Trail Art

A couple weeks ago we were out hiking on a beautiful Sunday morning. Some urban trail art caught my eye. 

I'm not exactly an advocate of etching into tree bark, but since for me it's found art, I didn't see any harm in highlighting it.

I always wonder who these initials belong to.  Do you?  I also wonder if those couples who had the passion to carve their entwining into a tree are still together.  What do you think?

A Hillside Sanctuary

I have a few more photos from our visit to Storm King Art Center I wanted to share with you.  They are of the piece, Solarium, seen above, which is part of the special exhibit, Light and Landscape. This work has a completely different sensibility than the huge metal sculptures I showed you in the previous post.

Solarium is set up on a hillside of wild grasses.  I took this photo as I walked up the paved pathway that circles around to the other side or what would be considered the entry.  I was rather surprised by the effect of this picture when I viewed it later on, as I don't recall feeling the loneliness of the scene as I walked.  The colors of the house set against the sky and the mauve of the grass caught my attention at the moment.

Closer-up, that "isolated hillside sanctuary" feeling as the brochure describes it, dissipates and the sense of viewing a stained-glass house becomes a bit of a curiosity.

Solarium, William Lamson

Technically, the piece is not made of stained glass; it is made of steel, glass and caramelized sugar.
"Caramelized sugar is baked into the windows of Solarium, tinting each a unique amber shade."

Arriving at this point, I reached the "house" by leaving the paved path and walking through a mowed pathway through the tall grasses.  Like sunlight bursting out on a cloudy day, the piece becomes all about the light coming through the colored panes, and on a day like we experienced, the effect is that of joy, warmth and loveliness.

I found myself thinking about how these effects echoed my feelings that day.  During our leisurely hours walking the grounds completely captivated, I had intermittent thoughts adding a poignant, bittersweet quality to my sunny state of enchantment.

This was our last full day of the trip, and in less than a week, Olivia would be back at school.  Summer vacation coming to that inevitable, screeching halt.  We didn't want any of it to end.

I also never forgot our good fortune that for our only chance of a day at Storm King, we had perfect weather.  Too hot, we would have never lasted over five hours; heavy rain and we would not have come, and clouds, well, the photo above wouldn't have even been worth taking.

Then, there was the very sad acknowledgment that if Aaron were still with us, we wouldn't even be on this trip.  I would exchange outcomes, of course, for anything.  

Since I can't make that trade, I accepted the gift of a really great day.  One of the best days I've had in a long, long time.

The Best Museum Ever

Mark di Suvero, Jambalaya

We took a wonderful five day trip last week exploring the mid-Hudson River Valley.  We held our breath hoping for good weather for the final full day when we planned to visit Storm King Art Center.

As you will see by these photos, the day couldn't have been more perfect.  What a gift, truly, to spend the day in such an incredible setting with temperatures no more than 80 degrees.

We spent five and a half hours walking all over the grounds with a rest for a picnic lunch.  We didn't have the time or energy for two whole sections, but we felt incredibly satisfied with what we experienced.  I hope we return again.

I became enthralled by the relationship between the sculptures and their environment.  While I count ourselves lucky to have been there on an ideal weather day, the photos I have seen of these works enveloped in fog or with the Autumn foliage replacing the green with gold offers a completely different experience.

To give you a sense of the scale of these sculptures, Michael and Olivia are standing underneath, nearby, or alongside in some of the photos. 

 Menashe Kadishman, Suspended

Mark di Suvero, Mother Peace (with Michael & Olivia underneath)
Alexander Calder (with Michael standing near the middle of the photo)

Mark di Suvero, Pyradmidian (I told Olivia to stop running and freeze!)

Maya Lin, Storm King Wavefield

Summer's Color

Every morning at this time of year, I go out to the garden, scissors in hand, to see what flowers I can cut for my kitchen table.  I don't have armloads of blossoms, and seeds didn't preform exactly as I hoped, but color accumulates a little more each day, nonetheless.

No designer of any sort can I claim to be, but I like to store away tips I hear from various artists, photographers and designers to help me be more creative with this blog, my photographs, knitting, crafting, and even cooking.

An article with Prism Yarn creator, Laura Bryant, in the Summer 2012 issue of Interweave Knits, captured my interest when she spoke about teaching her students creative classes in color.  What she said mirrored what I have heard from other artists.

I encourage all my students to clip and keep anything that catches their eye...
If something attracts your attention, there is a reason for it.  The more you learn, the more critically you can see, and the more closely you are able to analyze why.  Once you are able to discern why you love something, you can harness the effect for your own intentions.  This is where really good design comes from: observation, editing, and execution.

What she speaks of here reminds me of a few suggestions I thought I'd share with you to tuck in the back of your minds as you pursue any creative endeavors.

1.  The first came from a blogging e-course I took nearly two years ago and addresses the idea of clipping (paper or digital) what attracts your attention.  Simply, keep a folder or pinterest board of images that you like, and when you feel like you need ideas for a blog entry, a creative project of some kind, you can flip through your folder and see what inspires you.

