Sunday, February 28, 2010

#1 in Visual Ode Series

Morning Calm
11 x 14 inch mixed media on canvas
by Miki Willa
I have finished the first in my visual ode series. This is an ode to South Korea, where I spent some time in the late 1960's. I fell in love with the language, the alphabet, the colors, the markets, and the people.
On the evening of July 20, 1969, I was in Chicamagua, Georgia with my grandmother, and we were watching Armstrong, Aldrin, and Collins prepare for and make the first manned landing on our moon. The next day, I left for an adventurous trip to Seoul, South Korea via Fairbanks, Alaska and Tokyo, Japan. My first view of Seoul was as we circled the airport in preparation for landing. There were tall buildings, a gray river, and rice paddies and vegetable fields as far as the eye could see. When we landed and started down the stairs (no nice covered hallways in those days), I was assaulted by the strong smells from the "fertilizer" used in the fields. After finally clearing customs, and learning that my golf clubs and two suitcases of clothes were missing, I was taken to my new home with my father and step-mother. It was the start of a wonderful stay in the Land of the Morning Calm.
Our home was in a European complex of homes on a small hill north of Seoul. We had wonderful views of traditional homes mixed with more modern structures. The city was in a transition from the ancient to the modern place it has become. My father was doing work for the US government at the time, so I had access to the military bases there. I soon joined the FASCOM theater group and made several good friends. I also decided I wanted to go to university while I was there and take some art classes. Some of my father's friends pulled some strings and I got into Ewha Women's University where I took figure painting and traditional Japanese scroll painting. This was a Methodist university founded for young Korean women. It was a unique and rewarding experience to attend classes, go on field trips, and visit some of my classmates in their very traditional Korean homes. My figure drawing skills have not improved since my attempts at this fine school.
One of my other favorite things to do was to go shopping at the old market centers near the ancient gates of the wall around the city. I loved the colors, the smells, and the excitement of the markets. I understand all that has changed now. I am very glad I have these old memories.
When I decided on Korea as my first subject for this series, I knew I wanted to focus on the alphabet and the old. I had never been in anyplace so old before, and I was so enamoured of the rich history of place. I have combined current text from a recent newspaper and copies of ancient text found in a recently unearthed burial. I chose colors that I find very calming, for the nickname of the country. The image transfer is from a photo my father took of a farmer pedaling water into his fields the ancient way. I printed it in black and white on special paper from Johathon Talbot for making image transfers with ink jet printers. I applied it by coating the collage surface and the photo with gel medium, waiting until it dried, then rubbing the paper away with water. I is a bit hard to see in the photo, but I am pleased with the results. I used stretched canvas as the base and have painted the sides dark gray.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Happy Valentine's Day

Valentine for Tom
10 x 10 mixed media collage
by Miki Willa
Happy Valentine's day, everyone. I created this valentine for my husband and actually framed it. It is the first collage I have framed. It is created with five layers of wonderful hand made paper, two hearts of scrapbook paper, and one of wrapping paper. I had great fun selecting the papers, hand tearing the hearts,and figuring out an interesting layout. There was no stress to this project, just joy. All creative projects should be this way. That is a big part of my artistic goals for this year.
Speaking of goals, part of my life coaching group homework this week is to work on setting a goal and creating a plan to achieve that goal. I am excited about creating a series of visual odes (see this post) about places I have visited or lived in that left a strong impression with me. In addition to the visual piece, I want to share a story or two about the place. As I get more clear about the goal, I will post about it here. Part of the plan will include an accountability piece. When I was doing a painting a day, I set up this blog to keep me accountable. I think this will be part of my accountability system for this project as well.
I am still working on my artistic freedom manifesto. I will have more photos in the next post.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Artistic Freedom Manifesto

As promised, I am finally getting around to posting my Artistic Freedom Manifesto beginnings. During the fall, I was working with Leslie Miller as my life coach. For more about Leslie and life coaching, visit her coaching blog here. I was struggling with breaking away from some old studio habits and exploring a way to nurture a new artistic freedom for myself. We came up with several ideas to try, which were very powerful for me. In December, I was entering a wonderful new place creatively, and I wanted to continue to nurture the growth I had been experiencing, and the rekindled passion for creating. Leslie and I came up with the idea of putting together something that I could turn to when I felt that feeling flagging. I wasn't sure what it would look like at first, but let the idea germinate until I found the right format.
Several ideas came to mind, and I played with each of them in turn. At first, I thought I would create a set of tags with inspirational quotes on the back and art on the front. This was okay, but it didn't quite spark for me. Then I started reading back issues of ArtsyFartsy News by Robert Burridge. He wrote about beginning each studio visit with small practice pieces. I was intrigued by the idea, and it came back to me when I started creating the manifesto. Then I saw some cute ideas people made with playing cards at the local scrapbooking store. That is when it all came together. I would create a deck of cards with different ideas, techniques, and styles that could be used to inspire me when my muse was off drinking tea. I started by making a list of things I already enjoyed and adding things I wanted to learn more about, and good practices. The six cards at the top are the first ones on the list. From top left, clockwise, they are Create freely; Focus on images; Zentangles; Speed Collage*; Asian influence; and Cruciform layout.
*Speed collage was one of the things Leslie and I designed as a way of creating very freely, without planning, and just experiencing the joy of creating. I created ten collages in two hours. It was very freeing and I wanted to make sure it was in my manifesto.
These small pieces are created on playing cards and are wonderful fun to make. I try to make one or two every time I am in the studio. For me, this is working. When I am done, I will have a wonderful reference of all the work I really enjoy doing. It will nurture me in times of creative doubt. It is not a manifesto in the true sense of the word, but it is for me.