LayersofMeaning – 2006

February 2006


Layers of Meaning was my blog on art, design and textiles.  It was active mostly between 2001-2007. This period  was in infancy of blogging. The earliest pages were written on a blogging platform created as an experiment by a local college.  The software eventually collapsed and two years of writing vanished into the ether.  The entries shown below are a snapshot of one month  in 2006.
See more at the Internet Archive’s Wayback Machine

Hannah Hinchman – Journaling Inspiration

Sunday, February 26th, 2006

Hinchman's dog: SisuNaturalist, artist, and journal-ist, Hannah Hinchman has a page of wisdom on how to do an illustrated journal. In a short space she addresses the basics of how to journal, materials and most importantly, the reasons why:

When I teach workshops on the illuminated journal, I explain what I call a scale of journals: On one end is the Informational journal, the true naturalists field journal. It concentrates on the quantifiable and identifiable, gathering names, facts, and observations with an impartial thoroughness. It contains drawings, but they are meant to be explanatory. There is little room for the personal in this kind of journal, though I admire it for the valuable role it serves in adding to the body of knowledge. On the other end of the scale is the Reflective journal. Its purely personal, mostly concerned with human-generated culture, investigations of the psyche, relationships, responses to art and writing, dreams, memories—as in Anaïs Nins diaries. The self is the subject rather than the world. The art in this journal might look more like William Blakes paintings.

In between the two poles are two other kinds of journals that have become more and more central to my interest. The first is the Investigative: It documents the outer world, but includes many unmeasurable and unnamed phenomena, like the effects of light, ways the seasons change, patterns and textures in nature. It goes outside the categories of the Informational journal and finds links between apparently dissimilar things. Thus it includes more of the person making it, because its up to that person to invent new categories. Art in this journal would look more like what we find in Leonardo da Vincis notebooks.

The other is the Resonant journal—so called because it acts as the place of interweaving between the person and the world. Curiosity extends both inward and outward: You are a naturalist on the trail of your own life, and you search for insights in the more-than-human world as well as the human. These two kinds of journals, as embodied in Goethe and Thoreau, seem to me the richest of all. The art included in them might look like anything from Dürer to Paul Klee.

Morning Earth, a site on nature education, offers us a glimpse into a few of Hinchmans newer journals. Hinchman offers some insight on keeping the writing part of journaling alive and moving forward:

The best way to avoid the trap of dead words is to keep a firm grip on the real stuff, prickly, slimy, or bony as it may be. Think how we are awash in gutless speech: the space-filling of the report, the obfuscation of the academic paper, the evasion of the political statement.

Keep alert for dense, rich words, and don’t hesitate to fling them around. How about fox, dirt, leather, squirt, chafe, warp, vortex and crinkle? Being on good terms with words like that will keep you from losing yourself in the labyrinth of the abstract and the over-intellectual.

And cleave to verbs. A drifting, off-target account can suddenly ignite if you insert the right verb. There are plenty of verb-gems languishing out there that deserve to be polished up and placed in new settings: dissolve, mirror, badger, uproot, winnow, slather, suspend, carve, blot, bundle, contort, revolve, flood,
Crumble, dither, tamp, utter.

Paper Moving Sculptures

Thursday, February 23rd, 2006

Steve in his studio paper dollThis is only very peripherally related to fiber art, but the design in them is wonderful. Barnacle Press has posted a series of patterns for moving paper dolls. Note these are not the paper dolls that many of us recall from our youth, but rather humorous movable sculpture. These papercraft toys are from the LA Times Junior Times section, circa 1922-23. Im really excited to add these to the Supplement, theyre gorgeous little mechanical paper puppets. The subject matter is wide, ranging from cops and butchers, sports figures, cats, dogs, and birds. The art ranges from fairly realistic to delightfully cartoony, reminding me of the work of Rick Geary, which is to say that its wonderful!


Natalie Goldberg on Painting

Thursday, February 9th, 2006

Natalie Goldberg - MountainsNatalie Goldberg is a name known to most aspiring fiction writers. She is the author of several writing books, such as Writing Down the Bones and Wild Mind. In 1997, Goldberg published Living Color, a book that explored the connections between her painting and her writing.

