Above and Below

“Above and Below” 12” x 12” Acrylic and canvas cloth on canvas.

“Above and Below” 12” x 12” Acrylic and canvas cloth on canvas.

After a couple of months away from the studio, it was so good to hold a paintbrush in my hands again. To get back into the flow, I chose to play with a work in progress I had begun awhile ago. It had been waiting for months for me to return to complete it. Back then, I had cut a piece of raw canvas cloth and gessoed it onto a 12" x 12" canvas. The cutouts were inspired by Georgia O'Keefe's clouds.

This was the perfect project for my return and I so enjoyed the process. I didn’t care how it turned out. All that mattered was the delight of being busy in the studio.

“Above and Below” in progress.

“Above and Below” in progress.

Originally, I had a whole different color palette in mind when I first attached the cut cloth to the canvas, months ago. But now is a different time and place. So, the process of painting this one took me on an unexpected path. I like watching as paintings unfold before me. And I'm delighted to be back in process.

Inspired by: Georgia O'Keefe's, "Sky Above the Clouds"



Losing Both My Parents

My parents holding hands during one of my mom’s visits to my dad’s hospital room. The wonderful hospital staff helped make sure they visited one another every day.

My parents holding hands during one of my mom’s visits to my dad’s hospital room. The wonderful hospital staff helped make sure they visited one another every day.

Two months ago today, my dad died in a hospital room, at age 94. Exactly one week later my mom took her last breath in a similar room just a few rooms away. She would have celebrated her 90th birthday a few weeks later. After 70 years of marriage, they were still choosing to do everything together.

I’m finding that in order to move on and begin to share art related posts again on this blog, I have the need to first share this loss. The experience of watching both parents slip away was powerful and the loss is life altering. I can already see changes in the way I approach my paintings and my life. In recent weeks, I’ve needed time to hibernate and step back from “life as I knew it.” I’ve been taking one step at a time and easing myself back into the world. In writing this today, it is a step forward.

Helen and Ruby on their Wedding Day, 1949

Helen and Ruby on their Wedding Day, 1949

I was so very fortunate to have both parents in my life for so many years. I so appreciate the abundance of love and support I always received from them. Their enthusiastic response, anytime we shared details of new ventures, accomplishments, possibilities, and experiences, was a continuous gift to the whole family. They made it easy and joyful to share anything and everything with them.

And how they loved each other!! I believe they lived as long as they did because of their commitment to one another. And being in their presence, you just could not help but be drawn into the vortex of love and gratitude vibrantly operating between the two of them. It’s no wonder they seemed to have fans wherever they went… and of course, they always went together.

For years, my brother and I hoped that our parents would somehow be able to leave this world at the same time or shortly after one another. We knew it would be too painful for either of them to be left behind without the other. They orchestrated their exit pretty well. They were miraculously admitted to the hospital on the very same day, for different reasons. During their final days, they were surrounded by loved ones and managed to visit one another each day. When they were able, they held hands, blew each other kisses, and continued to touch the lives of those around them.

We witnessed and experienced a whole lot in those weeks, including many precious moments. I know I will miss them deeply, but I am so glad that neither of them has to continue life without the other. Their love story continues.

What a gift it has been to have had so many years with my loving parents and to have been a witness to their love and commitment to one another!

Mom and Dad doing what they loved most - sharing a meal with their family. 2016

Mom and Dad doing what they loved most - sharing a meal with their family. 2016

Autumn Shade

“Autumn Shade” 12” x 12” Acrylic and canvas cloth on canvas.

“Autumn Shade” 12” x 12” Acrylic and canvas cloth on canvas.

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Autumn Shade was the first painting I completed after ten days of playing with crayons. So, I can’t help but wonder how much that experience influenced my choice of colors for this canvas. Of course, I was also craving the fall colors as I sat in my studio, in October, looking out on the evergreen trees that surround our home. I’m loving these colors.

