Susie Monday

Artist, maker, teacher, author, head cook and bottlewasher.

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The art I make is the result of a life-long love of pattern, texture and color. How I teach is a skill honed by experience (I started teaching creative arts to younger kids when I was 12). After earning a B.A. in Studio Arts from Trinity University, I helped lead an internationally recognized educational foundation, designed curriculum exhibits for schools and other institutions, wrote and edited for a major daily newspaper, opened the San Antonio Children's Museum and then, a dozen years ago, took the scary but essential (for me) leap to become a fulltime artist and art teacher.

About This Blog

This weblog is about the maker's life. The teacher's path. The stitching and dyeing and printing of the craft of art cloth and art quilt. The stumbling around and the soaring, the way the words and the pictures come together. Poetry on the page and in the piecing of bright scraps together. The inner work and the outer journeys to and from. Practicalities and flights of fancy and fearful grandeur, trivial pursuits and tactile amusements. Expect new postings two or three times a week, unless you hear otherwise. 

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    Entries in shape (5)


    Shape, Shapely and Shaped

    Today at my Southwest School of Art class on Finding Your Artist Path, we will be looking at and thinking about and working with SHAPE and CONTRAST. Here are a few of the notes, some things to think about as you go about your creative work today!

    A shape is a self contained defined area of geometric or organic form. A positive shape in a painting automatically creates a negative shape.


    Contrast is the juxtaposition of opposing elements eg. opposite colours on the colour wheel - red / green, blue / orange etc. Contrast in tone or value - light / dark. Contrast in direction - horizontal / vertical.
    The major contrast in a painting should be located at the center of interest. Too much contrast scattered throughout a painting can destroy unity and make a work difficult to look at. Unless a feeling of chaos and confusion are what you are seeking, it is a good idea to carefully consider where to place your areas of maximum contrast.

    These design elements and principles work together (as they all do!) But I think that working with shape gives the artist the perfect laboratory for investigating contrast in a very concrete direct way.

    What kinds of shapes do you doodle on napkins, notecards and the item formerly known as a phone pad? What shapes show up at the tip of your pen or pencil.

    Do you like clear, well defined shapes that are simple and concrete, easy-to-describe? Or amorphous, vague, or organic shapes?

    Do you work with shape in a “flat” 2-D world? Graphically, all one plane? Or as three- dimensional shapes, whether you paint or sculpt them?

    Where is the strongest shape contrast in your work? Do you have big shapes, little shapes and medium shapes (remember the “rule of three”)?

    Do you layer shapes in your work? Are the layers close together or far apart? Can you see through them or around them? DO you show space through layering? Or light? Or size? Or all of the above?

    What shapes your art practice? The time available, what’s left over after everything else, what you think you SHOULD do? What if you gave it another shape?

    Try cutting NOTAN shapes as a studio shape practice for a week to develop your shape muscle. What happens?


    From Jane Dunnewold 

    From my blog.


    Some “SHAPE” artists and their work (please add other suggestions to the comments section!):

    M.C. Escher --especially his mathematical tesselation art

    Lee Shiney’s CIRCLES 

    Robert Motherwell 

    Henry Moore -- Sculptor 

    Ilsa Iviks Textile artist 

    Paul Klee  


    How to Make Your Mark in Your Work Work

    What are the  marks you make with your work? Do you have symbols, shapes, lines or an approach with color and pattern that you integrate into your art, no matter the exact "content" or "theme" or story? Can your audience see your hand in your work? What a human thing to do. What a connection making such marks is to our amazing history of being human...

    Markmaking is our language, private, personal, universal and iconic. The marks we make over and over in our work -- be it visual, kineasthetic, tactile, audible -- constitutes a piece of our personal unique style, and the more we work at those marks, finding mastery of our own special language, the more distinctive is our work, the more recognizable. 

    Markmaking is part of style, part of voice, part of what makes my work, my work and yours, yours. Taking time to find, polish, elaborate upon, distill and play with our marks is an important aspect of finding our voice in the medium we choose to use to express our ideas.

    The Mark-Making Workshop at El Cielo Studios is coming up in about a week and a half  (June 10, 11,12). I'm hoping to fill this little extra slot with a few folks who want to take the time to find and polish and master their own set of marks for fiber art prints, applique and other surface design. While the activities are designed with fiber artists in mind, they are also of value to any mixed media or visual medium who would like his or her work to become more distinctive and distinctly unique.

