Opening my studio is one of the best parts of making art. As a member of the Bloomington Open Studios Tour collaborative, I open my studio to guests once a year. In case you missed it, here are some highlights. A very special THANK YOU to painter Dawn Adams, who took these images.
My studio is in my home, a vintage 1976 four-level home. We transform our living room to a gallery space. This year I was joined by printmaker and book artist Mary Uthuppuru. The inclusion of 3D work and her infectious enthusiasm was a valuable addition to the weekend.
I had a conversation recently with a friend who is a professional musician. She mentioned that she doesn’t listen to music at home. “It feels too much like work,” she admitted. She usually opts for television or non-music radio.
This observation resonated with me. There are times in my life where I need some sort of creative distraction to relax and alleviate stress. Because my visual art practice is what I do for a good part of my day – and is sometimes the source of my stress — I have been looking for other ways to be creative.
Trying something different
I recently signed up for a writing circle with a local nonprofit writing group called Women Writing for a Change. The topic of the six-week Thursday night writing circle is “Listening to Mystery: Writing, Presence and Poetry.” Each week, we begin with a poetry reading from various spiritual traditions and have a time of meditation. We do “fast writes” where we write furiously about whatever comes to mind. Sometimes we share our writing in small groups, and sometimes we read to the entire circle.
I am thoroughly enjoying the experience, in part because it is a creative practice that I am doing just for me. For two and a half hours my cell phone is silenced, and I am present to myself and my circle-mates. I have no ambitions to become a published writer. Creation for creation’s sake is a gift.
This class has also encouraged me to have a morning ritual to get myself into creative time. For years I have fought against the Morning Pages of Julia Cameron. Thanks to my writing circle, I have been beginning my creative time by emptying my monkeymind on the page and writing any thoughts about what I want to accomplish in the studio that day. Then I read a poem (my favorites are Mary Oliver and W.S. Merwin) and spend some time writing about something I hear in the poem, or something the muse brings me. After that, I am in a place to begin my studio time.
Dabble in something practical
I have also begun dabbling in designing fabrics using some of my patterns that I have simplified. I have no idea where this practice will take me, but I will at least reupholster my sagging dining room chairs and get some new pillows.
I find that with these new additions to my creative life, I am finding my studio time to be more energized and fruitful.
What do YOU do to enhance your creative practices?
One of the best things about printmaking is that you can replicate imagery — and it gives you the opportunity to create a collaborative art installation. I did this recently during the Bloomington Open Studios Tour (BOST) when I invited people to print flags. The results look fabulous, and the journey was meaningful as well.
How do people identify a creative endeavor that speaks to them? Very few people have a driving passion for writing or art or music — one that motivates them throughout their life. Most of us don’t. Elizabeth Gilbert has an insightful presentation where she argues that for most people, life isn’t about one great passion, but rather a meandering path where we find one interest, and then another. It is about our journey where we gather each breadcrumb as it appears on our path, and at the end, hopefully we are filled.
Making art when you are worried or under stress can be hard. I created this linocut, entitled Hope Despite the Evidence, in response to a dear friend’s medical crisis. An homage to the great printmaker M.C. Escher, it portrays barren, flooded fields that capture a hopeful scene of blue skies and white clouds in a reflection. A wise friend observed recently that hope is more than an emotion — it is an action. Today I saw hope in action…
Hope arrived this morning at my progressive church in Bloomington, IN in the form of about ten members of our city who are of Turkish descent. Many are graduate students or faculty at Indiana University, but they are also members of a nonprofit organization — founded in the Midwest — that encourages Muslims to bring Noah’s Pudding to Christian congregations as a way of creating community and understanding.
The making of Noah’s Pudding is a cultural observance in the homes of both Muslims and Christians in the Middle East. It is created (with no animal products) by boiling grains and legumes and sometimes almonds with water and sugar to create a congealed pudding. After sitting overnight, dried fruits, other nuts and spices are simmered, and the entire creation is served cold topped with pomegranate. Recipes are large, and the intent is to make enough so you can share cups with all of your neighbors.
Our minister said that this observance had been scheduled long before the violence in San Bernadino, CA took place this week. He also observed that he could think of no better action that we could take in response to this violence than to establish warm relationships with our Muslim brothers and sisters.
The pudding was delicious, and it was a joy to meet people who have traveled far from their warm, Mediterranean homes in order to study and to teach. They filled our stomachs, and our hearts. I am already wondering how we can reciprocate.
To truly live as an artist, I believe I have to not only create something, but also share it with others. I had a splendid weekend meeting people at the Fourth Street Festival who wanted to have my art in their homes. I even delivered several pieces to homes for potential collectors to consider for the week. I see my work as adding to their well-being through their home environment.
This past June I had a remarkable encounter with a collector who had a specific purpose for my work…
Elizabeth Busey. Fibonacci. Reduction Linocut, 18 x 18in, Ed of 22.