Summer in snapshots

8/16/16 It feels like summer is just beginning as I spend the mornings painting on the front porch, fueled by teas from Dripworks, followed by evening swims in the warm waters of Little Traverse Bay, and lots of summer reading courtesy of Petoskey Public Library.

My You're one hell of a person cards featuring the pen + ink drawing, 'Movement', $5 each or 5 for $24  I recently printed these cards and new square business cards through MOO and I love the quality, how simple they make the process, and the recycled paper options. It's a bit pricey, but worth the user experience.

My You're one hell of a person cards featuring the pen + ink drawing, 'Movement', $5 each or 5 for $24 

I recently printed these cards and new square business cards through MOO and I love the quality, how simple they make the process, and the recycled paper options. It's a bit pricey, but worth the user experience.

5/25/16 Anticipating Spring with this frenetic piece: Green Flash, ink + pastel on paper from Hollander's in Ann Arbor

5/25/16 Anticipating Spring with this frenetic piece: Green Flash, ink + pastel on paper from Hollander's in Ann Arbor

Throwback to the summer of Indigo Dyeing at Limited Edition with one of my favorite real life artists, Kristen Koehler, I'm offering a drop-in class in a week - August 28th from 2-4 p.m. in my backyard. Bring your own pieces to dye + a plastic bag, $5. Must sign up in advance: katherine.brines@gmail.com

Throwback to the summer of Indigo Dyeing at Limited Edition with one of my favorite real life artists, Kristen Koehler, I'm offering a drop-in class in a week - August 28th from 2-4 p.m. in my backyard. Bring your own pieces to dye + a plastic bag, $5. Must sign up in advance: katherine.brines@gmail.com

7/29/16 Exploring the Wasatch mountain range in Park City, Utah during a wedding visit in July. Utah is quickly becoming a favorite state of mine after checking out Arches National Park + Zion National Park last spring. I'm planning a road trip with my Sister and her two young kids this October to visit our brother in Yosemite. Any recommendations for the way out? Hiking, camping, eating, oddities?

7/29/16 Exploring the Wasatch mountain range in Park City, Utah during a wedding visit in July. Utah is quickly becoming a favorite state of mine after checking out Arches National Park + Zion National Park last spring. I'm planning a road trip with my Sister and her two young kids this October to visit our brother in Yosemite. Any recommendations for the way out? Hiking, camping, eating, oddities?

8/1/15 3-5 year olds making nature-inspired art in my backyard during a three day Wild art camp. If you're interested in signing your kids or yourself up for a private lesson, read more about it here: Private Lessons

8/1/15 3-5 year olds making nature-inspired art in my backyard during a three day Wild art camp. If you're interested in signing your kids or yourself up for a private lesson, read more about it here: Private Lessons

7/1/16 A highlight of the summer was spending three nights a week and some weekend days with a talented group of dancers + artists as we collaborated and performed as Northern Dance Project.

7/1/16 A highlight of the summer was spending three nights a week and some weekend days with a talented group of dancers + artists as we collaborated and performed as Northern Dance Project.

7/13/16 Nature Weaving class through Little Traverse Conservancy at the McCune Preserve. One of my favorite classes + favorite preserves to explore. This weaving project is fun for kids and adults, especially if you enjoy collecting (hording?) found objects, like I do. The look of the weavings change as the leaves and petals dry out. Try hanging them in a window or against a wall. Materials: 4 sticks (tied together at corners), yarn (looped around sticks and crisscrossed), found objects for weaving into the yarn (feathers, leaves, flowers, trash). 

7/13/16 Nature Weaving class through Little Traverse Conservancy at the McCune Preserve. One of my favorite classes + favorite preserves to explore. This weaving project is fun for kids and adults, especially if you enjoy collecting (hording?) found objects, like I do. The look of the weavings change as the leaves and petals dry out. Try hanging them in a window or against a wall. Materials: 4 sticks (tied together at corners), yarn (looped around sticks and crisscrossed), found objects for weaving into the yarn (feathers, leaves, flowers, trash). 

