana...yes I am.  Its me and Carter these days.  Mo is looking for another child care center and in between time I'm filling in.  He is spending the night with us and Mo is here after classes each evening.  He has tons of toys here and I'm once again evaluating children's programming.  I find myself singing without reason "there is an animal in trouble..." and I think the Backyardigans Rock!


In the photo you can see one of my  "highly prized" cups that I showed as a sketch in the post below.  The set up above is my sequestered winter art spot on the kitchen table.  When I need to clear the table, I turn around in my chair and pile it in the corner behind me...


The winter has warmed up in the last few days but I think ice and snow are being predicted again this weekend.  I'm sketching and collaging away here.  Strathmore selected the collage, Finding Peace, (post below) to feature in their eNewsletter, blog, and FB page.  Only 4 were selected so I'm pretty happy about that.  Here is the one I started this morning...


It is keeping me half way sane to participate in the Sketchbook Challenge and the Visual Journal Workshop.  I find the collaging much more intuitive and didactic in process than sketching.  I mentioned this on Liz Plummer's blog and she shared that her reaction was opposite.  Anyone else care to weigh in on this?  I'm curious to know.   I'm also going to participate in this year's One World One Heart Event for Bloggers.  I've never participated before but have always enjoyed the blog h0pping in previous years...if you're curious, click on the logo in my sidebar under "Dig This".

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Collage, a Retake; Sketch, a Debut

This is for the Strathmore Workshop by Pam Carriker.  After I did this one I thought it would be enhanced with stitching.  I'm working both sides of the paper in this journal.  If I decide to explore it with stitch embellishment, I'll make a copy and collage it down onto water colour paper and go for it.  You can see the way it looked prior to this stage by clicking here.


and from the other sketch book, here is another highly prized coffee cup...the ones up 'til this point were my tea cups.  



Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Mixed Media Collages

What I learned today:  the cheapo gesso i picked up almost 2 years ago is a pain to spread...I really need a palette knife with this.  I'm not going to use the Golden (I think that is the other brand I have) which was easier to spread for this stuff---

Img074 Img092

Img073 Img093

The other thing I learned is that I'm not that swayed to use charcoal for direct application or for details.  the sharpie, the pitt pens, and just a plain old sketch pencil worked better for me.

I'm going to contribute the inability to get the oil pastels to blend better to the low grade (cheapo) brand.  I used my fingers and also a blending stump.


The other thing I'm questioning is if I'm more drawn to the photographic image over the cartoon image.  I do believe I am.  

Even though it is not cloth and thread...I can loose myself in the processes of doing these mixed media collages.

Guts, A Workhorse, and Color

You can infuse your art practices with all three:

Gut Art

Studio Journal: A Designer's Workhorse

Color Theory


I've gutted it with Mystele, but the other 2 remain on my bucket list.


Sunday, January 9, 2011

Okay, okay, I'm as green

as guacamole, but since the impromptu reception I just held with family held hostage, in attendance just fizzled out, I'm counting on you, dear readers, cyber ole friends of mine to give me accolades share in my joy of Highly Prized Cup #3 that I just finished.   This makes me just slap happy...why, because in my experience all of the 7 days, I'm beginning to believe there is something to this "drawing everyday" practice.


Friday, January 7, 2011

New Pages

Look up.  At the top of my blog.  There are 2 new page tabs.  One, my studio name has changed.  You might recall that I discussed the possibility of changing it a couple of months ago but stayed with The Beauty of Holiness because the time wasn't right.  The other day when I was there and didn't over think it but just went with my gut (pun intended) I knew it was time to go with it.  So Chitlin' Circuit: Studio of Karen R. Davis is the new name for the Mellwood space.  Other than the location being a former meat packing facility, there is a double meaning for me.  If you google "Chitlin' Circuit" or wikipedia it, you'll discover why the name is culturally relevant for me.

Also, the 2nd new page is for selling what is left of 2010 postcard-sized Art Going Postal.  They are sealed in a clear envelop.  There are about 20+ cards left.  Most of them are laminated.  I've discounted them at 20 plus 3 for s&h.  At the moment I've only scanned in 4 of them but more are on the way.  All transactions will be invoiced via Paypal.

I'm still not fully recuperated, so I've only been out on short jaunts to Barns&Nobles, JoAnn's, etc. I find myself needing the mental stimulus of colour and ideas plus the excitement of using some gift cards.  I picked back up the Learning Curves curriculum as best I can but I'm finding it difficult to concentrate.  The Visual Journaling and Sketchbook Journaling  are a soul saver, so to speak.  

I am going to miss the opening tonight for Form Not Function.  This was one of my main missions for January.  My other mission this month is to attend a 2 day workshop on screen printing with Jane Dunnewold and see her exhibit and hear her speak at U of L at the end of this month.  If you want to know more, see her Louisville schedule for public events, go here.


Thursday, January 6, 2011

Highly Prized Cups

Patience.  Is this the number #1 skill required for learning to draw?

