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.

September 23, 2016

Wisconsin love: Milwaukee Art Museum (3 paintings I liked)

Happy Friday, friends. I love the color in these! Also, it should be noted they are all quite large. On a loosely related note, I am finding that size can be a really good thing for impact when it comes to decorating around my home (special thank you to the The Nester for bringing that to my attention).

Ocean Park No. 68 by Richard Diebenkorn

Across the Fields and into the Distance by Hans Hoffmann

Phenomena Blue Held Over by Paul Jenkins

September 22, 2016

more on artist Nick Cave

I saw this piece at the Milwaukee Art Museum and I just loved it. A cross between a cactus and a Christmas tree and it is a costume! What the heck is this anyway? The artist, Nick Cave, refers to them as "soundsuits." I went scouting on the world wide web and found some more great images and videos of his work. I had to share it because I think it is so very awesome!

Buy photographs of the soundsuits here

Buy photographs of the soundsuits here

Go see more! (yes, you! yes, right now!):

Soundsuits in motion (only 53 seconds)

More soundsuits in motion + interview (2 minutes)

Interview with Nick Cave by Institute of Contemporary Art / Boston (13 minutes)

September 21, 2016

Wisconsin love: Milwaukee art museum (the modern stuff)

My five-year-old commented "If it is a museum for art it makes sense that the building is art too."
Be still, my heart! Architect for this portion is Santiago Calatrava.
If you follow me on Instagram (@amandabridle) you know I have a real love for what I call "weird art." If something is completely out there and strange and unlike anything I've seen before, well, that's just my favorite. I like unique explorations. I was delighted to find that my visit to the Milwaukee Art Museum featured plenty of the strange and modern. As a bonus, some of the artists are still living and currently working and I've added them to my Instagram feed so I can keep up with their work.

Edge of England by Cornelia Parker
Yes, this does make me want to hang strings of objects in my house. 

I came around the corner and saw this scene and my heart beat a little faster. For real!

Bluffs by Tara Donovan
 Made entirely of buttons and glue. For real.
I saw her work at the Renwick Gallery in Washington D.C. as well.

High Rise by Claire Zeisler

terraform 02 by Jason S. Yi
This piece is made of metal folding chairs, plastic stretch wrap, and plastic ties.

Detail of a large wall-sized piece Remember Me, Katrina by Susie Ganch.
Made of plastic coffee cup lids.

Soundsuit by Nick Cave
This was my all-time favorite!

September 20, 2016

Wisconsin love: Hamilton Wood Type & Printing Museum

Modern use of old-style type: layers and playful letterforms topped with white ink (fun!)

Friends, I have been on the email list for Hamilton Wood Type & Printing Museum for years. Once I realized we were going to be in town seeing their museum was on my "must" list! My peoples did not agree and spent the same hours at the laundromat and the library. Hee. I was happy to go by myself anyway.

A set of woodtype
This image is GIANT! Like 4 feet tall and it was carved in one huge piece of wood.
For someone like myself with a background in graphic design, an education in typography, an interest in history, and a delight in visual inspiration this place was a playground! I was so pleased to have time to wander and study at my leisure. The only thing that would have made it better was if the timing had been right for me to take part in one of their day-long workshops. I hope to make it to one someday!

This display gives you a rough idea how printing works.
There is a plate for each individual ink color. In this case, they are carved out of wood.
Printed one at a time on top of each other results in the final image.
Not only has the museum done an amazing job of showcasing, documenting, and preserving the history of Hamilton (check out the videos on YouTube!) but they've taken steps to be quite forward thinking as well. They host workshops, they have on-site artists and interns, and they continue to expand their collection of wood type as they accept and slowly organize enormous donations of wood type from other locations (one such donation was 6 semi-truck loads full!). There is some amazing work being done by some very passionate people.

I have multiple photos of these images displaying available border designs. I am a bit obsessed.
I can't wait to sit down with my sketchbook and play with these.

First off – the giant number 5! Awesome. Second, metallic ink – ooh la la!

September 19, 2016

Wisconsin love: barn quilts!

Happy Monday, blog friends! You might have noticed the new school year starting threw off my posting schedule (or my everything schedule!) but I am back at it today. ArtPrize officially starts on Wednesday so you know I will have a lot to say once I get out there and see all the crazy, amazing, wonderful, inspiring art that I can feast my eyes on. 

Today I am going to share my photos of barn quilts! These are specifically from Door County, a skinny little peninsula of Wisconsin that stretches out into Lake Michigan and creates Green Bay. I am quite sure they are in other places in Wisconsin but there is only so much barn-quilt-gazing one can expect out of one's husband and children! I am thinking it might be a midwest-specific phenomenon though.

Most of these photos were taken as the sun was setting and were were heading back to our campsite after a very full day of exploring Door County. The light was golden and the quiet farm field were a glorious green blur out the window. Even though I am city girl I sure can see the appeal of all that peacefulness stretching out before your eyes. Makes me curious if my tree-loving self will appreciate the open space out west when I visit there someday.

A heartfelt thank-you to the artists who painted these beauties and the people who put the effort into hanging them up on the barns.

September 7, 2016

Wisconsin love: John Michael Kohler Art Center (the bathrooms are awesome)

So the John Michael Kohler Arts Center has a history and heritage entwined with the Kohler family and Kohler Company famous for its bathroom fixtures so it should be no surprise to us that the bathrooms in the Arts Center are themselves art. There is apparently a pretty unique residency program where artists get to learn to use the industrial equipment. Only later when I was reading more about it did I realize there are other bathrooms in the building that would have been equally as interesting to see. The ones I have photos of are from the main floor nearest to the entrance. The women's restroom was by artist Cynthia Constantino.

My girls were absolutely delighted with the tiles and the hand-painted clothing and accessories. I think the bathroom might just have been their favorite thing to see in the whole place!

And of course this post wouldn't be complete without a peek at the men's bathroom. I just stuck my head in for a quick photo! The men's room was by artist Matt Nolen. Please don't be confused by my photo – the opposing tile wall is reflected in this row of mirrors.