Businesses I Would Like to Emulate #1

I just received new business cards in the mail and they are beautiful!!
I was so impressed with the way Moo handled my order, kept me informed, packaged my new cards, and were friendly, it made me want to be just like them!

When my package arrived in the mail, this is what I saw:


I ordered one of their Luxe styles. My cards are made of beautiful paper with a matte finish, and they’re thick, with a thin blue layer sandwiched between the front and the back of the card.

The package came wrapped in a purple ribbon and wax seal. Very distinctive!


There were quite a few special notes included. Under the purple ribbon was a tiny envelope…


…when I turned it over, the “Yay” sticker made me smile.


A small card told me that there’s a way to let business cards share information with a smartphone…


… and another described their great rewards program.


The final card is a beautifully written quotation from one of my favorite movies, Casablanca: “I think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship”.


And I agree! Just look at these beautiful new cards! I would love to send one through the mail to you, so just let me know if you’d like one. I’ll see if I can do as good a job as Moo does with their presentation as I continue to build my art business!

Honorable Mention!


On Friday night, I attended the 18th Annual Winter Art Show at the Monroe Art Guild in Monroe, GA. Not only was it a great opportunity to see new artwork, find old friends, and meet new people, but I was thrilled to receive an Honorable Mention for my Kennedy Road Beaver Pond painting on silk! I was honored that my work was selected for an award and excited to share the good news here on my blog. 

If you’re not familiar with the Art Guild, you should definitely check it out - it’s a hopping organization that is housed in a historic Post Office Building. I’ve had a working relationship with them for several years now, and have really enjoyed the creative projects that we have developed together. Plus, everyone involved with the organization is so nice! Be sure to stop by if you are ever near Monroe - just look for the old Post Office on South Broad Street, just by the courthouse square.

A Good Beginning for 2013


              Oconee St Methodist Church, Athens Ga, by Rene D. Shoemaker, 2012

The Athens Area Arts Council was kind enough to put a shout-out about my current exhibits in their newsletter this month:

Silk paintings by Rene Shoemaker: See a collection of her silk paintings displayed and for sale at the new (and delicious) Broad Street Coffee (a new vegan/vegetarian restaurant), 1660 W. Broad St., Athens; 706-548-2266.

More artwork by Rene Shoemaker: This AAAC member has been busy! See painting on silk, waxed pencil on paper and silkscreen on paper at the Winter Art Show hosted by the Monroe Art Guild. The opening reception is 6-8 p.m. Jan. 25 and the exhibit is Jan. 15-Feb. 22. The exhibit takes place at 205 S. Broad St., Monroe, Ga. (Find Rene’s blog here.)

Rene Shoemaker exhibits in Minnesota:
If you’re traveling in the next couple of months or have friends in the Twin Cities area, spread the word about Rene Shoemaker’s participation in an exhibit, “A Common Thread,” at the Textile Center in Minneapolis, a national center for fiber art.
'This exceptional exhibition is unparalleled in showcasing the breadth of textile art. A true community event, the show features the work of over 60 of Textile Center’s members - and takes over our three gallery spaces in the process. A Common Thread illustrates the variety and innovation while honoring traditions in fiber art methods and forms. From weaving, quilting, knitting, and sewing, to needlework, lace making, basketry and beading - A Common Thread has it all.
The opening reception is 6-8 p.m. Friday, Jan. 18 and the exhibit continues through March 2.The Textile Center is located at 3000 University Ave. SE, Minneapolis, Minn.’
Thank you to the AAAC for promoting my work, and for being there to help support Athens artists. It looks like this is the beginning of a busy and productive New Year, and I do so appreciate the support of my friends and community.
Now tell me, what do you have planned for 2013?

Holiday Wishes for You


          Happy Happy Holidays to You, my special friends!

                         Best wishes for a creative New Year.


