Hello, I'm Rachael.
I am primarily a painter and paper doll maker and friendly multi-tasker/ troublemaker in Upstate New York.I've been keeping this little blog since 2004, I think. And there is hopefully a value in reading these words, looking at these pictures, clearly I find joy in writing 'em up and sending 'em out, even if I don't always have the time. I try to blog every once in a while but mostly I try to write a real letter every day (this year that is), draw and paint, sew, and instigate other people's creative endeavors.
Leave me a comment (I'm more likely to communicate directly than in the comments), ask me a question, do your best to share what you have to say, OK? Thanks
Links to places you'll maybe like if you...Have a drawing problem like I doLook at other people's sketchbooksat artists sketchbooks online
Sew your own goofy clothes with little to no formal training?
Burdastyle at it's best is a super resource laden facebook for sewists...I'm balduffington here
The Slapdash Sewist shares her sewing adventures and inspires
Gertie's Guide for Better Sewing gives the best of the vintage and retro tips
Are a working artist
NYFA has very very helpful resources
are anywhere near Rochester NY interested in any of these things
This is the Rochester Sketchcrawl...
And finally here are some of my friends
Genine draws joyfully as the world around her spins
Mark is just making stuff
I'll be adding more links here but I have to find a few minutes in which I'll do that. Soonish, I bet.
Monday, October 04, 2010
what some sketches say and don't say
Some pages in my summer sketchbook seem to speak about the talk, talk, talk of empty communication and the possibilities of what we can (and can't) know from looking. Smudgy, swirling, and sometimes unsaid communication, I guess...
I'd picked up a pack of stickers for scrap booking when I was in Pittsburgh trolling yard sales with my friend. These stickers- or rather the remains of the stickers- quickly became my own little symbol of empty communication. All those efforts to speak but no real listening, maybe. I'm still happily using the stickers for empty word balloons, for resists and for abstract shapes. Word balloons and though balloons and balloon balloons are something comic book lovers won't ever stop thinking about
as is clear in this from Comics Comics mag. The trick is finding ways to subtly sneak in an oblique reference to a conversation gone awry. But then, who knows what they communicate and what they don't. As with that shadowy figure on the right, another little watercolor study of someone coming or going.
During that same trip, I painted plenty of strangers. I wasn't that chatty, but pretty happy to watch that city and all of it's inhabitants. Voyeurism is a special privilege of travelers. Fiction, too.
I thought this biker dude sitting in the coffee shop was writing a letter. Maybe to his long lost daughter, apologizing for being so distant for so many years due to his rough time in the Vietnam War. That was all conjecture.
When the sketch was done and I talked to him a little, he had a crossword puzzle book on his table. He was pleased to have been drawn though and he thought I 'caught him'. We talked and I guess if I had never taken a moment to draw him, we never world have.
That's all, thanks for looking & listening...
Posted at 05:17 pm by balduffington
Thursday, September 30, 2010
Paul Auster stood in front of the room and read. We listened.
Tonight there was a lecture, a talk about translation by Paul Auster.
I was prepared to be a little bored by a famous author talk talking about how one word in one language is a different meaning in English.
Only he didn't do that.
He read just enough chunks from his latest novel, the one that isn't out yet
, to have us all entranced.
Here's what I caught: several different characters related but distinct lists of resonant objects, attitudes of indifference in The Best Years of Our Lives
, Happy Days
, a painter lapsing from her medication and deciding to retrain herself from the figure again, Greenwood Cemetery
where 600,000 dead people live, men who don't talk (and the reasons maybe they can't), and creatives who open their veins and bleed in public.
There was no q & a really. So here is a lovely one, from 2003, from the Washington Post.
So, while I did not get to the lecture last night, stopping by the university on my way home so that I could listen to a writer spin words and images into the room was a good idea. I am glad also, I had a pencil in my pocket.
Posted at 08:26 pm by balduffington
Tuesday, September 28, 2010
Blessed be the Irrational! (excitement about a lecture by Dan Ariely at RIT 9.29.10)
Ah yes! Chaos!
