A Gift to Myself - Garden Girl by Misty Mawn    Saturday, July 30, 2016

Garden Girl

A Painting by Misty Mawn

My painting is here! My summer has not been too great, my Dad passed away a few short weeks ago, after a battle with cancer and dementia leaving me feeling exhausted and depleated.  It's hard to see a family member so ill and struggling with such devestating illness.  A short while ago there was a Facebook auction put on by Stephanie Gagos featuring the work of one of my very favorite artists Misty Mawn.  Her work is so inspiring to me, full of soulful imagery and emotion.  I have taken her online workshops and love her book Unfurling.  She is a fabulous teacher and artist who is passionate about sharing her wealth of knowledge with others. She gives so much in her classes, she is a wealth of information. I can't say enough about her wonderful online courses which everyone should try. Her latest one is Make/Do/Art.

Even the Outside of the Package Looks like a Beautiful Present!

What a Surprise a Handpainted Card with a lovely thank you note inside!

AND a beautiful postcard under it, oh my...

And the PAINTING itself...Garden Girl  Oh so Beautiful !

Can't wait to frame her...

I was already wearing matching colors when it arrived.

Namaste,

Marcy

 

 

 

 

 

 

Making Art With Children    Friday, July 22, 2016

Making Art with Children

Sgraffito Tiles 

 

Grace age 5

 

Every summer I teach week long camps for kids at Guilford Art Center in the shoreline town of Guilford, CT.  The kids that come to the center in the summer are from all over the country because sometimes they are visiting grandparents, or come to Guilford because their families might own a beach house, or because they are on vacation and they can drive to our facility from a town that is just too far away during the school year.  

Sophia age 7

I am always amazed at how the kids are so shy in the first part of the first day, but after we go outside for a brief break time and rejuvinating snack and playtime - they come in full of laughter and with new friendships just formed. By the last day there are hugs, playdates to make and promises to keep in touch.

Miles age 5

Children are so open to experiencing new ideas, friends, concepts and dive right into art processes without any fear of failure which make them sentive intuitive artists.  I teach adults as well and they are often so full of fear that you will never see in kids. Young children don't worry about ruining their art, using the wrong color, making the wrong line or any of the things that paralize the adults I work with.  They are completely in the moment and engaged in the activity and process of making. I try to bring that attitude forward into my own work and remember to leave room for surprises.

Alyssa age 7

This week in my clay camp for  K - 2 grade we did many wonderful projects.  The pictures I am sharing here are of Sgraffito Tiles.  I demonstrated quickly by using a big brush using bright underglaze colors on pre-rolled terra cotta clay tiles. We talked about the term Sgraftitto which comes to us from the Italian word, Graffiare (to scratch).  After brushing on the colors loosely, I defined the shapes in my picture with a pointed clay tool.  These are only a few of the fabulous tiles we made this week. LOVE!

 

It's a Gift    Saturday, July 9, 2016

Finding Peace Mixed Media 16"x20" on canvas Marcy LaBella 2016

How many times as artists have we heard that creativity or artistic talent is a gift? Honestly I"ve heard it many times through the years and it was only when I got to college that I realized that you could actually LEARN to draw and SEE. This astounded me as I always believed you either had it or you didn’t.  I was immediately was blown away by this idea that art and creative ability was something that was not only something some people had a natural aptitude for, but that it was also something that could be learned and accessed by anyone with an interest who wanted to spend the time to learn it  and practice.  I immediately wanted to be able to help others to unlock this ability and find joy in creativity.

  

Crown and Rose 12"x12" Mixed Media on Canvas Marcy LaBella

Over the years I took my natural ability and worked very hard to further develop my skills in drawing, painting, ceramics and metals.

 

What I have found over the years is that the true gift in creativity is not the ability to create but what the process of creating gives back to the artist. 