René D. Shoemaker

                 fine art on silk         706.424.4739    


My mind has been in Italy lately… I have been working on several new pieces in preparation for a grant application. I looked through my sketches and photographs from two previous trips to Italy (in 1998 and 2007). They brought back great memories, of course, but also made me realize once more that for my process, I really need to BE THERE to experience the place! That’s by far the best way to create some really rich, meaningful artwork. I’m still pleased with the results of this experiment, though - I think maybe having those sense memories to call upon, and sketches to supplement the reference photos, made all the difference. So fingers crossed as I wait to hear about the Italy grant, and in the meantime, I wanted to share the new body of work with you: 

Roofs, Urbino, Italy 

Hillside, Urbino, Italy

Street Corner, Urbino, Italy

Piazza della Repubblica, Cortona, Italy

Via Mazzuoli, Cortona, Italy


Via Mazzuoli, Movimento, Cortona, Italy

Do you have any favorite places in Italy? Somewhere with a memory attached? Anywhere you long to visit, plan to go, have read about or heard about or seen in artwork? 

Art Around Town: November 2012

There’s so much going on lately! I have work up in three group shows around town. I hope you’ll have a chance to go by and check out some of the amazing artwork on view from Athens artists!

-Art by Claire Clements, Rene Shoemaker and Ally White

Our very own contemporary arts organization ATHICA has curated a show for the Athens Ford on the Atlanta Highway. What a great idea to install this in the showroom! We have art surrounding cars - or maybe I should say cars surrounding art?? Artist selected are Claire Clements, myself, and Ally White.

The reception on November 1st will celebrate not only the exhibit but also a new high school art scholarship that Athens Ford is sponsoring - they are doing a fine job of supporting the arts! If you know any high school students who may be interested, send them the application information, and remember that entries are due by November 30.

"Community,"ATHICA @ Ford, 4260 Atlanta Highway, Bogart, Ga 706.354.1130
Exhibit dates: September 15 - December 31, 2012
Reception: 7pm, Thursday, November 1 

-Cherry Lane Theatre, NYC, by Rene Shoemaker

On the very next day, November 2, there will be an opening reception for a show called “Fine Art by UGA Alumni.” This exhibit is at the Norcross Arts Alliance’s gallery and gift shop, The Nest, which is located in an amazing historic house. The show includes three of my pieces, and features all kinds of art from 20 fellow UGA art graduates. 

"Fine Art by UGA Alumni", The Nest, Norcross Arts Alliance, 17 College St, Norcross, Ga. 678.429.3005
Exhibit dates: November 2 - December 7, 2012
Reception: 6-9pm, Friday, November 2 

-Kennedy Road Beaver Pond, Oconee County, Ga. by Rene Shoemaker

And finally, Georgia Small Works” is on exhibit through November 9 at OCAF, the Oconee Cultural Arts Foundation, in Watkinsville, Ga. You might have already seen this silk painting of the Kennedy Road Beaver Pond in a previous post, but for this show, I included the preparatory drawing along with the finished work. What do you think? Is it helpful to be able to compare the two, or do you find the drawing distracting? Let me know!

Georgia Small Works”, OCAF, Oconee Cultural Arts Foundation, 34 School Street, Watkinsville, Ga. 706.769.4565 
Exhibit dates: October 5 - November 2, 2012

Thanks for your support! 

The Penland Experience

Imagine spending two and a half weeks in an idyllic mountain setting….
      Doing something you love…
           With no distractions!

Welcome to the Penland Experience!

Penland School of Crafts is a thriving campus that offers residential studio programs for artists of all stripes. It’s like a summer camp for glassblowers, printmakers, woodworkers, bookmakers, metalsmiths, photographers, sculptors, painters… and fiber artists, like me!

At the end of July, I had the opportunity to spend two and a half weeks in this creative paradise, learning to look at my art and my environment with fresh eyes. With the support of a Penland scholarship, I signed up, packed my bags, and drove up to Western North Carolina to immerse myself in a drawing class, knowing that drawing is the basis of all art forms. I kept a journal and took lots of photos - here is a selection, below, to give you a taste of what I found at Penland.

Penland was founded by Lucy Morgan in the 1920’s seeking to support both the crafts and the community, and it has grown into a secluded 400 acre campus. The School, which is six miles from the nearest town in the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina, hosts approximately 1200 students each year in an impressive (and carefully orchestrated!) array of workshops, programs, and residencies.

Lucy sought to honor “the joy of creative occupation and a certain togetherness—working with one another in creating the good and the beautiful.” Today, that mission is carried on by the thousands of artists who contribute to Penland’s supportive and inspiring community.

