Working Toward Whatever's Next

It’s been ages since I’ve updated my website, I know. In the past year, we’ve moved house and studio, and it’s been a bit of a mad roller coaster. I’ve been working, but everything I do feels disjointed, unrooted. I’ve done some books, some drawings and paintings, but nothing’s really caught hold and gained traction.

It’s bee said that moving studio is particularly difficult for an artist, that it affects the work more than you’d imagine. I’m going to keep at it- being in the studio at least five days a week is not only a discipline but soul practice for me- but I’m going to keep my expectations minimal for a while.

I’m feeling drawn to realism again, and I’ve done several journals’ worth of watercolor/ink sketches of West Seattle, of various coffee shops, of all the things we’ve seen as we’ve been in this state of flux. Now that we’re here in a new house with my new wonderful home-based studio, I'm painting again. It’s been a while but it feels good. It’s all still very personal, but it’s coming along.

I’m also participating again in Seattle Poetry Lab’s Poetry Postcard Fest in August. I absolutely loved the experience of both creating and receiving all the poems and cards, some handmade, some thoughtfully chosen, but all welcome.

Last year I did collage, but this year I’m going to do sketches, studies, and small paintings. Here’s my first warm-up: a 45-minute study of a chunk of lichen and moss that I found outside my back door, propped appropriately on a drawing stomp.

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Selling a house involves unexpected opportunities to make journal sketches

Selling a house involves unexpected opportunities to make journal sketches

 
There’s also a lot of waiting around in coffee shops (thank you, Cupcake Royale)

There’s also a lot of waiting around in coffee shops (thank you, Cupcake Royale)

Coming Up: Open Studio, New Books, and More

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Over the past few months, I've been experimenting with book art and text. I've always loved books and poetry, even to the point of spending a significant portion of my life as a poet and creative writing instructor. Of course, I also love the visual arts.

I tend to go back and forth between the two, to the consternation of my friends and colleagues. Would the two ever merge, I wondered? It would certainly make life easier.

Just lately, I've been hatching ideas and birthing little projects that hint at possibility: maybe, just maybe, I can bring my two great loves together under one roof. I've been taking letterpress classes at Seattle's School of Visual Concepts and delving even deeper into artist books.

Here are some of the book arts I've been working on. Some have text, some are visual books only, written in non-alphabetic symbolic language. Some have encoded verbal meaning, some have only themselves. I like them all.

 

"And Now and Than And..." is a mixed media artist book based on text from Gertrude Stein's "The Making of Americans." There are 42 pages of painted grids representing the Polybius square-encoded text. This one is part of my Gertrude Stein Project (more here.


"Hearthlight" is a sewn artist book, printed with archival ink on silk organza. The text is nine original linked poems inspired by a call for submissions by Page Boy Magazine here in Seattle; the poems are each seventeen-word short poems, or in Page Boy's terminology, "17s."

Page Boy says of them: "...17s are an old form, invented at Harry's Bar on 15th Ave E in Seattle during the fall of 2016...[they] consist simply of 17 words, that is their ONLY constrain..."

I was fairly taken with the form and wrote quite a few. These wound up linked, and printed as you see.


"Hope Codex" is an older book, but I've just managed to shoot it this week. It's an accordion-fold mixed media artist book, freestanding on custom quarter-moon legs. The text is also original, a two-layered poem created partly from the venerable Dadaist tradition of found text and cut-and-shuffle.


And this little book, "Infinite Divisibility," is probably my favorite. It has no text outside the cover title; it's done with drawing and monoprint on vellums and handmade kitikata papers. 


 
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I'll have these books and more at the upcoming Inscape Arts Open Studio. I also plan to have a broadside or two for sale, fresh off the SVC presses. 

Speaking of living many lives, I'll also be wearing my Two Ponies Press hat that day. We have a new podcast coming out specially for Open Studio. Right outside my studio, too, we'll be featuring the work of Maggie Jiang. I met Maggie at Gage Academy a few years ago and I've enjoyed keeping up with her work ever since.

I'm on the second floor in #205. I'd love to see you there. 

New Year, New Studio

I've got new news: this month, I'm moving into a great new space.

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I'm not leaving the Inscape Arts building, but I am moving up to the second floor...to 205, to be precise. It's a large space that I'll be splitting between a personal work space for me and a home for Two Ponies Press, particularly the Original Lines podcast. 

 

 

Of course, the move has been dusty and exhausting, but it's almost over. I've made more Ikea trips this month than I have in the past ten years, I think.

Phil and I have built All the Things!

 

 

And though we still have a bit of work to do, I've been able to start work. This is my first official work in the new space, and it's one of twenty-odd sketches I'm making for a larger project.

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Our next Open Studio isn't until June, and I hope the space will be ready to show to other people by then. Wish us luck....

 

Auburn Literary Fest: First Prize in Open Mic

Great news: I won first prize in the Open Mic poetry contest at the Auburn Literary Fest in August! Here's a link to an article about it in the Auburn Reporter.

Since the Auburn Lit Fest marked the debut of my chapbook "The Quiet Year," it was nice to have such a good crowd for the reading. The judges were Marjorie Rommel, poet laureate of Auburn; David Horowitz of Rose Alley Press; and Robert Lashley, Seattle poet who won this year's Stranger Genius Award. 

I also did a book arts demo...well, three demos, at the Two Ponies booth. It was a really great festival, with some fantastic authors and readers. I felt honored to be a part of it.

Here's a video of an artist book I started working on for the festival; I am still working on it.


 

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News: Ryan James Subscription Artist

I'm excited to announce that I'm now a part of Ryan James Gallery's subscription art program!

Ryan James is a contemporary gallery in Kirkland, Washington (that's eastside Seattle to you) that is "focused on value growth artworks representing modern, abstract, and conceptual art views from both known and emerging WA artists." 

The subscription service is new way to live with art as you collect: you can lease various pieces before you decide which to buy. To find my work, just mark the "Laura Allen" checkbox on the left of the screen...but do browse all the other gorgeous work too. The interface is fun and easy to use.