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Archive for the ‘Design’ Category

Here’s the last of the mandala drawings I dredged up from 2001.  I won’t be able to post any pictures for the next couple of weeks as my husband has taken the digital camera with him on a trip to Hungary, but I’ll try to find some other things that I can post instead.  Hmmm…what will that be?  I don’t know, but I ought to be able to come up with something. 

This mandala is indicative of, you guessed it, the four seasons.  I’m having fun thinking about ways to execute these designs with mixed media, but do have to wait until after May and whatever assignments I’ll have after my two weeks in DC.

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Two more books to read, three more papers to write, plus one presentation to prepare to go before the next session of D.Min. classes.  I’m beginning to think I might get finished. Smile.

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Here’s another of my mandala drawings from 2001.  Even though it doesn’t look at all like a traditional mandala, it still feels as compelling for me as when I first drew it.  I have usually written a little something about each of the mandalas after drawing them, and it was interesting to see where I was when I drew this one and the meaning I saw in it. 

While I’ll not share that here — it’s too long — it’s interesting to note that Carl Jung used mandalas in his psychological theory.

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Incidentally, we have a bird (a starling) in our chimney/fireplace and are having trouble getting it out.  Any ideas?  Our dog thinks it’s pretty interesting, but that’s of no help at all.

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For many years I have played off and on with mandala drawings.  I first began doing them after taking a quilt design class in Seattle based on Katie Pasquini’s technique using the concept of mandala.  I then began to explore the concept of mandala further and have often used them when leading retreats and in my own journaling.  

I don’t usually follow the standard concepts of mandala with regard to a depiction of the cosmos, but use the limitation of a circle and, in most cases, repetition around the center.  Although I don’t always do that, either.   

After completing my Way of the Cross series I decided to pull out some of my old mandala drawings and think about how I might begin to use them to create some acrylic and/or mixed media pieces.  I have to do some searching in old journals and files to find most of them, but I did easily find a few that I early in 2001 that I’m looking at for possibilities right now.  

I can’t do much until after I finish the current round of D.Min. reading and writing, but I thought pulling some out and posting them might get me inspired to work with some earlier mandalas and perhaps create some new ones.

This one is from February 2001.  While I often color my mandala drawing with colored pencils, or in a few cases with watercolor.  The 2001 drawings are all in black and white.

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Last night I finished painting my canvases.  It’s really amazing to see how this creative process is working as I am forced to document and reflect upon it for my class.

I started with a “big picture” of what I wanted to accomplish and made it a little more particular with the thumbnail sketches.  But it is the actual execution of the work that is helping me to define the process and the meaning that is being built into the work as I go.

I began painting the canvases with the idea to use a gray scale to indicate growing darkness along the way to the cross.  I found that it was no easy thing to get the shading right and that it couldn’t be done by formula (at least I couldn’t figure one out), but had to be done by feel and intuition.  Just as a sunset doesn’t happen as gradually as we think but surprises us with significant changes in light at unexpected moments, so the growing darkness here required unexpected amounts of black to overcome the white base that I began with.

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I wanted to convey some sense of emotions throughout the work and used the next layer to do that.  At the same time I also continued another layer of encroaching darkness by pulling shade back into each canvas from the one following it.  I used brush strokes and in some cases paint splatters to convey emotions such as confusion, betrayal, and anger.

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The shading and brush strokes will underlay the successive layers as I begin to add media beyond the paint.  

I’m finding this very exciting and am impatient to finish, but the process of applying the different media requires me to do a lot of waiting and that is good for the reflection part.  It’s helping me not only to refine what I want to “say”, but also to plumb the depths of meaning in the journey to the cross.

It occurred to me last night, that although I had not thought about it when I decided to do this project, this is a perfect project to be working on during Lent.  I’m also getting some ideas not only on how the finished work could be used, but also on how I could adapt this process to use with a group of people in a Bible study or spiritual formation group.

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My first paper making experiment turned out pretty good and I’m going to be able to use this paper for my BIG PROJECT.  I’m hoping I made enough so I don’t have to go through the whole process again right now, since my due date is rapidly approaching.

