FAQs at Our Gallery-How Do We Start?

After a very exciting 3-day open studio event, we would like to thank everyone who showed up offering friendship, support and purchases. Our biggest turnout ever!

I tried to listen to the questions we were asked while speaking about our studio work, and thought it would be fun to address them here in the blog. I already wrote about the number one question: “where do we get all this stuff?” in an earlier blog, An Avalanche of Stuff…

Another popular question is, “How do you start a piece?”  The short answer is “many ways…”, but here I will address three main ways we might start a work:

  • Lay In The Background. This is a favorite of mine for wall work. For the beginner, too, you can avoid the pitfalls of creating cliches like bleeding baby-dolls, and robot after robot. (okay, don’t get mad, just saying it’s been done…) When you lay in a background you are giving the piece a chance to speak up. Once laid in, the background often starts to set the mood, and from there, roughly dictates the theme. In the piece below, I wanted the feeling of an old library. The original paper was pretty bright, so I toned it waaaay down with washes. Then, it reminded me of my great uncle’s library, his profession and travels:

entomologist

  • Use One Major Piece and Build A Story Around It. Here, you must stay cognizant of your focal point. Extra pieces will come and go until it feels right and it will be cohesive if you watched and listened to the art as you worked. I have a friend who keeps all the pieces of the same time historically.  His art stays cohesive and comfortable that way.  In the example below you can easily recognize the focal point, and I tried to give a ‘Punch and Judy” feel to the piece:

in the can

  • Find Two Pieces That Want To Work Together.  This is my favorite way to start a 3-D or sculptural piece. The two pieces are often nonsense together, but they need to be comfortable together and make some sort of weird sense. In the piece below, Michael has put together a camera that sits on an old tripod. Interestingly, none of the pieces in this work are from cameras!

Dada Clock

I hope readers can get insight to how we work here, and assemblage beginners can get ideas for getting started. Many of our works can be found on our website: www.wilsonspencerart.weebly.com or on the Etsy site www.etsy.com/shop/thebeatgallery and www.etsy.com/shop/thebeatgalleryannex

Again, thanks to all our wonderful friends, old and new, for the successful open studio event last weekend!

 

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Open Studio Over Memorial Day

root swellNow on to the busy spring….there is nothing like an open studio event to get the place cleaned up! Michael is weed whipping the driveway, and I am trying to decide what cookies to bake for the upcoming weekend…

New for us this year is an outdoor display of Susan’s popular watercolors in the front garden. So it’s time to clean the fountain, and put water hyacinth in the fish pond….the red-hot pokers are blooming, and the dogs haven’t dug up the strawberries… yet!

We are also adding a pal to our open studios up here: Nadia Berrigan will be showing her photography up here. Yay for art friends!

Anderson Valley Open Studios, May 26-28, hope you can make it up the hill and have a visit, we are looking forward to it!

 

Studio Sneak Peak

studio 1

studio2

A huge big thank-you to all our friends who attended our opening at Mendocino Art Center last weekend. We had such a great time, and the center appreciates all of our support. Makes us pause and count our blessings…

And with the beginning of the week (right after slacker art group, which was phenomenal as usual,) I was ready to plow into preparations for the open studio event up here over Memorial Day weekend. The studio was in disarray, and still not as functional as it could be, so I dug into my side of the room.

With my new-found passion for having several work stations going at once, I did a little rearranging and total de-thugging. I now have four(!) work stations where I can assemble, paint, and explore to my heart’s content.

The top photo shows where I can work on the laptop, my “explore” corner (currently art journals), my new watercolor desk, and a new assemblage area. The corner comfy chair has a small table for laptop where I can ‘you-tube’ away with inspirational techniques or hook into some music. I have reached studio Nirvana….

For a more in-depth tour of my pride and joy, come visit Anderson Valley Open Studio Tours, Memorial Day weekend, May 26-28. We will be open from 11-5 each day.

Also coming up is the opening for the Influence and Inspiration Project exhibit, a collaboration between Alexis Moyer and myself at Edgewater Gallery in Fort Bragg, Friday May 4th, with the show continuing through the month of May. We still have a couple of spots open for the Influence and Inspiration workshop on May 5th at Edgewater, so let us know if you are interested in attending, at www.myartmuse.net

 

The Assemblage Art Of Dreams

Mrs. Sayers

In the last post I mentioned that this piece has a story behind it…well I better get to telling it because it is not often that I work on a piece like this, and the piece is gaining attention, I think, because of the story:

Mrs. Sayer’s Magic Cats

When I was just out of high school I had a very vivid dream. It has stayed with me over 40+ years.

