Thursday, December 31, 2009
Saturday, December 19, 2009
Here we are nudging up to winter solstice ("the watershed of the year" as Vita Sackville-West called it). A happy time for anyone who suffers through the short, dark, dreary days of winter each year. Though there will be no noticeable difference for quite a while, the psychological difference is huge as I switch my attitude from desperation to optimism. I can look at the weather website each day and watch as it announces that "tomorrow's daylight will be 3 minutes longer". Cheers!
Monday, December 7, 2009
Thursday, November 19, 2009
Wednesday, November 11, 2009
Friday, November 6, 2009
Saturday, October 24, 2009
Saturday, October 10, 2009
Perfection...the fall we are being gifted with this year. Day after day of sunny, clear, cool days with crisp, chilly nights. I'm delighting in each one, wringing each moment dry. In a few days, I'll be under the knife, and then, for a bit of time, I won't be running up and down the hill to check on the garden or to play in the studio.
Tuesday, October 6, 2009
Monday, October 5, 2009
As I prepare to go in for major surgery on the 16th, I find myself on a creative roll again (normal for this time of year...and no, I am not always in the mood to create art). I have a couple shows I am jurying into, so have been eager to get some pieces done.
Sunday, October 4, 2009
On Friday, Nils and I took a mini-break to the coast, to Cannon Beach. If you don't live around here, I'll just tell you that Cannon Beach is an appealing, adorable and artistic little beach town which has the added benefit of being right beside Haystack Rock, one of the largest monoliths in the world. The rock sits just offshore, close enough to overwhelm you with its size and energy, and also close enough to walk to at low tide.
Saturday, October 3, 2009
Thursday, October 1, 2009
Wednesday, September 30, 2009
The Play Book, by Nils Lou,
ISBN 978-1-4269-1067-8, 120 pages, $20
"This a manual for connecting to the creative impulse by learning to play again.By re-learning to play an authentic connection is made and the mystery of creativity is exposed.
While play can be fun, it is serious business, and isn’t just for children. Play requires the same mindset for an adult as it did when you were a child. It is a state of opportunity with infinite possibilities. Real play has no rules. It allows all possibilities.
The play imperative is about jumpstarting our consciousness—by breaking the habit of ordinary, repetitive routines and introducing play as an essential nutrient for creative living. It is not goofing off. Play has the potential to shift our gears and engage the creative engine of life—to surprise us with unexpected answers to daily problems.
By learning how to play again and making playfulness a part of our conscious experience, life can change dramatically and creatively. Play is a fundamental state of being, crucial to creative awareness. Play power is a modulus for creativity, a gift that can be nurtured as a wonderful tool for opening the world of imagination.
The Play Book exposes common misconceptions about creativity—can we get it? Is it only for certain people? And, how can we let go of conventional, imitative ideas, and connect with fields of possibilities, where expectations are merely a point of departure? The play imperative is the latent child inhabiting our desire to make things. It’s about conjuring the unexpected—in business, in art, in the kitchen, or in life. Play is the prime lubricant.
This is for players. You were once a player, but now as an adult, play-time is perhaps only a memory. Play is a powerful tool for experiencing creative consciousness. It is a tool that can be accessed by anyone desiring an authentic experience—an opportunity to be connected to the energies that give us vitality, imagination, passion.
The Play Book is set up to help by starting with some simple exercises designed to tune your body and mind to the idea of play. What exactly do you expect to happen? It’s not going to be an ordinary experience, so expect that it will be different."
Available from Amazon.com or from us where the price is, as Nils puts it, "$18 signed, or $20 undamaged".
I share Nils's philosophy of playful creativity and it guides both of us in our art and our lives.
Friday, September 25, 2009
Two years ago on Tuesday, my dear Nils and I got married in our backyard while 70 family members and friends wiped teary eyes (as did we). Best "man" Vickie and "maid of honor" Ron stood by us as our dear friend Suzie read our beautiful ceremony and vows.
