Monday, September 27, 2010

Immersed in Art

The beginning stage of a sculpture currently in progress

A new sculpture that I began this past weekend, again, in the beginning stage

This little vase is from the last firing, and is one that I particularly like. It sold yesterday and is on its way to Texas.

An intense sunrise mid week.

I didn't think I would be able to blog this week because I am packed-solid with commitments and deadlines. But seeing how I woke about 3:00 this morning and there was no chance of me falling back to sleep, I thought I might be able to slip in a little blog time before the official alarm sounds at 5:15 a.m.

The Two Countries One Bay Artist Studio Tour was a success. I loved meeting folks from near and far. In past years, Sunday would present a succession of lulls, but not this year. I barely had five minutes to myself. I managed to spend a little time throughout the day on a tapestry project and some sculpture time at the end of the day, but other than that, it was all about the meet and greet.

Early in the week I attended our monthly "Lubec Arts Alive" meeting and was re-invigorated by two new members who joined us with fresh ideas and a bounty of enthusiasm. It's exciting to think about how the arts can, and will, grow in our little nook of downeast. I look back over the past nine years here in Lubec, and feel honored to be part of this transition that is happening, from sleepy little town to colorful artist community. I can't wait to see what the next year brings!

After the LAA meeting, I hurried home to enjoy a lovely homemade pesto pasta meal (compliments of Chris' fine culinary skills) with our Brooklyn friend Pam who is in Lubec on a writing fellowship. The literary conversation was a bit beyond my realm of expertise, but nonetheless incredibly interesting. Two Shakespeare enthusiasts sharing bread made for a perfect end to the day.

I have had a list of art-related to-do's that needed attention - so spent a night with those things: lightbox photos, bios, phone calls, bookkeeping, etc. I knocked a few of those items off the list and headed into the weekend full-speed ahead with the internal GPS set for the studio. I got in two excellent, full, eleven and twelve hour days consecutively. I worked on two different sculptures and seem to have one piece complete, as far as the wet work goes. Ideas are flowing right now faster than I can produce, so I am jotting down words and sketches to return to at a later date. I have an idea for a sculpture that I think is pretty good, but I won't have enough time to do it justice until the turn of the new year.

I loo forward to this new week. I am of course busy with teaching during the day, and the afternoons and evenings are slotted full as well. I hope to squeeze in some studio time in-between guests and appointments. I am most excited for our friend Barbara's visit. She is a fellow weaver with years of experience and load of talent who will teach me how to use that fancy new spinning wheel that Judy gifted me this past summer. I can't wait!

I will deliver a fiber piece to a local fiber show mid week. I need to come up with some sort of semi-eloquent bio. I have written a ton of these in the past, but need to rewrite to fit the venue and selected piece. And that reminds me, I also need to provide another bio to Northern Tides, a very cool gift shop here in Lubec, which is going online soon. That bio will be different and require a bit of thinking as well.

Before I sign off, I will mention that I feel honored to have gotten a little blurb about my artwork in the current edition of "Saltscapes", a Canadian arts and culture magazine. I am humbled to make a presence alongside some area artists whose work I admire. If you get a chance, you can check out the article online. It showcases some of the area talents that participated in the Two Countries One Bay Artist Studio Tour a couple years back. The writer, Janet Wallace, did a phenomenal job, I thought, capturing the essence of this area and how our surroundings inspire us. The article is titled "Art Off the Grid" (pg. 44-47). Thanks, Janet!

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Taking Clues from Nature

Arachne center-stage

She must have been busy all night....

Foggy morning sunrise in Lubec

"The word Arachnida comes from the Greek for 'spider'. In legend, a girl called Arachne was turned into a spider by the goddess Athena. Arachne said she'd win a weaving contest against the goddess. Arachne won, but the Athena got mad and made her a spider, for challenging a goddess."
- Wikipedia (

Have you ever noticed how nature can sometimes be the wisest guide of all?

Meteoroligists can tell by weather patterns if a storm or bright skies are heading our way, but on some subconscious level, I think that we all have our own "meterologists" built-in. If open and observant enough, we can decipher the clues around us without any fancy equipment.

For instance, without looking at a printed calendar, we know that Autumn is upon us. The birds are bit less quiet in the morning, apples have fallen into piles to the ground, leaves are changing color, and the air feels crisp. The mornings are dark a bit longer, and the sun sinks down behind the trees around supper time.

This morning, I woke feeling well-rested and like my "change-of-season cold" is working its way out of my system. As I laid in bed, I thought of all the possibilities for today. When the weekend arrives I gobble up as much creative time as possible in the studio, but I am participating in the open studio tour this weekend and yesterday I was busy nonstop with visitors from 10:15 a.m. up until closing at 5:00 p.m. I enjoyed my day immensely but missed my time in the studio. At the end of the day, I spent about an hour and half with a current sculpture project, and that seemed to feed my craving temporarily. Today is day two of the tour, which is typically more quiet than the first day. So, it had me thinking that perhaps (maybe???) I could squeeze-in some personal creative time.

