Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Gallery Walk 2010: Guardino Gallery

It's Last Thursday on Alberta. A few Last Thursdays ago, I had an opening at Guardino Gallery - sharing space with amazing sculptor Julie Fiedler, and I never posted about it, so I thought I'd give you another little virtual tour.

Most of the show was encaustic work. This piece, "A Wish and a Prayer," was one I really struggled with, but I love the way the shape of the praying hands and the wishbone echo each other.

I think this piece was my favorite in the show . . . the piece has a lot of dimension, and the cat's cradle is actual string suspended over the moonlit sky . . . I want to do more in this series, but it's incredibly difficult to construct and work the multilevel surfaces; it takes a lot more time than I have right now!

Here's another piece that rocks the multilevel surfaces . . .and takes full advantage of the scroll saw my father-in-lawish gave me two Christmases ago. Here, the heart sort of turns into an octopus on one side of the bridge and a tree on the other . . . the bridge is Portland's St. Johns Bridge. I'm not totally satisfied with this one . . . I think the octopus is maybe a little much. I think I want to keep working on this one, maybe pull the octopus tentacles back a little bit and make them more vine or root-like.

A few more encaustics . . ."What is Left Behind" and "Recipe for the Moon." Each of them includes some collage elements . . .

This is a diptych . . . my first really successful one. I had just finished reading an article on bower birds, and somehow the drawing hand and the heart only really came together after I added the bower bird. It feels like the bird is making a bower in the heart . . . there's a seduction of some kind happening in the painting. At least for me. It's always interesting to me what other people see in the paintings.

Here, I'm combining encaustic on the panel and the panel is mounted on a reclaimed drawer decorated with acrylic, tea bags and resin. More hands. More tea bags.

And here's a look inside the gallery . . . me and Julie's stuff looked really great together! I had a few collages up, too, things I'd worked on while I was up at Whidbey Island this summer.

And this Last Thursday's opening at Guardino on Alberta with Katherine Dunn and Lisa Kaser looks AMAZING . . . and there's a Dia De Los Muertos opening at Fantasma on Alberta featuring the work of Alea Bone and Linda Rand . . . be sure to drop by and check them out!

Gallery Walk 2010: 100th Monkey

Back in April, I had a feature show at 100th Monkey Studio's Gallery . . . it included a bunch of my work to date with recycled and reclaimed materials, along with some experiments (including a few that didn't go so well). I felt the piece above was one of the most successful . . . I created a background with tea packets stitched together, then gessoed and painted on the surface. I really like the effect.

So now you're going to get the virtual tour! This piece includes actual teabags along with the tea packaging.

This is an encaustic piece that utilizes tea tags my friend Leslie has been saving for me . . . I have probably hundreds of them and this was my first foray into using them . . .

And here I experimented with drier sheets . . . I printed on them, then stitched them to a canvas surface, along with plastic bottle caps, like buttons.

Here was another experiment - birth control packets and a nest with egg and branch. Home - how we make homes and how we make ourselves feel at home - has long been a theme of mine. Naturally, this intersects a great deal with the role of women and women as homemakers, and the traditional crafts and practices of women and how, as women, we have the option to accept or break out of those roles and redefine them.

And then after all of that deep stuff, we move back to bottle caps. Their plastic wonderfulness and total flexibility and bright colorfulness.

Fused plastic bags as quilt blocks. Another very fun thing. I'm not sure why I enjoy it so much - perhaps just the meditative ironing and arranging and stitching. So, I'm fusing up more plastic bags this week while it's still nice enough to be outside and get good ventilation.

And here's a few more that were in the show.

Now, imagine yourself standing in the gallery . . . considering the pieces, sipping a glass of wine, and deciding which ones appeal to you and why. Or which ones don't appeal to you. The ones that inspire you to try something new, and the ones that make you think. And hey, while you're at it, try heading out to First Friday this week if you're in Portland, or maybe take a gallery break sometime this week wherever you are.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Hello, Green Craft!

Ok - you folks saw it here first, back in 2008, with my series of DEMOs on making jewelry from bicycle inner tubes, and now it's seeing print in Somerset Studios' Green Craft Magazine:

The photographer - and I couldn't find the photo credits - did a wonderful job!

The directions aren't terribly detailed, but the whole magazine is filled with some great inspiration! And in the article, I'm teamed up with Shirley Goff, who creates wonderful handbags from tires, along with a lot of other wonderful recycled adornments!

Check out the magazine and see articles on turning a men's dress shirt into a halter top and making earrings from pop tabs along with a lot of other crafty recycled wonderfulness.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

In Which Our Intrepid Blogger Goes on a Cruise

Featured below, you see all the reasons why I wanted to go on a Crafty Chica Cruise: Of course, there'd be crafting, a trip to Mexico, and a shot at sunshine in April, but the big draws? Getting to hang out with the Crafty Chica Herself - Kathy Cano-Murillo (right) and the ever-delightful Sister Diane (left). Add sun, surf, and stuffed iguanas, and I was totally in!

Now, it turns out that I'm not much of a cruiser. Seasick? Check. Mildly claustrophobic? Check. So overwhelmed by the possible shore excursions that I actually didn't spend any time in the surf? Check. A little freaked out by the floating Las Vegas casino atmosphere of a Carnival Cruise ship? Double-check.

But I still had a great time! Why? Well, Kathy Cano-Murillo is just as fun, generous, and crazy glitter sweet as her books, blog posts, and awesome craftiness would lead you to believe. Not everyone lives up to their on-line image but the Crafty Chica does it - plus some! (And man, did she score us some serious swag!!) Here she is modeling the amazing apron she decorated during the cruise!

I also had an incredible time being roomies with and generally geeking out with Sister Diane. She was there creating an epic podcast about the Crafty Chica Cruise - I haven't seen sign of it yet, but I'll let you know when I spot it! In the meantime, she chronicled our adventures at the Mexican fabric store and the Mexican paper store in nerd-a-rific technicolor detail! Here's a shot of us heading ashore - with no idea what wonders lay ahead!
But the thing is, vacations are generally made great by the things you don't expect. In my case, it was towel animals.

Yes, towel animals. Finally, I understand why hotel towels are always so darn stiff and scratchy - its because they have to be if you're going to fold them and roll them and twist them into loveable animals!

Apparently, towel folding or towel origami, is popular on cruise lines and tropical resorts. Having spent no time at either before, they were brand new to me!

If you're feeling inspired - and maybe in need of a vacation at an exclusive resort - try venturing into the land of towel-folding with Ian:

Of course, if towel-folding seems too mundane or you're looking to get really fancy, you may just need to hop over to Amazon and order this book:

And no, no-one did anything fancy to our toilet paper on the cruise. But if you want to go on your own crafty cruise, the Crafty Chica is already accepting reservations for an 8-day cruise next spring!

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Art and Healing: Part Two

Lately, I've been so busy doing things that there hasn't been a whole lot of time to blog about them - or time to absorb what's happened. *

It's been a wonderful whirlwind, and now I'm ready for a little reflection and a little quiet artmaking time. Sometimes things don't make sense until we write them down or until we share them - either through words or through our artwork or both.

And a good place to start reflecting is the amazing women I had the opportunity to work with at the Quest Center for Integrative Health's Healing Empowerment Project. The Project, led by Jo Brody, provides an expressive outlet for those living with breast cancer and its consequences. With a different art class led by a different art teacher each month, the women have the opportunity to create, explore, and take an active role in their own healing process.

The participants, diving in!

Opportunities to teach in an environment like this are few and far between, and I was honored to be invited to teach an all-day shrine making class earlier this year. As is often the case, it seemed like all I did was unload materials from the truck, offer a little bit of information about structure and adhesives, and then get out of the way.

The women were fearless. They took risks, told personal stories, and were absolutely willing to work intuitively. It was a joyous and inspiring thing to witness. And there is such a lesson there. Perhaps once you have faced your own mortality, the blank canvas just doesn't seem as scary as it used to.

Starting with Egyptian deities . . .

and completing with feather and sea.

Dress patterns, Botticelli, and Mother Mary . . .

United by spirals.

A collecting of materials . . .

and a lid of riotous color.

This piece, assembled by a particpant, features an image of singers originally created by Deborah Koff-Chapin.

And this is what art is about - at least for me. Expressing and exploring, and maybe getting lucky enough to tap into something utterly beyond ourselves.

* If you were curious . . . In the last four months, I've attended workshops at ArtFest in Port Townsend, taught several workshops here in Portland, joined Sister Diane on a marvelous Mexican cruise with the Crafty Chica, had a feature show at 100th Monkey Studios Gallery, participated in a few charity art auctions, taken on the role of Treasurer for Portland Open Studios, celebrated my 40th birthday with friends, visited family in Texas, and now, I'm in Beverly, MA, for the Encaustic Conference at Montserrat College of Art and will then be heading off to present at the Summit of Awesome in my hometown of Portland, OR. I have a serious back-log of eye candy and insights to share, so get ready!

