Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Penland School of Crafts

It seems like yesterday that I studied at Penland School of Crafts. I was lucky enough to receive the Betty Oliver Scholarship, that allowed me a chance of a lifetime to be surrounded by other artists working hard in their studios, learn new techniques and processes, and have a window of time to focus on my creative process without distractions. To live and work among so many artists was truly inspirational and motivating. The studio to my left was making books, and the studio to my right was working on photography. Some called it a boot camp for the creative, and others called it the art spa. This shot is detail of the gate outside the Iron studio, I believe it was created by the first class to use the new studio. This is just a taste of what the campus is like, there are gems like this hidden all over the place.

While I was there I studied etching. This is one of my first prints called Saturday Morning. When I wasn't in the print studio I was making notes, lists, and working in my sketchbook. I found myself working around the clock. (When I came home I did nothing but sleep for two days)

I was reminded of my experience there when I opened up the mail yesterday. Penland just mailed out their call for help to support their scholarship funds. Tucked behind all the forms was a letter that started with My name is Melissa P. Hackmann. I am a spirited artist who looked to Penland School of Crafts to grow my knowledge base and find new inspiration for my artwork...

Needless to say I just about jumped out of my chair when I saw my letter. I knew there was a remote chance they would select it, but I was still stunned when I realized my letter had been sent out across the art community. I'm very grateful to have attended and hope my letter will encourage others to support these creative communities that still exist. It certainly made an impression on me.

Saturday, November 25, 2006

together at home

Thanksgiving was enjoyed with my family at home in upstate New York. I finished the Why We Are Thankful book and we spent the day basting the bird and watching Charlie Brown's Thanksgiving. Here's my Dad filling in his thoughts. Most of us had marked the book by the time I left. I'm always excited to see what my family will write, I can never predict what's on their mind. My husband said he was thankful to be loved and accepted and on the days he didn't feel so great. I wrote that I was thankful we choose to be together, our health, and that we have the chance to pursue our individual goals.

Here's a peek at Route 15 at 4:30 on Wednesday. Even though the drive can be especially long at this time of year, the golden sun dripped over the hillside. It was nothing less than scrumptious! To me it's the highlight of these short days.

Monday, November 20, 2006

thankful, fun, fall inspired, but not finished

This is my fall inspired - post book arts fair - thanksgiving book. As I started folding down the pages, I added drawings, paint, and collaged the leftover scraps of paper to the back of the pages. Both sides of the sheet are going to show and I want them to feel connected.

While I'm pleased with the final outcome, (feels like falling leaves, folds nicely, diverse color palette) this book is way too complicated to have my family sign it... Rats. I shall dive back into my paper collection and try again. Next time I'm going to aim for simplicity.

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Book arts fair and eye candy

Today I spent the afternoon at the Pyramid Atlantic Book Arts Fair. It was a room full of paper creations and the people who love them. It's refreshing to meet the artists who create these precious objects of desire. I assume they'd be standing there in a superhero cape and mask holding a bonefolder - but it turns out they are, "normal, but not really", people like you and me?!?!? Much to my surprise I ran into a handful of people I studied with at Penland this summer.

I left the show ready to whip out my vast collection of papers and get moving. Wouldn't those papers would love to be books? Or collages or prints? Sometimes they tell me, sometimes they don't, but they've never complained out loud. I picked out some of my monotype prints that I'm going to turn into a book. I used to make my family a Why we are thankful book every thanksgiving, and asked that everyone (guests included) jot down a thought or two. That tradition got lost in the shuffle, but I just received a request (from my dad) to bring it back. So between now and then I won't be making a turkey but I will be making a book.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

so much art so little time

Whenever I'm out (especially in a place like NYC) I always seem to have collected handfuls of random bits of paper by the end of the day. While I was in NYC I saved this bright green ticket from the Whitney, a business card, postcards, directions, matches from where we had dinner, addresses of gallery's and paper stores, and one cool found scrap on the street. Some of these papers are so well designed and produced that I can't bear to throw it out. It's a piece of that moment. Much of it gets placed into my sketchbook. This is a good system for me for two reasons. First, I can collect all these mini samples of art and design and give them a proper place to be enjoyed. And second, when I want to remember where we had dinner or the address of my favorite flower shop I can usually find it in my sketchbook.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

