Sunday, July 2, 2017

Why Collaborate With Other Artists?

Today's post is a guest blogger post by Melanie Schow, a friend and fellow Sanger artist of amazing wire work with her own blog and website at bendwire.com. Read on to learn Melanie's thoughts regarding the benefits of collaborative work with other artists. Thank you, Melanie, for guest posting this informative article and for collaborating on several past projects. I'm looking forward to continuing on several more in the future!

5 benefits of collaborating with other fine artists
Imagine blending one artistic style with several others to produce a completely new style. That's collaboration!
When I moved to the Fresno area four years ago, I became connected with some great local artists with styles complimentary to my own. Out of that connection grew a collaboration of like minds. A few times a year, we co-create works of art for special occasions, and all three of us benefit in many ways.
      My collaborators
Kathleen Mattox is a mixed media artist and painter. She owns "Mixed Messages" Art, a colorful and whimsical gallery in the heart of Sanger's downtown area. Her work with its signature bright colors, inspirational sayings, and unique designs is beautiful and highly collectible.
Paul Parichan works in several mediums. For our collaborations he uses heavy-gauge wire, the same as he uses for his unique sculpture and home decor. He is an accomplished painter. He curates The Art Shop in The Vintage Market at 601 where he showcases not only his own work, but lots of local artists (Kathleen and myself included).
Our pieces are limited editions, one of a kind and usually focused around a holiday or other gallery event. They are announced with some fanfare and then on display at Mixed Messages Art. The first time we did the collaboration was for Valentine's Day, and it was a big hit. We almost always sell out. Our separate styles combine to create entirely unique, original pieces.

Our process
Decide on goal and timeline Since we collaborate only for holidays, we begin by deciding on a theme and shape. For example, hearts for Valentine's Day, 4th of July stars, and Christmas trees. In future collaborations, we plan to create one over-the-top piece with the proceeds going to a charitable organization to give back some of the joy we have found in collaboration.
Shape Paul begins the process by making wire armature in a series of variations on our chosen shape. He likes to play with ideas so each one is unique.
Color When the wire pieces get to Kathleen, she picks out quotes or a word picture. Our Mother's Day flowers had quotes, for example. Then she paints a background, and backs her painting and quote with a second piece of art paper to reinforce. She then stitches her work onto the armature.
Whimsy I receive the pieces last. Since my medium is fine-gauge art wire and beads, I add forged wire shapes and bead drops that accentuate the piece. For one piece I made "fireworks" with with wire springs and scrolls coming from an Independence Day star. On the flower collaboration, I chose wire butterflies or tiny Lucite flowers and leaves. I also add the hook for hanging.


      5 benefits of collaborating with other artists
Fun: Since the goal is production on a timeline, collaborating gets me into my stash. And I love playing with my materials! I get to use colors I don't normally work with. The synergy of the group makes it more dynamic than working alone in my studio. There's lots of energy. Just like writing prompts spark writers, collaborations get the juices flowing.
Artistic stretching: Since our designs are a result of collaborating, the work pushes me to try a different or new approach. I often bring these skills back to my own work. Our pieces are small and relatively fast, and they lead me in new directions I haven't tried before. This is true for the collaborations too. They have evolved, and each round is unique and special.
High-quality work: Both Paul and Kathleen are talented, professional artists. Working with them pushes me to keep the bar high. When I receive their pieces, they are already 66% finished, so I am inspired to keep the momentum going and make the art shine.
Accountability: I start projects of my own that I never finish. Many artists do! However, you can't abandon a collaboration and do something else. If something isn't working, you have to deal with it. In a collaboration, your partners have already done a lot of work, and you must find a way to hold up your part. This is really motivating.
Giving back: Part of our collaboration will soon include creating one piece in the collection that is larger and more detailed--a "show-stopper," so to speak. When we sell this piece, we will donate the proceeds to charity.
      Collaboration is a great practice
I often find that when a season of collaboration ends, I have new energy and ideas for my own projects.

Do you collaborate (or know someone who does)? I'd like to hear about your experiences with this idea in the comment section!



Melanie Schow
Bendwire

Saturday, April 1, 2017

Anticipating April! (And Remembering INTEGRATION!)

Here we are, already in the fourth month of a year that seems as though it just began yesterday. With no more "Sanger Art Hop and Shop", I'm being responsible for the activities at "Mixed Messages" ART only and I'm trying to do a better, more focused job of making them interesting and continuing to work on integration of projects and effort in 2017. April is shaping up like this:

April 1st (Saturday and today!)--no activities on the calendar, just me making sure YOU know what is coming up this month and in future months.

April 8th (Next Saturday)--2 featured artists that I'm very pleased to tell you about.

Inside the gallery will be Karilee Mayer of Clovis, creating and revealing Pysanky (Ukrainian/Russian) Eggs, just a week before EASTER!  Time? 11 AM till 4 PM.
                
