Fail-Safe

As promised, here’s more info on the Fail-Safe show in Portland in which I have one Army Wife Apron. I am particularly excited about being in this show because it’s the first time that a curator has approached me for an artwork. It is very validating as an artist to know that something I have made has caught the attention of someone whose job it is to seek out the best and most interesting works to tell the story they wish to share with a larger public. I have decided to make the trip to Portland, OR to attend the opening reception on August 7th, and Marci’s lecture at Quilt!Knit!Stitch! on the 16th as well as the reception following. So, Portland peeps, I hope to see you at one or the other event!

 

 

Fail-Safe Email Announcement.docx

 

From the invitation:

Hap Gallery is pleased to present Fail-Safe: Discomforts Close to Home, a group exhibition of contemporary textile and fiber-based art curated by Marci Rae McDade. The opening reception is held in conjunction with Portland’s First Thursday in the Pearl District, August 7, 2014 from 6:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. Exhibiting hours are Wednesday through Saturday, 11:00 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. The exhibit will run through August 30, 2014.

Fail-Safe: Discomforts Close to Home features a range of art forms made with seemingly safe and comforting materials from everyday life that are loaded with incendiary content. Each object reflects an aspect of anxiety, discontent, and longing in the 21st century, from poverty and racism to mortality and digital disconnect. These potent works compel viewers to take stock of the world today as we collectively contemplate our futures.

The selection of objects focuses on work made from December 2007, when the U.S. housing bubble first burst, to the present. The sense of uncertainty and loss associated with this period of economic crisis and recovery is a pivotal starting point for the conversations many of these pieces seek to ignite.

Fail-Safe includes work by Andi Arnovitz, Kathryn Clark, Jon Coffelt, Vic De La Rosa, Marc Dombrosky, Robert Fontenot, Carol Jackson, Kristin La Flamme, Jiseon Lee Isbara, Wayne “Skid” Lo, Amanda McCavour, Rachel Meginnes, Mark Newport, Loren Schwerd, Mary Smull, Anna Von Mertens, Jane Waggoner Deschner, and Stacia Yeapanis.

Curator Marci Rae McDade is the editor of Surface Design Journal, a leading textile-arts magazine published quarterly by the Surface Design Association. McDade is also a mentor and instructor with the MFA in Applied Craft + Design Program in Portland, Oregon, a joint program offered through the Oregon

College of Art and Craft and the Pacific Northwest College of Art acd.pnca.edu. She received an MFA in Fiber & Material Studies from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, and a BA in Film and Video Production from Columbia College Chicago.

This traveling exhibition was organized by Craft Alliance Center of Art + Design in St. Louis, Missouri, and first presented at Grand Center Gallery (February 7 – April 20, 2014) as part of their 50th Anniversary celebration programming.

Associated Events

“Fierce Fiber: Curating Textile Art Exhibits with Impact” Gallery talk with Fail-Safe curator Marci Rae McDade Sponsored by the MFA in Applied Craft + Design Program Hap Gallery
Wednesday, August 13, 2014 from 6:30-8:30pm

“Fierce Fiber: Curating Textile Art Exhibits with Impact” Lecture by Fail-Safe curator Marci Rae McDade Quilt!Knit!Stitch!TM
Oregon Convention Center, Portland, OR Saturday, August 16, 2014 at 11am

“Fierce Fiber” Reception
Cosponsored by the Surface Design Association and Quilt!Knit!Stitch!TM Hap Gallery
Saturday, August 16, 2014 from 6:30-8:30pm

Temporary Safety

As I wind down my Army Wife series, I have been thinking about Security Blankets. I love the play on words, especially since I always strive to make the medium of my work an integral part of the message. I have ideas for at least four textiles that fit under the general umbrella of security. Two are recently finished. The first, I’ve been working on for nearly a year, and posted some peeks along the way, but then removed them as I considered submitting the piece to Quilt National. They have very strict rules about the quilts or any parts being published prior to their unveiling. Anyway, I changed my mind when one of the other artists at McGuffey Art Center proposed a show about Privacy in America which I thought would be a perfect venue for the first of my “blankets.”