Her beginnings were simple and persistent: In those early Taos years, I developed a commitment that once I began a drawing, no matter how bad it was, I had to finish it. This understanding of commitment came from writing. Quitting in the middle of a writing exercise reinforced my internal critic, who said that I couldnt do it, or it was boring, or I was lost. But continuing to writefinishingweakened my fear, my doubt, my disbelief in myself.

from BoldType

As is her enthusiasm for her experiments and her growth: I was delighted one day to paint an adobe house blue. Stepping through the belief that I must paint mud brown, I experienced an explosion of energy and freedom. It was as though blue paint were a sword slashing through illusion, bringing me into direct connection with the houses essence. Objects began to dance unhinged from their proper pigment. That man is green, those sheep are maroon, that horse is scarlet, I suddenly wanted to shout with a new-found freedom as I gazed around me from the hilltop where I had drawn the blue house. from BoldType

Goldbergs technique encapsulated: Mostly I use the same rules for painting that I have developed for writing practice: be specific (I sit in front of the actual scene I am drawing), keep your hand moving (dont worry about mistakes), trust yourself. Then I go home and color in with paint what I have drawn. This is where I let go of having to have the sky blue or a leaf green. I paint the color that flashes in the periphery of my perception and trust what comes to my mind. Paintings


Threads of Memory

Thursday, February 9th, 2006

Nene Humphrey; Small Worlds (Cerebrum)For those of you in the New York area, this appears to be a fascinating show opening in Early February. Donna Sharrett has kindly posted a 6 page illustrated brochure pdf of the show. From the brochure:

As digital technologies increasingly dictate how we see the world around us and how we communicate with one another, a growing number of contemporary artists seek to reaffirm the human presence through their use of traditional handwork such as quilting, embroidery, knitting and crocheting. The nostalgia associated with the simple act of sewing, in particular, resonates for artist and viewer alike. It reminds us of the past—of our mothers or grandmothers making and mending clothes by hand, when time did not seem so rushed. This quiet domestic task is somehow both productive and comforting. The recent proliferation of sewing and embroidery in the work of contemporary artists—both male and female—has spawned a concomitant rise in the number of exhibitions devoted to such work.

Threads Of Memory
February 5 – April 17, 2006
Opening Reception: Sunday, February 5: 2 to 5pm

Dorsky Gallery Curatorial Projects
Open Thursday through Monday 11 – 6
11-03 45th Avenue (corner of 11th St.) Long Island City, NY 718-937-6317,

Threads of Memory includes the work of 30 artists who use thread as a mark-making device and reference to memory – both personal and universal.


Art Journaling Inspiration from Aisling DArt

Saturday, February 4th, 2006

Art Journaling Inspiration from Aisling DArt

animation of Asiling working on her collageAisling DArt has a section of her website devoted to art journaling. Some of it involves images of her work, some of it is devoted to the how why we all should journal:

I started doing these quick collages, though not consciously doing them daily. Months later, I started each day with a collage, the same as I used to to morning pages as described in The Artists Way: A Spiritual Path to Higher Creativity. For me, collages are a more visual version of morning pages.I usually allow myself a half an hour for the collage process, but sometimes go back several times throughout the day to add things until Im pleased with it. It all starts with the determination that, whether its good art or not, there will be a collage when Im finished!

Usually, I just work on the pages in a spiral-bound sketchbook, just as they are. Sometimes Ill gesso a few pages my journal, ahead of time. Then they are strong enough to support heavily embellished collages here there. How to Collage in Your Art Journal

DArt offers large sections which cover some of the pragmatic issues of technique and materials:

Preparing images If I’m going to use the iron-on technique taught by Jonathan Talbot, Claudine Hellmuth, and others, I coat the back of my image plus the surface it’ll go on, with Golden Gel Medium (soft/gloss). When the surfaces are dry, arrange the images in place, then— with a medium-hot iron and release paper (or a nonstick pressing sheet)—iron the images. The heat melts the gel, acting as an adhesive. Jonathan Talbot sells a special iron for this purpose, and I’ve used it happily. He’s also written a book exploring this technique in detail. Notes from Insight Shrines workshop

The strength of these pages is the emphasis on the need to explore art daily and the assist that Aisling gives in identifying materials and their uses. Aisling gives us lots ofreasons to get out and get started!

As Natalie Goldberg says, When I was out scouting things to draw, I slowed down. I noticed doorknobs, light posts, the peeled paint of a gate. As I slowed down things became brilliant. Grass growing through a cement crack, a stop signits glowing yellow octagonal shape outlined in thick blacksuddenly mattered, because I saw them.

Go out and look at things, and just draw anything. (Ill talk about technique later in this series about travel journaling.) artists illustrated travel journals – Choosing a Subject