September 2005 archives

you are here [x]: Scarlet Star Studios > the Scarlet Letters > September 2005
<< before August 2005
after >> October 2005

September 28, 2005

artist's way: week 3

by gl. at 9:19 pm

this week the artist's way creative clusters created lifemaps, an exercise i think went pretty well for both clusters. this was laura's first session after a series of unfortunate events kept her from attending the first two sessions, so this was a perfect introductory exercise for her and her cluster. susan brought lovely roses from her garden for the studio this morning.

at this point, the clusters seem pretty solid. i think there will probably be some unrest around week 8 when the clusters begin to get more emotionally risky and the outside world becomes more demanding, but for now, it feels like we are all more comfortable w/ each other. btw, it turns out that running two clusters is only a little more work than just running one, but i'm still glad i'm not teaching at the mac this term.

each week i create a different center sculpture/assemblage for the clusters, usually based on the theme of the chapter we're covering. to give these otherwise plain text entries some color, i'll begin posting pix & descriptions now:


center (identity): an art brick i made a couple of years ago, bounded by four different kinds of calligraphy pens (including one i made from a pepsi can & a chopstick).

also, some of you might want to know what music was played, which i will also begin including, along w/ amazon associate links. this week it was paul simon's graceland & peter gabriel's passion. susan, especially, found passion inspiring.

posted by gl. | permalink | categories: artist's way

September 27, 2005

urban vinyl / designer toys

by sven at 10:50 pm

Stuck on the couch with a cold today, google exploration led me to discover urban vinyl -- a.k.a. the designer toy movement.

I'm fascinated! The concept is that artists are doing limited edition vinyl toys -- not based on TV shows, but rather on original pop art concepts of their own. See the link above for a more in-depth history.


posted by sven | permalink | categories: links, sculpture

September 26, 2005


by gl. at 3:31 pm

ee! kathy, who hosted the "create the world" event and has been to an artist's way open studio, sent the studio a gift: a pack of blank watercolor cards. also, one of the fall artist's way participants brought a potted ivy to live here, as a representation of how much she's grown, even after just a couple of weeks. how very sweet! the studio likes gifts, yes indeed. :)

posted by gl. | permalink | categories: miscellany

September 23, 2005

poem: balanced

by gl. at 10:28 pm

this is the poem i wrote on the wednesday morning poetry walk:


when the sun shines there is no mystery
every blade of grass clipped and crisp against the lawn
every flower clamouring for attention
the hidden cat spotted among bright dandelions
while sawing and hammering and clattering compete
with the chorus of birds and chanting insects

but even in the brightest day there is shadow
relief from the sun, heavy & hollow
in a field wide with blackberries and soft piles of dried grass
autumn apples rest on the ground, examined by ants
behind me, the leaves rustle cool like water
as the wind passes with its silent secrets

tomorrow is the equinox
balanced between night and light
today i am walking the sliver between seasons
the iron weathervane perfectly still
waiting for what comes next

...september 21, 2005...

posted by gl. | permalink | categories: artist's way, writing

poem: autumn walk

by gl. at 10:25 pm

this is the poem i wrote on the tuesday night poetry walk:

autumn walk

with every step, we fall further into the night.
the trees glow in the dusk, each leaf
wearing the last rays of sunset like a halo.
cars flash past in roars and whispers.
gleaming houses line the horizon
like white silk in a dark coat.
we pass roses, cosmos
the last of the thistles
peppers in a pot.
the crickets are singing lullabyes to the dogs.
the moon is still sleeping
in her bed behind powell butte
but the stars are just waking
and i follow the scarlet one home
into brightness and warmth.

...september 20, 2005...

posted by gl. | permalink | categories: artist's way, writing

artist's way: week 2

by gl. at 10:10 pm

this week we did one of my favorite activities: a poetry walk around the neighborhod while it was still early enough in fall to have sunlight for the tuesday night cluster and beautiful and clear for wednesday morning. we live in a lovely area, right at the base of powell butte and about 6 blocks away from the springwater corridor trail. but the walk is so slow (you try writing every noun & verb down in a 3-block radius and keep walking at the same time), we never get to those areas. still, we end in a lovely open field nearby, so it mixes a little bit of rural with suburbia. i rarely participate in the activities when i'm facilitating, but in this case it turns out to be important to model the process, including writing the poems, so i'll be including them in two more posts.

