Object Dar't

August 30, 2010


Ok..I've been busy and neglected the blog. I know. I am HOPING that this is only temporary. I would like to be optimistic that I can do both my shabby chic furniture AND paint (ok and all the other things I have my fingers in).
I wanted to share something with the other "creative types" out there. It's the Sketchbook Project:

Thousands of sketchbooks will be exhibited at galleries and museums as they make their way on tour across the country.

After the tour, all sketchbooks will enter into the permanent collection of The Brooklyn Art Library, where they will be barcoded and available for the public to view.

Anyone - from anywhere in the world - can be a part of the project. To participate and have us send you a sketchbook that will go on tour, start by choosing a theme to the right.
Sign up by:

Oct. 31st, 2010
Postmark book by:

January 15th, 2011
Tour starts:

March, 2011

The Sketchbook Project: 2011

Do it..you know you want to..and life is too short not to do some fantastic things

August 10, 2010

Remembering s'Hertogenbosch

I've been in a phase lately of "houses". I find this phase a happy one and honestly I'm relieved because pieces of previous work were intense. I don't know how others work at art per say but for me it's like my creative well is a Cooper Mini stuffed with 5 gazillion clowns. I just open the door and whatever clown is next, well, he/she steps out! And some of them have been very scary looking.

Up until about a month ago, I was experiencing truly terrible angst over what I felt was an increase in violent natural disasters. Then the mandala's came out. Giant, round beasts on black handmade paper depicting ruination. Then suddenly I was in what I can best describe as a "Mayan" phase. Primitive, basic and DEFINITELY brooding! Several of the pieces I didn't even photograph because honestly, I just felt awful looking at them. After these pieces were completed, I felt drained and empty. The best way I can describe that phase is to tell you that I felt like Rosemary giving birth in Rosemary's Baby.
Remembering s'Hertogenbosch by Denyse Dar

So imagine my relief when I started painting happier things! Lately, my obsession with architecture and my travel background has amalgamated into a series of houses - some of the homes. The experience of giving birth to them has been pleasant and left me feeling hopeful that I have more to give. Yesterday, I finished "Remembering s'Hertogenbosch" which was the town where I lived in the Netherlands. It is my impression of the tall dutch buildings along the cobblestone streets where I spent my days shopping and walking. I put in Piet's, which was the local grocer on the corner of our street, but in reality his store looked nothing like this. I would like to paint the town common and perhaps even the real Piet's with the small petting zoo but I have a strange feeling that a clown from Paris wants to be the next one out of the mini. ;) 

August 9, 2010

MONDAY'S MUSINGS: Creativity Interview with Artist, Joyce Rettstadt

This is the first of what I hope will be a weekly interview with someone I consider an artist. While this week does in fact feature a traditional artist, my goal is to select people who have taken whatever they do to the level of a "craft", be it programming, financial planning or painting. It is my hope that readers will not only understand the creative process but recognize it in themselves. It is the starting-off point of becoming who you were born to be. :) 

This week, I interviewed artist Joyce Rettstadt. Mrs. Rettstadt was actually my elementary school art teacher and was someone who set me on my path of creativity. She was through and through a Yankee; tough, capable, talented and a no-frills, honest-to-god artist. She ALWAYS had a pencil stuck in her bun and her baby, a gigatinormous weaving loom, sat in the back of the classroom. That room might as well have been a crack den with me as the addict. 

Hollyhocks by Joyce Rettstadt
Mrs. Rettstadt currently spends her time creating beautiful watercolors that of course she handles in her own unique way. She's 74, still full of vim and vigor and shared what I feel is such an honest, straightforward account of the active process of creativity. Give it a read and leave your thoughts in the comments box:

OBJECT DAR'T: for anyone not familiar with you and your work, can you give us a brief description of who you are and what you do?

