Patchwork Pants (CATALOG 4/10/2022)

My latest list of recent likes and favorite links…

  1. I see a lot of ripped up or patched together pants among my middle-school students. These Dolce Gabbana jeans—and their price tag—caught my eye. The question is… What came first, the patches or the pants?

  2. Super creepy, super cool, or a little bit of both? If Stephen King is looking for his next muse, the “American Decay” photography collection by Bryan Sansivero may be it.

  3. Figure out what makes you tick—and enjoy some great art in the process—with Lisa Congdon‘s “Values Deck.”

  4. Let’s save today’s youth from becoming even more device dependent—let’s engage their brains! Learn more through the “Raising Problem Solvers” podcast, a new production by the Art of Problem Solving (AoPS).

  5. So many people changed careers during the pandemic, including yours truly. Still thinking about your next move? Fast Company offers “6 things to consider…

  6. Get a load of Charlie Puth’s creative process for writing and recording “Light Switch“—plus his bouncy curls are amazing!

  7. To think that my sleek silver MacBook Pro all began with the quaint wood stylings of the Apple 1 computer, which now fetches $400,000 at auction!

  8. A friend recently treated me to Susie Larson‘s latest book, May His Face Shine Upon You. Such a beautiful collection of little blessings for both parent and child!

  9. Another great resource for mothers with lots of creative ideas and ambitions: try “An Artist Residency in Motherhood.”

  10. What a cool marriage of music and visual art, presented by children’s author Mo Willems of Piggie, Gerald, and Pigeon fame. His “Beethoven Exhibits Extracted” recently wrapped up at the Kennedy Center, but I intend to visit all nine pieces online and listen to the corresponding symphonies from the comfort of my own home.

I love to collect cool resources on writing, learning, and creativity—so please send me yours! Thanks for reading!

We Are All Dots (CATALOG 10/29/2021)

Welcome to this “catalog” of what piqued my interest in recent days…

1.
We Are All Dots: A Big Plan for a Better World by Giancarlo Marci is one of my favorite kinds of books merging the simplest kind of illustrations with tight text with an important message.

2. What is your learning style? I share this video and survey with my students to help get down to the bottom of theirs.

3. Do you resonate with LinkedIn’s findings on stress levels?

4. Mind maps are an effective note-taking and study tool for students—and useful for grown-ups too!

5. Enjoy this massive collection of visual insights courtesy of Qaspire Consulting.

6. I love it when people think of an idea, then go full tilt with it—like these painted plates of last meals by Julie Green.

7. Lisa Congdon is one of my favorite artists—this Dieline article sums up her work and inspiration well. (And now I’m determined to collect all of those cool Method hand soaps by Lisa’s design!)

8. I’ve made two of these teardrop hanging baskets for storing keys, masks, gloves, etc.

9. ‘Tis the season to be grateful! Share your stories of gratitude with Chicken Soup for Soul for possible publication! (Don’t worry, the deadline for submission isn’t until January.)

10. Anchor provides an easy—and free—way to produce podcasts, even working hand in hand with WordPress to import blog content for conversion to voice. Why not, right?

Have a link to share with me for a future catalog? Please comment below. Thanks for reading!

On Seeing FIRED UP STUDIOS

You could say I was pretty “fired up” to visit Saint John’s Pottery Studio last summer. Perhaps just as exciting was my discovery of Fired Up Studios in Golden Valley, Minn., which is just a stone’s throw away from my house.

Hundreds of original works of pottery grace the expansive gallery space of Fired Up Studios in Golden Valley, Minnesota.

Through the magic of the Facebook algorithms that peg me as an art buff, I received an event notice to Fired Up Studios’ Annual Holiday Open House. I expected to come upon a small storefront with a few clay artists peddling their wares around a tepid carafe of coffee. Instead, Fired Up Studios is a grand and expansive pottery gallery/shop, along with a potter’s dream studio (plus they had a huge spread of goodies—that earned even more “brownie” points from me, pardon the pun).

For a fairly modest monthly membership fee, artists enjoy twenty-four-hour, seven-days-a-week access to all of the equipment and supplies they could ever need to throw, spin, and form piece after piece. And for us pottery fans, the gallery/shop is open every day and features affordable art to purchase and enjoy at home.

What’s more, Fired Up Studios has a heart for the community. As part of its holiday event, potters donated works to a silent auction benefitting Haven Housing, a Minneapolis non-profit helping women in crisis.

