Category Archives: Uncategorized

Inspiration in November…

I really enjoyed being more intentionally aware about what had inspired me in October, that I thought I would keep it going as a monthly feature here on the blog. So, here is what inspired me this past month.

This instagram account…

The Instagram account Book Bento has quickly became one of my favorites. Even if I may not be interested in the book, I always love their imagery.

This moment with Rory…

I recently brought my grandfather’s work bench into my studio. I never had the opportunity to meet him, but love the nostalgia of it. Especially getting to work with my oldest on the bench.

This movement…

It’s heartbreaking that every week new allegations of sexual assault are being brought forward, but it is also empowering that women finally feel safe enough to speak up, especially against high powered men. If you have been a victim of sexual assault, RAINN.org is an amazing resource and great first step. Please seek help, you can not go through this alone.

This Times article…

As a fan of the dark room it was great reading this article about how the tradition is staying alive in high schools in parts of New York.

This female artist…  With a retrospective at MOMA, Louis Bourgeois’ work has been popping up a lot and I love it. I did a lot of research on her for my Art History thesis and have been smitten ever since. This is a photo of Louise Bourgeois by Annie Lebobitz, another incredible female artist.

What has inspired you this past month? Look forward to sharing with you what is inspiring me in December.

As always, thanks for reading.

-r.n.a.

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Sale Sale Sale 

Currently have a sale going on in my Etsy Shop!

 $5 prints and a buy 2 get the 3rd for Free ($35 value for only $10) deal in the online shop today. Trying to clear space for new stuff and I have some of these satin finish 6×6 prints leftover from when I was selling at craft shows.

I have a new blog post in the works and will be posting soon! 

As always, thanks for reading. 

-r.n.a.

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An Artist with a Baby…

  A little over a year and a half ago I began research for my Art History Minor thesis. I wanted to look at how society’s pressure on women to become mothers effected women artists. Because it needed to be historical I added ‘and how/if it’s changed over time as society’s expectations of women have changed.’ I began scrolling through page after page of women artist’s wikipedia pages. I know wikipedia isn’t an up standing academic source but I needed to answer two questions very quickly about the artists I was considering for my paper; Did they have any children and when did they live. I had a long list of data that was eventually narrowed down to two women who were raised around the same time, with similar cultural expectations, whose lives led them down two different paths. Georgia O’Keefe, who had no children because her husband Alfred Steiglitz thought it would ruin her career, and Louise Bourgeois, a woman whose anxieties over not being able to conceive actually prevented her from conceiving a child until after she adopted her oldest son. I also included contemporary women artists like Sally Mann and Mary Kelly.

Around the same time Sheryl Sandberg was getting media attention for Lean In. As I was doing final edits, Michelle Obama was being criticized for calling herself Mom-In-Chief during a speech. It felt like everywhere I looked there were more facts, more things I wanted to talk about regarding women in art and mom’s in our society. But the paper had to be submitted and I had already exceed the minimum number of pages required. The semester ended and as my brain tried to shift gears to my second thesis paper for my major (which was on a completely different topic because I never thought to carry on my research and tie it into my studio practice) I found out I was pregnant. I was going to be facing my own challenges of balancing mom and artist. And all that research I had done just made the whole thing even more intimidating.

I remember during a visiting artist talk with a woman who refered to herself as a ‘stay at home mom who is lucky enough to have a studio practice too’, I had asked her how she balanced being both mother and artist. She told me to establish my career first and then pursue being a mom. It wasn’t the response I was expecting. Most artists can’t claim an established career until they are 40, a little late in the baby making game for a girl that wants a few kids. And at 27, the idea of waiting another 13years to have children seemed crazy. No longer are women told that they shouldn’t assure their failure as an artist by having children in art school, but there is still a very real idea spread around that regardless of your gender, kids just get in the way.  I returned to my research notes, I looked everywhere for glimpses of how mom artists were making it work. I read books, watched documentaries, and talked to anyone that would answer my questions. I walked away fearful that for most the pursuit of being a mom and artist simultaneously meant sacrificing their husbands. I really like my husband. I didnt want him to be the price I had to pay for an art career. Other women who seemed to have happy marriages seemed to have had a career established before having children. I was planning on walking across a stage to receive my diploma 5 months pregnant with no established art career other than obtaining a Bachelor of Art Degree with a Minor in Art History. It didnt feel promising.

