In Process: Brooklyn Art Library Sketchbook Project


This is my most recent drawing, signaling my sketchbook now has tipped over the
halfway completed point on its way toward being submitted to the Brooklyn Art Library
Sketchbook Project.

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Focused on stranded colourwork knitting

I have been away from The Button Factory where I rent press time and print my monotypes for more than a year now in order to maintain low risk practices during the COVID pandemic. Now that life is starting to open up a bit I am planning to return to printmaking on a regular basis sometime this autumn.


The card table in my home studio where all things knitted and knitting seem to be gathering.

Meanwhile my creative energies have been and continue to be focused on the multiple knitting projects I have going at any one time. I especially enjoy knitting stranded colourwork as seen, for example, in my first Da Crofter’s Kep which I began knitting on May 2nd and finished blocking today.

Da Crofter’s Kep is the official 2021 Shetland Wool Week knitting pattern, designed exclusively by this year’s Patron Wilma Malcolmson. 

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Art worthiness

I think if I could go back in time and give myself a message, it would be to reiterate that my value as an artist doesn’t come from how much I create. I think that mindset is yoked to capitalism. Being an artist is about how and why you touch people’s lives, even if it’s one person. Even if that’s yourself in the process of artmaking.
Amanda Gorman, 2020 U.S. Inaugural Poet

Just yesterday I came across the above quote in which Amanda Gorman expresses in words the feelings I grappled with for decades. Put simply …

What is one’s worth as a person who practices the creative arts?


Self-Portrait, 29 March (II) by Barbara van Buskirk. Color monotype (2010).

Early on, in my 20s, I accepted the lie that developing my creativity was a luxury I could not afford. The cliché as well as the fear of being a starving artist, living in a garret, and being financially dependent on someone other than on myself and my own labor would be more than embarrassing; it would be shameful. 

Last month I finished reading “Vincent van Gogh: A Life in Letters” (edited by Nienke Bakker) which resonated with me in a number of different ways. Van Gogh’s experience working as an artist for the last 10 years of his life made clear to him that the perception of most people as to his worth as a person was contingent not upon his artistic development and talents, but instead upon earning pots of money.

How is it we so often buy into the lie more than 130 years after van Gogh’s passing that one’s worth is black or white. In truth, just as one color can have an almost limitless number of different tones, each person’s worth and life has an infinite number of tones.

What is one’s worth as a person who practices the creative arts? Priceless.


Self-Portrait, 5 April (I) by Barbara van Buskirk. Color monotype (2010).

 

 

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My creative plate keeps filling up

I have so many projects in motion these days it is rather astounding. Am I feeling overwhelmed? No, not all. Interesting enough, I feel calmer these days than I’ve felt in a long time. Perhaps the creative block I’d been experiencing for way too long was a result of having too few, rather than too many, projects in motion. Since my last post, I’ve learned about and now have added two wonderful new projects to my creative plate.

The Sketchbook Project


A recently completed full page spread in my sketchbook for Brooklyn Art Library’s The Sketchbook Project.

Last month I became an official artist of and donated to The Sketchbook Project sponsored by Brooklyn Art Library. Every participant is sent the same 5″ x 7″ blank custom sketchbook which one fills and sends back to Brooklyn Art Library where it will be digitized, catalogued, and added to the world’s largest collection of artist sketchbooks. I am participating in Volume 18 of this project which is still open to new member artists.

If you’re interested in participating in Volume 18 of this project, go to www.brooklynartlibrary.org/participate and order your sketchbook by June 14, 2021. The deadline to return Volume 18 sketchbooks is August 3, 2021.

Draw 5 Minutes a Day


Today’s sketch (Day #2) for Draw for 5 Minutes showing initial pencil lines and second run through with black marker.

Recently an artist friend invited me to join a Facebook group she’s participating in called Draw for 5 Minutes. I thought, Are you kidding me? There is absolutely no way can I add one more thing to my plate! Then I thought, Why not? You’re so busy you don’t have five minutes in a 24 hour period to make one quick sketch? And so, of course, I joined in. It seems to me it’s not important how much time is spent on a daily drawing. The key is to get into a rhythm of drawing each and every day. I have a hunch Draw for 5 Minutes is going to have a very positive effect on my sketchbook for The Sketchbook Project and vice versa.

Anyone and everyone can find the Drawing for 5 Minutes group on Facebook. You are welcome to participate or simply look at all the wonderful drawings being made.

Rock on!

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Riding the new wave

Today is a Snow Day here in New Hampshire, thanks to a bounty of beautiful freshly fallen snow which pretty much arrived overnight. Most welcome. And I am riding the wave of a resurgence of creative energy …

Returning to Morning Pages
About ten days ago, I picked up my practice of writing Morning Pages again after a long hiatus. This form of stream-of-consciousness writing three handwritten pages completed in one sitting is, for me, incredibly helpful in many different ways. Creatively. Personally. Spiritually. I was inspired to begin writing Morning Pages during the summer of 2007 as a result of reading Natalie Goldberg’s wonderful book Writing Down the Bones.

Embarking on new visual art series
I have taken my first step in developing a new visual art series here in my home studio. The form of this first step is what I call a Big Drawing.


