I often feel an electric connection in the undersides of my forearms, down into my hands. These hands are a gift and what they produce is not mine. Like children raised and then nudged off into the world, artwork is meant to be spread and shared. It is meant to have an impact and to make one think, pause, take a step out of their current mindset. Art and craft are meant to educate, to heal, to make one curious.
[That is not to say everything we create is to be shown. Drawers and portfolios of watercolors, sketches, magazine clippings, photos and writings collect in storage spaces in the studio. They are exercises and processes that help me get to where I’m going.]
These exercises help keep my brain-hand connection nimble. When creation happens, it is a body thing. Whether we are using fingers and toes or we are using the entire body to express a narrative, it is the physical form that acts as a vessel, avenue, channel and conduit. It has to come out of the body or it stews and swells as creative constipation. We all know that’s no good.
Ideas are not mine alone, they come from somewhere bigger. I learned years ago from my mentor, a retired Jesuit priest turned mail carrier, that being in touch with the Self allows the Ego to be subdued in order for those bigger ideas to flow through and be impressed upon the materials. To create because one has to, not for validation.
For me, the “somewhere bigger” is what we refer to as God. And that word describes everything from the power surging through the veins after climbing a mountain … to the echo of a sway after standing in the ocean tide. It arrives through animals, wind, music. It is blind hope.
In working to surround myself with people and things that encourage growth and stimulate that electric current in my hands, I become more aware that making, writing, seeking are what I’m meant to do. Vulnerability can make a stronger human and I’m grateful for the chance let my walls down daily. It is humbling. And I have a lot to learn.
During the East Austin Studio Tour (EAST) of 2018, I set up a station in the studio near my Undercurrents series. I painted three abstract watercolor shapes on separate pieces of 8″x10″ paper and labeled them 1, 2, 3. There was a sign prompting: “What emotion/feeling/word first comes to mind when you see each of these figures?” followed by a little disclaimer “There is no wrong answer, I am curious as to what you think.” I set out pieces of paper with numbers 1, 2, 3 on each along with pencils and a dropbox.
People were a little hesitant to participate, at first. But as the tour gathered momentum, people gained confidence and began filling out little pieces of paper with that they “saw” in drawings 1, 2, 3.
It was interesting to see how people participated and what everyone wrote. There were people of all ages, races, sexes, etc. At one point during the beginning when my back was turned, someone drew some perverted stuff on one of the drawings. While the technique was impressive (and realistic), I was super annoyed with the disrespect. I was able to quickly repaint and put a new sample out. I will definitely take the credit for being inspirational. 😉
The results were in the hundreds, everything from abstract to literal. This past EAST (Nov 2019) I hung the bulk of them on the wall for people to see. It was interesting to overhear what people thought. Lots of giggles, awes, and “oh yeah, I see that.” Some of the results are listed below. I’d like to do more experimenting in the future. It is beneficial and motivating to hear how people react to shapes and visuals.
At summer’s end, I spent time with Austin-based Photographer & Videographer Richard Casteel in my studio and out in the Hill Country talking about my creative process. He recorded and filmed quite a bit of it, resulting in an experimental short that captures the essence of my current work quite well. Emmy-nominated composer Amos Cochran created music uniquely for the documentary.
I’m grateful to be surrounded by so many active, creative people.
I met Lynn, long-legged & genuine, at the East Austin Studio Tour a few years ago and we became fast friends. Originally from West Texas, he is a water conservationist, was head of Austin Museum of Art (the Contemporary) board for 10+ years, is a fly fisherman, and has great taste in art 🙋🏼♀️👈🏽. When he requested a custom piece, he left it open-ended in terms of context. He speaks of his daughters often and with great pride [he has TWO sets of twin girls, all of them intelligent and lovely in their own right]. I picked his brain and asked him questions like, “If your daughters were colors, how would you describe them? If they were birds, what kind would each of them be?”
This piece is inspired by his high regard of family and the women in his life. In the background are clippings from antique publications such as 1917 ‘The Household’ and 1949 ‘American Rifleman’. Each of the species in this piece represents each daughter – finch, hummingbird, woodpecker, owl. They uplift him, surround him, are entwined in him, and are a part of him. The orange in the twine represents his Mother, who has played a strong role in his life. He is the pistol (a rare Colt First Model Dragoon), rooted where he belongs, facing NW toward Montana, a special place for him.
“You nailed it,” he said. Such a good feeling.
See process photos in the gallery below. Click to enlarge
For commission inquiries, please email me at email@example.com.
