Thursday, July 20, 2017

Celebrating 10 Years: HLM Cardswap

For the 10th year in a row, the 6 Degrees of HLM Cardswap was a huge success! Thanks to the 29 participants, we had a robust year of card-making, with creativity and fun times.

Remember to click on the photos for a closer view!

Starting with the Big Picture, here are 290 cards--wow!!!

Siri, a loyal card swap participant from previous years, actually loves the swap so much that she decided to arrange a contingent of the swap in her home town of State College, PA. She recruited six of her crafty friends, and they got together at a local makery to have an Art Party of their very own, on the same day we had our Card Swap work party here in Colorado! Here are some great photos of their time together, and their cards are below:

Here are Tricia's cards:

Siri used some old international postage stamps as her inspiration: 

 Katie O. did some lovely watercolors:

Erica used watercolor too, but a totally different style:

Each of Bec's cards was a unique acrylic & ink painting:

 Amy F. used layers and collaged her cards:

And Amy B. mixed and matched her styles to create 10 unique designs:

Siri gathered them up and sent them all to me in one box. It was a glorious mail day to receive 70 cards in the mail all in one package!

This year's themes were "ten" and "line." If people found inspiration in the themes at all, they were all unique and wonderful.

Back in Fort Collins, Sue participated once again, using her corrugated cardboard to play on the line theme, and each flower has ten petals:

Shari also played on both themes, with ten birds placed on two clothes lines:

Katie J. used some old slides from her mom's hall closet collection to create interactive cards. She also made her ten cards at the time that she had just given birth to her third child, and got them in before the deadline! I think she deserves extra kudos for that. 

This was Orly's first time in the swap and she turned some of her organic "intuitive" paintings into prints:

Mia used a stamping technique (looks like potato stamps to me) to create three unique designs, which she embellished with thin black ink.

Mary Lu has participated as long as we've known each other, and despite huge life transition, she always delivers something special:

When I delivered Marge's cards to her last year, she was so excited to do it again. You can see that she used several decorative papers with lines as part of their design.

Gaye took photographs of flowers, and found the orange one to be particularly painterly:

Haley used both themes, using ten lines of paper to create her cards:

These are my cards, and I drew six different designs based on the theme of ten. I googled "ten" and brainstormed ways to turn the results into cards one might actually send.

I've known Cydney for four years and finally she had the time (in her last semester of college?) to participate in the swap. She used lines to graphically design a butterfly. She also printed a lot of extras, so some of you got 11 cards instead of ten this year--a fun bonus!

Claudia used line as well, and wove what seem like hundreds of thin lines of paper together:

Laura challenged herself to ONLY use triangles. Her outcome is stunning and also uses the line theme in the negative space:

Andrea's first time in the swap was exciting, something she's not ever done before. She was inspired by a card I made for the 2012 swap and used tons of fun supplies in my studio at the work party to make the design her own, incorporating the line theme. She went from no idea of what to do to twelve cards in 4 hours. Amazing!

Jessie drew this adorable recipe design, based on the number 6. I discovered a month after I received her cards that she loved the theme, six. I told her it was ten and we both had a good laugh.

As for our other out-of-towners, Jenn has moved to Germany and she immediately thought of sheet music when she heard what the themes were. Ten lines in treble and bass clef! She and her 1-year old found some old music, watercolored them, then cut-em-up and collaged them into new music/love designs. 

Speaking of international participants, Ambra from Toronto also participated. We had a Skype work party after the in-person work party was over, and you can see the original collage that she turned into prints for her cards. Unbelievably, her first batch got lost in the mail. Oh no!! So she made a whole nother batch and they arrived JUST IN TIME:

Jennifer lives in Sebastopol, California, and when she heard the theme ten, she thought of the nursery rhyme Ten Little Monkeys. She used a mix of crayons and fabric to create a scene where that cute little story might take place.

This year provided another first for the HLM card swap: our first kid participant! Bronwyn is Jennifer's daughter, aged 8. She has participated in helping her mom make cards in previous years, but seemed ready to make the commitment to doing ten of her own cards this year. She came through with ten unique drawings:

Anne lives in Seattle and used a collection of old European train tickets as her inspiration. She incorporated line by pin-pricking lines into the brown paper, creating a sense of movement and travel and punching the travel tickets.

