Visiting the Past

Looking forward to Juroring the Arnie Hart Student Exhibition at The Mattie Kelly Arts Center, located at my undergraduate college: Northwest Florida State College, Niceville, FL in March 2019 . . . where I took my 1st art class in 1997. Back then it was known as “Okaloosa-Walton Community College”. I was a young 27 art student and I still use those fundamentals art skills in every work of art I created.

Perspective Exercise at The OWCC Library, Drawing 1 with Professor David Owens, Fall 1997

Perspective Exercise at The OWCC Library, Drawing 1 with Professor David Owens, Fall 1997

I still use the Principles of Design Professor Owens taught me. I became so passionate about art and becoming an artist through him and, later, my Art History Classes with Dr. D. Anne Waters, deepened my artistic obsessions even further. My art advocacy started way back then, when - discontent with the ‘status quo’, I pioneered a new system for the student exhibition and even fought for it to be held in the fancy NEW galleries of the Mattie Kelly Arts Center. I didn’t know what I was doing - but I figured it out: demanding outside Jurors and even drumming up Cash Award Donors (who later left millions to the college to build a new art instruction building as our old one had, literally, DRIPPING ceilings).

Status: The American Dream, 1998, Painting I with Dr. D. Anne Waters, OWCC

Status: The American Dream, 1998, Painting I with Dr. D. Anne Waters, OWCC

It was a privilege to take Painting I & II as an Independent one-on-one course with Dr. Waters. Day one of the syllabus required focusing the entire semester on sketches from one item. I had recently the SW for my anniversary and choose a bovine skull as my subject. Each assignment required a different technique: from how to build and stretch my own canvases to full abstract (although referential) triptychs . . . I completed a series and I still use that theory to this day - developing a single item or thought or phrase into multiple works that stand alone or together.

Some people might deride community colleges, but as a woman who chose to get married young and start a family - those small, local doors opened my passion wide open. I hope that I have continued to build my techniques and I KNOW that the fundamentals I learned there have kept me in good stead all of these 20+ years.

It took me 7 years to finish my AA (I was raising 2 kids and had an additional ‘surprise’ baby), and only attended part-time and a total of 9 years to earn my Bachelor of Fine Art (1997 - 2006, first class to finishing). I was accepted into some prestigious graduate schools in 2006, but after already moving my entire family from NW Florida to the Nashville area in 2003, I decided NOT to continue my education. For me, the struggle between my responsibilities and having to choose between my family and art opportunities (such as moving to attend grad school), the stress was too much to ask of my own soul or to expect from my family.

I have had amazing avenues to expand my techniques and exhibition options, following a path of an internship with the amazing Adrienne Outlaw - leading to becoming a Studio Manager and eventually making work about the challenges of being an artist mother, such as Coping Skills and A Paxil A Day . . . one thing leads to another, and we learn and grow.

Life is full of obstacles and challenges (such as falling down the stairs of my new studio in 2009 and subsequent spinal surgeries in 2010 and 2015). It leads back to the beginning, though - doesn’t it? What drives you? What do you get excited about?

I hope I am regaining that eagerness and anticipation I had in August of 1997 when I walked through the doors of a decrepit building in Niceville, FL, sat down on a drawing horse and heard the words of David Owens: “Let me see where you are at”. We all drew an old, bent bicycle tire and I knew I had entered the gates of heaven. David Owens died less than a year later. I remember speaking at his memorial and vowing not to let his death stop us (the ragtag group of art students and himself) from making the art department better and we just formed a student art club (The Association of Visual Arts/AVA, now defunct).

I know I kept that promise . . . returning to Jury the Annual Student Exhibition, still held in those gorgeous new galleries and still based on the entry forms I made back in 1998 and knowing those art students aren’t sitting under a dripping ceiling. I may have moved away, but I did make a contribution to the arts; and, REALLY, isn’t that what matters? Making your mark (unbeknownst) and carrying forward all the foundations that have made you a stronger (hopefully, better) person.