I'm still working on that...but before I clean it all up, I might as well pull out and appreciate a little of the irrational, the ridiculous, and the illogical. I used to draw from that place; observed form mixed with a lot of distortions and diversions. As in this old sketch from a very old sketchbook (I'm thinking 1991 or 2)...
I'm thinking of the irrational because Dan Ariely
is coming to Rochester tomorrow as part of the Carolyn Werner Gannett
lecture series at Rochester Institute of Technology. I love these lectures because basically I can count on a fascinating hour, someone to listen to and draw, and at least a few ideas that stick to my ribs...
Here's the little bit I know about Ariely...He has clearly learned from his pain...an amazing essay somewhere between research and life is here. I think every doctor and almost doctor oughtta read that.
He believes we're all predictably irrational and makes a strong argument for our behavior...
And when I think of when I think of the irrational in art I can't help but think of Good old Pere Ubu and the absurd theatre of Alfred Jarry. Some someone on the youtube recently updated Jarry with Sarah and Larry. No shitski!
When I was about 16, I impulsively painted a small box with California Sunshine nail polish using the most random text I could think of. A plaintive plea as you can see.
I'm still learning my logic. But not always so inclined to use it...I'll bring my sketchbook if I make it to the Ariely lecture domani...
Posted at 09:10 pm by balduffington
Sunday, September 26, 2010
clearing chaos (or why cleaning your studio helps everything)
There is no spanish moss in my studio. No weeds in my refrigerator. But there are colonies of clutter all over my world.
I've been diligently collecting, cluttering, and obfuscating for several years now by painting (using paints of this kind and that, paper, and mazillions of mostly cheap brushes, oh and also cleaned out yogurt cups of water or paint), drawing (in sketchbooks I go through every four or five months or so with pencils both Ebony and numero two and colored, magic markers, and just about any thing that might make a good mark), and sewing (with all of the fabric and thread and needles and pins). Within the same small space I've also been busy writing and researching (several different unrelated stories from history and fiction), paper doll making (with all of scrap papers from old paintings and scissors and little metal brads) and image and idea collecting from letters received, magazines pilfered, and anything that smells like inspiration...
I'm sure that the hoarding tendencies I've got come from my family of keepers. Like the spanish moss analogy, my creativity often covers floors, tables and chairs and keeps me from realizing what stuff I have. Not just objects, but ideas.
Last night I participated in a really lovely 'craft night' with some friends. We all brought projects to work on and well, I was the bag lady with so much stuff that it practically covered the tables and threatened to overtake my friends. In part because one of my friends, Gabrielle, is a professional expressive arts coach
was there it occurred to me to self-diagnose my ridiculous cluttering and acquiring for what it probably is... a blockage that needs to be cleared.
Today, I was on a mission to clear and clarify. It feels great to throw out the tiny little pieces of randomness, recycle the paper that is not big enough to become a doll or a letter, and put a huge pile of books and workable things in boxes to donate. My goal was simply to put like- things with like- things. So now, I am happy to say, I have a clear table for the making of whatever I want tomorrow and several huge ziplocky bags full of fabrics sorted by kind and use (never again shall my cottons and knits mix!),and a clean refrigerator too.
Now, as if through magic, I have fresh energy for...finding out more about the Goods of Conscience brand and Father Andrew's ethical fashions (and how they can translate to my own sewing and saving the world efforts)...thank you Craft magazine for putting the good Father on the cover of your latest issue!
maybe making something for this shoe show that should be pretty cool considering the fine artists involved and the history of the shoe factory turned into a warehouse packed with artists...
sitting and thinking. (That's what Dr. William Thomas said lead to all of his Eden Alternative ideas and good work...)
continuing to try to blog more and find more linkity links that are worthwhile for anyone who might be reading this (speak up you troublemakers and tell me what you wanna know...)
Alright then, thanks again for listening and saying whatcha want to say...
ps that's my Dad's picture from last week's visit to the Lamberton Conservatory...
Posted at 10:32 pm by balduffington
Wednesday, September 22, 2010
on eldertopia and drawing dad (confirmed bleeding hearts)
I drew my dad yesterday as he drank his first ever fancy pumpkin latte and as we talked. It's one of the better drawings of my father, captures both his features and maybe a bit of personality (and if the picture is a little fuzzy it's maybe because we both share a bit of the shaky picture syndrome).