Kristin lives in Longmont, CO, and each of her colorful flowers were like mosaics. Clearly lots of TLC in each card. 

Last but not least, my step-mom Nancy lives in Portland. She played on the recent coloring phenomenon Zentangles to create "tentangles." She hand drew these geometric designs that played on the number ten:

Here's a fun last photo, of the swapping day with my swap buddies Haley and Harper. 

Thank you again to everyone who participated. Please share this blog post far and wide, and use our hashtag anytime you refer to it. #hlmcardswap

I hope you'll join again next year. 💙

Saturday, March 18, 2017

Nude, With Headphones

Spending time drawing people leads to a regular consideration of what it’s like to model: 

The hot lights toasting your shoulders, the concentration it takes to hold still for 20 minutes (or more), the pain you might feel of your bones on a hard surface, just so the artist can have a good visual.

The models I’ve worked with don’t deny these discomforts, but they keep coming back again­ to sit for me.

Headphones provide all of us a way to retreat, to build a wall of sorts. Whatever’s playing (podcast, rockin’ tunes, guided meditation) takes our minds away from the world we are physically in, whether to provide a distraction or an escape, or to just keep people from talking to us.

Models don’t typically wear headphones when they model. In fact they wear absolutely nothing while working for artists. It can be a vulnerable experience, but also, comfortable. Still. Peaceful. Quiet. Intimate, in a way. No need to say anything. No need to be anyone except their physical selves. 

Standing nude in front of people is to take off the headphones, or take down the wall. It’s to be present. It’s to be with yourself, in a quiet space, while also participating in the artistic process. The only noise is what’s rattling around in your head. It is still.

I've learned that once you do it for long enough, this modeling/drawing exercise, it becomes something of a new normal. How very refreshing.

This art piece, by the way, is entitled Nude, With Headphones, 36"x24", acrylic, charcoal, and collage on canvas. My first experiment in trying to meld my old ways with my newfound interest!

If you are interested in learning more about becoming an art model, please contact me (email address to the right, or find Parsley Art Studio on Facebook). As you may know, I am particularly interested in working with men, age 30 or older, any size, any shape. Consider joining me in the artistic process.

Saturday, February 18, 2017

Card Swap: Happy 10th Anniversary

I'd never have guessed it back in 2007, but the 6 Degrees of HLM Card Swap has been happening for 10 years now! To celebrate, what better thing to do but swap again!!!!

This year, we'll do things just like we always have:

  • Sign up here to say you'll join in!
  • Make 10 cards of your own--they can be ten unique designs or all the same
  • Attend the Card Swap Work Party if you'd like company while you work
  • Enjoy yourself immensely while you be creative
  • Deliver your cards to me by April 10
  • Receive 10 cards in return to use as you please throughout the year!

This year's themes are:
"ten" (seemed too obvious not to do it!)

Take the themes as literally or figuratively as you'd like, or don't even use them at all. I offer them to provide just a little guidance for your design. 

Here are the dates:

  • Let me know you're participating by Feb 25 (latecomers are welcome, though!)
  • Come to the Work Party on Sunday, April 2, anytime between 1-5pm
  • Postmark or deliver your cards to me by Monday, April 10
  • Sometime in May you get your cards delivered to you!

Click here to see the fabulous cards from last year's swap!

Please forward this invitation to anyone crafty you know! I think there will even be an entire card swap contingent participating in Pennsylvania this year (exciting). We love new folks and returners alike.

Click here to sign up to say you'll do it.

Hope you'll join in!