11 hours in the big apple

At the last minute my husband and I decided to surprise a friend who is having an open studio in NYC this weekend. Since it was a spontaneous adventure I spent the time on the train pouring over the New Yorker magazine for art show listings and sketching out our plan of attack for the day. To avoid carrying around handfuls of printouts, addresses, post-it notes and pages of the magazine, I collaged the highlights into my sketchbook. (and it made my bag lighter) I planned our day according to art needs verses neighborhoods. By the time we arrived in Manhattan I had planned out enough gallery, museum, and paper store visits for three weeks.

My friend Rodney Durso's studio was filled with powerful large scale fearless paintings. We met while studying inventive forms of image making at Haystack Mountain School of Crafts this summer. After reviewing his work we bounced around several other gallery's in the neighborhood that happened to have collage shows up. It's motivational to see the different combinations of color, composition, and materials that others are creating. I felt the urge to start experimenting on the spot. The more I see the more I love.

New York is covered with interesting images. It's like one big art installation (sprinkled with plenty of hot dog vendors) Next we headed over to see the Picasso show at the Whitney Museum of Art. It was enlightening to see how much he had influenced the art that was being created in his lifetime, and still continues to do so. I'm going to have to look closer at my Picasso books this week.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

just in case you missed it...

I'll have the artwork up and hanging for a bit if you didn't make it over last Sunday. Drop me an email at if you'd like to see what I've been up to this past year.

Monday, November 06, 2006

A day well spent

We had a great turn out and a perfect sunny day for an open studio visit (if I must say so myself). The house was filled with old friends and new friends. What more could a gal want? All the new work found a spot on the wall (and all the furniture found a spot on the porch!)

Thank you to all those who came by for a peek. The best part for me is to see all my favorite pieces and share the excitement that I see staring back at me. I don't want to sound like too much of a sap, but I feel very lucky to have the opportunity to spend my time and energy creating art. In it's simplest form, it makes me happy. I believe my energy and love of color and texture is being focused in a positive direction. In it's deepest form it makes me happy. As the art migrates to new places and homes I hope it continues to share all the good feelings that it gave to me. As my Nanny would say, "Enjoy it in good health!"

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Come on in!

It's a gorgeous sunny day. The studio is now ready for guests. Hope you can stop by.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

book it over to see this show

Last night I was incredibly lucky to be invited to the opening reception for the Book As Art show at the National Museum of Women in the Arts. I have been to the museum before, but it was a real treat to be there for the opening. Gorgeous work and a room full of happy artistic people. Just heaven! It's a thrill for me to know some of the artists who have books in the show including Michelle Geiger, Kerry McAleer-Keeler, Carol Barton, Karen Kunc, and Renee Stout. Not to be bias, but those are some of the best pieces in the collection. I highly recommend checking this show out.

These books are not in that show (although I wished it were!). I love books and will be making more this winter. I'll have these at the open studio this weekend if you want a closer look, and be taking special orders for those who are interested. I adore paper: bright, dull, textured, wrinkled, thin, heavy, patterned, translucent, opaque - you name it! My flat files filled fast. There are hints of my paper obsession in my prints, collages, and most definitely my books.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Looking good

My final selection of prints are arranged on every flat clean surface I have in this house at the moment, while I attempt to get a overview of what I have. This year I am planning on adding a studio sale table too, I created a couple mini-art board pieces that are about two inches by three inches,thick and funky. I've got the prints just about ready to go, a few paintings to touch up and one or two more petite collages I'd like to finish before the weekend. I can always tidy up the studio a bit more. Hmmm what else could I be forgetting?

I just hung my newest collection of petite collages on my orange wall. In my opinion, just about everything I have looks great against this color so it's been a challenge to determine what lucky pieces will be placed there.