Y3 Art Resolutions: Of art and craft

Y3 Art Resolutions is the third year of an evolving resolution to elevate every day by looking at art and creativity as a life’s philosophy.

At year’s end, even those who avoid it, ponder the meaning of life–if only for a few brief moments before the onslaught of football and the distractions of beer and tacos overwhelm. This is not my way. There are those who may say I have an aversion to moderation. Yes, I have spent every unencumbered moment of the holiday season reflecting on a very strange and intense year. A year testing my core optimism and sense of hope.

Existential maelstrom.

2016 will forever be marked by my Mother’s death. Losing a mother creates an existential maelstrom. Who was I with her? Who am I without her? What did her life mean? What will mine? Where do the answers come from?

As an artist, I turn to design. For me, it is the bedrock of understanding. It is the plan, the elegance and precision with which pieces fit together, the whole, life’s map–a blueprint for the movements of creativity–like this blog. For 7 years, this has been one of the ways in which I can observe and learn about those life elements which informs the picture or scheme of life. I come back to what I had hoped to achieve in writing–establishing an exploration of philosophy through the lens of creativity.

Seeing design–beyond the obvious.

In 2016, I could accomplish only 24 days of translating my resolution into a concrete output. In 2016, finding art, beauty and creativity everyday was often a solitary pursuit. There was not the time to share it, but it happened nonetheless.

The daily exercise of elevating life took many forms that helped me survive an unimaginably difficult year. Creativity often dovetailed with meditation and reflection, music, nature, and losing myself in writing or changing things in my home and my life.

Of art and craft.

It is impossible to close 2016 and begin life on the planet of 2017, without looking at the different creative muses Mom and I followed. Like many children, I both wanted to be and not be my Mother. I admired her talent but heard a different drummer. The ultimate difference was our different relationships with two things: art and craft. Mom dedicated her life to building the skills to make the finest creations she could. I cared less about pristine corners and perfectly blended edges and more about the intellectual journey in art and the rush of innovating.

As I reflect on her work, she brought more than the perfection I often got stuck on. She made things that elevated daily life — clothes, bedspreads, quilts, upholstery, mittens, cakes, pies, and Christmas stockings. I will care for and cherish forever the handmade lap blankets and quilted potholders — the recipe scrapbook and handcut Easter basket tags.

Channeling the Chuck and Alice.

From this place of reflection, I have channeled not only my parents’ skill but their sense of humor and playfulness this first holiday without them both. I have commemorated a family tradition that seems specific to the Van Bogaerts–Tripoly.

Mom and Dad were card playing people of a card playing generation. Many times, I have recounted stories of the aunts and uncles collecting at our house on a weekend night. They would play cards. The men would drink Blatz beer out of quart bottles and smoke White Owls and Prince Edwards. The women would sip lime vodka and 50/50. They all would snack on cream cheese and onion soup dip on chips and revisit family history and the latest. We kids listened through the second floor register until someone heard us and ordered us to bed.

Somewhere along the way, Tripoly showed up. I suspect Mom found a game mat at a rummage sale long ago. Wherever and however it came to our house, I am not sure, but I can’t remember a time without it. As kids, we began playing it on holidays. As we grew up, it was a standard activity when everyone came home. Big kids, little kids, card players and those who did not play — all could come together for Tripoly. Everyone collected at the family dining table and Dad brought out an old plastic container filled with petty change. For an hour or so, the decibel level leaped. Cards were slammed on the table. Accusations of cheating were charged and we laughed–hard.

In this year when so many have been able to find so little which they can share, Tripoly seemed like the great uniter. This profound realization came too late for Amazon to deliver, so I channeled my mother and bootstrapped two Tripoly mats–one for the Neal family and one for my son, Thomas, and his Cassie. I confess to being humorously proud of the Neal mat, at least until my son, Philip, cruelly informed me that the “kitty” and “10” spots were missing in my rendition of the mat.

The Thomas/Cassie board was the greater bootstrapping accomplishment. Packing cardboard, duct tape and black marker. Primitive. Certainly having a character of its own. We tried it out last Friday night and it played well. If it survives, I like to think that future generations will wonder about it’s curious personality — but, more than that, be inclined to hang on to tired board with its own rustic charm and bootstrapped history. Appreciating something of art, craft, and family folklore.

 

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Y2 Art Resolutions: #24-The suma in submission

Y2 Art Resolutions is the second year of an evolving resolution to elevate every day by looking at art and creativity as a life’s philosophy.

Over the past few days, I’ve learned that anxiety can open some of the deeper wells of creativity. In trying to stare down what’s locking up my mind at the moment, my brain has no extra juice to be over ambitious in judging or evaluating what I see and imagine. in a way, it’s like a fog has lifted. There is a new freedom and playfulness in what emerges. I am fresh and open minded. I see and enjoy the delight of mental novelty.

Today, I had plans to spend time in Dog-in-the-Hole Studio creating some specific and fun items for Christmas. But on the heels of the geisha, I wanted to see what would come in intuitive drawing, and for 3 hours I found out.