Day 1 -  July 20, 2012 - Friday

I arrived at Penland a day before my course, Drawing: Points of Departure, officially starts. I was elated as I drove up the mountain, excited to be in a new environment to learn new skills to apply to my artwork. Committing over two weeks of time - away from my home, away from my studio, in a place I’ve never been to - is a little scary. But I was ready to challenge myself, and my art, to something new and different. Penland has a great reputation as an inspiring and welcoming community. I’m amazed by my first glimpses of the campus - it’s beautiful, tucked away in the rolling Blue Ridge mountains, and scattered with rustic buildings, grassy fields, walking paths, and spacious well-stocked studios. 

Day 3 - July 22, 2012 - Sunday

Busy day today! Everyone is settled in and eager to get started on our artwork. We had a campus-wide orientation session tonight, then met with our instructors for the first time.

At orientation, we learned that in this session alone there are 165 students from 7 countries and 33 states! 45% of the students are here on some kind of scholarship, like me. I was amazed to hear that they make such an effort to ensure that so many can participate. I know it made a big difference in my decision to come here - and I can already tell that my work-study job is going to be a great way to get to know people in the other courses. I’m on the kitchen crew, where I help clean during lunch and dinner shifts. I feed dishes into my pal “Rex,” the automatic dishwasher - I love the rhythm and the cleaning, both of which are very satisfying to me!

An interior view of the dining hallI love those windows!

I spent a lot of time here at “The Pines” - it is a dorm, a dining room, a coffee shop, and a gathering place!

My drawing instructor is Susan Goethel Campbell, an artist from Michigan who’s very interested in how our environments affect our perception of the world around us. She’s here to help us expand our understanding of drawing, to use it both as a way to express ourselves and to explore the natural world. There are all kinds of artists in the class, from places near and far, but most of them are here for the same reasons I am. We all seem to be interested in returning to the foundations of artistic skill to brush up, gain confidence, try new things, and see how this experience affects our work. I think we’ll get along well. There are 10 of us, all women, and ages range from 20s to 60s with experience levels ranging from student to professional. 

Susan told us more about a book that the Director of Penland, Jean McLaughlin, had just recommended at orientation! Twyla Tharp’s “The Creative Habit” is something I will definitely have to check out. Tharp’s message is that art is a creative habit that must be developed, and that in the process you will come to “honor the lens you view the world through.” Susan incorporated this idea into the course by making one component of our assignment a daily drawing project. We each chose a focus related to a “mapping” theme and drew explorations of that idea in our sketchbook every day. “The more you establish a creative habit in the studio, the more you will be open to new ideas and the less you will question or second guess your work,” she told us. Susan also encouraged us to develop individual work that aligns with our personal visions and interests, reminding us that we should love what we are doing while drawing. We also talked about developing realistic goals for the experience - she said we’ll be shocked by how quickly the two weeks will go by!  

After class, I walked back to my room. After the first night in a room for 18 other women, I’m glad to be in my permanent housing now. It’s still a shared room, but with a much more manageable number of roommates: three. Plus, the dorm is nestled in the woods - just like home. Yesterday I had a chance to take a quick bike ride around campus, and I’m looking forward to exploring more of the area by bike soon - it’s such a great way to experience a place. The cool mountain air is amazing, too. It’s a welcome break from the humidity and heat of this tough summer back in Athens. 

Day 5 - July 24, 2012 - Tuesday

The view of the mountains was beautiful this morning; low clouds nestled in the valley facing the campus. I began the day with yoga. Penland offers a movement class each session for the students in the studio courses, and it’s fabulous because the teacher really helps us work out the kinks that our muscles develop from working on our crafts. The yoga helps us breathe, open, and relax our muscles and our mind. I found that if I was behind on sleep, I would walk out of the the yoga class more refreshed than if I had taken a nap!

In class today we talked more about the idea of mapping. I started a new phase of the long term assignment - mapping people’s movements around campus! I am very interested in movement through time and space, but this is a new way of exploring that idea. I usually focus on more static subjects, like architecture, as a way to represent time and movement. I think that my years working with landscape architecture has influenced me; I am now much more attuned to how people use space. 

It was fascinating to hear what other people chose to focus on for their mapping project. Topics included insects, clouds, and mushrooms! At the end of the course, we’ll combine all of our research and find a way to make something that reflects all of our observations and efforts during our time here. 