Michigan Made

Seasons Greetings! Snow in Northern Michigan:

GREY BUILDING

Being home from school for the holidays is a good time to register to vote, or request an absentee ballot so you're ready for the presidential primaries on March 8th. You must register one month in advance to vote. Absentee ballots must be received by 8 p.m. on the day of the election.

I remember working in the mail room at college and seeing all of the absentee ballots being sent back to their respective states with not enough time for them to arrive in order to be counted. Don't give anyone an excuse to say our generation is apathetic or doesn't care. And older generations, mad respect, but it's time to let us take the reigns, let us build something, run companies, organizations and innovate, we'll take care of you, because you raised us to think about others too.

Register to Vote: here

Request an Absentee Ballot: here

Absentee Ballot Deadlines: here

Samrit Residency Program

We arrived home a couple days ago from our 3-week stay in Thailand and I'm happily enjoying the last of the leaves, earthy smells and sunny days of Autumn in Northern Michigan.

autumn

The village of Samrit was enriching for me both personally and artistically. I took a roll of paper along with some walnut ink and charcoal (for ease and because I'm trying to break my love affair with oil paint...toxicity, environment). I was immediately struck by the plant life and foliage there...of course. It was so lush and verdant wherever you looked. Even a plant in the concrete jungle of Bangkok looked like the healthiest plant you could imagine. Also, I couldn't get enough of the patterns and attention to detail in the tile work found in the cities and villages, the variety of fences and gates (everyone had one), and the colors and overwhelming amount of advertising.

palm tree

I can't read or speak the Thai language and thus could more easily overlook the nefarious nature of advertising and labeling. Or at least view it with humor. The images on billboards, signs and packaging became these visceral paintings comprised of complex symbols and shapes to me. I mostly played around with documenting plants and ornamentation while at Samrit and worked on a couple of murals - one with the other resident, Alba, from Madrid. Yet, I find myself wanting to dive in to a big palette of juicy oil paints to create some "advertisements" of my own now that I'm back home. Any recommendations fellow painters? (I haven't found a way to love acrylic yet, plus I heard it's not great stuff either).

Alba did the hands and I, the catfish

Alba did the hands and I, the catfish

One of the many reasons I'm hooked on travel is because it changes the way you look at your world when you get back - at least for a while. It helps me be more within the moment with family, friends and outside. Even mundane tasks like cleaning the house and doing laundry have a fresh feel. The people of Samrit gave me a deeper view on what I'm grateful for in particular.

Jin and her family

Jin and her family

It's true that where we were visiting is the poorest part of Thailand and that there were not many luxuries. You can't flush toilet paper down the toilet (there's a hose instead), the water is unsafe for drinking and there are bugs and lizards and rats running around in and above your accommodations. But you quickly get used to those differences, maybe find some tourist-like endearment in them... then finally realize it's like red squirrels or hard water back home. I did not have a big revelation that the people of Samrit have so much less than we do. But I did find myself thinking that they have more in a way- a strength and resilience. 

under the mulberry tree

under the mulberry tree

Now it's true that I was seeing everything with the starry-eyed vision of someone experiencing trouncing around in the mud to catch catfish or the exhilaration of paddling in unison with 30 others in a very long, skinny and tippy boat on a foreign continent, for the first time. I'm certain the people of Samrit do not feel their lives as naively as I did. I think they probably live very hard lives. They're mostly rice farmers in an industry that's now losing the competition to export with Vietnam, another impoverished country. They're facing the challenges of a land soured by fertilizer due to a western solution to growing more food faster. The Chinese have come in and created shell corporations under Thai names and have taken over many businesses. It's very difficult to get a bank loan there, so people are forced to buy them on the black market, etc. Yet the Thai people smile a lot and are a very generous, collaborative and accepting people. Which I will remember and take with me.

Traditional Thai dancing

Traditional Thai dancing

Within a surprisingly short amount of time, Jordan and I felt like we were part of the community of Samrit village. Art, the Program Manager at the Artist Residency, was a great host - leading us around to authentic and interesting places, answering our endless questions, and joking around with us. We fell in love with Jin, the woman who owns the shop across the street where we ate meals, her mother, Cheun, and their family. They'd take us to their plot of land where they grow the rice we ate. And without a lot of verbal exchange I learned some things about rice farming, including that my head is certainly too oblong for the hat Jin lent me. I enjoyed getting to know Art's large group of family and friends- his fabulous mom, On and her husband Lindsay, the founders of Samrit, his brother, his wife & adorable son, the boat team, the beautiful girls who taught us some traditional Thai dancing, Paddy the dog who we're now trying to bring back here, and on and on. 

