Tag Archives: Inside the Artist’s Studio

Inside the Artist’s Studio with Tricia Butski

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My studio is based in Buffalo, NY, where I am currently a resident artist at Buffalo Arts Studio. Though my recent work is primarily grounded in drawing, I was trained as a painter and graduated with my BFA in Drawing and Painting from SUNY Fredonia and my MFA from the University at Buffalo.

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Tricia’s studio space at Buffalo Arts Studio

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Tricia’s studio space at Buffalo Arts Studio

Through drawings rendered in charcoal and ink, my recent work examines issues related to memory by exploring its limitations and aestheticizing the instability inherent in portraiture. The work I create allows the viewer to enter the subconscious space between remembering and forgetting. The figures and faces, which have been distorted through a repetitive layering process, manipulate the viewers sense of familiarity. The original image becomes fragmented through this process, a conceptual procedure that corresponds to the experience of forgetting the semblance of the face, the body, and the subject.

'Eclipse' in progress

‘Eclipse’ in progress

The process of arriving at the reference image alternates between analogue and digital techniques. The raw, unaltered source photo is physically manipulated through an additive layering process. Films, ointments, and various substances are applied to the surface of the photograph, each layer removing it one step further from its origin. The image is re-photographed constantly throughout the process as a means of collecting information. Once this analogue process is complete, I continue augmenting and adjusting the images digitally, using layers to create a new level of distortion.

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The image is then rendered in charcoal and charcoal powder using a painterly technique at larger than life scale. During the drawing process, a final transformation emerges as I adjust and reinterpret the reference image. The final image can only be realized through the activity of drawing, which creates a third representation that is neither real nor imagined.

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The medium of charcoal serves as a material analog for impermanence, fragility, and malleability. Charcoal best articulates my thoughts about partiality, longing, preservation, reconstruction and deconstruction, not only for technical and aesthetic reasons, but because of its origin. As the residue of organic animal and vegetation substances, it speaks to the preservation and re-visitation of memory. The medium consists of dead matter that is condensed, preserved, and then reanimated through the drawing process. The dust can be reused over and over. Because it is an easily transferrable substance, the medium itself exerts a level of influence over the mark making process, an intention beyond the limits of my control.

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Through distortion and fragmentation, the figures take on a monstrous form. The familiarity of the face evokes comfort while simultaneously rousing a sense of distress. This creates an intermediary form that inhabits a space both real and imagined. The resulting image is neither entirely original nor fully invented, taking form as a realistic rendering of a fleeting moment. By challenging the boundaries between representation and abstraction, and questioning the relationship between fluctuation and constancy, the works become entangled and disordered, mirroring the viewer’s innate desire for clarity and their proclivity for drawing meaning out of partiality.

To view more of my work visit www.triciabutskiart.com or follow me on Instagram at @triciabutski.art.

 


Tricia Butski is one of six artists featured in the Upstate New York Drawing Invitational at Main Street Arts. Work from the exhibition can be previewed and purchased through the gallery’s Artsy page. The Upstate New York Drawing Invitational runs through September 28, 2018.


 

The finished print with blue, red and grey added by hand.

Inside The Artist’s Studio with Sylvia Taylor

Every spring the spotted salamanders migrate from the woods behind my home in Ithaca, New York.  We watch for them on rainy nights. With a flashlight you can see their little dinosaur bodies moving forward into the night.  My print called The Quickening,  was inspired by the salamander migration.

salamander night

A Little Dinosaur in the Garden

Most of my work is created by a process called relief printmaking. It involves carving a piece of wood or linoleum, rolling ink onto the surface, and then transferring the ink/image onto paper. The final print will be the mirror image of the carved plate.   My favorite part of the process is carving the plate.

But first, I must get the drawing onto the plate.

I often draw directly onto the linoleum plate.

I often draw directly onto the linoleum plate.

Now for the fun part!

Cutting the Lino

Cutting the Lino

More Cutting...

More Cutting…

When you first roll ink onto the plate, it seems to spring to life before your eyes.  I love this part.

The image comes to life and any areas that need to be tweaked show up clearly.

The image comes to life

The plate is inked up and ready to proof

The plate is inked up and ready to proof

Next step is printing. Here’s my press:

My Printing Press

My Printing Press

The Ink from the Lino Plate is Transferred to the Paper...