"Temporary Safety" 2014, Kristin La Flamme

“Temporary Safety” 2014, Kristin La Flamme

“Temporary Safety” is a pixelated image of a security camera in which the pixels contain circles and rectangles (0s and 1s) which spell out in binary Benjamin Franklin’s quote, They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety.”

 

"Temporary Safety," detail.

“Temporary Safety,” detail.

It’s true human size in that it’s over 90″ long. When a friend suggested I call it Linus, I came up with a six degrees type description: This is a Security Blanket. It has an image of a security camera and a quote by Benjamin Franklin. The Peanuts character Linus has a Security Blanket. Benjamin Linus is a character on LOST, played by actor Michael Emerson. Emerson also plays a character named Harold Finch on Person of Interest. Person of Interest is about utilizing the spying capabilities of security cameras and other methods of data collection.The show is also about protecting people — like a Security Blanket. Cool, it goes full circle! ;-)

Save the Date(s)

You know that feeling that even though you’ve checked your list, you are still forgetting something? I kind of feel that way about my blogging. I should have things to blog about, but I don’t, or can’t. I’ve been doing some follow-up work and thinking on my introspective, three year, planning. Before we went to Germany, we drove up to New Hampshire for a long weekend. Somehow, driving time always get my gears moving and I thought up an idea that may have some worth. It involves custom quilts utilizing military uniforms. Very practical, but also very personal. The idea meets my desire to create something that people actually want or need, while also giving me the space to continue making the work that may not have a place in the larger community. And the two are not mutually exclusive!

While I flesh out that idea, I have a few other things coming up which I will blog about as I get more details. I thick these are the things I think that I’m forgetting about, but I’m not really since the timing isn’t quite right yet.

Be Strong Always, Unraveling, Medallion, and Welcome Home

Be Strong Always, Unraveling, Medallion, and Welcome Home

In August my Army Wife apron, Unraveling, will be part of Fail/Safe at Hap Gallery in Portland, OR, curated by Marci Rae McDade. I’m super excited about this show as it’s the first where the curator has approached me instead of the other way around. I’ll have more details to share soon.

LaflammeSelfiesm

Selfie will be part of the Dinner@8 exhibit, Reflections, at IQF Houston. The curators have been posting artist profiles on the blog. You can read mine here. I haven’t yet decided if I’ll go to the big quilt show in November or not. Maybe I should go to Portland instead. Or to Austin in the Spring for Quilt Con. I’ll be sure to blog about it more as the dates near so as to remind anyone who is going to Houston to be sure to see the exhibit!

And finally, I’ve finished two quilts which I’ve been keeping under wraps as potential submissions to Quilt National. One is still a possibility, but I’ve decided that the other is perfect for a Privacy in America show planned for February at my local McGuffey Art Center. The show will be all media with participating artists working in oil, acrylic, photography, metal, and of course fabric. I’ll save my finished quilt for another post.

 

Deutschland!

It’s been six years since we lived in Germany and high time we went back to visit. Finally living on the right coast, we decided to take advantage of the military’s Space Available option and see if we could fly to Germany on the cheap. We got super lucky and landed the last four seats on this no-name airline taking military families to their new overseas assignments.

Germany Trip 1

 

We had no specific plans in Germany aside from just spending time with friends and soaking up the atmosphere that we have been missing.

No trip is complete without castles though, so we checked that box. Row 1: Schloss Marksburg, The Rhein River from Marksburg, Idstein. Row 2: Wiesbaden Casino, Burg Hohenzollern, Knights in Hohenzollern. Row 3: Heidelberger Schloss, Heidelberg’s Powder Tower, Bad Dürkheim area from Wachtenburg.

Germany Trip Castles

 

 

Other architecture is pretty awesome too. I don;t think I’ll ever tire of pretty little German towns. I love the way the Europeans combine ancient and modern as well. Row 1: Idstein, Limburg, a metal covered door in Schloss Marksburg. Wiesbaden, a house in Waldenbuch with decorative slate shingles, The Ritter Sport chocolate factory in Waldenbuch. Row 3: The Ritter Sport museum and shop, the corner in Heidelberg that used to house the gallery where I had my first solo show but is now an apartment, Mannheim market.

