Studio days and more

My interview three years ago on “The Creators of SomeCity” feels like a lifetime ago. Still, with my return to printing at The Button Factory in a couple of weeks and meeting via Zoom this past week with my longtime web guru Steve Circeo, MaxCreative LLC, I was reminded of this interview and watched it again. This summer my website — — will relaunch with a fresh look, more galleries, and an easier navigation system. Stay tuned.

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First monotype printed with Akua pin press

Amaryllis (2022) by Barbara van Buskirk

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“Peace on Earth” finds a home

Peace on Earth (2009). Mixed media on wood panel.

I received an email this morning with the happy news that a friend and collector wanted to purchase Peace on Earth. She texted, “I have loved your Peace on Earth piece since I first laid eyes on it and am excited to think it may soon find its place in my home.” This made me incredibly happy on a couple of levels. First, Peace on Earth would be finding a wonderful home with wonderful people whom I love and who love art. Secondly, Peace on Earth is a mixed media painting on wood panel. As you know, my primary medium is printmaking. I have just a handful of my paintings which I’ve made available to the public. Thirdly, I love Peace on Earth so much. This was the image on the front of my husband’s and my Christmas cards one year. I swear I post Peace on Earth on my Facebook page every winter and have used it as a visual on more than one website home page post. Lastly, if I could have one wish come true it would be peace on Earth. I am so very, very happy and grateful Peace on Earth has found a home. Happy New Year!

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Reaping writing rewards from NaNoWriMo 2021

During the month of November, I participated in National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) 2021 which sets the goal for each participant to write 50,000 words of a shitty first draft in 30 days. NaNoWriMo started in 1999 and is described on its website as a “fun, seat-of-your-pants approach to creative writing.”

As November and my writing unfolded, I discovered I really didn’t care about “succeeding” in the NaNoWriMo sense of writing a certain number of words. I realized I simply wanted to spend the month of November writing in order to (1) enjoy and have fun with the creative process as I do with visual art and knitting (2) create a stash of words from which to pluck and play as I do with my stash of art supplies and stash of yarn (3) get into the rhythm of a solid writing practice. I’m happy to say I achieved each and every one of my personal goals with a total word count of 40,133 for NaNoWriMo 2021.

I’ve wanted to write a book since I was a teen. The book title Sleepwalking Through Oysterville came to me in a flash in the early 1990s when my now husband and I were living aboard our sailboat de Nada in St. Petersburg, Florida. While participating in NaNoWriMo 2021, I discovered what may have been holding me back from writing Sleepwalking Through Oysterville: focusing on product rather than on process.

Now, in early December, I’ll continue writing my shitty first draft of Sleepwalking Through Oysterville until I have 50,000 words then I’ll look at what I’ve got and go from there.

Meanwhile, I’m looking forward to returning to printmaking at The Button Factory in early 2022.

And, of course, knitting. I’m always knitting.

November 3, 2021: My progress in test knitting the purl bump diamond design
Defiant Cardigan* and creating a pair of wrist warmers in the process.

*Scandinavian Sweaters: Over 25 Stunning Patterns to Knit by Kristin Wiola Odegard


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NaNoWriMo, here I come

Multimedia drawing on Mylar (2009)

I’ve signed up for National Novel Writng Month (NaNoWriMo) 2021 and aim to write a 50,000 word first draft of Sleepwalking Through Oysterville in 30 days beginning this coming Monday, November 1st. This is the first time I’ll be participating in NaNoWriMo. I’m challenging myself with this creative project both to celebrate the anniversary of my retirement from my day job which began November 1, 2010, as well as to get my creative juices flowing again. Wish me luck!

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Here’s an update

It’s hard to believe a decade has passed since the monotype demo filmed in my Albuquerque studio went live on YouTube. As of today, this little video has been viewed more than 377,000 times. In some ways, it feels as if my friend Rhoda Weill of Rolling R Productions and I made this demo a couple of years ago. In other ways, it feels like several lifetimes ago. 

So many changes in the past decade. Moving from Albuquerque to Portsmouth, New Hampshire, nine years ago. Printing and exhibiting for years here on the Seacoast and then bam! The global COVID-19 pandemic changed all of our lives. Beginning in mid-March 2020, isolation and social distancing made printing at my friend Darlene Furbush Ouellett’s studio at The Button Factory off limits. My home studio was small, dark and somewhat cramped.

My visual art, writing and research have taken a back seat to knitting and fiber during the past year and a half. Still, this year I have joined three art groups: The Monotype Guild of New England, Draw 5 Minutes A Day (online) and An Art Movement: Artists Promoting the Arts (online). In February, I signed up to participate in The Sketchbook Project and hopefully will have it filled and returned to the Brooklyn Art Library by year’s end. 

Today is the first official day of autumn, my favorite season. This year I also have been participating in several online knitting discussion groups: The Woolly Thistle (TWT) Group, Stranded Knits, and Da Crofter’s Kep Knit-A-Long. I also am an avid viewer of The Woolly Thistle’s Shopcast (YouTube) and a Patron of the Fruity Knitting Podcast (YouTube). Each of these are uploaded every other week and provide rich and varied content which focuses on the many different aspects of knitting, yarn, fiber, design, color and more. Both TWT Shopcast and the Fruity Knitting Podcast have about five years of archived episodes. 

For me, the past 18 months has been a period of incubation, reflection and change. I’ve settled into a new home and now have a home studio which is filled with natural light and is spacious enough for me to devote time and energy to all of my creative projects: visual, fiber, writing. I have a brand new Akua Pin Press in my home studio, fresh inks, and lots of paper.

Since there was no way I would be traveling to The Museum of Modern Art in New York City to see its Cezanne Drawing exhibition (June 6-September 25, 2021), I ordered and have just begun reading the exhibition catalog which looks terrific. My stash of beautiful wool has grown to fill four bins in my home studio, and I currently have three knitting projects in process. I also have several new knitting books to peruse and read, including Selbu Patterns by Anne Bardsgard, Vanishing Fleece: Adventures in American Wool by Clara Parkes, Wildwood by Marie Wallin, and the hopefully soon-to-arrive Shetland Wool Week Annual 2021. In the past 18 months, the United States Postal Service and Fed Ex have been two of my creative lifelines. I’m learning a lot about fiber, color and design, all of which will influence and contribute to my visual art in the years to come. After all, paper is fiber. And, yes, I anticipate returning to The Button Factory to print later this autumn or early winter.

While writing this update, it occurs to me I’ve been setting the stage for a new period of creative expression during the past 18 months.

Ten years. Eighteen months. Time flies and is precious. Use it well.


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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 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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