Thursday, May 13, 2010

An Artist A Day: Auction Tonight!

Last month, on April 21, I had the chance to sit in the window at Muse, a local art store at 4224 SE Hawthorne, and start on an encaustic painting. Along with 33 other artists - each scheduled on a different day - I was working on a piece to be auctioned off to benefit Schoolhouse Supplies. You can see all of the work that got created, and all the work that's up for auction at Muse's An Artist A Day website.

Here's the piece as I started on it, working in the window at Muse, and beginning the background.

Next, I added the image of a heart . . .

After I got it home, I added additional imagery - bees and honeycomb - and worked more on the colors.

And tonight, you can go over to the big opening at Muse and bid on the piece from 6pm - 8pm, though I think the bidding closes at 7:45! Prices start at only $75, and the pieces are medium-sized, 16"x20". Proceeds help buy art supplies and get them into the hands of artists and teachers in the public schools - what could be better than that?

Here's the finished piece, called "Where the Work Gets Done."

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Meltdown, or Working with Reclaimed Materials

I love working with recycled stuff. Right after encaustics, it's my very favorite thing. I have a show up this month at 100th Monkey Studio Gallery - I'm the featured artist in their Recycle Reuse show this month.

Of course, the thing with reclaimed materials is that they are, by their very nature, unpredictable. Take this assemblage I made, for instance. I used a cigar box, an old plastic trophy part, dowels, wire, some old maps, a craft store cardinal - all pretty standard, right? And I used two of my favorite glues to put it together - E6000 (a glue recommended for use with plastics) and Mod Podge.

Now, you may notice something a bit odd. Something that led to the phone call I got yesterday. From the gallery. "Ahem, Bridget, your assemblage is melting." My first thought was that the E6000 and the styrofoam in the middle of the craft store cardinal were not getting along well. But no. The stem of the trophy was collapsing.

Now, this is something every encaustic artist dreads hearing. It's rare for a well-made encaustic piece to melt under normal circumstances, but in direct sunlight in a car window in Arizona while you go have lunch, well, things can happen.

It is, however, a phone call that one doesn't expect to get about an assemblage that doesn't include any wax.

I went over to the gallery today, marked the piece as "Not for Sale", examined the way the E6000 was dissolving the plastic of the trophy into a melty goo, decided I actually like it better with the trophy dipping at an angle, did a quick fix with hot glue, and walked away thinking "Lesson learned."

Then, I remembered that I had found two of those used trophy parts at SCRAP when I bought them years ago, and had used one of those trophy parts in a piece I'd completed back in 2007 or 2008.

A piece for a different show at the SAME GALLERY.

A piece on which I had used the SAME GLUE (E6000) to glue the SAME TROPHY PART to a wooden box. A piece, you will notice, that has remained distinctly UN-MELTED.

Next time, I'll try putting it together with rivets.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Art and Healing: Part One

A little over a month ago, a friend of mine died.

It was sudden; she was relatively young and had seemed to be in good health. Just the week before, she had given a dance performance. Her death was a huge shock. It was incredibly painful. And most of March is just a blur.

One of the first things I did, a way of coping, of dealing with it, was to make art. In partnership with another good friend of mine, I decorated boxes to be given to her husband and her two daughters, boxes to hold mementos.

And I started working on a few other pieces. Some encaustics. A portrait of my friend and an image of a nest, the bird gone. The image of what's left behind.

Putting them together, they seem to tell a story. A story that helps. At least a little bit.

Sunday, February 28, 2010

Encaustics in West Linn

The Portland Chapter of the International Encaustic Artists has a lot of amazing artists in it . . . If you missed our show at the West Linn Library, I just want to give you a little taste . . .

The variety of the work is amazing!

A lovely piece by Susan Freedman.

Chicken portraits by Shannon McBride, art teacher in Lake Oswego School District.

Beautiful arctic landscapes by Kimberly Kent, the only plein air encaustic painter I know!

A piece by the talented Linda Womack - author of the highly recommended encaustic how-to book Embracing Encaustic.

A few of my little pieces on the left, and a big beautiful piece from Amy Stoner.

Some lovely encaustic photos from Vicki Moser, who is also a wonderful graphic designer.

More encaustics by Vicki Moser, as well as expressive works by Robyn Bogardus.

Deeply textured, organic work by Manuela Kalestiantz.