 Outside the gallery--and hopefully it will NOT rain!--will be Don Munshower of Fresno (Sunnyside, actually, which isn't far from Sanger at all) with his "Mesmerizing Mobiles". This is also from 1-4 PM and during that time period, Don will be selling some of his older mobiles at great prices, talking to people about the mobiles, answering questions, and taking signups for his mobile-making class to be held on April 22nd and 29nd--see more information below!



On April 15th, inside at "Mixed Messages" ART, I will be hosted the Annual Indoor "Mixed Messages" ART Easter Egg Hunt. Each guest will hunt for their own special egg and open it to find out what prize they will receive. It might be candy, it might be a free item from the gallery, or it might be a discount on their total purchase for the day. Whatever it is, we always have fun hopping around the gallery from 1-4 PM.
On April 22nd, from 11 AM till 5 PM, Don will be teaching Day 1 of his class, "To Balance or Not to Balance, THAT is the Design Question!" Day 2 will be the next Saturday, 
April 29th from 11 AM till 4 PM. Here are more details about the class--





Friday, February 10, 2017

My Word for the Year/2017

Right now, my word of the year is still in the development stages. I know what the idea is that I want to focus on this year, but I can't put it into one word yet. First, I'd like to reflect briefly on the 2 words for last year which were 

"Challenges and Collaborations"

I started 2016 off with the January Painting Challenge which I called "31 Paintings in 31 Days for $31, painting "Signs and Symbols" each day for the month of January. I didn't sell them all but I did sell the majority of them. They made a nice, connected group and people commented on how they made unique and  personal gifts because so many of the words and images seemed a perfect match for certain people in their lives.

There were other challenges in 2016 involving taking some outside "distractions" off my plate so that I could concentrate on becoming a more successful painter and do a better job at marketing my work and promoting the gallery. I "let go" of being president of the Sanger Downtown Business Association, stopped teaching classes for children and adults (at least temporarily), and stopped facilitating Sanger Art Hop and Shop. I feel like I have a whole new life ahead of me in 2017 with more time to devote my positive energy to both creating and marketing.
  
In terms of collaborations, there were many opportunities to do things with other artists. The most important collaboration swere 3 project series with Sanger artists Paul Parichan and Melanie Schow. Paul made wire shapes, I gave them backgrounds and words, and Melanie embellished them with beads and wirework. We did 3 collaborations: a heart series of seven in February, a star series of 7 in June, and a tree series of 15 in December. At this time, we have exactly ONE available star remaining. The series were very successful and we will continue the project in 2017 with 2 new series coming out in May and December. Watch for them!

In 2017, my goal is to try to paint for some venues and shows that I
haven't participated in regularly in the past. I started off the year by
entering the "Black and White" show at Chris Sorensen's Studio and


"Black and White" show entry
followed that with an entry in the "Squeeze Me" show at the same location. I am going to try to enter all the shows there this year.

A detail of the piece done for the
"Squeeze Me" show
As a member of the Madera County Arts Council, I participate in a number of "theme shows" at Circle Gallery each year. The first one of the year (January-February) was "Journeys" and the one coming up in March will be "Reflections". The year will continue with 2 month shows with different themes, culminating in the Celebrate Agriculture show in October/November and perhaps a miniature show in December. So, I must be thinking ahead and painting ahead to have new work ready for each of these events. Sometimes I have a painting that works for a theme without painting a new one, but that seldom is the case. I also like to submit more than 1 when I can so that different people are always seeing several examples of my newest work at various locations. Another factor to consider this year is that I'm making a change from doing mostly watercolors to doing mostly acrylics. I don't have a lot of acrylics in my "inventory" and need to be painting new ones all the time.

For the 30 paintings done in January 2017, I decided to incorporate postage stamps or stamping of some kind into each of them. Only 3" X 3" and 6" X 6", the challenge was doable and fun and people have been giving me stamps so I can continue the project. The "stamp idea" came about because Kate Jackson of Merced and I decided to both do the project with stamps and to have a joint show or shows together later in 2017 or early 2018, or both. All of the work in the show will have stamps or stamping in it and these small paintings will be nice affordable additions to the show.

All of this leads up to my idea or thought or word(s) for 2017. I started out thinking that the word might be "Connectivity"--the state of being connected. It seems important to connect all of these disparate events and activities in some way so that I can be building inventory for the shows with Kate, producing new acrylics, and painting thematically. It seems apparent that the connecting factors are acrylic paints, gallery wrapped canvases, and stamps or stamping in all of them. This way, I can use them throughout the year as entries for various shows and still be building inventory for the joint "Featured Artist" show at the Fresno Art Hub in September/October 2017.
Soon, the idea of "Connectivity" morphed into "Congruence", the state of agreeing or corresponding and then into "Integration" which is defined as an act or instance of combining into an integral whole. I know that there's a word in the back of my mind that better describes this state, but it has yet to come forward. I'm sure that it will soon, but, for now, my word for 2017 will be "Integration" and will involve concentrating my efforts on developing a body of acrylic work on canvas that all uses stamps or stamping.