Hibakusha (one of trio), Encaustic Mixed Media, Private Collection, Hiroshima, Japan

Another Sleepless Night

Here we go again. It is creeping towards 4 a.m. and I am more awake now than I have been all day (er, confession, since I got up at 10:30 a.m.) So we did our much anticipated vacation last week.  Good things about vacation:  no alarm clock.  Beautiful weather in the North Carolina Western Mountains for the first few days, it didn't top 80 degrees, which is HEAVEN to me!  Lazy days, listening to my daughter and her friend laughing . . . even enjoying the rain (although I was slightly worried about the camera when we got caught in a deluge). Nature's Cathedral - My True Spiritual Home Nature's Cathedral - My True Spiritual Home Iffy things about vacation . . . NO internet.  In theory, this is good, right?  No work.  However, lots of my 'joy' is on the internet . . . blogging, researching, looking at other artists' work . . . so I felt pretty cut off. In the end I did lots of reading.  Knitting.  Quiet time with the husband.   Marks the spot of my journey Marks the spot of my journey On our first day we hiked around the top of Whiteside Mountain.  This was glorious.  As I walked I began to notice true calmness creeping through my being.  Not just physically, but mentally and emotionally.  It startled me when fellow hikers said 'hi" - I was so in my inner world with nature that I was surprised anyone else was there.  I found a bird on a limb overhanging a chasm and it was happily trilling . . ."helLO, here, here!" . .. seriously, and the way its' trills echoed and bounced off the rock walls - it was a chorus of heavenly proportions. I could have stayed there listening to my singing bird friend forever.  It felt great to share this with Don and the bird sang for him, too.  We were worshipping nature and all that it brings.   As we descended a toursit was smoking and I wanted to scream "Hey, a-hole, what makes you think you can smoke in my church!!!!?????" But, I didn't.  But that is how I felt.  It is confirmed - Nature is where I worship and find sanctuary.  It isn't in a particular building . . . all I have to do is open a window, step outside, or from my studio - look out upon the creek and hundreds year old tree . . . I dwell there, in my church . . . daily.  May nature continue to entwine me . . . all the days of my life.
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Dream in Color - in Honor of Shanna, Carrie, Maureen & Haven

In honor of Carrie’s Studio, Shanna's New Abode for Writing, Maureen's New Cottage for Writing, and after visiting Haven's Writing Barn, I am offering up this Dream I had: Background Information: I always loved art as a child and would study on my own, but I went to a tiny church school with no art class. At this time in my family/community no one mentioned even the possibility of college . . . I thought when you graduated and/or turned 18, you were on your own. So, after high School  I worked full-time, moved in with an aunt in Texas, and then ran off and got married at 19. I kept painting, mostly watercolor and some acrylic, but not really knowing what I was doing. Got into the New Age movement . . . began to believe in my ‘gift’ and that it was part of my tautology. After a divorce I enrolled in an Art Institute while still working full time. One week before classes started I was in an accident and badly injured my back. I met Donny (he was my physical therapist). We married and planned and started our family.  The deal was, I would have art as a hobby and go to school when the kids reached pre-school age.   Above, 30 second gesture drawings from Drawing 101. This dream (of returning to school) came true when I was 27/28. I started with a night drawing class . . . then before I started Painting 101 - I went shopping for art supplies. choosing every tube of Galleria acrylic paint and each paintbrush with exceeding care and love . . .     I then had this dream while being part of a dream interpretation group. FLOWER TRAIN.   I am on a swiftly moving SILVER BULLET train . . . we are flashing through landscapes and the train slows as we come around a bend. I peer out the window and see breathing, pulsing BRIGHT FLESH and CREAMY flowers of an unidentified species. They are singing and throbbing with color and life.   I reach down and pat the baby car seat which is sitting next to me on the train-bench. The 'baby' is wrapped in a beautiful crocheted (which I made) cobweb of rainbow beams . . . I lift the blanket to reveal -   the new glorious tubes of paint and carefully arranged paintbrushes. I cry in recognition. THE END   Above, "Unveiled Sorrow" created in Painting 101 with Professor D. Anne Waters. So - the point being that this dream is when I came to the realization that I needed to nurture and foster my ‘gift’ of creativity to the same extent that I nurtured and fostered my own children.   Our family, around the time of this dream . . . Art is a part of me. I cannot give it away or neglect it. I cannot tell you the all encompassing effect this realization/dream has had on my life. It was my license to be who I was born to be.  . . . and then came Claire.
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Open Studio - Get Ready, Get Set, Go!!!

