Monday, March 21, 2011

There is a poem with a line...

"I'm not waving but drowning...." by Steve Smith.  (title is for dramatic re-entry to blogging)

My art making focus is being interrupted by bronchitis, yet again.  I haven't even had the physical energy to take up another creative diversion this time which accounts for me not having much to yak about here.   You may know how much I dislike winter.  I've not been well through most of this season.  It was just at the end of January that I had "a bout" (throwback term there).    And sometime in late Dec./early Jan. my pulmonologist called in antibiotic and I was hospitalized in mid-December w/ pnuemonia.   Its been a very sequestered winter indeed!  My log book of ideas for quilts is jammed and I just wish I could have a long, I mean really long time frame to focus  not on ideas but making the ideas manifest.  

The unspoken threads that weave through the above are realizations that I'll capsulize: one, death is not something one "gets over"...instead it sifts through you sometime slowly and gently, other times with more weigh.  two, now that my mother is a widow, her need for support in many things is growing.  three, it is very difficult to watch young adult children get "seasoned" into adulthood.  (Deb, I really think this is what your neighbor, (was her name Mrs. Sweatt?) meant when she would say "watch a monkey bump his head").  A friend said our generation is the panini generation; slap it on, turn up the heat and we get it from both sides at the same time.  If you been there or are here now, then you know what is going unsaid; and it is possible that the frequencies of illness have not been solely due to winter (ya think?) 

On the good days I've managed to get my studio ready to continue on Crowbonics (languishing) but actual work has been going back in to re-do what I wanted to be finished pieces but in my heart knew better.  This isn't a diversion as my goal is to have 10-15 small pieces to hang in a coffee shop where I'm on schedule this Fall, so I'm calling this my coffee house period (insert low snickering chuckle).  I think I selected October.  Here are some recent desk top snaps:



both still pieces still advancing toward completion


Annnndddddddddd, my really great news is I have a studio mate!  I started out in '09 with a mate, a sista-friend of over 30 years.  She mostly made her items at home and used the space for display, but since last summer when she moved out of state, I've been flying solo.  I had one serious contender but our combined needs didn't fit the space.  I looked at sharing larger space with 3-4 other artists there but then decided against it, looked at cheaper spaces there but the water source is too convenient and I have 2 entry doors which is a rarity for the price I pay, (I think 2 doors is a psychological comfort for people strolling through).  I gave up on the idea of moving or finding a art mate and then bam!  My new mate is Aimee.  She does daily paintings that are small enough to do on a table and wants to return to doing them now that she is close to graduating with a degree in history.  I felt very comfortable with her and she endeared herself when I didn't have to explain "Chitlin' Circuit".  Grant it, she didn't fall over herself telling me how brilliant a name it was,  but none of us are perfect, eh?  (a light snarky on my part)

Seems like there was more news I wanted to share....ummmmm, oh, the next Artist Interview is coming around the first week in April.

And now to close with an indulgence of being a Nana :) Here is the recent birthday girl!



Monday, March 7, 2011

Lisa Austin, Artist Interview

Lisa in her studio

Some weeks ago I spent a refreshing 3 hours in the Mixed Media Studio of Lisa Austin.  Artists who embrace Mixed Media with the pedal to the metal, full throttle down, give me wide-eyed fascination.   You see, they have serious collections of STUFF.  Unlike us who casually put together a mixed media piece simply because we can't bear to throw away pieces of thread, or buttons, or even the Dorrita chip bag...noooo, they collect serious STUFF! 

Lisa's space did not disappoint me...I hope you enjoy the interview!


Davis: Describe how your childhood as it relates to your art making and creativity? What were your influences?  And how do you think growing up in Louisville influenced you as an artist?

Austin: I had no influences growing up. In fact, my parents and family never encouraged creativity and made fun of it. I was not influenced by Louisville at all. I began to be influenced when I moved to New Mexico in 1977 and worked on a Navajo reservation. 

 Davis:  What are some of your memories growing up with engaging art?  When did the interest become a engaging one?

Austin: Going to the Speed museum with my boyfriend every time we could when we were students. He really encouraged my love of visual art. I did get a minor in art history but never took a studio class until I was 34.


Wall of Inspiration  

Davis:  What led you to your choice of medium(s)?  And what/who were your influences in those mediums?  And how do they relate one to another, if so?  What other mediums have you attempted?  What does it mean to be a mixed media artist?

Austin: I was a studio potter for twenty years and got arthritis in my neck and had to retire from that. I hated having to do that because I was at the top of my game. However, I always knew I couldn’t keep dragging around hundred pound bags of clay much longer and always said I would quit when I was 60. It happened when I was 50. In the back of my mind I thought I would be doing fiber…it reminded me of clay, very tactile and flexible.  I love color but when I tried to work with fiber, I really missed the third dimensional quality, A LOT! I had been collecting cool stuff for years and as I looked around at the mixed media being done I knew I could do better, started and never looked back. I love Ed Klienholtz and Joseph Cornell. They make such contrasting things. Ed makes whole rooms and Joseph did small little boxes back in the ‘30s but they speak volumes. I had the great luck of seeing a Kleinholz retrospective at the Whitney several years ago when I was in NYC and I went nuts in there. I was talking to myself and running around. I did not look like a sophisticated New Yorker for sure. I saw the largest collection of Cornell in Chicago at the Art Institute a few years ago and was so disappointed. They looked dusty and beat-up.