    Markmaking is a distinctly human activity and one that we have been exploring as humans for millenia. Consider the new documentary by Wilhelm Herzog, Cave of the Forgotten Dreams.  We just saw the film (in 3-D) at Austin's Violet Crown Cinema, a new and snazzy space downtown on 2nd.  This adventure (part of Linda's and my CAMP AUSTIN this week) was stunningly beautiful, evocative and a powerful reminder of what it is to be human, to make marks and to leave our handprint behind.

    The week in Austin is also work time for me. I'm part of the New World Kids' Training Team that is working at Ballet Austin with arts educators from three different arts organizations in the city. We, too, are looking at markmaking (among other expressive tools) as teachers move and paint and sound their way through the Sensory Alphabet. Seeing the differences in our minds at work as they play out on the page is just another dimension of this markmaking work. I'll share more about the workshops later this week on the blog, but meanwhile, here are a few playfull markmaking experiments to fool around with:

    1. Look at how you doodle. What kinds of lines and shapes and symbols do you play with "when noone is looking?"

    2. Take one kind of simple symbol and play it out across a wide variety of media -- paint it, draw it, make it in clay, look for and photograph it in nature and on the streets, sing it, rattle it, make it move. make it into a movie, write it into a story.

    3. Carve or cut or otherwise create a stamp of a favorite mark of symbol. Experiment with it on fabric and paper, with repetition and size, change the scale and layer it one upon another. Repeat, repeat, repeat.

    4. Look at a favorite artists' Insert Image work and see if you can find examples of marks made over and over. How are these distinctive marks part of the artist's "fingerprint?"


    5. Make a slide show of images of a mark or symbol or sign or shape that is interesting to you. How many places can you find it? How many ways can you make it show up?

    6. Try your mark in electronic media and on software apps that allow for special kinds of markmaking. Print out these marks and see how they could be used in your work.

    Some to try: Zen Brush:


    Also: Finger Sketch Paint

    Express Sketchbook

    OR, you can come out to El Cielo Studio next week and do these and many similar activities with the group!




    June 10-12

    Markmaking can be what distinguishes one person's

    work on paper or fabric or any medai from another's -

    their personal style. Using color, line, shape, rhythm

    and textures, students will explore traditional and new

    media as well as techniques for personal markmaking.

    Techniques to be covered include deconstructed

    screenprinting, stamping, using paint

    sticks and monoprinting with gelatin plates. No matter

    what your experience level, you'll gain confidence

    in working with layered media and find your

    strongest media for the marks that make your work

    unmistakably your own.  

    $160 plus accommodations, free to $30 for both nights, Friday night potluck is optional but encouraged!




    World Shapes: Art-making Inspired

    Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe, Berlin

    Next up: the  shape collection from the summer travels. (Previous installments in the two previous posts include Movement and Color, see the sidebar for links.)
    Some things I might try from these inspirations:

    1. Think of the grid as a pattern of shapes and use it as did the artist who designed the Berlin Holocaust Memorial.

    2. Try making a columnar shaped art quilt, like the Estonian tower.

    3. Use the paving stone and manhole cover collection (I took lots of these photos) to make thermofax screens for an art cloth series.

    4. Use the shapes of the plaster casts from the Victoria & Albert Museum to inspire some altar-shaped pieces.

    5. Make a phototransfer of that lovely urn from Kensington Garden.

     Manhole Cover - Berlin

    Newton, Sculpture at the British Library

    Tower in Tallinn, Estonia, UNESCO World Heritage Site

    Medieval stone carving, plaster cast at the V&A, LondonUrn, Kensington Gardens, London


    Shape. Mathmatics. Art.

    The intersections of what we think of as different fields of study fascinates me. These videos I stumbled across today provide some tantilizing connective tissue between art and mathematics in the work and research of Eric Demaine. What I liked best was Eric's statement that mathematics is an art medium. And his, sometimes a bit rattled, SEED presentation (Scroll down to see the embedded video) proves that he is working from the spirit that drives all of us who make art.

    First, here are the links to an animation of the Metamophosis of the Cube

    The background of the animation of
    Metamophosis of the Cube even has its own little artfull story:

    Watching the animation, you'll probably notice the old page of cyrillic text in the background. There are a couple of reasons for this. First, it gives something onto which the folding objects can cast shadows. Second, it is in some sense the basis for our work. The page is from a Russian book on Convex Polyhedra by the famous Russian geometer A. D. Aleksandrov. In particular, the theorem underneath the folding cube characterizes what “polyhedral metrics” can be folded into convex polyhedra. Seed Design Series