    This is my 'before' view of the studio space in July 0f 2008.  I was blessed to find a house with a walk-out Daylight Basement, including one wall of windows looking out over trees, a creek, and an empty field.   Over the months I have added massive amounts of lighting, covered the insulated walls with a patchwork of mattboard, old paintings on canvas, and tyvek.  This view is of the North end of the studio - you can see my lighting which is actually outdoor lighting with movable cans - - windows all along the right-hand side provide addition light during the day and a beautiful view of nature.  Along the left/back side of the studio I have multiple shelving units for supplies, storage of completed work. This image shows the double-sided counter-height workbench with storage that I purchased from Goody's going-out-of-business sale, they are also on casters and anchor the north central section of the studio . . . you can so the great windows on this end of the studio, as well.   My favorite spot in the studio: the wicker porch swing were I can meditate on nature right outside my window, read, research, enjoy some of my friend's artwork (see CASSIE, the shoe sculpture on the left of the window by artist John MacMullen) . . . all I need is a lampshade! Below is the South End of the Studio - future office/bedroom . . .   Side of the office/future bedroom end of the studio . . . 16'x22'  (above) Below, my last stop before art is shipped, any hanging devices, polishing, wrapping and packaging, love having a space set aside for this task . . .   Left view is of the workbench area - the central section of the studio - with lots of open space to move around . . . and storage for wood and boxes . . . of course, I have my refrigerator stocked with ice-cold Diet Cokes!     So I hope you have enjoyed the tour of my studio - - - it has been a long journey of waiting patiently, focusing on my specific needs (custom lighting and electrical outlets) and scrounging to find the perfect furniture and units for my needs - - - I have already created some new encaustic paintings and am working on several installation pieces and the space is very conducive to my creative process. I'm looking forward to continuing the improvements and organization - I can't tell you how fantastic it is after years of working in corners, garages, and dining rooms to have MY space, MY studio - exclusively FOR ART'S SAKE!
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Too Many Thoughts To Think

I have so many thoughts to think (which I feel I should write down) that I couldn't even relax in a Bubble Bath.  Bubble-baths used to be my refuge.  Friends would call anytime between 4 pm - 6 pm and I would inevitably be in the bath . . . it was my 'me' time. Now my 'me' time consists of activities:  blogging (either here or on various sites, see: Creative Friends link), making art, marketing art, reading (to study for making art)memoirs and poetry or really GREAT fiction, prayer walking, playing Wii Fit, cooking, playing with and/or talking to my children, sometimes spending time with my husband and family. In essence, my life has been so great lately that I don't even feel the need for 'refuge.'   I guess the key is that I now have learned to do activities which also refuel my spirit and that keeps my cup full - and it is, literally, running over in activities of creativity. Yippee for 2009!
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Altered Books (Gift From The Sea & Wollitzer's Abstract Art)

Here are some images of the altered books I have been working on.  I am practicing up for teaching a workshop in February/March for Teens and Adults. I began with a book I treasure, Anne Morrow Lindbergh's GIFT FROM THE SEA.  I had a portion of this book read (by my gifted public speaker sister, Lisa Frazeur) at my 1991 wedding to hubby, Don Fick. Here you see the altered cover - I have bleached and sanded a sepia toned photograph I took of our daughter, Lauren, when she was 3 - she is wearing an antique family heirloom of a muslin slip/petticoat and a floppy white sun hat . . . I caught her in a moment of discovery as she let sand sprinkle through her open fingers at Crystal Beach, FL. Here is an opening page from the altered book - I have added my husband's and my initials from antique oak-tag and doodled on and around them, then inserted our wedding date.  One of the main goals in altered books is to collaborate with what is already there - by eliminating words, you enhance the ones that are left . . . by altering and joining any illustrations with your own theme/artwork - you make them become your own, without stepping on any 'copyright' issues.   Here I have altered an image of a shell.  By adding a glint to the eye (using watercolor pencils) and creating an eye (using gray tone prismacolor markers) I transformed the literal image into a surreal visual. Other aspects of altered books include: use of old photographs, collage from illustrations, distressing with inks and paints, aging with an emery board or sandpaper, gluing, tearing, sewing . . .      These following images are from a drawing book "Abstract Art" by Bernard Gollwitzer from the 50's - his illustrations are on the right hand side, on the left page I painted out the printed images with gesso, then cut out a female dress template from card stock, painted with acrylic then wiped off with a paper towel, using an embroidery needle/thread I stitched around the pattern, glued on a button with YES glue and voila, a finished page!         Altering books for me has become a very meditative event - I get to reminisce, create, journal, paste and glue, sew, a little bit of all all favorite things - and I get to use text and visual imagery together - I can be as sentimental as I want to be. Hope you can pick up a discarded book and transform it with some of these techniques - even if you only are a few pages at a time . . . you will enjoy the process as much as the resulting artwork!
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To Resolution, or Not To resolution?