Austin continued: What it means to be a mixed media artist is you get to be insulted a lot. I hear “I could do that” more than I care to and I think to myself “go ahead. You can’t.”  It is much, much harder than it looks. There are lots of people out there who get magazines and get “inspired by them” but I can tell who reads which ones because their work is often very derivative. But they think they can do it. The problem is: they frequently don’t do it well and there is not much very original about it. People who have junk lying around think they can too but usually it just looks like junk on a piece of plywood.

 Davis:  Describe your daily art making practices.  Include how your approach to design and what inspires you?

Austin:  I work almost every day on my art. At least five-six days a week. But I never stop thinking about it and being open to things that interest me. I keep a journal of words or concepts that intrigue me and I often turn to it for inspiration. I am always writing down new things in there. That probably comes from my background as a professional writer back in the day. I like to work with a theme since it makes sense to me somehow to work that way. My approach to design is really intuitive. I go with my gut and one of my greatest compliments was Jane Dunnewold asked me how long I had been a designer?  Then a graphic artist?  She was really surprised when I said neither. 

only a smidget of the cigar boxes stacked and ready to go

Davis:  Artistically speaking, what challenges do you face and how to you (plan to) overcome them?

Austin:  I probably work slower than I want but that is because I am very particular about what I do, what I use, how it is done, etc. So it usually takes me a good week to make one piece. Rarely, does it happen quickly and sometimes I will tear it apart and do it over because I am not happy with it. I must like what I do first before I hope anyone else does. I have no plans to overcome this. It just is how I am. I do not want to make mass quantities of something so it takes more time.

 Davis:   Do you work in series? Or does each piece stand alone?  Share your reasons for either approach.

Austin:  Usually I work with a theme instead of a series. However, each piece is one of a kind. It seems to focus me. I would be even slower if I didn’t do it this way!

the lazy susan method for button storage

Davis:   Share the milestones that mean the most to you as an artist.

Austin:  The first award I ever got many years ago as a potter. The first time I was in an international exhibit. The first time I was ever featured in a book.

Davis:  Whether it is the intent of an artist to become an entrepreneur, artists are thrown into the role the first time someone wants to purchase something they’ve created.  What advice can you share that speaks to the business side of art?

Austin:  I have several things I guess. One is: if you get “precious” over something and you can’t bear to sell it, keep it. If you are keeping too much then you are getting too precious about your work. Two: price what you think it is worth and then price what you want for your labor and consider what the market value is of your piece. Often they are far apart. If they are too far apart, you need to consider a more efficient way to work or else consider the fact you will have these for a long time until they sell. Three: if you are selling too fast, you are selling too cheap. Four: this IS a business, make no doubt about it and always remember that. Keep good records. Promote yourself. Be business-like and professional with your customers. Be on time and keep your word.

frames hanging from the ceiling

Davis:  What are your future goals and what should we be on the look out for you in 2011?

Austin:  I have a show coming up in March at Tim Faulkner’s Gallery in Louisville that is called “The Art of Seduction” and it is vintage female nudes. I hope to start a wall hanging of my trip to Africa in 2006 and spend the summer working on techniques I have learned from Jane Dunnewold. I have half-screened stuff laying around that I have never washed. That is terrible but my knee replacement, this summer’s horrible hot weather, and then work has gotten in the way of my experimenting more with fiber. I am DETERMINED to work on that next summer so hopefully you will see more fiber work coming from me

DSC_1031touch the Buddha wall for inspiration


Lisa's show, The Art of Seduction is hanging at The Tim Faulkner Gallery and will run through March 30th.  The opening reception is this Thursday, March 10th from 6pm-10pm, 632 East Market, 502.381.1314.

Lisa austin nude
Emma, by Lisa Austin

Lisa Austin's Website.


Saturday, March 5, 2011

Stitching Woman Gonna Work It Out

DSCN1860 DSCN1862 DSCN1863 DSCN1864 DSCN1869

I've been going back to older thought-it-was-completed work.  The crow was just a study though that Valerie White said I needed to complete when she saw it last year.  Can you see where I'm going with this?  I had no idea I would release the crow from the was impulsive on my part and while cutting I thought this was the seed from Penny Sisto that was beginning to bloom.  The crow doesn't work against this blue but I have a orangey-red silk that I think would work as a surrounding back ground.  I'm just not willing to sacrifice the silk if I don't have a clearer picture of what is happening with Mr. Crow and until I do it will sit yet again.  


This is 'Round Midnight.  I blogged about it over a year ago, but knew it needed something more.  I added the red circulars but failed to check value before stitcheing 3 of them.  It is the brighter section of the varigated thread that gives some contrast.  I think I have a solution but I'm going to stitch 2 more circulars before attempting to work it out.  

The motivation to go back into older pieces is coming from an upcoming display in the fall at a coffee shop and I want more coffee house friendly pieces...about 10-15.  

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

General State of Affairs

Forthcoming, 2 new interviews with artists coming this month.  Both are members of LAFTA.

As for my own art making, I'm somewhat back on track.  The warmer teaser we had weather wise a few weeks ago helped but I started feeling "puny" (as my great grandmother would say) over the weekend and  the firbro is flaring today.  I had good sense enough to bring home some hand stitching to keep my momentum up.  I'm hanging in there and I know when I'm feeling better I'll do more.  

Another series started calling me when by accident 3 pieces of cloth fell together while organizing to get Crowbonics going again.  I'll show it when I actually put it together.  It is a small piece so it should be up sometime this month also.

DSCN1829 rearranged my front window display.

Available Postcards.