Archive for the ‘Being An Artist’ Category

Sometimes I feel like a Duck

September 26, 2011

Our little black bear.

The image of this sweet confused young bear’s face is burned into my mind.  A week ago, we raised the deck door window shade, and much to our surprise and delight, there she was – sitting sideways under the pine tree, looking back at us with as much surprise and confusion as we at her.  We shared a few quiet moments before she ably lumbered over the fence into our neighbors’ yard.

We excitedly followed her progress over the next day, hearing that the DOW was going to let her find her way back to the mountains as long as she didn’t become a nuisance.  And then we got the news that 3 overzealous men from the DOW had shot her full of tranquilizers, causing her to fall out of a neighborhood tree, ultimately dying from her injuries.

What to do with that news?  So much anger, sadness and helplessness.  I cried a lot.  I keep seeing that sweet inquisitive face, and wondering why people have to be so hurtful and well, stupid.

Bear Medicine: Introspection

I kept thinking about this bear visit all week, and the gift she brought us.  It slowed me down from the usual daily race, and helped me remember that with all the crazy things going on in the world that we encounter, the only thing we truly can control are our individual reactions to the craziness.

I also started re-developing some focus again on myself, on routines that are healthful for my own body, mind, and spirit.  Thanks to my bear visit, I’ve been awakened from the trance yet again.

Ducks on the Long Arm machine.

What’s on the Long Arm Machine?

One of the routines I’ve been redeveloping this past week is to get into the studio and do some art each day, even if it’s only for a short while.  I had forgotten how much of a stress relief it is for me to have that daily meditative time, creating my art.

I’ve been focused on finishing a piece I started several months ago.  I finished constructing the top (pieced and appliqued fabrics which I hand-dyed and screen-printed) awhile ago and now am adding the drawing/stitching on the long arm.

The idea for this piece came from one of my vivid night dreams.  As I’ve worked to turn that dream image into a physical work of art, it has become a bold and graphic representation of how I felt in that dream.

Reconnecting with this piece, spending a little time each night in the studio working to finish it has helped me get back into a meditative rhythm not only with my art, but with myself.

Ducks getting stitched on the long arm.


Virtual Tour of my Taft Canyon Art Studio

August 8, 2011

Thanks to my brother Paul, here is a video virtual tour of my studio as it was set up for the Fort Collins Studio Tour in June:

In the part of the studio where my long arm quilting machine lives, I hung several newly completed textile paintings, including several small kitschy cowgirl pieces on one wall.  I also devoted one entire wall to work in progress.  Since we were asked to provide demos of how we make our work, I thought it would be fun for visitors to see some of the pieces I’m working on, in their various stages of completion, which revealed a bit of my working process.

On the printmaking side of the studio where my etching press lives, I included a “demo” area with some of the tools used for the various kinds of prints such as linocuts, woodcuts, and etchings as well as examples of different printmaking blocks/plates and the prints that were made from each, so visitors could see the range of mark-making possibilities in hand-pulled prints.

I also had my artist book of etchings displayed accordian-style, with the actual copper plates the prints were made from lined up in front of it, again so visitors could see both the prints and the plates they were made from.

My Process

I like to work on multiple pieces at a time, moving back and forth between the several pieces in progress.  This allows me most efficient use of my time and endless variety, as depending on what I’m interested in doing during a creative session (dyeing, drawing, stitching, composing, etc), or if I only have a small window of time to work with, I have lots of options of how to spend my time.

There is also a downside to working this way as well; at times I get too many new things started (because of new ideas being spawned from a piece I’m working on, or answers not appearing for resolving some of the existing pieces in progress) and then I get overwhelmed with all of the work I’ve got started.

It’s a kind of expansion and contraction process, the exploration of beginning a new idea/new work, expanding into new territory, and then needing to have the discipline to to resolve and complete the work, a sort of contraction, bringing it to a close.

This is why artists make good project managers!  Artists have to be able to come up with an idea worth doing, and then plan/figure out how best to do it, and then implement/deliver the goods, hopefully achieving a great result in the finished piece.

Anyway, back to the tour….  There were 36 studios participating in this year’s tour and visitors had 2 days to get around to as many as they could.  For my first time participating, I think the event was a success.  My goal was to introduce my studio and artwork to the local public and meet more people involved in local art scene.  I achieved that and I also sold some work.  And, best of all, I got some great feedback about my studio, hearing that some visitors thought it was the highlight of their tour – and in the end, that made it all worthwhile.

5th Floor Reflections – Drawing in My Textile Art

July 27, 2011

I made this drawing one morning when I was staying in a downtown Denver high rise hotel.  Upon opening the curtains, I was so taken by the abstract images I saw in the reflections of the windows in the building across the street, I sat down and started recording them on a small piece of card stock that I found in the room.

"5th Floor Reflections" ©Ayn Hanna, Ink Drawing on Paper

Drawing – The Artist’s act of thinking

Michael Gormley, Editor Director of American Artist Group, shares some interesting thoughts about drawing in an article he wrote:

“Practiced frequently and without inhibition, drawing represents the graphic remains of a thought or idea-hence its evolution ultimately aims to record not just the gesture of the hand but the inspired movement of the mind.  Drawing is thus a powerful tool for recording the stages and end products of our imaginative thought processes; it is associated with the highest levels of human consciousness.  In a sense, drawing is an artist’s act of thinking.”