Monday, November 21, 2016

Obsessed With Figure Drawing

I am going to write about drawing the human figure. Again. Yes, I've been absent from the blog for months, and yes, I’ve already written about it several times. I must admit something to you, fair reader. The truth is, I have become obsessed. With the human form, and the male one at that.
As a last drawing project of the semester in April, we “went big” during our warm-ups and then did a collaborative mural project, drawing our figures from a live male model, only our second male of the semester. 
Here’s a photo of my first ever large-as-life drawing (after 25 minutes) and an in-progress of our mural that resulted from his fine modeling over those three days:
During this short time, I came to realize how much more interesting it is for me to draw people who are not college-aged and, well, “perfect.” In my art explorations over the summer at several art museums (most notably in New York City), I pondered this as I saw painting after painting of these young “perfect” women. 
It’s not fair to say they’re boring, even though that’s the first word that pops into my mind. Their bodies are fine. But where is the nuance? 
When looking at a man, where are the landmarks to help get it right? Where, in the classical art world, are older skin, age lines, and something else besides Mr. Incredible’s V-shaped body type held up to be appreciated, especially of men?
And, I’m just going to say it:
What combination of things in our western culture, over the course of centuries, has made it so that breasts and vaginas are more acceptable to look at than penises? How is it that it is so ingrained in us that one thing is beautiful and the other not? 
On top of that, in the USA in particular, why does nudity have to mean sex? And since we’re going there anyway, why then must we be so ashamed as humans, of being sexual beings?
I’m not saying let’s celebrate the male form as something better or more important than the female form. 
I am saying that we should notice the ordinary, acknowledge inherent beauty and nuance, think of it as enough, and not shy away from our body parts in revulsion or feel shame for even wanting to look.
At the end of that fateful semester, I was contacted by the model, asking if he could have one of my warm-up drawings. When I told him how much cooler it had been to draw him than most of the other models over the semester, it impacted him in a way that moved me. Later, he asked if I might be willing to draw him again, for a commission. Um, well that was a no-brainer.
I wanted to go deeper. To understand what it’s like for a man to stand there in the nude, to make it comfortable for him, to address moments of what I might call human-ness. 

Luckily, my model was willing to go there too. As we arranged logistics and figured out how to set up a figure-drawing space in my studio, we talked about vulnerability and masculinity and body shapes and identity.

To prepare for our art-making sessions—I was getting paid for this after all—I went to the open figure drawing night each week at the uni. Practice practice practice. (Samples, below.) 
I bought several mid-toned papers and new charcoal. I brought more lights into my studio and curtained off a window.
The day the model arrived, we talked about composition. He wanted to be portrayed as open, confident, still, and quiet. Shoulders to knees. I made a suggestion and we practiced it. I put a sign on my front door: “Do not disturb, Thursday, 8-11am.” 

Then we dived right in to modeling and drawing.

Over the course of making this drawing, I came to appreciate the model even more. He didn’t talk so I could concentrate on drawing. He held still, even when his shoulders hurt or he was tired. 
During breaks we’d sit on the platform and chat. We became friends. I wanted to honor him and his willingness to be in a very intimate space with a woman who wasn’t his life partner.
Important note: we talked about this! We intentionally included our spouses in the whole thing, which made for an incredibly trusting and safe environment and allowed us to do the work we wanted to do.
Here’s the picture at the end of day 1 after about 60 minutes. He sat for me for about 4 hours in total.
People always ask me, “What kind of art do you do?”

This is a hard question for me to answer, since I do so many different things. 

Lately, my answer has been, “Well, I’m really into figure drawing right now.”
This is an understatement. When I say that, what I am not saying is how much I loooooove it. It capitalizes on my callings to be in relationship with people and to make art. I am in relationship while in art. To meld these two things in one project is glorious. It is tapping into the best Heather Matthews that I can see exists in this universe.
Figure drawing has also made me ‘art’ like crazy these last couple months. All I want to do is draw in my free time (thus, the blogging has gone by the wayside). I’ve never felt that compulsion for such as steady period of time. 
I’ve already got another male model lined up to draw in December.
I’ve got an idea in mind for a show once I make enough drawings.
I’m trying to build a more permanent platform in my studio for the model.
I’m thinking about buying big paper and wondering where in my studio I’ll put it if it outsizes my easel. 

Considering my interest in fibers (weaving/dying/stitching), now I’m thinking about how I can meld the two, too.
Here is the completed drawing, or at least most of it. (Thanks to The Simpsons for inspiration for this photo.) I want to be sensitive to the world we live in now, the one which sometimes can’t handle the Full Monty.
One of my hetero BFFs, when I showed her the whole enchilada, said, “It’s like getting to really look at a man, like I’ve never been able to before.”
If you want to see the final product, do one of two things:
  • Email me directly (address is in the side bar to the right)
  • Come to the show I’ll have, where there’ll be plenty of male nudes on view, date TBA.
And since I can’t just keep blathering on today, stay tuned for blog posts on these topics in the very near future:
  • Objectifying vs. honoring
  • Intimate art spaces
  • On being a feminist who draws men