How happy are we?! The marvelous Kelly Kilmer is road tripping across the country again and somehow made time to come to Madison. We personally think Madison is worth the trip, but acknowledge that it can be a wee bit out of the way. It's really pretty amazing to me that just a few years ago, I put a Kelly Kilmer workshop on my bucket list and here we are hosting! She'll be coming on Friday, May 11 for a day workshop and an evening workshop:
Landscapes of the Mind: Expressive Art Journaling
11 a.m.-5:30 p.m.
You can register for the workshops here.
I took a three-day weekend set of workshops from Kelly in California a few years ago. We made three different books and then painted and collaged in them. What to tell you really? First, Kelly brings an insane amount of supplies to all her workshops. I have never taken a class with so much washi tape, paint, collage paper, and stencils. Oh, and markers. She is so generous. She is equally generous with her instruction and technique-sharing.
These are a couple of my pages from those first workshops. I remember being particularly pleased with the guy with the wings...
and yet, after taking another in person workshop and being in the midst of an online workshop from Kelly, I can see the ways she has influenced me and further helped me grow as an artist since these first pages. I didn't finish all the books that we started in the first workshop, but ended up turning it into a tarot card book in the following year.
This year, I have been taking an online workshop from her (An Artist's Study). I have once again been enjoying all the input she provides in terms of creating a journal page. Though I've had limited success with online workshops, I am quite pleased with my journal so far. I selected Maira Kalman, and have been closely examining her brushstrokes and color choices, trying to incorporate Maira style into my journal.
With Kelly's words rolling around in my head, I have done more playing with paint and line, with paint markers, with a narrowed collage scrap palette... She has helped me a lot in terms of collaging, particularly in adding depth to my collages, which sometimes used to feel like very separate background, with stuff slapped on top. Well, you'll just have to come to class and learn for yourself!
March 2008 was the month we first opened our doors so we've been celebrating our birthday this month (and beyond, if we're honest). In June, we'll have an art exhibit at the downtown library, and a Night Light event; in the fall, we are planning to go to London on a buying trip. In the meantime, we've been looking backwards and forward - thinking about the ways that we've changed and grown in 10 years, wondering what will become in the next 10. We aren't completely re-branding ourselves, but I had an idea for a wall mural, which turned into stickers and printed bags (printed bags! after 10 years of stamping our bags by hand, it was such a treat for those boxes of thousands of bags to come in). It is also past time for painting the walls - there are many nail holes which should have been patched long ago but on principle, I cannot paint the same color over itself. SO.... hmm. lots of paint chip talk which bores my sister to tears but has been keeping me very occupied.
We still laugh about the time we were painting the store, obscured from passersby by the collage of papers we had on the window, including the description of the store. Two women stopped to look at our description and one said to the other, "I give it 6 months." Little did she know we were within earshot. Sachi calls it incentive: "we'll show her," rather than discouragement. Then again, there are certainly aspects of the store that probably only lasted 6 months, only to be replaced with more durable and sustaining aspects. If you had told me when we first opened, that I would be selling t-shirts and pint glasses, I'm not sure I would have believed you, which only leads me to wonder about what the next 10 years will hold, and what I cannot possibly believe.
We are so tremendously grateful to all the people who have supported us on this path. The world of the small business owner is so strange to me - it is credited with so much independence, not unlike the American cowboy mythology, and yet I find it to be so dependent in every way - our growth has come only because of the time and energy and resources of our employees, our family, our customers, our artists, our city, our country. We can't wait for you to accompany us on the next 10 years!
Easter Sunday and April Fool's Day, and my morning to deliver the children's sermon at church. I hand-painted these wooden tokens with an eye open on one side and an eye closed on the other side. I also painted one token with an open eye on both sides and another token with a closed eye on both sides. I just wish I was better at flipping coins and rolling them around in my fingers. It would have been pretty awesome if I could do a coin trick. Well, anyway, here's my text:
Today I brought in these special coins, they are my surprise coins. The choice is either eyes open or eyes closed. Have you ever had a surprise that wasn't that surprising? Sometimes you can think you are ready for surprise. Your eyes are open and you are expecting it. Maybe you have thought through a lot of possibilities and feel that you are prepared for all of them. But sometimes, something completely different happens. Something you weren't at all prepared for. In those times, it is as if your eyes are closed to surprise.
BUT, have you ever run into those trick coins? Where you ask a question and the answer is always heads? And it turns out there that both sides of the coins have the same answer? A lot of what Jesus was responding to in his time was that the people asking the questions kind of seemed like they had trick coins.
People would ask: who knows the most? is the grown-ups? or is it the kids?
Who has the best ideas? is it the men? or the women?
Who can be most helpful? Someone we know who is a neighbor to us? or someone we don’t know who came from far away and never really liked?
Who is best? the people who have money and power? or the people who have nothing?
In a lot of cases, the answers were always the same: the men, the leaders, the people with power, the people we know, the people who look the way we look, the grown-ups. That was true in Jesus’ time. It is still true today.
But Jesus challenged these answers. Jesus says: your eyes are closed to the possibility of everyone around you. Your eyes are closed to surprise. What if you listen to the poor? the people you don’t know? the powerless? the women? the children? Why do you close your eyes against them?
It was kind of like Jesus’ coin had a closed eye on each side. And he challenged us to think about answers to questions in ways that we never thought of before. He challenged us to think about the ways that our eyes were closed to surprise. He challenged us not to be satisfied with the answers that were always visible. Every single time. Every single question. Your eyes are closed. You cannot see everything.
Which brings us to Easter morning. The biggest surprise of all. The women go to Jesus' tomb. They already know what to expect. Their eyes are filled with tears but they are open. But the stone is rolled away - it is like the eye of the tomb has been opened but the surprise is more than our eyes could ever expect. Our eyes may as well be closed because what we see we cannot believe. Jesus once again flips the coin that has closed eyes on both sides, he invites us to the awareness that we cannot know all the answers, conquer all the surprises.
That is the gift of Jesus. That is the gift of Easter morning.
Please join me in a prayer:
God of surprises
We go out into the world with eyes open, and shut.
Help us to be present to the surprises that we cannot possibly envision
Open our eyes to the possibilities of all people
When we congratulate ourselves on our wide open eyes
Remind us of the ways our eyes are still shut
When our eyes are shut
Help us with all the other ways of knowing the world
Lead us not into the temptation of thinking we can see all
and deliver us from blindness to love.