He was in town to go to a lecture with me. See my dad is an omsbudsman
at a nursing home in his city. For a couple of years he's been excited about the ideas of Dr. William Thomas. Now, really, after hearing him speak, I understand why.
And besides, he thankfully doesn't keep his ideas to himself. Some places to start(as I am) learning more about these ridiculously smart ideas...Eden Alternative website
An NPR story about Green Houses
My sketchbook notes are a bit jumbled but pretty I think.
After spending the day with my father and the evening listening to a Dr. Thomas' passionate plea for more compassionate attitudes towards the elderly, I am more impassioned and excited about the possibilities for change. But then, I'm just another liberal hoping we can care more about each other, consume less, and connect more...
Cue the picture dad took in the conservatory.
thanks again for listening and thank you Dad for everything!
Posted at 09:12 pm by balduffington
Monday, September 20, 2010
an almost full moon leads to Goya (not always but tonight)
Hanging up in the vast sky tonight is the most beautiful strikingly moon, a floating pockmarked glowing white mystery in the sky. Oh I'm no Sandburg
and this is no harvest moon...
See, I thought it was full but actually it's only almost full. September 23rd, it'll be full. And usually we don't even look up. My picture doesn't quite do it justice, nor does this related studio scrap.
Something about the bright white basketball in the the deep navy blue ever expanding upstairs brought me straight back to 1799, to a series of etchings by a great Spanish printmaker.
I just discovered that all 80 images in Francisco De Goya's Los Caprichos series are online through the Davison Art Center at Wesleyan.
. Big pictures, plate information and lots of odd details, rich compositions, and disturbances. A review like this one
(by Kraig Cavanaugh from a show in San Diego a year or so ago) puts the series in context a little and the MET's good old Timeline of Art History essay
tells much more of the story.
I'll do my best not to go mad staring at the moon
or raving about Goya, but I just had to share. Thanks again for listening...
Posted at 10:05 pm by balduffington
Sunday, September 19, 2010
summing up (and spending my earnings already)
After all the chitter chat about getting ready for market, I feel obliged (even if tired) to report on what was a wonderful day...Let's see...Art shows are about getting up squirrelly early thinking about details (for me it was wondering if I'd packed enough or if my sign would look fun and funky) and so I left the house before 8 am even.
So, as my friend Colleen (visual merchandiser extraordinaire and the talented artist behind my new favorite necklace and all that can be found at hintery
) and I set up the display (see Erin's picture below) a lovely woman with a big silly stuffed animal thing came out of nowhere and fully appreciated a certain doll. Leon. She was flummoxed though because she did not have any money on her (had just bought the stuffed creature) and had to 'rush home to make cookies". I offered a trade and sure enough, hours later she returned with absolutely delicious kitchen sink cookies
. Cookies, I tell ya! That's why I make art...
As you can tell from the photo (another fabulous Erin photo-- she made herself very helpful), I always had a couple of cool kids in my booth -- mostly because I made a 'make your own doll' activity with some of my spare parts/scraps. It was inspiring to see the dolls these kids made (zombies and turtles and very fashionable girls). I'm telling you that kids love hole punches, brads and scissors...just trust me on that...
Another inspiration can be glimpsed in this picture. I'll explain.
My next door neighbor was the very talented stained glass artist Jackie Shertz. Jackie is Deaf and I am not ASL trained (time to fix that) so normally we might have trouble communicating. But this year the Artist Row did a great thing to welcome Rochester's large Deaf community by providing lots of interpreters, and just making it easier for Deaf artists and purchasers. I learned more about the imagery of hands and eyes by communicating with Jackie and got such a kick out of watching all the signing, smiling, connecting happening in her booth and all over the market.
I usually spend my earrings as soon as they come in and this was no exception. Before she could leave town and to make good on my promise/threat I bought a lovely green skirt with a great diagonal hemline from Kate M
And then I hopped on the interweb and ordered a small boat load of clearance fabrics in autumnal tones from fabric dot com
. With my paper doll show out of the way, and with only one fabulous green skirt to wear as the seasons change, I'm going to sewing myself silly...