I had visions of sharing my own experiences. Being open about how I was going to manage my studio practice once my little one arrived. Telling stories of how I gently rocked her with one arm while making brilliant art with the other. I would stay up late to get in studio time if need be and I would look back fondly on it all with a knowing smile.

And then she was born.

This little creature consumed every second of my life. With trying to heal, feed her, change diapers, and getting thrown up on without sleeping for more then two hours at a time there was no time for anything else. And that was with help! Any functioning brain cells were occupied with taking care of my little one. 

Even when I did find time for things, I wasn’t sure I wanted to share anything about what was going on. It all felt to personal and private to share. Despite my own frustration at how very little was said about finding studio time with a little one, I was unsure if I wanted to say anything on the topic. But being a mom has become such an all consuming part of my life, that if I make it off limits I dont know that I will have anything else of any real value to say.

I have started slowly, feeling like I have enough of a handle on taking care of my little one that I could slowly add something else to my plate. Reading Art + Fear during feedings was a great inspiration to get up the courage to get moving. I also started reading an Artists Guide, taking time to journal. I probably spent a month putting things in perspective so I would know what I was working towards. I found a grant and applied. Having to write out what I intended to use the grant money for was an awesome way to shape my intentions. It got the ball rolling. I wanted to be the artist I was talking about in my proposal.

Having spent time journaling and planning allowed me to mentally plan for the lack of time I would have for my studio practice while I prepared to move my family from Maine to Maryland. I knew it could potentially throw off the momentum I was building, but by scheduling it in and having a plan for what the studio practice looked like before, during, and after the move made the event a stepping stone in the grand scheme of things instead of a road block to intimidate me.

I came to the close on our second week in our new place and I finished carving out a space to work. I even found a little time to work. It has only been about 35minutes of hands on studio time but it was a glorious 35minutes. Some weeks that number will increase, and other weeks the number of minutes will get even smaller. But I am working and that is all that matters right now.

As always, thanks for reading.

-r.n.a.

I included links for the books I mentioned in my post but check to see if your local bookstore has them first.

Mary Kelly

Sally Mann

Georgia O’Keefe

Louise Bourgeios 

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Fighting to put in the hours…

IMG_3306As much as I hate those awful e-cards that find them selves shared on Facebook and re-pinned incessantly on Pinterest, sometimes they have meaningful insight written on them. Insight like, “Don’t compare your first chapter to someone else’s last.” It’s easy to do, especially as an art student when we are surrounded by images of artist’s final chapters. When looking at the volumes written solely about one particular artist it is easy to forget that they, like most artists, did not have their first solo show till they were 40 years old. It’s easy to read about the years these now iconic artist spent being ignored or criticized without accepting that it is a very real possibility that it will happen to you. To forget that still today not everyone likes the work of the great artists whose names have come to represent entire periods of art history.

It is these facts that are often forgotten when we hit those roadblocks, when what we thought was great is met with negativity and disapproval. They are forgotten when we are forced to come face to face with why we are doing what we do, the question of who all of this is for. It is in those moments of self-doubt, when walking away would make sense to anyone looking in at the situation, that determines whether or not you will ever put in your 10,000 hours. Because it is not just about putting in 10,000 hours of practice, it is about putting in those 10,000 hours in spite of the obstacles that will inevitably present themselves.