The Ink from the Lino Plate is Transferred to the Paper…

It typically takes a few days for the ink to dry, depending on the weather

It typically takes a few days for the ink to dry, depending on the weather.

Once they are dry, I can add color and experiment.

Painting spots...

Painting spots…

The final print:

The finished print with blue, red and grey added by hand.

The finished print, “The Quickening”,  with blue, red and grey added by hand.

The word quickening references the idea of something speeding up but it is also a word used in pregnancy for the first moment that a woman feels the baby move in utero. Because I was a midwife for many years, I especially love that double entendre. I frequently see the process of making art with midwife eyes. Birth metaphors always come to mind.

In this print I was interested in exploring a certain kind of psychological undercurrent. Sometimes we experience the kind of change or upheaval that is marked by a departure from life as it has been. There is no going back and no discernible path forward. It’s like the proverbial night sea journey. Carl Jung talks about it as kind of a descent into Hades — to the land of ghosts somewhere beyond this world and beyond consciousness. Whenever I have a character in my art holding a salamander, it’s there to help find the way forward.

We were lost.

We Were Lost


Sylvia Taylor is one of eight gallery artists represented by Main Street Arts. She is featured in the exhibition CULTIVATE which runs April 7 through May 18, 2018. More information about Sylvia and her work can be found on our website. View more pieces by Sylvia Taylor on the gallery’s Artsy page.

Inside The Artist’s Studio with Colleen Pendry: What it means to be a Hybrid Artist

For the artist, the process of “making” may appear aloof. We are independent thinkers, and for the most part are reserved. We pride ourselves in our separateness, however, we, or at least I, find great energy in the overall closeness we have with others through the sharing of our work.

Over the past 50 years, my work has taken on many forms. From copying “how to be an artist” matchbook covers when I was kid, to watercolor painting in the early seventies to oils and pastels in the eighties. In those early years my work was primarily seated in a two-dimensional realm, but, I always thought there was something missing. My aesthetic conversation seemed to be stifled…nothing more to say on a flat surface. The pretty pictures were simply that…pretty…lacking content and an extended dialogue.

Little did I know how growing up in the 1960′s, would truly impact my work. As history continued to repeat itself in the art world, I could see the same happening in my own work. The regurgitation of memory and materials, over and over again, began emerging as a relentless new discourse. Multiplicity, multiplicity, multiplicity.

Testimonial IV (2011) mixed media on acrylic panel

Testimonial IV (2011) mixed media on acrylic panel

Testimonial I (2011) mixed media on acrylic panel

Testimonial I (2011) mixed media on acrylic panel

My work made a significant departure from painting throughout the nineties when I began to merge genres and combine disparate materials and techniques. From a metaphorical standpoint this was the perfect path in pushing not only the making process, but  content as well. “There is a story to be told”, my mother always reminded me, and “you just need to find a way to tell it.”

As painting began to be pushed off the wall and then stripped totally from a traditional gallery installation, the dialogue changed, becoming compelling in both form and intent.

If This Wall Could Talk (2012) mixed media and light

If This Wall Could Talk  (2012) mixed media and light

 A Room with a View (2012) mixed media installation

A Room with a View (2012) mixed media installation

If you visit my studio you will find a great deal of stuff as I continue to embrace this new identity. I have found these collections of nothing a relevant source of material in most of my work and an endless reflection of the stuff in my head. This following series of small narratives, which had been brewing for quite some time, emerged from the studio in a most unexpected way.

In this series titled Where Have All the Flowers Gone, my intent was not to reveal any conclusions, but, force an inquisition, and open ended conversation about concepts relating to objectivity, political correctness, preciousness, humility and humanity. Underlying themes are complex and uncomfortable and meaning is uncertain. This particular work can be described as an intellectual layering by way of circumstance. Captured on shelves and in pristine plastic boxes familiar objects appear tangible yet illusive. Juxtaposed with the silhouette, memory becomes a source of meaning, albeit complicated and skewed. This circumstantial evidence, left to its own devices, has the potential to elicit from viewers the unexpected.

