It's Been Awhile

So begins a new series I've titled "Fields". So far the goal is 18 large pieces and 12 small pieces. I'm using earth pigments, charcoal, conte, and mixed media pm cotton and silk fabrics this time around with machine stitching as the finishing touch.

I've been dragging my feet to start on this series, as it is the first series where I won't be using natural dyes. Fabric painting begins tonight. Photos coming soon.

Studio Purge Part One

Over the next few days I will be posting not only images of my studio spaces, for accountability purposes, but also to let you know what is available.  I will be selling some items check out the studio purge tab for daily updates, and others will go to new homes for the sole cost of shipping!

In thinking about my "brand" I've had to make a decision as to which mediums and colors I will be working with and "why"!  This wall here contains beads, findings, and all sorts of mixed media objects that is and should be heaven for most artists.  Well this was true until today when I got into the last fight I ever want to have with myself over studio space EVER again!

Yes that is right, you know every time you scream in frustration because you can no longer move in your studio space, or find that book you need to finish a project at the last hour, you are fighting with yourself!

Stop fighting with yourself!

More beads, jars of silk cocoons, buttons, bells, baubles, and all sorts of nummies.  The crates above are filled with mixed media papers, findings, Angelina fibers, pine cones, silk carrier rods, and who knows what else.  Well I'm planning to start excavating tomorrow so we will soon find out what else lies within those crates.

Far shelf, more beads, findings, jars with little bells in them... you get the picture.  Foreground that's supposed to be my sewing table and right now it's loaded with drawing and painting supplies.

The other side of my sewing table.  The plastic drawer stuff (to the south of the table) are filled with vintage, antique, and somewhat modern laces, threads, buttons, ric rac, you name it, oh and a ton of handspun yarns from fibers I carded and dyed myself and in some cases even acquired from local sheep I used to sheer.

The wall of thread!  And those little plastic drawer organizers, if you guessed filled with beads you'd be correct.  And they are also over flowing with embroidery floss, pearl cottons, and the like.

More thread, and those plastic tubs are filled with... if you guessed vintage and antique trims you'd be correct! Two of the tubs are also filled with natural dyed wool, silk, and cotton fabrics.  All of those baskets and tubs on top are filled with more fibers, more threads, and more mixed media objects, seeing a theme here  yet???

And sweeping past the entrance to my sewing room... More threads under the clock.

More fabric, more threads, more fibers, and no place to put finished artwork!  This is the north wall in my sewing studio and I want ALL of this stuff to go bye bye, with the exception of the shelf (you see the side of it here) with the clock.  My goal is to put my drawing table and new flat file cabinet (that hubs is building for me) on this wall.

Finally the corner where I started, the NW corner of my studio.  Again more fibers, more threads, more fabric, all dyed with natural dyes.  Oh and a ton of knitting supplies and latruador that I'm never going to get to in this life time.

Stay tuned for Part 2 tomorrow the area of my studio known as the "overflow" area.

Art Crawl Interview with Steve Hosch

This weeks interview is with Artist Steve Hosch!

· How did you get your start as a professional artist?

While I’ve made art my whole life, I’d never made an attempt to market and sell my work until a few years ago. I really don’t know what inspired me to get serious about my art at that time. Mid-life crisis? Turning 40 looming around the corner?

I was confronted with a pile of birdhouse gourds I’d grown the year before taking up space in my garage. Throw them out or do something with them? I cleaned them up, drilled holes in them, and used my wood-burning tool to “draw” some simple designs. Needless to say, I quickly tired of making birdhouses, so I bought some other varieties of hard-shell gourds and began experimenting. I bought a Dremel and played around with relief carving, I messed around with dyes and painting techniques, and I even taught myself how to coil pine needles. Eventually I got rather adept working in this medium, turning plain old gourds into bowls, vases, pitchers, and masks. Pushing my fear of rejection aside, I contacted Mike Miller at Gallery 319, showed him a few of my pieces, and asked him if he’d be willing to display and sell my work. He agreed, and for the next five years I made and sold—at Gallery 319 and Longbranch Gallery in Mineral Point, Wisconsin—a lot of gourd art.

After about five years of gourd art, I grew increasingly bored with the medium. Around that time I ran across a website called Loving Mixed Media, an educational site devoted to nurturing artists through technique experimentation. By way of LMM, I discovered assemblage and collage, and I’ve been working primarily in those mediums ever since.

• How long have you been working as a professional artist?

Since 2005.

• What are you currently working on?