an interesting encounter during tuesday night's poetry walk:
a man is walking his dog across the street: "what are you girls taking pictures of?"
"oh, we're just writing," i say, with my best harmless smile.
he speaks to his dog: "we've got three of them right here. they must be students or something."


center (safety): a single candle surrounded by chestnuts resting on silver tags w/ embossed words (yes, fall, heart, naked, heaven, light). three of erica moen's tiny paper stars are scattered about.

music played: sundays' blind.

posted by gl. | permalink | categories: artist's way

"witch" sculpture

by sven at 8:53 pm

I started this sculpture on Friday Sept 2; finally finished it last Saturday -- Sept. 17. The backdrop is black foamcore, hot-glued to a piece of wood. The stone juts out an inch or two on a dowel... I actually used a masonry bit to drill a hole into the rock. The body is photocopied from a magazine, then tinted blue with acrylics. Gretchin informed me later that it had been a photo of singer Amy Grant. The hair is a bit of frilly gift ribbon that I found in our "3D items" collaging bin. The stars are made out of sheets of foam that you can get at a craft store. I found the image of the moon online. The moon and stars also pop out from the background.

I'm really excited about this piece. As an assemblage, it reminds me a little of Dave McKean's work. Also of Maurice Sendak and Winsor McCay, both of whom I admire greatly. A sense of whimsy. ...I like taking photocopies of my own face -- a very low-brow sort of art -- and elevating them to a more uppity artform. I like the photographic element sort of being kept behind a pane of glass, because it's black and white. I like the notion of populating a universe with characters that all have my face, even though they'll all have their own identities (Malkovich Malkovich... Malkovich?)

It implies a story -- even though I haven't thought of one myself. The yarn was a last-minute addition that really worked out. I see this character as being angry/in pain, yet oddly beautiful -- offering a rope to anyone who wants to climb up. I showed it to the "Church of Art" folk last Sunday; one of them saw the stone as our badly damaged earth. Neat! Me, I'd seen it as another world, a tiny little asteroid like the one in "The Little Prince".

I've got another sculpture in the same style half-done. Very much looking forward to posting about it when it's done...

posted by sven | permalink | categories: sculpture

sketchbook collages

by sven at 5:35 pm

Ah, it's been a while since I posted new art -- and I've been crazy with making!


After watching the movie "bodysong", I really wanted to do some art of my own, but didn't have any clear images in my head. So, to try something new, I used the Google "images" function to find some pictures to collage with.

"Where does it hurt?" uses a police diagram for where to look for concealed weapons. I misread it at first, thinking it was pain points used to incapacitate a person -- that's where the title came from. The image of the police was photocopied onto a transparency, and then I painted blue acrylics behind the faces.


I started this one the same night, but didn't finish it til the next day. I was interested in doing more superimposed images, so I tried sending pieces of paper through the photocopier twice. You've got a nude with music notation on her, and a newborn with a police squad on top of it. The composition didn't quite fit the page, so I did some doodles in acrylics to fill the space and give it some life.


This one marks a bit of a turning point -- I started getting a sense of this new style that I want to explore more. You've got the moon with two sides of my face, and then a whole bunch of fish with dead bodies superimposed. For that bit, I took a magazine page and photocopied on top of it.

Very cool synchronicity: On the same day that I made this, our friend Joanne wrote a poem about hurricane Katrina that mentions a "watery grave". I hadn't read it yet, and I really didn't have anything in mind when I made this -- I was just throwing things together -- but clearly it's a picture of a "watery grave". Neat!


This one was difficult to get a decent photo of. On the left hand page you have a blown-up photocopy of my face. On the right hand page is the same image reversed, photocopied onto a piece of transparency, which is attached to a piece of black paper with cardstock using gromits. Frustratingly, you can see reflections of the camera and the diningroom light fixture on the slick transparency. ...Sort of Andy Warhol-esque, to my mind.


Ah, now here I'm getting back to this new style I'm pursuing. Started it the night before, finished it the next day. I liked the image of the moon with two faces enough that I photocopied it and used it once again. Gluing the yarn in was somewhat daring for me: I haven't really ever put anything so 3D into one of my sketchbooks before.


