As April winds towards its end, I am beginning my preparation to attend the CREATE Mixed Media Retreat in Irvine, California. This is a time each year that I relish for multiple reasons. The atmosphere, new and old friends galore and creativity combine to make for a fun and enjoyable time. I lived in California until I was ten, and it is always a joy to return.
May 5, 2013
And so, the time approaches for me to make what is becoming an annual pilgrimage to the California coast of my childhood. Excitement is building as I have made travel arrangements and begun my work on samples and supplies. The opportunity to travel back to California regularly has become the greatest gift of my artistic life, and has given me a touchstone with my past that has long been absent. We lived in the Greater Los Angeles area for a number of years during my childhood, and returned there often to visit grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins. I spent my childhood on LA’s beaches and imprinted my soul with the colour of its sunlight. Visits have involved a kind of double vision for me, seeing the LA of today and the LA of my childhood overlapping. My beloved grandparents lived out the second half of a life that was amazing to my eyes on that coast. Returning brings me back into the arms of those aunts and uncles and cousins I so love and teaches me that, for me, California will always be home.
This year will be the fourth year in a row I’ve been privileged to make this journey. The trip this year marks some precious landmarks in my life. Once again, I will enjoy sharing and creating with all the enthusiastic, talented and creative students and teachers at the CREATE Mixed Media Retreat in Irvine. A full week of creation, good talk and fun times (with a bit of wine, I’m sure) to come.
The second week will be something very different. For the first time since my husband and I met 27 years ago, I will take a vacation on my own, away from my family. The trip will mark another of my growing list of Fifty Things I Have Never Done. For June 6 will be my 50th birthday. To mark it, I will undertake the next leg of my journey to complete the Pacific Coast Highway. This time, I will tour north from Los Angeles, ending up with a few days seeing old friends in San Francisco. I haven’t been to San Francisco since I was a very small child. The trip will culminate in meeting with a most dear friend I have not seen since we were both in high school some 34 years ago.
As with my trip along the Pacific Coast Highway in Washington and Oregon last year, my days and nights will be spent kicking along through the nostalgia of the small coastal towns, walking for hours barefoot on the beach, touching the sea and talking with my grandfather, whose ashes were scattered in the sea off that coast 25 years ago. This poem was my grandfather’s favourite and was read at his funeral. The words of the poem go to a deep place inside me that expresses the feeling of my sojourns to the sea better than any words I could conjure. My favourite line? ” . . where the wind’s like a whetted knife . . ” I’ve never known another that expressed my family’s feeling for the sea quite so perfectly.
I must down to the seas again, to the lonely sea and the sky,
And all I ask is a tall ship and a star to steer her by,
And the wheel’s kick and the wind’s song and the white sail’s shaking,
And a grey mist on the sea’s face, and a grey dawn breaking.
I must down to the seas again, for the call of the running tide
Is a wild call and a clear call that may not be denied;
And all I ask is a windy day with the white clouds flying,
And the flung spray and the blown spume, and the sea-gulls crying.
I must down to the seas again, to the vagrant gypsy life,
To the gull’s way and the whale’s way where the wind’s like a whetted knife;
And all I ask is a merry yarn from a laughing fellow-rover
And quiet sleep and a sweet dream when the long trick’s over.
By John Masefield (1878-1967).
(English Poet Laureate, 1930-1967.)
I am eager for my days by the sea and for all those weeks will bring. Leaving will be hard, harder each time, harder than ever this year with such special things and people to say goodbye to. Even the prospect of a painful goodbye will not keep me away. My beloved sea, I’ll be on my way soon.
“The sea does not reward those who are too anxious, too greedy, or too impatient. One should lie empty, open, choiceless as a beach–waiting for a gift from the sea.”
- Anne Morrow Lindbergh
April 21, 2013
As April winds towards its end, I am beginning my preparation to attend the CREATE Mixed Media Retreat in Irvine, California. This is a time each year that I relish for multiple reasons. The atmosphere, new and old friends galore and creativity combine to make for a fun and enjoyable time. I lived in California until I was ten, and it is always a joy to return. Best of all is that I get to travel with my dear friend and colleague Tiffany Teske. Tiffany and I both lead busy lives in the same community, and so time for anything more than the occasional cup of tea together can be hard to find. We look forward to the time of travelling (and co-teaching in a couple of workshops) as our time.