A good portion of my summer was devoted to building up a small body of assemblage work for a show I’m doing this fall (September 7-October 20) at the Plymouth Congregational Church gallery in Des Moines. Lately, though, I’ve been working on experimenting with collage.

My assemblage work can be fairly time-consuming, which generally translates into me needing to set higher prices for that work. A lot of people have shown interest in my assemblage pieces, but that interest, lately, hasn’t resulted in sales. I’m not naïve; I understand the times are tough and people don’t want to plunk down a lot of cash for an assemblage.

That said, I spend significantly less time creating my collage pieces. In fact, the process is a refreshing change; I purposefully work quicker, more playfully, allowing the collage elements to sort of come together on their own. Hopefully, in a few weeks I’ll have a small collection of collage pieces ready to go. They’ll be more modestly priced than my assemblage work, so I hope people will take them and give them a good home.
• Your current body of work depicts?

Currently I’ve been using a lot of human-based imagery, such as vintage photos and anatomy book illustrations. I try to depict the relationship of humans to the environment around them, whether that’s the natural environment or human-created “environments” and conditions. I like to also incorporate images of the man-made, such as machinery or maps, in my work; I’m attempting to depict humanity’s love affair (and I would say, an oftentimes unhealthy love affair) with technology.

• What materials do you work with and why?

For my assemblage work, I’ll work with pretty much any material I can get away with. My “studio” (really just a corner of my basement) is heaped with stuff—cigar boxes, old frames, rusty tools and other metal bits, bones, porcelain doll parts, old game boards, and the like—that I’ve collected. For my collage work, I love vintage ephemera: old books, photos, advertising, and the like, much of it over 100 years old. It’s not just the images that catch my eye; it’s also the paper itself.

For the most part, the materials are readily available and relatively inexpensive—although with the popularity of all things vintage and “retro,” this is becoming less the case. There’s just something about the patina of old stuff—rusty metal, chipped paint, stained paper—that delights me. I like the thought that I’m giving it, a la Dr. Frankenstein, new life.

• What excites you about using the materials you work with?

It’s the transformation process that excites me. I really geek being able to take some mundane piece of rusty junk or an old photo or a page out of some out-dated biology text and transform it into some it was never meant to be—a work of art. Two of my passions are art and history, so I guess my work is simply an intersection of those passions.

• Tell us about some of the processes you do in your work

One of my favorite processes—I use it quite often in my collage—is image transfer. I use a photocopy, either on paper or on a transparency, and transfer it onto another surface with matte medium. It’s a cool technique because it offers the ability to create layers in my work. I can transfer an image over the top of another image, but the bottom image is still visible.

• When you make a piece where does the inspiration come from?

That’s the million-dollar question, isn’t it? Honestly, I don’t know. It may sound like a cop-out, but most of the time I really don’t know where the inspiration comes from. There are corners of my brain where stuff is stored that only sees the light of day when I sit down at my worktable. It comes across as goofy-sounding, but the junk I gather for my work “speaks” to me; I just let it tell me what to do.

• Do you make art every day?

Sadly, no. I’m a high school special education teacher, so in the two-and-a-half months of my summer, I do make art pretty much every day. However, during the rest of the year, I’m lucky to make art once a week.

It’s a Catch-22 of sorts. My art is my lifesaver; it’s a much-needed catharsis to the stress and frustration of my “real” job. However, for the nine-and-a-half months of the year when I most need it, I’m too worn-down and burned-out to do it consistently.

• What other artistic interests do you have?

I do enjoy writing. Over the years I’ve had a couple of short pieces published in some Midwestern magazines. Lately, though, my “writing” has been reduced to my blog—and the occasional Facebook rant.

• Tell us something that most people don’t know about you that they would find interesting?

 Growing up in Northeast Iowa—just 20 miles from the Mississippi River, where I loved watching tugboats guide huge barges through Lock and Dam #10—one of my first career goals was to become a tugboat pilot.

Artist Statement:

For me, my art is the metamorphosis of clutter. First, it’s about literally transforming clutter. I gather seemingly mundane objects and ephemera and bring them together to form works of art. My art is also a figurative transformation of clutter. I use the clutter-of-life that occupies space in my head and harness it to make art. “Ask questions and seek answers,” a friend once advised. At its core my art is an attempt (often dark, usually satirical) to ask questions and push the viewer to seek answers—and every so often butcher one of society’s sacred cows.


