I teach at Two Hands Paperie in Boulder, Colorado and in my Boulder studio. Check out the Two Hands website here for class listings. If you are interested in a class in my studio, contact me by email - firstname.lastname@example.org
Copyright Please don't copy from my blog. All images and text are copyright of Fran Meneley and can only be used if you ask before you use. I share my artwork in the trust that others will appreciate, but not copy or claim, my work as their own. Links to my blog are welcome, but please do not re-post.
Last May I made a sojourn to Sweden to take a workshop with the very talented and lovely, Camilla Engman...that's her in her studio, smiling next to one of her paintings. The workshop was organized by world traveler and adventurer, Angela Ritchie. Her workshop offerings are always unique and a little offbeat and you can check them out here. She's in India right now with Lotta Jansdotter...how fun would THAT be???
Seven of us gathered from around the globe...me (the only American), two Aussies, one Swiss, one Italian, one German and one Argentinian - lovely, smart and talented women all. On our first day we wandered from the hotel in Goteborg's city center to Camilla's studio in the Konstepedemin artist's community, getting to know each other along the way.
We gathered up some traditional Swedish pastry and sat outside enjoying the May sunshine and each other's new company.
Camilla's studio is light and beautiful (like her) and filled with not only her amazing paitings and illustrations...
...but little installations...
...and works on cardboard...
...that make the heart inspired and the mind curious.
She shared her work with us...wonderful paintings...dreamlike and questioning.
This world and yet another world; familar yet strange.
Being an American, and wanting to probably overanalyze everything, I tried a couple of times to ask Camilla about the motivations and inspirations for her work. She would smile and shrug. Or say she doesn't know. Or turn the questions around and ask, "What do you think". The more I thought about her answers the more I think she's onto something. Our work doesn't need to be explained. It can just be. Images swirl and surface and if we are wise we accept them. We can simply be a conduit for them, letting them be whatever they are. Beautiful and mysterious and unexplainable.
Please go to her website here and her blog here to see her beautiful paintings and work in high resolution. These photos barely do them justice. I only used my iPhone on this trip...while handy and convenient, it certainly doesn't replace a real camera.
A generous teacher, she took time to walk us through her painting process from sketch to finished painting. It was a glimpse into the way she works (which is always fascinating), but not an explanation of why or what the images mean to her. We are watching on a tiny iPad...as the little projector in the background on the table was having technical difficulties.
Thoughtful, approachable, intelligent and lovely with a keen sense of humor...
...Camilla opened her studio and her heart to us for a lovley Swedish week.
Next time...more about the arist's community that Camilla is a part of and some of the workshop work.
I know I've been gone a terribly long time, the place has grown moss and cobwebs.
My life took over and my time wasn't my own. It was The Summer Of Healing.
So here are a few hightlights: My 15 year old son had scoliosis surgery...that's his new titanium rodded back in the upper left hand corner. It was a BIG surgery, correcting a 68 degree curvature. And he's doing great now! Nine weeks of rest, mom's attention and cooking, acupuncture and lazy (according to him incredibly boring) days and he was able to do a 9 day backpacking trip with his school. He only carried 25 pounds, but he did it. He's back to be being on the rock climbing team and running a mile in under 8 minutes. Ah youth! My 20 year old daughter was home recovering from a bout of Graves Disease which is hyper-thyroidism. That required mom's cooking, attention from mom, sleep, rest, acupuncture and a calm life - the exact opposite of what she gets in New York City. And she's doing great! In August we helped her move into her first city apartment (with 2 roommates) and she's healthy and happily back in The City and school. We completed the new house landscaping which took about 6 weeks longer than expected. I had mariachi music in the back and blaring classic rock in the front...for weeks. We rescued 6 baby bunnies from the back entrance just as the concrete guys were about to put in the back steps...and safely delivered them to the Greenwood Wildlife Rehabilitation Sanctuary. We escaped for some mountain hiking which I was finally able to do after 15 months of dealing with hip bursitus. Whew! Oh and we just had a 100 year flood in Boulder, which gratefully did not impact us personally. Double whew!
Before I set sail on The Summer Of Healing, I traveled to Sweden at the end of May and did a workshop with Camilla Engman, that's her in upper right hand corner. What a wonderful artist and human being Camilla is. She will get her own blog next time, but you can preview her work on her website and on her blog.
I did escape for one creative day in July with The Makerie and have written about it on the Two Hands Paperie blog, here. And speaking of Two Hands Paperie...I'll be teaching my Finding Your Voice - Introduction To Visual Journaling there next Saturday, October 5th from 1 - 4...
...you can check out the class description and details here. I would love to have you join me.
Before I leave you to start working on my next Sweden post, I will leave you with one of the most inspiring Commencement speeches I have heard. It speaks to all of us who follow a creative path, in whatever capacity we do. Enjoy it and be inspired...it's worth your time. It feels good to be back.
A few weeks ago I had the great pleasure of attending the third annual Makerie Creative Retreat, right here in my home town of Boulder, Colorado. The brain child of the darling uber-event-organizer, Ali DeJohn, it was a fun filled crafting/art weekend at the lovely Chautauqua Park.
Being a local I opted to bunk at home, but most participants were from parts elsewhere and we were treated to cozy cabin accommodations. Since the 1890's Chautauqua has been hosting groups of all kinds and it's so wonderful to have the creatives move in!
My first day's class was with the wonderful Janine Vangool, editor of one my favorite magazines...Uppecase.
We got to pick her brain about the magazine business and create our own little magazine covering the Makerie. We were cub reports on the beat and we got a chance to photograph and write four pages for our very own little zine. I had the great pleasure of "covering" Molly Hatch's class, Word Play. Such a treat to meet her and peek in on her creative process and see what her amazing students were up to!
Classes included instruction in letterpress, leather accessories, stamp carving, doodle drawing, food styling/photography and collage transfer. ALL were fabulous and as I got to roam through all the classes as a cub reporter, I got a first hand look at all of them! I would gladly have signed up for any of them.
The food! Oh the food!! Lunches were provided by the really wonderful human being/chef extraordinaire, Katie Bruzdzinski of eat Private Chef & Catering Co. Wow. The food was simple, healthy and oh so delicious...
...and LOOK at the presentation. I am a sucker for kits of any kind and this was by far the absolute best lunch presentation EVER! Bothering to bother...that's what I'm talking about. See this post for my thoughts on that. I'm gluten free these days and was prepared to take apart my lunch and dig for the things I could eat. But no...Katie prepared a thoughtful, tasty gluten free lunch for us "glutards" as my son likes to call us, and my customized box even had my name on it! Oh Katie...I felt the love and am so deeply appreciative. The way to my heart is clearly through my stomach...if only my husband could figure this out! Dinners were equally as excellent at the newly remodeled Chautauqua Dining Hall.
My second day in Makerie land was at the Lyons Farmette, a 20 minute drive from Boulder. A little farm with the most wonderful animals...they are an events facility of the highest order. Many a summer weekend and night are filled with weddings and farm dinners.
A wander around with my camera, I met some new friends and dreamt of the coming summer.
And just in case you didn't get enough of that little goat face...here she is again. Oh my god, I fell in LOVE! This mama goat gave birth three days later and just stole my heart.
With panche a plenty, and absolutely no stuffiness or self-righeousness, the farmette was a great location for Aran Goyoaga's class on food photography and styling.
A whiz with a camera and the goddess of natural lighting, she showed us how to...
Spring was coming to Chautauqua and the Makerie managed to squeeze itself in between two snow storms...so happy making to see the bits of green and color springing up.
The final dinner was sponsored and hosted by the fine folks at Creative Bug and I loved the table decorations they did!
Janine spoke at my beloved Two Hands Paperie on Sunday morning and we had a chance to hear more publishing stories...so inspiring.
For anyone with a hankering to get their hands and hearts engaged and moving...come to the Makerie!! They have 3 one-day events this summer and then the big retreats again next spring. Like them on Face Book or follow their blog for the latest happenings. Oh and Instagram. Just love them and come next year!! Do you hear that my Seattle art friends????
Springtime in Colorado...I'm wanting Spring to spring, and have made my spring alter, just waiting for warmer, greener days ...
...but what I have is this. A little more snow and cold. Patience. Always patience as we wait for spring to really arrive here.
I love the spring food holidays and this year combined the big ones into "EaseOver" - Friends eased-on-over and we shared matzo, deviled eggs, matzo ball soup, Honey Baked Ham, Horseradish Potatoes, Roasted Asparagus and matzo candy and coffee! I'm sure somewhere this would offend someone, but it seemed just right for our little tribe.
This lovely snow has made our backyard a mud pit...waiting for the weather to cooperate for our new patio. Patience. Always patience.
Whiling away these last few snow days...I finished miss Guadalupe...
...and have started Mr. Fox...a great Ryan Berkley pattern, compliments of Sublime Stitching.
And now for the best film tip I will give you all year...Sound City. This documentary, while seemingly about the recording biz of days gone by, is really about the power of the human experience in the arts. A very, very inspiring story.
After you've watched it you'll want more Dave Grohl. Insanely talented musician and now filmmaker, he gave the Keynote Speech this year at South By Southwest (SXSW). He's a masterful storyteller and as he unwinds his story about how he became a musician and the chances he took...I kind of fell in love. Seriously. It's 45 minutes and it's worth every single minute. Watch it. You'll be inspired. This was one of my favorite parts,
"There is no right or wrong. There is only YOUR VOICE. YOUR VOICE screaming through an old Neve 8028 recording console, your voice singing from a laptop, your voice echoing from a street corner. A cello, a turntable, a guitar, serrato, a struder. It doesnt' matter. What matters most is that it's YOUR VOICE. Respect it. Cherish it. Nurture it. Challenge it. Stretch it. Scream until it's fucking gone. Because every human being is blessed with at least that. And who knows how long it will last. It's there if you want it."
Wow! That applies to all of us. Musicians for not. Us as artists and us a human beings.
Hope you are finding your voice this spring...rain, shine or snow.
Well...the month of February was consumed with illness. This season's cooties took me out, one right after the other. Lots of Vietnamese penicillin...AKA Pho, helped nourish my weakened corporeal existence.
I did get in a quick trip to Seattle with my son...love that city and it was fun to take my traveling companion to my favorite spots. The new Chihuly Garden and Museum was amazing and we managed to get a clear, blue sky day to view lovely Puget Sound from the Space Needle.
But then it was back to sick bay and more stitching! This is another one of Rebecca Ringquist's lovely samplers...
...and another...love what you love, make what you make...my new motto. Because for me THAT was the month of February. I have a new appreciation for both the month of March (because it's NOT February) and my returning health.
My addiction/obsession/infatuation continues with this new piece using iron on transfers from Sublime Stitching, another great embroidery resource. I'll post when she's done. Hopefully it won't be soon...I need to return to my life and get out of sick bay!
Pretty much anything embroidery is on my radar these days and I have to share a little company that I've been in love with for a while...Coral and Tusk. A small, woman owned company out of Brooklyn, their dear pieces are so charming and were featured in February's Martha Stewart Living. Stephanie Housley is the proprietor and she says it best..."Embellishment can transform something really simple into something magical." Fabric and thread and imagination. Inspiring.
These are done by machine from Stephanie's drawings...
...so whimsical and fun and unique. Go here to watch the Coral and Tusk video to see how the pieces are made and where Stephanie gets her ideas - well worth your time. A great shot of inspiration.
Yesterday I ventured over to Fabricate, Boulder's new fabric shop...and inspiration abounds. A tiny shop, but filled with wonderful fabrics, a sewing studio for teaching and some nice embroidery patterns. If you are in town or near by, check it out.
And I leave you with this wonderful TED Talk by Dresden Dolls singer, Amanda Palmer. The Art of Asking. Just watch it. You'll see. Inspiring and provocative. Brave.
It all started on the most unlikely of days...Superbowl Sunday. I got it in my mind that my bag of embroidery thread needed organizing. Don't know why this happened. But I will tell you...
...it's a great way to "watch the game." It helped that my brother made me cocktails and cooked gumbo from scratch. And voila! A rainbow of thread!
Just in time too...the next week I got hit with the flu...nasty stuff. Don't recommend it. Nine days in sick bay. BUT...I had my trusty Rebecca Ringquist sampler at hand AND my newly organized thread rainbow...
...and so I stitched and ...
I bought this fine little sampler from her Etsy shop here and signed up for her online Embroidery Sampler class here. You could do the class without her printed sampler, but it's so great to learn and then have the finished sampler to refer back to, just like in days in yore.
Well paced with a friendly, conversational style, she walked me through 15 new stitches. I kept flipping back and forth between the online class and movies on my laptop. If you find yourself at home with the flu, or some other gross cootie that keeps you in sick bay for some extended period of time, I can also recommend the following movies: The Perks of Being a Wallflower, Shangahi Calling, The Sessions, Bright Star and Netflix's excellent series, House of Cards.
All stitched up and feeling better, finally, I edged my little sampler with some ribbon and a few buttons.
I love the simplicity and hand drawn charm of her sampler. I learned new stitches while creating something really lively and beautiful. I had so much fun, I'm working on another one then believe I will try my hand at my own design. The repetition of stitches is so meditative and seems to work so well for the last of these seemingly endless winter days. Hope you are all well...avoiding the cooties, finding your own stitches in time.
2013 is off to a very good start! I am working my way through The Artist's Way with 3 wonderful women friends and fellow artists. I've done it twice before over the years, but always on my own. This time we've formed a group, a sacred circle, and are getting together once a week to check in and share our experiences. It's powerful stuff and I feel blessed to be a part of it. Thanks, Alix!
These journal pages came out of my weekly Morning Pages assignment...a little reminder to be open to the new and a visual that came to me reminding me to just let it go...all the things that I don't need anymore. Little lanterns of light set free to flow on down the river.
And part of our weekly assignment is to go on an Artist's Date. A weekly check in of fun, play, frivolity...a joyous, well filling, outing each week designed to inspire our inner artist. Last week I wandered over to the newly moved and remodeled Longmont Cheese Importers.What a total TREAT! If you live in a 100 mile radius...go there!! Housed in Longmont's defunct original diesel-fueled power plant, built in 1931...