It was a beautiful experience and I am thankful to all the people who made it so. I'd highly recommend the residency stay for any artist who likes adventure, a different pace of life and respectfully learning about new cultures.

On & Family

On & Family

Art teaching us a little about Buddhism

Art teaching us a little about Buddhism




The Cool Season

Samrit is so cool, I mean it's hot, but chill. Jordan and I made a daily routine of walking around the countryside and I spend the rest of my time sketching and taking photos. We are fast friends with Jin, the woman who owns the shop across the street where we eat our meals, Art, the program director at Samrit, and Alba, the other resident artist from Madrid. Art and Jin generously invite us to do all sorts of things and are open, curious and I enjoy their sense of humor. Alba has a very tender heart and shared with me some of the community projects she works on in Spain, including mural collaborations with inmates at the prison in Madrid, and feet paintings with the students at the art school for adults with special needs, where she teaches. 

We had a memorable trip to the market in Phimai and dinner with Art's large family, including an observation of 36 people training for a village on village paddling race at the end of the month. They train three months in advance for two hours every evening (in the dark as the sun sets around 5:30-6:00 p.m.). Jin took us to explore her rice paddy this morning as she and her husband flooded the field from the nearby river. We eat her rice everyday at the shop and this particular crop will be ready to harvest in November.

The pace of life here is slow and peaceful. 

Playing around with spray paint 

Playing around with spray paint 

Drinking Coke is like drinking oil.

Drinking Coke is like drinking oil.

An old Pepsi advertisement 

An old Pepsi advertisement 

A colorful farm truck

A colorful farm truck

Bangkok & Ban Samrit, Nakhon Ratchasima, Thailand

Sawatdee ka,

The last 36 hours in Thailand have been surreal. Not to sound ancient, but it is amazing that after 30 hours of being awake and traveling one can find themselves across the world riding through Bangkok in the dark - noticing things like highways fighting a battle against world foliage domination and experiencing a kind of warmth not felt before - one that keeps people sitting outside into the wee hours of night, drinking around tables, listening to music, while children play, beside shacks and gas stations and markets and stop lights.

Everything is new. (Except the signs for 7-11, Amway and Dunkin' Donuts). At this point I can only observe, smile and wonder in awe, where am I? Yet one thing that keeps popping into my blissed out and perhaps overly tired mind is: Does affording air conditioning really make a life better, happier? I'm happy to be 95 degrees warm. Beer over ice tastes so good. And my perspective on what's important here and at home is fueling some good studio time. 

Details of Patterns, Colors & Textures:

Common tiles at the artist residency

Common tiles at the artist residency

Mosaic detail at the Grand Palace, Bangkok

Mosaic detail at the Grand Palace, Bangkok

Painted walls with gold leafing, Grand Palace, Bangkok

Painted walls with gold leafing, Grand Palace, Bangkok

Detail of Edges at Grand Palace, Bangkok, Thailand

Detail of Edges at Grand Palace, Bangkok, Thailand

Detail of Head of Buddhist Figure, Ban Samrit, Nakhon Ratchasima, Thailand

Detail of Head of Buddhist Figure, Ban Samrit, Nakhon Ratchasima, Thailand

Shadows on the Floor, Ban Samrit

Shadows on the Floor, Ban Samrit

I love plants, orchids in the greenhouse, Ban Samrit

I love plants, orchids in the greenhouse, Ban Samrit

Jordan having breakfast at the shop across the street from the residency. Food made by the shop owner, Jin and her mother, Cheun..."arawy" (delicious). As I write this blog post from inside the studio I'm looking out at Jordan playing ball with Jin's sons under the concrete structure and awning that was meant for processing and selling rice. 