Because You're Worth It (2017) Gelatin capsules, silhouette, Barbie, wire, acrylic

Because You’re Worth It (2017)
Gelatin capsules, silhouette, Barbie, wire, acrylic

In a Heartbeat (2017) Shell casings, pedestal, silhouette, American Flag, toy gun,barbed wire, acrylic

In a Heartbeat (2017)
Shell casings, pedestal, silhouette, American Flag, toy gun, barbed wire, acrylic

First Responders (2017) Ashes, silhouette, Bible, Koran, ribbon, acrylic

First Responders (2017)
Ashes, silhouette, Bible, Koran, ribbon, acrylic

See Jane Run (2017) Doll parts, silhouette, Mary Jane shoes, acrylic *Where Have All the Flowers Gone – photography by Jeremy Leadbetter

See Jane Run (2017)
Doll parts, silhouette, Mary Jane shoes, acrylic
*Where Have All the Flowers Gone – photography by Jeremy Leadbetter

From this series came the work currently in the Small Works Exhibition at Main Street Arts.

Nature/Nurture (2017) Cicadidae shell, paper, beeswax, pedestal, silhouette, gold bands, string, acrylic

Nature/Nurture (2017)
Cicadidae shell, paper, beeswax, pedestal, silhouette, gold bands, string, acrylic

Nature/Nurture - detail

Nature/Nurture – detail

Nature:Nurture (2017) Cicadidae shells, handmade paper, crushed wasp next, baling twine, Swarovski crystal, synthetic pearl (collectively)

Nature:Nurture (2017)
Cicadidae shells, handmade paper, crushed wasp next, baling twine, Swarovski crystal, synthetic pearl (collectively)

As an homage to the wondrous images of Robert Mapplethorpe and the eternal debate of nature vs nurture, these works continue. The juxtaposition of form and content seem contradictory…makes sense I think.

Nature:Nurture IV Cicadidae shell, handmade paper, silver thread, silver beads

Nature:Nurture IV (2017)
Cicadidae shell, handmade paper, silver thread, silver beads

Nature:Nurture V (2017) Cicadidae shell, handmade paper, snakeskin

Nature:Nurture V (2017)
Cicadidae shell, handmade paper, snakeskin

Nature:Nurture VI (2017) Cicadidae shell, handmade paper, snake skin head

Nature:Nurture VI (2017)
Cicadidae shell, handmade paper, snake skin head

Thank you to Main Street Arts for the opportunity to share this work. I am truly grateful.

Colleen Pendry


Three of Colleen’s “Nature:Nurture” pieces are currently on display in Main Street Arts’ fourth annual “Small Works” exhibition (juried by Cory E. Card, former curator at View Arts Center in Old Forge, NY). The exhibition runs through January 4, 2018 and can be previewed onlinestore.mainstreetartsgallery.com

 

Inside the Artist’s Studio with Jaime Gaiti

My interest in making art has been prevalent throughout my life. Even as a young child I always enjoyed making small objects, drawings, and collages.  I can even remember one of my elementary school art teachers, very matter of factly, stating that I would be an artist one day.  I was born and raised in Ronkonkoma, New York, a town in the center of Long Island.  After graduating high school, I attended Suffolk County Community College on and off for a few years where I discovered how interested I truly was in pursuing art school.

Gaiti working on her BFA thesis in her studio

Jaime working on her BFA thesis in her studio

When I began my academic career at Suffolk, I was interested in ceramics and by the time I left I had decided to major in sculpture, which led me to apply to the Maine College of Art in Portland, Maine in 2014. By 2016, I had graduated from MECA with my BFA in Sculpture. At MECA I had access to countless new materials and techniques that I used to develop my work including, metal smithing, mold making, welding, and fabrication.

An image of Gaiti's studio at MECA

An image of Jaime’s studio at MECA

My work has always centered around the human body and some of my own intimate, personal experiences and struggles. One of these early pieces, Contact Comfort, was created by using plaster bandages to create casts of my own body that were assembled to abstract the form, as well as chicken wire to create the underlying structure of the piece. I made this piece with the idea of human’s inherent need for physical contact and the need to be loved and cared for. At this point, the inherent fragility of the human body and life became a prevalent theme for my work. Personally, I was experiencing a relationship in which I felt myself separating while feeling like the other person was becoming increasingly dependent.