This is another one of the Canvas on Canvas series that I have so enjoyed painting. Unlike the Transcriptions series and the Text-tures, there is minimal construction and no sewing of elements onto canvas. It provides me with pure painting joy.

Crayon Challenge

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Last month I had an opportunity to participate in an Instagram crayon challenge. I joined for the last ten days of a 30 day challenge. For the first 20 days, I watched as other artists were having fun with these sticks of color. I wanted in! I was going to be away from home and crayons were the ideal media to take on the road. Not only was I going to see what I would create with crayons, I decided to use this challenge to explore asemic writing as well.

While away, I awoke early each morning to play with my collection of colors and each night I drew until I finally turned off the lights. It was a joy to return to my roots as an artist, to the first art medium I used as a child.

I knew I was getting more comfortable with the crayons and making it my own when I added the book element to the drawing.

I knew I was getting more comfortable with the crayons and making it my own when I added the book element to the drawing.

It’s been about a month since I completed my last posted crayon drawing. The experience has definitely left its mark on me and the crayons have found a place in my heart.

I have tried to return to the studio and continue working as before, but I know the crayon challenge has changed me. I feel as if I am just setting off on a rerouted track and about to travel the path of a new adventure.

Meanwhile, the crayons keep calling to me. I think I will have to make a commitment to continue playing with them as a gift to my inner kid as she becomes one with my playful adult.

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Asemic Writing

I loved creating this work on paper! When I produced this piece a couple of months ago, I felt like I had stumbled onto a wonderfully exciting creative adventure. I guess I was finally giving myself permission to explore an idea I’ve been wanting to play with for quite awhile. The idea was to include non-specific text in my artwork… to write without words. I’ve wanted to create the illusion of text without any specific meaning and then I learned it had a name: asemic writing.

According to Wikipedia and referenced on a number of other sites, asemic means "having no specific semantic content", or "without the smallest unit of meaning."

The use of asemic writing seems to be a natural progression for me after incorporating ancient languages into my paintings over the past few years. This is my first creative experience with asemic writing but definitively not my last. I am looking forward to exploring this further.

“We are all Connected”  6” x 9” mixed media on paper

“We are all Connected” 6” x 9” mixed media on paper

Changes

Establishing a new website, blog, and newsletter can be very positive. It feels like everything has a fresh new look and feel which can be quite energizing. But, there's another side to this.

Last night I spent some time at my old blog. I have been posting articles and artwork there for almost ten years. Although my experience with Blogger has had it's frustrations recently, it has been home to the Shared Easel blog and newsletter.

Finding a new home through Squarespace means letting go of the past and moving on. Even when change is good, it still has it's moments of needing to embrace the new and release the tendency to hold onto the old. This is true whether we are talking about a website or a life experience.

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Life is a series of changes... changing times, changing relationships and experiences, changes in mood, beliefs, thoughts, and dreams. We are constantly faced with new opportunities, challenges, and obstacles. 

So, as I travel the path of my fresh start, I am reflecting fondly on the past and the steps of the journey to this point. I am very excited to be where I am now. 

What changes are you making in your life?

Mini Series

“Shivaya”

“Shivaya”

“Peace Kaddish”

“Peace Kaddish”

It all started when I was thinking of doing a “30 Paintings in 30 Days” challenge. The idea of creating a series of 6” x 6” paintings on canvas intrigued me. Back in April, I had done a small group of works on paper in that size.

So, when considering the challenge, I decided to begin a series of Mini Transcriptions. Although small, they require many of the same steps in the process as those of the Transcriptions series. I quickly learned that unless this was my only focus, it was unlikely to produce 30 in 30 days.

“Peace and Tranquility”

“Peace and Tranquility”

As I write this post today, the next issue of the Shared Easel Newsletter is almost complete and the seventh small painting is about to be finished.

I may not be doing too many more of these, but I do get a twinkle in my eye at the idea of returning to this size for future projects. For now, I have loved using the sewing machine to attach the pieces of canvas cloth. I adore the stringiness I can create with the hanging threads. And I am surprised that I have enjoyed working this small.