2.  Another idea to help you study what catches your eye uses Flickr.  Favorite photos by other photographers on their Flickr page, and at some point when you need inspiration, play back your favorites in slideshow mode.  You may start to see patterns in what interests you and eventually you can learn to use these in you own work.  The Flickr idea came from the Photo Meditations course I took last Winter.

My board has references to the beach, garden, baking and motherhood

3.  Also in the blogging course, I learned about inspiration boards.  Just the other day, I looked at the one I made and realized how it not only still supports my interests, but how much more I can still gain from referring to it.

In the first year of my graduate degree in art history, I became drawn to the paintings of Vermeer.  The lighting in his paintings captivated me, yet I moved on to study other periods and cultures.  Not until the other day, did it occur to me that many photos I clip and stare at seemingly for hours, have the dramatic lighting of Vermeer's paintings.  I have no idea how to achieve that effect in my own photographs, but maybe one day I will have progressed enough to get there!

Meanwhile, I'll play with Summer's colors and observe closely.

Garden Magic

Every Summer Olivia spends three separate weeks taking an art class called Art in the Garden. If I'm counting correctly this is her seventh Summer. She's now in the "advanced group".

She never tires of this peaceful, inspiring class held in an art teacher's garden.  Each day the girls work in a different medium, sometimes choosing their spot to sit and paint or draw what they see, sometimes working from an assigned subject, such as a vase of flowers.

It always seems like two hours of magic for the girls each day: making art in shaded garden "rooms", talking amongst themselves, and sharing homemade sweet treats and lemonade. Their teacher, Lucretia, makes them feel so comfortable and special, and encourages the artist in each of her students.

Olivia wants to sculpt in clay when she grows up. She doesn't think of herself as being good at drawing (at least not compared to some people). Somehow, that judgment seems to have no place at Art in The Garden, or at least I never hear about it. I think it may be because those hours spent amongst the flowers is not about being good at something, it's about the experience and the joy of creating.

I asked her tonight if she was able to say why she loved the class so much.  She shook her head and said, "I don't have the words."

"You just love it," I confirmed.

Art From a Garden

There will be a new feature on Hearth Arts beginning regularly in October, Bring The Garden In Friday.

If you're like me and miss the inspiration your garden gives you in the warm weather months, finding creative ways to keep that connection to the earth can really brighten up that darker, cooler time.

For five Summers now, my daughter, O., has taken an art class held in the home garden of an art teacher. In this magical spot with garden rooms, the girls paint, drink lemonade and eat snacks of homemade cookies. At the end of each week, O. comes home with a stack of artwork in oil pastel, watercolor, acrylic and colored pencil. Most are done on paper, nicely matted, and there is usually at least one canvas.

Sometimes the girls can sit wherever they choose, and paint what they see. Other days, they are asked to paint vases of flowers. This year for the first time, O. painted from a still life of fruits and vegetables.

We've hung quite a number of these beautiful pictures all around the house, mainly in our kitchen, stairwell and second floor hallway. We still have a few piles, though, and need to hang more and update. We're not too fancy with our hanging--we simply use colored pushpins. I did find this hanging wire, which might serve nicely and make it easier to add new work.

All year long, these pictures fill me with such happiness when I look at them. Mostly it's because they are a reminder of this peaceful, creative, joyful experience for O., and for me, when I visit at drop-off and pick-up.

It's also been a way to honor O.'s desire to be an artist when she grows up.

I asked O. as I am writing this what she thinks of when she looks at her garden artwork up on the walls at home.

It reminds me of the year to come.

Do you mean the school year, or next Summer at art class?

It reminds me of the year to come, was her repeated answer.

To My Artist

She told the ceramics teacher that she was the only artist in the family.

The teacher seemed to need confirmation of this, and asked me at pickup, "are you an artist?"

I hesitated, not really knowing how to answer. I said, "well, once upon a time I was an art historian." She wanted to know all about this.

Then I tentatively said, "and I knit."

"Well, it's all interrelated," she said. I said that I thought so, too.

On some level I was surprised and disappointed by O.'s answer. Then again, I really don't think of myself as an artist--not in the fine-arts sense of painting, drawing, sculpting. These are the arts O. does. She wants to be a potter.

I guess in her view, I'm a Mom, and I knit, cook, bake and write about those activities, but I am not an artist.

Maybe I craft. Does that sound right?

One recent morning while A. was at camp, O. and I sat upstairs in the lounge at the yarn store. I brought the sweater I am knitting and she brought her sewing basket. She made a dress for one of her American Girl dolls.

I think about what my art history study has given me. I have the ability to see. I am always pointing out to O. colors, light, patterns in all that is around us. When we look at art, I point out certain qualities to her.

Alas, I have no ability with a paintbrush or oil pastel. Put my hands in some flour, or give me some baskets of fresh vegetables, fruit and herbs and my mind starts whirling and composing. I can work by feel and sight.

Now, that doesn't mean I really know or understand the science and alchemy of baking, but I'm starting to pay closer attention, particularly in the bread department.

This week O. is taking a needle arts day camp. This should land her squarely in the craft arena. I suppose one day she will put all these influences together.

They are all interrelated after all.

I found this recipe a couple days ago. It has O. written all over it. I plan for us to make this together, or at the very least, eat it together. I link you to a slice of chocolate craft.