Thursday, September 24, 2009
Tuesday, September 15, 2009
Preparing for the 3 workshops I'll teach at Art and Soul in Portland at the end of the month is taking up much of my time. But it is a fun process that culminates in meeting many new people and seeing old friends, and teaching people new creative processes, which I love.
Friday, September 11, 2009
In my previous post, I mentioned the sloping weedy area beside the vegetable garden as well as the desire for a flower bed. Here's the solution. First I covered the area with 25 year ground cover cloth (weed barrier), leaving plenty to pull up behind what you see above (That's it behind the steel).
Saturday, September 5, 2009
Sunday, August 16, 2009
Wednesday, August 5, 2009
Tuesday, August 4, 2009
Thursday, July 23, 2009
Last week Nils had an appointment in Portland so I opted to go along. Since we were on the east side of town, I thought a trip to the eastside Goodwill bins would be a fun diversion. Besides, my favorite shopping spot, the westside bins, had recently been a disappointment.
Saturday, July 18, 2009
This evening we'll be attending the wedding of a lovely young couple, Brittany and Ben. We joke that Nils has known Brittany from womb to wedding because Britt's parents, Cindy and Don, have been Nils's friends since before Britt was born. Consequently, Britt started coming to the anagama firings as an infant (if you don't count being here while in the womb) and has continued to come all these years. As a young girl, she was already directing firings, telling experienced potters when to put in wood. It was obviously built into her DNA coming from potter parents.
When she was a pre-teen, she wrote an article that was published in Ceramics Monthly magazine about the anagama firings and what it was like growing up around that. She rated the most important things in her life as God, family and Nils. Nils has been like an honorary grandfather to her.
Britt lights up whatever space on earth she enters with her radiant smile, sparkling eyes, ready laugh and sense of humor. She is loving and good, and Ben couldn't be a more fortunate man. I've only known Brittany a couple years (since meeting Nils) but I love her, no doubt about it. Oops, I can tell I'm going to need to bring tissues this evening.
(Anagama firing photo courtesy of Cindy H.)
Tuesday, July 14, 2009
As I prepare to take down my show at NW Wine on Thursday, I'd like to share a review of it that I just came across. Hope you enjoy it. Go to: http://macartwalk.blogspot.com/2009/05/diane-lou-and-luke-zimmerman-at-nw-wine.html to read the full review. Here's a little preview from the reviewer: "My internal monologue went a bit like this: "these are great! I love them! ... why do I bother making assemblages? ...well, it's a relief in a way, because here's someone who can do it for me. ... I wonder if she's a student... I bet she's like 19. Rr."
Well, she's not 19, she's older than me, and her work is an inspiration to make art instead of think about it!"
(Photo: Done, copyright by Diane Lou 2009. 24"x 14"Photo by Nils Lou.)
Monday, July 13, 2009
At the Goodwill "bins" (the end of the line before the landfill), I once found an old wooden duck decoy. I'm not sure if it was really old or if it was simply a decorative piece that had been made to look that way. It sat around in the studio for quite some time, and I had trouble getting past its "duckness". So I used the chop saw to decapitate it. There's something about destroying an object that suddenly reveals endless creative possibilities.
The thought of a new head led me to a porcelain one I had....and well, perhaps she needed feet too, just not real feet...how about furniture casters. Hmmmm.....she seems like some weird hybridized creature, so maybe she needs an ID # on her side and a nest to hold the eggs of her even weirder offspring. And so it goes... Usually there is a moment that opens the door to endless possibilities, and the getting rid of the head (which ended up on another piece) was that moment.
Keith LoBue (see his blog in my favorites list) always speaks about getting past the "preciousness" of your "stuff". You like it so much you cannot imagine destroying it or changing it...or sometimes, even using it! Sometimes I'll take a hammer to something just to get past what it is and to reveal the interesting shapes and pieces that comprise it. I've even started using some original photos because I think it is better that they are "out there" in the art, rather than being stored in a forgotten box or photo album.
Pull out your stash of stuff and start using it!
(Photo, Evolution#2, copyright 2008 by Diane Lou. Photo by Nils Lou.)
