Anything can be beautiful, right? I believe so! The world around us offers a limitless stream of creativity and things to admire. An example? I stumbled upon a rusty water faucet. Yes, faucet. And I snapped a photo and turned it into the cutest of patterns. Isn't it charming? And fun? Indeed, even the most random (and useful) things around us can inspire fun creative projects. This weekend, look around and see what you can create.
I am excited to participate in an art project called One House, the idea for which comes from Ellyn Weiss and Jackie Hoysted, leaders of a group called Art Watch. The project aims to use the power of visual communication to express values, such as inclusion, tolerance, and equality under the law.
Many artists are taking part in this project. We all started with a blank 12" square piece of plywood. Here I am at Jackie's lovely studio the day I picked my square up. Each square is dedicated to an ancestor, somebody who came to this country from elsewhere. As I am the first one in my family to come to the US (the rest of my family lives in the Czech Republic), I was instructed to tell my own story. Once all (a few hundred) squares are completed, they will be publicly displayed in Washington DC towards the end of 2017.
I admit to having felt conflicted about how to use the square to tell my experience of being an immigrant. I came to the US in 2002 as an au-pair planning to stay with a family for a year. Yet, that year turned into 15 years of an incredibly colorful life. As any immigrant, I had both moments of being truly accepted as a human being and of feeling excluded as the 'other' or sometimes viewed as the 'help'. While dealing with a bit of immigration paperwork, I went to college, held a variety of jobs, started my own company. I gained and lost friends. As I was pondering how to use my board to represent my story, it dawned on me that my story is no really 'just' mine. It's the story of all who touched my life in any and every way.
So, I got to work. My board has two aspects. First, I browsed through 15 years of photos and picked moments that sometimes meant a lot and others that were just a quick passing experience. It feels like life is just like that: the big is mixed in with the little and vice versa. What an emotional experience! I saw so many faces, so many stories, in all of those photos. People who invited me into their lives; people who I literally have known since day one in the country. To honor their anonymity, I added a filter to all images as I assembled them into a collage. Some photos sit nicely next to each other; others clash. Some pop with color; others take your eye in as they are dark and you need to search for the silhouettes.
One of the photos is the first photo taken of me in the US, another one of a former supervisor who gave me advice I use in my life daily. My parents, friends, kids I took care of, people I am not in touch anymore ... They are all part of my experience of establishing a life in the US.
The second aspect of my square is sound. I am a big believer in the power of words. What one says matters and makes an impact. I recall many things said to me over the years. Some were words of inclusion and encouragement. Some stopped me in my tracks and their sharpness took my breath away. I recorded two words that are the title of my square: "Community. Connection." The sound wave recordings sit on top of the photos and bring together my experience as one of richness and gratitude.
Participating in this project has been an important experience to me. It's turning out to be a great starting point for more stories. I now have conversations with people from a variety of backgrounds; we all come together through the act of sharing our lives. To learn more about One House and artists participating in this meaningful effort, hop over to Art Watch DC and click on One House.
UPDATE as of September 13, 2017: Please see press release just issued by Touchstone Gallery in Washington DC about the "One House Project" and join me on November 3 at the opening reception!
I know we tend to think of weekends as the time to rest and recharge but I find that taking time to pause during the busy week makes my life better. As a creative person, I value fresh ideas and those only seem to come up when I honor my need to relax and just play. So, have a great Monday and may there be many relaxing moments!
I love walking and often find the best of inspiration for my paintings and photography right under my feat. For this week's Creativity Boost, let's take a look at what I saw on an old marina deck. Strolling up and down, I noticed all of the wonderful shapes and textures created in the wood plans across time. I grabbed my camera and got to work. Doesn't it look like there are faces in these shapes? Eyes? As you embark on your weekend, look down and let me know what you see!
Children going off to college is both an exciting time and a time of change for the whole family. I find that many parents wish to send off their child with something from home, something that tells them of where they came from and something to give them strength and hope for their future experiences. And, it turns out a pillow sewn out of t-shirts (worn across years and many different occasions) is a great item to gift to anybody starting college.
A pile of old t-shirts is a little overwhelming at first but then, once all of the logos are cut out, it is great fun to assemble them like a puzzle into a pillow cover that will fit like a glove. This latest project was a fun exercise in pulling together t-shirts with a variety of colors and fonts and logo sizes. I played around with the cutouts until I assembled a visually appealing front part of the pillow. The covers I design are fully washable and I secure all of the seams for a clean look even on the inside.
The project actually started with finding the right size pillow insert. This one was 46.5" x 19". A great thing about this cover is that I used the excess t-shirt materials to sew the back. So, everything has the same feel to the touch and works well in terms of color scheme.
I wish the happy owner of this pillow all the best in college. May there be great learning and great friends. And if you like what you see and have a t-shirt project in mind, contact me! I am happy to help you.
One of the things that brings me most joy is art and meeting artists who supply our world with loads of creative ideas. One of my friends, Alexandra Sherman, is such an artist. Her paintings - which she describes as "landscapes of the mind" - are thoughtful insights into the human experience and beautiful studies of artist techniques.
So, for this Monday dose of joy I bring you the lovely Alexandra and her painting called "Head Squall", which is on display at the McLean Project for the Arts until August 12, 2017. Like what you see? Have a question for Alexandra? Hop over to her website and say hi!