JOYCE RETTSTADT: I studied at Moore College of Art in Philadelphia, PA., majoring in Textile Design. I have a M.A. from Clark University. I taught art at the elementary level in public schools and also at Clark University. I was a professional weaver of liturgical vesture until 1999. In 1997, I took a watercolor class at the Worcester Art Museum in Worcester, MA, which opened up a whole new beginning for my creative life. I retired from weaving and am now painting whenever I can! I think that my joy is reflected in my paintings. Another important aspect to my life at 74 is the fact that I have become a foster parent to a young refugee from Liberia. Willy is an orphan and has witnessed some terrible things in his life, but he also is an artist... a musician!

OD: how do you define someone who is "creative"? 

JOYCE: Someone who is a problem-solver but creates their own problems to solve rather than solving problems posed by others.

OD: do you consider yourself "creative"? 

JOYCE: Absolutely!
Thompson Harvest by Joyce Rettstadt
 OD: how do you experience inspiration? 

JOYCE: Inspire means to "breath in". We take breath from all around us. Everything has potential for motivating us.
OD: Have you found any rhyme or reason to it? 

JOYCE: The muse is fickle. She only visits when she wants. It can't be forced.

OD: So, how do you handle it? 

JOYCE: I chop wood or vacuum. It frees the head! I am reading a wonderful new biography, "CHUCK CLOSE LIFE" by Christopher Finch. In it, Chuck Close is quoted as saying, "Inspiration is for amateurs. The rest of us just go to the studio and get on with it." Close had a very difficult youth with learning disabilities etc. In addition, he had a traumatic medical event that left him paralyzed. He was able to overcome all of these issues to become a premier American painter. Very good role model for those with issues and an excellent read.

OD: please describe your creative process and some of the challenges you experience.

JOYCE: My greatest issue has always been the centering process. This is a quote from a talk that I gave in Boston several years ago to those who were using art as a therapy to recover from breast cancer:
"In the creative process, there is a centering that must take place. Writing or painting or composing is NOT usually a group experience...it is solitary. And at first there are all those distractions. Things to do, plans to make, bills to pay, dinner to cook and on and on. The mind will not shut up but we must be patient and work to still that blabbering voice that is always trying to get our full attention.
Craftsmen, artist. writers musicians and even athletes speak of the experience of 'liminal' moments when they are apart from time, when they are so focused that time ceases to exist. The self is absorbed. It is a wonderful place to be!!"

OD: do you ever feel obsessed about projects you are working on and if so, how do you handle the emotional aspects of it? 

JOYCE: Obsession is the active part of the creative process. When the project is near completion, the obsession subsides and the displeasure with the final work is the germ that begins to form the next project. The "Oh, if I had done thus and so, it would have been so much better". That is not to say that you are displeased with your own work...but realize the impetus that will propel you forward.
Peepshow by Joyce Rettstadt
 OD: do you ever run out of ideas or fear your creative well will run dry? 

JOYCE: No!!!

OD: If so, how do you handle that? 

JOYCE: Be assured and be patient. You can't help a butterfly out of a cocoon. If you try, you kill it. Transformation is patient.

OD: how has your "creative" self evolved over time? What growth do you see? 

JOYCE: I have applied the creativity to several disciplines. It doesn't matter what medium you are working in, the same principles apply. As I have aged, I have felt more and more comfortable in my own skin. I no longer have to earn a living with my art/craft so the pressure isn't as great.

OD: in closing, many of my readers are afraid of rejection & criticism and can't see themselves as talented or creative. What would you say to encourage them? 

JOYCE: I was fortunate to go to a professional art school where the "critique" was the backbone of the learning experience. On a regular basis, my work would be tacked up on the wall and constructively pulled apart by my fellow classmates and finally by the instructor. At first, it was a crushing experience but the learning you derive from it is substantial. Having work rejected from a show is also difficult to accept at first until you realize that the decisions were made by a human being who might have totally different sensibility. Get over the fear of failure. Sin boldly!!!!

