Wednesday, January 27, 2010

The Learning Curve

Most people who paint for theatre have their strengths and specialties, and I am no exception. I have become quite proficient at wood grain, simulated rock and brick- those kinds of faux paint treatments. Tromp l'oeil is not one of my strengths. I will go so far as to say that tromp l"oeil is something I can barely spell, much less actually do. Our set designer for this play, however, is (as far as I can tell) proficient in all methods, especially tromp l'oeil, and therefore has designed a beautiful set that includes it. And this has me shaking in my Crocs. So it is, at age nearly 60, that I learn a new (and rather difficult) technique. Actually many new techniques, since Jason is a kind and patient teacher. Right now I am doing wildly colorful underpainting for a "white" wall, and I cannot wait to see this under stage light. I am having to force myself to be loose and free on flats that measure 8 feet square. This may sound easy until you remember that my personal artwork is small, controlled, and often involves tiny tiny beads sewn in orderly grids. I have found that each discipline does add to the understanding of the other: things I know from my personal work help me with stage painting, and things I learn on stage often give me a new understanding of techniques I thought I "knew" and therefore did not have to think about much. I guess the moral to all this is that it is good to break out of methods of working that are comfortable and safe. Activities we consider to have a steep learning curve don't just give you a new skill, they often lead to "ah-ha" moments in other skills as well. And that is a good thing.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Seeing is Understanding

I helped with the opening of the Shereen LaPlantz show Thursday night, and what a wonderful evening it was. So many happy people in one room is always a good thing, but, people aside, the exhibit is spectacular. I have owned Cover to Cover since maybe 1996, and I have to confess that although the instructions for making various samples are quite clear, they were just a bit intimidating to me. Not just me, apparently, since I talked to several people Thursday night who also own the book and confessed the same feeling. But to actually see the examples pictured in the book right there in double-sided glass cabinets made a world of difference. Seeing is understanding. I pulled that book out again early this morning, and reread passages with a new understanding. Not so scary anymore! I could do that! The one sadness is that we could not all handle the books, opening and closing, turning them over, examining the mechanics. Books are tools, after all, meant to be touched even if they contain no words, and I am a tactile person, always fighting the urge to touch beautiful things adorned with that polite "Touching Harms the Art" sign.

But I digress. What I wanted to say is that this show is NOT just for those interested in book arts. Anyone interested in paper crafts or three dimensional art will find something to think about here. It is  a unique chance to see a remarkable, inspiring collection.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Shereen LaPlantz

I am so happy that University of Puget Sound in Tacoma will exhibit the work of Shereen LaPlantz this month. Long before I ever seriously considered dipping my hands into book arts, I owned Shereen's book, Cover to Cover. It was such a delicious book, and to me, a fiber artist, so full of possibilities. Each year I pulled that book off the shelf once or twice, because it was always a catalyst to inspire me for even non-book arts.

Years later, when Rochelle Monner and I became friends, I did not know that she had been a good friend of Shereen's, and had been given Shereen's personal collection of handmade books and teaching materials after her death in 2003. Now, Rochelle and I are are members together of a small Book Arts Group in Tacoma, and on Monday when we meet we will be assembling bookmaking kits for the "make and take" tables at the opening of the Cover to Cover exhibit.  If you are in the Tacoma area, I strongly encourage you to come to the exhibit opening on Thursday, January 21, 2010, 4:30 - 6 PM at the Collins Memorial Library on the UPS campus. Several members of our Tacoma Book Arts Group will be there to demonstrate techniques covered in Shereen LaPlantz's books.

Cover to Cover: The Art of Shereen LaPlantz will run from January 21-March 12, 2010 in the Collins Memorial Library, University of Puget Sound, Tacoma WA.