Jump starting the Big Drawing for my new visual art series

This is how I began what ultimately became my Seacoast Women series (2014-2018). I really enjoyed the process of developing and making the Seacoast Women series. So much so, in fact, I am beginning my new visual art series in a similar fashion and will see where it takes me.

Learning to create original stranded colourwork designs


For now, knitting Terri Malcolmson’s Rig o’Flooers Cushion colourwork pattern

Just this past Saturday, I received the book Knitsonik Stranded Colourwork Sourcebook by Felicity Ford which I ordered from The Woolly Thistle, my go-to yarn shop (online) for a year and counting. On the cover is written: “A knitting book that shows you how to turn everyday inspirations into gorgeous stranded colourwork”. I’ve ordered color cards, which will show me the possibilities for my project palette, in Jamieson & Smith Jumper Weight and Jamieson of Shetland Spindrift. These two yarns are my favorites for knitting stranded colourwork. I’ve been wanting to take my knitting to a new level for some time now. I’m a complete novice at designing an original knitting project pattern. Learning something new is both scary and exhilerating!

I am jazzed!

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New year and life in letters

The day after Christmas I began reading Vincent van Gogh: A Life in Letters edited by Nienke Bakker who is Curator of Special Exhibitions at the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam.

Van Gogh has been one of my favorite artists for as long as I can remember. In 1990, my now husband and I were living aboard his 31 foot sailboat de Nada at the St. Petersburg Municipal Marina on Florida’s west coast. During this time, I was working at the Salvador Dali Museum and reading a bunch of Vincent’s letters in a book I’d found somewhere or other. I felt a strong connection to van Gogh, especially at that time. I was 37 years old in 1990, the same age as Vincent when he died. Van Gogh’s entire artistic output was created in the 10 years prior to his passing.

Fast forward to this past November when my husband told me about a newly published volume of van Gogh’s letters. Dave asked, “Would this be something you might like for Christmas?” YES!

So here I am, immersed once again in van Gogh’s creative process and life.

A good beginning to what, I hope, will be a better year for one and all.

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Knitting my way through 2020


A few of my recent Fair Isle knitting projects.

I’ve been knitting, knitting, knitting as a way to weather the storms of this crazy year. Pictured here are a few Fair Isle projects I completed between October 20th and December 3rd. I’ve also knit a sweater, caps, and a bunch of wrist warmers this year. I think, daydream and muse while I knit. During these last few weeks of 2020, I’m also feeling in my gut that the new year will see me experiencing a resurgence of art making energy and inspiration. The fallow period of most of this year will soon be coming to an end. I can feel it. I have a new, spacious home studio and the time will be ripe to start printing again as best I can without an etching press. Of course, I can hardly wait, as well, until I’m able to return to printing sessions in my friend Darlene’s studio at The Button Factory here in Portsmouth. Meanwhile I knit, knit, knit.

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Seeds of creativity are being planted

It is hard to believe three months have passed since I last wrote a post on my website.

What a wild ride 2020 has been thus far!

For the past five years or so, my rhythm has been to take a break from printing in July and August and restore my creative juices. Three years ago I spent two weeks at Haystack Mountain School of Crafts in Deer Isle, Maine, creatively immersed, learning how to handbuild figures in clay. 


Haystack Mountain School of Crafts’s Ceramics Studio (August 2017).

Last year, I spent one weekend at Arundel Farm Gallery near Kennebunk, Maine, learning how to make white line woodblock prints. 


Workshop at Arundel Farm Gallery (July 2019).

This year has been an entirely different story.

In February I learned the two spots on the skin of my nose, which seemed not to heal, were cancer. Around this same time the COVID-19 pandemic erupted. In early March, I had the cancer spots surgically removed and received a clean bill of health. At this same time, my husband and I also were in the early throes of following COVID-19 precautions — self-isolating, wearing masks and social distancing — as were millions of people around the world.

In June, my husband and I learned the property on which our beautiful apartment of eight years was located had been put on the market. In July, we began looking for a new home. Two weeks ago, in mid-August, we moved to a new home in Portsmouth. Yes, amazing. Lots of support from family and friends. The stars were definitely in alignment. 

My desire and energy to create has been at a low this year which I have not felt for more than 20 years. It seems the craziness of these times — nationally and internationally — and added stresses in my personal life have done a fine job of zapping my creative juices. Still, I continue to put one foot in front of the other: reading, knitting. This post is the most writing I’ve done in months. It’s the best I can do. I’m unpacking lots of boxes, settling into our beautiful new home. Not major creative activity. Still, certainly meditative. 


Last photo of our “girls” shortly before moving to our new home in Portsmouth.

I know the seeds of creativity are being planted this year. I have no idea when and how these seeds will sprout and bloom.

Stay tuned.

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Making is meditative

Noodling in my sketchbook, knitting, reading, walking and taking drives along Route 1A with a view of the Atlantic Ocean soothe my soul during these troubling times in our country and the world.


Noodling around in my sketchbook (May 23, 2020)

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A deep yearning …

Quiet Freedom (2007) Color monotype on BFK Rives (White) paper.

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