Saturday, July 11, 2009
July continues to be a month of construction dust and noise, and so I find myself leaning more and more towards getting back in the studio, which, in turn, leads to the urge to find new goodies. Yesterday a garage sale yielded lots of lovely cigar boxes, some wood, some paper-covered wood, which will be fun to use myself or in my classes in September and October. But my favorite find there was a big bag of old croquet balls....yum!
Besides teaching 3 workshops at Art and Soul this fall (2 sessions of Transfers and Transparencies and one of Dumpster Diving Assemblage, I'll be teaching at my favorite-ever retreat center, Menucha, in the Columbia River gorge. That workshop will be with a group of high school art students which was organized by their wonderful teacher, Amy, who often brings her students out for our anagama kiln firings. I can't wait. Fall at Menucha is such a treat in its own right, but being able to teach there and be with young people...well, perfect.
Since being with Nils, I've spent more and more time around college and high school aged students (because of his college teaching and because of high schoolers coming out for the firings), and I must say, the ones I've come in contact with are so much fun! They are lively, friendly, hard-working, creative, eager to learn, helpful and courteous. Great kids all...
Banana bread is in the oven on this overcast, high 60's day, the hummers are feeding, and soon I'll start cleaning the garage (because of a too-long-to-tell and too-hard-to-explain reason related to the upgrades on the house). It will be lovely when all this work is done and everything put back where it is supposed to be.
Friday, July 3, 2009
A heat wave has hit us...90's in the valley, slightly cooler here at our higher, tree-covered elevation. But we are off to the golf course (are we insane?). I have a lesson at 2 on the wide-open driving range, then we'll play. Makes me hot to think of it, but I do like to play....
I must apologize for being so lax in posting these last few weeks. It seems the sweetness of summer, having Nils off from teaching, lovely weather, and just feeling good have allowed me to pull back a bit and just relax into relative laziness. Watering the garden and landscaping, stepping around the guys doing work on the house, harvesting produce, starting to putter in the studio again.
I had been longing for new "stuff" for my art, even though I have a lot by most anyone's standards. Last Saturday I trekked from garage sale to garage sale, looking quickly over tables of glassware, kids' toys, things bought from TV ads still in their boxes, in search of treasure. And treasure I did find. A box of rusted steel traps, a box of chandelier crystals, lots of chains from jewelry, a wooden box with a glass door, a box full of wooden furniture legs and more. None seem especially spectacular on their own, but combined with things I already have, they hold promise.
As so often happens after a dry spell of artistic inactivity, I start feeling something akin to anxiety and know that soon I'll be creating again. There's a stirring in my gut that I've learned to recognize. Then, most likely, I'll create lots of pieces in a short period of time....then be done again. I'm ready for it.
Friday, June 26, 2009
A few weeks ago we decided to replace many of the older windows in our house with energy efficient ones. We hired our studio builder and crew to do the work which was estimated at 4-5 days. Like any upgrade or remodel, especially on a 32-year-old house, one thing led to another and now we are having fascia boards replaced, one deck redone and...and...and....
As almost every room in the house will be affected by some part of the upgrade and the accompanying dust and mess, we are looking forward to a deep cleaning of the house afterwards, a repainting of some walls, and so, an opportunity to hang new art and create a whole new fresh look. Last year we completely re-did the two upstairs bedrooms and were delighted with the outcome. Now for the rest of the house...or at least, much of the house.
Shaking things up a bit feels good right now. I have a very low tolerance for boredom or routine, and start to get antsy when life doesn't seem to have enough variety.
We're having gorgeous summery days, and are enjoying lots of opportunities to play golf, be outside, garden and do home projects. I haven't done any studio work, but will soon...I feel that urge coming on again. I've finally learned to just wait for it to come rather than to try to push through it. Ahh, patience....
My show at NW Wine will be down soon (next week), so if you haven't had a chance to view it, please stop by.