My early sketchbook explorations of people’s paths through campus 

Today’s drawing assignment was to draw the twilight - an interesting concept, and I had fun with it. I chose to draw a nearby mountain in the twilight with the dark sky behind it. I incorporated skills that we’ve been discussing, like using grated charcoal rubbed down into the paper to create a ground, and focusing on shaping tone and line with light and dark areas. After class, I stayed behind to work in the quietness of the empty studio. I added my finishing touches, and created a stencil to get the line of the mountain ridge just right. 


I also stopped by the Bringle Gallery open house this evening. Cynthia and Edwina Bringle are twin sisters who are integral to the Penland life and community and have been for many years. At the start of each session, they invite everyone on campus to see their home, their studio, and their work. It was one of the things I was told I must do while attending Penland! They are a perfect example of the openness and welcoming nature of just about everyone associated with this school.


 Me and Edwina Bringle when she came by our studio later in the course

Day 7 - July 26, 2012 - Thursday

After a regular day of classes, yoga, and work yesterday, I was treated to another home visit today. Lisa, who is in our class, and her husband John invited us out to their farm. They’re both potters, and also printers - so there were tons of letterpress printing supplies upstairs, and tons of pottery supplies downstairs! Our assignment there was to draw what we saw - and we could interpret that in any way we wanted. Each person in the class found something different, and everyone drew their subjects in different ways. Some drew mushrooms (one fungus was climbing up a tree!), black heirloom tomatoes, climbing vines. I used a sheet of paper that I had created on the previous day - it had lots of grey tones, lines, and shapes on it - and drew a barn on it. Drawing an object on a busy background is very unlike me, but it was a fun experiment and I was very pleased with the finished picture. See, I’m expanding my comfort zone already! It was a warm day today, beautiful and sunny, and the clouds were fabulous to watch as they scurried across the sky.


The barn at Lisa’s farm, with my drawing of it in the foreground

You frequently hear Penland called “a safe environment,” and I’m beginning to understand how true that is on a variety of different levels. Not only do I feel physically safe (despite the warnings to watch out for bears!), it’s also a safe environment because of the sense of community, and being with like-minded people, and knowing that you can try new things, stretch your personal boundaries, grow as an artist, yet be crazy in some ways!

Day 10 - July 29, 2012 - 2nd Sunday 

Jenna, a friend of mine from the kitchen crew, joined my class for a while today. She’s here for the printmaking course, but is looking for a way to loosen up after carving wood blocks for printing. Susan is so approachable - she has a wonderful grounded air about her that attracts others to her, and Jenna was welcomed. We were doing another daily drawing exercise, where we play recorded nature sounds and respond to them on paper. Sometimes we even draw with our eyes closed! It is very freeing, relaxing and creative.

Immersing myself in all this creativity is great, but one does need to come down off the mountain once in a while! Last night I joined new friends at dinner in the nearby town of Spruce Pine. We went to a delicious local foods restaurant, the Knife and Fork, and had a great time relaxing, chatting, and sharing our meal. I even ran into some Athens folks who were visiting the area!  And this afternoon my classmate Kay took Serey, a classmate from Atlanta, and I along as she went to her friend’s house to check on her pets. It was an incredible house - the owner built the house all by herself, and she literally covered every interior surface with some sort of art. It’s located right on the river, and before we left we walked through the deep yard filled with her sculptures and whirly-gigs to the riverbank. I was able to take off my shoes and put my feet in the river, and then I just couldn’t resist - I had to put me in the river too!

Interior view of the folk artist’s house, and some of the art she used to decorate it

I began working today on a 6 foot long piece of beautiful drawing paper to expand on the idea of mapping people’s movements around campus. I set up my huge easel on a second story porch, and watched people in the distance move through their day. It is wonderful to be able to pick up the personality of a person - even if I don’t know them - by the way their movements affect the line that I draw. I use a different pencil for each person, and note the day and time that I am mapping their path. I’m not drawing people, I’m drawng movement… it’s a very exciting concept to me, and it’s so satisfying to see it start to take form on my paper. 

A small part of my 6 foot drawing in progress 

Day 12 - July 31, 2012 - Tuesday  

No kitchen work today! Good thing, because my class took a long field trip. First we went to the Sudduth’s house and studio. Billie Ruth Sudduth is a master basket maker - she was named a North Carolina Living Treasure in 1997, and she supplies the White House with stars for the Christmas tree, and her work is in the Smithsonian and the Museum of Art and Design, New York! It was so wonderful talking to her, and she was so kind, considerate, and humble. She sells her exquisite baskets online through ETSY, for Pete’s sake! Her husband Doug is a photographer, and is known for (among other things, of course) his photographs of lenticular clouds. This was a new term to me - it’s a certain type of very striking cloud formation that happens only on the lee side of rugged mountains, in cool weather…and looks just like UFOs! 