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Here’s my “blank canvas.”  Well, it’s not exactly blank because I have started working on the canvases.  But my entire canvas is composed of these 15 12″x12″ canvases.

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The BIG PROJECT is my interpretation of the Stations of the Cross.  For a long time I’ve wanted to try doing a non-representational presentation of the traditional Stations of the Cross, but had always thought I would do it in fiber and textile.  

While the Stations of the Cross are not typically used in Protestant worship, I think there is value in using them as a basis for meditation, especially on Good Friday.   I particularly want to depict them non-objectively, which means I’ll be using geometric shapes rather than doing anything that actually looks like human figures or even, in most cases, like a cross.   

My initial inspiration for this series comes from Barnett Newman’s “Stations of the Cross” at the National Gallery of Art.  I’ve done some research on Newman’s work and it turns out this work is not actually based on the “stations of the cross” but on the words of Christ from the cross, “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?” Each canvas is a different aspect of his interpretation. 

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That helps a lot in understanding Newman’s pieces, rather than trying to place them within the framework of the traditional stations.  Newman did a lot of work in reflection on the Holocaust and these pieces also come out of that reflection. (This is a picture one of my colleagues took of some of the the pieces in the series.)

For my interpretation I’ll be using an update of the stations called “The Way of the Cross” done by Pope John Paul II.  I’ve chosen to use his update because it relies solely on biblical passages rather than some of the non-biblical stations in the traditional Stations of the Cross.  

Besides my preparatory work of gathering all the materials, instructions on processes, and reading some different meditations on the stations, I’ve also done thumbnail sketches to guide me as I put together the series of canvases.

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I’m also having to do some experimentation with techniques, such as how to apply the metal mesh, paper and fiber to the canvases.  This is not only an interpretive process for me, but very much a learning process in art techniques.

Since the Project includes a paper documenting my creative and interpretive process, I’m trying to capture the creative process here on the blog and then will add the interpretive process later as I write the paper.  But a little bit of the interpretive process will probably appear here, too.

Turns out that as I think about it, this IS a fiber project.  I’m using silk fiber, fiber in the paper making, and metal “fiber” in the sculptor’s mesh, not to mention that artist’s canvas is made of fiber.  It’s just very different fiber and textile than I’m accustomed to!

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I’m spending a lot of my creative time this week think about and preparing to get started on a project for my Creativity and Spirituality Doctor of Ministry class project.  It is supposed to be something in the visual arts and preferably something I’ve never tried before.  

So I have some ideas and I’m doing some research on techniques and materials, but so far it’s just head stuff with nothing to show.

I found some interesting food for more thought and creativity as I was surfing about on a website called TED (Technology, Entertainment, Design that explores all kinds of new ideas around technology and design.  In particular I watched this video of Ted Brown talking about creativity and play.  It takes about a half hour to watch, but is extremely interesting and emphasizes the importance of play to the process of creating.  It confirms and affirms much that I learned in my classes a couple of weeks ago.

While all the other doctoral students were sitting in classrooms listening to lectures and writing papers our class was engaging in a lot of creative play.  It has sparked so many ideas I don’t know how I’ll get to even half of them. And that’s what it’s all about.

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The second quilt in my January Retro Quilt Show is the first quilt I designed myself.  I wanted to use the medallion format with themes from Alaska.  We were living in Alaska at the time and this was to be a baby quilt for our daughter.

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The name of the quilt is Alaska Medallion and it was completed in 1983.  This quilt is completely hand stitched.

In the center is an applique and reverse applique block representing the Alaska state flower, the forget-me-not. Around that is a large log cabin block.  In the corners are bear’s paws, and the outer border is flying geese.  The blues, browns and greens are all colors that represent the Alaska outdoors.

The blue borders with yellow corners represent the blue ground and yellow stars of the Alaska flag.  The background is a small blue floral print, again echoing the state flower.

This quilt was featured in the second Quilt Art Calendar and also won a first place ribbon at the Anchorage Fur Rendezvous in 1984.

Our daughter, who is now 26, still has this quilt, although it is a bit faded and worn.

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