Germany Trip Architecture

 

 

I didn’t realize how much I missed the food until we returned to Germany. There are certain things I make at home, but so many others I had forgotten about, or that just aren’t the same out of context. Row 1: Spaghetti Eis (ice cream extruded to look like Spaghetti and topped with strawberry sauce), chocolate and nut ice creams presented to look like a baked potato, Döner Kebap (Turkish fast food). Row 2: Curry Wurst (fest food!), Frühstück (breakfast with eggs, cold cuts, cheese breads, yogurt, coffee, the works!), and Flammkuchen (Alsatian pizza-like tart topped with creme fraische, cheese, bacon and onions). Yeah, we gorged on the Flammkuchen. Row 3: Dampfknödel (steamed bun dipped in vanilla sauce), an assortment of cakes (to be enjoyed with coffee and friends at about 4:00), home made jams and jellies from friends because everyone knows how to make them.

Germany Trip Food

 

 

Even with ice cream and Flammkuchen, the kids needed more than castles and charming architecture to keep them happy. So, we entertained ourselves the way locals do. Row 1: Ge-Force roller coaster at Holiday Park, Kettenkarousel at Holiday Park, Fourth of July fireworks at the German American Fest in Wiesbaden. Row 2: Chiseling for fossils at a quarry near Stuttgart, planes, trains and automobiles (with slides) at the Technic Museum in Speyer, rock climbing at an indoor playground in Stuttgart. Row 3: amusement rides at the fair in Speyer, Sommerrödelbahn in the Odenwald (luge on a track). 

Germany Trip Entertainment copy

 

We also thoroughly enjoyed watching World Cup Fussball. We went with friends to a biergarten in Wiesbaden for the Germany France game, to the local Schützenhaus (gun club) for the Germany Brazil smack down, and with another group of friends to a biergarten in Mannheim for the finale against Argentina. It was so much fun to genuinely join in the camaraderie, national pride, and simple excitement. It reminded us of our fantastic summer living in Germany when they hosted World Cup in 2006, but even better because Germany won for the first time in 24 years (and the first time as a united country). Here’s a bunch of the kids all dressed up at the fest after watching the Germany France game.Germany Trip 2

 

Another thing we remember fondly was the small town fests. Germans can celebrate anything. Apparently there’s even a Cesarean fest in the town where the first one (in modern times) was performed. We went to the Radish fest in Glasshütte with our Stuttgart-based friends.

Germany Trip 14

 

The big draw was the old timer tractors brought out by the local tractor club, called Schlepper Freunde. Two were Porsches and one was a Mercedes.

Germany Trip 3

We took silly selfies as friends often do.

 

Germany Trip 4

And then my family took more silly photos when I left my phone unattended. They look like they should be on an album cover, don’t they?

This guy regaled us with hours of polka. Very fest-like. Though he stuck to the traditional and didn’t play Country Roads…

Germany Trip 18

 

Yes, those are ketchup and mustard udders.

Germany Trip 17

 

Did I mention that one set of friends lives just above the Ritter Sport chocolate factory? The air even smells like chocolate! The factory has a great little museum and shop. We came home with the 2 kilo surprise bag of assorted goodies.

Germany Trip 16

 

The Germans are nothing if not efficient and organized. Even the trees are numbered (well, not all of them, but the ones that are regularly cared for).

Germany Trip 15

 

Other trees are cut and stacked for firewood. There’s nothing quite like a perfectly stacked row of German firewood.

Germany Trip 13

 

And then there’s the truly unexplainable. The town of Bad Dürkheim has a mineral spring where they pump the salty water to the top of a giant loofa wall so that people may enjoy the curative powers of salty air as the wind blows through the wall.

Germany Trip 10

 

Heidelberg University has the Studenten Karzer where unruly students were incarcerated for infractions such as shouting too loudly at night, or using the familiar instead of formal salutation with a policeman. Students memorialized their time in the prison by painting graffiti on the walls.

Germany Trip 12

 

 

And this is the Mephistophemobil at the Technic Museum in Speyer. It’s a wagon adorned with all kinds of things to make a racket as it rolls along. Notice the garden gnome and red antlered antelope.

