Monday, 30 November 2015

Quotes: Dieter Rams

"Weniger aber besser." –– Dieter Rams (b. 1932), German Industrial Designer
Translation: "Less but better."

Friday, 27 November 2015

Studio Series: still life

Still life; Photo © Karen Thiessen, 2015
While I was overcoming resistance, I channelled my inner Camilla Engman and played with photographing a few vignettes. Camilla makes it look so easy. It's not.

Thursday, 26 November 2015

Studio: Patterns of work

Stacked studio trays; Photo © Karen Thiessen, 2015
How to overcome resistance: do something that is parallel to the resisted activity. This strategy worked like a charm this week. I gessoed and stitched tags, took random photos, and finally I had enough courage/mojo to tackle the task at hand which was to design new patterns to screen print.

Tuesday, 24 November 2015

5 year blogiversary

Today marks five years of blogging! It has been fun ... and a lot of work. I've been privileged to write about many of my art heroes, to share snippets of my own work, and to meet new folks both virtually and in real life. Thank you for joining me on this adventure.

Monday, 23 November 2015

Quotes: Joanne Harris

"I let it go. It's like swimming against the current. It exhausts you. After a while, whoever you are, you just have to let go, and the river brings you home." –– Joanne Harris (b. 1964), British author, quote from Five Quarters of the Orange, the third book in a food trilogy (Chocolat, Blackberry Wine and Five Quarters of the Orange).

Wednesday, 18 November 2015

Studio Series: Slides collograph

 Slides collograph on Shoji paper © Karen Thiessen, 2015
My grandparents were avid photographers. Grandpa documented family gatherings and travels with their Airstream trailer. Grandma documented flowers... thousands of them. They died six months apart, in 2007, and once my uncle scanned Grandpa and Grandma's slides, they came to me. Over a few Christmases I had slide show marathons, viewing several thousand slides. I then set out to edit and organize the collection, only keeping the best. I tossed over 2000 slides (yes, I really did count the discards), many of them flower photos, over and under exposed images, duplicates, etc. The slides are from the 1950s to the 1990s and the oldest slides have beautiful cardboard mounts with nicely rounded corners. I kept these. One day I'll collage with them. I took a handful and glued them to an illustration board mount and created this collograph. It is beautiful in its simplicity. As a bonus, I only had success making this print. Could it have been grandparent karma?

Monday, 16 November 2015

Quotes: Glenn Gould

"The purpose of art is not the momentary ejection of adrenaline, but rather the gradual, lifelong construction of a state of wonder and serenity." –– Glenn Gould (1932-1982), Canadian pianist, writer, composer, conductor, and broadcaster

Friday, 13 November 2015

Studio Series: Tea packet collograph

Tea packet collograph on Shoji paper © Karen Thiessen, 2015
Every day I drink a few mugs of tea. Two of the teas are packaged in sealed plastic-lined paper pouches. I save the torn tops in a bowl and they add up. I glued an assortment to illustration board, inked it up, and ran it through a press. My first several attempts were failures, so I had to make another plate. Thank goodness I have lots of tea packet tops on hand. This is my only successful print. Patience and persistence pay off!

Wednesday, 11 November 2015

Studio Series: Screenprint fragments

Screen print edges collage © Karen Thiessen, 2015
When I screen print small or fragile papers, I tape them to a larger piece of bristol and layers of prints accumulate along the edges. Here's a collage of those edges. I've been very busy!

Monday, 9 November 2015

Quotes: Ted Harrison

"Art has to be shared to be useful." –– Ted Harrison (1926-2015), British-born Canadian artist 
(Source: Tom Hawthorn. "Obituaries: Ted Harrison Painter, 88" The Globe and Mail, Saturday January 31, 2015, p. S12)

Friday, 6 November 2015

Studio Series: space to dream

Roll top desk; Photo © Karen Thiessen, 2015
My parents are down-sizing and this roll top desk now calls my studio home. The desk is embedded with stories: it occupied an important place in each of the home offices in the three houses where we lived while I was growing up. My parents ran their businesses from this desk. I'm not sure where mom and dad found it. As it was in poor shape and old-fashioned, it was probably free. Mom painted it with an antiqued finish that was popular in the 1970s.
Roll top desk; Photo © Karen Thiessen, 2015
As a nosy child, I would look through the various drawers. Three things captured my imagination: an old iron skeleton key; a black-and-white photograph that dad took of his dog Shakes laying on top of a reclined Bessy the cow; and a newspaper article highlighting that dad won an award for this picture. The drawers were empty when I received the desk. I've added some washi tape accents to make it my own.
Roll top desk; Photo © Karen Thiessen, 2015
Since the desk entered my home, I've worked at it almost daily. It's become a magical thinking space where I record ideas and reflections in my sketchbook. Now I just need to find an old iron skeleton key to tuck in one of the drawers and it will be complete.

Wednesday, 4 November 2015

Studio Series: natural dye pots

Copper boiler; Photo © Karen Thiessen, 2015
My parents are down-sizing and my studio is the beneficiary of two of my mom's pots. I don't remember the copper boiler every being used when my parents had it, but now it holds five pounds of black walnuts, water, and fabric. It straddles two burners when I'm heating the dye liquor. The copper pot acts as a mordant. Note to self: unless it's empty, it's too heavy for me to lift on my own. But of course I lifted it anyway.
Iron pot; Photo © Karen Thiessen, 2015
I have a vague recollection of mom buying the iron pot and a stand at an antique shop many moons ago. I think she planted red geraniums in it and it adorned our front lawn for a time. To my surprise, it's not as heavy as I previously believed. Like the copper boiler, it now holds five pounds of black walnuts, fabric, and water and the pot acts as a mordant. Apparently iron saddens and copper gladdens. A kind neighbour saved the black walnuts from her backyard tree and now I have about 40 pounds to play with. 

Monday, 2 November 2015

Quotes: Leza Lowitz

For the lovely Claudia (Proper Tension):

Waiting 
You keep waiting for something to happen,
the thing that lifts you out of yourself,

catapults you into doing all the things you've put off
the great things you're meant to do in your life,

but somehow never quite get to.
You keep waiting for the planets to shift

the new moon to bring news,
the universe to align, something to give.

Meanwhile, the pile of papers, the laundry, the dishes the job --
it all stacks up while you keep hoping

for some miracle to blast down upon you,
scattering the piles to the winds.

Sometimes you lie in bed, terrified of your life.
Sometimes you laugh at the privilege of waking.

But all the while, life goes on in its messy way.
And then you turn forty. Or fifty. Or sixty...

and some part of you realizes you are not alone
and you find signs of this in the animal kingdom --

when a snake sheds its skin its eyes glaze over,
it slinks under a rock, not wanting to be touched,

and when caterpillar turns to butterfly
if the pupa is brushed, it will die --

and when the bird taps its beak hungrily against the egg
it's because the thing is too small, too small,

and it needs to break out.
And midlife walks you into that wisdom

that this is what transformation looks like --
the mess of it, the tapping at the walls of your life,

the yearning and writhing and pushing,
until one day, one day

you emerge from the wreck
embracing both the immense dawn

and the dusk of the body,
glistening, beautiful

just as you are.
-- from Poems of Awakening: An International Anthology of Spiritual Poetry, Edited by Betsy Small