Potting Shed by Joyce Rettstadt

August 4, 2010

WANDERING WEDNESDAY: The Worcester Craft Center in Review!

I recently attended "Hot Night in the City", the Worcester Center for Craft's open studio. I must say that in spite of the small size of the event, it packed a big punch in the inspiration department. Just like the event, the name of The Worcester Center for Craft's, is also misleading. The term "crafts", has become known for being something amateurs plunk at like a hobby which has a restricted flow of creativity. Not so here! The flood gates of creativity were WIDE open and the people that make up the Craft Center shouldn't be called "crafters", but artisans.
Kids craft activies
The event of course featured the the same old kids craft activities, which was the first thing we did. Inside the Center, various studios were open including loom weaving, pottery throwing (the studio was amazing!), photography, jewelry making, weaving, thrown pottery, glass enameling and even hand-hammered metal works. 

Outside the Center were top-notch demonstrations of rustic weaving, a potter at the wheel, glass bead making, blacksmithing and a clay tile mosaic (which you could decorate for a fee)

Rustic Weaving

but the pièce de résistance was the Raku firing. 

Raku sample

For those of you unfamiliar with Raku, during the firing of pottery, different elements are added to a kiln to produce smoke and fire. This alters the glaze that was applied to each piece and gives a unique personality.

In THIS case, a more rudimentary (as in how it was done centuries ago!) set-up of outdoor kiln,

Outdoor Kiln

giant iron tongs to remove pieces

Removing of pottery pieces for Raku treatment

and people scrambling to drop them into trash cans filled with ripped newspaper and straw. 

The waiting cans

Raising the kiln to remove pieces

It was simply awesome to watch them draw up the top of that giant beast of a kiln and treat the pottery.

They even demonstrated various techniques of Raku using a covered pot, a spray bottle of water and wrapping horse hair onto unglazed pottery.  

Horsehair application to hot pottery
All VERY educational and utterly inspiring.

The find out more about the Worcester Center for Craft's or to see their full spectrum of classes, please visit their website. Or find them on Facebook here.

August 2, 2010

MONDAY'S MUSINGS - Guest Author Mandy of Just Gimme Coffee

Most folks dread Monday's but in my world, every Monday is a new beginning. And what better way to start off a new week with a fresh perspective? So ever Monday will feature the musings of someone new, fresh and different - a "Guest Author".

This week I am proud to feature the musings of Mandy, author of the blog Just Gimme Coffee. She endeavors to restore a little sanity to her life by celebrating the simple pleasures. She lives in North Carolina with her husband, tween son, preschool daughter and lovable mutt Jackson. Having worked with children all her life as a summer camp director, teacher, speech therapist and mother, she has come face-to-face with a lot of bored kids! So this week she's musing about kids and creativity. Just in time for summer vacation!

Photo by gfpeck

The same thing happens every year…the summer doldrums!  Every mother recognizes this stage in her children’s lives. The kids are far enough into summer break that the excitement of its newness has worn off, and “I’m bored,” becomes the new mantra. Who do these bored children turn to for a solution? YOU, of course! You are not only mother and chauffeur and cook and maid (and the list goes on), but you are chief entertainer as well!

So what’s a busy chief entertainer to do? Well, I’m all about passing the buck right back to the kids!

The American poet and satirist, Dorothy Parker, perhaps said it best, “The cure for boredom is curiosity. There is no cure for curiosity.”

Our kids are bored and hassling us because their curiosity is broken. So why are their natural creative spirits not at work? Doesn’t every child come into this world with the potential for great creativity? Well, there may be a variety of reasons, but here are two leading causes:

1. A learned helplessness. Why think for myself? I can let others do it for me.

In our modern-day, technological, instant and hurried world, kids learn to let others be creative for them. They learn to sit on the sidelines when it comes to imagination and become spectators.