"Contact Comfort," 2015

“Contact Comfort,” 2015

As I further developed my work, I began to abstract the human form and focus in on the grotesque qualities of the body as I became less interested in portraying the body as solidly as I had in previous work, like Contact Comfort.  I became interested in the simultaneous presence of the grotesque and  beauty in the human body and how I could create forms that were  repulsive, uncomfortable, and familiar. This body of work began with Human, which is included in the Small Works exhibition, and began the development of my thesis project.

Detail of "Human," 2016

Detail of “Human,” 2016

Through this body of work, I aimed to create a sense of discomfort and familiarity for my audience; they are able to make connections to the work by relating it to their own bodies. I began to focus and draw inspiration from my own experiences with life and death, including the death of my mother in 2014. I created this work in an effort to answer questions about the fragility and complexities of life and death by confronting people with the delicate and impermanent nature of their own lives.  I began to explore the effects of being faced with the realization of one’s own mortality, the limitations of flesh, and anxieties about the body’s inevitable decay.

"Bound in Flesh, Time, and Place," 2016

“Bound in Flesh, Time, and Place,” 2016

My thesis work, Bound in Flesh, Time, and Place, became the culmination of this body of work.  It also served as an extremely cathartic process for me as I navigated through my experiences during the first 2 years after my mother’s death, and could feel a sense of closure after this work allowed me to convey all of the emotions I had felt but was unable to put into words.

Since graduation and the completion of my thesis, I have been working towards my next body of work with a series of studies of flesh and contrasting materials.  The human body and its grotesque qualities have become sort of the base focus of my work, however, I have been interested on the idea of heirloom objects and memory as things that remain as a source of comfort.  Having moved back to my childhood home in Ronkonkoma, after living in Portland for the past few years, it has been inspiring to be in such a familiar place with a new perspective and understanding.  I am looking forward to the development of this work and being able to share it with others.

"Vulnerability 1," 2017

“Vulnerability 1,” 2017

"Untitled Ring," 2016

“Untitled Ring,” 2016

To see more of my work you can visit my website: jgaiti.wixsite.com/jaimegaiti


“Human 1–5″ is currently on display in Main Street Arts’ fourth annual “Small Works” exhibition (juried by Cory E. Card, former curator at View Arts Center in Old Forge, NY). The exhibition runs through January 4, 2018 and can be previewed onlinestore.mainstreetartsgallery.com

Inside the Artist’s Studio with Sam Lopez

Demo days are the best days

Demo days are the best days

I was born and raised in a small dairy town in Riverside County called Mira Loma just one hundred miles north of my current home in San Diego. As a kid, I spent most of my spare time  in my dad’s leather shop either helping sew up saddles or struggling along with my own projects. Working alongside my dad over the years has allowed me to grow up with an appreciation for well-crafted objects that help serve a community.

I got my start in ceramics in high school and was instantly hooked and spent all four years completely seduced by the potters wheel. Nearly fifteen years later, in May of 2017, I still retain my infatuation with the material and recently  received my MFA in ceramics from San Diego State University and now teach ceramics at Riverside City College. I am currently learning and enjoying the process of becoming an effective educator; and as with most teachers, I get most of my own studio work done anytime class isn’t in session.

One and three fingered handled mugs

One and three fingered handled mugs

I primarily make utilitarian pottery but try to remain open to other processes and ideas. I make the majority of my work on the potters’ wheel but also use slip casting and hand building techniques for some of my larger scale works. My surface choices are made based on the color of my clay. Aside from its’ smoothness, I work primarily in porcelain because it provides an opportunity for a pristine white background to the painted surfaces I apply to each piece. It also takes color fairly well so I will often pigment my clay to explore different foreground/background color relationships.

Porcelain Polychrome cups

Porcelain Polychrome cups

Polychrome cups on Black Porcelain

Polychrome cups on Black Porcelain

slip case colored clays with black underglaze

slip case colored clays with black underglaze

When making pots, I work fluidly through small batches and continually test myself with new forms. My sketchbook will sometimes guide a making session if I am actively trying to approach new ideas of form, especially with more complex forms like teapots and other pouring pots. However, I will almost always use sketches through a batch of cups with the hopes of exploring larger forms similarly. Generally, I am attracted to creating some kind of tension in each form as well as a tension with the glaze surface of each pot.

I continually try to ask questions of each piece. The question, “How can this form demonstrate qualities of both hard and soft sensibilities?” has been lingering in my head for nearly six months and still keeps me excitedly making new work in the studio.