I filled in the first drawing with colour and am still sketching cup #2 which was a gift from my BFF (I read the other day that this was voted in the top 10 phrases that needed to retire but since I've never used it I wanted to get in on it before it was gone to see how it felt...I'm underwhelmed by BFF).  

Back to the cup.  Kelly, who I love and adore, made this cup.  She is a creative but I'll always think of her as a potter since that is what she was doing and teaching when we meet 10 years ago.  I love drinking tea from this cup.  She dug the clay up herself!  It was a bit challenging to draw.  At the time I was really tired and the kitchen table was a mess and it was late and and and...but here it is.



Here is the first one with colour added:



Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Collage Preoccupation

I dunno, but maybe its all this time inside that is making me preoccupied with collaging.  I'm back to working on the kitchen table with the family having to eat around me and me being territorial about them needing to make room for my supplies.   I love when Carter goes to get his crayons and his Handy Mandy colouring book and sits with me for all of 5 minutes (age multiplied by attention span equals 5 minutes, but he is great at putting up his supplies before moving on, and he actually gets quite a bit done in those 5 minutes all the while talking talking talking.  I wish I could do that).

The Strathmore workshop is only a month long and the journal is 44 pages, I'm trying to pace myself over time.  I don't want 44 pages reflecting the first week in January...I'm trying to think in terms of story and narrative.  Here are the beginnings of 3 more pages:

Img072 - Copy

Img073 - Copy


The last one is a picture of me and my hand as they appeared 20+ years ago.  I was in a poetic performance with Voices in the Wind, a local group of women poets that I belonged to when this photo was taken by Keith Williams, a now retired photo-journalist who has helped Ade, my youngest, hone his picture-taking skills.  But have you noticed that 4 out of 5 images display disembodied body parts?  Okay, okay, I will not go all psycho-analytical about it...I'm just noticing, thats all. 


Sunday, January 2, 2011

So, What Do You Do?

Have you ever gone back and randomly read your old blog post?  I did. The majorest (yeah I know its not a word) difference is I no longer share as much of my day to day thinking and doings and, also, I almost never discuss my family and friends unless we merge in some way on the art making trip.   I don't know from reading my blog that you would know I've been partnered to the same fine man for 25 years, that I have 3 grown ass adult children and 3 intelligent grand-children, or that I worked as a social worker for 21 know, all that social-demographic identifiers that people use for introductions and getting to know one another.  Whenever I found myself at a social gathering of strangers and was asked the question, "so what do you do?", my standard response was "in relation to what?".  I believe that a better intro would be to ask someone what they think about something you care deeply about.  For example, "what do you think about mountain top removal?".  Even if I don't have a clue, I can say in honesty that I don't know enough about the issue and then here we have a teachable/learnable moment.  I tend to remember people who have taught me something more than by what profession they hold.  Before I got around to finding out what you did for a living, I would know how you spend your precious time in tending to the heart and soul of you...if that happens to coincide with what you do for a living, then I know its going to be a great conversation because you'd be one of the very fortunate employed people who happen to spend the majority of their time engaged in their passion.    I'd like to know first, what you dream about, what gifts are you holding on to until the "perfect" time comes for you to use them before I know about your job and what zip code you live in.   

I had no clue that the above was even on my mind until I started typing.  What I came here to write about was my participation in 2 online visual journal projects.  One is sponsored by Strathmore Journals and the other is The Sketchbook Challenge working alongside 16 groovy (I love it when I can use that word) artists.

Although both are about visual journaling, they are two different pieces of fruit in the same bowl.  Here are the 2 pages I started for the Strathmore workshop taught by Pam Carriker.


I plan to add more colour when I can get out to get my watercolours.  (Woke up yesterday with a soar sore throat and upper chest inflammation, on another antibiotic and back to staying in).  Pam's workshop is about recycling your own art work for journaling.  The woman's face I sketched some years ago and the red paper came out of a LAFTA workshop by Debbie Levine on making Paste Papers.


This is my 2nd one in process. This is all paper but the border was a remnant from Penny Sisto's  tepee that she replaced.  It had been painted and what not, but the actual fabric disappeared into thin air some years ago and all I have is the image I had scanned. 

The Sketchbook Challenge is assigned a monthly theme for participants to sketch as often as they wish for the entire month on the theme.  January's is HIGHLY PRIZED.  I spent a day thinking (really over thinking it) until I realized  I don't have to go all esoteric on the subject and just sketch something I place some value on.  When that light bulb came on I went to the kitchen cabinet and gathered my 4 favorite cups for drinking coffee, tea, and hot cocoa.  Here is the first one that came from Korea in a Ya-Ya exchange with a female solider close to 9 or 10 years ago.  I don't remember her name or her Ya-ya name but I adore the tea cup with the lid.

Here is my sketch...


My goal was to focus on lines.  Ade thought I should do the shadow so I added it for the 2nd sketch.  I bet you'd like to see the actual cup, uh?  I'm going to do all the 4 cups and then I'll get photos of the real cups up later.