Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Biannual All Media Exhibition opens this Friday!

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runs from Friday, April 18th through Saturday, May 23rd, 2014.
Opening Reception: Friday, April 18th 6:00pm – 9:00pm

my piece, Thread Lace Composition #1, is included in the show

Monday, April 14, 2014

3 ways your purchase makes a difference for kids through art

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"Art therapy is the therapeutic use of art making, within a professional relationship, by people who experience illness, trauma, or challenges in living, and by people who seek personal development. Through creating art and reflecting on the art products and processes, people can increase awareness of self and others cope with symptoms, stress, and traumatic experiences; enhance cognitive abilities; and enjoy the life-affirming pleasures of making art." ~ American Art Therapy Association

Art therapy and Art education are great ways to reach children to improve their cognitive, perceptual, social and emotional development and to improve their creative problem-solving skills, provide creative self-expression, and decrease stress levels (which leads to improvement in other areas).

I am developing an art therapy and art education program for children and adolescents and I need some help to build this program. I currently travel to clients homes for art therapy and art education services, but I would be able to serve more families if I had an office / studio space. I would be able to include group services, workshops, and art classes for toddlers, elementary age kids, and adolescents. Given the chance, I would also love to provide family art classes, art therapy sessions, and workshops. Individual services are paid for by the clients, but I could use a boost to get a studio space up and running. The funds raised for the art therapy program will help purchase art supplies, cover office / studio costs, and add to a financial assistance scholarship program for art therapy services. The possibilities are very exciting - I am saving a percentage of my income to help build this program, but I need more help from you to make it happen. 

Here are 3 ways that you can help support my art therapy for children and adolescents program (and receive your own benefits at the same time):

Art Collectors: purchase art for yourself or as a gift and 5% of profit helps support art therapy services for a child or adolescent in need. For purchases totally USD 1000.00 or more the percentage donated to the art therapy program doubles to 10% and I will pay your shipping costs. You receive one of a kind art and the great feeling knowing you are making a difference for kids through art. This offer includes commissioned work, follow this link for details on ordering a custom piece of fiber art. Follow this link to purchase from my Etsy shop (my new website shop is currently being programmed and should be ready around the end of April 2014).

Artists and Art Therapists: become a member of my online art workshop center and 5% of your annual membership fee will benefit the art therapy program. Also, purchase any "goodie bags" or kits and 5% is given to the program. Follow this link for more information and to join the workshops. You receive all the workshops (.pdf files, videos, and private forum), the community, the inspiration and support, and the the great feeling knowing you're helping kids and families through art.

Everyone: donate to the Art Therapy program and 100% of your donation supports the art therapy for children and adolescents program. You receive the great feeling knowing you are helping kids through art.

"Community" (available on Etsy)

Monday, March 31, 2014

simple and useful card holder :)

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Card Holder

This simple card holder can be sewn up quickly and uses such a small amount of fabric you may be able to use up some scraps. I started making these card holders years ago and have used mine  everyday since then - it works great! I put my drivers license, credit card, store reward cards, and even some cash in it. The card holder fits perfectly in a small pocket in my purse or in my jeans pocket.

Monday, March 17, 2014

exciting things developing!

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I am very excited that my website is currently being redeveloped and I have a lot of new things that I will be offering. In the meantime, new "goodie bags" stuffed with supplies for fiber art and daily visual journaling. The 7 x 9 inch envelope is stuffed with small pieces of fabric, jumbles of thread, embroidery floss, papers, magazine images for collage, and an extra surprise, which all adds up to more value than the listed price! They are available in my Etsy shop.

The items in each "goodie bag" are hand picked and packed by me and my daughter (who is my studio assistant :)

*** Includes free shipping ***

The package may or may not contain stuff like this:

Monday, March 10, 2014

Letting go of control

I've been spending a lot of time organizing all my fabric, thread, and yarns for my upcoming online workshops and for my sanity. I'm not sure how other artists stay organized - I have seen some pictures of beautiful studios with everything accessible and the work surface clean - I would love to know the secrets!