This year, in both CREATE SoCal and CREATE New Jersey, I am teaching six workshops! Here is a little run-down of the classes I’m teaching. I do hope you will take the opportunity of a vacation with us in Irvine, California or in Somerset, New Jersey to play, create and join this band of friends. Join us!
Here are the six workshops I will be teaching at both retreats. There’s a little something for everyone. Hope to meet you there!
Workshop Name: Paper Quilting
Class Length: 3-Hour
Skill Level: All Levels
Description: When working in collage, we are always looking for ways to add depth and interest to our surface. One way to build layers, depth and surface interest is to quilt your papers, or adhere embellishments with stitches or wire. In this workshop, you will have the opportunity to experiment with quilting techniques on paper and board using threads, ribbon and wire.
Workshop Name: Magnificent Marbling
Class Length: 6-Hour
Skill Level: All Levels
Description: Don’t let the intricacy and beauty of a marbled paper fool you. Those ripples of color may look hand-painted or machine-stamped, but they’re actually created by liquid paint. Marbleizing, which involves using absorbent papers to pick up ink or paint from a water bath, dates to the twelfth century, when it was practiced in Japan and possibly China. Join Dea Fischer to make your own rich and vibrant designs by marbleizing paper to use in your mixed media projects.
Workshop Name: Instant Travel Journals
Class Length: 6-Hour
Skill Level: All Levels
Description: You are in your hotel room. Sights, sounds and smells are teeming outside your window. You look in your suitcase and find . . . nothing. Once again, there was no room in the suitcase for journalling materials, but there are so many impressions to capture! Fear not, good journalling materials are to hand. In minutes, with few or no tools at all, you can have a great travel journal to write, draw, paint or collage into. Make folded journals, a flag book journal and a pamphlet stitch journal in this fun workshop.
Workshop Name: These Little Wonders: Miniature books
Class Length: 3-Hour
Skill Level: Intermediate
Description: What is more delightful to the eye and the hand than a small and perfectly formed miniature book? Join book artist Dea Fischer to create a deliciously tiny mixed media treasure less than 2″ high to wear as a pendant or hang from your Christmas tree.
And co-teaching with my dear friend Tiffany Teske:
Workshop Name: Creating the Vision: Photography for Mixed Media
Class Length: 6-Hour
Skill Level: All Levels
Description: Creating your own photographic images for your mixed media work doesn’t have to be complicated, expensive, or require a lot of fancy equipment. Join mixed media artists Tiffany Teske and Dea Fischer to learn how to use low technology methods to create your own images. You will receive instructions and materials to build and use your own pinhole camera, and also experience other low tech camera equipment hands-on. Tiffany and Dea will take you on a walking field trip around the area to experiment with Polaroid cameras and Fuji instant films, Holga plastic cameras, and cyanotype (‘sun’) printing with objects. You will leave the workshop with up to 20 finished images to use in your future mixed media work, some exposed films to process and your pinhole camera to further your experiments at home.
Workshop Name: Creating the Vision: Printing and Transferring Your Images
Class Length: 6-Hour
Skill Level: All Levels
Description: You’ve mastered the photography, you’ve created images you love. Deepen your layers of creative engagement by learning to incorporate images of your own creation into your mixed media artwork. Join Tiffany Teske and Dea Fischer to explore fascinating image printing and transfer techniques that can be tricky to master effectively. You will create cyanotype or ‘sun’ prints from negatives, and practice making gel medium skins and transfers, blender pen transfers, encaustic and heat transfers. You will produce several pieces during this workshop that you can take away to use in your work.
April 4, 2013
I've had one of those wonderful days today where I was able to give undivided time and attention to mastering a new technique. I am practicing some new book forms, always looking for new ways to express what my hands want to say, as well as having new and interesting techniques to share with others when they ask for playshops with me.
March 29, 2013
Today, I am thrilled to welcome guest bloggers Lori Wostl and Lorri Flint from ArtCamp for Women, sharing with us about Connection and Community for Creativity. Read on! ~ Dea Fischer
Good morning, Lori and Lorri here from ArtCamp for Women. In November we decided that our motto and theme for 2013 would be Connection. Accordingly, we are organizing our business and our activities around expanding our connections in the Mixed-media Art world, our community of choice.
We give our huge thanks to Dea for inviting us as guests to her blog and for collaborating with us in our year of connection and community. Let me introduce us.
Lorri Flint is the numbers and fiber/fabric expert, and I, Lori Wostl, am the writer and paper genie. We are completely cross-pollinated in paper and fabric, glue and thread. We are both teachers and life-long learners. We are both hugely interested in leading lives of passion and engagement.
Connection is basically why we are here (as humans), and we are neurologically hard-wired for it. For an inspiring and deeper look into connection – and how it affects us all – watch this TED talk with Brene’ Brown. She states that what allows people to be connected is their belief that they are worthy to be connected and that it takes courage and compassion to be who you are with your whole heart. To be seen and known as a part of this community, as individuals and as ArtCamp for Women, and to say that this is essential – feels a bit risky. But Ms. Brown also says that connection is a result of authenticity and being willing to let go of who we are told we should be – for the benefit of who we actually are.
As we women move past the years of primary motherhood, and as we are done with carving out niches in our careers, we find ourselves with tons of opportunities, lots of experience and very few role models. This is true for most women, and it is true for us, (Lori and Lorri aka ArtCamp for Women).
Lorri and I are choosing to make our stand as women who are passionate about our art communities, and we are working to provide other women with a place to explore their own self expression. We all know that inspiration without action is merely entertainment, right? So what actions are we taking? We are:
- Providing women with a place to explore the world of mixed-media art without the distractions of everyday life – ArtCamp for Women;
- Interviewing Mixed-media artists and sharing the interviews on our blog and in our newsletters;
- Contributing and making ourselves known on blogs of those Artists;
- Holding a drawing for giving away an ArtCamp for Women session;
- Creating weekly Art Journal Project prompts and making them available for free (link);
- Creating mixed-media art tutorials and making them available for free on a regular basis;
- Contributing each year to organizations that are working on Women’s Issue.
We will add more actions as we come up with them. We would also love it if you would leave a comment to let us know what actions you are coming up with to connect to your Art Community.
Thanks for reading and commenting, and again thank you Dea for playing and connecting with us!
March 22, 2013
There is a blog post I did in 2011 that still consistently gets hits every single day. Yes. Every. Single. Day. For nearly two years. What is this spectacularly interesting post? It was a simple little photo tutorial on how to make a petal card. Who could have known such a simple topic would gain such consistent popularity?
I enjoy creating mail art and exchanging it with friends and contacts all over the world. There is something about the combination that thrills me: The ephemeral nature of the mail art; the quality added to the art by handling and transit through the postal system; the idea of the interest and pleasure it brings as it passes hand to hand across the world; and the pleasure of contact and exchange engendered when the art reaches its destination.
I long since moved beyond prosaic mail art on commercially made envelopes. My horizons expanded when I began to make my own packages and envelopes for mail art and to share with friends and family. As this little blog post has garnered so much interest over such a long period, I thought it was high time I expanded the topic into a video tutorial to share with you. And so, my dears, here it is at last: a full length video tutorial on making your own envelopes and packages for mail art and other purposes. I hope you enjoy it!
I am honoured and pleased to be a Spotlight Artist for Art Camp for Women this month. Through the course of this year, Art Camp will be spotlighting several artists in their newsletter and blog, and I hope you will keep in touch with them to meet some of the other great artists they will be bringing your way.
Art Camp for Women is the only art retreat I have encountered that genuinely embraces the true nature of a ‘retreat’ – complete, delightful immersion for mind and spirit; an opportunity to engage, share and connect with people who live fully through their creative spirit and provide you with an opportunity to do the same. This year, I am excited to tell you that Art Camp for Women is giving you an opportunity to win a free camp registration. What on earth are you waiting for?
February 22, 2013
As a book artist, I am endlessly fascinated with all things book related and can’t see enough of the imagination employed by artists to re-interpret this form. I participate in some online communities whose focus is on book binding and book arts. My participation in these groups fills my life with a wondrous and at times quite breathtaking array of book-related arts and works. With participation has come the gift of friendship with some of these talented artists. They bring so much pleasure and inspiration to my life that I thought it would be nice to share my favourites with you. There are, of course, many well-known and talented book artists in these groups whose names are frequently seen, and I would love to share all of them. However, I thought today I would like to share the breathtaking work of some lesser-known artists you might not be aware of.
An artist whose work never fails to catch my immediate attention is the British artist Su Blackwell. I have frequently shared her works on my Facebook page for their perfect detail and winsome atmosphere. Su took an MA in textile art from the Royal College of Art in London, but it was her travels in Thailand that opened her eyes to the wonders of paper. Su has become known for training her delicate focus on fairy tales in her works. She does so with a perfect feeling for the nostalgia of the piece, and breathes life into precious stories we remember from our childhood days. Yet these are not sugar-coated pastel-painted children’s stories. Through her innate sense of staging, her use of lighting and backdrop, Su creates an atmosphere with an undercurrent of slight menace, the lurking wolf among the trees . . . the child lost in the woods, the beckon of a lit window. The vignettes she creates invite. I want to peer through the tiny lit window . . board the illuminated rail car and discover the even greater wonders that must be hidden within. I hope you will visit her website and see these treasures, and how she has moved to interpreting the magic on a larger scale.
One of the greatest gifts of friendship that has come through my door has been with Nancy Trottier of Ducks in a Row Press in Ontario. Nancy combines her beautiful sense of colour and pattern in printmaking with sweet artist’s book forms that want to be handled and enjoyed. Nancy imbues her work with her truly thoughtful and deeply spiritual nature. She has shown a generosity of thought in our friendship that I have rarely encountered in another human being, and our shared vision for the voice this work can embody has bonded us across the thousand or so miles that lay between us. Nancy and I continue to pursue opportunities to work together, including studio time on Skype! Nancy created a deeply moving piece for the Sketchbook Project 2012. Do check it out.
Randi Parkhurst is an artist whose work simply takes my breath away. This US artists describes herself as “a paper geek that LOVES to make artists’ books that move, flip, spring open and surprise.” The sheer cleverness and vision embodied in Randi’s works thrill me on every level. I love her exuberant use of colour, and the interlocking, interdependent, hidden treasures in her pieces thrill with delight and mystery. Randi’s piece “Patience” can be viewed on video - it simply cannot be fully appreciated any other way.
An artist whose works intrigue and please me is Michele Riesenmey. She creates soft, appealing artists books filled with intriguing imagery and illustration, but Michele also makes ‘books’ in the form of curio boxes that just shout to me. Michele is a multi-disciplinary artists from the Loire region of France whose work explores memory, time, matter and the relationship between the infinitely small and the very large. The content of Michele’s works intrigue and draw me to study their detail repeatedly. There is a cabinet of curiosities appeal to them that I never tire of. Michele doesn’t seem to have a website, but her work can be viewed on her Facebook page.
My most recent love affair is with the work of Elizabeth Beronich Sheets. It is difficult to find out much information about this artist, other than that she lives in either Seattle, WA or San Diego, CA, and has been an illustrator all her professional life. Elizabeth sprung up on my Facebook quite recently, and I can’t imagine how her work didn’t come to my attention before. I have voraciously consumed everything that has been posted about her other-wordly work. There is something rather “Mad Max” about Elizabeth’s works, as though they have been excavated from another time or even another place. They have a richness of aging appearance and an unusual and very individual form, filled with a beauty of illustration. Jules Verne may have envisaged such a book . . .She has a Facebook page and an Etsy store. Check it out!
There are so many more artists out there who are doing the most amazing, inspiring work. I hope these introductions will lead you to discover even more, and keep on looking . . .