Monday, August 25, 2014

School of The Art Institute

First of all thank you to my brother Nick for holding me accountable for posting regularly.  I haven't been contributing because I haven't been doing much making or teaching since leaving Oaxaca mid-July after which we continued to travel in Mexico and Guatemala before heading home for more trips in Michigan and Wisconsin.  Other than some scattered sketches and a few runs of stitches into a quilt, I haven't been creatively productive at all.  To be honest, I've been relishing this dormant time which is barren in its laziness because life is becoming increasingly full as I begin the Masters in Art Education program at the Art Institute in Chicago.  Today was the orientation for graduates and tomorrow is the one for my department of Art Education.  

One message which was not lost on me today was that SAIC is full of resources and being an artist is all about exploiting those resources primarily through making connections and networking.  As a devout home body, I am going to really make an effort as much as I can to attend lectures, go to shows, and simply dwell in the museum's galleries.  It will be a challenge considering my time will be divided into teaching part-time and caring for my family, you know those important people.

Anyway, on the El ride home, I pulled a brochure from the pile stowed in my complimentary tote bag.  The brochure was for Ox-Bow, an artists school and residency program in the Michigan wilderness which is affiliated with SAIC.  Inside the cover is a list of rules written by Sister Corita Kent.  I think these are worthy of adherence as I try to make the most of my short time at SAIC.

Rule 1: Find a place you trust, and then try trusting it for awhile.

Rule 2: General duties of a student -- pull everything out of your teacher; pull everything out of your fellow students.

Rule 3: General duties of a teacher -- pull everything out of your students. 

Rule 4: Consider everything an experiment

Rule 5: Be self-disciplined -- this means finding someone wise or smart and choosing to follow them. To be disciplined is to follow in a good way.  To be self-disciplined is to follow in a better way.

Rule 6: Nothing is a mistake.  There's no win and no fail, there's only make.

Rule 7: The only rule is work.  If you work it will lead to something.  It's the people who do all of the work all of the time who eventually catch on to things.

Rule 8: Don't try to create and analyze at the same time.  They're different processes.

Rule 9:  Be happy whenever you can manage it.  Enjoy yourself. It's lighter than you think.

Rule 10: "We're breaking all the rules. Even our own rules. And how do we do that? By leaving plenty of room for X quantities." -- John Cage

HINTS: Always be around.  Come or go to everything. Always go to classes.  Read anything you can get your hands on.  Look at movies carefully, often.  Save everything -- it might come in handy later. 

excerpted from Ox-Bow's 2014 brochure

PS  I really love numbers 6 and 8.  Also, I'm considering launching a new website with a blog as part of it.  I'll keep you posted if there any changes on the horizon!

Sunday, July 6, 2014


 I'm so obsessed with the shrines in Oaxaca, that I had to make my own.  I used cereal boxes, tape, glue, paint, colored pencils, and marker to make this three-some.  In the center is La Virgen de Guadalupe.  To the left is Nuestra Senora de Soledad, the patroness of Oaxaca City, and all the way to the right is Nuestra Senora de Juquila, the patroness of Oaxaca State.  Now for some miracles. . .

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Saint Jerome's

I regard these little paintings as exercises which I tire of after an hour or two.  They are like sketches with paint.  I do miss working on bigger projects--that begin with a vision or a compulsion which I feel driven to bring into being.  Perhaps this is not the time to be undertaking such a project when most of my time and energy is devoted to soaking up the creative energies in which I am immersed.  Perhaps the big projects will come later after I've digested a bit.

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Pre-Columbian Art

This is a drawing of one of the indigenous art pieces from the Rufino Tamayo museum.  It is oil pastel on top of Acrylic.   I love these ceramic figures, and it was a nice change of pace to draw rather than render in paint.  I've really been filling up my sketchbook.  For some reason drawing seems to be pleasing my brain more lately.  But, I like that the underpainting shows through and gives intrigue and dimension to the drawing.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Plant Stand

This plant stand is in our courtyard.  I'm sort of obsessed with its form.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Garden Girl

 I finished this lady last night.  She is based on this planter in our roof garden which features a Senorita carrying a vessel on her head which is overflowing with a succulent.  The pattern behind her is taken from the iron chairs up there, and the green image on the bottom is from our wooden dining room chairs.  The side tiles are taken from the inside of a fountain that was at a park we attended last week.  I feel like these paintings are becoming collages of what I am noticing.  They are a way to digest what I am seeing and learn about it through copying.

Thursday, June 19, 2014


I was having fun last night painting a rooster pot and rug patterns.  I definitely would love to learn more of the tarpeta making process.  I can't wait to try it at home.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Moon Goddess

I saw a ceramic statue in the cultural museum the other day.  I included a picture of her in our Oaxaca blog.  I sketched her in my sketchbook and painted her last night. It was fun.  I'd like to make ceramic pieces like her upon returning to Chicago.

Monday, June 16, 2014

Lost My Groove

If I had any sophistication in my painting before, I've lost it.  I don't know if it is the effects ofdifferent supplies or being out of my element, I'm having trouble finding my creative groove.  I'm taking photos and sketching, but I'm having trouble with painting.  I'll keep on at it, and we'll see what develops.

Friday, June 13, 2014

Painting In Oaxaca

While vacationing in Oaxaca, I'm attempting to paint as much as I can.  These 9 x 12 paper sheets make it easy to create quick, non-precious studies of images/objects/places that I am in love with.  This first one is of a pot at my Mom's house which belonged my Great-Grandma Margaret.  In addition to painting, I'm sketching/journaling, and I packed embroidery and my first ever reverse applique project.  I always get ambitious when I pack art materials.  I know one thing is for sure; all of the sites here will be enough inspiration for the whole year.

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Wrapping up PTO Art in the Classroom Activities

This Saturday Faith and I added one more chalk drawing character to our map.  It is standing above Lake Huron in Canada.  It was the perfect finishing touch, and  the perfect way to wrap our cartography project.  Also on on Saturday, we participated in a carnival fundraiser for one of our students who has cancer.  We melted donated crayons, poured them into a button mold, and then cleaned them up after they cooled. The kids strung the crayon buttons onto wire along with other plastic beads to make whimsical, colorful jewelry.  In addition to this activity, we offered a pinwheel making project which I didn't photograph.  I can't say enough how much I enjoy collaborating with Faith and bringing inspiration and creativity to the students.  I have a feeling that we are just getting started!

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

She's Done!!!!

I had a wonderful time finishing Guadalupe with my sister Lisa today. I can't imagine a better life or a more enjoyable day complete with uncontrollable giggles. To top it off, we kept getting so inspired regarding more Marian art, puppets, and quilts, and all of it happening in the woods! Tomorrow is the last day of school for St.Therese kids. We finished just in time.

Monday, June 2, 2014

School's Out For Summer!

Last class at EAM! We made flying saucers and Jacks in the take out box. Also I returned bandanas, pillows, and glazed ceramics.  It's the best seeing kids walk away hugging their pillows and clutching their bandanas.
I Like You!
UFO Sighting

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Chalk Drawings Made Real

Faith and I painted a submarine and a mermaid near our map.  The illustrations are based on the student chalk drawings.  Oh!--we painted in the Great Lakes, too.  Now we have just one more chalk drawing to add and some touch-ups, and then we're done!

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Guadalupe at St. Therese in Aurora

My sister is the art teacher at the elementary school St. Therese in Aurora.  She began painting a mural of Guadalupe with her students who graduated yesterday.  I spent the day painting with her and was completely happy to not only be painting but to be with my sister.  It was further a delight to be in a small and happy school with enthusiastic students, and it was surreal to be standing in the halls where my parents went to grade school.  The building hasn't changed too much since then, and I felt a definite connection to the past.  I might be able to paint another day next week in an attempt to finish the project before the end of the year.  I feel privileged to be a part of this project.  Thanks Lisa!

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Carnival Game: Treasure Island

I remade a carnival game for Abe 's school fundraiser. The base is styrofoam and the carnival chair preferred a more durable surface. So I consulted my creative department, brothers Nick and Jeff, and they recommended doing paper mache over the surface.  I did two layers, then gesso, paint, and finally shellac. The game will have for treasure chests on the x's. Sometimes it's fun to have a challenge that's outside your normal making and doing.

Monday, May 26, 2014

Many Moons Weaving

About 8 years ago my parents traveled with my high school Spanish teachers and their students to Peru.  My sister was pregnant with her 3rd child, and I had just found out that I was expecting Abraham.  After a great trip they returned with gifts.  Among them was an old crone doll and a scarf.  The doll sits in my studio--her hair still in two braids and her hands perpetually rolling cigarettes to sell.  My scarf is wound around my neck the majority of year.  It is the perfect weight and warmth.  It's never itchy and goes with just about everything I wear.  If my house was ever on fire, it would be the one thing I'd rescue from the flames.  My mom gave similar scarves to my sisters and my grandma.  The latter would wear hers as faithfully around her shoulders just as my crone doll wears her shawl.  The beautiful reds would show off her white hair.  

Ever since, I've wanted to recreate this scarf, but my lack of knowledge and skills has hindered my efforts.  I'm afraid this project may become my white whale, and if that is the case, please bury me in my failed attempts.
This piece that I wove on Martha's loom is one such failed attempt.  It took me many, many moons to complete it considering I sort of abandoned it for other things after I began it.   It was the first time I had worked with such fine gauge wool and the delicate quality of it caused many problems. I either need to take more classes and instruction or just make more pieces. Unfortunately its an expensive medium to experiment with.   Perhaps one day, I can travel to Peru and learn from their long tradition of weaving.  For the time being, I'll be returning to cotton and repurposed jersey tees.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Postage Stamp Pillows

These pillows turn out great every time.  Kids love to give their drawings and paintings a good squeeze.  I don't know if it is detectable here, but this batch is a bit smaller in dimension and together with their crimped edges they make me think of postage stamps which I think would be another idea for this project.  I can imagine older kids drawing portraits of famous people, painting them, and sewing them up.  Oh whimsy . . .

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Emma's Pillow

This kitty cat pillow is for Emma who is a fellow student at Penelope's preschool.  Her parents won it at the gala fundraiser. I hope she likes it!

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Tie dye bandanas!

My inner hippie was happy to hang dry Messy Business bandanas this afternoon. Someday I want to make a quilt using dyed bandanas.  It could be a good class project.