Synchronicity in Art

Sometimes in your creative life you need to STOP and take a breath. Regroup. Take the time to explore and read some of those wonderful art books you have collected. You might discover why you were drawn to purchase the book.

That is the journey I am on in this place in time. I have a need to rediscover why I am an artist. Is it for myself and my need to create or is it just to please others and sell?

In Seth Apter’s book, The Mixed Media Artist, on page 94 he asks if synchronicity plays a role in your art. I confess I needed to search meanings to answer the question. This is what I found online: “Synchronicity is a concept, first explained by psychiatrist Carl Jung, which holds that events are “meaningful coincidences” if they occur with no causal relationship, yet seem to be meaningfully related.”

So my answer would be; ABSOLUTELY! What would your answer be?

Buy Seth’s Book


Just Because

I am so rich to have such a wonderful friend as Geri deGruy. We ‘met’ in the SAQA online critique group. I invited her to play along with the Arts in the Cards atc trading group and we got to know each other better as artists and people. Once in awhile there is that rare soul that you just make a connection with. Geri is one of those people.

Imagine my surprise when I received a box in the mail with her return address. Inside was a box with 6 of her wonderful small art pieces. Not prints, the real deal! And the best part, besides being from her, is they were ‘just because’.  How cool is that to have such a wonderful friend! Click her link above or on the photos below to visit her website. I think you will be in awe of her talent!


Altered Book take 2

My book cover is done.  It had a coat of matte vanish applied after takng the photo. I also repaired the leaves on the edge. A photo is a great way to discover things that your eye doesn’t always see. Now it is ready for all the wonderful art from the other artists in my book collaboration project. Love how easy it was to put the group together.


What will I call myself and branding…..

I am working on new business cards and branding. I don’t want to make a costly mistake. I need to take what I do to the next level in the new year. A friend asked me today why don’t I just use fiber artist or mixed media artist and also why does it matter so much. Below is my answer to those questions.

I think people don’t understand fiber or mixed media artist…..and they certainly don’t understand quilt art. It seems that when I am out and about looking and purchasing odd items to use in my art the subject seems to come up with ” what do you do with it?”. If I say I make art quilts they look totally perplexed since why on earth would I want a bag of hard springs for a soft quilt. Then I have to try to explain the difference in the quilt forms.  If I say mixed media…almost nobody outside the art world has any idea what media means…they think it is TV, print media or Radio.  So then it gets really confused. And as I found out in a fine art show, the judge expected mixed media to be a mix of drawing and painting media, not found objects or fiber.  And then is fiber fabric or basketry? Way too much open interpretation and frustration for everyone. 

If we are trying to connect with buyers and clients, shouldn’t we use terminology that describes exactly what we do in simple terms?  Most everyone can understand assemblage…the act of assembling. And everyone has some idea what art is.  So, if we aren’t talking to people about what we do, it isn’t important. If we are talking to people and promoting ourselves it becomes really important. I’m  really tired of feeling like I can’t talk about what I do because it turns people off when they don’t understand what you are saying. Makes them feel dumb and that is not a good thing. 

If you are a painter, basket maker, candle stick maker, weaver, tinsmith, jeweler….there is no problem. If we don’t use a term the public understands then we fit into that no man’s land of crafters.  I’m still working on it, but I think I have decided what terminology to use as the subheading after artist. 

Assemblage Art, Mixed Media or Art Quilt

Springs for Sale, I won’t be using them

I was going to participate in Maxine’s UCM [aka unconventional materials] challenge. I even had the materials lined up. My ATC group was already doing a Hardware themed swap so it was a chance to work with UCM. I found out something important about myself….it isn’t for me. Doing the atcs, which you can see in the previous post, reminded me of all the reasons my art uses softer materials but still incorporates paint, dye and embellishments. It also started me thinking about some of the tags we like to use for our art…especially mixed media.  

I ask a question on the QA list. How do YOU as a fiber artist, quilter, art quilter or artist determine how to describe a piece that uses more than fabric and thread? If it has added beading would you call it mixed media? Where do you personally draw the line in the sand. Is there a line you cross that your piece is now assemblage art rather than an art quilt?