I did this one our Open Studios collage night. Gretchin wanted a title, so I dubbed this it "nature god" (for no special reason). The "world" the character is standing on is actually a human egg, which I found on the cover of a magazine -- not that it's supposed to mean anything. The leaf is photocopied and tinted with acrylics. The horns are little tin snippings I had hanging around. Once again, getting daring and gluing in 3D bits.

...That's it for now, for new sketchbook work!

posted by sven | permalink | categories: sketchbook

September 22, 2005

Notes on Making Art

by sven at 11:46 am

I've been influenced by Julia Cameron's "Artist's Way" and also Philip Sylvester at the Drawing Studio -- but I feel like I'm really beginning to get a grip of my own on the creative process and wanted to take some quick notes.

  1. Quality through quantity. Don't get hung up on making this one piece good -- make ten and one will certainly be pretty good.

  2. Do NOT mix generating and editing. When you're making a piece, don't stop and get judgmental half-way through. If it's a piece of crap, get that piece of crap out of your system -- don't try to fix it mid-flow. Finish it, move on.

  3. When to judge: After you've completed a piece, look at it and decide what direction you want to go in next. Or if you're selecting pieces for submission to a show, apply your critiquing mind then. Make a piece of art; look at it; make another.

  4. Don't be afraid to re-use elements. If each piece has to be unique, then you're going to get hung-up when you create some bit that you like. But if you can re-use bits, then you can keep moving.

  5. How to have "lots of ideas": permute. Start anywhere. Once a piece is done, try varying some aspect. Think of all the variables that could have permutations.

  6. "Get through your first 50 failures as fast as you can." I don't think that we should be shooting for a place where we no longer make crappy art. A good artist is one who's in motion making lots of art -- you only think they're so much better because they produce so much quantity that their pile of "good art" has also been able to accumulate. For every piece of crap you create, you're one step closer to getting something you really like.

  7. Don't even bother "fixing" pieces. Making art shouldn't be a struggle. You're simply "thinking out loud" onto the page, photo-paper, or canvas. If a product seems confused, leave it confused. Make another piece where you contemplate whatever issues you were wrestling with. Try something different. When clarity arrives, it will come in one living piece -- not be Frankensteined together out of a single infinitely re-worked, mangled corpse.

  8. Work fast. Creativity is exciting. If you're not judging while you're making, then you can just throw things together as fast as your mind can move. You're smart; if you don't like what you've made, you'll know immediately. You might not know what to do about the problem you perceive... Don't "think", standing there cogitating -- try things. If your hands are in motion, you can be generating new permutations. The one that you want to pick will come out on its own time.

  9. Let your level show. Let the world know that despite having years of investment in your art form, you're still a beginner who doesn't know it all. Rather than hide your thought process, let your questions be present in your work. You are a fundamentally more interesting artist if people get to see what it is that you're struggling with, rather than just your final answers. Show your work. Talk about what you still can't understand (unapologetically).

  10. Don't hide your failures. If you are only willing to show those perfect pieces that you are aspiring towards, you're never going to display / publish your work. Show everything, the worst of the crap included, and let your ego be humbled -- and goaded to create more.

posted by sven | permalink | categories: writing

September 20, 2005

tba05: dada ball

by gl. at 9:38 pm

alas, the dada ball was the most disappointing event, perhaps because it was the final tba event and i had higher expectations of it. i had hoped for cool art, good music, good food, and spectacular costumes. none of that was true: only one art piece (large flower-shaped lamps); djed club music & a loud dazed guitar band; bagels, cream cheese, pears & coffee after the one small water cooler ran out of water; and i only saw two costumes i thought were clever or impressive (one, a woman in a hoop without the skirt, a blindfold, a stick mask w/ painted eyes, and a tall wire basket w/ lightbulbs in it for a hat; two, a man who was wearing a replica of duchamp's "bicycle wheel" on his head).

and it was pretty smokey, considering it was in a fairly open-air warehouse setting. it was like attending a nightclub, and you know how much i like nightclubs. *crickets* at the end of the night they broke out the big colored chalk and an impromptu performance with bicycles was gathering in the furthest room, but it was time for me to go.