Varying Mug Shapes

Varying Mug Shapes

Cup variations from my sketch book

Cup variations from my sketch book

Two prominent influences are my dad and Josef Albers. My dad taught me the importance of making with quality, which means to make something that can potentially last someone a lifetime of hard use with appropriate care. The beauty of the object was secondary to its functional success. As a result, some may find my pots to be a bit heavy according to most standards. I like for the user to be confident that each pot can withstand some banging around without fear of it easily breaking so I make sure to leave them just a little on the hefty side.

Josef Albers is largely responsible for my decisions when using color. His book, The Interaction of Color is never more than an arm’s reach away when I am painting with my underglazes. This book is full of great information and I would recommend it to anyone interested in color theory. This book helps me continually ask questions about color relationships and is the influence behind all the clay and glaze choices I make.

Mixing Color Washes

Mixing Color Washes

Tech talk:
I use cone 10 Miller Porcelain (WC631) from Laguna Clay. It is sold at other supplies under the name #550 as well. My liner glaze starts out as Tom Coleman’s TC-103 clear that I tint to my liking. This glaze is a great clear as well as a great base that takes color very well. I’ve tinted it using Amaco underglazes as well as traditional combinations. I paint my work using Amaco velvet underglazes. I really enjoy the ability to mix them up and create new colors relatively quickly. All my work is fired in oxidation to cone 10 before each piece is completely sanded. I use diamond sanding pads from 3M up to 800 grit on the surfaces of all my work. It is at this stage when my pots start to come to life. Although this takes up to an hour for one pot, I get a lot of enjoyment during this process because I get to thoroughly get to know each pot individually before I pack it up.

Sanding pads after three years of use

Sanding pads after three years of use

I am currently without a website, but I hope to rectify that within the next year. For the time being, people can easily find me on Instagram @Sam_._Lopez where I routinely share my studio practice and daily shenanigans. In the next year, I hope to dial in my pots a bit more and continue growing as a maker as well as an instructor. Teaching ceramics has been such a great learning experience this last year and I look forward to continually growing and learning from my students. For now, I feel extremely thankful to be a part of the clay and craft community that seems to be growing more than ever.

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“Mug”, included in the exhibition (click for more info)

"Cup", included in the exhibition

“Cup”, included in the exhibition (click for more info)


Sam is one of the award winners in our second annual “The Cup, The Mug” exhibition (juried by Peter Pincus). Stop by Main Street Arts to see Sam’s work through January 4, 2018 or buy his work  onlinestore.mainstreetartsgallery.com

 

 

Inside the Artist’s Studio with Belinda Bryce

Belinda Bryce

Belinda Bryce

Although Rochester has been my home for the majority of my life, I wasn’t born here. My family moved a lot when I was very young, and as a young adult I lived in various places before returning to Rochester. These experiences may have led to my interest in navigation of place and time as it relates to an inner journey. This theme also influences how I work with layers to create a history of the art-making process.

I started painting watercolor landscapes inspired by the Finger Lakes while in college. After college I worked for a typography and print production company that supported the major advertising agencies in Atlanta. Graphic design holds a special place in my heart but I was drawn to fine art.

Belinda's Studio

Belinda’s Studio

My interest in non-objective art began while living in Atlanta where expansive contemporary commercial space invited large abstract work. When I returned to Rochester, I spent the first 10 years working with monotype, which allowed me to layer images and combine elements of printmaking and painting. More recently, I have focused primarily on painting.

My work combines expressive drawing and painting. The compositions suggest an inner landscape that is inspired by nature, its patterns, shapes, color, light and textures.

Nighttime photo reference

Nighttime photo reference

NightSketch

Nighttime painting sketch

NightPainting

Finished painting inspired by nighttime photo

In the last five years, I have focused on the fundamentals of line, gesture, form and texture, nestled within layers of staining, glazing, mark-making, and drawing. The dialogue among these formal qualities informs my process. I am interested in creating balance with a visual language that conveys simplicity, complexity, and mystery.

Rock inspiration (left) and a detail from a painting inspired by the same rocks (right)

Rock inspiration (left) and a detail from a painting inspired by the same rocks (right)

A “celebrant of the indeterminate,” I need room to roam in my work and often get lost in the unconfined freedom I so value. The resulting images are related but often visually different, maybe two or three suggest a brief series, but the work as a whole is more a traveler’s diary of exploration, digression, and the indirect process of becoming then going beyond—a map of getting lost.