Billie Ruth Suddeth demonstrating her process

Billie Ruth showed us her baskets, her studio, and how she dyes the reeds in the back yard with black walnut dye. She weaves baskets according to the Fibonacci sequence, numbers that indicate a mathematical proportion that has been used in design, architecture, and music for centuries; it is the basis for the Golden Mean. She told us about how she stumbled on that design, and only later learned that there was a specific name for it. Now, all kinds of museums seek her out for this incredible talent in a vanishing skill. It was so inspiring to hear her stories!

Next we drove over to Roan Mountain to learn more about Cloud Immersion. Between Susan’s fascination with clouds and Doug’s photos, we were very curious to learn more from the scientists we scheduled an appointment with. It was raining on our way there, and even though it was late July we were cool, and the mountain roads were glistening and beautiful. The scientists were near the site of the old Cloudland Hotel, collecting data on the ways that clouds affected the mountain, and vice versa. We learned a lot about the geography, and weather patterns, and ecology, which was very interesting, and we stood there in the mist and looked at their sensing and data-gathering equipment and marveled at their methods of inquiry.


Roan Mountain Cloud Immersion

It was so very beautiful up there. Before we left we walked to the overlook and marveled at the view - forest, mountains, and fantastic cloud formations!

Class Photo at Roan Mountain!
(l-r): Olive, Susan, Becky, Serey, Rene, Jane, Alivia, Kay, Lauren, Catherine
(not in photo): Lisa and Rose 

Day 15 - August 3, 2012 - Friday

The Penland resident artists hosted an open house tonight, so I went by after my dinner shift. These artists come to work at Penland for three years and have no other responsibilities except to make art! I’m amazed that Penland can provide these types of opportunities. I visited the studios of the glass artist, weaver, woodworker, fiber surface designer, and ceramists. Their work was amazing, and it was so fun to be able to talk to them and hear more about how they made the decision to spend three years living on top of a mountain creating art. 

In class, Susan and I have been talking a lot about describing space using line and tone.  I am still formulating my thoughts on that one. I had packed up some of my early practice drawings, but she helped me pin them back up, reminding me that we should display the progression of our work throughout our time here. After our conversation, I hung a sign from the ceiling that states “Describing Space Using Line and Tone” so I can continue considering what this means to me.

My studio space filled with drawings and experiments 

The sign reminding me of my focus here! 

Day 17 - August 5, 2012 - Sunday 

This morning I went to the studio early to start organizing my space in preparation for our drawing studio open house. Once class started, we had a meeting to plan for the event, and everyone got so into it that we decided to have a pre-party party! We ordered pizza and beer and wine, and the festive mood kept us motivated to continue preparing our work space for our visitors. The studio looked very professional, and we all had work displayed that was representative of our path of exploration and growth during this class. Susan recommended that we leave out our current work in progress, too, so that visitors could see our creative process.  

The party was a HUGE success! The Drawing Studio Open House and Bug Wake showcased our drawings, yes, but also a huge collection of bug coffins created by people from all the current Penland classes. As my classmates studying bugs for their mapping project amassed a collection, a student from another class suggested we create coffins for these insects. The display was a big hit! Everyone marveled at the beauty, intricacy, and variety of the coffins, and at the way one person’s idea grew and spread across campus to include so many contributions. The coffins were photographed at the end of the night, and will be included in the end-of-session auction, which supports financial aid at Penland. During the reception, I (and the other participants in the drawing course) spent most of the time standing by my artwork to chat with visitors about my drawings and to discuss my methods and purposes. I love doing that! And I met so many new people - too bad we couldn’t have done this at the beginning of our time here!

Porcelain bug coffin

Moss bug coffin

Day 18 - August 6, 2012 - Monday    

I’ve moved all my things out of the drawing studio now, and the place looks so bare without any sign of our time together here. Earlier in the day, we had our final evaluations/critique… Each student had 10-15 minutes to give an overview of their work and their impressions of the class, with time for responses from classmates and the teacher. Each artist in the class has a very clear artistic vision, and it was fascinating to hear how our ideas overlapped and how we influenced and inspired each other. I sound-recorded the whole session on my phone (which was especially good because I had to duck out early for my last dining hall shift!) so that I can continue to refer back to it when I’m home. 