Jordan having breakfast at the shop across the street from the residency. Food made by the shop owner, Jin and her mother, Cheun..."arawy" (delicious). As I write this blog post from inside the studio I'm looking out at Jordan playing ball with Jin's sons under the concrete structure and awning that was meant for processing and selling rice. 

7 a.m. walk along the rice fields of Samrit

7 a.m. walk along the rice fields of Samrit

A gate

A gate

Alba, an artist from Madrid, cooking with Jin & Cheun

Alba, an artist from Madrid, cooking with Jin & Cheun



New Work, Heading to Thailand

I took a break from my weekly blog over the Spring, Summer and early Fall to work on a project called Limited Edition - a space for young artists, writers and makers located in Downtown Petoskey, MI. It is difficult to sum up what that experience meant to our little community of emerging creatives and to me personally in a few sentences. But if you're interested in learning more, click on the link above to our website to read all about it.

Meanwhile, here are a couple sketches and new paintings I've been working on over the last few months:

Botanicals, pen on paper, 11" x 14," $55

Botanicals, pen on paper, 11" x 14," $55

Movement, pen on paper, 11" x 14," $65

Movement, pen on paper, 11" x 14," $65

Grey Area, oil on panel, 16" x 16," $650

Grey Area, oil on panel, 16" x 16," $650

Beach Day, oil on canvas, 8" x 10," $175

Beach Day, oil on canvas, 8" x 10," $175

   In a week I'm heading to rural Thailand for a two-week artist residency. I'll be given a room, shared studio space and a bicycle, with no other expectations or requirements. My goal is to participate in everything that I can, explore daily by foot and bicycle, sketch, teach school kids, cook with families and perhaps farm. Sam Rit is located 4 hours NE of Bangkok by car and has a population of 670. Their main source of income is agriculture - sugar, rice and tapioca. No one in the village speaks English, with the exception of one or two people who work at the residency program...and that's what I know. It's been several years since I left the country and I've never been to Asia before. This will be the most exotic place I've been - I'm excited, thankful and eager to see where my work goes as a result of this experience. Laa gawn

Sam Rit

Summer Camp Offerings

I'm excited to work with Zoe Marshall-Rashid of ZoeDance this summer as we offer two Art & Movement Camps in July for children ages 4-6 & 6-8. To learn more and to sign up, visit:  ZoeDance. While you're there check out some of Zoe's private and group classes for adults, she is a talented dancer and teacher and Petoskey is lucky to have her.



Grant from the Michigan Council on Arts & Cultural Affairs

We're excited to announce that Limited Edition was chosen as a grant recipient from the Michigan Council on Arts & Cultural Affairs for $2400! Thanks to these monies and the generous pledges from our Kickstarter Campaign we'll be able to rent a space and host some fun workshops and events throughout the Summer!

Meanwhile, we are hard at work gathering young emerging creatives to be a part of our space as we plan our schedule of workshops and happenings. I had the chance to speak to the Art and English classes at Petoskey High School, as well as the Art classes at North Central Michigan College this week. I was inspired by the creativity of the students and their teachers - we're lucky to have these passionate and engaging educators in our community and look forward to the participation of some of these students this Summer!

Stay tuned for upcoming announcements about our location, shop hours and a schedule of events by following us on Facebook: Limited Edition, on Twitter: @_limitedshop or on Instagram: @limitededitionshop.

We hope you have the chance to visit us at Limited Edition this summer to see first hand the value in supporting organizations like the Michigan Council for Arts & Cultural Affairs in our beloved home state.

* A special thank you to Crooked Tree Arts Center for bringing this grant opportunity to our attention and guiding us through the process, as well as Marion Bright & Will Cronin for your advice and seriously good editing skills.

Limited Edition is supported by the Michigan Council for Arts and Cultural Affairs

MCACA


Artist as Entrepreneur

I went to a gathering yesterday in Traverse City hosted by Crooked Tree, our local arts center, in which they invited artists and posed this question: In what ways can CTAC help support artists?

Recently Crooked Tree merged with Traverse City Arts Center, meaning Crooked Tree will now serve all of Northwest Northern Michigan.

It was a healthy discussion that could happen in any small community around the country with the constant theme of: how do we sustain ourselves as artists?

There are clear trends in what artists needs are. The first is quality space to show our work. We asked the CTAC to think of ways to support artists by providing unique and exciting spaces to show our work. In particular, there are some interesting industrial spaces in TC, such as the factory near the old Northern Michigan Asylum. In Petoskey - where I live - there are empty store fronts that have been for rent for several years that we could transform into incredible pop-up galleries and exhibition space with a focus on showcasing local artists. 

Next, affordable space in which to make work and feel a sense of community amongst artists. At the meeting, there was an artist who pointed out that there are a good amount of artists in NoMi. We are important to the fabric and identity of the community. We are in a sense a public good. We are like the lake, people expect us to be here, expect us to provide, be available, without considering what it takes to be an artist anywhere. It takes dedication to a craft and the profession of art. In my mind, a building full of artists working in their studios, hosting events, and opening up those studios to the public (during certain times) would be a great way for us to engage with the community while at the same time letting them see our profession in action. 

Community studio space ties into this last issue we face: artists as entrepreneurs - We need help figuring out how to support ourselves and how to engage the public. Specifically, learning how to find a market for our work even if we have to export our art outside of the community.

I think these are challenges artists and entrepreneurs everywhere face. 

I find myself trying to reconcile the idea of artists as entrepreneurs this week. On the one hand, treating your work as a business is necessary to be able to afford yourself the time to continue making art. Yet on the other hand treating you work as a business can stunt the very core of your business; your work and it's evolution. 

Can I be an artist and an entrepreneur at the same time?

Back in the Saddle

It feels great to be back in the studio again! Here are a few images of the paintings I've been working on.

If you're interested in owning an original, don't be afraid to inquire - I have a variety of sizes and price points, as well as works on paper.

 

                                                                   Night Woods, Oil on Panel, 24" x 24," $1100

 

                                             Geranium, Fern, Bluebird, Oil on Canvas, 36" x 36," $950

 

                                                            Band of Lakes, Oil on Panel, 48" x 48," $2400

Happy Birthday Milo

I wrote a blog post today about discipline, getting advice/taking advice/disregarding advice and finding a balance between what's natural to you and what you have to do to push yourself towards growth. But then I stepped away from my computer to bake a delicious flourless chocolate birthday cake for my nephew, only to return to my computer with no blog post in sight. So instead I will say a few words about saving stuff...before I say f it and go outside on this brisk, sunny winter day to walk my dogs, whitewash our floors, and celebrate three years of Milo with family and friends. 

There is so much stuff in the world. I know I've written about this before, but it's something I think about regularly. Maybe it's because I was raised in a thrifty family or from my experiences observing giant piles of trash in the ocean while sailing through the beautiful Caribbean or because I have mainly afforded only what I really need, but it's on my mind. There is way more stuff than anyone in this country needs or could possibly use - giant warehouses full of perfectly packaged stuff enshrouded in plastic and cardboard, constructed in an alluring choose me 4-year university student loans packaging degree type of way. Yet there are a lot of people whose basic needs are not being fulfilled; you know, food, clean water, shelter. I don't know, it doesn't add up. Don't get me wrong, I secretly buy twix candy bars while browsing through fashion magazines, savoring the salty, caramel, and fake chocolate-like substance between my uninsured molars. Yet I find myself wondering why does it seem like only the really wealthy are afforded the luxury of being ethical consumers? Is this just another scheme to get people to buy things we don't need, to keep consuming more than the world can sustain? Amen for the thrift shores and local farmers markets.  

 

                                                                                      $25 Chair Before

 

                                                                                    And After

Home Sweet Home

As we find ourselves down the rabbit hole of a home remodel the days seem to blend together - each one a mixture of sanding plaster, cleaning, sealing, and painting as we try to finish the walls of our 1880's cottage. I'm elated to say we are entering the home stretch of this endeavor. At least, there aren't any big, gaping holes in the floor and the walls no longer look like a human nervous system. It's been two months since we started this process and we're both looking forward to living in the space we've worked so hard to make our own. Of course, there will be many more months of trim work and attending to the finer details over the winter. Yet a welcome balance between working on art and living life is in sight!