Pink Blossoms in a Vase 2016 Marcy LaBella

12"x12" Mixed Media on Canvas

During difficult and stressful times I always have my work to turn to, it gives me a place to put my focus, relieves stress and anxiety and gives me a place to channel energy and process all manner of issues that arise in the course of being human. That is the true gift to all creative people, the place to process the stuff of life through their art form, and not the ability itself.  If you never sell a piece of work, if you sing and no one hears, if you dance and no one sees, write something that no one reads but yourself – do it anyway – you will reap the rewards 1000 times over – allowing yourself to be creative is a gift to yourself.

Namaste,

Marcy

 

 

 

30 Day Portrait Challenge    Saturday, July 9, 2016

 

I am participating in a 30 day portrait challenge -  which I thought would be really fun.  I found it on Instagram and joined late so of course now I have to paint like a fiend to catch up.  

Still I have wanted to make a commitment to painting something every single day instead of my regular drawing something every day and I can already feel that it does make a difference.  I am excited that one of my paintings popped into the top viewed in just a couple of days since joining - squee!  I am enouraged.  

Mostly I like the disipline of the different prompts and want to thank Galia Alena and Annie Hamman for creating and posting the challenge.  Here is a link to the prompts if you want to join the fun.

 https://christellesartfactory.wordpress.com/soulful-faces/

You can find Galia Alena here:

http://www.galiaalena.com/circling-with-the-goddesses/ 

More of my #30faces30daysprompts images....

 

prompt - drawing

prompt - repurposed

 

 

 

Art Inspires Art - Working Collaboratively    Saturday, June 4, 2016

Art Inspires Art

Marcia Eager my Wesleyan Potters co-op buddy and I installing a small installation. 

Russel Library - Middletown, CT

4 Artists Metal and Clay Through August 2016

Art accountability buddies and peer networking groups can be a way to keep your art practice moving forward.  Meeting with other artists and creative friends regularly to share recent work, talk about where you are in your creative biz and hearing about the creative practice of others can help you stay inspired, motivated and on track. Working side by side in the studio can become a catalyst for creativity.  The energy of the creative environment seems to expand ideas for all parties involved.

Marcia Eager, Cheryl Tuttle and Myself Bowlapalooza 2014

We co-chaired a spring fundraiser for many years at our co-op this was our last year!

Even so when it comes down to it the work is always yours to do, you need to get into the studio and work. Even if your studio is a desk top or cleared off corner of the kitchen table – optimally you should try to make something every day.  Anything and everything creative counts – drawing, sketching, doodling, or even working in a second creative medium; it all works and builds your creative muscle. I often have my young drawing and painting students switch off and 3D projects such as clay sculpture, fiber arts and metal or wire sculptures because it expands how we see as artists. When we return to the flat surfaces of paper or canvas we do so with a new and expanded ability to render.

My Exploratory Art kids participate in a collabrative public art project on the grounds of the Guilford Art Center to raise awareness about endangered butterflies.

As a teaching artist I am connected to two wonderful non-profit art centers and have lots of artistic and creative friends.  I also belong to a long standing juried women’s art organization where I can network and meet with other women artists.

In my days as a young artist I had a standing art date with my dear friend Mary.  Each Monday we met and painted for the entire day.  This standing art accountability date was very important to both of us as we were both beginning in our craft and working day jobs. Today I have a core group of women who I like to create with – we meet at our co-op and work in clay and metals and gather at our homes to make mixed media art.  We bounce ideas and teach each other new techniques, concepts and processes. I believe that this is beneficial and helps us grow as individual artists.

Wisdom Shared Lois Eldrich and Lori Lapin Wesleyan Potters Co-Operative

I try to bring the spirit of collaborative art into the classroom with even my youngest students. This week I introduced the idea of conceptual art and temporary art installations to my Kindergarten through Second grade kiddos at the Guilford art center.  It being spring we talked about butterflies and the Monarch in particular once being very common in our area having dwindling numbers due to the lack of the #1 food source the milk weed pod because of spraying and reduced open wild spaces.  We talked about artists creating temporary art in public spaces that brings awareness to issues and ideas that are important to the community and to society as a way to voice an opinion.  We had messy paint-y fun creating butterfly silhouettes on the lawn in white paint.  They will eventually fade away with the trimming of the grass – as will our butterflies if nothing is done to reverse the damage to their habitat. Even the youngest children can grasp the concepts and benefit from participation in community and art collaboration – and have a really good time doing it!