I only got a couple of responses which was sad. I think it is an important question for our community to ponder.  I will give you the links to a couple of assemblage art definitions.  and also If you read these you will hopefully understand why I asked the question.   The contemporary use of assemblage art is a kind of Mad Max art, which I love. It just isn’t the only interpretation.

As we struggle to describe what we do as artists and the medium we choose to work with, I think it is important to use correct terminology.  At an art show last year, I entered a couple of pieces into the mixed media category. Sounded right to me. The other entries in that category were pencil/ink/acrylic or some such combination. Yes, that is mixed media  but not what those of us in the art quilt community think of as mixed media. Or the cloth, paper and scissors set either.  

I am simply trying to decide if I will continue to use the term art quilt or even fiber art for my artwork. I really like the Britannica definition and think it is going to require a lot of soul searching. Certainly to take my art past the level of people thinking it is for a bed by using ‘quilt’ should be a good thing. This has been talked to death on the SAQA [Studio Art Quilt Associates] list. But not one person even referenced the definition of assemblage as a viable option. 

Mounting a fiber piece or my attempt to be accepted by the art club

The local art club had their annual spring show in June. They would only accept 2-D work that was framed or on gallery wrapped canvas. It had to have screw eyes and wire to hang the piece and be fairly small.

I had words with a different art club in the area when they insisted that anything other than paintings on paper or canvas were NOT art but craft. Boy, just tell an artist that their medium isn’t art and you will be in for a fight.

I straddled the fence for a long time before I decided that I would enter a couple of fiber pieces in the show. I would play by their rules and make certain  the pieces I wanted to enter would hang like they asked.  They would be entered in the mixed media category, I thought that was great that they had this category. Maybe they were coming into the 21st century!

One of the pieces I felt would lend itself well to being mounted is one that has had two names: Dance and Feeding Frenzy.  It began with a photo I took at the local boat dock. There are monster carps there that swarm when they feel the vibrations of feet on the plank. They want FOOD! 

The fiber piece has so many layers of complexity that I didn’t feel I could just mount it without doing something jazzy to really make it mixed media. 

The first thing I did is shown in the top photo. After stretching the canvas and gessoing it…I really did start from scratch and stretched raw canvas. I used to do that in school and it was fun to remember how. The next step was to use gel medium to apply torn pieces of rice paper for texture. Because I was going to make the background of the canvas look like water plants, I also applied heavy cording. When those layers were dry, it was time to paint.
The trick was to make the canvas colors closely match the colors of textile paints that were overlaid with copper tulle on the fiber part. I wanted the finished piece to look as if it was always planned that way and the mounting wasn’t an afterthought.  At first the colors on the canvas were too intense so I knocked them back with a light brushing of white.

I was really pleased with the way this turned out. I thought I accomplished what I set out to do with this mounting.

I showed up at the check in for artwork and paid my entry fees. They accepted the artwork since it was entered in mixed media. It all went against a wall in categories waiting to be hung. I was confused at that point since the only piece so far in the category was what looked like a gauche and ink.

When we went to the reception, that gauche and ink got first place in mixed media, second was a collage with magazine pages and third was a watercolor and India ink. I wondered if I entered the WRONG category, but no, all those pieces were entered as mixed media. Maybe things have changed since I went to school but highlighting a painting with ink didn’t qualify as mixed media. With all the books, magazines and how-tos out there for mixed media I don’t understand how a qualified MFA judge could not know what was mixed media.

Please don’t misunderstand, this isn’t sour grapes. I was thrilled that they at least accepted and hung this piece. It was totally outside the box for them. I have won ribbons at that show for acrylics and I knew it was a very, very traditional show. I think every time a fiber artist pushes the envelope in a traditional show it furthers the acceptance of the medium. But, I won’t enter this show again. I’ll save my money for a juried show.

I have a solo show in February 2011. This piece is ready to go for the exhibition. There just might be an art buyer there who will fall in love with this  and it might even be purchased. Wouldn’t that be great?