I write as if I have overcome the desire to walk away, as if I have come to terms with the fact that not everyone is going to like what I do or who I am. Right now I am inspired, I am looking forward to the future, the fight of getting in my 10,000 hours to be great at what I do. But in the back of my mind is always that little voice that whispers lies that I have to fight daily to ignore. The whispers of all the things I have failed at, the whispers of all the things I will fail at, the whispers of all of my faults as a human. Paying attention, even slightly, to that voice creates a tornado of self doubt that consumes both my brain and heart, leaving me with the feeling that the dream was taken away from me a long time ago and I have only been clutching its memory.

Every time the tornado hits, it becomes easier to get passed it, to see it for what it is. That does not mean that I will not spend the rest of my life battling it, for I surely will, but it means I am ready to battle it. I come out of each battle wanting this dream even more, even more determined to figure out how to make it work, how to be better. In the movie Train Robbers, John Wayne’s character says “You’re going to spend the rest of your life getting up one more time than you’re knocked down, so you’d better start getting used to it.” We have to get used to getting back up, remember all of the times we have gotten up in the past, so the next time we get knocked down we don’t lose hope, we know that we are only getting closer to achieving our 10,000 hours and our dreams.

As always, thanks for reading.

– r.n.a.

To listen to the Malcom Gladwell talk more about his 10,000 hours theory go here.

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Chanel and the Insecurities of Being A Non-girly Girl…

I recently finished reading the book, The Gospel According to Coco Chanel by Karen Karbo. Coco Chanel has always been a woman to respect and to be in slight awe of. I have respected her from a distance, never quite sure of her story, just knowing something about her work drew me in. After reading the book I realized there are so many more reasons for me to be drawn to her, to find inspiration in her story.

I know there are many women who idolize the name Chanel, who wish they could be as great as Chanel, who would give anything to own something with those iconic double C’s on them. I don’t necessarily think I fit in with those admirers of Chanel. I’m not interested so much in the brand of Chanel and typically don’t understand or like what Karl Lagerfeld has done with it. (Karl Lagerfeld took over as head of the House of Chanel after Coco Chanel passed away.) Even if he is an amazing photographer, his version of Chanel is not for me. I admire the woman, the scrappy tom-boy who made a name for herself in a world she didn’t fit into.

My admiration probably comes from my life long struggle with being girly. I still am trying to figure out how to be graceful or how to manage the mass of frizzy curls swirling around my head. My socks rarely match. My nail polish chips within hours and I don’t understand how girls wear clothes/shoes that are uncomfortable past the point of realizing they are uncomfortable. I often am left feeling like I missed the week of school where they explained to all the other girls how to present themselves to the world. I often felt like my worth as a woman was tied with how girly I was. Girly = Beautiful, or at least I thought it did.

While reading the book I realized that my desire to be girly is more of a desire to be comfortable with the fact that I do not fit societies standards of girlie, instead of a desire of wanting to look like the latest photo-shopped magazine cover girl. Photos of Chanel looking effortlessly beautiful were because for her it was effortless. She was being herself.  I was inspired by the fact that Coco didn’t fit her societies standards and instead of feeling insecure, she created clothes that she wanted to wear. She trusted that she was not the only one that felt like they did not fit in.  Chanel did not make fashion about being girlie or trendy, for Coco Chanel it was all about style. “Style is knowing who you are, what you want to say, and not giving a damn.”

What’s even more intriguing is that to follow Chanel’s method for being a stylish woman, one does not need to go buy a Chanel jacket or drown yourself in perfume No. 5. Instead, it’s about figuring out what works for you, what makes you feel the most comfortable in your own skin. What you like or don’t like with out concern about how it fits into what the fashion magazines state.

It’s admiring others ability to wear toe pinching 5″ heels all night, but not feeling like less of a woman because you showed up in chucks.

-r.n.a.

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Catching Up…

This week’s guest editor, Bea the Boxer.

It has been such a hectic and busy two weeks that my mind is having a hard time figuring out what to write about. Having an overly loving boxer trying to lay on your lap during the process makes it hard to focus.

