many moons

I was not in a colorful mood. So this piece will linger on the boards for a while before I get back to it.

I came back from a number of trips last month with a swarm of images floating through my thoughts but no map to figure out how they go together. It was frustrating to feel so aimless. I looked around at the work that I had done prior to my trips and felt totally disconnected from them.

My friend Jeanne Seagle, a very talented artist here in Memphis said the following in an interview: “Make a lot of work. Put the good stuff in shows. Recognize the bad stuff, and put it in the closet. After a while maybe you can fix it. If not, you can still learn from it what not to do. Just don’t show it.“

After a few days and a number of puzzled thoughts I decided to be radical. I took out all of my older pieces lurking under the studio tables and made some judgements. Some still spoke to me about their intent and focus. Others did not. Some showed a learning curve in the stitching that no longer represents my work. Others were pieces that didn’t get done.

This piece never got done. It was an experiment with geometry and connections.

I chose a few and laid them out on the cutting board for some fun with rotary cutter.

Fun with my rotary cutter. No piece is sacred.

This piece, called Keeping up with the Dow Jones, was done in 2009. I’m over it.

Just that act of cutting up several pieces into 2.5” squares was a release from the aimlessness. I wasn’t sure where I was going to go with it but I knew it was the right step. Catharsis. Resolve…and a little panic.

After some mix and matching, twisting and turning I finally came up with a composition that seemed to hold together. I stitched the squares onto a canvas backing. All 420 of them.

And now the fun begins. My goal as an artist is to channel what is invisible into the visible. The work I do is intuitive and exploratory. I’m never quite sure what will result with a piece like this. I just know that I am channeling lots of different emotions and thoughts. Beauty, complexity, doubt, anger, worry, whimsy, calm and depth. They are all in there. The layering of stitch and fabric brings out the best (and worst) of me.

I’m going to call it Many Moons. Because that’s how long it will take to finish it and because its taken me many moons to get to this stage in my work.

ends and beginnings

I emptied my thread ends box today. It held the threads that didn't get used on a piece this year. These threads were active players without a field to play in. They came into existence at the end of thoughts rather than the beginnings. They got snipped off and thrown to the side after trying hard to be part of the team. There are a lot of them.

I've grown used to not being satisfied with each and every work that I create. Like these thread ends some work just doesn't work. The process of creating has become more important to me than the finishing up. For each work that gets finished I estimate that there are two or three pieces that get thrown under the table. Thus, I have fallen in love with my rotary cutter, it facilitates my cut-up-and-rework frame of mind. I am beginning to see a signature style in all of the work. I am drawn to black. I like surprises and there is an undertow of anxiety in all of them.

Cut-up-and-rework pieces

I named the work I finished: Aquifer, Beast, Chaos Ensues, Focus on Something Else, Glyphs, I Need a Third Eye, Ladder to Elsewhere, Looking for the Pattern that Connects, Signals, Thugs, Unglued, and Unmapped.

Some finished pieces

And now I am working on a piece called Ship of Fools.

Ship of Fools work in progress

2018 will be filled with new challenges: a one man show at a local art museum, a proposal to a local venue for a juried show in Memphis, several teaching positions and days and days of continuing my work. It's those last items that I look forward to the most. They provide a silence and thoughtfulness that fills me up.

Happy New Year everyone. Hope to meet some of you this year in workshops. Check out the listings at the right for dates and locations.

May your studio be filled with inspiration and your days full of mystery and wonder.

inspirations

Minds are maps of experiences. Inspirations abound. I may need to upgrade my storage space.

The muscular structure of this fig branch needs one of those overtures with heroic drums as a background tune.

I'm working on a piece that I have temporarily named Inspirations. I may call it something else once it is finished. Right now I am trying to find a different way of mounting it. I love these fringe-y edges but can't figure out how to preserve them yet.

Thank you Piet, Pablo, William, Paul, Vasily, Theodore, Alexander, the bees, trees, birds and my grandchildren

Sometimes I feel like the band is calling for last dance and I am pleading with them to turn the clock back.

The Grass was Greener

I don't know these women, though they are related to me. The two columns of distance and language prop up our stranger-hood. My grandmother, pictured on the far left, emigrated to the United States from the Czech Republic in the 20s (she always called it Bohemia).

When I added this photograph to my computer library the software tried to identify each of my great aunts and my grandmother. It made me think about my original intentions with this piece.

Babi was an adventurous sort with definite opinions. She would launch into Czech when she wanted to make her point known to my father. He would nod and smile.

I've spent the past couple of months with their images, experimenting with embroidery. My fingers are punctured and calloused, my neck a little stiff, and my eyes a bit fuzzy from the strain of looking at all this detail.

I learned about the right needles to use (very sharp with larger eye), how the fabric reacts to hand stitching as opposed to machine stitching and which thimble I prefer (see below).

I regret not having a fatter batting in the sandwich, I may try wool next time. I tried to use an embroidery hoop but the batting and double layer of fabric was too thick and the frame got in my way. The inset linen frame around the edge was a supreme challenge that taught me a lot about how not to cut 45 degree joins when you have a limited supply of perfectly edged linen. (no need to go into detail, you get my meaning)

My favorite thimble has a silicone bottom and a metal top. The silicone clings nicely to my middle finger. I love that the photo program sees a little being in it.

So, now I am done with these women. They live in my memory as a strong and stalwart group.

I think that they, too, would put a bandaid on before applying the thimble so as to be sure that it stays on.

letting go

Two of my pieces left their spots on my design wall this past week. They travel to new eyes with an invisible thread to my thoughts.

Don't Go in the Basement, 17" x 16.25" ©2015 Paula Kovarik

Don't Go in the Basement was inspired by a drawing by Jeremy. The wide-mouthed, eyes-focused grin monster leaps out and anchors the lower right corner of this small piece. It is one of the first of my children's drawings projects and is dear to my heart. I know the new owner also loves the piece so I am satisfied it is where it belongs.

Move That Thing, 16" x 11.5", ©2015 Paula Kovarik

My friend Etta owns Move That Thing. These quirky, moving-parts bodies remind me to jitter along when I see it. The talented artist, Amelia, drew the wonderful fish-eat-fish pair at the bottom right. And that sun in the upper right is by the ever sunny Derin. These two artists inspire me to let the inner child out every so often.

I will miss these pieces. When people ask me why I make art I often say it is because I have to.
I am eager to create. I also like to show it, share it and let it journey on. This gives it a life of its own.