JOURNAL

A Day in The Life

In my last post I promised you a look into my process while in France; here we go!  (select any image to enlarge)

I wake up about 6am when I have art projects going. It’s easy to get up that early; the bedroom windows face the rising sun, and those windows are wide open almost all of the time (no bug screens necessary here!!!).

rene_waking view5.jpg

My well-loved planner and a favorite spot :)

and another view

Bonjour!

My dog Dexter climbs up the stairs while I am descending; he gets extra snooze time with my husband Harvey while I get quiet time, which is very important to my creative process.

Stretch, drink tea, plan my day using my paper-based journal, a beloved vintage Franklin Planner. 

I try to stay away from turning on the iPhone or computer, so that my head stays clear.

. . .

Begin work. Again, I try to stay away from the computer and start working on my art right away. If there is a silk stretched and ready to be painted, that’s what I do first. And/or mix colors, because that process is long; when I create a color, I put the new color on a test grid, and then I need to wait until the dye is completely dry to really see what the color is! That often leads to a new adjustment of the color, another drying spell, etc etc - you get the picture.

 

Today's visitor, la vache, is the domesticated pet of a neighbor; when not at home with her, it is often seen wandering the village

Navigate to the studio. To get there, I walk out my front door, turn right and go up the stone steps into the studio. I think it was these very same outdoor steps that made me fall in love with this house immediately when I first saw it.

The steps to my studio.

Outside my studio window with Ganesh.

After at least an hour of creative work, I eat breakfast with Harvey and we go on a walk with Dexter all together. Here we have the option of walking down the Roman road (really!), a footpath that goes through forest and tree-lined fields with cows and hay, or “around the block” (I’ve always been fascinated that the French language has no word for block). This route goes toward a lake and past more fields with mama cows and baby cows and hawks and sparrows, past a castle, then returning to our house. Yet another route is down the road to Léon le Franc - what is now a tractor path that used to be a major foot thoroughfare to the village 2.5 km away - and we love how descriptive the names around here can be!

This is at the corner of my village; if I turn left I am following the Roman road. The woman who lives in the house you see here takes care of the little plot of land on the corner; the poppies are so beautiful here and seeing them always make me happy.

"around the block"

Dexter

Back home, drink tea, and back to the studio. I have work organized and lined up, both on my table and in my head. I try to make between 15 - 20 new pieces of art for each solo exhibit I hang, and that's what I'm working on now. I design, wax, and paint about 3 silks at a time, so as one is drying I can apply the resist to another, etc etc. When I am working on a large (6 ft long) silk, the banner material will take up my entire work table, so I concentrate on one of those at a time. Also, because the smaller works need to be delivered to the framer, and he needs time to measure, prepare, and cut the frame molding (called “baguettes” - the same word as the typically French loaf of bread!), I create the small works first.

Testing the dyes in my studio to capture the very colors I'm looking for.

Beginning the resist process using wax to draw with.

Here I am standing at the door to my studio looking out. That's my yard in the background.

I hold the artwork outside the door so I can see what the colors look like in the daylight and in the sun.

the set-up

In a very un-French way, we eat lunch about 2pm. The French lunch break is 12-2, and all the stores and businesses close during that time — very wise! After lunch I often sit in the yard and soak up some sunshine while doing hand-sewing or reading and remind myself how lucky I am to be here. And then drink a cup of coffee and move back into the studio.

A large part of the process is patience. And coffee. This is a new artwork for my next exhibition in August, inspired by the town of Aubusson. I look forward to sharing more about this soon... 

Break in routine. The outdoor Felletin Market happens every Friday morning, and it is very lively and a great place for socializing. We buy our vegetables, meat, and olives there, and on Saturdays the Aubusson Market is available; our cheese, bread and fruit come from this market. On Wednesdays, Fridays, and Saturdays, the Ressourcerie -- the Habitat-for-Humanity-type second-hand shop, is open and this is where we buy almost everything that we need for our house. We visit there once or twice a week.

Once a week, usually on Friday, I set up the steamer for setting the dyes on the art that I have made that week. The silk steams for 1 hour, but the whole process of preparing and washing and ironing afterwards takes about 4 hours total. I have learned not to leave the steaming until the last minute!

For working on the computer, I try to take it in chunks later in the day, setting a timer so I won’t get lost in the fog of the Internet and social media. The internet is unbelievably speedy here! I answer emails, write blog posts, do photoshop work, and check in with family and friends. And search for new places to exhibit my art.

I take another long walk with the dog towards the end of the day, and never plan on accomplishing anything after dinner - the process is long and the good French wine slows me down. If we are having my favorite (anything “bubbly”/champagne-style) I totally write off the whole evening because I tend to just want to sit in the yard while sipping bubbly with Harvey and Dexter and stare at the sky, the beautiful setting sun, the stars that appear, and the rising moon.

Bed about 11.

 
 

- René Shoemaker, Juchefaux, St Maixant. June 30, 2018

Does it even need a caption? Arc en ciel.

The house that is attached to our friend Madeleine's house in a nearby village. It is so beautiful! We were eating dinner in her yard and drinking champagne to celebrate my birthday when I captured this view...

Our sunset.

Look at that moon!

The moon with planet on my Mother's Birthday which was June 21st.



 

PS - A friend in America just commented: “You are so prolific in France!” Yes, I am making the artwork - but now how do I SELL it?!?! - this is the mystery I am seeking to unravel. Send me your ideas and advice, please! And check out my shop, let me know what you'd like to see there...

 

Gratitude, Thanksgivings, & Plans for the New Year

I love the New Year.

