Summer Songs…



Thinking out loud,

The robins get up very early around here.  We know because they sing the morning song just outside our bedroom window.  Even though it is barely light, they are ready for the day.  I turn over and doze until I hear the raucous call of the Pileated Woodpecker, or the crows, or all of them together.  It’s time to get up!

I really don’t mind this kind of wake up call.  I don’t have to leap out of bed, but my brain starts working on whatever is “up” for the day.

As a kid, summers seemed long open ended weeks, time for anything and everything, time to let my mind roam and the ideas sort themselves.  There was time to dream, to imagine, time to watch a stink bug make its way through a puddle, time to watch a popsicle stick sail the rugged seas of the street side gutter, or time to figure out what a shadow was and how it came to be.

I treasure those memories.  And I treasure the ones I build each day.  I watch my back yard bunnies helping manage the lawn.  In the evenings we watch the swallows soar way up high over the back yard.  We watch the dragonflies cruise back and forth on mosquito patrol.  Dragonflies are my special friends because mosquitos seem to think I am on their particular menu…

And in the studio there is relaxed activity.  You could almost say lazy, but it isn’t really.  My imagination is busy…I am stacking up fabric from my stash as an idea brews.  Pulling fabrics out has been pleasurable—I have some pretty good stuff hiding in those shelves.

I’m not in a hurry.  I aim to let the fabrics sing to me.  I’m going to watch them and imagine and discover what story they have to tell me.  I am going to take my time.

Questions to ask…

Thinking out loud…

There are questions to ask, (What was I thinking??), and some not to bother with, (Where did I put that?), and some that just naturally unfold themselves. (What “meaning” am I looking for in this piece?)

One of my strategies for figuring out what meaning an in-progress work holds for me is to list all the words that come to my mind.  I let myself be literal and symbolic, obscure and obvious, humorous or not—just listing the words, the qualities that dodge through my thinking.

Sometimes this gives me clues as to a direction change.  Sometimes a title appears.  I like to have working titles as I proceed, and often these change as the work progresses.

And eventually I bring out my trusty thesaurus, and look up the words I am most interested in.  I look for words that carry the meaning (or hints of it) that I am searching for.

Titles are the clue I provide to the viewer—a place from which to stand and look at my work, a starting point.  Hopefully, the viewer has to (or wants to) ask the questions I have asked myself.  And, hopefully, the viewer finds answers in her own (his own) experience.

It is that connection between the viewer and the work that I value.  It is what I value about looking at art.  If I can bring my own experience to the conversation between me and the work, I am able to have a dialog with the artist.  It doesn’t matter if my experience is different from the artist’s, it only matters that meaning has been carried, transmitted, communicated, shared.

Art grows and advances civilization.  That may seem obvious, but think about it, let it sink in.  Let the necessity of art give you hope and purpose in your work.