Day 1 - Self Portraiture As Medicine with Catherine Just    Saturday, May 28, 2016

 Self Portraiture As Medicine

Join in at www.catherinejust.com/self-portraiture-as-medicine

Day 1 Prompt - Turn May28, 2016

Day 2 (re)Lease May 29, 2016

Day 3 (re) Vive May 29, 2016

 

 

 

Stalked    Thursday, May 19, 2016

Stalked

Free 2016 Mixed Media on Canvas 16"x20" Marcy LaBella

Ok – so I usually keep this blog to lighter topics – art and community, creativity, making art with children and things I am truly passionate about.  Today because of a post I saw on Facebook I am going to talk about something that I rarely discuss – I have a stalker. Not a joke, a real life, 30 plus year stalker.   My stalker is blocked on Facebook, but occasionally someone will reference IT by name – I refuse to give it a human pronoun at this point, and today it infuriated me. Last year I had a similar reaction – a nice picture of a group of us – a young, happy crowd posing for a group shot in a hip night club where we all used to hang out – Happy Times?  No – there IT was…two rows behind me – IT the stalker.

 It started out harmlessly with a guy who was kind of a square peg who hung out on the fringes of the very cool and eclectic music scene that was a big part of my youth.  His band was not one of the cool ones, his friends were few and he was not in with the in crowd.  Our scene was not a mean one though, and everyone was welcome, no one was shunned or treated like an outcast.  We were all quirky, different and everyone –even the very strange were accepted. When does a harmless crush cross over the line, take the corner, become stalking?

Photo by Wendy Horowitz

At first it was just awkward; I was dating someone and then someone else which he knew at the time.  I was not interested anyway. He repeatedly called my family home and soon everyone was instructed to tell IT I was not at home no matter what – IT was constantly calling and wanting to talk about nothing. IT wrote an embarrassing song with my name as the title and wondered why I ran out of the bar in horror when IT’s band played it.  It did not end there, even after a few years and the scene having kind of split up a bit. I was living on my own at the time and I remember changing some musical gear and placing an ad in the local musician’s paper to sell an amplifier with just my first name and phone number – mistake…the calls started again and messages started to be left regularly on my machine.  I moved around a bit back then and then my phone number changed and IT lost my trail.  I got married and changed my last name - great – anonymity or you would think.   Nope, fast forward a few years later and I got a phone call at the business that I owned with a friend.  IT was now living out of state, working for a credit card company, the one where I had my business account. Yes IT recognized my name (Maiden must have been listed on the account) when IT was working and used my confidential information to look me up at work. I told It I was married and not to contact me again. It sent me IT’s latest CD instead.  At the time my husband wanted to call the police or the FBI because of the security violation.  I remembered a harmless, overweight and socially awkward young man and brushed it off, a mistake I regret today.

Fast forward again to the 2000’s and IT’s back in the area.  Just in time for the reunions of our music scene, Facebook groups popping up and social media.  IT sent 3 friend requests back when you could do that on Facebook and I ignored them all.  On the last one I told IT I wanted no contact – because IT had violated my privacy and had used my personal credit card information to contact me which was a federal offence.  IT stopped sending the requests but that did not stop IT from going to the local events and trying to initiate conversation or pretending to need to walk by my table or area multiple times a night.  IT was repeatedly told to leave me alone by my male friends. At this point I began to tell at least the people who were local that IT was a stalker. One thing I noticed that had changed was that now IT drinks when before IT was always sober.