I resonate with Michael’s statement, as well as with this one, from Cate Prato, Online Editor, Cloth Paper Scissor Today:

“Knowing ‘how to draw’ is not just about putting down an organized series of lines to create an image we recognize, it’s a way to organize and express our thoughts.”

So true.  This is why drawing is such an important component within every artwork I make, whether that artwork is a hand-pulled print, piece of sculpture, or textile painting.  It’s the inherent drawing within a piece that gives the viewer the most insight to the artist maker.

I am fascinated by other artists’ drawing qualities in their work.  It’s the first thing I notice and most appreciate in other artists’ work because it reveals so much to me about the person who did the work, without them even being there to tell me about it in words.  It takes courage to put your honest drawing in your work, because it is so revealing, and “speaks” for you visually.

"5th Floor Reflections" ©Ayn Hanna, 43"x36", Textile painting (cotton fabric, cotton batting, cotton thread)

I made the textile painting above based on that quick little drawing of the window reflections.  In the drawing, I really liked the abstract compositions within each window, the graphic quality, and the repetition of the hand drawn squares.  The dual association of the repeating square format with art quilting seemed a natural segue for me to (literally) extend my drawing into a textile painting.  And so I did.

I scanned my drawing and printed it out, and to my surprise, my old scanner read the drawing as a cut-out and printed the image with a black border framing the irregular shape of it.  I realized I was looking at my mock-up for my new textile painting.

In a way, creating a textile painting of my drawing helped bring emphasis to it, objectifying it into something larger that feels like it has a better chance of being seen or noticed by others.  And I think that’s a part of why all artists make art, at least I know it’s a part of why I do – to have a voice, share my thoughts, and participate in our society’s conversations.

Start Where You Are

May 6, 2011

"Along The Way" (detail) ©Ayn Hanna 45"x18", Textile painting (discharged whole cloth cotton, cotton batting, cotton thread)

It’s been over a month since my last post, a rather long unplanned blog break.  Huge changes taking place, and I’ve been thinking a lot – about cycles and circles and changes, completion and initiation, deadlines and milestones, and resistance.  So much happening and yet, I’ve had no words, no way to approach blogging about any of it.

Every time I’ve thought about writing a post, I didn’t know where to start.  With too much going on, I’ve been  stymied with trying to find an entry point to talk about it all.  I finally realized I don’t need to cover it all.  And – with credit to Pema Chodron’s words/book – I got up the gumption to just start where I am.

Working on "Along the Way"

So, I’ve been swimming in thought, and working long hours, juggling yet another change in role and manager in my day job (4th one in less than a year now), and cherishing the time I get in my studio, where I have several pieces in progress.  Feeling a need for some resolution/completion (and needing to meet some show deadlines), I’ve finished a couple pieces (Along the Way, detail above, is one of them).

Circles and cycles and change.  No beginnings and endings, rather an unfoldment of new desires.  In this past month, 2 important souls in my life have made their transitions.  A Patriarch and a Matriarch, 99 and 102 years young respectively, both such kind, loving, and wonderful artists, loved and missed by many.  And mostly there is stillness, words seem  so insignificant.

Me at work in the studio, along with some of the works I have in progress.

And so I’ve been working.  April marked my 1 year anniversary for my blog, and my completion of my SHIFT-IT Graphic Coaching Certification.  Major milestones achieved. And now the unfoldment continues, as I launch and align with new desires.  The beauty of this circle of life – there is no end, and we’re never done becoming.

Hanna-Hooly Studios Open House Photos

December 20, 2010

Long arm quilting machine with a new quilt top loaded for demo of machine.

Thanks to all our friends, supporters, and colleagues, our Studio Open House event was a big success!  While we had a constant flow of visitors all afternoon and evening and enjoyed visiting with friends old and new, we didn’t have a photographer lined up to shoot any photos, so the only shots I have to share are the ones I took after the party was over.

At least you get a chance to see how the studio looked and some of the artwork that was on display.

Etching press, and (in background) hand dyed t-shirts and navy quilts information.

Some of our matted prints and drawings.

Even though we had 80+ visitors during the one day event, there were several friends who couldn’t make it because of conflicts, so we actually held a “make up” Open House event last Wed night as well.  And then, some time to recover from all the energy put into the planning of this big event.

View of some of my new work included in the show.

On Saturday morning, as I stood in the studio making final preparations for the opening, with 12 new works of art I’d completed over the past few months all hung along the front end “gallery” wall, I enjoyed a moment of realizing a major milestone of my dream come true.

Five years ago I stood in this same spot, in a cold dark unfinished cob-webby basement and envisioned this moment – a day when I would be standing in a beautifully finished fully equipped studio, with my artwork hung along this front “gallery” wall, and all my friends and supporters about to arrive for an open studio art show party.  It felt really good.

New work from my "Wall Drawing" Series.

And something else shifted internally for me with completion of this first Hanna-Hooly Studios Open House event -a new quiet inner confidence and awareness that a career as a professional artist really is possible.  See it and Be it!

New work from my "Tangled Webs" series.


%d bloggers like this: