Wednesday, December 31, 2014

A Gift from Amy Adams

The holiday season is always full of wonderful surprises and unexpected gifts.  It feels like yesterday, but actually it was December 2005.
Kathryn, Amy, and me
It was my first art residency at a quaint gallery in Denver, Colorado.  Of all the regular visitors to the studio/gallery, I particularly loved talking to one.  Kathryn was her name and she was a wonderful photographer.  We talked forever about "all things art, design, and aesthetics." (Our special topics were  darkrooms, new technology, and old time photographers such as Edward Weston, Dorothea Lange, Gordon Parks, and Henri Cartier-Bresson.)
The lovely Kathryn with her daughter Amy
One day, we began to talk about films, and I mentioned that my favorite movie was this indie film  Junebug.  And, I began to tell her about this amazing actress, Amy Adams.  The rest is history!
Kathryn, Amy, and Darren
Kathryn is Amy's mom.

On the last day of 2014, I will leave you with some advice Amy Adams gave me, "Work hard, study harder, learn everything you can, give it your all.  Then, put it out there - give it to the Universe.  See what happens . . . "  

Happy 2015 to all!

Saturday, December 27, 2014

Reaching Out

Yesterday when I returned home from spending time with friends and family, I was reminded of connections.  How the holiday season is a time to reach out and touch others.  
Lucky 7, Handmade paper by Suzanne Coley
Last night I made this series of prints with continuous lines symbolizing how we are somehow connected -- and how we touch other peoples lives in our own way.
Reach Out Print on handmade patterned paper, Dec 26, 2014
Title: Reach Out 
Reach Out, Handmade paper by Suzanne coley

Handmade Holiday Postcards

at the National Postal Museum, Washington, DC
I recently participated in the Mail Social Club at the National Postal Museum's Byrne Education Loft.
Located on the 2nd floor, the Byrne Education Loft was a quiet and inspiring place to create during the hectic holiday season.
I especially liked the cards that many of the artists made:  They took green stamps and created Christmas trees with them.  I snapped this photo of Kim's card, but I secretly wanted to take a picture of them all.
The Holiday card workshop was two hours long, and the Postal Museum offered the opportunity to make unique cards for Mail Call.  
I used the first hour making these special cards. (Thanks to the Postal Museum for allowing us to mail these cards through the Military Post.) 
Attending the Mail Social Club at the Postal Museum brought memories of some stamps I collected in 1995.
In the 1990s I used to collect United Nations postage stamps, and in 1995, artist Ting Sao Kuang was commissioned to designed stamps commemorating the Fourth World Conference on Women that was held in Beijing, China.
Ting Shao Kuang designed six stamps and they are some of the most beautiful stamps I have ever seen. And, the United Nation's used gold leaf on some of their envelopes!
United Nation's Postal Administration bulletin, S. Coley collection
Back in 1995, the United Nations Postal Administration (Philatelic Bulletin No. 18) described his work as follows: "Mr. Ting combines ancient art customs, masterful brush strokes and calligraphic lines with vibrant colours and Western modernism to create his unique artistic style."
It seems that whenever I visit the National Postal Museum in Washington, DC, I am reminded of the historical, aesthetic, social, and cultural values of postage stamps.

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Handmade Postcards

Happy Holidays!
handmade Christmas postcard with vintage Christmas postage stamps and gold leaf, 2014
This season, I allowed vintage postage stamps to guide the construction and design of my handmade cards. 
handmade Christmas card by Suzanne Coley
I began making postcards with this gold postage stamp from New Zealand.  The moment I saw it, I felt inspired!  I took some gold leaf and began to cover blank spaces.  Then I added some purple handmade paper. 
handmade postcard with vintage postage stamps and gold leaf
I found three pieces of this tiny metallic marbled paper and made butterflies out of them.
I painted some of the cards before adding more gold leaf.
The blue in these vintage postage stamps were inspiration for the design of these cards.
The cancellation marks on these 15c USA Christmas stamps inspired the overall design.
May your light shine bright this Holiday Season!