2. An unfounded fear. Why take a risk? My ideas may not be right.

Unfortunately kids learn quickly that the focus in our society is on being right and being the best. Anything else doesn't count. As a result, children learn to approach life this way. They hold back their thoughts and ideas for fear they may not be right, or accepted or good enough to pass.

So what can we do to combat this helplessness and fear in our kids? Unfortunately creativity does not grow overnight. It is a process, an attitude that develops slowly and has to be modeled, taught and nurtured by parents, just like all other values we seek to instill in our kids.

So, the long-term cure?

1. Make non-stimulating “down-time” a regular habit in their lives. Force them to think for themselves.

2. Provide and encourage more open-ended activities. Encourage them not to stress about, “getting it right.”

You know the saying, "If I give a man a fish, he will be satisfied for a day, but if I teach him to fish, he will be satisfied for a life-time." The same idea applies when it comes to kids' imagination and creativity. If I provide my child with the idea for a pre-defined, closed-ended activity,then he will be satisfied for a day (well not even a day, more like ten minutes); but if I teach my kid to seek out "down-time" to have the opportunity the create for himself, the he will be satisfied a whole lot longer!

Photo by zen

What are some practical ways to apply the cure?

1. They may design a new character for a show they have recently watched.

2. They could develop a whole new story involving familiar characters.

3. They could act out the new storyline using themselves or using toys.

4. They could create a new game to play, either live-action (like tag) or a board/card game.

5. They could create an alternate ending for a story they have read.

6. They could create a notebook about a topic of interest. You know, all those millions of questions they ask you on a regular basis! Tell them to look it up!
These are just a few examples. The sky is the limit! The key is to make regularly scheduled “down times” and to help your child think open-ended.

I'm not saying this will be easy. They will resist! Be prepared to invest a little more of your time and energy up front in both suggesting ideas and helping them follow through on them. However, despite the whining and complaining, you must be strong in your convictions. Set a timer if it helps, and refuse to allow them to engage in an activity where the creativity is provided by another until the buzzer goes off. As they come to accept that Mama ain’t playing around and she’s really serious about teaching me to use my imagination, curiosity and creativity for myself, then they will slowly give in and experiment.

Then celebrate their accomplishments! Show excitement for what they have done. Hopefully you’ll less frequently hear, “Mom, I’m bored!”  Then you can temporarily remove your chief entertainer hat, and go put on your chef hat, maid’s apron and chauffeur shoes and complete all the other jobs you already have on your list!

What about you? What ideas do you have about helping kids learn to amuse themselves? What has worked for you, or what hasn’t worked? Please share!

August 1, 2010

new site design...

I'm a typical artist, I know. I can't live long term (what the rest of the world considers short term! lol) with things staying the same; ESPECIALLY my surrounding. I look at my blog every day so it's like my living room. Once a month, I have to rearrange the furniture and accessories. I'd redo the whole stinkin room if I could accomplish it in a couple hours but repainting walls is time consuming and messy. NOT SO WITH A BLOG THOUGH! muwahahahahah

Last night at 2am, I unleashed the new design and color scheme. Gone is the red which was starting to make me anxious. Here's a color sample of the old design:

Now I'm looking to do my market research so if you've stumbled upon this post, I'm hoping your a chatty person who'll take a moment to help a stranger out. I have a few questions which can be simply answered in a comment (see below for the "comment" option). You have absolute amnesty in this department as I am sincerely seeking feedback from strangers and NOT "Yes-Men." I totally want you to be BRUTALLY honest!

1. if you couldn't read the site (like maybe you speak Mandarin Chinese), would the site still convey to you that it is an "artistic" site?
2. is the site too cluttered with buttons and gadgets for your taste?
3. did you scroll all the way down to the bottom of the site? If not, can you please tell me how far you scrolled (please do this by the # of posts you scrolled past)
4. did the site make you feel curious enough to explore more here? If not, WHY not?
5. does the subject of art & creativity interest you at all? if so - what areas??
6. did any (or all) of the ads distract or annoy you? if so, which ones?