Saturday, June 20, 2009
Days have been overcast alternating with sun, in the high 60's or low 70's, perfect really. Not summer as many people think of it, but great for Oregonians. The garden is thriving and, thankfully, my golf game is improving. I started playing (trying to play, I should say) last summer, and it was the most frustrating thing I had ever tried. This year I started with a few lessons with a pro which have made a huge difference and moved me forward enough that I can go play 9 holes with Nils without being nearly in tears. There has been enough improvement that I have gone from just wishing I could be a mediocre player (a big improvement from where I was) to deciding I want to be a good player (that competitive nature in me coming out). I hit 100 balls whenever I can and now that I am seeing the difference it makes (and how much better my body feels), I am even more motivated.
It's been another big life lesson for me too. Learning something new in our later years is something we sometimes resist, but it is such a positive thing. Whether it is something physical, with the added benefit of strengthening our bodies and making us feel younger and healthier, or something mental like learning a new language, or opening up to our creative side, we come out better on the other side. And all become slightly addictive...you become eager to get stronger, eager to challenge your mind more, or eager to express yourself, or all.
A Portland writer challenged himself to do something new every day for one year. And he did it and documented it in his blog.
He decided his life needed a freshening up, and I think this did it for him. It was a huge commitment, more than most of would want to do or have time to do, but we can all commit to learning one new thing, or doing something we've never thought we could do, and it gives us a bit of a rebirth and a new thrill about life. I have friends who have started piano lessons or painting or studying Mandarin in their 70's. It's never too late!
Monday, June 15, 2009
Due to requests from students and prospective students of my Transfers and Transparencies workshops at Art and Soul in Portland in fall of this year, I've started another blog devoted to showing images of the art that I have created using the techniques I will teach in this workshop. Please visit to see my collages at http://dianelou-collage.blogspot.com or register for one of the 3 remaining spots at www.artandsoulretreat.com
Tuesday, June 9, 2009
Finding a piece of rusted-out metal roofing was the beginning of this piece. Its irregular shape and aged patina called out to me, but, as always, I had no idea what I would do with it or where it would go.
A year or so ago I had acquired some metal boxes which resembled treasure chests that were made of metal and finished to somewhat resemble aged copper. I took the lid off one, put a hanger on the back, set the rusty metal roofing inside and looked at it for a good long while. Because I so like having the viewer have to peer through layers, soon a weathered piece of wooden garden bed edging was placed in front. Next an antique document was glued in the back, and, spaced out from the back, some blue-copper colored printed paper was mounted on mat board and put in. If you look carefully, you can also see a woman's face looking back at you through the the opening in the metal. There is more to see in this, which you cannot see in such a small picture....an antique bottle with a woman inside and the word "speak".
The ball on top was a plastic toy ball which I covered with printed tissue paper and mounted using part of a lamp. The distressed copper-colored metal strips (across the wood and at the bottom) I "appropriated" from some old things my husband had. Great color and lots of wonderful aging, rust, scratches...all make it interesting.
This is one of my husband's favorites and once my show comes down at the end of June, it will go back up in the entryway of our home.
(Speak, copyright 2009 by Diane Lou. 20"x11". Photo by Nils Lou)
Friday, June 5, 2009
The studio resides at the end of the footpath pictured in the previous post. On our land, this is really the only semi-level, un-tree-covered space...and it is relatively close to the house, just down the hill. It was as if it had been sitting there all these years just waiting. The clear area you see to the right of the building is where our garden now sits...again on the relatively level, fully-sun-exposed site...a site just sitting there all these years waiting.
The building is sheathed in green metal siding, siding that led to a serendipitous creative discovery. After the building was built (with much of the building going on through a very, very wet winter), we found muddy handprints all over the exterior. Since the builders were deep in mud much of the time they were building, it was not surprising. What was surprising was that the mud would not wash off! I used the power washer with detergent...then used a long-handled scrub brush prior to power washing again...then did it all again...and still a residue of the mud remained on the impervious metal siding.
We decided we had some very special clay here, and first fired a brick of it in the anagama kiln. It stood up to the 2400 degree temps without melting into a puddle, and came out with a metallic black finish. Then Nils decided to use the clay in some painting/drawings he was doing. He'd make various dilutions of the clay (slip), pour it across the canvas, then pour water or more diluted slip across that. When it was all dry, he would start drawing onto the surface with charcoal and conte crayon, and wait to see what would evolve. It has proved to be an amazingly evocative medium, with some wonderful clay paintings as the end result.
