Category Archives: Studio

Three Pumpkins and an Epiphany

Part of working in my new studio is figuring out the best workflow. Where do I store everything, what do I use as my main workbench, where do I put book covers under weight to dry… And how I start my work day has been a topic of thought for a quite a while.

I’ve heard many artists mention that they have a daily activity to help themselves make the transition from daily life to making art. For some it is a daily sketch, others a ritual like Mr. Roger’s changing of the shoes and sweater, others still use a writing activity.

I’ve tried the daily writing, taking daily photographs (which I enjoy but I find distracts me from what I meant to do that day…), making a miniature book daily, and doing a daily Zentangle. But none of these things seems to get me “in the zone.”

This morning I carved my pumpkins and, while I was washing the seeds out of that gross mushy stuff they live in, I had my epiphany. I had the water running, my hands in the water sorting seeds from strings and all of a sudden I realized that I was in that zen moment. Do you know the one I mean when you feel completely physically relaxed and at peace and your mind is wandering creatively? “Quick,” I thought to myself, “pay attention to why you feel this way.”

I realized that cleaning those pumpkin seeds was like paper making and darkroom printing and making cyanotypes… all of those things I love to do and can do for an entire day without having any idea what time is passing. And all of them involve water and my hands in it. Hmm.

I was a teacher for a lot of years and I always had water available for the kids to play in. Sure there were math concepts of measurement, color concepts of mixing, but mostly it was because of the calming effect of water on young children. Perhaps my brain is like a distracted and over active young child. Hmm.

So I think I have finally found my answer to how I need to start my creative day. Apparently I need my hands in water doing a repetitive and relaxing activity so that my creative brain can get going. (Of course my loving husband will argue that doing the dishes is such an activity.) So what activity can I do each day without making a mess that takes valuable studio time to clean up. Hmm.

I’ll let you know more about this as I figure it out.

Do you have a daily activity to start your creative practice? Please feel free to tell us about it in the comments!

While I am typing this blog entry I am eating the freshly roasted pumpkin seeds from the above mentioned zen moment. Here is my favorite roasted seed recipe in case you haven’t roasted yours yet.

Garlic Roasted Pumpkin Seeds

  • 2 cups pumpkin seeds
  • 2 TBS worcestershire sauce
  • 2 TBS butter (melted)
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • Mix all, spread on a cookie sheet  and roast at 275 degrees until golden brown.

Happy Halloween!


Dusting Off the Mental Cobwebs

Last week I finished unpacking my studio and starting working on several new artists’ books. They’re ideas I’ve had floating around during moving and recovery and, finally, I’m ready to get back to work. After months of getting a house ready to sell, moving for the first time in 15 years, and then having a hysterectomy and recovering from that –  I finally feel like I once again have the physical and mental energy I need to dedicate to being an artist.

First, I had to start the week by beating myself up mentally. Why on earth didn’t I write/create/develop ideas while recovering? All I was doing was lying around, right?

Next, I had to forgive myself. Apparently I needed all of the energy I had just to heal. I wish I could have used that time more productively (I don’t think watching 63 episodes of Eureka counts as productive) but for some reason I couldn’t. I tried.

And finally, I’m dusting off the cobwebs (and my tools) and starting anew. I’ve started working on images for one of the new artists’ books. Family and friends are gamely standing against a white while for photos while wondering what on earth I’m going to do with them.

Photoshop is less intuitive right now – I know I used to know how to do all of this. I’ve started taking photographs every day – Oh, how I love to take pictures!  So far mostly of my garden growing and some jam I made this morning.

I’ve hooked up my new printer, a Canon iX6520 (all by myself, no husband-who-is-an-engineer-tech-support!) and I’ve started testing it. My beloved HP that I’ve used to print all of my artists’ books went kaput and I feel like I’m back at square one. Can I use pages I’ve already printed with pages from the new printer? Do I have to start over? Will this printer print on Rives BFK as beautifully as that old printer?

And I’ve started working in my studio. I’ll post photos of the studio later this week. Right now I’ve got the radio cranked up and I’m remembering how to hold a bone folder and being grateful for my health, for being able to find most things where I look on the first try, and for my amazing new workspace.


Congratulations, it’s a Studio

Well, it took only 8 months, but the studio I’ve been dreaming of has finally been delivered. My niece, Amelia, who is 8 years old, loves it and thinks it is just the right size for her. That it has its own porch lights and doorbell just made her even more tickled. Right away she began making plans to come over and “play art” and then stay overnight in her house, aka my studio.

As I’m typing to you I am peeling wood glue off of my fingers – it doesn’t seem to matter whether I am making books or building cabinets, I have to wear the glue. Instead of bonefolders and my Kutrimmer I am using drills and screwdrivers to build the cabinets and drawer units for my studio.

My brother asked me, “Aren’t the kitchen cabinets enough? Do you need more?” Do we artists ever have enough storage? What’s funny is that Bryce, who is also a very creative person, is a packrat and rarely gets rid of anything. If anyone understands the need for storage…

This is just one of the many stacks of boxes. It turns out that I had art supplies in and tools in pretty much every room of the old house. When we were moving our stuff everyone kept commenting on how most of it was ending up out at the studio. When you put it all in one space it is a bit overwhelming. The duck – he is a wire frame model I made in 3D class several years ago. I’m not sure if he gets to stay because he’s fun or because I injured my elbow pulling and twisting all that wire. Probably both.

This is the studio bathroom. Hmm. More stuff. That’s a bag of banana tree leaves for paper making over there in the bathtub.

This is the back view behind the studio. Eventually it will be a patio surrounded by plants that can be made into paper.  Right now the only plant is one sad weed.

This is one of my favorite views, taken on the way from the house to the studio.  I’m looking forward to ending the moving and organizing phase and beginning the welcoming and working phase. Towards the end of the summer I plan to have an open studio.

Well, I’ve stalled long enough. On to the next cabinet.