For the first time in a while, I was genuinely shaken from watching a tv show or film. The Handmade’s Tale television series made my stomach cold … “Based on the best-selling novel by Margaret Atwood, this series is set in Gilead, a totalitarian society in what used to be part of the United States. Gilead is ruled by a fundamentalist regime that treats women as property of the state, and is faced with environmental disasters and a plummeting birth rate. In a desperate attempt to repopulate a devastated world, the few remaining fertile women are forced into sexual servitude. (Google)“ Scary stuff.
Since I hammer-watched the series last April, I’ve been excited to dress as the character “Janine” for Halloween. I mean … what’s more terrifying?
Yesterday evening, I asked photographer (and my awesome studio-mate) Scott David Gordon if he would snap a few quick photos of my costume in the parking lot of our studio. As usual, he went above and beyond and nailed it.
Thank you, Scott!! Now, to read the novel.
Visit Scott’s work at scottdavidgordon.com or catch his awesome new podcast “Austin Art Talk” where he interviews Austin artists, gallery owners and curators —> for those who create and love art.
Photography : Scott David Gordon
Creative Direction & Costume Construction : Emily Galusha
Late 2015 marked a time of change, freedom, release. By the end of the year, dust settled from several unexpected life shifts and I was ready to grab life by the … you get my point. Last year, I felt charged – hungry to explore and learn. I began writing my goals on little post-its and sticking them to the inside of my closet so that, when I dressed each morning, the hot pink pieces of paper would act as motivators. Pink bursts of positivity. One post-it read “2+ week sabbatical to work on my art“. I began speaking outwardly about my creative goal, looking for places to stay in regions like West Texas, New Mexico or the Atlantic NE. As long as I was learning and creating, I was open to what the “sabbatical” or time away looked like. The more I opened up about it, the more suggestions I got. And a beautiful offer fell into my lap.
I was accepted into an artist residency in Terni, Italy. SCORE. For over two weeks, I was away from Austin, working alongside a group of talented and passionate women, focusing on printmaking and exploration.
My lack of knowledge of anything Italian (aside from a deep love for pasta, cheese & wine), plus the fact that I hadn’t practiced printmaking regularly since 2001, was the combo that excited me most. It was an open field. No expectations. My plan was to go and be and make (and eat).
I flew to Rome for some quick site-seeing before attending a two-week printmaking workshop at La Romita School of Art, located in the hills above Terni in central Italy. The workshop was taught by Katherine Brimberry (Co-Founder, Director & Master Printer of Flatbed Press) and Susan Davidoff (accomplished Artist based in the Chihuahuan desert of west Texas).
La Romita was once a monk’s monastery established in 1548 (so dreamy!). It remained an active monastery until the early 19th century after the monks left, when the grandparents of signora Amina Quargnali purchased it as the family’s summer home and farm. Some of the olive trees at La Romita are still living it up at over 300 years old! La Romita School of Art first opened in the mid-1960s, under the guidance of Enza Quargnali. For 50+ years, artists have stayed at La Romita, painting and writing in the beautiful Umbrian hill country, “whose radiant golden light has charmed artists since the days of Perugino and his famous pupil, Rafael”. Much of the original structures remain intact, including the Chapel-Studio.
Our small group spent the majority of our time focusing on individual work or exploring Umbria and Tuscany. During the residency, I focused on my “Undercurrents” figure series. Getting my hands dirty in a different, but familiar, medium released some new ideas. I crept into a direction to further explore. Initially, it was intimidating to work alongside some of these artists who are grounded in their lifelong creative career, women with years of experience. It was energizing and humbling. More than a few times I wished my mother, also an artist, was there to experience and create. I quickly settled in and absorbed as much as possible, valuing each moment. I am nuts about the printmaking process and have a lot to learn. My dreams at night were lively and intense, my subconscious working hard to digest everything. It is rare for an artist to be given sustained time and space to create. I was in heaven.
We visited over 14 towns and historic locations and spent no less than 5 hours a day in the studio or press room: “Italian Intensive”. Below is a slideshow of artwork and various moments. Flatbed Press will be having an exhibition of our work next Spring, including some pieces created in Italy. I will also have a few prints hanging in my studio during EAST this coming November. I value my companionship with these creative people from around the globe and look forward to staying connected.
Thank you to everyone at La Romita for your warm hosting, to Kathy & Suzi for your knowledge and encouragement, to Mike for your support, to Momzie & Dad for being you. And to Italy, for lighting my fire.
During the East Austin Studio Tour last fall, I met Richard Casteel, a creative and driven photographer based in Austin, originally from Greenville, SC. He has an interesting path that includes travel, water, the earth, meditation and capturing milliseconds. We met for coffee to discuss his portrait series and ended up connecting on a few different levels, as reflected in his Artist Statement: Through the experience of loss I chose to weather the storm by meeting more people to work with and by creating more photographs.I ultimately chose freedom of creation over a false love and it has proven to be a deeply rich and beautiful experience.