Here are some visual updates of our progress:

 

The Dining area before: We knocked down the wall in the middle of the room to open up the downstairs living space. We also removed several layers of flooring and wall material all over, which exposed some structural work that needed to be done. 

 

 

We were way in over our head with the structural issues of our 1880's cottage, so we hired a contractor to stabilize the upstairs by essentially building a floor on the downstairs ceiling. We also replaced some floor joists on the first level which helped to make the house more level (as well as the roof line).

 

 

We removed the old stairs and created stairs that fit the space - allowing for a cozy dinning room in the front of the house with views of the bay.

  My Uncle came and helped us with some electrical work and I learned how to install the light fixtures - so far just the sconces you see in the upper left corner of the photo

 

My Uncle came and helped us with some electrical work and I learned how to install the light fixtures - so far just the sconces you see in the upper left corner of the photo

  Every room in the house was painted a different bright highlighter color when we bought it. It's true that a coat of paint is transformative. By painting the entire house simply white or a light shade of grey (bright pewter) the space now feels more unified and therefore, open and spacious.

 

Every room in the house was painted a different bright highlighter color when we bought it. It's true that a coat of paint is transformative. By painting the entire house simply white or a light shade of grey (bright pewter) the space now feels more unified and therefore, open and spacious.

  This is the kitchen before...We completely gutted this, replaced some floor joists, replaced the bead board with dry wall, replaced the counter tops with Michigan Maple Block, put in a new sink, new refrigerator, and eventually we'll do open shelving instead of upper cabinets in the kitchen. .

 

This is the kitchen before...We completely gutted this, replaced some floor joists, replaced the bead board with dry wall, replaced the counter tops with Michigan Maple Block, put in a new sink, new refrigerator, and eventually we'll do open shelving instead of upper cabinets in the kitchen.

.

  And this is where we are at with the kitchen now.

 

And this is where we are at with the kitchen now.

Learning to See

In a media-driven, technological world we are inundated with a stream of images, with "art" at every corner.  About once a week I see an article on my facebook stream asking questions like; Is there anything left to paint? Why aren't artists making work reflective of the time we live in? When did art become more about marketing and less about the quality of the work itself? 

These articles make interesting points, some of which I agree with and some I don't. For example, there are many works recreating the style of a time past; sometimes skillfully, sometimes ironically, and sometimes badly. And I've definitely encountered that person who takes self-promotion to the next level, shifting all conversations to themselves and their successes, dressing the part as if a caricature of an artist, meanwhile selling lots of bad art to the susceptible customer. 

So you've probably surmised that I think there is good and bad art. My definition of bad art is pretty simple. It has nothing to do with my preferences in terms of a style of art. I make abstract paintings myself and that process feels right to me. But I love to view all types of art and have great respect for innovation, skill, vision, personal point of view, authenticity, humor, beauty, emotion, an intentional lack of emotion, etc. But what makes art bad is when it has lost all of the aforementioned and there are no longer remnants of the soul of the person who created the work in the work itself. The reasons for this vary, but perhaps this involves a process being done solely for money, acknowledgement or to satisfy someone else's vision. Whatever the cause, I bet it's reversible. 

There are ways of learning to discern between good and bad art. One of the simplest ways to do so is to start looking at more art - going to museums when you're traveling, attending art openings, concerts, performances, and independent films. Try to expose yourself to a variety of styles and genres, not just the ones you already know you like. Often this means stepping out of your comfort zone and attending events you may feel you don't get or understand. If you find yourself at something that is foreign to you, just remember all you have to do is look. Allow yourself to be present in the experience. After all art is a visual experience...or auditory, or kinesthetic, etc. You can read about the artists intentions, inspirations or motivations after you look, but it's nice to not let it shape what you see initially. Learning to look is the first step in recognizing good art. And by learning to look I do not mean learning to see something real in a piece of art that is not representational (art is not always an optical illusion puzzle). Realistic and representational art are just a couple of styles out there - Though these styles may be more accessible to someone who is just beginning to learn about art. 

I find it can be difficult for adults to be in positions where they don't know about something. While children tend to be unselfconscious learners and ask really wonderful, curious questions. May we all channel our inner child and be a little bit more brave and curious about the world around us. Everyone has an equally valid point of view and learning is cool.