“May All Be at Peace”

“May All Be at Peace”

My goal for the month was to redesign the Shared Easel newsletter and produce the first issue using MailChimp. But first I had to learn how to work within MailChimp to create a newsletter template. Ugh!! I had just spent the summer learning how to create a website with Squarespace. Now I had to tackle another new platform.

I guess you can see why the idea of creating 30 Mini’s had to slip away. What I did realize was that these small paintings were perfect for balancing studio time with newsletter development.

Work in Progress

Work in Progress

Words of Tagore

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The words of Rabindranath Tagore are finding their way into my paintings. So far, I’ve created three mixed media paintings with a Tagore quote highlighted within the piece. I find his words wise and wonderful… and there will definitely be more of these paintings to come. In fact, I am in the process of creating the next one.

Rabindranath Tagore was an Indian poet and writer, born in Calcutta in 1861. He has a huge body of work and I’ve only recently begun to explore the beauty of his writing.

Inspired by the words of Tagore, I have begun to play with canvas, text, and paint in a textural way. Here are the three completed paintings, along with their respective quotes.

“Let Us Unite”  12” x 12” acrylic and mixed media on canvas

“Let Us Unite” 12” x 12” acrylic and mixed media on canvas

Let Us Unite

“Let us unite, not in spite of our differences, but through them. For differences can never be wiped away and life would be so much the poorer without them. Let all human races keep their own personalities, and yet come together, not in a uniformity that is dead, but in a Unity that is living.”

“One Door or Another”  12” x 12” acrylic and mixed media on canvas

“One Door or Another” 12” x 12” acrylic and mixed media on canvas

One Door or Another

“If I can’t make it through one door, I’ll go through another door - or I’ll make a door. Something terrific will come no matter how dark the present.”

Let Me Not

“Let me not pray to be sheltered from dangers but to be fearless in facing them. Let me not beg for the stilling of my pain but for the heart to conquer it. Let me not look for allies in life's battlefield but to my own strength. Let me not crave in anxious fear to be saved but hope for the patience to win my freedom. Grant me that I may not be a coward, feeling your mercy in my success alone; but let me find the grasp of your hand in my failure.”

“Let Me Not”  12” x 12” acrylic and mixed media on canvas

“Let Me Not” 12” x 12” acrylic and mixed media on canvas

Squarespace Tips

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I've just recently spent a couple of months researching Web builders and then setting up my new Website through Squarespace. It can be a daunting challenge to face the 14 day trial period if you are totally new to creating a website with a web builder. So, I wanted to share some tips I've learned from my experience in working with Squarespace. Here's some of what I have learned:

To save time, plan out your website and know what you are looking for in a template.

To save time, plan out your website and know what you are looking for in a template.

  1. You can extend your 14 day trial period. Once your trial period is up, you will receive an email asking you to pay for one of their plans. At the bottom of that email, they allow you to request an extra 7 days if you are not ready to commit or not finished with designing your site.
  2. Before you begin the trial period, have a clear idea of what your priorities are for your site, the pages you will want to put in place, and how you want the site to flow. The more time you spend in advance, the better your use of time during the 14 days.
  3. Choose a template based on what you are looking for and your priorities in building a new site. Review the templates based on it's overall design, whether it has a blog option, a sidebar, gallery pages, etc. The templates have different features. Which features are most important to you?
  4. There is a lot of flexibility for adding pages and content with the Squarespace template... although some aspects are fixed to the design of the template with little possibility to altering it much. The blog design is one of those fixed elements.
  5. The Squarespace help page offers periodic webinars for getting started, lots of videos and informational pages to answer most of your questions, and an online chat with a representative. The chat process works very well, with someone available quite quickly to help you with your questions. (They cannot help you with adding code to customize your site.) They do not have a phone line.
  6. Webinar participants are given a discount code at the beginning of the webinar. It can be used when you pay for hosting. So you might as well sign up and save.
  7. Putting text in the Banner descriptions will increase the height of that Banner. Originally, I had both a title and a subtitle for several of the Banners on my site. I have since removed the text description on a number of them to create a sleeker look. (I am using the Bryant Template.)
  8. As I write this blog post now, I realize that the blog does not automatically save my work, as I've been used to in Blogger. I now have to save the draft, which closes it, and then I have to reopen it to continue writing. Awkward process!
  9. There is easy access to view the site on a mobile device. But it was so easy to miss. There's a tiny little horizontal line at the top center of your trial site. Once you hover over it, the straight line becomes a slight downward arrow. Click to reveal the icons for phone view, tablet view, and desktop view.
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I chose Squarespace primarily for the clean template designs and their professional look. Here are some other things I like about using Squarespace:

  1. I love the ability to create custom URLs for every page and any image. As far as I could see, Wix created those URLs for you. I appreciate having control over the web addresses so I can keep them short and simple.
  2. You can change templates at any time. I don't know what that entails but I'm happy to be able to have that option in the future.
  3. The templates are wonderfully mobile friendly. You don't have to design for mobile devices. It is all done for you. But you could design in phone or tablet mode if you prefer.
  4. I like having the option to add code to further customize a page. I was able to find code recommendations posted by other Squarespace users. But many people will find it is easy to rely on what the template and the Squarespace tools have to offer.

I did have some frustrations in setting up my website with Squarespace. I was not thrilled with the blog design and I really didn't like the constraints of the gallery and store pages. But with a bit of code, some tech help from my husband, and some tweaks I was able to accomplish on my own, I was able to make the website exactly what I wanted it to be. 

Please let me know if you have found this helpful... and good luck setting up your new website. You may also be interested in the prior blog post on Choosing a Web Builder.

Choosing a Web Builder

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Ten years ago I immersed myself in working with a purchased template to create a website. I wowed myself every day as I altered the code to set up galleries, links, and pages. Over the years, that site has become a dinosaur. It didn't work on mobile devices, it was clunky for adding content, and it was looking tired and old compared to the new sites out there.

So, I finally took the plunge into the world of web builders. I checked out comparison reviews of the various options. I viewed the templates offered by a wide variety of platforms. After spending much time exploring my options, I decided to simultaneously play around with a trial experience at both Squarespace and Wix.

The Squarespace Design Style Editor

The Squarespace Design Style Editor

Initially, I felt frustrated and stuck during my use of the Squarespace interface. I just didn't get it. I had journeyed into unfamiliar territory. So, I moved over to Wix and it seemed to hold my hand and show me the way. But, as I began to add images into the template and try to tweak what I wanted, it got clunky and I found myself getting frustrated.

That's when I gave Squarespace another try. I immediately felt more at home with the clean and neat design that had originally attracted me. Ten minutes with a loved one had me beginning to understand the way it worked. It didn't feel as foreign anymore. 

I chose Squarespace because of their beautifully designed templates and their polished professional interface. I had an uncomfortable learning curve but finally got my footing on this new platform. 

New Website

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I am thrilled to welcome you to my new Website!!

After weeks of trial and error, editing and tweaking, it is finally ready to go live. I view this site as a work in progress, with lots more to add and change in the coming weeks and months. But, today I have an updated WendyMegSiegel.com to share and it comes with a newly revitalized Shared Easel Blog, incorporated right here on my site. 

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With the help of the Squarespace platform, I will easily be able to add my latest artwork, update images and information, and add new pages and elements. I am very excited about the greater flexibility I will now have to alter and change anything on this site.

Although quite a bit of the old site has been left behind, I've added a few new elements: an area to feature Recent Works, an individual page for every painting with description and related artworks, and a section with images of the creative Process.

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One thing I was unable to do was import the many years of posts from the Shared Easel blog at Blogspot. So I will find ways to add the link here wherever I can. (It's now a sidebar link.)

In future posts, I will be writing about some of the many changes I am making to refresh just about everything (including the Shared Easel Newsletter). It feels like a new beginning for me, my artwork, and what I have to share. So stay tuned.