Membership wouldn’t make sense for me at this time—especially since I have never thrown a pot in my life—but my husband and I hope to attend the studios’ beginners class someday. For now, I continue to ponder my observations from my first visit:

Horse hair becomes a medium for producing ethereal shadows and fine lines once a piece reaches the kiln.

More than clay
Sure, there are a lot of possibilities when it comes to working with clay alone, but my family was especially mesmerized by the pieces incorporating other elements, particularly fiber. One artist showcased work using horse hair. Yep, straight from a horse’s mane or tail. The hair is seared onto the clay in the kiln, producing fascinating fine lines and shadows.

Personal styles
I recently finished reading Lisa Congdon‘s latest book, Find Your Artistic Voice: The Essential Guide to Working Your Creative Magic. It offers tips on making a mark as a creative person. More than that, it celebrates the unique and distinctive styles that all of us offer to life’s landscape. In my roaming Fired Up Studios’ gallery, it became apparent to me they do the same.

Creative mash-up
It was also through Congdon that I grew an interest in and tried my hand at some simple pen-and-ink patterns. As a result, my eye really tuned into pieces bearing geometric and whimsical designs reminiscent of her techniques. Such collisions make me giddy, when a medium or technique or source of inspiration I already appreciate appears in a whole new context. This is what makes my artistic adventures so fulfilling, exciting, motivating—all of the words that compel me to read, see, learn, and try more in the world of art!

Art & Halloween: Pumpkins & Parades

Halloween is not a holiday I care to celebrate. It’s dark. It’s gory. It’s based on rituals and beliefs that certainly aren’t mine. However, I couldn’t help but take notice of these fun Halloween-related and art-related posts in recent days. Not dark. Not gory. Just more great ways to get creative!

Masterpiece costume parade – Wow, oh wow! This video blew my mind the first time I saw it. There’s something very surreal about seeing something that’s generally still and flat become a moving, part-of-your-own-world form. How fun would it have been to develop and don these costumes?!?

Mandala pumpkins – Watch out craft stores, when fake pumpkins go on clearance this week, I’m making a run on them! I haven’t drawn mandalas, but thanks to the influence of artist Lisa Congdon and the inspiration of Marshallese weaving, I’ve tried my hand at similar designs. Now to apply that practice to a 3D object, such as a pumpkin!

Toilet paper pumpkins – I remember my mom making something similar with her homemakers group some years ago: pumpkins made out of toilet paper rolls. I thought it was super silly at the time… now I want in! Next step? To collect some funky fabrics, as well as some sticks from my yard (and to watch for some super sales on the ol’ two-ply!).

Gratitude pumpkins – There are the big pumpkins we choose to carve, then there are the ones that are just cute or cool also taking up festive residence on our front porch. This year, rather than watching them rot with the rest, I’m going to start a new tradition: making gratitude pumpkins for the much more important holiday of Thanksgiving. I have the perfect little white one on which to jot down the people and things and experiences for which we are grateful. Maybe I’ll even use some unique hand lettering on it to help exercise my art muscle!

 

An Artist’s Bookshelf – September 2018

So it’s not all books this time, but I can’t wait to dig into the resources I’ve got ready for the coming month…

Broad Strokes: 15 Women Who Made Art and Made History (in That Order) by Bridget Quinn & illustrated by Lisa Congdon – This book provides a natural segue into my continued creative discussions with my friend Tami over Skype. We finished A Glorious Freedom recently (we both give it glowing remarks), and by Tami’s recommendation, we’re trying Broad Strokes next. It just happens to be illustrated by Lisa Congdon, author of A Glorious Freedom, and the first pages of our latest book quickly reveal Quinn’s wit, creativity and breadth of knowledge.

Wyeth (PBS) – I can’t tell you how pumped I am to watch this film tonight on PBS! I’ve been fascinated with Wyeth’s work ever since being exposed to it through Coursera.org’s “Modern Art & Ideas” class and the fictional book A Piece of the World inspired by Wyeth’s painting “Christina’s World.” And I obviously have some catching up to do with the entire American Masters series “Artists Flight.”

The New Yorker – Through a sweet deal I spotted on Facebook, I’m getting twelve issues of this popular art-filled magazine for just $6. The first article I read today—“What We Know About Art and the Mind” by Paul Bloom—introduced me to a book that will likely make a future bookshelf post: How Art Works by Ellen Winner. More on that—as well as other New Yorker discoveries—later!