Monday, January 27, 2014

Put head down, weave, feed family, exercise; repeat.

It might sound like a broken record, but it was another very cold week with lots of quality time spent in my art studio.  I focused mainly on another piece for my ‘Portraits of Trees’ exhibition this spring in the Showers building.  The inspiration came from a walk I had this past summer with my niece Haley, her new baby Arya, Grandma, Jacob and Great Aunt Lois.  We had a lovely afternoon stroll on the Riverwalk along the Saginaw River in Bay City, Michigan.  My memory now is just of a happy, even emotional family time.  We saw lots of willows along the shore, with several leaning over the river and the rock walls that prevent erosion.  I tried to capture the swaying willow branches in the piece that I’ll call “Riverwalk Willow.” 
 I’m getting close to having my target of twelve pieces for the show, but I’m going to keep steaming on.  My tree-based pieces are always popular at summer art fairs, and I’m in a bit of a groove right now…

One highlight of my week was having lunch with my artist friends Dawn and Cappi.  I carved out a little time around noon on Friday to see “Ed Bernstein:  Almost Illuminated” on campus.  I always have a fabulous time with Dawn and Cappi, but sharing the art experience is a great way to get out of my usual routine.   
The exhibition was a retrospective featuring a large body of printmaking with lots of riffs on a common subject placed in different contexts.  I was struck by the burning chairs placed in different situations, where Ed’s use of light and dark was quite striking.  His textures in the water were full of detail up close that fell into harmonious movement from a distance.  Very nice.

I have a new project in the works: to update my website.  I’ve been working with Paul Smedberg to expand my interface with the rest of the world.  The final product should appear in a week or two.  What’s most exciting to me will be a link to my Flickr site that shows the images of all of my photographed pieces over the span of twelve years.  It’s so much fun to look back and see where I’ve been and where I stand now as an artist.  My work ends up in the media more, and yesterday there was a picture of my “Tethered Memories” in the Herald Times.  
They published a very nice piece about the people in the Spinners and Weaver’s Guild, where I’ve learned new techniques such as needle felting.  In fact, I spend a lot of my time there poking away quietly during the meetings, just taking it all in. 

Yesterday we finally had a break in the weather, with temperatures up to forty-five.  Wow, did that ever feel good!  But we’re back into the icebox today and Tuesday.  We’re all expecting some school delays.  Sadly, the delightful cherry pie from last week is gone.  Did I mention that I really like cherry pie!  I know there’s another bag of tart cherry pie filling in the freezer, so I just need to figure out how to get it out and into a crust!  Sometimes little hints in the blog do the trick—we’ll see.   
Yesterday evening I waiting for my little pumpkin Jacob to come home from his first ski trip to Paoli peaks.  I kept busy as I waited and only periodically (not more than 6 times I'm sure...) asked Jim "how do you think that he's doing?" The word is that it was ‘epic!’  I *knew* that he has some Canuck in him!

 Jim cut up and split a bunch more firewood so we’re ready for family fires when the cold weather hits.  We’ll hunker down and play card games that the boys have been teaching us.  And if I just keep ignoring Winter, soon it will be Spring!  And that’s when I have my art show downtown—yikes, I better get back in the art studio!

Until next week,

Martina Celerin

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Portraits of Trees are on my mind

I’ve been weaving feverishly in my art studio of late.  Looming hard deadlines to hang a show are always a great motivator!  I’ll be exhibiting a show called ‘Portraits of Trees’ in the City Hall atrium in the Showers building starting March 4th, but I started the new year with only two pieces appropriate for the show.  I was envisioning a collection of pieces that resembled photographic portrait stills.  The subjects are trees of varying species set in different contexts, but always capturing a family connection or relationship to the people in their lives.  Given the space, I think I’ll need at least a dozen new pieces with this theme.  Now I’m up to seven, after many hours in my art studio.  In my last blog I featured a piece I called ‘Tethered Memories’, which featured a balloon tethered to a park bench.  I love that piece, and it set me to imagining a baby in a stroller with a balloon tied to the handle. 
The completed piece spawned the idea for a triptych entitled ‘Trips to Bryan Park.’  The second piece in the series features a tree and a little red wagon, imagining a child old enough to pull a wagon full of essential toys to the park.  These are both pieces that resonate with my trips to Bryan Park with my boys as they grew up.  The current phase of their life will be titled something like ‘Emerging Independence’ and features a bicycle leaning up against a tree.  Now both boys ride to the park by themselves, armed with a cell phone and instructions to call when they arrive and when they set out for home.  They take their tennis rackets or a basketball when the weather allows and meet their friends in the park.  The last piece I just completed for the show is called ‘Family Portrait’ and features a large paper birch stand in a landscape format, shown in the summertime. 
Both Jim and I grew up in northern climes surrounded by lots of birches, so the piece feels like an extended family portrait.  I had some help from Noah Blumenthal wrapping birches at the end of last year after he graduated from IU.  Some kids end up flipping burgers, but Noah decided he wanted to wrap birches to show his parents that their money supporting his college education was worthwhile!  It was good to have someone in the art studio to chat with, but it is also good that he’s a quiet person so I was able to focus on my own work.  Anyway, now I have a month and a few days to come up with five more tree pieces!  I really have to stay focused.

