Already hearing the Christmas elves? The songs are starting to play in my head, as is the consumerism behind it. As a designer and someone who is bound by the flow of the market, it's tough not to get caught by the daze of holly and holly's friends. If it gets to be too much too soon, opt to pause for a moment of beauty, a galvanizing conversation with an old friend, or a walk in nature. Never too much of that to go around.
Glamorous - right? That's what we think of when someone says 'photoshoot'. Well, I'm here to tell you. It's not. When talented people come together to make something beautiful, or edgy, or artful, or whatever...it's ultimately a commercial enterprise. Long hours. Somethings (many things, actually) go wrong. And you don't always get what you want. Time is not on your side! But still, there are moments when you get more than you want. Way more.
The world is catching on. Collaboration may be the ticket to competitive advantage. You see it in business more and more often. It's been done for a long time in the arts - fashion designers collaborating with artists, photographers etc. It's happening in technology too. Each side leverages the strength of the other to create something greater than the whole. That's what I do when partnering -- err collaborating -- as well. For me, my textile designs offer potential partners a leg up --they get a very distinctive look and feel. I'm the only one in the world creating designs that look like...well..my designs. You'll soon see the results of my first official collaboration with another designer. We're creating the 'Human' collection - a capsule collection of garments made by Rachel Riot from fabrics I've painted by hand. Why Human? More on that later.
Are you an extrovert or an introvert? I happen to tend toward the latter, with just enough extrovert fairy dust sprinkled in for good measure when needed. So when it comes time to take the stage after a runway show, I need a deep breath along with the bow. I've decided that this combination of breath and bow is an apt metaphor. Staying humble while accepting -- and even delighting in-- how you or your work has touched others. Why not go for it...and enjoy?
Neutrals or color? I just can't decide. It tugs at me. No, it's more of an epic battle. It permeates my body, mind and spirit. Ultimately the battle is fought with my eye which judges what is before me, and my hand which controls the brush. But there is no real winner, as the tension never really goes away. An artist must make many small decisions along the way of creating whatever he or she deems worthy to create. And some big decisions too. For me, the pull of palettes in opposite directions is so strong that it can be paralyzing. Many women know this from the perennial question should I wear black today or something with color? In the end, I let the feeling win. There are gloriously neutral moments. The blacks, whites, creams, taupes, greys, and graphites just have to pour forth. Love the sophistication, the nod to urban life, minimalism, and modernism. But soon thereafter the itch for color returns. Not so much pure sweet color, but rather earthy, complex, arresting hues with a buttery finish. Alas, even the poetic language of the vintners may not suffice! In the end, I often wave a white flag, combining both into a single exciting encounter with the possibilities. Let's see...what to paint....or wear.....
Ever heard the term "trunk show"? It's used all the time amongst entrepreneurial fashion types. While no one actually owns a trunk anymore (except for the car kind), it's one of those terms that has staying power - perhaps for its charmed reference to an easier way of life when a trunk of items was all one had or even aspired to. Today's trunk shows can be charming indeed. I've been welcomed, along with my trunk full o handmade clothing and multiple pieces of heavy display equipment -- into another's home. I have had the chance to meet friends of friends, get a peek at someone else's art collection, and taste a darn good hors d'oeuvre or two. That is, until normal life stops and the show begins. Alas, trunk shows can also be a little less than charming. That's certainly the case when not a soul shows up the entire weekend. Or the charming locale is actually a high school gym, a rather worn dance club, or outside with, let's just say, "weather". But in the end, I am up for it. After all, I'm lucky enough to get to paint, create, and 'go for it' almost every day. With or without the trunk. Not a bad show.
It's not often that fashion is celebrated as art... and art as fashion, or at least wearable art! But it's happening more and more. Designers are being recognized for their outstanding creativity and exploration of fabric, design, color and the possibilities therein. Artists are choosing to make commentary on our world through material and the human body. I'm excited that some of my artwork AND fashion is being shown together for the first time in the Santa Cruz Museum of Art's "Uncommon Threads" show Sept 4- Dec 6, 2015. In my apparel and accessories, my focus is on questions of beauty and aesthetic. I follow an intuitive calling to create beauty. It takes shape in the form of sophisticated style through layering hand painted fabric design, sensual materials, and unexpected colors. In my artwork, I'm interested in taking that same voice and aesthetic to explore the meditative landscape of our inner world vs the demanding energy of our urban lives. The exhibit gives me a chance to show that to me, creating clothing is just one aspect of a larger art practice. Art and clothing inform one another. I see the installation as a large 3-D piece of abstract artwork that contains references to various styles, forms, textures, color stories, and circular/other markings that are ‘threads’ in my work. There are references to the playful and whimsical side of my personality and style too.
Fashion is overrated. I've never been one to follow fashion, except to get a glimpse of the glorious fabrics, the creative pulse and a reason to get new boots. To me, when style and creative expression are the spirit of fashion THAT's where the excitement comes in. Speaking of excitement, I sold a dress recently. Rather, I said goodbye to it with mixed feelings. Sounds crazy but it wasn't just a dress for me. The painting flowed without hesitation onto the fabric. The experience was one of presence, beauty and joy. That doesn't happen everyday. I realized after I said goodbye that I hadn't taken a photo of the back. Because I paint each piece individually the back often has a personality of its own. Oh well. Time to let go and move on to the next big thing!
Get off the cruise ship and REALLY look around. For those who can take more time than the average cruise ship allows for, Puerto Rico offers a veritable feast for the eyes. During my trip in January I was taken by the incredible history, the knockout colors and architectural details of old town, the dynamic art and music scene and the outrageously good food. But back to the colors and the art for a moment: can you say fabulous? Graphic arts are hot there. The totem to commemorate 500 years after its discovery struck a chord. No wonder I left some items to hang out there since I can't. Ellen Brook clothing now in Puerto Rico at Pure Soul Boutique!
Ever wonder what the home of some of your favorite artists looks like? Or whether they hang their finished artwork in their own home, even temporarily while it awaits its final owner? I do. So I started a board on Pinterest to track what I could find. And share a few of my own pieces of art hang in' around my own home. Here's my fireplace with Healing Waters (dye on silk), several mini canvas paintings and even eggs I died with an Italian friend. Yes my Christmas lights are still intact. OK, it's March but I like the spirit year round!