Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Blame It On The Wallpaper

Hello. My name is Martha and I am an image junkie. I have a propensity to crowd imagery. I have a difficult time editing. I love/neeeeeeeeeeed alot of visual stimulation. Hmmm, I wonder why. This is my brother Kenny standing in our stairwell in the 50's. EVERY room in our small cape had wallpaper as wild as this. This paper was GREEN, my parents' bedroom had a RED Chinese patterned paper, the kitchen was YELLOW flowers and fruits, the nursery (where I was stationed about this time) was all big BLUE flowers...
Addicts love to lay blame...

Monday, March 30, 2009

Altar ations

Altared Self progress. Tick tock. I have to get this pulled together by Thursday. It's quite surreal and it's BIG. My studio is in chaos, but it's coming along bit by bit. I took another one of those fun Facebook tests today, What do your hands tell about you? Turns out I'm a Fire Hand. I like that image...

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Beyond the Pale

Birthday Self with Kaitlyn's Mask, I, 2009

Birthday Self with Kaitlyn's Mask, II, 2009

It's amazing how a photographic image can be digitally manipulated. Case in point, the story behind my current avatar. I took these self-portraits on my birthday a couple of weeks ago and I pushed the contrast until that mask just lit up! I love how my face becomes white and mask-like in the second photo, and how my hand in both top photos becomes the color of burning embers.

Fun with photoshop. I may do some drawings based on these images. Or, I may have them printed with archival inks on Rives BFK with a large white border, and enhance and draw around them with pastels. I'm wanting to do something more with my digital images, and this would be a fun way to mix up the media a bit. I have a hard time doing JUST digital. I need to get my hands into it somehow. It's interesting, I just took a test on Facebook (they have a million foolish tests to take, like which Golden Girl character are you? [Rose] and which painting are you? [Warhol's Marilyn Monroe] and who were you in a past life? [Picasso] and what fantasy creature are you? [a unicorn] and what famous movie actress are you? [Audrey Hepburn] ok, ok, I'll stop. You get the point, I fall for them all. I'm a rediculous sucker for that stuff!)
But the one test that I took that really resonates for me is What Color is Your Aura? Mine is orange. I would have guessed this. I never ever wear orange, but I have often felt that if I had to put a color to my spirit, it would be orange. The orange personality description feels accurate, especially this piece:
Orange personalities love to imagine and plan strategies for their next adventure or project and then put those plans into action. They need to be involved in the actual working process and want to physically shape and form their own ideas (my highlighting).
Yes, I am definitely a hands on type when it comes to art making!!!

Friday, March 27, 2009

Gilty Pleasures

The beginnings, fall 2007...

Bringing it out into the light again yesterday...

I'm stitching the birds onto felt...

Whew. I almost can't post about this piece because it feels almost overwhelming. But I need to process and why not do it here, where I can get some feedback? A good old studio crit. I need to reign in the chaos!!! I put this big wall piece away last winter, and it's been stored away in my flat file for months, waiting, not so patiently, waiting. Yesterday I pulled it all out and began to take things apart, and draw, paint, stitch, and glue. I am invited to be in an exhibit that opens next week, Gilty Pleasures, at Sanctuary Tattoo and Art Gallery on Forest Ave. This exhibit will showcase work inspired by illuminated medieval manuscript, and I have been given a whole wall to install my piece, Altared Self. It has never felt finished, and I am working to make it more textural and sculptural, adding more media to it, like yarn, pipe cleaners, and fabric. I look at this piece as a sort of stage set, an open book, or a bulletin board.

When I was in elementary school, I was always chosen from my class (along with one or two other "artistic" kids) to decorate the class bulletin board. This is really quite sad. Just because we 2-3 kids could "draw" we were chosen. Every few weeks the class all had to do drawings on a given topic - proposals, if you will - on the design for the next bulletin board. Topics ranged from seasonal, to subjects we were currently studying (I remember specifically making a bulletin board about the medieval world. I can still see the high waisted dresses and tall pointed hats we put on the women...). The teacher then decided which 2-3 students' drawings were "the best," and we got to design the bulletin board. The rest of the class had to sit and read or draw while we chosen few were allowed away from our desks to work at The Big Table with piles of cool supplies. I loved doing this, but always felt a bit guilty (not gilty!). It's no wonder that so many adults were traumatised by art "education" in schools back then!