Germany Trip 11

 

We had a fantastic time revisiting old stomping grounds as well as exploring new ones. Here we are in the family tree-painted room of hohenzollern castle.

Germany Trip 5

 

And here I am with the wonderful ladies who I breakfasted and sewed with every other Friday when we lived in Heidelberg.

Germany Trip 6

 

 

Two of our neighbors from Heidelberg who now live in Switzerland made the drive up to spend a day with us!

Germany Trip 7

 

And we spent a super four days with our exchange student and her family (including Oma and the boyfriends).

Germany Trip 8

 

 

Sadly, after two and a half weeks, we had to go home. All the flights back to Baltimore on the comfy planes were full, so we hopped on a cargo plane to Dover. It was loud and lacked amenities, but allowed for great legroom and a surprisingly generous box lunch. It was all part of the grand adventure and the kids actually enjoyed it as it’s not every day you get to fly in one of these behemoths with containers and a HMMV in the center aisle!

Germany Trip plane

 

Tschüss Deutschland, as ever, it was great.

Stencil Winner

Thanks for all the great comments praising Lynn’s stencils from Artiscellar, and my figure drawings. I enjoyed reading about what you might do with the stencils — especially Jeannie’s idea to use them for embroidery designs, Deanna’s thought to obscure ugly fabric with stenciled pattern (brilliant!), and Jax’s plan for stencil ing speaker fronts! Clever people all!

But the real question is, who wins the stencil set? My son picked the number eight, so our lucky stencil recipient is commenter 8, Jacki Young! Congratulations. Your goodies will be coming direct from Artiscellar.

Thank you everyone for joining in the blog hop.

Stencil Blog Hop

Lynn Krawczyk is at it again. In addition to her day job, she keeps Smudged Textiles Studio humming along, has written a book, created a line of stencils, and has at least one other project up her sleeve. I’m not sure how she does it all, but I’m glad she does!

Today is about the stencils. Introducing “Marked” by Lynn Krawczyk, Artistcellar’s newest signature series artist. The pocket sized stencils come as a set and include Tracks, Commas, X’s, and O’s. They are pretty easy to identify. The small scale makes them easy to use and appropriate for many sized projects. I decided to use these simple shapes in concert with my figure drawings as it’s often nice to have some color and pattern on the page before drawing.

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I used Xs on the bottom of this page (previously washed with color).

 

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It made a nice nest for a seated figure.

 

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I liked the look of the Xs on the previous page, so I added them to this drawing after the fact. There’s no rules about when to add patterning. Sometimes a drawing needs a little something extra and stencils are a great way to add a little pattern or texture.

 

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I layered the Xs in several colors on this page. I’m using gouache because it’s matte surface takes the charcoal pencil I like to use and other drawing media well. I apply the paint with a Spouncer (thanks to my friend Deborah for introducing me to these deceptively humble little tools).

 

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I drew on top of the stenciling and then added a wash of contrasting color to highlight some of the shapes, plus a few more Xs for good measure.

 

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Using just a portion of the Tracks stencil (one track with a white pen and another with a watercolor pencil) makes a nice border for this drawing. I masked out the drawing when I painted the gold Xs to give the drawing more depth.

 

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More Tracks as borders.

 

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Tracks again — this time using the stencil with a pen rather than paint. These are sturdy stencils, perfect for spraying, daubing, swirling, drawing, and probably pretty much any way you can think of utilizing them.

 

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I used watercolor pencils with the Os stencil for this nude. A brush loaded with plain water turns the outlined Os into watercolor washes. Some Os I just filled in with pencil and left it at that, some I used with water.

 

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I think this one is my favorite. Stenciled Commas, drawing on top, a wash of aqua, and Os outlined with a white pen.

If I have one complaint, it is that the stencils aren’t repeats. I can’t paint and are and then move the stencil adjacent and have the pattern continue seamlessly. It’s a small thing, but I think it would be nice for future designs.

