Monday, September 12, 2016

Art Camp 2016

Also known as my summer vacation!

For me, one of the best things that has come from me being part of the AJE blog team is that I have made so many lifelong friends despite the fact that most of them are thousands of miles away. For the past couple of years some of those friends have been kind enough to host and entertain me on vacations to the USA and I have just returned from yet another wonderful trip staying with Jenny Davies-Reazor in Delaware.

Holidays with Jenny, a trained art teacher are packed with creative and artistic pursuits and I always come home full of ideas and inspiration, which is why I refer to it as art camp. We've even discovered that if we have to drive any distance together we start bouncing ideas around that snowball so quickly I have to take notes while Jenny drives so that we don't forget them. On past visits Jenny has introduced me to many new skills including polymer clay techniques, handmade book making, felting and last year - bead embroidery, to which I am now completely addicted.

This year was no exception so I thought I'd share some of the highlights with you.

Our first trip out was to the American Visionary Art Museum in Baltimore - a small museum crammed to the rafters with some incredible contemporary art and installations in all sorts of media. Photography is not allowed in the majority of the museum but I did manage to get some shots around the grounds.

Entrance to the AMVA and Jenny with a magic bus

Incredible mirrored mosaic egg by Andrew Logan

We were allowed to photograph this one particular exhibit and Jenny just couldn't resist a little interpretive art. If you're planning a visit I can also recommend the restaurant on the top floor for some great food and no, the food has no link with the exhibit!
The exhibit that both Jenny and I were struck by the most were by fibre artist Chris Roberts-Antineau and since I couldn't photograph them I have borrowed some images from her gallery with full credits given. I would so love to get to New Orleans to see more of her work.

Chris is a self taught artist and the sentiment of her artist's statement really resonates with me. I think it has great relevance for those of us who suffer self doubt about our abilities or validity as artists:

These pieces are worked in applique and embroidery and clearly have stories behind them. The detail is incredible and the each piece is so beautifully made... top of my shopping list if I ever (unlikely) have enough disposable income.

If you you like textile art and can get to a Chris Roberts-Antineau exhibition I would thoroughly recommend going.

Another great thing about visiting Jenny is that she lives close to the lovely Marsha Neal-Minutella so I get to hang out with her for a while too. These ladies have regular bead nights with a lovely group of ladies and they were kind enough to arrange one for when I was in town - good food, good wine, great company and bead projects...what could be better?

Jenny taught everyone how to make wonderful little beaded needle felt collages and Marsha has been making up kits of my Goddess bracelet with her ceramic buttons and leather. I haven't made one of these in an age and it was great fun all making them together.

Collage by Marsha Neal using one of my goddess focals, goddess bracelets by me, goddess bracelets by Jenny Davies-Reazor, Collage by Lisa Goodman with ceramic focal by Jenny.

Whenever I stay at Jenny's I try to make sure that I get some crab cakes in at some point and this year we managed that on a couple of occasions. This time around though we also got down and dirty picking crabs for Labour Day dinner....I always was a messy eater but at least this time I wasn't alone!

There comes a time in every vacation when you just need to slow down and relax a little and we chose to do this by staying home and hitting the seed beads. I managed to complete two pieces both of which were designed around ceramic cabochons by Caroline Dewison:

Jenny meanwhile was working on these two fabulous projects:

Then it was time for some more culture so we headed off to visit the Philadelphia Magic Gardens - the largest public artwork of award winning mosiac mural artist Isaiah Zagar:

'Spanning half a block on Philadelphia’s famous South Street, the museum includes an immersive outdoor art installation and indoor galleries. Zagar created the space using nontraditional materials such as folk art statues, found objects, bicycle wheels, colorful glass bottles, hand-made tiles, and thousands of glittering mirrors. The site is enveloped in visual anecdotes and personal narratives that refer to Zagar’s life, family, and community, as well as references from the wider world such as influential art history figures and other visionary artists and environments.'

Theses images are from both the 'Gardens' and the streets around the area that are full of Zagar's work. The installation is rich in it's variety with homages to many great artists. It's also something of an assault on the senses - one of those places where you'll see something different every time you go back and never see everything no matter how often that is. Again - I thoroughly recommend a visit.
Then it was back to the studio for more play time and because I miss my fur baby when I'm away Zoey and Oscar, Jenny's adorable dogs make sure I don't miss out on the cuddles and the laughs.

Zoey gets cuddly in her cone while Oscar keeps an eye on the road.

Next it was time to get on and learn some new tricks and this year it was print making. The only time I remember doing this in the past is with potatoes and poster paints at about the age of 5 and I was hoping I could do a bit better than that now.

Here you can see some of Jenny's hand carved plates and the resulting prints...and why she's the art teacher and I'm the student! That's me at the bottom trying to cave a simple leaf without slicing pieces out of my hand...It seems I have a tendency to put my fingers in harms way in most creative activities!

We actually took ourselves away to the beach for a day to carry on with these projects and I really did get into it. My designs need a lot more work which frustrates me because I always want to be perfect at the first attempt but that would make for a very dull life wouldn't it? I was really pleased with how the suns came out on the black paper so I'll be pursuing that further and I think I might be printing my own Christmas cards this year. Oh and I still have the requisite number of fingers!

We didn't get to spend too much time actually on the beach as the poor dogs were attacked by a swarm of black flies and we had to make a run for it. I did manage to pocket a few treasures though and Jenny gave me the wonderful big shell skeleton she found which will be great for both textures and as a photography prop.

And last but not least of course I had to do some shopping... A lot of beading supplies in the UK are imported from the US which means we pay a lot more for them and have far less choice. If we import ourselves we get hit with import taxes and handling charges on a ridiculously low purchase value. But none of that applies if you bring them into the UK yourself for personal use so it would have been foolish of me not to stock up on supplies while I was there wouldn't it? Quite a little hoard I bought home with me in the end.

So that's another vacation over then but I have so many things I want to do as a result of it that it'll stay with me for a good long while and I'm sure you'll be seeing the fruits of it on AJE at some point. I owe a big debt of Gratitude to Jenny and her husband James for hosting me and to everyone else who helped make it such a memorable time...I look forward to returning the favour sometime soon.

And if your holidays include your creative pursuits or people you've met through them we'd love to hear about them.


  1. Come back. Lets do it all again.

  2. What a fabulous trip! Loved reading about your adventures and seeing what you created together!

  3. Sounds like it was a wonderful time. Good for you two, making the most of it

  4. I loved seeing all the photos and watching the adventures of art camp! I would have loved to be there with you. What fun!!

  5. You had fun! We can tell! Awesome, hope you can do it again soon!

  6. You had fun! We can tell! Awesome, hope you can do it again soon!

  7. I was really sad I didn't get to hang out this time, but relieved we get to hang out when I head over there next week. I love seeing all the pics and am kind of tired just looking at everything you all did. Looks like a super creative and fun week.

  8. I NEED this exchange programme, I want to do printing, I love bead embroidery and have a shocking number of WIP and I love dogs, museums... yup I am a good candidate!! What GREAT trip!!!


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