for my costume, i threaded white christmas lights through my hair, dusted myself heavily w/ glitter powder, added crystals & stars over my exposed skin, and wore sven's sparkly sequined dress -- the same one i wore for burning man last year-- grey tights & my motorcycle boots. not the best costume, but costumes have never been my forté and in the dark, it looked angelic. against a wall, it even looked like i had wings:


so farewell, tba! i'll see you again next year, but i won't be the same wide-eyed and hopeful ingénue i once was.

posted by gl. | permalink | categories: exhibits & events

September 19, 2005

tba05: fluid hug-hug

by gl. at 11:10 pm

another in the short series of events sven & i attended at this year's tba festival....


i was sadly unmoved by kota yamazaki fluid hug-hug's performance of rise:rose. the music was great, the costumes evocative, the stage sparse but moody. kota himself was as lithe and and fluid as his name. but there was no emotional connection in the piece, no sense of depth or purpose. the other dancers seemed misplaced and unattached. it was a long time to feel absent. upon leaving the theatre, i responded more to the the full moon outside, burning behind quicksilver clouds.

posted by gl. | permalink | categories: exhibits & events

September 18, 2005

tba05: portland stories

by gl. at 11:07 pm

this is another post begun over a week ago. i'm catching up, slowly but surely...


while waiting in pioneer courthouse square for a brief and impromptu tori amos concert, carl discovered portland stories, two women behind a nordstrom's display window who would "talk" with you using greasepaint pencils, though as the window became covered in writing, it became harder to find space to write. i was charmed & delighted by both the concept and the women, who seemed genuinely engaged with and interested in everyone. afterwards, one of them specifically stopped to thank me for telling them about the tori show, which they ducked out briefly to see.

posted by gl. | permalink | categories: exhibits & events

September 16, 2005

tba05: dj spooky

by gl. at 5:29 pm

wow. this is a post that was begun a week ago. well, you know what i've been doing. sven's doing some really neat sculpture things that are very much like his open studio collage but they're not ready to be written about yet, which is why i'm taking up all the talk time here. no, i'm not self-conscious... why do you ask?


paul d. miller, aka dj spooky that subliminal kid, has a very long moniker but gave a relatively short lecture. when it began, it was dense with interesting language and concepts, probably in no small part due to the recent publication of his first book rhythm science, published by mit press.

some highlights and things i wish had been discussed more:

but the last half was essentially a portfolio review: clips with little segue or relevance to anything he had previously talked about. and the q&a was lacking because he wasn't good at actually answering the questions he was asked (except when he was talking about reducing "the band" to just a computer -- when i asked if he missed working with other musicians, he was emphatic: "no. i don't miss babysitting the bass player."). his persona is wonderfully erudite but playful and even kind, though, and i'm still intrigued enough to read a copy of rhythm science should it fall into my hands, or in case cough i buy a copy for cough someone for xmas and read it before i, um, wrap it.

(random: for a dj whose livelihood depends on sampling, i find it ironic that he chose a creative commons license that stipulates no derivative works can be made from his pieces.)

posted by gl. | permalink | categories: exhibits & events

artist's way open studio (september)

by gl. at 1:20 am

tonight's open studio went pretty well. two new people found me via craigslist and joanne was finally able to come -- she even postponed her morning pages today so she could begin them in a newly collaged journal! and she brought tiny tomatoes from her garden, much to our newly discovered tomato-lovin' delight. tonight was the first night it's really felt like fall, with an edge to the air and the moon burning behind quicksilver clouds.

an interesting test of the open studio philosophy: one of the participants used several sheets of my sink-marbled paper and i tried not to panic, reminding myself that supplies are for using and i can easily make more. do i believe in a gift economy? do i believe in abundance? gifts should be given without an expectation of return or monitoring their "best" use. i very much enjoy seeing art made with things i've been saving for years, and that's enough for me. i was glad to struggle briefly with this issue and arrive at a generous conclusion: it doesn't mean that i can't keep some supplies marked exclusively for me & sven, but otherwise i want to place no limits on what can be made at the open studio.

btw, the collage below is more vibrant than this appears. i may rescan it when it's not almost 2 o'clock in the morning. i do like collage night, but the photo & update distribution program keeps me up late.