My kitchen pals: Jill, Nicole, Rene, Rose, Jenna and Marcella.

Tomorrow we’ll have the campus-wide Show and Tell, where each class shares its work. My class is planning to hang our mapping projects, so my big 6 foot drawing will be the work that represents my contribution. The response from everyone who has seen it so far - other students, Penland staff - has been very encouraging. They love the size and the idea, and have lots of thoughts to share and questions to ask, and end up getting just as excited about it as I am! Hmm, maybe I am onto something I can continue in Downtown Athens….!

Overall, I feel very good about my oeuvre, and very strong and confident. I’ve had great reactions to my drawings, and it has been really interesting to me to hear which pieces speak to people. Different people are drawn to different works, for different reasons, and sometimes even works that I am not particularly proud of are quite meaningful to others. It’s such a gift to be around people who think about art every day, and are willing to share their experience and opinions and ideas without fear or doubt. I can already tell that this experience will continue to inspire me for YEARS!

Day 19 - August 7, 2012 - Tuesday  (Last night at Penland!)

The drawing studio met at 10am to prepare for Show and Tell, and at 11 we walked up the hill to the exhibition building which was also the wood shop (where I finally got to see the boat the wood class had just built!). I displayed my big drawing and the small circulation pattern drawing. After that, I went to Spruce Pine where I window-shopped, ate lunch, had a coffee, and gathered my wits. What a fantastic experience Penland has been, but it is non-stop activity!  After filling the tank with gas in preparation for the drive home, I returned to Penland, sat in front of the textile building to watch the light change on the mountain as the evening descended, and reflected on my experiences here and what will come next.

As we said goodbye, Susan was very complementary of my artwork and my work ethic. I certainly will strive to work with her again in the future - this class has been highly productive for me; transformative, I could say. She mentioned my openness to change. I told her in parting, that I had come to Penland looking for confidence, and that she has helped me find it.

Oh oh oh - doors are opening up!!!!!!!!!!!

What a great class experience and a great learning experience this has been. I have made many new friends and walk away with new contacts. Now it is time to go back to work in my own studio. What direction will my artwork take now, I wonder? I can’t wait to start, and I hope to share it with you soon!

Driving down the mountain, on the road to home!

Spirit of the Land

I recently created two new intimate paintings on silk I wanted to share with you. They are for the invitational art exhibit: “Spirit of the Land: Small Scale Images of the Georgia Landscape” opening tonight(!) at the State Botanical Gardens at the University of Georgia, Athens, Ga.

                             Tybee Island, Chatham County, Ga. 2012. 10”x10” (Sold!)

                         Kennedy Road Beaver Pond, Oconee County, Ga. 2012. 10”x10”

The Tybee Island piece is a quiet design using only three colors to express the quietness of walking alone on the beach, taking in the the smell of the ocean and feeling the warmth of the sun on my face.

The Kennedy Road Beaver Pond is within walking distance of my house, and we marvel at the beauty of the grasses, the pond, the fields and the hills. I’ve loosened up my style with this painting, encouraged by the curator’s instruction to describe the natural wonders of our state.  

Here is more information from the publicity for the event:

The Athens Land Trust and the Oconee River Land Trust are proud to present the 2012 Spirit of the Land Art Exhibit and Sale! The opening reception for this year’s art exhibit and sale will be held Tuesday, August 7th, beginning at 5:30 pm at the State Botanical Garden Visitors Center Gallery. Dr. Paul A. Manoguerra, Chief Curator and Curator of American Art at the C.L. Morehead Jr. Center for the Study of American Art at the Georgia Museum of Art, will provide perspective and insight in a gallery talk beginning at 7:00 pm; refreshments will be provided.

According to exhibit curator, Dr. Manoguerra, works selected for this exhibition have found inspiration in our state’s natural wonders and landscapes. However, the works will also be presented in small formats, marked by an intensity of vision and a familiarity of the subject matter in execution. Hans Hoffman once stated, “A small picture format may be much more living, much more leavening, stirring, awakening than square yards of wall space.” The small-scale images in the display will also permit viewers to thoughtfully and intimately experience the Georgia landscape. 