A rock-inspired sketch

A rock-inspired sketch

Painting inspired by rocks

Painting inspired by rocks

Untitled painting

Untitled painting

You can see more of my work on my website, belindabryce.com, on Instagram and on Facebook.


Stop by Main Street Arts to see three of Belinda’s paintings included in the Upstate New York Painting Invitational. The exhibition runs through October 7, 2017. Belinda’s work from the show is also available for purchase in our online gallery shop: store.mainstreetartsgallery.com

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Inside the Artist’s Studio with Colleen Griffin-Underhill

It is such a treat to be asked to write about my work!  It’s always been somewhat secretive and secondary in my life but I’m thrilled to be letting it shine a bit in the exhibit at Main Street Arts.

silo w orange in process

Silo with orange in process

After 15 years as the buyer and manager of the lovely Gallery Store at MAG, I am now the GM of Hart’s Local Grocers—plus the mom of 2 boys and a compulsive furniture re-arranger.  Sometimes I joke that I run the grocery store in my free time but the reality of course is that it is typically the other way around. I’ve learned to take good notes when inspiration comes flying at me and to allow the whole process to ebb and flow as time and life allows.

Making things and playing with color makes me tick.  Putting paint on a brush and playing with how it flows and mixes with other hues is just heart-racing exciting for me.

brushes

Brushes

When my boys were very little, the paintings and collages I had been making for many years became too time (and space) consuming.  Around that time I started making polymer clay shapes and beads to paint. Working in small chunks of time moving back and forth between just painting and then composing the finished pieces later, gave me the time to focus on what I wanted; mixing patterns, pushing color play and finding a rhythm to the way shapes work together.

pallettes

Pallettes

About 4 years ago I started learning to work with metals and integrating sterling silver components into the work. I’ll continue to explore where this goes as I practice more metal-smithing.  Adding something new—a tool, material or a thing in my head that kicks in and gives me a new way of working, feeds my creative process.

studio 1

My new studio space

This body of work is the most I ever made in one burst.  Early this year we moved our 11 year old up to the attic and this spare room became my studio space.  It has been such a luxury to start and stop freely and to sneak in there before work or late at night when everyone sleeps.  Keeping the work breathing and spread out before me each day allowed me to push into new realms and build off of earlier concepts to fully enjoy the design process.

studio sketch

Studio sketch

So much of what was in my sketchbooks came to life this year including the “drills” pattern featured on many items.  In planning our summer garden I found myself thinking about rows of holes for seeds… the boys probably dropping two in here and 12 in there and the dots kept creeping into my sketchbook, some larger, some smaller for seed size.  The dots wander around this work I’ve made and the garden never happened…so it goes.

drills brooch in process

Drills brooch in process

I’m always fascinated and eager to see the artist’s hand in their work.  I try to celebrate that and I never worry too much about the imperfections that happen along the way.   The process of creating plus the thrill of seeing my work worn and worked into a someone’s personal style is what keeps me making it.

My work is sold at Main Street Arts, MAG, Andrea Geer Designs and occasionally on my website — ceegeeu.com.


Stop by Main Street Arts to see Colleen’s work in our current exhibition “Multifaceted: An Exhibition of Fine Jewelry” through August 18, 2017. Colleen’s work from the exhibition is also available for purchase in our online gallery shop: store.mainstreetartsgallery.com

Inside The Artist’s Studio: Erica Bapst

Erica Bapst Profile

I consider myself a bit of a plate spinner. I always have a great multitude of projects in the air. It is a precarious balancing act I perform on a daily basis while running my boutique, Adorn Jewelry and Accessories, in Canandaigua NY. I always laugh and apologize to my customers because my workspace rarely stays confined to the actual designated studio behind the curtain. The designing process, works in progress, tools, random bits and pieces, all spill over into checkout area. I’m sure to many, it looks as though those “plates” I like to spin have all dropped and smashed to bits. More often than not the customers seem to love having the chance to see all the different projects I have going on in their various states. (Or perhaps they only like to peek behind the counter to say “hi” to my constant companion Penny, my shop dog —I am never entirely sure…;)

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Ok, let’s rewind a bit — how did it all start? I have an AAS in Graphic Design from Finger Lakes Community College (1998) and a BFA in Metalsmithing from Syracuse University (2001). I honestly have to say that my time in graphic design has always influenced my work, particularly during the initial layout process. I tend to create most of my layouts and templates using Adobe Illustrator. Because my jewelry is what stocks my store, I am often very focused on creating elements that have a consistency people depend on. Creating the templates allows me to easily reproduce, for example, a specific set of Ginkgo leaves.

