Sunday, February 20, 2011

Getting My Head Around it

Detail of Gayle's collage, Sacred, in progress
 Something is going on. The ground is shifting. I see it on the faces of the people on the news stories about the Middle East; I see it in my friends faces; I see it in my face when I look in the mirror. For awhile, I just couldn't get my head around it.

As an artist, I have trained myself for decades to try to stay in the moment and to respond to what is in front of me without knowing where the resolution lies. It is part of trusting the process, a deeply personal way of trusting oneself. The way I tap into that part of myself is to just keep working, because much of the creative process involves problem solving, asking the "what if" question, remaining open to the answer. When I am fortunate enough to be fully engrossed in this process, I continue to work on the problem at hand even when I am sleeping. My journal is full of dreamed notations waiting for action.

This is where I find myself right now: working, thinking, dreaming, working. This process has never failed me, and serves as an anchor for me when the ground beneath my feet is shifting.

Detail of Gayle's collage, Lady Blue
Detail of Gayle's collage, Blue Landscape
I have spent months feeling blue, discombobulated. Fortunately, my trusty journals remind me that this is also a cyclical part of my process. It doesn't keep me from working, usually, and this is fortunate as well. I am designing like crazy, as I focus with renewed energy on my line of Magic Baby designs.  I hope to start a separate website and blog for that work as soon as I have some time to sit at the computer all day.

I am also itchy to do free painting, so hope to get to that soon. In the meantime, I am finishing up the three collages shown here. I will be offering all of them for sale in my etsy shop as soon as I finish stitching and mounting them. Stitching away by hand, which is what I do most nights, is my preferred form of meditation. My thoughts are freed up while I work to think and dream, to get my head around it.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Recycled Love

A page from For Sadie Jane by Gayle Pritchard featuring a
Womankind badge and a heart created from recycled kimono silk.

According to wikipedia, St. Valentine was executed on February 14, ca. the year 270. It would appear this event was an auspicious beginning for celebrations of love, and quite far removed from the pagan holiday we are familiar with today.

In my life, love is a core value, and something we try hard to express and honor. It is an intangible to be experienced, absorbed, shared and recycled.

Two page spread from For Sadie Jane by Gayle Pritchard
I suspect that love, or rather the ability to experience love, and the creative process are deeply entwined. A person who is able to love deeply is a person who is open to staying connected to their inner spark and creativity. If you happen to be one of these people, I encourage you to dig deeply, locate your source and spread it all around you. Maybe tomorrow will be a day when we get to feel the recycled love in the air.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Family Connections

T. Vickery's Boots and Shoes! I loved this ad the minute I saw it recently. Vickery, you see, is a family name, though I can't think of any T. Vickery's in the group.

You may think it strange for an artist to also be passionate about family history, but for me there is a direct connection. You see, my art is very personal, and is often about my family, my history, or some combination of the two. My piece The Day Momma Died uses physical objects that belonged to my mother to create an artwork, and to commemorate the experience of the day she died at 62.
Prayers for the Dead commemorates three family deaths which took place shortly after my mother's death.
My Joie de Vivre series is a group of three abstracted self portraits that chronicle, for me, a crucial developmental phase in my artwork. A few years ago, I made a piece about my husband using the lyrics of one of his songs.

Gayle with her piece inspired by her husband's song lyrics: I Hear Voices in my Head
Whether I am working on works for the wall or creating mixed media assemblages, my work tends to be autobiographical. It is the way I process my internal thoughts. It is what comes out when I go to that space deep inside where my inspiration lives. What inspires you?

This is an actual advertisement from Derby, England in 1816. The Mr. Pritchard mentioned is my husband's ancestor.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Appreciating Life With Eyes Closed

Gayle's assemblage in progress

I  hurt my eye last weekend, but I have no idea how or when I managed to do it. When I finally went to see my eye doctor, he found the scratch, and told me it could have even been caused by a stray hair blowing in the wind. I guess this might be a downside of having long hair. In any case, once again I was forced to STOP: stop what I am always doing, which is working, and close my eyes; rest. God, I hate that!

Maybe you have a similar personality, and maybe you don't. Years of journaling and self-examination prodded by observations from my loved ones have taught me that I feel best about myself when I am accomplishing my goals. For me, this probably comes out of my childhood, growing up in a large family, and trying to be noticed in a good way. The end result, in my adult years, is that I have a very difficult time shutting down. My active artist's mind races through the day, and thinks all through most nights, as ideas flow into my consciousness and spill over into my dreams. I love that!

This week, I was left unable to actually bring my ideas into fruition, as my hurt eye failed to cooperate. I was left pondering ideas, and thinking of lists of what I wanted to do next. The situation was aided by the fact that two of my young grandbabies were here all week while their parents traveled. There is nothing like caring for babies to make one stop and smell the roses. They are a constant reminder of what is important in these brief lives we live. Stopping the whirlwind of self-absorbed brain activity to sit down on the floor and play, make lunch, read stories and cuddle is a good way to remember that the number of hugs and memories of being loved are a large part of what makes us who we can be.

Yesterday, I was able to get back to work. My week ended on an especially high note in my Be a Pro workshop. I had a great class of eight articulate and ambitious seekers, and the discussions were lively. I felt buoyed, and I hope the participants felt more empowered to find their ways forward as artists and writers.
Later this month, I will be teaching a workshop I call Spirit Boxes, Sacred Vessels and Shrines. We'll be making personally meaningful assemblages from found objects. Hope those of you who live locally can join us. Now...back to my journal lists. Have a great week, all!

Gayle's Reflections of Mexico assemblage