[pattern from tangle: click to see the other intuitive collages]

posted by gl. | permalink | categories: artist's way

September 15, 2005

psc monthly meeting

by gl. at 5:06 pm

i went to my first portland society of calligraphy meeting monday and was surprised to find only nine people there, including myself and the presenter, who was the president of the group. nine people at the first meeting of the year is not a good indicator of group health, especially when you have about 120 members. sdfc had 89 members, but about half of them were active and came to the meetings, which were a mix of business, lecture & hands-on activities. the summit scribes also had a very vibrant meeting culture.

so we all talked about our summer vacation & then the president showed cool photos of the projects developed & displayed at the legacies conference. portland calligraphers are striking in the way they feel compelled to mention how many degrees of separation they are from lloyd reynolds (who began a calligraphic renaissance at reed) and jacque svaren (one of his students who wrote the orange lettering book that every proper calligrapher must own). the president, who seems both talented & kind, was credited for resurrecting the group from the dead, so i want to give her some credit for rolling the stone up the hill. but if this had been my first group meeting ever, i probably wouldn't return.

i'm hoping next month, which includes a calligraphic supply exchange, is better. plus between now & then, i'll be attending the aocc. and i am hopinghopinghoping that there's enough interest to bring denis brown, one of the calligraphers i simply swoon over, to teach a class.

posted by gl. | permalink | categories: calligraphy

September 14, 2005

artist's way: week 1

by gl. at 6:44 pm

so both the tuesday night and the wednesday morning creative clusters have met for the first time! alas, we've already lost three members, including the two i suspected wouldn't make it: one boy decided to do it on his own, one girl couldn't come to the first few sessions because of her wedding, and another had pregnancy complications. laura was also home sick with a fever, but i'm glad she didn't bring it to us and as far as i know she'll be back.

it felt fairly chaotic to get a rush of new registrations and then an equivalent amount of fallout, but as i said today at the end of the morning cluster, i'm glad it's begun. this i know how to do; promotion gives me hives. i wonder how much i could afford to pay someone to do promotion for me, if it could be a fee-per-student arrangement.

but the art activity, which for the first time is always a 20-minute intuitive collage, was very successful in both clusters. it's a deliberately short timeframe to thwart the demons of perfectionism and self-criticism. i think i might call it an "exuberant collage" rather than an "intuitive collage" because it more accurately conveys the sense of energy and enthusiasm i see when people are engaged in this activity. afterwards we discussed three different ways to give feedback and respond to artwork without being critical about it: phenomenological, aesthetic, and artistic.

having never had a cluster form in the morning before, i have noticed some differences from the evening clusters: in the physical checkin, people are less likely to say they're tired; the room feels lighter with so much sunlight; the construction workers mercilessly grind away at the stone facade on the house across the street (argh); the stars & candles don't really need to be lit but i like to do it anyway. and when i'm done, i have the whole day ahead of me. :)

posted by gl. | permalink | categories: artist's way

September 12, 2005

last two

by gl. at 11:44 pm

two final artist's way registrations came today, both for tuesday night. so wednesday morning is full and tuesday night is past quorum. hooray! can i breathe now?

i suspect one person in each group might not make it all the way through. i'm trying to get okay with this to begin with: everyone has their own path to take through the artist's way, and when it gets tough, it's sometimes best to leave and return later than it is to try to struggle against & resent it.

last night sven & i saw a shooting star streak past casseiopia & perseus while mars hovered above the butte. mars is our "scarlet star" and so i hope this bodes well for artist's way.

posted by gl. | permalink | categories: artist's way

September 9, 2005

tba05: streb

by gl. at 11:15 pm

sven and I are attending several time-based arts festival events this week. this is the first i've attended, though i've been eyeing their catalogues since i moved here. streb was a free event at pioneer courthouse square last night to inaugurate their third year and act as a farewell for their fearless leader, who's moving to a melbourne art institute (lucky gel!).

sven found us a great spot at the top of the fountain where we spread a blanket and i dangled my feet over the edge. it began with a bang, featuring an energetic drum march down broadway and through the square, departing for parts unknown. and streb's first piece, "wild blue yonder," was a jaw-dropping experiment in trampolines, timing, and tumbling. most of the rest of the pieces failed to carry through on this spectacular start: "spin," "hoops," "rise&fall," "slipnslide," "slapstick" & "fly" required a lot of setup for one-trick wonders that have been done better by other circus performers. but "gauntlet" was another eyes-wide performance that involved walking and jumping and leaping and crawling past huge cinderblocks scything through the air like deadly pendulums -- a terrific piece until they suddenly lost a performer and the lead guy brought the rest up for a hasty bow and ran his hand over his throat to signal the tech guys to kill the lights. yeek. fortunately, after intermission they all seemed none the worse for wear. the other well-done pieces involved interstitials in plexiglass boxes that looked barely big enough to fit a person inside, let alone a squirming one or six.