 I know the “incident” that pushed it over the edge was 3 years ago because it just came up on my Facebook “memories”.  My friend and I went to see the Darkness in New Haven.  IT was there.  It kept walking by as IT does, close by, and pretending not to be doing it intentionally.  We weren’t worried about IT because we were with my friend's brother and his friend and they are if I must say so – pretty badass.  We were completely engrossed in the show and all of a sudden I looked up and IT was coming towards us. I was horrified and waved my hands and backed up and it kept coming closer and closer and IT grabbed my hand as I tried to move away.  My friend who is really tiny was infuriated and screamed at IT to “let go” and to “get away” My friend tells this story in way that makes it sound very humorous but at the time it was not because It is huge and we are not.  We did not know but her brother was worried about IT bothering us so he had told the bouncer to keep an eye on us when he went to the other side of the bar. I am so grateful he did because the guy was looking out for us and saw the whole thing.  He ran over and pulled IT away and IT got thrown out before the Darkness even came out.   We later heard that IT was very angry and pacing up and down the street in front of the club not wanting to leave.

So when I see people mentioning IT online it kills me that IT slides through and in and slithers around and no one knows.

I know IT is out there but I still go out and I am still present and I am living my life and doing what I love every day.  I am done with this – I am taking the power back from IT. To those of you who are being stalked or have been I say this. There will always be those people who want a piece of you if you shine brighter than they do,  those who are jealous of you because of your light, because you are smarter, prettier, more talented, funnier, the reason does not matter, there is no good reason. They need to be called out; they are the ones who need to be hiding in shame and exposed.  

STALKED

I’m not hiding I’m free

empowered

though IT slides in

and through

and slithers around

and no one knows

It lurks and watches and

is hiding in sight

and no one knows

It stalks

exposed It loses power and slithers to

Its corner of shame deflated

 

 

 

Art Inspires Art - the Benefit of Creative Community    Saturday, April 30, 2016

"She's Alway's Watching" Marcy LaBella 2016 Tea Bowl handbuilt 

I have always been involved in creative community, ever since my earliest years as an artist.  I have always been creative and I cannot remember a time that I did not make art, write poetry, play music. I have always been drawn to other people who are similarly creative and have been lucky to have a large ecclectic quirky bunch of friends .  I am always interested in what people are making, their process, what they are doing, writing, playing.  In my teens and 20's I belonged to a large group of young artists and musicians who wrote and played their own music. We put on our own shows, made our own flyers the old fashion draw, cut, paste and xerox way.  We did our own promotions and supported each others work. Some of us were also actors, writers, poets, painters and photographers - we turned out for each others openings, plays and cheered each others success's even the minor ones.

"Wisdom" Lois Eldrich and Lori Lapin in Deep Discussion 

When I moved to a rural town in my early 30's I felt lost. While I loved my old farmhouse, the living in the country and room to spread out; there were no other artists here. The nearest city had no such arts community and I had come from New Haven Connecticut a city who has a proud and vibrant arts history, art followers and lots of artists. For a while I joined a grassroots gallery co-op that was short lived but vibrant. We threw fabulous opening for our revolving gallery shows and our opening turned into block parties with live music, belly dancers and shenanigans.  It was a short lived though fun ride and was quickly folded as we lacked the funding to continue our mission.  I finally found a home at a 60 plus year old co-op called Wesleyan Potters where they had just three crafts Ceramics, Fiber Arts and Metal Smithing. I had recently gotten back into ceramic sculpture and started taking classes there - soon I found a very active group of passionate artists.  I had already been taking ceramics there after a huge break from clay and was re-emmersed in this second craft.  I was already working in clay for 3 years at Wesleyan Potters when I applied for membership and was accepted into the of the guild and co-op as a juried member in clay and in metals.

She's Always Watching detail

She's Always Watching Detail

I currently teach in both both ceramic sculpture and jewelry making at this wonderful community arts center.  The best part of belonging to a co-op is NOT the 24/7 studio access which is sweet I have to admit.  It really is the mix of people that come through the doors, the fabulous wealth of knowledge from the members, instructors and students and the community coming together for our many events.  As in all co-ops we do lots of work together to make our co-op run smoothly but the exchange of ideas, opinions(more then you want sometimes), creative energy, wisdom, infectious enthusiasm from others working in your medium make it well worth the effort. We are like a big (100 member) slightly dysfunctional but still affectionate family.  It's definitely a place I think of as a second home.

