Tag Archives: summer camp

More Lessons from “Camp”

Back to reality today.

I am running loads of clothes through the washer and dryer and sifting through Outlook to find the important emails among the marketing messages. (When did anything at Pottery Barn become a “must have”? Don’t get me wrong, I love  Pottery Barn, but I don’t think they sell anything that I can’t get by without. Squirrel?)

I’m working on production of some books to meet upcoming deadlines, enjoying the peace and quiet, and yet missing the giggling and noise of the kids. I’m also thinking about other lessons from “camp.”

Lesson # 2 – Everything is better with a buddy (even if you disagree).

I tend to work quietly by myself. I’m sure working from home in my own studio reinforces this – but after spending the week with my niece, Amelia, and my nephew, Colin, I am reminded how much a buddy can add to the process. They bounced ideas, humor, even disagreements off of each other and came out better for it. And most importantly they had someone to pal around with.

I’m trying to build more community into my art making, through teaching,  meeting regularly with other book artists and having “play dates” with my friend, Wendy Sprague, who is a watercolor painter.  I don’t work in watercolors,  but setting aside time to work together adds to the richness of both of our work. I never know when a technique from her media will be useful in mine and vice versa.

I am also making more time to have lunch with my friend, Gloria Huet, a painter and printmaker. Our media is not the same but we have many of the same professional challenges – getting our work out into the world, interfacing with galleries and collectors, and marketing our work.

I’ve heard from many other book artists that there isn’t a community of book artists in their area. Consider that artists in all media have some commonalities and having artist-friends to share the trials and tribulations of art making with – even if you disagree – will enrich your process and support your development as an artist.

Lesson # 3 – Remember to sing (just like when you were a kid).

On the last day of “camp” when we were cleaning up and getting ready to leave, Amelia started singing Zip-A-Dee-Doo-Dah. (One of Amelia’s many charms is that she often sings while she is working on art, cooking or taking a shower.) My mom joined in and so did I and by the end of the song we were loud and smiling and had lighter hearts. If you work quietly in your studio – whether you have a “good” singing voice or not – try a bit of singing out loud. It may make that deadline, or your frustration with the glue that just won’t do what you want, seem a bit less overwhelming.

Out of curiosity I did some quick internet research on the health and emotional benefits of singing, and found an interesting article in a UC Berkeley Wellness Alert that says, among other things, that when people sing their antibodies go up because singing makes them feel good. Works for me!

Do you have a song that you sing while you work?

Zip-a-dee-dooh-dah, zip-a-dee-ay

My, oh my what a wonderful day!

Plenty of sunshine heading my way

Zip-a-dee-dooh-dah, zip-a-dee-ay….



Things I Learned at “Camp” This Year

I spent the last week reconnecting with my parents in a way that I appreciate more and more as I (and they) get older. I had the added pleasure of  bringing with me my niece, Amelia (7) and nephew, Colin (two weeks from 11). My brother, Bryce and his wife, Melanie, get a week “off” and I get a week to really enjoy the kids. The crowning glory is the stone fruit, fresh corn and tomatoes that peak in the central valley this time of year.

Our daily routine went something like this:

  • Apply sunscreen to wiggling kids who are still chewing their last bite of breakfast but are too excited to wait.
  • Sit next to the pool, in the shade, cold drink in hand, chatting with my mom while watching the kids perfect their cannonballs.
  • Help the kids make lunch. Try Colin’s “special” tuna and wonder how his stomach survives his marvelous (but curious) culinary experiments.
  • Sit with the kids and kibbitz on their computer games (at my parent’s house computer games are a group activity). Help Amelia rescue kitties in her favorite game.
  • Spend an hour resting, reading or sleeping. (When I ask Colin why his feet are by my head in the bed he matter-of-factly tells me he is stretching.)
  • Head back to the pool, this time IN the pool splashing the kids in between laps. Marvel that just a short time ago Amelia could barely swim across the short side of the pool and now she can swim the length without pause.
  • Make dinner. Insist that if the kids have room for cookies they definitely have room for salad and that the last bite of tomato really won’t kill them.
  • Throw the frisbee for my dad’s scary smart shepherd-border collie mix, Pepper. Enjoy the cool evening and glowing sunset.
  • Cuddle up with the kids and a book or TV. 
  • Wonder how parents, especially artists with children, ever get anything done besides make sure the kids are safe and well fed.
  • Kiss, hug and tuck in the kids. Fall into my own bed and fall asleep.
  • Repeat.

While driving home to San Jose, I was thinking about what spending a week in Hanford with my family taught me. I realized that, more than anything, having time to hold still and rest refocuses the mind on lessons we already know but often ignore.

Lesson # 1 – Don’t rush art to meet a deadline (or fruit to market).

I’m sorry to say that the my artists’ book using a family quilt was not ready for the 23 Sandy Gallery Uncommon Threads deadline. I worked on the book and was trying to get it finished on time and then realized I was rushing it. I was making decisions based on what I could get done quickly, not on what the book needed. A week of eating perfectly ripe fruit – picked from the tree when ready – not when the market demanded, reminded me that things have a natural timeline. Including creating new artwork.

[As a side note – if you’re going to/through or near Hanford, California, I highly recommend Cody’s Fruit Stand on 13th Avenue. The people are always nice and the fruit is drip-down-your chin perfect.

And the corn from the First Fruits Stand on 12th. Sold every morning to cars that line up to buy bagfuls and always sold out by noon. After your first bite of this corn you’ll be lined up every morning, too.]

Did you have time off this summer? Did you learn any lessons to apply to your art making?

Up next: Lesson # 2.



Off to Camp!

I’m off to camp! Each year I spend a week with my mom and dad and my niece and nephew. I think of it as Camp Gramma and Gramps.

We swim, we rest, we read, we hug a lot. We eat Gramma’s yummy cooking and Gramps spoils us with donuts from a donut shop that has the best bearclaws ever. My dear, sweet husband stays home (where he’s enjoying the peace and quiet) and takes care of real life and our spoiled cats so that I can have this time with my family.

So, as I pack my camera and my laptop (the deadline for Uncommon Threads at 23 Sandy Gallery is right after I return) I am being grateful. Grateful for my husband and my parents. Grateful that my niece and nephew still want to play with their Auntie. And, grateful that I have a career that allows me to play summer camp.

What do you do to relax and rejuvenate?

See you in a week!