This past week saw my first critique in my view camera class. I was at first excited at the idea of sharing with the class the type of work I have made with the large format camera. That of course quickly turned to dread as the time got closer for me to hang my prints to be judged. Overall it went well. I was told that my work is moody and dark, that I handle objects almost obsessively. I am not sure if the latter is a good or bad, but I found it to be true. I do seek to give life to inanimate things in an attempt to increase their worth to the viewer. I find it interesting that I approach inanimate objects in a way that presents them  if they were a live yet when I get a live subject, like a person, in front of my lens I have no idea what to do with them.

I have also made progress with my current bending project. The plan is to build two end tables by december, with a complementary coffee table being finished in the beginning of the year. The design is inspired heavily by nautical themes. As it gets colder I find myself day dreaming more and more about sailing. Often my doodles are that of sailboats or nautical forms. Instead of fighting it, I decided to implement it into a project. I started making the jigs needed to make my bends early this week and finally got my turn on the CNC router, which is one of the coolest machines I have had the experience to use. It is super nerdy and I can’t wait to use it again and again. When I return to the shop Monday, I will start the process of building the base and table tops.

   

Saturday my husband surprised me with a visit to Magic Wings, a butterfly conservatory  in Massachusetts. Despite the slightly corny name, it was the most amazing place I have ever been too. You walk into a greenhouse filled with plants and hundreds of butterflies. It was truly inspirational and the awe inspiring experience my very tired soul needed.

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Finishing work…

There is no greater feeling then finishing a project. That feeling is even greater when you spend most of the project thinking it will never get done. This week I finished my first project for the bending wood class I am taking this semester that was a week and a half over due. (special thanks to a certain organ that decided it wanted out of the game at a rather inconvenient time)

The assignment was to create a piece around the idea of containment. I was immediately drawn to the idea of a nest and home. I started to research weaver birds and liked how they went out to find materials to use in building a home for a potential mate. I started to collect scrap wood left behind in the wood shop to use for my nest. Looking around my own home, at the various pieces of furniture collected from family or antique stores, the weaver bird’s process of building a home made sense to me.  Slowly the project took on a more abstract reference to my feelings about the home and my process of creating a home for my husband and I. I realized through the making of this piece that I wanted it to be more of a functional hanging lamp then a sculptural piece, which it was originally intended to be.

I want to create both conceptual and functional pieces, I want the line to be blurred as often as possible.  Before this project I thought that they needed to be two different things entirely, that I needed to choose a destination for my piece before it even left my imaginary drafting table. Not feeling like I have to design for either the home or the gallery, but instead designing for both places tears down some of the walls in my creative process. It allows me so much more freedom.

I took in-progress photos as my hanging lamp reached completion and put them into a mini slideshow so you can see how it came to be.

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A great video from the BBC on the weaver birds.

 

As always, thanks for reading.

– r.n.a.

 

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Re-defining success…

Although it felt good mentally to get back in the studio last week, it was way to early physically. Apparently you need more then a week of bed rest after getting your appendix removed and even the great determination of Ren Albon can not change that fact. So this Wednesday the doctors sent me back to bed for a few days after making me promise that I will take it easy until Thanksgiving. Four hours of taking it easy is hard enough but they want me to go four whole weeks of asking for help and not working to my full potential. Then I realized that my body has seriously altered what my full potential is and I need to spend the next few days getting mentally onboard with this change. It has been a huge lesson in terms of listening to my body and redefining how I view failure. Just because mentally I am ready to fire on all cylinders does not mean I can ignore the fact that physically I can not keep up, and that is okay. Well I’m working on being okay with it. As long as I am better today then I was yesterday I am being successful.

All this free time has sent me looking to past projects I have worked on and ideas that have been forgotten in the whirlwind that is often times my life. It is refreshing to look at old work and love it. I often go through an emotional cycle with my work where I start out really excited about the idea, then I go to execute it and lose all self-esteem while realizing its the stupidest idea in the world, pushing through the worst-artist-in-the-world phase and beginning the project leads to determination to make it awesome. When its almost finished I begin to slowly hate it more and more, then am totally conflicted between hating the final project and loving it. Then I just hate it until I go back to it some time later and fall in love with it all over again. I have realized there is absolutely nothing I can do about stopping this process from happening, other then acknowledge it and allowing it to happen while staying focused on executing the idea.