We now also use this mud/clay/slip as a decoration on pots. Depending on the density of the slip, the color that results can be anywhere from almost orange-ish stain to a deep, metallic black. The effect is wonderful and all the more special because it came right from our own backyard, and was discovered only because we were curious enough to experiment with it to find its potential use. Life's full of lovely little surprises if we remember to watch for them.
Wednesday, June 3, 2009
When Nils and I met in January 2007, the only studio on the property was a very large damp and dark one which didn't inspire creativity except on the best of summer days when the doors could be open and the sunlight would filter in through the skylights. By mid-summer we had decided we needed a warm, light studio for both of us...and that we wanted to get married.
We staked out the size of the building (a little over 1000 sq ft), called an excavator and had the ground leveled three days before the wedding (September 2007). It made a perfect parking lot just down the hill from the house. A few guests commented, "My, you went to a lot of trouble and expense to create a parking lot!"...but of course, 3 days later the foundation crew had arrived and work began in earnest. By early Feb 2008, the studio was finished and we had moved in.
It's been a heavenly space for us to share. An area for the potter's wheel, Nils's painting and drawing area, my mixed media area, a tool area, a sink, and a space for the kiln just outside the door...and now a garden just outside the other door. The interior is all white with high walls perfect for hanging up lots of finished art. It is all heated with radiant-floor heating which makes it cozy any time of year.
We had young potter friends Jim and Matt put in steps down the hill through the woods so we could easily walk to the studio. Creative spirits that they both are, they took it a step further and crafted a small footbridge over a depression in the walkway, and created a dry streambed under it. A small shrine made from an old rotten log and a stacked rock sculpture, both of which make the path even more special, were additional gifts from Jim. A couple of Nils's sculptures also enhance the walkway.
Their creativity inspired us to rummage through our stash of driftwood, select 8 or 10 pieces, and, armed with an electric drill and some very long screws, create the railing you see pictured.
The path is the perfect transition zone from the "real" world to the zone of creativity in the studio, and every time I walk down or up, I think of Jim and Matt and how creative people can always take a rather ho-hum project to a level of inspiration and beauty.
Tuesday, June 2, 2009
In fall, when frosty nights occasionally happen,I'll put hoops covered with plastic over the beds, creating mini-greenhouses which will be used again in early spring to get a jump on the gardening season.
With slightly cooler weather in the forecast, perhaps I won't be spending my days watering, and will have time to get back into the studio. I'm looking forward to the 13th and going to community garage sales in Wilsonville with my sister. New goodies for art, I hope!
Monday, June 1, 2009
Our new garden. I'm so glad we put down 2 layers of weed-barrier cloth under those bark chips...no weeding. It's a great joy having a vegie garden after all these years of having no space for one (and living on the coast where it is too cool for many things to grow well).
Sunday, May 31, 2009
This morning Nils will attend the commencement ceremonies at Linfield, and then another term will be behind us. As we move towards this luxurious time of summer, the wisteria on the back deck are breathtaking, but fleeting with our unusually warm spring weather. It is seldom that this time of year would bring us day after day in the 80's, so the azaleas, rhodies and all the other glorious spring blooms are even more treasured. I didn't even have time to pick a bouquet of lilacs before they were withered and dry.
Monday, May 25, 2009
Wednesday night, NW Wines, show opening. It is always revealing to me to hear people's comments about my work. It seems I can do the visual part, but even though I am a writer, I cannot seem to verbalize much about what I feel about my work. John G. called the show "bloody brilliant". Another viewer called the pieces "springboards to remembering and imagining". One woman called it "dreamlike and full of mysterious archetypes". Others commented on the architectural quality when viewed from a distance (yes, I love rooflines and house shapes), then being attracted as they came closer by things that looked familiar to them. Finally, when viewing up close, the mysteries of the pieces started to reveal themselves as they saw the strange uses of those same familiar objects.