Ahhhhh summertime, the time when the world outside is lush and green, and inspiration is everywhere. These are the days of open windows and soft breezes that blow about my curtains in my studio, and the air smells sweet of flowers and damp soil. Below our house is the Klamath River, and in the summer, the white birds congregate — the egrets, the white pelicans, the land gulls and terns. It is a beautiful sight. And when the pelicans soar over me when I am in the garden, it is truly magical!
The greens of summer begin as a soft, pale color and later become dark and deep. Our two maple trees, which I look out on from my studio window, cast lovely, filtered light that flickers across the stones in my courtyard. These trees were here when we moved in, but everything else was designed and planted from scratch.
There are flowers and small bushes everywhere, and everything blooms at different times. … I usually stand while I work and feel truly at home here. This is where I am inspired to follow my muse. This is the place I love.
My worktable is large and made from weathered planks of wood. I had it made just for me by my wonderful cabinetmaker who worked with me creating my studio as it is now. The table is long and is on wheels. It sits under the big picture window, and I love watching the garden as it changes and grows from where I work.
On my worktable, I keep things that inspire me as well as my art supplies.
Things I keep on my worktable:
Little bowls of shells, stones,
buttons, sea glass
A bird nest
Piles of fabric and paper scraps
A stitching project, thread,
needles, sewing scissors
A table lamp
A piece of canvas to work on or to
use as a background when I film
White gesso, matte medium and
paints, especially white and
A glue stick
Paintbrushes, paper towels and
a water dish
Favorite quotes written on scraps
Projects in various stages
Plants (right now, I am in love
A jar filled with small branches
Fresh flowers from my gardens or
The work that I create is diverse — from stand-alone pieces to artist books and assemblages. I hope that they all tell my own story and have things in common. Stitching, many layers, a feeling of timelessness and history.
My artist books are usually made of 140 lb watercolor paper. I always tear my edges instead of cutting them, and they usually have uneven pages so that the underneath page will peek through. I love to connect found objects to my books, inside and on the cover, and love to add sticks and pieces of nature to my work. I often bind my books to sticks or pieces of driftwood.
My mixed-media paintings have been getting more abstract, but you can still see my strong draw to nature and a common theme of the old cultures. As well as canvas, I love to work on old pieces of wood and watercolor paper. These can be abstract landscapes, primitive portrayals of animals — usually horses or birds — or abstract collages. I love to use my own painted papers and fabrics in all of these.
My assemblages are usually small enough that you can hold them in your hands, and they always have a meaning. Much like talismans, when you hold them, you can feel their energy. I like to create these with intention and love using different materials. I challenge myself to not use glue but only thread and wire to connect everything.
When I am working on a piece, or almost finished, I love to step back from my worktable and see my project from a different view. I ask myself — How does it look amidst my supplies and gathered objects that I have for inspiration? And how does it look with the lighting from my window at a certain time of day? These are the questions that go through my mind when I take my photographs. … And this is when my art “speaks” to me and tells me its own story. Taking photographs is an integral part of my art and art process. I love to share my photos on Instagram and love that I can share them here in WHAT Women Create.
Almost all my projects have stitching as an embellishment or even a part of what holds them together. I am drawn to both the process of stitching and how stitching looks and feels to the touch. To me, it is another way to make your mark and is like the tracks that you make as you move through life. I usually use threads that are natural colors, and I enjoy stitching on paper as well as fabric.
Reach higher than you ever thought possible,
Open your heart to what is your own truth,
And be that truth.
— ROXANNE EVANS STOUT
I keep many notebooks, especially the spiral kind with watercolor paper pages. In a notebook, I find that I can be more playful and experiment with my marks, drawings and paintings. I teach a set of two online classes called Notebook Journeys where I guide my students through lots of fun and creative exercises and how to use their notebooks in new and unique ways.
As well as my lineup of enticing online workshops, I have two lovely new ones that I am offering this year. The first is hosted by Mulranny Arts and called a Pocket of Scraps. In this workshop, I will teach how to take a simple pocket and create a beautiful holder for painted, collaged and stitched scraps! In this article, you will see photographs of some of my steps as I worked on my pocket. You can find more information for this class on my website under online workshops or on www.MulrannyArts.com.
My second online workshop for 2023 is hosted by Fibre Arts Take Two, and by the time this magazine comes out, I will have spent two weeks in Australia being filmed — with footage both inside the studio and out on location. This class is a huge undertaking and will be my signature class. I will teach all the processes and projects that I love and share my joy of creating. Information will be on my website and at www.FibreArtsTakeTwo.com.
I never knew I would own my own little business, but I always believed in my art and my teaching. I am proud that I created my business from scratch, just like my gardens.
Every year, my “brand” has grown, from art workshops to social media, selling my art and being published in magazines and books. (My books are available on Amazon Books under my name.) This year, I designed a set inspired by my trip to Morocco and the symbols and patterns I saw there.
I sell my artwork at two galleries that are both about two hours away from home. One is over the mountains to the west in a wonderful town called Ashland, and the other is in Northern California in a town called Mount Shasta. Both places are super to visit but hard for me to get to in the winter.
I never knew I would be a traveler, either. I love to take one or two trips to faraway lands a year, and my students love joining me in these workshops. We immerse ourselves in the culture and our own art, enjoying the food, the scenery and the music — and we explore and create!
My challenge is that since the COVID outbreak, I have a harder time leaving home and being away from my husband and my sweet Molly. I also sometimes have a hard time keeping up with social media and meeting the expectations that are out there.
In autumn, I have been invited to teach two different art retreats in Europe. The first is in Montelparo, Italy, at an enchanting boutique hotel called Hotel Leone. And the second is in the Scottish Highlands, hosted by Wandering Craft Retreats. Both retreats are full now, but people can learn more about them on my website and get on the waiting list.
My wishes for this year include helping my students find their own magic and to know they have a unique light to share. I want to make more art, plant new flowers and relish my home and the people I love. I want to stay when I am traveling and always be open to new experiences and possibilities.
And I want to thank you for supporting my art and letting me inspire you!