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Art Withdrawal (Kate Themel)

For the past 3 or 4 weeks, my house has been in turmoil while we build a sewing studio in the basement. Although I’m thrilled and looking forward to having a new spacious “playroom”, I miss having quiet time to relax and be creative.

This forced sebatical has made me realize that my mood and emotional stability is largely dependent on having art as an outlet. The closest I’ve come to working was spending the weekend painting… No, not a landscape or abstract oil on canvas. More like 2 coats of primer and 2 coats of paint on the ceiling and walls.

I’ve realized that even though my sewing machine and fabrics are still here & available for use, I just can’t concentrate with all this stuff going on. It’s “cluttered house; cluttered mind”. I really need organization and quiet in order to do my best work. Some people thrive on chaos. I’ve realized I am NOT one of those people. And by the time we’re done building, painting or running back & forth to Home Depot, I’m just too exhausted to think.

This experience has raised my level of anxiety and really made me quite irritable. I’m trying to keep things in perspective and not freak out. Of course I’ll be back to work soon; it’s not the end of the world. But emotionally, I miss my creative time like I would miss a good friend.

In desperation or maybe displaced anxiety, I have taken to making numerous detailed sketches of what my work room will look like when it’s done. I’ve started taking the graph paper, ruler and labels a little too far. As my husband noted “Do you really need to draw the box of dryer sheets on the shelf? What is that, a pegboard? Do you have to draw out every single one of your tools?” No, I don’t. But it’s something to do. I can’t concentrate enough to draw a still life, so I’m trying to go with the flow & live in the home-improvement-design-construction moment.

Have you ever been “cut off” from your creative outlet without warning? What did you learn from the experience?

See below for a few pictures of my work-in-progress…

images below: we’ve painted the ceiling and walls, and installed a wanescoating panel behind the work sink. A small area of vinyl tile covers the floor under the sink and washer/dryer (installed it myself!) Now we’re working on finishing some of the built in shelves.

This hanging lightbulb & string serve as a “placeholder”. We’ll be installing 1’x4′ florescent lights this week.the walls look good, right?  here we\'re finishing some of the built in shelves

Left: using painter’s tape, I mapped out on the floor where my sewing desk and machines might be placed. After that, we’ll install pendants for task lighting. A decorative dressing screen will hide that water pipe.

Once all the junk is off the floor, I think it will be a nice place to work!

An Artist’s Community in Connecticut – Kate Themel

This weekend I was fortunate enough to visit the Farmington Valley Arts Center (FVAC) in Avon, Connecticut. A friend of mine had some pieces in FVAC’s show “Art on the Line”. After viewing the artwork in the Fisher Gallery, we walked around the campus and visited open studios.

The grounds are beautiful and utterly inspiring; trees, wild flowers and nature trails surround several red brick buildings, and all the studios have large windows; a covered walkway connects them.

There was no organized tour, but people were encouraged to visit any or all of the 20 working studios. Each artist was there to personally answer questions or speak with visitors. The caliber of work is incredible – everything from traditional oil paintings to something that I can only describe as “dynamic particled sculpture suspended from the ceiling” (check out Robin Mobiles studio 3B if you ever get a chance).

Continue reading ‘An Artist’s Community in Connecticut – Kate Themel’

Aesthetic Appeal: Is it in our DNA? – By Kate Themel

Why do smooth organic shapes appeal to some people while others are drawn to stripes and zig-zags? Our emotional response to art is undeniable, but why we react is the tougher question. Scientists think the answer may be in our genes.

Above Left: Bleu II by Joan Miro

Above Left: Isiquabetho and Iqoma Bowls, traditional Zulu grain bowls

Continue reading ‘Aesthetic Appeal: Is it in our DNA? – By Kate Themel’

ART & CRAFT cannot be separated – Kate Themel

Since this debate comes up time and time again, it seems clear that no one can win this argument. However, not every argument is meant to be won or lost. I submit that some comparisons are not logical and the argument itself only serves to limit our imaginations and fuel resentments that divide the creative community. It’s not like comparing apples to oranges. “Art vs. Craft” would be like comparing “Cuisine vs. Recipe” – we are attempting to define one exclusive of the other, which is impossible.

Art is not a separate “world” from Craft. These two things are not entities themselves but rather they are specific aspects of all creative work.

Continue reading ‘ART & CRAFT cannot be separated – Kate Themel’


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