Like with Lynn’s book, I have the opportunity to give away one set of Marked stencils to a lucky winner who leaves a comment on this blog by 7 July. What would you make with Lynn’s stencils? Be sure to check out the other stops on the blog hop too:

June 28th – Lisa Cousineau
June 29th – Melanie Testa
June 30th – Lisa Chin
July 1st – Jen Osborn
July 2nd – Belinda Spiwack
July 3rd – Kristin LaFlamme You are here!
July 4th – Ingrid Dijkers
July 5th – Guadalupe Cabal
July 6th – Lynn Krawczyk

Figure Drawing

As I was writing a post for a blog hop featuring Lynn Krawczyk’s new stencils (come back on the 3rd for that!), I realized that I had not posted any figure drawings in a while. I’m still going to drawing group almost every week and still enjoying every minute. Our fearless leaders have added a new model to the mix who looks like a greek statue and poses with a hula hoop — it doesn’t get much better than that!

SO, here’s a few drawings for fun — and there will be more next week in conjunction with the blog hop. Then it will go quiet here for a few weeks while we’re on vacation. Yay!

Figure Drawing 6/14

Figure Drawing 6/14

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This is the wordy, introspective one.

Spending a weekend with other artist friends and looking at art inevitably leads to talk about what we’re seeing, what we can learn, where we are going, and the like. I had actually sent an email to everyone about some long range planning a few weeks previously, so we kept coming back to each of our thoughts on where we were and where we were going. After attending the SAQA Conference, I thought really hard about my Five Year Plan as an artist. I think about it every few years, but I quickly get stuck when I realize that I don’t even know where I’ll be living in five, or even three, years. This time, I told myself that was just an excuse to not do the hard thinking. I am at a point where I am trying to figure out where my work fits in the world. The quilt show circuit doesn’t seem to be quite the right fit, so I am wondering if I am focusing my talents in the wrong direction. Maybe there is something I don’t see in myself that I should be exploiting, like my design or drawing background, or a turn I should have made along the way. Or maybe, I really am a studio artist. I am compelled to make. I know that much.

I am in the enviable position of not having to support myself or my family, so I could/should just make art (since that’s what makes me happy), and leave it at that. But, unfortunately, I’ve learned that is not enough — I’m the type of person who craves feedback and context for my work. I am just not satisfied making solely for the sake of making. I am discovering that I want feedback — be that through sales, shows, collaborations, whatever. I find myself getting wound up when the quilt world posts happenings around Quilt Markets, and I think it’s because I see others getting feedback and finding a context. They are creating something people want, and I want to do that too. I want to feel like I have a purpose. I’d love to just be satisfied with making art, but not worry about showing or selling it, or producing anything marketable. The problem is that I know I’d be left bitching and moaning about how no one appreciates my work (because I’d get little to no feedback on it or context in which to put it).

One of the things that came up over and over again with my friends this last weekend is that art is a conversation. We say something, and we need someone to complete the sentence, or answer the call. I am trying to wrap my head around what my conversation is about. Where the intersection of what I can do, what I want to do, and what people want from me is. So, I made some lists to see if any pattern or epiphany emerges.

First,  I can’t make any site-specific plans. But so much these days is accomplished online, without borders. On the other hand, if I want to go a gallery-oriented route, being able to make connections in person really does seem to be the more effective modus operandi. I think this means that I should do what I can now, but some goals with just have to be more more long term or amorphous.

If I wanted my work to have more exposure and to grow a marketable side of it within the context of the creative world I am currently in, IQF (Quilt Knit Stitch, QuiltCon, Quilters Take Manhattan too?) is an opportunity to promote or pitch ideas — if what I have to offer overlaps with what they can provide. I keep seeing what others in the quilt and fabric arena are doing and feeling like I could do something like that too. But just because I can doesn’t mean I should. I may not have the skills or temperament to follow the same path. I need to find my own.

I keep asking myself, what is my “Do what you love; live your dream?” So many stories start with “I didn’t know what I was doing but I jumped in anyway because I loved it,” and now are “and it became the successful thing you see today.” I need to think about how I can do this — am I too timid to see the big idea, or am I just not clever enough to even have a big idea? One goal could be to find my big idea.