He asked if I was interested in modeling for the portrait series and, his process being a synergic one, I looked forward to collaborating. We met in his studio shortly before Christmas and I brought a few items unique to my story (Luna’s hair, my antique Colt Single Action Revolver, horse skull, family jewelry, the dress I wore for my wedding reception [first time I let it touch me since], a gown I wore in DVLS RVR). We listened to music, talked, brainstormed, took some portraits. The tune of the imagery was based on where I was in life at that moment … feeling free from a past tornAdo, motivated to do and learn, high off my own resilience, excited to absorb life. His goal was to capture the freedom, power, emotion and strength I was feeling at the time. [Thank you, Richard!] I am working to open up more in my creative expression and this is part of that process. Tapping into my weird. My real.
Please read Richard’s Artist Statement below and, if you find yourself in Austin tonight, Saturday 7/22, come on out to the opening of a group show at Black Lagoon, which will feature several photos from his series.
In my past I was a scientist.I have moved on from studying cause and effect relationships of a seemingly well defined existence.I now live in a world of creation – more akin to the quantum world – where experience is deeply tied to thought and feeling.For the last few years as a photographer/artist/meditator/conscious explorer I have become and continue to become more acutely aware of the reality of this world – that which you think/feel, you create. My photographs are often an initial vision/concept/thought I have in my mind that I then express through visual media – this is the fun of the creative challenge.
I feel like this series is still in its infancy.It was born from the unexpected loss of a deep, deep love – sparked by a girlfriend insecure about me taking a boudoir photography job.Through the experience of loss I chose to weather the storm by meeting more people to work with and by creating more photographs.I ultimately chose freedom of creation over a false love and it has proven to be a deeply rich and beautiful experience.I am eternally grateful.
Watercolor and design … what a stellar combination for branding. Last fall, I was hired by Essential Qi to create an identity for their company as well as packaging for their line of Chinese Medicine Inspired Acupoint Aromatherapy. The company was started by two professional acupuncture therapists based here in Austin. They created three essential oil blends: Shielding, Restful, Soothing. Included within each roller bottle is a stone pertaining to the blend’s function. Each blend smells super yum.
Below you will find the logo I created as well as the finished packaging that I designed, illustrated and produced (using a local printer). The colors are pulled from the 5 elements in Chinese Medicine and the look is an ethereal, balanced and healing one. The packaging includes the box, roller bottle with label, and an informative insert complete with application illustration.
Full and Reverse Logos:
To learn more about this new line of traditional medicine inspired aromatherapy blends, created in Austin, click HERE.
when tread hits bridge our heads habitually turn towards the drop, our eyes scanning for the glint of sun on water, an old instinct embedded even in us big city slickers
especially out here in this border kingdom of limestone and sage where the sun punishes and all that stands between life and death is a plastic jug of hot Aquafina
and even with a jug our throats are dry and our heads are dizzy when we finally submerge in the blue seam that splits the desert, carrying sky and minnows and beads of sweat all the way to Coahuila
they say the devil came to the river in 1841 when a Texas ranger surveyed the prickly pear cliffs and muttered: hell, but like all borders the one between heaven and hell is more porous than we’d like to admit
from the hostile rock cold springs flow straight from the karst to our naked shoulders and we sigh a small prayer of relief
mixed media collaboration :
poetry by clara | drawings by emily | photos by both
On a Thursday in mid-July, close friend and writer, Clara Bensen, and I headed Southwest from Austin towards the Mexican border. Our goals were loose and simple: escape work & city with camping gear & camera.
One evening before our trip, Clara and I discussed how we’d separately hit creative walls and wanted some sort of spur or ignition. Late summer in Texas can get a bit draining, so we hoped these few days away would allow us to relax and be inspired. No timeline, just four days and a few select destinations. Being surrounded by nature of most kinds has always been stimulating, allowing a sense of release.
Our Devil’s River campsite was a 22-mile drive off of the main highway, down a rough dirt road into a desert haven rich with sotol and prickly pear cactus. To reach the river, we hiked a (long) mile and were rewarded by cool water. The land was well preserved, filled with an array of animal and plant life. Down river was a natural cold spring, busting from the rocks. We explored the area as if we first discovered it. While there we both took photographs, which planted a seed for a collaboration. It had been a long time since I shared a creative partnership with someone in this freeform fashion and I was very motivated. Something new.
The images above are from the Devil’s River area, shot by either Clara or me. The poem “DVLS RVR” is written by Clara. “Big Dipper”, “Devil’s River” and “Sotol and Cloud” are my pen and ink illustrations.