So many I start the next phase of the ceramic sculpture, or throw at the potter's wheel? Sketch some ideas (which seem to be coming faster than the hours I am allotted to bring them into physical manifestation), begin the next sculpture, or...or...or...????

I hauled myself out of bed and walked down the old, creaky stairs, greeted by the semi-stillness of the near-autumn morning. I gazed out the window overlooking the field and noted the pea-soup thick fog encroaching as each minute passed, all the while a ball of bright white sun was ascending from the bay.

Closer to to the door, opening it, and stepping onto the deck, I was awe-struck by the handiwork of Arachne. She must have been up all night working on her tapestry. There were glistening webs woven in several locations on the deck, each connected by a few single strands to one another, leading down from the deck to the lawn area where more webs were formed. Diagonal lines like high-wire lines moved this way or that, and each time my eyes followed them, I saw another perfectly constructed and quite intricate web. Had this one spider spun all these beautiful mazes? Was she inspired to create, or just particularly hungry and waiting for some yummy late-season newly-hatched flies to succumb to her trickery?

Either way, I got my answer. Today I weave.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Artist Studio Tour This Weekend

The raku kiln being unveiled after ten years in storage

Preparing the foundation for the kiln

Looks good to me!
Albeit a bit rusty and the fiber has been a bit chewed-up by mice.

Yep. I'm late to post again this week. Not only that, this will be a quick one. I am moving along at triple speed this month since school started and that candle I've been burning at both ends seems to have a never-ending wick. I'm wearing many different hats right now, so to say, and I am sure that my current experiences will make for some interesting blog posts down the road. For now, I will focus on the big event upcoming for this weekend.

The Two Countries One Bay Artist Studio Tour takes place Saturday and Sunday, September 18-19. I've been part of this tour the past four years and absolutely love it! Anyone who is planning to be in this area this weekend definitely shouldn't miss out. Tour maps are available at all of the participants studios and other locations such as B&B's, Info stops, and at shops and galleries of sponsors. Here in Lubec, feel free to pick up the full-color map pamphlets (with info on each of the participating artists as well as directions) at Northern Tides, Tours of Lubec and Cobscook, and my shop (open fairly regularly). Also, you can check out the official website.

Lodging fills up quick here, but there may be a few rooms available still since it is not a holiday weekend. The best place to get a list of accommodations is on the Visit Lubec Maine website.

The tour spans from St. Andrews, through St. Stephen, down into Calais, Eastport, Whiting, Trescott, Lubec, Campobello Island, and across the bay to Deer Island. You can even enjoy a ferry ride! There are quite a few artists involved and demos running both days. You will usually find some edible delights at the various stops, and the privilege of being able to see normally private working spaces of the artists. Now that's pretty nifty!

I normally have the 9 foot high outdoor Earth Loom warped and ready for folks to weave if they feel inspired. This year, I am trying like mad to get the old raku kiln up and running for a possible demo on Saturday.

For those not familiar, raku is a Japanese firing technique. This is a more Americanized version, but still so very cool. (or hot!!!) It is exciting, unpredictable, and the results are fabulous. The technique involves reduction in a can with combustible materials (i.e. sawdust, leaves, newspaper) which produces a beautiful shiny luster, and the unglazed clay body turns a smoky dark gray/black. When I actually have pics to post of a successful raku firing, I will go into further detail on the process and history of raku. I was hooked the first time I tried it as a student at USM in the early 90's. It's captivating for most.

Late dinner is ready and I must sign off. Hope to see you this weekend on the tour!

Monday, September 6, 2010

Seasons and Routines Changing

Apples will be harvested today for homemade apple sauce

A spike pot from the Machine Series sold this week and is off to its new home in San Fransisco. This was one of the earlier pieces that I created in the series. With some artworks it is hard to say good-bye, but I met the collector and feel confident that this piece is where it is meant to be.

The most recent glaze firing (Friday, pre-Tropical Storm Earl) produced gorgeous greens and blues.

This glass case from David Brooks Goldsmith's (Hallowell) found a new home in the Cobscook Pottery and Fiber shop in Lubec. I love David Agronick's work and treasure my ring that he designed. Hallowell is losing a landmark business, but I'm glad to hear that David Brooks will still be designing, but from his personal studio rather than the downtown business.

Close-up of the new display case in the shop, showing here a new collector's series spike pot and a couple of my sister's creations from her jewelry business The Indigo Iris.

One of Kristin's (The Indigo Iris) pieces for sale in my shop - a beautiful coral fossil, fresh water pearl, and nautilus necklace with matching earrings.

Hurricane Earl swept through as a tropical storm and seemed to bring with him the seasonal change a couple weeks early. Last week's mid 90's scorching temps had us fooled into thinking that summer would never end. Come Sunday, it was too brisk to leave the kitchen door open and the warmest of socks needed to be retrieved from the over-bulged bureau upstairs. With change of season, also comes change of routines.

During the summer I am focused on primarily pottery production to keep the shop stocked. A constant flow of guests are in and out or we are on the road to visit family and friends. I wake each morning naturally, sometimes at 3:00 a.m., or sometimes 7:00. There is always a long list of what needs to be done but there is an impromptu quality that I relish.

Just before the official start of fall, routines are once again solid. The alarm is set for 5:30 a.m. and I am off to school to teach art to most all the children in this community. After school, I return home to tend to the business, and also to work on my Heartwood classes. The summer morning walks are now late afternoon jaunts and evening supper is set to a consistent time, as well as prep for the next day: lunch packed, clothes selected, and items gathered that I might need for a lesson.

This may seem a bit crazy to some, but I enjoy the changes. I don't mind that summer wanes and that soon it will be dark by late afternoon instead of 9:30 at night. I look forward to nor'easters and hunkering down by the warm fire while I watch out the window at swirling snow and swaying trees. But until that time is here, I will take advantage of the warming sun and the delights of autumn in Lubec.

Yesterday Chris and I hiked at West Quoddy. We watched the waves comb and rift with ferocity, greeted a pup seal that peeked its head by the shore, who just as amusingly watched us for a few moments. The birds were out in mass: honking Canadian geese, cranes, plovers, eagles, and others we did not recognize. The walk was the perfect end to a busy day of writing and sculpting.

Today has a full agenda as well for both of us, but we will also take the time this afternoon to harvest some apples to cook and can homemade sauce. Our garden, planted a month late, did not produce as much as we had hoped, but being our first garden, it has been an educational experience that will help us plan for next summer's crop. Basil has grown in abundance and we have enjoyed many batches of fresh pesto. Tomatoes, swiss chard, peppers, sage, cilantro, dill, tarragon, and thyme seem quite happy here. Something chowed the broccoli and none of the squash made it, except for one sort-of pathetically small spaghetti squash. Green beans are growing faster than we can eat, so we decided to can some of them. We discovered that a HUGE pile of green beans does not amount to very much when canned. But it was our first canning experience and we needed to begin somewhere.

The past week was busy but settled. The week before I was out of town with a family emergency. That event put a lot of things into perspective for me, as to what is really important in our lives. Know what is precious in your life and never take those things for granted. We never know for certain what the universe has in store for us, so be sure to live each day thoughtfully and with meaning.

I was glad to return to Lubec after almost two weeks away, to see Chris and Bello, and to be in my studio, creating, and in Lubec, celebrating the beauty of this magical place.

Before I sign off, I want to mention a couple of things going on around here. A lot of folks who pass through my shop are sort of out-of-loop on all the events that are happening. I always suggest that they check in with the visitor center/tour stop located at the Historical Society building. Ruta and her gang offer a wealth if information. The Visit Lubec Maine website is also run by this business.

A great resource for all events cultural and artistic is Culture Pass. If you go to their website you can subscribe to the listserve. Every Sunday you will receive an email listing all the events from St. Andrews down through to Campobello Island. This are is rich with culture. If you are thinking of visiting I suggest you sign on.

Two Countries One Bay Art Studio Tour

Culture Pass sponsors the Two Countries One Bay Art Studio Tour. That is coming up in two weekends, September 18-19, 2010. It is an annual event where you can tour through artist studios in both Canada and Maine. It is an often rare glimpse into the working lives of artists and should not be missed. I have been on the tour for four years now and look forward to the weekend and meeting some many wonderful, curious people. It's a great time to visit the artists, since they usually have some yummy goodies and interesting demonstrations happening those two days. I usually have supplies for folks to weave on the outdoor Earth Loom. I have another plan in mind too and will see if that develops, time permitting.

Last winter I hosted figure drawing sessions with pregnant model Anne Grant of Eastport. Anne also modeled in Eastport at Heidi Reidell's studio. The drawings that were created by artists throughout Anne's pregnancy and post-birth with baby Cecelia are currently being exhibited in Eastport at Heidi Reidell's Gallery/Studio. Please read the press release below and head on over to check out the show!

The Art of Life
Reidellevison Ink's Eastport School of Arts/Catbird Seat Gallery
Eastport, Maine
Through Sept. 24, 2010
Open 10-5 Tuesday-Sunday

The Art of Life show of drawings, sketches and some finished works depicting an entire pregnancy cycle and mother and child will continue at Reidellevision Ink's Eastport School of Arts and Catbird Seat Gallery #3 Dana Street in the Masonic Block in Eastport until September 24th. Gallery hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m Tuesday through Sunday.

This exhibit , showing model Anne Shields Grant in all stages of her child's development, and with infant model Cecilia, ( who modeled at three and four months of age,) shows the work of Bonnie Beard,Jean Bookman, and Shanna Wheelock of Lubec, Barbara Kendall of Calais, Kristie of Deer Island, and Arthur Cadieux, Elizabeth Ostrander, Patricia Johnson, Susan Bailey, Joyce Weber, Alice Bragdon and Heidi Reidell of Eastport .

It is rare to have an opportunity to draw and sketch a single individual throughout these human changes. Throughout the winter, Anne alternated between Shanna Wheelock's North Lubec Road studio and Heidi Reidell's Boynton Street apartment, offering life drawing opportunities.

Come celebrate the arrival of the beautiful Cecilia, and gaze at the wonder that is new life in the making.