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I hand form these ginkgo leaves from brass sheet in bulk.

The invite to this wonderful exhibit at Main Street Arts has given me the chance to step back from the day-to-day routine of creating jewelry for the retail world. I was able to expand upon my favorite body of work and experiment with the form and structure. It was so much fun having a reason to push my boundaries slightly. I am the type of person that often feels guilty if I take time to experiment. I fear that if the piece did not work out,  those precious moments would have been wasted. Running the shop leaves no minute of the day unaccounted for. Being a part of this show was such a luxury to be able to hit pause on my overly sensible brain and create with a sense of freedom!

Here are some progress shots of the piece I had the most fun with.

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I really wanted to design something that felt as ancient as the Ginkgo itself. So I dug into my memories of the historical jewelry I have seen over the years in different museums. Gazing at jewelry that is thousands of years old always mesmerizes me. I could stare at the ancient pieces for hours, puzzling over the stories of how they were made, who they adorned, and how they came to be in front of my eyes. I wanted to take this opportunity to pay homage to those works — jewelry created impossibly long ago from a single ingot, with rudimentary tools  and incorporated rough stone, clay or glass elements.

2017-06-10 11.02.35

While I was not interested in starting from my own cast ingot of brass, I opted to start with a pre-formed sheet…the advantages of our age. Then I searched my vast collection of stones (seriously, my family thinks I am a hoarder when it comes to stones and beads…I am beginning to agree with them) and came across this great slab of seriphinite that I have been hanging on to for a few years waiting for the right moment.  This was the time.

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My favorite shot of this piece.

Some of you may be asking at this point,  “What is with the Ginkgo theme?”  I have had the store for 13 years and have heard a lot of personal stories — stories of bravery,  heartbreak, of illness and also of the people who heal and comfort those who have been through it all.  I would listen to these stories and later think to myself, “ugh…and what do I do? — sit here and make jewelry, what good is that to anyone?”  Then little by little I began to notice that the reason I was hearing these stories was because my customers were often coming in to purchase my pieces to lift the spirits of someone going through a tough time, or to celebrate overcoming a difficult situation. I knew I was not a person that truly helps or heals, but if there was some small way I could contribute to others through my work, I wanted to with all my heart.

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I searched for a theme that carried with it a powerful sentiment and could be translated in many ways. So I looked to nature which I love so dearly, for inspiration. I was walking to work and pouring over my thoughts on the subject, and a leaf dropped off of my neighbor’s tree in front of me. I realized right then that the Ginkgo would be my symbol. It fit perfectly.

With every jewelry piece I include the words:

“The Ginkgo has existed for 250 million years, unwavering in its uniqueness and beauty. They naturally resist the negative and are survivors against all odds.

May we be like the ginkgo and carry with us the strength, resilience and natural beauty that resides within. “

It is not much in the grand scheme of things, but I create each and every leaf with as much love as possible in hopes that the love will carry through to the wearer.

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Sterling silver, aquamarine and quartz branch earrings

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A little surprise on the back.

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This Labradorite is what dreams are made of.

This Labradorite is what dreams are made of.

After the show at Main Street Arts, you can find me at AdornJewelryAndAccessories.com,  on Instagram @EricaBapst or on Facebook.

PS—If you get the chance after visiting Main Street Arts, head east up Main and visit the grand Ginkgo Grove that are a little piece of Clifton Springs History!

My Daughter and I visited the trees after the opening of the exhibit.

My Daughter and I visited the trees after the opening of the exhibit.


Stop by Main Street Arts to see Erica’s work in our current exhibition “Multifaceted: An Exhibition of Fine Jewelry” through August 18, 2017. Erica’s work from the exhibition is also available for purchase in our online gallery shop: store.mainstreetartsgallery.com

Inside the Artist’s Studio with Karen Tretiak

Jewelry designer Karen Tretiak is one of eight artists in our current exhibition, “Multifaceted: An Exhibition of Fine Jewelry”. We asked her a few questions about her background and the work that can be found in the exhibition.