If the quilt shows and markets don’t offer any opportunities for me, then where should I go to find the kinds of connections I need? I need to seek the artier versions of the quilt-oriented bloggers, conventions, and products that I follow now. I should find things to get inspired by and wound up about that are more appropriate to the work I could be doing.

I can easily make a Three Day Plan. That is essentially tasks. In fact, I make a list of tasks/intentions each morning. But without a long term goal, I can’t really know if my tasks are making steps in the right direction, or if I am just going in circles.

My Three Month Plan is pretty well laid out too: Finish gun, TSA, and shroud quilts. Submit to Quilt National and QuiltCon. Follow through on Privacy show. Vivien pointed out that again, these are still tasks. I need goals at this point. Refine my elevator speech is one. Just the process of doing that will help me determine what it is I do, and hopefully give insight as to what I want to do. The weekend reminded me that I need to always be on the lookout for connections. Reach out to those who I admire, even if it’s just to watch. Cultivate a diverse group of friends (says one of those whom I admire). Keep learning!

Where I’ve been (that I can tap into because maybe I’ve been barking up the wrong trees):
• Crafty projects like costumes, plushies, knitting, and pin cushions
• Practical bed quilts usually riffing off existing patterns and trends.
• Fabric (or wrapping paper, or…) designs of a graphic nature.
• Graphic design in the identity, annual report, and ephemera vein.
• Teaching basic patchwork and quilting
• Writing about process and inspiration i.e: my blog, 12×12 book

What I do (because what I do should light a path):
• I make conceptually based narrative textiles in the themes of current culture, military life, homes and roots.
• I make scrappy, practical, bed quilts usually riffing off existing patterns (could these be marketed to upscale retailers if they were simple and graphic al la Denyse Schmidt Works line or Weeks Ringle? But more Americana, edgy?)
• I attend life drawing sessions

What IQF Houston (Quilt, Knit, Stitch, QuiltCon, Quilters Take Manhattan) offer (what others appear to be making happen through these venues):
• Show fabric design portfolio to company reps
• Pitch a book idea (technique based, or ?) Interweave, That Patchwork Place
• Pitch a magazine contribution
• Pitch a special exhibit (geek art, pop culture, cat quilts…)
• Make connections for teaching
• Look for sponsorship from thread, fabric, gadget, sewing machine companies. Bernina!
• Find a unique way to promote a gadget.

What in my general area do people want that they see value in?
Fine craft with a purpose/use (for example, bed quilts, jewelry, vessels, How-to books, classes to inspire and allow emulation).

Potential Three Year plan:
• Join a McGuffey-like art center wherever we move to.
• Have an elevator speech.
• Be proactive about shows at various types of venues and with friends and peers.
• Apply to and receive grants to continue making art in my current vein?
• Deepen my knowledge of Photoshop and Illustrator (specifically for use in creating fabric designs?)
• Learn how to use the embroidery module on my Bernina better and to digitize designs?
• Draw more, better, bigger…

What I already have planned
• Be a part of the Privacy show at McGuffey in Feb 2015 and help take the show to DC or beyond. “Those Who Would Sacrifice” and the TSA quilt in progress are well suited for this. Maybe return to woven envelopes.
• Homefront & Downrange show in NC summer of 2015 with photographer Hunter Rudd and selected works from Combat Paper.
• Submit to Quilt National 2015: Finish gun quilt and shroud quilt.
• QuiltCon 2015: submit Zeitgeist.
• Dinner@8: Selfie is accepted. Will travel for most of 2015?
• Unraveling apron to be in JAM show Marci McDade is curating

Talking with my posse this weekend, it’s become more and more clear that even though I have the opportunity to follow my Selfie quilt to IQF in Houston, or potentially Zeitgeist to QuiltCon, and network there, and I have a history with the art quilt world, the traditional art route may be better suited to me. My girlfriends see me closer to the fine art world, and McGuffey juried me in based on my drawings. I would stick with SAQA, but leave the quiltier quilt shows as pure enjoyment. Change my focus a little. Not dramatic, but a change. I would like to try to support my art habit through sales, grants, and other projects, which would all require getting my work seen and therefore validated. I will remain flexible. I will cultivate connections. I will focus on the art. I will make the art. And, I have accountability partners in my friends.