Thanks to all that stopped by and to all who read this here short report. I'm out...
Posted at 06:42 pm by balduffington
Saturday, September 18, 2010
Drawing (beginning and continuing)
Thanks mom. That's the drawing joke I like best. Only I don't consider drawing a joke, it's a crucial skill/habit/way of living that informs my everyday and generally makes me happier.
I'm often meeting people who want to draw and it's my profession to help people learn to make art, so I'm really excited about this New York Times opinionator series about drawing...seems good solid advice to start and honestly, you can learn to draw. Phantom Skill (drawing at the Opinionator )Also I heartily reccommend Roz's blog for drawing enthusiam and also good drawing...she's wonderful...
I can learn to draw better. Or so I believe. That's why I keep practicing in my sketchbook. Below are a couple recent sketches from this current book...
This was a sketch before we last went camping...
And these are my notes from a great talk by John Kastner and Nanette Nocon about their book What's Up With Yuk?
And not to creep you out, but here's what my dolls look like in plastic. Dolly (that's her name) grew angel wings or something...
She and me will be at market tommorrow! I'm freakishly excited...must go draw to quell my excitement...
Posted at 01:50 pm by balduffington
Thursday, September 16, 2010
Paper Dolls hanging from the sky and other art adventures
So, I am sitting here at this computer looking at the 6 drafts of entries I never posted from the past few months and feeling a mix of guilt (abandoned blogger's guilt is nothing new, right, a little lame even for me) and realization. I have spent the past few months working on projects more personal than public, more transitory and tentative than solid. It takes a real something to say to get me to bliggity blog it...
How about my first really rewarding art project in the form of dozens of paper dolls at the public market...
I'll explain. Here in Rochester, the Public Market is a wonderful farmer's market/ public marketplace and once a year they designate a Sunday for Artist's Row
. For the past three years, I've had a booth, or rather, a stall. This year I'm in 58. Some innovative, funny, smart, truly talented and hardworking artists will surround me on every side. They have about 160 vendors this year and the Friends of the Public Market (the non-profit who puts the show on) do all sorts of great things for artists. Not only are the booth fees very low, but there is set-up help and all sorts of small kindnesses. Artist's Row is Sunday September 19 from 10 to 4 (well, I have to get their early to set up all the dolls!)... Come by if you can!
Another small kindness/ insight into making...another art adventure rescued from one of those dead-in-the-water draft entries...
This year I had the pleasure of participating in a Self-Portrait project designed to see what Rochester looks like, it's called Art Drop
. My self portrait is on the fence in front of the Memorial Art Gallery (disclosure, I happily work there) until it comes down (don't think they've decided that yet but I think it's probably soon). The very talented photographer Will Yurman interviewed me and 5 other artists about our portraits in very cool little videos there...
I'll try, once this little excitement subsides to be better about regularly speaking up in this blog. You're reading it after all, and I care what you think...
Posted at 10:30 am by balduffington
Monday, April 12, 2010
Wind picks up and the next thing I know, I am painting. Since the middle of last week I have been keeping watercolors in my car, on the back porch, and in my purse. I have stacks of paper cut up and ready and I just restocked paper towels and scotchtape.
There are only pockets of time to sneak in work on the small fries I'm making. Some for 6 x 6,
some for my own silly reasons, others for old friends.
There's a big difference between fitting watercolor painting into my busy life, and way back when I had a little studio and time to make messes turn into successful paintings. I think this is making me more deliberate as a painter. Here's what happened when I tried to translate this old missing painting into a new image.
, watercolor and ink on paper, maybe 1999
, watercolor and ink on paper 13.5 tall x 12.5 long, April 2010
I deliberately changed a lot. I had to. I see the world a lot differently now. Feels like it's good change; I think I see more.
Makes me wonder about the paintings (or poems, or songs, or ...) you make now and how they're different from the ones you made then. Show and tell?
Posted at 05:15 pm by balduffington