I love New Beginnings.

I love the anticipation of something marvelous just around the corner, and I love setting goals for the new year. 

In 2017, my goals include entering a number of juried shows, both here and abroad. I plan to contact art galleries with the intention of finding one to represent my art. I intend to make art all year long, while keeping a schedule and finding a work/life balance that allows me to do what I love and minimize stress. And I intend to become financially stable as an artist, selling enough art to keep buying supplies for my new work – and to fund travel, of course. 

As much as I love looking ahead, I also love looking back: reflecting on the year that has ended and taking stock of what worked, what didn’t, and what happened in my family, my art, and my relationship to the world. Reflecting allows me to express gratitude for all that I have: my family, my friends, my health, and the ability to share my art with the world. I am grateful for my team, those who support me and help me pull together the many strands of the life and career I am trying to create. I am grateful to live in a beautiful house in a beautiful place, and to call the woods my home. And I am grateful and excited to have purchased a modest house in rural France that will become a satellite home and studio for Harvey and I. - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - >

So, you may ask: 
 What HAVE I been doing all year? 

This, my dear reader, is my artistic year in review:

MUSEUM PERMANENT COLLECTION

1a+b. My art is now in the permanent collection of the Columbus Museum, Columbus, GA
       

EXHIBITS, AUCTIONS, FUNDRAISERS, & RECEPTIONS

Clockwise L-R                                                                                                                                                            2. The year-long exhibit of Discovering the Chattahoochee Valley: Silk Paintings by René Shoemaker continued through July 2017 at the Columbus Museum, Columbus, GA                                                                                         3. Columbus Museum Discovering the Chattahoochee Valley closing party
4. Unveiling party at a collector’s home celebrating her acquisition of work from the Columbus Museum exhibit
5. Exhibited prints on paper in New York City at Grand Central Terminal, NYC, and Park Slope, Brooklyn, NY
6. Invited to exhibit at the 10x10 Art for Education exhibit and fundraiser at the Columbus Museum, Columbus, GA       7. Exhibited in the Portrait exhibit at KA Artist Shop Gallery, Athens, GA
8. Invited to exhibit at The Cultural Landscape Foundation annual fundraiser in New Orleans, LA
9. Invited to exhibit at the All About Art fundraiser for the Georgia Museum of Art, Athens, GA

 

SALES, COMMISSIONS, & SPECIAL ORDERS

Clockwise L-R                                                                                                                                                         
10. Large Columbus silk paintings purchased by collector and patron                                                                          
11. Holiday cards commissioned by Columbus resident
12. Nano, a bird portrait commissioned by his human "grandmum"                                                                          
13. A Double Bass instrument portrait created for a Professor of Double Bass and his special family

 

RETAIL LOCATIONS

Clockwise L-R                                                                 
14. Columbus Museum gift shop, Columbus, GA
15. Aurum Studios, Athens, GA                                                 
16. Avid Bookstore, Athens, GA                                               
17. KA Artist Shop, Athens, GA
18. Jittery Joe’s Coffeeshop in 5 Points, Athens, GA
19. Jittery Joe’s Roasters, Athens, GA
20. Treehouse Kid & Craft Handmade Artist Market, Athens, GA                 
and always: reneshoemaker.com/shop

 

PUBLICATIONS

Clockwise L-R                                                                                                                                                           21. Compendium of Craft & Creativity included my artwork with an interview, Uppercase Publishers, Calgary, Canada
22a+b. Published art review of Scott Pope exhibit, Flagpole Magazine, Athens, GA; with the artist Scott Pope
23. Published blog posts all year, the most popular being about travel and adventures, i.e. Brooklyn Bound!Bonjour de France!, Why I Love France, Part II, and A Sense of Place: The Completions of a Museum Exhibition

 

TEACHING, ARTIST TALKS, AND PRESENTATIONS

Clockwise L-R
24. Featured artist at Southeast Fiber Arts Alliance for High Museum members, Atlanta, GA
25. Reading at Avid Bookshop from Compendium of Craft & Creativity, Athens, GA
26a. Professor Spooner, host of my visiting artist lecture at the University of Georgia’s College of Environment & Design: “Ways of Seeing”    
26b+c. Me lecturing and an image from the presentation
27. Taught Silk-Painting Workshops at the Columbus Museum, GA   
28. Taught quarterly Silk-Painting Workshops at the KA Artist Shop
29. Taught private Silk-Painting classes
30 (left). Taught Silk-Painting at the University of Georgia Lamar Dodd School of Art, Athens, GA            

GATHERING OPPORTUNITIES

31. Co-founded a new hand-sewing club                                                                                                             
32. Joined a new artist studio round-robin information exchanging club        

 

OTHER CREATIVE ENDEAVORS

33. Designed and hand-painted a silk dress, delivered to a patron in Paris
34. Created a beautiful hardcopy portfolio in French (with help from my friends) 

 

Opportunities for Which I Applied But Was Not Selected

35. Cité Internationale des Arts Residency in Paris, France

36. Lyndon House 41st Annual Juried Exhibit, Athens, GA

37. World of Threads Festival, Toronto, Canada

TRAVEL

Clockwise L-R   
38. New York City, NY
39. Asheville, NC
40. Paris, France
41. Felletin, Limousin, France

 

UPCOMING EXHIBITS

42. Scheduled exhibit in Felletin, France - Summer 2017                                                                                           43. Scheduled exhibit at a museum in Mississippi, USA - Summer 2019

 

It’s been a great year, but this was only the beginning! Stay tuned for more events and news. 

Wishing you a prosperous, creative, and healthy New Year,