Anyhow, I did love creating these big scenes, with piles of construction paper, glue and cotton balls for clouds, and as many staples we needed to get it all up. And how we used the stapler to "sculpt" the forms by buckling the paper out from the surface...

Altared Self is being constructed with this mentality. It's a sort of bulletin board autobiography.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

My Mother, My Self

Edna holding Martha, Spring, 1954.

Martha holding Eben, Spring, 1974.

Alot can happen in 20 years. Life is short. It is also long.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

New Mom, Circa 1974

Pregnant Self, 1973
Embroidered and painted quilt square

Pregnant Self (detail)

Martha Miller
Eben, with Reflected Self, 2003

Martha Miller
Eben from the Left, 1997

Thirty-five years ago at this time I was in labor, and it was a sunny, windy day, like today. I was just twenty years old, and about to become a new Mom. What a profound and happy day that was! Happy Birthday, Eben!!! xxxooo

Monday, March 23, 2009

Nina Progress

This is a big portrait and I have so much to do, but here it is, in all its rough vulnerability. Nina has sat for me twice. Now I must print out some photos to use as reference. This will be good, because my studio is tiny and I was practically in Nina's lap while working on this. I need to get waaaay back from the drawing and use the photos to help me construct the figure. I had to rebuild and turn the torso - still needs work. Yesterday I sprayed it with workable fixative - the pastel was getting so it wasn't sticking to the surface - the fixative gives the paper a new tooth. It also deepens the pastel on the paper and now I can layer on top of that. Nina also added some new props, including the neon ribbon headband. She is going to e-mail me some images of Ukraine women to use in her portrait.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Bless My Stars

My grandmother used to say, "Well, bless my stars and garters!" (Anyone ever hear that expression before?) Here's my latest fiber creation, my version of The Star from the tarot Major Arcana. It's for sale over in my etsy shop.

The Star, 2009
recycled fabrics, trims, felt, beads, watercolor, thread.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Is It True Blond's Have More Fun?

Some images from the book Picasso and Portraiture, from the chapter titled, Picasso's Blond Muse: The Reign of Marie-Therese Walter, by Robert Rosenblum. In his opening comments, Rosenblum writes:

It was in 1950, at Yale University, that I heard a startling comment about Picasso from Charles Seymour, a professor not of modern, but of Italian Renaissance , art. Confronted with the recurrent problem of how to explain to undergraduates the bewildering sequence of periods and "isms" in what was then only a half -century of Picasso's art, he threw out the whimsical idea that perhaps the master's rapid succession of changing and often contradictory styles might best be defined by the names of the women who, one after another, had dominated his private life. At the time, the suggestion seemed naively off the mark, the uninformed comment of an outsider to the complex languages of modern art. But today, almost fifty years later, the visible connection between Picasso's art and love life is...taken for granted...

And speaking of a blond muse, I'm off to work on the large portrait of Nina Petrochko that I started a couple of weeks ago! Happy first day of SPRING everyone!!!

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Family Camp

My family recently started a family blog, called The Tale of Two Families. There are some wonderful old photographs being posted, and these are my favorites so far (click on images to enlarge and see interesting details!!) The bottom image is labeled, and we know all the names. The older couple in the middle are my great-grandparents, Zillah and Arthur Camp. Then counter-clockwise from the bottom right are their children, Tom, Kate, Joseph, Mary (my grandmother), Reuben, and Zillah. (What a name!)
The top photo is not labeled and we are trying to figure out who is who. We are pretty certain that the gentleman on the right is my great-grandfather, Arthur, about 10 years younger than in the 2nd photo. Is that Tom and Kate in the carriages? And Joe on the left? Who are the two women? My great aunt and grandmother? Or is the one on the right my great-grandmother? Jeez, if so, she sure changes alot in 10 years...but then, so did Arthur. Time took it's toll harder on folks back then...
But if any of you care to sleuth along with me here, I'm open to opinions and observations! :^)
See the bird perched on the carriage on the left! And the woman on the left is looking toward the bird and holding a switch - I wonder if that is a tamed pet bird and the twig she's holding is it's perch...
My cousin Jon, our family historian, tells us that there are some crazy stories about this family, but he hasn't told us any of them yet! Suspense!