Co-ops are only one place to connect to other artists - next time I will talk more about places to  meet with and connect with artists in your own community and online.

Namaste,

Marcy

Spring and the Season of Renewal    Thursday, April 7, 2016

Soar 16"x20" Mixed Media on Canvas Marcy LaBella 2016

Emerging from Winters Grip

Though I haven't exactly been hibernating,I am more than ready to come out of the winter, which I consider to be a cold and dark season.  I tend to keep a very busy schedule over the winter because I find myself wanting to tuck in and hibernate.  

I had a full teaching schedule this winter, 3 childrens classes and one fabulous adult class in ceramic sculpture.  I met some really wonderful women in my ceramics class and we did some really great work together.

I find that I need to re-committ myself to my blog posts and to being present here at least 2 times a month to update what is going on in with my own work and with what I am doing with my students. 

 Spring time is such a great time to re-committ to any spiritual and creative work.  I find that you cannot separate the two - creative work always comes from within and carries the deepest parts of ourselves and contains the spiritual whether we intend it to or not. Art and creative work such as music, poetry, dance, and performing arts are soul work and need continuous observation, feeding, tending, weeding out and re-seeding.

Nature Spirit Ceramic, cone 6, slips engobes Marcy LaBella 2016

Like a garden over winter, creatives have down times and periods of hibernation, rebirth and renewal.  Using these lulls to do necessary studio chores, sketch out ideas for the future and explore new materials leaves one ready for periods of what I like to call frantic art making. One important thing I have learned is to keep the work going even during down times, you cannot improve on nothing. Doing something creative everyday is akin to planting seeds.

Know that when you feel as though you are in a creative slump or a period of non-creativity, you are just like a seed, deep in the ground, germinating and getting ready to burst forth with creative life.

 

Namaste,

Marcy

 

Making Art With Children    Thursday, April 7, 2016

 

"All Children Are Artists"

Pablo Picasso

 

        Gwenie and Grace free painting with watercolors - Exploratory Art K-2

When making art with kids I am acutely aware of how the precious gift of natural creativity is so present in their beings. Part of what I try to do is create a balance between developing real observational drawing skills combined with non-objective drawing and mark making to keep things loose and fluid. Beautiful fluid and dynamic marks, color and the ability to transfer feeling, movement and energy without drawing a particular object is just as important as careful rendering and can say just as much with equal value in my humble opinion.

Girl with a Flower by Iliana age 5 Exploratory Art K-2

 

In addition to this I believe that children, especially those in the early grades should be given an opportunity to work with a wide variety of art materials. Changing the colors, textures and different properties gives them a wide range of options to develop skills and find a place to develop likes and different ways of working creatively.

 

Mixed Media Portrait Exploratory Art K-2

Another thing that I always find so very important in my classes is to set aside part of each classtime for free drawing time.  This is completely unstructured time for kids to use oil pastels, markers or regular crayons to draw whatever they want on plain white paper or newsprint.  I try to start and end each one of my classes in this way. Why is this important? It is complete decompression time..free drawing allows kids unbridled downtime to allow their imaginations to expand.  It is time to create fantastical monsters, beautiful princesses, mermaids and fierce army battles. It is a place to re-create conflict from the placeground or home in a safe, managable way.  Sometimes it can be sad, joyful and other times hilarious. Yes I love my kids structured projects - they listen, pay attention and boy can we really make some great things together. One time in a camp week I saw a three year old go from drawing nothing but scribbles to drawing simple faces from watching and copying her classmates during free drawing - how powerful!  As an instructor I always have to remember that art is also a time for introspection and  quiet personal development - even for  kids.  Sometimes my job is to just stand back and allow for that magic to happen.

Free Watercolor Painting by Gwen age 5 Exploratory Art K-2

Namaste,

Marcy

 

 

 

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