Monday, December 22, 2014

Mental Monday: The Mind, Part II

Color allows me to make sense of emotions, especially those that have been suppressed for a long time.
One of the first pages of my visual journal -- looking back I understand why the colors  look so painful.
When I began to take swimming lessons, I kept two separate journals.  An 11" x 17" visual journal with just my drawings & paintings, and a smaller diary.
As a visual artist, I have come to trust whatever marks and colors I put in my "visual" journal.  I don't erase anything, and I do a lot of free flow exercises.  Even if the patterns, colors, and marks don't make sense in the beginning, I know that they will guide me in the right direction because they come from a deep place.
Diving Deep, November 2014
I trust this deep place.  And, with fear, I dived into places I never thought I'd go.
After writing and painting in my two journals for 14 weeks, I began creating Breathe.
Breathe is a special, one of a kind book I made for my swimming instructor.  It was a surprise gift for him.
Gold leaf cover and matching clamshell box drying
I had originally painted the cover silver and blue.
Then, Baltimore swimmer Michael Phelps was in the news, and I watched numerous videos of him and others swim in previous Olympics.  (I must confess that watching Michael Phelps win his Olympic Gold Medals was exciting and made me rethink how I constructed the design of the book.)  In the end, I decided to make everything gold.

Friday, December 19, 2014

Character: Fortune Friday #28

Show me your friends and I will show you your character.
Lucky numbers: 7, 14, 19, 20, 39, 59

I spent many hours at the Smithsonian National Museum of African Art this week and this Fortune was inspired by all the intriguing Masks that I saw on display.  Masks are fascinating, with even more fascinating stories behind them.
Face masks at the Smithsonian National Museum of African Art

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Maurice Sendak's Where the Wild Things Are

comes to the Enoch Pratt Free Library in Baltimore.
Original illustration by Maurice Sendak
The touring exhibition, Maurice Sendak: The Memorial Exhibition - 50 Years, 50 Works, 50 Reasons is playful, interactive, and larger than life.  
The little red boat that took Max to the land of Monsters is life size!
The 2nd floor of the library is now one large picture book.
50 original illustrations and artworks by Maurice Sendak are on display, including his original storyboard illustrations for Shakespeare's Macbeth.  They are wonderful.
Sendak was only 16 years old when he did these illustrations for his High School English class.
The exhibition also shows some of his other illustrations such as this set design (1979) for the opera Where the Wild Things Are.
Enoch Pratt Free Library is offering the book in other languages.
You can experience the exhibition at the Enoch Pratt Free Library until January 4, 2015.  
The next stop will be Salt Lake City Public Library from January 16 - March 8, 2015.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Mental Monday: The Mind, Part I

Bad! They said I was "bad."  Really bad.  As in horrible . . . awful, what the HELL?!  One woman even said, "Suzanne, you got courage, because anyone else who swam as badly as you would have given up by now."
The Mind.  Overcoming my fear was all in my mind, until my body began to shake and shiver uncontrollably in the middle of the pool.  Nine feet of water over my head and all I could think about was "how was I going to stop my body from shaking like a broken washing machine." I couldn't.  Someone had to come in the pool and help me!  
page from handmade book "Breathe" by Suzanne Coley
This is my story.  These are my actual diary entries of overcoming my fear of water.  It took me 40 years, only to realize that I will never actually overcome it.  I will learn to live with it.
Working on drawings after swimming class
Immediately after swimming classes, I would go directly to a cafe and work on my drawings and notes.
I wanted to record my emotions and activiites (such as Yoga, breathing exercises) 30 minutes before class and 30 minutes after class so that I could have a more accurate account of patterns, progress, and problems. 
page from "Breathe" by Suzanne Coley 
Each page had to dry 24 hours before I could paint or print the next layer.
I worked on the pages of the book every moment I had.  They were layered like life.  This is an image of the first layer of a few pages.
 On the last day of class, I presented my book "Breathe" to my wonderful instructor!
Gold, textured, and heavy, "Breathe" was the most difficult book I've ever made.

Saturday, December 13, 2014

'Tis the Season

Photo of my backyard, December  2014
 for making paper.
 On these cold, snowy days I spend lots of time making paper.
 Finalizing pages for a book about fear.
linocut being printed on handmade paper, Dec 2014

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