streb ended in a cloud of bubbles, which streb's director dubbed "antigravity machines." in the lights, they twinkled like stars. speaking of which, in the glare of pioneer courthouse square, it was only possible to see three stars, the stars which make up the "summer triangle": deneb in cygnus, altair in aquila, and vega in lyra. afterwards, sven & i danced fast and loosely in the crowd. and the traffic out wasn't nearly as bad as we feared it might be. all in all, a good night.

posted by gl. | permalink | categories: exhibits & events

but wait, there's more!

by gl. at 6:11 pm

two more registrations!

a woman from the MAC summer core wants to continue to pursue artist's way, which pleases me greatly. she thought she'd have a travel conflict, but it looks like she'll be able to make it. i am hoping the longer, gentler format works better for her, too. and that also means the wednesday morning class is full! (i can hardly believe it. i have to get more large cushions from costplus/world market!)

in addition to lending us a steam cleaner, laura also decided she wanted to do artist's way! she's in transition after the house settlement & says she wants a "kick start" to be more creative, as someone who dances and sings and writes. and i'm thrilled to add someone to tuesday night. the "last chance" emails & posts need to go out tonight.

and now i hope michaelmas (and reza & kara: happy reception!) understands why i couldn't be gone the weekend before artist's way begins.... :)

posted by gl. | permalink | categories: artist's way

September 8, 2005

final descent

by gl. at 11:34 pm

my sixth fall registration today was my first contact in july, who found me via the first round of flyering sven did for me at the wild oats on division. another one for wednesday morning, no less, for a total of 5 in that cluster!

alas, with only two MAC registrations, lori & i chose to cancel that class rather than spend the energy packing, travelling, teaching, packing and returning once a week. perhaps the 13-week version was too long for them; i'm happy to revise it to make it more palatable to its members and i think i'll get another shot for its next term, so though it was a surprise, i don't feel too badly about it. and i have wednesday evening free again!

we are heavily into studio cleaning & tinkering now. we're borrowing a steam cleaner from laura tomorrow and sven put a lot of work today into clearly labeling & arranging the supplies in the kitchen. next up is more star lamps, art, cleaning the floors, etc. i've been looking for a cute cd player since the purple translucent one michaelmas gave me over 3 or 4 years ago is finally dying, but i've checked fred meyers, best buy, circuit city and even amazon with no success. boomboxes just aren't hip anymore, i guess. it might be time for me to look at those cool jbl speakers for your ipod.

posted by gl. | permalink | categories: artist's way, studio space

September 6, 2005

fifth fall registration!

by gl. at 8:57 pm

art media finally came through for me! (maybe it was the supplies i just got today that i've been waiting to get till my teacher discount rose to 20% in september. ;) that's four people now in the wednesday morning group -- a surprise to find the most populated one to be the morning! i'm relieved, because while three is the absolute minimum for fusion, four is much more stable and is less awkward when someone is gone for a week. i prefer small class sizes, but they're always nervewracking to watch form. :)

posted by gl. | permalink | categories: artist's way

September 1, 2005

fourth fall registration!

by gl. at 2:49 pm

from a woman in salem! that makes three for the wednesday morning group, a number i consider to be minimum fusion for group cohesion, and i have a limit of six, so i'm breathing a little easier for that cluster. i paid to place an advertisement in the soapstone weekly newsletter; though i certainly wasn't planning on placing paid advertisements this round, vicki convinced me it was worth the investment. and voila! no other nibbles from the venue, unfortunately, but i'm pretty happy it generated something. plus, it may motivate me to promote artist's way open studio that way, because free events get listed for free. :)

after my last craigslist post (a new one goes up today), i suddenly remembered that i could check my stats page to see how many times the post had been loaded and then approximate clickthrough to the portland artist's way page! very illuminating (and obvious! i ought to have thought of that before!). alas, analog's stats make it difficult to actually follow a particular ip, so sometimes i have to root through the raw files myself.

posted by gl. | permalink | categories: administrivia, artist's way