After some brutally cold weather, January has begun to look up.  Well, at least the days are getting longer...  Jim finally got the hint that it was time to make another pie.  A beautiful cherry pie appeared Sunday morning while I worked in the art studio.  I didn’t even notice it until later in the day when I spotted it on a swing through the kitchen.  My birthday celebration is also coming up this week, which we moved from late in December.  There are just too many good things to eat around the holidays, so making another chocolate cake didn’t seem like the right thing to do.  I’m hoping for a nice dinner and a Sacher or Linzer Torte.   
And maybe even a present!  I won’t get my hopes up too high just yet, though.  With all the goodies coming my way, it felt great to get back into a fitness routine of late.  I seem to have gotten into more classes than I was doing before, but I love it.  There’s a new Dancefit class at Windfall in the mornings, and Hayley, the instructor, is an amazing ball of energy.  She’s incredibly positive and enthusiastic, so much so that it’s fun to get up in the morning.  I’m still doing Bollywood on Saturday mornings at Panache, and this past Saturday the class was packed.  A lot of my favorite people were together having a rocking good time.  I even get some afternoon exercise time with Jenny (sweaty Mondays) or Walter (wicked Wednesdays).  After a full day of making art I really appreciate the chance to just go dance and throw my body around.  I get a reminder with my morning espresso and cherry pie that I need to get up and exercise!  Life is good.

Until next week,

Martina Celerin 

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Birthday cakes and Christmas cheer!

Despite my best efforts, blogging fell to a low priority over the holidays.  I almost got this post out before Christmas but I never got around to posting.  I’m going to update and share it.  I’ll tell you what’s new and exciting in the new year in a fresh post shortly. 

Oh the weather outside is frightful, but my studio is delightful.  It’s been a very good week in the art studio.  I spent time there weaving each day this week and managed to finish a piece called ‘Cousins at the Lake’.  I’ve been thinking about family, and that the holiday season is the perfect time to get together.  I’ve been doing my nook and cranny cleaning and general home re-organizing in advance of my family coming in from Michigan and New Mexico over the Christmas holiday.  I also flashed back to my friend and photographer Tom, who has a cottage on a lake with birches surrounding it.  Somehow those ideas all came together into the piece as the holiday approaches. 

I’m also hoping to get at least one other piece completed before I have to convert my studio into a bedroom.  A drawing on a thank you card I received after I visited a fifth grade classroom at Binford last week inspired this piece.  I was invited to talk about using recycled materials to create art, something I do in each of my pieces.  I had a really good time with a fun and enthusiastic bunch of kids.  I was very impressed with the insightful questions they asked about interpretations of the pieces.  A few days later they surprised me with an amazing batch of thank-you cards!  One had a sketch that really spoke to me, and I’m planning to build a weaving around the idea.  The weaving will feature a balloon tied to a park bench that’s under a tree.  I’ll call it something like ‘Tethered Memories’.  Since the time I wrote the first and last draft of this post, I’ve managed to bring the piece to completion. 

If you didn’t get that I’ve been on an art frenzy since I’ve completed my last commission pieces and before I go into holiday mode, I can report that I have also been working on my felted fruit piece.  I have all but the seeds finished on the watermelon chunks.  I filled in the meat of the lemon slices with wool that I have in my stash that I dyed to a gentle yellow with dandelions.  Then I finished the edible white part of the apple slices.  It’s nice to be working on this project because I can work on it anywhere.   When my art studio becomes a bedroom for the New Mexico Drummonds I’ll still be able to move the piece forward.  I plan to do a lot of chatting with family, and I can always poke while I talk and listen. 

I have to start winding this down, but lots of other stuff is going on.  I’m in the process of sorting out my summer travel schedule. I heard back from the Des Moines art fair, but unfortunately they wait listed me.  Tommie is convinced that they’ll invite me to participate, so we’ll just wait and see.  On Thursday we celebrated Jim’s birthday.  It wasn’t a pie week, but I did make an elaborate German chocolate cake that Jim requested.  I found a Bobby Flay variation on the classic recipe listed with a high degree of difficulty.  I was up for a challenge, so off I went!  I was sold on the cake part when I read that it featured a cup of cocoa powder.  I ended up using Giaradelli’s instead of Dutch (Drost) because that was all I could find.  The frosting recipe called for a cup of goat milk, but I haven’t seen any goats lately so I improvised.  My favorite part of the process was learning Bobby’s ganache technique , which was the absolute simplest process I’ve ever used.  I’m definitely going to use that again on some other baked delight very soon.  The cake was a big hit!  It took several days to finish it off, even though it went very well with espresso for breakfast.  Who knew?  Happy birthday to my sweetie pie. 

Until next week,

Martina Celerin