...just the building oozes that vintage charm that cannot be duplicated. And look at the gold typography on the doors!
Once inside, you feel as if you have landed in Paris...or somewhere near by.
They have paid great attention to detail in recreating both a...
...French cafe and Europeans style shop. Oh how this makes me miss bread!
My lunch was delightful. A little charcuterie plate and gluten-free crackers! So accommodating and I didn't even ask, they offered, when I sadly, but politely turned down that ridiculously fabulous french bread. My company was a new book by Canadian author Louise Penny...very smart and charming murder mystery...thanks Lisa!
After lunch I strolled through the shop taking in all the yummy delightfulness. They have an entire room that is a refrigerator - with coats to borrow so you don't get cold...
...filled with CHEESE!...
...and olives and other wonderful accompaniments.
And linens from Europe...
...and dishes from France, Spain and Italy...
...and jams and sauces...
...and other sweets...
...and books that made me want to go home and have a tea party right away! What a wonderful hour and a half! I felt transported and inspired. Exactly what an artist's date should do! I highly recommend the group experience of doing the Artist's Way. Form your own sacred circle and see what magic comes your way!
Way back in December...what seems like forever ago now..I ventured to the big city to take Judith Cassel-Mamet's wonderful Architectural Gems drawing class. For three Mondays we gathered to learn about perspective drawing and had the chance to explore some great Denver landmarks. This is a keyhole view from inside the State Capitol Building looking out to Civic Center Park and the Rockies in the background.
We wandered the Capitol building on one of the days. It was too cold to draw outside...this journal page is the result of my explorations. Amazing what you can do with an iPhone these days. Just loved the beauty and grandeur of the old civic building. Very surprised how completely accessible everything was.
Beautiful brass statue of Abe Lincoln...the patina of his hands worn off from the people's touch...
...and these great reflective, solid brass drinking fountains...love the shapes against the geometry of the floor. They don't make 'em like this anymore!
Another day I ventured to the plaza by the Denver Art Museum and the public library to take in the architectural gems by Michael Graves (library on the right), old Denver Art Museum by Gio Ponti and the new Denver Art Museum by Daniel Libeskind. That's quite a few big egos in one small space...but we are lucky to have them represent in little 'ol Denver.
My journal pages of that day...so many good things to draw and angles to take in!
Other days were spent in the Capitol Hill neighborhood (what I think is also called, Quality Hill) with grand old homes from the silver mining boom days of yore.
This detail from the wonderful old building on 23rd and York, where Judith teaches. It looks a little chinese to me...but was working on the lines. A little wonky, but what a treat to sit in the winter sun and just look and take those lines for a walk!
Hope you are walking your lines and doing something creatively good in this last stretch of winter!
Well.. I got my Sketchbook Project finished and mailed just in the nick of time yesterday! I'm not sure why I procrastinated, it was a joy to work on.
My theme this year was "Almanac" but I made it into a kind of dream Atlas.
I came across this wonderful quote from the movie, Here, and just let the images flow keeping the beautiful text in mind. I couldn't explain it all to you, even if I wanted to. I just responded to the words, loosley thinking about how we all make up our own realities and we are like those map makers of old, just trying to chart our way, comparing maps, trying to make sense of the world as we know it.
"The story is still asleep. It dreams. Scientists and dreamers they traveled the world with watchful eyes and guzzled hope like water. The journeys were separate but their purpose was common. To map the world. One begged for money and pencils. Another tore his shirt to strips, carefully wrapping his shredded feet. Yet another, thirsty, near starving, suckled the sap from plants. No one had an easy road. Though utterly dependent on one another, most found the other's maps unsettling. They denied one's perspective by charting the land incomprehensibly, calling into question one's very being.
Still when they met on the lonely roads, the explorers would present one another with their maps. Some seemed to say so plainly, directly, "the world is like this." Others were more oblique, skating, impressionistic, unstable, they froze mere slivers of the infinite earth as it skittered by in orbit. If ever these maps could be gathered together, they would comprise an atlas of unsettling vision. A final proof that truth is conjecture." by Dani Valent - In Every Roaming Heart.
To learn more about The Sketchbook Project, go here. If you'd like to see what other Sketchbooks I've done in years past, plus a story I wrote for The Fiction Project, you can go their site and go to the 'Digital Libaray" from the menu at the top of their banner. Type in my name and, voila! you should see my other work. I know they are working on their digial library, so be patient. You can see about a million other amazing and cool journals as well. Warning: It's a rabbit hole...proceed with caution, lest hours be eaten up with deluxe inspiration!
p.s. this just in: a great little video about the Art House Co-Op from my fellow sketchbook artist, Cynthia Fawcett -
Check out her blog, Cynful Musings, to learn more about her work here...and see how she cleverly took over her kitchen as a studio space for her Sketchbook Project journal! Love it!