Even though art's always been a big part of his life, Steve still has a difficult time calling himself an "artist." Other than the two years spent as a frustrated graphic design major at Iowa State University, he's a self-trained artist. Steve received his bachelor of science degree in history in 1989 and took a job as a museum technician at the Herbert Hoover Presidential Museum, where he was involved primarily in exhibit design, construction, and maintenance. In 1991 he returned to Iowa State to attend graduate school, eventually earning a master's degree in education. Since 1992 his "real" job (that which supports his art habit) has been as a high school special educator, a career choice that requires the much-needed catharsis provided by his art. In 2005 Steve began creating vessels and masks made from hard shell gourds. However, in the summer of 2010 Steve turned his creative attention to assemblage and collage, mediums he continues to explore.

"Art washes away from the soul the dust of everyday life." --Pablo Picasso


On My Desk 081313

Before - See the media trays on both sides of the table?  Well Oliver noticed them as well, turns out he has expensive tastes loves those soft paint brushes and those spendy colored pencils.  Sooooo...

Hubs made me a shelf last night, out of mdf, for my media trays and other supplies.  One of the perks was a spot for my sketch books on each shelf, now they are close at hand.  The biggest perk is having a larger work area and a spot at the left hand of my table for my large sketch books!

Auditioning Elements for a Work in Progress

Very simple, but lacking in additional interest.  The goal here is to avoid being cutesy.

The piece definately needs a pop of colour, but which colour and where?  If I attach the cochineal dyed silk organza I'll add stitching in a contrasting colour.

I'm not sure that this works either, but it's interesting... just the wrong colours and not enough of them. Acrylic on watercolor paper.

Here's a bit of gouache and watercolor, with ink sketches, on paper behind the main panel.  The main panel is still lacking, it needs a pop of something, anything... but it has to be the right element otherwise it just sits there like a lump.

So I will continue auditioning elements into the wee hours of the night, once I have this niche figured out the remaining eight niches will be a snap since I'm working in a series.  I will be adding additional elements to the outside of the niche in the form of copper and/or black brads and tacks.

Studio Redux 073011

If all goes well I may actually get to watch Paula stream live tonight from my new mixed media area in my new studio!  John hasn't found the ends for the dsl wire yet, he has to make a new longer cable for me. 

The knee is feeling slightly better, after last nights horrific fall on the back landing.  John didn't look to pleased when I told him that I was going to be putting non-slip rubber duckie decals down on the floor.  It's the one place in the house that I have consistantly hurt myself on in the last 10 years and it's because that floor becomes ultra slick with even the slightest hint of moisture.  This time the moisture was left by a 12 pound tri-color sheltie who decided she couldn't wait any longer.

Angel the puddle maker.

Wet Studio Clean Up

Moved some of the paints to the corner shelves, these are fabric paints, so that I could have better access to my mixed media supplies.

I moved my mixed media bins to the shelves, who knew that having them more accessible would mean I'd actually use them!  The crates hold various types of papers and constructed cloth for using in mixed media projects.

Another view, that's Deer Slayer on the table. I need to have John create a rack so that I can put the computer up next to the ceiling, won't go under the table too much stuff there already.  Luckily the Gateway was is a rack server style unit and is meant to be flat not verticle!

Brushes, tons of them everywhere!  This weeks adventure includes a trip to the dollar store in hopes of procurring a couple of those cutlery baskets, I will use them for my paint brushes.

Mixed Media Painting Workshop

Spend the afternoon trying a variety of techniques using paint!
In this workshop students will learn how to combine various wet materials to create a painting. Students will work with acrylics, water color media, emulsions, opaque pens, papers, etc.   This is a great opportunity to try some new techniques and media without having to committ to a six week class!

The class will be held Fisher Art Center in Marshalltown, IA

She was Third Class Solo Show

She was Third Class Solo Exhibition
Fisher Art Center, Marshalltown, IA
September 1st - September 30th.

Explore Class and Social Status in Fly Over Country with artist Kimberly Baxter Packwood. 

Kimberly's latest body of work encompasses the topic of social strata in rural America using the medium of Encaustic and 3D Mixed Media.

Olof - WIP

John has been helping me with the construction of my latest pieces, running the saws and drills for cut outs etc., he cracked a huge grin when he put Olof's eyes in place which he picked, I was going to use gauages for the eyes, but John decided that Olof needed gears for eyes instead.  The gears definately changed the mood from dark to spry, Olof has a joker side, he loves playing practical jokes on people and may even revel in scaring them a wee bit.  I'm currently auditioning mouth pieces and body colors.