I dreamed I was walking down a country road late at night. This road had no sidewalk, just a drainage ditch full of grasses that marked the edge of the road. I kept hearing this noise, “vvvvvvuuuup zing, vvvvvvvuuuuup zing….” I wondered what the noise was and turned to look. It was an amazing sight! Hidden along the road in the ditches were cats. And from the ditches running up into the sky were wires. Wires from the ditches disappearing into the night sky and every once in a while a cat went zipping up the wire, “vvvvvuuup zing!” as they rode the wire up to the moon.

It was a great dream, odd for sure, but not upsetting, just very odd and vivid.

I got one of my first jobs a few months later at a rest home. It was run by wonderful people who cared for their staff and clients. I worked on the cleaning crew during the day. The job was hard work, but not traumatic in that the residents were pretty together and some well-off. Mrs. Sayers apparently had plenty of money,  she lived in a private room surrounded by her own furnishings, big heavy drapes at the windows, it was more like entering someone’s parlor, than an institutionalized room. And Mrs. Sayers was eccentric to the nines! I loved that. Her comments were often head-shakers and always brought us to laughter.

One morning I went in to start cleaning her room. She was sitting in her big leather chair, grumbling. “Good morning, Mrs. Sayers, how are you, today?” my usual greeting. She looked at me and said, “I didn’t sleep a wink, last night, for all the noise…” Really? what was all the noise about, I asked. “Those cats!” she exclaimed. What cats? There are no cats here…I said as the hair started raising on my neck….

“All those cats! It was a full moon, you know, and they ride wires to the moon when it is full…the ditches were full of them! The noise went on all night!”

I’ve heard that in the late teen years young women can have a certain small clairvoyance. This was an instance that finally came out into an art piece…..those magic cats!

 

An Avalanche Of Stuff

headAs I write this I can hear Michael in the background entering all of the ‘junk’ purchases we made last year into QuickBooks. Each entry is accompanied by a “que-beep” as it makes its way to the list of items that were purchased and added into our tax information for Mr. Dean, our tax man,  to work his tax magic.

All that stuff….which brings me to today’s comment. We are asked at every exhibition, “Where do you get all that stuff?” So I have broken it down into the good, the bad, and the ugly. Here’s the orthodox list:

Friends and family- My darling cousin sent us a bag of drawer pulls via her husband, (my real cousin) today, via his 4 hour drive over! Now, let me see….next time can I send back some homemade jam? oops let the cat out, Debbie…

Ebay and Etsy-This is Michael’s world. He is a closet shop-o-holic. He finds so many cool little items there. He prides himself on never paying more than $7. (I know this is not always true…) But I overhear him talking a seller into free shipping all the time! oops, family secrets are out, Michael….

Yard sales-These are a desert of plastic junk these days, but sometimes….a real sweet antique shows up….like the vintage chess men Michael bought that were handed over in the (huge) copper pot that they didn’t charge for… We sold the copper pot on Ebay for enough to buy much more junk!

2nd hand stores- Like yard sales, you have to be willing to sift through some funky plastic junk, but the books can be a find…and my pal who works at one got me the metal folk-art kitty in the piece I just finished below.

Antique stores- This is the fun finds when we are on vacation. Last year my sister gave me a carry-on suitcase from her closet so we could lug all the good stuff we found while on our visit (with the cousins.)

And now the unorthodox list, or the list of shame…

The dump-We are rural, real rural. Garbage doesn’t magically disappear from our driveway. We will be spotted checking out the “metal” pile every 6 weeks or so…please, just don’t call out, “Hey! What’s up you guys?” when we are trying to go incognito….

Michael’s garage finds-Michael paints houses for the basic money we survive on. His clients are constantly telling him to ‘take what he wants,’ they just want to be rid of the stuff in the garage. Our cool headboard at the top is from someone’s garage. It was an old stair railing…

Our driveway-okay, not so inspiring , huh? But a lot of rusty nuts, bolts, and washers can be found on our ranch. These little embellishments can come in handy…

Here’s the folk art cat piece called Mrs. Sayers Magic Cats (there’s a story behind that) and our really cool headboard is at the top of this post.

Mrs. Sayers