Living in Color

A few weeks ago, there was an artists’ studio tour here in Fort Collins, and I definitely took advantage of it. I visited three on Friday afternoon, another ten or twelve on Saturday, plus a few more on Sunday. What a treat. I’ll leave a few links for you at the bottom. If I give them to you now, you may never come back to finish reading this post!

One of the studios I visited was that of Cole Thompson, a photographer working entirely in black and white. His work is stunning and he very kindly talked with me, rank amateur that I am, about various aspects of how he produces his images. I love his work and he has inspired me to learn more about photography. One of these days, I may even do a post with black and white images, but not just yet. Although I love the drama and the artistry of black and white, I have to admit color feeds my soul in a way I seem to need right now. So for the moment, I’ll take my black with a splash of vibrant color. Like this . . .

One of the rare sunrises I actually was awake to see out my back door! And yes, I’m sure I went back to bed right after taking this shot!

During the studio tour weekend, I also stopped by to see Sibyl Stork, whose work I have loved for years. She’s the artist who taught the watercolor class I took (and LOVED) just before our 2016 road trip out to Portland, right before David’s cancer was discovered. It was good to talk with her again and to check out all her fabulous new work.  She doesn’t have a class available for me right now, but I’ve got a lot going on at the moment anyway. Another possibility for the days ahead.

Today is ten months since David’s been gone, and I’ve had a few rough moments recently, times when the irrational questions resurface. Questions like, What?! Really?! Forever?! (here on earth, anyway). But as I wrote in the last post, I’m making a concerted effort to be present in the here and now and to let the day’s own troubles be enough for the day.

In fact, I’ve been so open to trying various creative things, in my efforts to come back to life, that I’ve gone a bit overboard and now have to reevaluate and maybe scale back a bit. Pro Tip: You know you’re not listening quite well enough to the still small voice of God when you have to get life advice from a Dove chocolate wrapper: “You can do anything,” it said, “but you can’t do everything.” Hahaha. Okay. Got it.

One of the activities I’m keeping for now is Kathi Dougherty’s fused glass open studio on Thursday afternoons. Hers was another studio I visited, and her work is an absolute celebration of color. For my first project, I wanted to play with the hues of fall foliage, since that has always been one of my favorite things. Kathi has done some gorgeous pieces on this theme, but of course I didn’t want to copy hers, so was a bit paralyzed at the start until she directed me to begin by collecting my colors. THAT I could do. I definitely also wanted sky and water. You know how much I love blue, even aside from how it reminds me of David.

Love those blues!

Since for this first project I wanted to work primarily with crushed glass, called “frit,” I then smashed larger pieces to create a pallet of colors with which to work.

I could have made a plate or bowl, but I chose to do a flat art piece (using the term “art” VERY loosely). Mostly the point for me was to play, experiment, create. I read this yesterday in Girl, Wash Your Face:

Creating is the greatest expression of reverence I can think of because I recognize that the desire to make something is a gift from God.                                                                                                                                 — Rachel Hollis

First version of first fused glass project

I agree and I am grateful for that gift. And as much as I would love to effortlessly produce truly beautiful things, the chance to try is enough, and the learning that comes from mistakes is a bonus. Here’s version one of my first piece →

Not horrifying, but not fabulous. I love how the light comes through, but I didn’t realize the small black “branches” would be as prominent as they are, showing through the translucent glass, as you can see. That was not what I intended and they bug me. Fortunately, it’s possible to add glass and fuse?/fire?/heat? it again. I don’t really know the lingo yet. But onward — and hopefully upward — to version two. I’ve added some opaques and I’ll see next Thursday if it’s improved or not. Here it is awaiting a second turn in the kiln:

Note the added rocks in the stream. Not sure how that will go!

My next project is inspired by this photo looking west from Île de Ré, the beautiful island just across a bridge from La Rochelle.  This is possibly my favorite photo from our various trips to France, so I don’t expect to improve on the photo, but I’m super inspired by the colors.

Île de Ré, France

Here’s what I’ve done so far:

Collecting colors and smashing the glass into variously sized frit

I think it’s therapeutic for me because there are no rules, except reasonable caution for the sake of safety, and there’s no hurry. Kathi and the other regulars I’ve met are kind, so that’s a welcome change from the news, anyway. And I do think there’s something transcendent about the simple act of creating, that somehow taps into the image of our Creator God, put in each one of us.

Here’s a bit more from Rachel Hollis:

The freedom to carve out the time and have a safe place to create art is a blessing of the highest level in a world where so many people are unable to have either.  

I am grateful for both the urge and the opportunity to create. Wishing you both as well!

I’ll leave you with a colorful October family photo from thirty years ago. Yikes. Half my life!

One of our annual trips to the pumpkin farm — 1988

Please leave a comment if you have a minute, even if it’s to tease me about the enormous eighties red bow in my hair! I love hearing from you.

And don’t forget to check out these websites:

Cole Thompson — Sibyl Stork — Kathi Dougherty

Enjoy!

6 thoughts on “Living in Color”

  1. You inspire me in such a variety of ways. The way you’ve navigated the past ten months with such honesty is especially meaningful and touching. You are often in my prayers.

    I’ve seen Kathi’s work in Old Town and love it – had no idea she offered classes. I’m intrigued. And the contrast between Cole and Sibyl’s work is so cool given that both are fantastic and lead one to such different emotional responses. Thanks for sharing!

    The red bow is not inspiring me to return to 80’s hair “decor.” 🙂

    Bonnie

  2. I love this post Sunny! It made me laugh and made me cry, as always, but you have such an amazing gift for communication. Your words bring life to the page and I feel like I’m there with you!!! Keep writing!!! Let’s get together again soon! Love ya! Diane

  3. We have that photo in a photo album! I can’t believe that art piece is your work…only your second try? Is it for sale? I would buy that!

    Sarah

  4. I have and still am enjoying sharing your journey through your artistic and creative blog. The photographs are such a pleasure and the writing so inspiring. I look forward to seeing what you create based on one of your favorite photos from France ~ excellent choice! Maybe you’ll inspire me to do something creative again. And I’m so happy to have you in my circle of friends. Prayers are with you as you approach the coming holiday season.

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