The end of each day is marked by a sunset and many of them are just striking and breath-taking. In my constant quest to capture the beauty of the nature around us (in my photography and then in my textile designs), I make a point of not missing a sunset. I bet you too have seen sunsets that stopped you in your tracks, that made you pause. Here is an example of one such sunset. I love the large cloud framing the sun as it goes down and how everything gets reflected on the water's surface. And why not test out the snapshot of this precious moment as a fabric pattern ... Isn't this fun? I love the magic of pattern-making. Do you have a sunset photo you love? Let me know!
Brenda Smoak of Artists Tell Their Stories is a woman on the move. She is kind and lovely and determined to support artists in any way she can. We met in 2016 and Brenda featured my textile designs on her ever-so-successful internationally-read blog in February 2017. Her goal – which she pursues with great focus – is to highlight 52 intriguing and compelling artists each year. The artists are invited to tell their own personal story of their work and offer insights into what motivates them. Really, they tell us why they do what they do. Brenda is now my friend; I cherish our coffee dates and chats about art and life.
One thing I adore about Brenda is that she is a great listener. She focuses on the art but more than that, she dives into the artist’s story and listens to their heart’s intent. And while Brenda’s blog tells stories of others, let’s look at why Brenda does what she does.
Tell us a little bit about how Artists Tell Their Stories started.
Artists Tell, as I affectionally call the blog, came as a result of having to close my fair-trade art gallery, Alchemy, several years ago due to construction coming to my area. I had a thriving space for artists, art-lovers and clients and through that experience I continually found myself promoting artists who didn’t know how, or didn’t want, to focus on telling their story. I met so many incredibly talented artists and it just became the next step on my path to help bring those stories to life.
What do you find personally most valuable in working with artists and about learning about their stories?
Behind each piece of interesting artwork is the person who created it and I am continually fascinated by learning who that person is. Why did you make this piece? Why do you play this instrument and what makes you cry when you get to that part of the song? That poem is so moving – what inspired you to write it? What makes you stay up all night to finish painting that piece? Why to you look for broken things and then create majestic creatures? Writers, dancers, painters, storytellers, musicians, and visual artists – every one of them has a story of why they do what they do. It’s those types of questions that fascinate me. So many artists create stunning work and people ogle over the work without ever asking what made that particular artist create the work. I look for the story behind the story to get a glimpse of who the artist is. It’s hearing those stories and having the artists be so happy to tell them that keeps me on the look-out for the next cool artist to feature. It’s truly a labor of love!
What is your vision for Artists Tell Their Stories? What’s in your future?
The blog readership continues to grow and that thrills me. We gained an international readership within the first year. This is the third year and now I have artists seeking me out, asking to be featured on the blog. That was part of my dream when I started this. I have a natural propensity to market people’s work that I like so it has been a win-win every year. Some of my goals for the blog are to feature at least one artist from every country world-wide, to add audio interviews to the blog, and to do follow-up stories on previous artists. I have so many artists writing me months later talking about this award or an upcoming show and it seems natural to continue developing and promoting a world-wide community of artists creating beautiful work.
Brenda has been working to bring artists together and to create a supportive community. I appreciate all of her efforts and to tell the truth, I can’t wait for our next chat over yummy coffee.
If you want to follow interesting stories of amazing artists or want your original work to be featured, Reach out to Brenda with your social media links. Artists Tell Their Stories has a new website, and stories are cross-posted weekly on Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Google+, Twitter and more.
It never hurts to start the new week with a look at a lovely flower. I love blooms and apparently so does my mom as she took this pretty photo! She continues to inspire me to be my best and to keep going after my dreams. Have a nice week!
Zanzibar, Africa, March 2017
Photo credit: Alena Sestakova
Weekends are great for slowing down, for looking around, for noticing the intricate beauty of our world. One of my favorite activities is to pay attention to trees and wood projects created out of them. It's so fun to see what people can create with wood cuttings. And, aren't the patterns in wood created as it grows mesmerizing? This weekend, head out and see what you can find!
I love collaborations. I always learn much from working with people in the fashion industry and it's so helpful to get their feedback on my designs. One of these great collaborations has been working with Lilly of Marchande de Mode, a fellow student at the Academy of Art University (which I just successfully graduated from!). Lilly loves anything black and kindly highlighted my black-and-white Rain Drop scarf in a blog that provides you wonderful tips on how to transition your outfits from season to season. And we all know scarves are perfect for any time of year and thus help you feel good and comfortable every day!
Let's see what Lilly suggests: "I love to wear black max-dresses, boots and luckily I have found the most perfect lightweight scarf that transitions perfectly. If there happens to be a cooler night to follow you can throw a jacket on right over and it looks just as good."
To read all of Lilly's styling tips, hop over to her website and enjoy!
All images credited to Lilly at Marchande de Mode
I was on a ferry ride a few weeks ago and loved watching the waves and wake created by the boat's engines. The loud sound. The churning. The foam at the top of the waves. The water droplets jumping up into the air. So much energy! And I wish all of this energy to you this week.
Smith Island, MD, May 2017
Photo credit: Martina Sestakova
Welcome! My textile/fashion design brand RADOST™ (Czech) is all about JOY (English).
In the blogs, I bring you thoughts on textile and fashion design, art, and travel.
Check back often, as creativity never sleeps (well, almost never) and surround yourself with joy!