  "The Call" by Remedios Varo To me the real question about whether or not to make New Year's Resolutions is simple:  No.  I don't do that. What I do is review the prior year and project what I wish to accomplish in the coming year. Many divergent areas of my life are considered.  Have I been the Mother I need to be in 2008 and what can I do better in 2009?  Not just say "I will be a better Mother" - but, specifically, what are the actions I can do to make that occur.  I can turn off the music in the car and actually have a conversation with the children while we are enduring the endless pick-up/drop-off phase of our lives.  I can instigate conversations and ask what their opinions are and why.  I can NOT turn every conversation into a lecture.  I can listen.  I can color more with my 6 year old.  In my marriage I could make dinner a few more times a week and I can turn off my computer and sit and hold his hand while he watches TV.  I can play some Wii golf WITH him instead of reading on the couch.  I could go work in the yard with him instead of holing up in the studio on the weekend.  We could start doing some of the things we both love to do: hiking, nature photography, playing cards, and Scrabble. As a sister I could call my siblings more frequently.  As a daughter I could take some time to mail my mom cards and hand-written notes as she does not do e-mail.  I can collect things I know she will love and always have a gift bag ready for any time I see her.   If 2009 is this cabinet - I get to fill it with all the dreams I have and hope to accomplish: 1.  Better actions as a mother and wife 2.  More completed artworks/applying for grants/fellowships and to VISIT real art again - a major trip for art viewing 3.  More shows to share my artwork 4.  I could finish posting my Etsy shop so people don't have to beg me to sell things. 5.  Start my series about my Italian experiences 6.  Get more active on my own blog ;) - pursue my writing with a more defined goal, write some of those memoir stories for myself and then decide if I want to share with others 7.  Nurture and maintain my new and old friendships 8.  Take time to reflect on my own life and the balance of my selfs: physical, spiritual, creative, and dreaming 9.  Become more fully who I am intended to be 10. Make sure I am following MY CALLING
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The Excavation UNEARTH Series - Encaustic Paintings & Assemblages

    UNEARTH Encaustic on Watercolor Paper on Wood, Mica, River Rocks 15.25”h x 19”w 2006 - Private Collection of John Svara/Haven Kimmel Statement on Series, of which UNEARTH was the 'focal' piece . . . This body of work, titled Excavations, is an ongoing exploration of archaeological content begun in 2004.  It includes 3 sub-categories: but I will focus on Identification of Personal Archeology for this posting. These works explore and integrate both my personal and cultural iconography.  Repeated media includes encaustic (molten wax with pigment) and found objects on wood.  I choose to work in encaustic for its properties of luminosity and layering, as well as its flexibility with mixed media.  The found objects represent personal associations of childhood [in UNEARTH the river rocks are like the ones on my Grandfather's Indiana Farm and the mica was actually found, in its natural rock state, while hiking in North Georgia, as I peeled the layers apart, it metaphorically revealed the translucency of my life/humanity], as well as the broadened idea of cultural experiences.  By exploring contemporary interpretations and pushing the limits of idea, material, and presentation, I celebrate the sacredness as well as the irony of the objects. Here is a link to an Essay regarding my theories on Eco-psychology, which was the impetus for the Diptych UNEARTH. http://www.typepad.com/site/blogs/6a00e54eea3ea0883400e54eea3ea38834/post/6a00e54eea3ea0883400e550033d268833/edit More specifically, what I do is question what sparks my childhood interests and then delve into that from every direction . . . archaeology blows my mind - not just the history but the literal physical act of searching, digging, failing, revealing.  The organic lines UNEARTH are actual topographic lines and the grid is created from real archaeological screening material (my kids took a Summer Archaeological class at the college I taught at in FLORIDA) . . . that sifting can reveal many things - trash, organic manner, man-made relics, etc. - - by overlaying the translucent theories of virtual psychological archaeology with the empirical science of archaeology, using personal icons from my childhood & beyond, this came up. The blue squares contained in the grid represent the metaphorical "treasures" found (and is the same way that found items are recorded by archaeologist's). Other works in the EXCAVATION series include:   Reliquary, 7"h x 18"w x 11"d.  Encaustic on Watercolor Paper on Pine Wine Box, Sliding Box Top, Interior contains black river rocks.  Floor Installation. AVAILABLE.     Open view of SLICE OF LIFE, altered Wine Storage Box, Private Collection: John W. & Sarah MacMullen.   Closed view of SLICE OF LIFE. 14"h x 8"w x 3"d  

  

  

  

  

  

 

 

INCENDIARY (above, right)

Souvenier Matchbox, Matches, Mica, Encaustic in Found Box

Opened size: 10” x 5”

2006 - AVAILABLE

 

 

SAFETY ISSUES (left)

Box, Safety Pins (personal icon of artist), Encaustic, Rusted Mesh, Iron Tacks

4" x 8.25" open

2006 - AVAILABLE

 

 

Remnants of Truth (left)

Encaustic, Box, Wire, Rice Paper, Oil Pastel, Found Wire from East Green (Central Park)

2006

Available 6"x 8.25" (open)

 

 

 

Hope you enjoy!

