Several people competed to outbid one another to buy both "Out of the Blue" paintings created by Girl Scouts in my studio. The ArtVenture overall was a great success, raising $150,000 for the local Girl Scouts. The two paintings will be displayed together in the UNO's College of Business Administration!
Attending the "Flat Places: Deep Identities" symposium hosted by the Center for Great Plains Studies allowed me to learn from ecologists, geologists, writers, poets, photographers, film-makers, theologists and cartographers of all kinds. My mind is still swimming with the conversations and ideas that emerged. It's so good to get out of the studio periodically to learn about what other people are working on. I'll be able to more deeply consider some of the emerging possibilities as I drive between home and Milwaukee to pick up art from the Walker's Point Center for the Arts exhibit of Midwest Artist Studios project members.
During two Saturday mornings in January, four Girl Scouts visited my studio and worked together to make two large paintings on paper. The paintings are now framed and ready to deliver tomorrow for this weekend's ArtVenture auction, a fundraising event for the Great Plains Girls Scouts.
I showed the girls how to mix oil paints with cold wax medium and ways to build layers and create textures and patterns. They made small pieces for themselves and collaborated to make the two large paintings. They were quiet at first, but once they began painting, they relaxed and chatted. With two 11th graders and two 6th graders, I wondered how the age differences would play out. They chose to work in pairs with an older girl working with a younger girl on each painting.
Working with the girls allows me to learn, too. I ask and answer questions, offer possibilities and watch as they come to their own decisions and creations. Their hands are the only ones involved in making these paintings. I see my role as introducing materials, tools and ideas and then giving them the space to explore. From choosing the color palette to titling the work, it all comes from the girls.
These two pieces are matted and framed and ready to display. I hope a buyer will be see the imagination and joy that made these pieces come alive. Join us Saturday to celebrate girls leadership, creativity and energy!
Realizing it's been some time since I wrote here, I'm getting back to it. Here are some of the books I've been reading as I consider visits to natural and restored prairies this summer. Research has always been a foundation for all my creative endeavors, and sometimes it's easy to remain immersed in that part of the work, following a thread of interest through history and numerous writers and other interpreters.
I'm a little embarrassed to admit that I am reading PrairyErth for the first time. I bought the book for my stepfather shortly after it was released and intended to read it myself. I didn't. Now it's more than 25 years later, and I am reveling in this deep map and looking forward to where it might lead me when I emerge from between its covers. Next up will likely be Deep Map Country: Literary Cartography of the Great Plains, as I want to read most of it before I hear author Susan Naramore Maher speak at the symposium "Flat Places: Deep Identities" at the end of the month.
The wheat stalks shown in the image above came from the last crop my stepdad planted in 2010. They are held in a textured ceramic vase my daughter made in middle school. The silk scarf of autumn colors and turquoise highlights is a new favorite, a recent gift from my mom, who also gave me Wander: The Kansas Flint Hills in Words and Images. It's comforting to me to have these tangible reminders of family connections, even as I wander.
Without a real plan in mind, I made several small paintings that include circles. These were probably in reaction to having lots of grass-inspired lines and incisions in a substantial series of paintings.