Here are some of the old projects I have been looking at today…

The main reason for hating this series was the instructor feedback I received the entire time I worked on it. I was constantly told it was too dark and made people too uncomfortable. He hated the juxtaposition of the pink barbie tutu and the pool of blood in this photo. “Its just too disturbing for anyone to ever want to look at it,” was his remark when it was hung on the wall. I stood by it and told him that it was supposed to be too disturbing to enjoy but then put the piece in storage and never wanted to look at it again. Defending the project every step of the way left me despising the series at the end.

It is hard to believe that it was only a year ago that I wrote, illustrated, and printed a children’s book. The finished project is rough and definitely needs a lot of finishing touches, 5 weeks is not enough time for character/story line development. However I absolutely loved the process of drawing each piece of the scene, scanning it into photoshop, and coloring it in with various textures and photographs. It was such a satisfying way to work. 

Then there is just drawing in general. I tell myself that I am not a good drawer but then I look at this and have to admit that is not true. If I take the time and apply myself I can draw well. A copy of Da Vinci’s Battle of Anghriari, it took over 40 hours for me to complete this large drawing, and that was after weeks of drawing every day to work on the skill of drawing itself. It is probably the most meaningful piece I have done to date in terms of personal growth and being a constant reminder that I am not as awful as I like to believe.

As always, thanks for reading.

-r.n.a.

Getting back on track…

After a set back that forced me to spend a week and a half taking it easy, it felt good to get back in to the studio Wednesday. I was not 100% but I made some serious progress. Today I was even able to get outside and take some photos with the large format camera. Slowly I’m getting back to where I want to be. Thankfully Ray Lewis has video of his motivational speeches to keep me going when I feel like I’ll never get off the couch.

 

 

 

So far this semester…

The first month of school is wrapping up and I wanted to share with you what I have been working on so far. It also may be a homework assignment for a class I am taking to update a blog weekly but thats not important.

This is my first semester as a junior in woodworking. It is extremely satisfying to build things and explore 3-dimensionally. We started the semester with a week long project. The final product was supposed to represent our summer. After a lot of editing, I decided the major part of my summer was taking the workshop at Center for Furniture Craftsmanship and reconnecting with photography. This year I hope to marry the two mediums as often as I can in new and unexpected ways. The base of the lamp is a simple half-blind dovetail joint made out of cherry. The cherry was left over from the workshop and the joint was by far my favorite to learn. The lamp shade is made out of 8mm film left in a Kodak Super 8 camera I bought over the summer as well as 35mm film that I used to capture a few vintage baseball games while visiting my hometown in Delaware. Overall I am happy with the masculine industrial feel I think the lamp portrays as it lends itself to the images of the baseball game you catch glimpses off when the lamp is turned on.

I am also taking a photography class this semester. I am learning how to use a large format camera. It is extremely rewarding and exciting to learn how to use such a old method of photography and to get back in the darkroom again. The first half of the semester is focused on learning how to manipulate the camera and properly develop the film. I am learning so much and realizing just how much I already know. I am looking forward to the second half of the semester where we begin to work on a final body of work.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It hasn’t been all work and no play. I was lucky enough to be invited to go on a over night sailing trip with Maine Maritime’s Yacht Club. The trip was amazing and confirmed that a good part of my future will be sailing the world with my husband. There is something so romantic and invigorating about being out in the open salty air on a tall masted ship.

When I think about it, even the work has been more like play. Here is a shot from one of my class critiques from last week. The work was done by woodworking senior Hannah Merchant. You really can’t beat sitting outside on a beautiful fall day and discussing art.

As always, thanks for reading,

-r.n.a.

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