Works of art by many talented artists will be on display and for sale, including art by: Margaret Agner, Matt Alston, June Ball, Elizabeth Barton, Toni Carlucci, Sally Coenen, Larry Forte, Philip Juras, Dianne Penny, Mary Porter, and René D. Shoemaker. The art exhibit and sale will run from August 5th through September 9th, 2012. The artists will receive 50% of the purchase price, and 20% each of the proceeds will go to Athens Land Trust and the Oconee River Land Trust, with the remaining 10% going to the State Botanical Garden. Purchases can be made at the State Botanical Garden Visitors Center Gallery or by calling Athens Land Trust at 706-613-0122 or Oconee River Land Trust at 706-552-3138.

The State Botanical Garden is located at 2450 S. Milledge Avenue. Click here to view the map. I won’t be attending the opening reception, as I’ve been out of town for over two weeks, but you’ll be hearing about that adventure very soon!

New art installation for UGA

Last week my new (huge!) UGA art installation went up. Meet Passages II!

The artist’s statement for this site-specific design includes information about the mobile and its concept:

The mobile was installed in honor of Dr. Jane Russell, the woman who envisioned and created the Ramsey Student Center for Physical Activities, the place we can visit to discover our personal best. We celebrate Dr. Russell’s service to the University upon her retirement, and wish her well in all her endeavors.

The charmeuse silk squares, and the square designs placed on the silks, represent movement through time and space, the journey we take in life to find our way. This art installation was conceived and created by fiber artist René D. Shoemaker.”

I love creating site-specific work. As I studied this location (at the Ramsey Student Center for Physical Activities on the University of Georgia campus), I thought very carefully about how my design would affect and be affected by its setting. As you may have read before, I love squares, so I was pleased that my work would be situated in front of a wall of square windows. The windows correspond so nicely with the colorful silk squares in my installation! As my intention was to create a feeling of movement - ascending -  through the color choice and movement of the individual pieces, the fact that it is installed next to a climbing wall also seems very appropriate. I love the idea of the climbers looking back over their shoulders and seeing this colorful mass moving behind them! 

It took two days to complete the installation. I needed to do the layout, and the measuring and cutting of the monofilament to hang the silk, on site. I set up a system of measuring without tangling the line and even used my toes as pliers when I didn’t have a second pair available! I sewed and tied and stretched and prepared each of the silks for hanging:

The installation process was a work of art in itself. I had a whole hallway to work in, and I laid the silk on the floor in the configuration in which it was going to hang. The space has 47’ high ceilings, so a Genie Boom-Lift bucket was used to hang the work from the ceiling. The boom-lift had amazing articulation, and could go anywhere it needed to - sideways,forwards, backwards, up or down. The silks were tied to 3 armatures, and each armature needed to be hung on to the ceiling separately. They were clipped onto a hook and bearing that had already been installed. 

…It was a fabulous experience, seeing the silks being lifted to the sky (or ceiling, as the case may be), and then watching how they reacted to the air currents. This may not be evident from the photos, but not only does each silk slowly spin at its own pace, but each of the three different armatures revolve independently as well! It is so pretty. The silks look out over the courtyard beyond the windows:

It was very rewarding for me, to stand there, and to watch the colors come alive as if they were dancing. I didn’t expect this, but the stretched silk softly ripples on each of the  units when the air currents change, making an even more lively display.

Many thanks to the “team” who helped make this happen, especially to Benny at the Instrument Shop for creating the metal armatures, rods, and bearings for the silks to spin on, and to Jeremy for being a professional at using the bucket lift for the installation, and for understanding the concept of the design. Thanks to Keith for seeing the project happen, and of course - many thanks to Jane Russell for the inspiration!

Here are some members of the team at the time of completion - don’t we all look happy to have it done?

All-in-all it was an amazing experience and I hope to do many more such commissions in the future! 

Coffee! - 9th Street Espresso, NYC

My favorite coffee shop in all of New York City is 9th Street Espresso - and although I love the three newer locations too, I’m talking about the original, down to earth, fun-to-be-in, coffeeshop-vibe-experience storefront at 9th Street Espresso, 700 East 9th Street between Ave C & Ave D, NYC. I love returning to the Village, I love the neighborhood, I love the street scene, and I love the community garden across the street from 9th Street Espresso…

I was so moved by my experience at 9th Street Espresso that I sketched a drawing on site, then came home and made a silk painting from it (see above). This painting was in my solo exhibit at the Shade Bar at 241 Sullivan Street (between Bleecker St and 3rd St).