Karen Tretiak

Karen Tretiak

Q: What influences you? What themes or symbols appear throughout your work?
A: My jewelry exemplifies the visual excitement I find in layering textures, colors, values and materials. I gather imagery and inspiration from the natural world around me; in particular the sea and forest. Moss greens, autumn coppers, silken leaves, woven shadows, luminescent waves, and polished stones appear and reappear throughout my work.

Green Soutache Necklace

Green Soutache Necklace

River Jasper Cabochon Necklace

River Jasper Cabochon Necklace

Q: Tell us a little bit about your background. How long have you been making art?
A: Creativity has guided my life from as far back as I can remember. Mud, paint, crayons, yarn…so many possibilities as a child. As is true of most artists, that child-like joy has never left me but has been guided and nurtured through skill development and life-long learning.

Traveling!

Traveling!

I am an artist and a teacher; each influencing the other. Professionally I have taught in a wide variety of venues from public high school to colleges to workshops and lectures. My paintings, jewelry and ceramic sculptures have been displayed and marketed throughout the world. I have earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Art Education from Skidmore College and a Master of Fine Arts from Rochester Institute of Technology.

Roxie helping to take pictures

Roxie helping to take pictures

Q: Where else can we see your work?
A: I live and work in the Finger Lakes area of Western New York State as well as in “Maxine the Wonder Bus” when I’m on the road. I market my work at many venues across the country which gives me the opportunity to travel and meet many of my customers.

Maxine The Wonder Bus in Maine

“Maxine The Wonder Bus” in Maine

See more of my work on my website: www.karentretiak.com and my Etsy page WonderBusCreations. 


Stop by Main Street Arts to see Karen’s work in our current exhibition “Multifaceted: An Exhibition of Fine Jewelry” through August 18, 2017. Karen’s work from the exhibition is also available for purchase in our online gallery shop: store.mainstreetartsgallery.com

Inside the Artist’s Studio with Francesca Vitali

Francesca Vitali

Francesca Vitali

I was born and raised in Italy. My formal education is in science, having earned a B.Sc. and MS degree in chemistry from the University ‘La Sapienza’ in Rome. I then received my Ph.D from the University of Zurich in Switzerland. 

Even though my love for paper probably started way before my love for chemistry, I only started seeing my passion for paper not just as a hobby after moving to the US.  And more precisely when I took my first jewelry class 10 years ago at Penland school of craft in North Carolina. I am now a full-time studio artist (ok, I’m lying here I still work in the chemistry lab once a week) and I travel for craft shows all over the country.

But enough about me, lets step into the studio!

A few places where I store paper

A few places where I store paper

I use many different kind of paper for my jewelry—sometimes it is the paper that informs my work, sometimes I start with a design idea and then I have to find the proper paper that will translate into the design. 

I have shopping bags, books, magazine, maps, paint chips, patterned paper, money, yellow pages, newspaper, movie posters and the list goes on! (P.S. if you have some paper that is special to you and you want to make it into something wearable now you know who to ask!)

Once the right paper for a piece is selected, it needs to be reduced into strips, and that’s when the floor gets messy.

Strips of paper waiting to be made into jewelry

Strips of paper waiting to be made into jewelry

Next comes the weaving. The paper strips are handwoven into three-dimensional shapes by repeating the same movement over and over. 

If you are wondering if this stage of the process is a little monotonous, absolutely not! It is definitively very labor intensive but it is also very rhythmic, almost meditative, and therefore my favorite part of my studio time.

Once a piece is done, it needs to be coated. Every piece is protected with an acrylic layer that prevents weather or wearing problems.

The bracelet in the show  air drying after a first coat of acrylic medium

The bracelet in the show air drying after a first coat of acrylic medium

The tour has come to an end but if you want to know more about my work and my daily studio adventures, follow me on Instagram @francrscavitali.paperjelry. It has been a pleasure to have you in my studio!


Stop by Main Street Arts to see Francesca’s work in our current exhibition “Multifaceted: An Exhibition of Fine Jewelry” through August 18, 2017. Francesca’s work from the exhibition is also available for purchase in our online gallery shop: store.mainstreetartsgallery.com