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

January 4th--first post of the year!

Back at the gallery and open for business for the first day since closing at six pm on Christmas Eve. This is the longest "vacation" I've taken since I opened five years ago. It was really nice, but I'm also really happy to be back! Things happening this month include working on a large commission piece and doing "30 Paintings in 30 Days" doing end of the year taxes, playing with puppies, and having an exciting art event the last weekend of the month. Stay tuned and Happy Beginning to 2017!




Friday, June 24, 2016

"Star-Struck, Star-Studded, and Star-Spangled"!!

Here it is June--late June--where does the time go? You may or may not remember that my words for 2016 are "Collaborations and Challenges". A collaboration is working jointly with others, especially in an intellectual endeavor. The challenge definition that seems to apply here is "to arouse or stimulate, especially by presenting with difficulties."

It's time for another  challenging collaboration with my friends, Paul Parichan and Melanie Schow. In February, we collaborated on a series of 7 hearts for Valentine's Day with Paul's wire, my painting and lettering, and Melanie's beading. We decided it was time to do it again and this time we are doing 7 stars which will be unveiled  and available at Sanger Art Hop and Shop on Saturday, June 25th.

The way it works is this: Paul starts off by making 7 shapes (stars, in this case) out of wire.












Then I trace them on watercolor paper, paint and embellish them, cut them out, and sew them onto the wire "frame".

Next, I pass them on to Melanie and she adds beads and a hanger. She returns them to me and I add a ribbon to hang them from and they are done! Here are the seven finished stars (without ribbons):

                     
               

The interesting thing is that each one of us finds something challenging about the experience, but the collaboration effect seems to make it a positive challenge which often becomes a learning experience. When you are given something already started, you have to work with what you are given and it may be necessary to problem solve and do the next step in a way that you wouldn't normally work. I am glad that Paul and Melanie were willing and eager to participate and I think we are all pleased with the way the seven stars turned out. Tomorrow, we'll find out what other people think of them!

In February, we sold all 7 hearts the day of Art Hop and we're wondering if that may happen again on Saturday with the stars. The stars are each priced at $25 and we divide the proceeds, with a bit also going into our Art Hop expense fund. In November, we will be doing trees since Sanger is "The Nation's Christmas Tree City" and maybe at some point in time, we'll do a "Freestyle" show and sale with a lot of different shapes and quotes and no theme at all. Stay tuned for future "Collaborations" and you'll see that they don't have to be "Challenges" at all.

Sunday, February 7, 2016

The Claremont Packing House shopping mall. . . .

At the Claremont Packing House, a shopping/dining/learning/living mall in Claremont CA. This is all built in an old historic building that was a packing shed for either peaches or lemons--long before what it is today.These photos are not in very good order and I can't arrange them well, but I'm going to post them as I can, because if I wait till I figure out how to make them look better, it will never happen! You will definitely see magic in what has been done with a very awkward space. . .


Miracles CAN happen!

Outside at one end of the "Packing House"

A Community art center for all ages




                                                
                                                            Some of the shops and restaurants. . . . 



A bookstore of donated books, with proceeds going to the Prison Literacy Project                                           



One of the restaurant menus


A very old door that must be original to the building--it hangs on the 2nd floor landing




A huge project made from folded, twisted cardboard boxes etc.



There's a comedy club on the second floor too







                  
There is a great yarn shop on the second floor



And a piano studio on the second floor, too.
 

Looking down on the first floor from the second. On the 3rd level, are Loft living spaces!

February--A trip to a watercolor workshop in Fallbrook!

2173637190_380cb968ec_z.jpg

Observations on my way from Sanger to Claremont (Southern CA)
yesterday morning, February 6th


  1. About 60 degrees when I left Sanger at almost 10 am.
  2. Pink and white blossoms evident in the orchards at Mendocino and Adams Avenue!
  3. Fog in all the fields around Visalia, Tulare, and Bakersfield—laying like a layer ofcotton around the tree trunks.
  4. Gray/brown haze over the valley.
  5. Bright blue sky over the whole ridge route—sunny and warm, in the high 60’s/low 70’s.
  6. Fairly light traffic all the way to the 210 freeway.
  7. Only 1 missed exit and “Terri” (the name of my Terrain Denalie)helped me out without a glitch.
  8. Only got honked at once.
  9. The best place to learn about your car's navigation system is NOT on the freeway!
  10. Had Afghan food for dinner at Walter’s in Claremont. It was really delicious!
  11. I love Ken and Mary Lee’s shower in their guest bathroom.
  12. I love my tiny Basilwood soap in a bag that I got to take with me. :)
  13. 82 degrees in Claremont yesterday!
  14. Loved seeing the “Packing House” shopping area with the shops open. Very exciting!
  15. Slept well, up early, ready to go on to Fallbrook soon. 
  16. Photos of the "Packing House" in the next post!




















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