You can be sure that the day of my exhibit, after eating a yummy grilled eggplant sandwich at the Shade, I walked to the East Village and had a shot of 9th Street Espresso to keep me going deep into the night!

I highly encourage anyone who values a great coffee experience to stop by 9th Street Espresso. Their no-nonsense approach to creating a great cup of espresso is very satisfying! 


I went to a lecture recently at the Georgia Museum of Art to learn more about one of my favorite topics - color!  The UGA Fabric Design Department invited Leslie Harrington, the Executive Director of the Color Association of the United State (CAUS), to visit in celebration of an exhibit that is currently on view at the Georgia Museum: “Pattern and Palette in Print: Gentry Magazine and a New Generation of Trendsetters”.

Heading up an organization that was founded in 1915, Ms Harrington and her company “creates and delivers global color intelligence across industries”. That means they analyze popular colors over time, they predict which colors will become popular next, and they educate others about the importance of coordinating colors across industries. So, they help to ensure that all American flags are the same colors, that your neighbor’s camouflage shorts will use the same hues as his camouflage coffee mug, and that your cousin will be able to buy kitchen appliances, an apron, AND nail polish in fun retro colors. Rather than working directly with consumers, they position themselves as “trusted advisor(s) to color professionals whose responsibility is to ensure marketplace success for their color decisions in the realm of brands, product and service, and spatial environments.” Even Pantone looks to them for advice and ideas! How cool is that??

An example of what you might see:

As for the GMOA exhibition, it introduced me to Gentry magazine, which, it turns out, is one cool magazine. Gentry was published from 1951 to 1957 and its mission was to help a gentleman be, well, just that - a gentleman. It covered many topics - art, future, fashion, literature. It was extremely well put-together; heavy paper, original art and actual fabric swatches to help people really know about the colors and patterns of the items that were being advertised in the magazine!

It had many famous contributors. Even my favorite artist, Henri Matisse, had artwork on the cover of the journal in 1956-57. The GMOA writes about about the cover here.

The students of the UGA Fabric Design department (my alma mater) created their own color palettes and designs in response to articles and advertisements in Gentry magazine. The resulting textile designs were silkscreened on large swaths of paper and are on display in the Georgia Museum’s exhibition. Here are three examples of what the students created:

Nice, yes?

Back to color, though -  imagine living in a world immersed in color, like Ms. Harrington does.

Oh - you say, that is what I do? 

        You are right! I am very lucky!

Ms. Harrington gave me a few tidbits that I jotted down to think about for my own work:

Color preferences of consumers for a specific period and time.

    As an artist, I have shied away from the concept of being sensitive to other’s color preferences. But as a creator of items for interiors and fashion, I guess I should pay attention! I was aware of color forecasting, but this lecture opened my eyes to the benefit of keeping up with it, and the myriad of possibilities involved in working with or anticipating trends. I had never thought about how strongly people associate certain shades with certain emotions, events, objects, or even time periods. Do you remember the deep oranges and browns that many people associate with the 70s? Isn’t that what you immediately think of when you see, say, a dark orange couch? 

Colors come in three flavors: Fad vs trend vs classic

   Now I have a way to categorize colors as I discover them. A fad may be bright color that seems to be everywhere for a brief period of time. Neons often seem to fall into this category! A trend is a little more classy, and lasts a little longer. Shades like jewel tones are versatile and pleasing to the eye. A classic, well, it makes you feel good; it is a staple, an elegant choice; yet it can be luxurious or casual. Classics like Black, Ivory, White and Brown are always popular!

Color across industries, across markets, across specializations, across disciplines, and across experiences…. 

     Color is everywhere! Watching what color is doing in these various categories will only help me become stronger in my art of color. My mind has now been opened to the bigger world of color. It will be fun to begin exploring these categories, to keep up with what is happening in color, and to see what is influencing the world of color, fashions and interiors.

If you are interested in looking at more information about all this, there is a list of articles related to color and/or color forecasting on the CAUS website:

Learn more about CAUS and the ways that they empower color conscious decisions at:

Now, you will never look at color the same way again!

                What are your favorite experiences with color?