I like the idea of working with Japanese design and aesthetics. After letting my hand go creating the intuitive rendering, I began thinking of all things Japanese. To my amusement,  a suma appeared. I enjoyed seeing a bit of Picasso in the line and interpretation. The work was absolute flow. Periodically, I would laugh out loud and to myself. There were no difficult decisions. Everything seemed to resolve itself.

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Y2 Art Resolutions: #23-The hidden geisha

Y2 Art Resolutions is the second year of an evolving resolution to elevate every day by looking at art and creativity as a life’s philosophy.
In the midst of the arctic blast and waiting on ambiguity to settle, I am seeking solace and escape in the studio. Back to the zen if intuitive drawing. When coloring the original, I thought an abstracted rose was surfacing.


But as I painted, it seemed to disappear. I turned and turned the paper. Finally, a kimono stared back at me. Pattern, rhythm, and an order stepped out from the chaos. Complex but order nonetheless. Her posture speaks to me this morning as much about snow shoveling as it does dancing with a parasol.

And I am not done.

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Y2 Art Resolutions: #22 Tulips

Y2 Art Resolutions is the second year of an evolving resolution to elevate every day by looking at art and creativity as a life’s philosophy.

The first official order for Mt. Muchmore Studio Eco-Art was received about 2 weeks ago. 4 decanters. Two had lilac designs, one had Queen Anne’s Lace and chicory, and this one–tulips. Wasn’t sure how I would translate tulips to this medium, but was surprised by the end product. Reminds me a bit of Merrimekko. At any rate, they are on their way to California.

I have learned that the decanters I have already made are being used for olive oil, salad vinegar, liquor and wine. Perfect. This winter, I will begin casting ceramic bottle stoppers in the Muchmore style. Besides finding a new life for beautiful discarded bottles, the whimsy of the projects and the design challenges are flow makers. Love, love, love working out the challenges. When you have specific limitations in material shapes, textures, sizes, and color, getting to the final product that delights you takes creativity and a certain tenacity. On glass, brushes perform differently. The paint viscosity requires another set of decisions, or at least, considerations. And what about color properties when a translucent paint is applied to a colored surface? All manner of logistics and creative gymnastics come into play.

Although the sole purpose of my work is not the eco-focus, I do love it when an idea comes to fruition and is multi-dimensional in meaning.

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Y2 Art Resolutions: #21-The lilac bottle

Y2 Art Resolutions is the second year of an evolving resolution to elevate every day by looking at art and creativity as a life’s philosophy.

Yes. Today is the 15th of December. At first blush, it would appear that I am rubbish at resolutions. I concede that 21 days of resolving to elevate 365 isn’t impressive. I could, of course, blow lots of smoke and inflate the importance of the 21 I’ve shared but smoking isn’t healthy (in any realm). I could parade a long list of excuses and distractions. (This year has been exceptional, in that regard.) Again, I will not. Because the truth is, I have probably made a healthy dent in the yearly percentage of creative acts/days–but I have not written about them.  And so, though I’ve missed your comments and interactions, suffice it to say “it was just one of those years.”

In the interest of catching up , at least  a bit, I have been working on some commission  pieces. These decanters have been flow invoking and a bit imp-inspiring. This one is inspired by lilacs. Everything organically emerged and grew. I particularly like the chartreuse stems and pale aqua leaves. Among the predominantly lilac blossoms are pale pink and blue petals. I love the bit of whimsy and the tad of modern pattern. For your distraction, I present the Muchmore Studios “LaFox Lilac” decanter–part of the studio’s eco-arts and crafts. Like I said — a bit of whimsy.

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Y2 Art Resolutions: #20-The Sumac Carved

Y2 Art Resolutions is the second year of an evolving resolution to elevate every day by looking at art and creativity as a life’s philosophy.

Study 3: Sumac

Very near the beautiful fenced garden at Moon Lake there are sumac. One of the most dramatic and my favorite midwestern plant/bush/tree. An obvious subject for my “location” carving. The tile demonstrates a bit more control with the tools and imagination in how to approach the decorative elements. For me, there is an African flavor to both the color and design.

I find contemplating the tiles as a series pleases me. Thank you, Judy, for cutting many pieces of pine for me to take back to the Muchmore Studio. Though I am loathe to admit it, I covet her chop saw. Looking forward to more experimentation and honing my skills soon. A reminder that new skills require the brain to more thoroughly engage as well as build new neural pathways–part of the recipe for flow. I encourage you to take up the knife — in the service of art.

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Y2 Art Resolutions: #19-The First Cut is the Deepest

imageY2 Art Resolutions is the second year of an evolving resolution to elevate every day by looking at art and creativity as a life’s philosophy.

Could not resist the homage to Cheryl Crow in today’s title. Actually as I continued carving at Art Camp, I found that the process was very nuanced. The grain of the wood, presence of knots, and type of cut desired requires a patient and thoughtful hand.

My second carving continued the theme of “place.” This time depicting Queen Anne’s Lace and chicory. I found the Dremel tool useful in creating the blossom centers of the QAL. As with the last block, this one was an engrossing exercise in creative problem solving.

 

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