October 26, 2016

Lake Michigan inspiration: shades of sand

A few beaches were more stones than sand and the jar reflects that!
One of my favorite practices on my trip this past summer was to take a sand sample from every beach we visited along the Lake Michigan shore. The variety was impressive! I hope to continue this on future adventures as it is a rather inexpensive but beautiful memento. I ordered these adorable jars with little cork toppers from Amazon and recently crafted little tags (hello, tag paper punch) for them. The working version was old peanut butter jars and a sharpie. Save the fancy for life after camping!

Sand = art!

Me very excited about my finds from Fisherman's Island State Park
(A hidden gem of a place with many Petoskey stones and other fossils. You are welcome.)

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October 24, 2016

How I am learning to be an artist

I've been reading How to Be an Artist Without Losing Your Mind, Your Shirt, or Your Creative Compass: A Practical Guide by JoAnneh Nagler. And now I am geeking out over the homework where I get assess what creative things I like to do (she gives permission/expectation for there to be many), what things I just have to do in my life, what things I choose to do and how that all balances out. The ultimate goal is to carve out time for making art. Time that you aren't currently using to make art.

Sound familiar, anyone? The name of this blog is "Make Time, Make Art" because I was trying to tell myself to do this all the way back in, oh, 2010 when I launched the blog. Have I made any progress?

I've been quiet lately for a couple of reasons, first, the usual, I haven't been making much art and therefore don't have much to write about. Second, Instagram is a part of my life and such a better place to share photos of happy mushroom and scraps of cloth that will become art. And last, because I have been reading about making art in preparation for you know, actually making art. Perhaps stalling but perhaps trying to come to a healthier mindset about all of it.

JoAnneh Nagler writes:
We are not skilled in enjoyment in our life. We are skilled in fielding immediate needs, addressing weighty responsibilities, and attending to pressing duties. WE feel guilty about giving ourselves art time. And as psychologically simplistic as that sounds, most of us have at least a bucketful or more of this guilt rambling around in our head and heart. We're afraid that if we give ourselves over to our art, we'll somehow become irresponsible and let the rest of our life fall apart.
Ah, yes. That is me. Guilty of guilt. For pity.

So first I had the hurdle of evening owning the title "artist" and then I've had the hurdle of allowing myself to make art. On top of all that, I've had a bit of a mental struggle of how my art and art-making, which is primarily a solitary activity, fits into living out my Christian faith. I don't think I've answered that quite yet but I've come to realize that it is an absolute shame not to use the gifts God gave me. So if He made me an artist and a writer than I better be making art and writing – all to his glory.

My hope and dream and prayer is that my creative work and my ministry work will someday be one and the same. Or at least they will share space in my hours instead of being in separate boxes.

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October 21, 2016

Decorating with children's art – the best abstract pieces!

Reward yourself for a messy afternoon of painting with brushes, leaves, fingers, and feet and use the beautiful results to add visual delight around your home. I hoard large chunks of cardboard (I am not definitely not a minimalist when it comes to art supplies) just for these occasions. And the result is that I have lovely pieces of abstract kid art that fill up a mantel perfectly.

I've used the crewel piece by my great-grandmother on the mantel pretty much every autumn (here in 2014 and here in 2012 when I first got this treasure). Brown isn't usually my thing but it works for a fall color palette and I cannot get over the sweetness of having her now-vintage art on display. I can only hope that the quilts I spend so many months on turn out to be loved generations down the line! I tucked one large piece of kid behind the crewel and another shines from behind a vintage window (from my own house even!). The sweet little flower painting goes in front. I accented with a bit of my milk glass collection and some colored glass pieces.

Over on my shelf I was very pleased with the minimalist look of this piece by the resident 2-year-old. His mama may have had something to do with his color choices on this one, conveniently enough. Back to my colored glass to match and then I added a clear pumpkin cookie jar for a subtle and modern hint of fall.

May your children's creativity inspire your next round of decorating!

October 2, 2016

ArtPrize 2016: Downtown wanderings

Hello again, my friends! My second round with ArtPrize this year involved wandering around downtown while pushing a stroller alongside a friend doing the same. I must admit, our two-year-old boys found the most satisfaction in the multiple firetruck sightings available to them.

Disclaimer: In no way is this post representative of the whole walking-ArtPrize-outside experience. We really just wandered a bit so I am sure there is much we missed. A few notables that we enjoyed are listed below.

Mark Chatterly

These appealed to me in a whimsical sort of way. I enjoy collections of things and multiples visually and these guys had a friendly look to them. My two-year-old called them "owls" and I don't think he is too far off the mark. They are located along the river outside of the Grand Rapids Public Museum.

How I Make a Mark: Responding to a Carousel
Patrick Schmidt

This abstract piece composed of intersecting lines decorates the glass windows outside of the Public Museum's carousel room. It appealed to me because it was bright and colorful and because of the contrast it made with the more ornate and classical figures of the carousel animals. It looked especially cool from a distance. This is easily achievable as a statement wall in your home – don't ya think?

I like to think I am expanding his appreciation of art!
Joshua Welker

Like an exploded Rubik's Cube! Again, my love affair with bright color.

Rock Around
Aaren Zenz

Points for the kid appeal. This one is just plain cute. Every painted rock has a twin hidden around the city of Grand Rapids. A fun way to explore with your children. Find the installation outside the Grand Rapids Children's Museum.

September 28, 2016

ArtPrize 2016: Meijer Gardens

I dipped my toe into ArtPrize with a stop at the Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park. While there were several interesting pieces that I will chat about below, there was nothing that totally wowed me. Definitely some pieces I would vote thumbs up on but nothing I would beg you to go see with your own eyeballs. Know what I mean? And of course I am lucky enough to experience art with my children in tow; I am always amused at their reactions. They seem very accepting of absurdity.

The pieces on display at the Meijer Gardens are all fitting the chosen theme: Almost Home: Grand Rapids In Focus. So each artist is reacting in some way to our city, whether or not that experience was one of a native or an outsider.

Ditch Lily Drawing
Nathan Lareau

This one appealed to both myself and my children because it is made of the dried stems left behind when day lilies are done blooming. My kiddos are always plucking them up out of the ground and repurposing them as wands and swords and nature stew stirrers. So they were quite delighted to realize that was what this piece was created with. The other element that makes this piece special is light and shadow. I will admit it is rather simple but I like it all the same. And yes, it does make me wonder what I could glue to the wall!

Seeking Stillness
Joyce Recker

I like the nest! Y'all know I really like nests and I can appreciate the artist's use of one as a symbol of home and shelter. As a designer, I appreciate small, well thought-out details and this piece does not disappoint. The end caps of the bottom piece of wood are each tiny little house shapes, stained in a darker contrasting color. Love that.

Bundle Field
Kurt Kaiser and John Cloud Kaiser

The impact of this aptly named installation was bright and cheerful and oh-so-big. Apparently the two artists hosted several gatherings where the guests worked together to construct these giant bundles all made of a crazy kaleidoscope of repurposed materials roped together. I like the community aspect of this and the idea of what is basically an art-making party really appeals to me. And of course I appreciate the bright colors!

Ode to W. Haldane (Pearl & Ottawa)
Cheryl Wassenaar

The artist for this piece has family ties to Grand Rapids and the furniture industry. In fact, the tools and the work bench both belonged to her father. The more intriguing aspect for me is of course the pieces of furniture that are emerging from the wall. I think they are a suitable symbol for all of history, personal and corporate as they are a subtle presence at all times – blending in but also being unavoidable.