 

 

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Zippy is Better Than Santa!

The following is correspondence between my 6 year-old daughter, Claire, and Zippy (a/k/a author, Haven Kimmel) www.havenkimmel.com : On December 10, 2008 at 6:42 pm Sher Said: from Claire Fick, Sher’s 6 year-old: Dear Zippy - I really like your stories. One of my favorite is when you were little and when you and your Dad thrEw your bottle in the fire, and when you get your hair and blue slippers. My favorite line, which I can say with you is “THEY’RE MY ACTUAL FEET!!!” I like looking at the pictures in your books Zippy and Couch which my mom showed me. I like the picture of your friend, Julie. I like your dogs when you were little, I have one kitten, Snappy. she has a little stump for a tail, because she was born that way, we hope. She naps a lot. We have only 3 pets, 2 are hermit crabs, Ocean and Paco. Snappy has a wet nose. I listen to your stories every night, instead of my lullaby CD.
  • On December 10, 2008 at 6:46 pm Sher Said: Claire forgot to say: “One time when we moved in this new house, Ocean escaped from her playground box, we found her hours later between two boxes. She almost got dry enough to die. I’m glad my Mommy found her. Do you celebrate Christmas? I have my very own Christmas tree I decorated all by myself. Thank You, Love, clairefick   On December 10, 2008 at 10:36 pm HavenSaid: Dear Claire Fick, I happen to know that it is very good luck to have a cat without a tail. As you will remember, I had my own removed and it was the Gypsies who taught me a lot of secrets. I still wear slippers almost all the time, but now they look like cowboy boots. If you would like a pair and will e-mail me your address and the size of your foot, or BOTH FEET IF YOU HAVE TWO, I’ll send you some and we can be slipper twins. I am thinking that you like to have your nails polished, maybe pink or something with sparkles. I highly recommend painting your toenails, too, so they don’t feel left out. Also? Ask Santa for any kind of chapstick or lip balm that tastes like candy. My favorite is Hershey’s chocolate, but really any flavor is good. If I were a Claire Fick, here’s what I would do: not watch very much television. I would pretend in my head a lot and even write some pretends down or record them in a tape recorder. I would always be kind to animals and my mom and dad, and I would WISH CONSTANTLY someone would bring me some cookies. I would play outside and run and JUMP as HIGH AS I COULD. I would always be exactly myself and try not to lie and try not to hurt any feelings, but if someone tried to make me be a different sort of Claire Fick? Some feelings might just get hurt, whoops. I liked your letters very much, and I love the pictures I’ve seen of you, and I love your mom. It seems as if you got really LUCKY, and also you are smart. Never, ever be afraid to be smart. Your Friend, Zippy After tortuous waiting, the package FINALLY arrived . . .  with this message from Zippy: DEAR CLAIRE, THESE SLIPPERS ARE EXACTLY LIKE MINE.  THEY ARE OUR ACTUAL FEET!  LOVE, ZIPPY
      Claire instantly JUMPED as high as she could and then went into modeling mode:     Go buy "A Girl Named Zippy" for everyone in your life - - give it in honor of Haven's mother, Delonda, whom fondly revealed in Zippy and "She Got Up Off The Couch" - both memoirs from Mooreland, IN . . the midwestern stories are universal for bravery, love, and joy. To Haven, our deepest thanks. For Art's Sake, Sher & Claire (your slipper twin!)
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    A New Hairdo ALWAYS Lifts My Spirits

    So, I did again . . . right before visiting family I got my hair done.  I mean, not just cut and blow-dried, I went from graying medium brown to blond with teal baby doll bangs and streaks - - -

    what do you think???   I personally LOVE it and it really represents my state of mind and it was uplifting to get a new hairdo to match my 20 lbs. lighter body.  My hair styles have been controversial, but I just consider them another way to express myself. I was also very proud of my Mother and Mother-in-Law, who were both able to restrain themselves from saying anything about it - I think my hair stunned them so much they didn't even see my skinnier body! Here is another pic my art buddy Aletha (www.alethacarr.com) took during our drawing workshop at the Nashville Public Library, we are showing and telling, but I am so nosy to see what everybody else drew. These are images we drew of how GINGER root felt/smelled to us  - all the drawings were bouncy and spirited - - that exercise has informed my work and mind since then:   For Art's Sake, sher
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