Anyway, my daughter is my studio assistant (when she isn't playing games on the computer) and she had a wonderful idea for packaging some fabrics and threads. I was getting picky about how she was putting it together and annoyed with how long she was taking when I realized that I just needed to let go of controlling the whole thing. She is very creative and there was no hurry to get these done. What she came up with is beautiful and I'm so happy with it and can't wait to give some of these away :)

Monday, March 03, 2014

The Evolution of Stitching "Family"

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I love the meditative and intuitive process of stitching - at least my approach to stitching is intuitive and meditative. The soothing process and sound of pulling the thread through the fabric again and again and again... I don't always plan things out - usually I will start with a fabric that was part of an old project, or a scrap from a friend, or even a handful of threads that my daughter gave me from her finished project. For this particular piece, I started with some bits of fiber left over from some earrings I made and the piece evolved into a symbol of family and mothering. 

My intention was to video record my process of creating one of these highly textured abstract embroidery pieces to include in my online workshop. And I did record part of the process, but then I stopped working on the piece for a few days. After a little while I picked up some more scraps and threads around my work table including some small feathers that my daughter had left after a project. I stitched these feathers down to the cotton base fabric and continued with small seed stitches in my favorite dark pink thread, trapping some loose threads as I worked.

Next, I picked up some golden beige yarn that I had used to knit a scarf for my mom. I cut a small length and stitched it down near the feathers. The colors for my daughter and my mom are similar. They are both born in the same star sign and the gold, earthy tones seem to match their personalities. As I continued stitching and thinking about my mom and my daughter, this piece became a meditation on family - on being a mother and a daughter.  These ideas brought to mind my sister and how different our experiences were growing up - the blue is for her stitched down with gray - both are the color of her eyes depending on what she is wearing.

As I stitched around the bottom edge, keeping the feathers securely in place, I realized that I had two feathers - two children - one feather for each - and this piece was telling me that it was about being a mother and a daughter. So, I chose the large pink feather to represent myself and stitched that into place using the pink thread. I added the black yarn for contrast, but then as the black swirled around the pink feather (me) it began to remind me of the difficult times of parenting. Around the time when my daughter was two years old, my husband was working on a new business venture and I started graduate school for art therapy. It was a lot to take on for both of us, and although there were times when I wasn't sure what to do and felt physically and emotionally drained, my family was always there for support.

When I finished stitching all the threads, feathers, and yarn down to the cotton I took a picture of the finished piece to share on Instagram. Looking at the small image on my phone it reminded me of a face looking down (the way I remember looking at my children the first time I held them).

I am always fascinated when my art shows me more than what I was expecting.

The progression from beginning to end

Monday, February 24, 2014

How to honor our experiences with art

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As I mentioned before, I save a lot of things that I think could potentially be used for art and I often remember where my art supplies come from - I remember that certain skeins of yarn were donated to me when I was facilitating knitting workshops at a cancer center. I know that other odds and ends of yarn were donated to me when I taught a knitting workshop as a meditative practice to high school kids. I have yarn that used to be a favorite sweater. I have a collection of bits and pieces of fabric, paper, and thread from participants in my Stitch Therapy workshop this past summer/fall. I have fabric from clothes that my kids wore when they were babies; old pillowcases and sheets from my husbands grandmother; hand-dyed fabric from college classes; leftover art supplies from student teaching... I keep all of these supplies because they hold meaning and because I want to honor the memories that I have of those people, places, and experiences in my life.

I honor those memories by incorporating bits and pieces of the yarn and fabric and paper into my artwork. I can look at the art I've created and remember how it felt to stitch the fabrics together and embroider texture and lines; I remember the comfort that I felt during that process and want others to feel that comfort when they see the work. So, not only am I honoring the experience I am also practicing self-care.

I am beginning to learn how important self-care is and how productive it can be. Without taking time for ourselves we become drained and tired making it more difficult to care for others. Self care is also different for everyone. My husband and I met at a rock climbing gym - his relaxation is climbing and as a family we take the kids climbing and spent quality time doing something we all love together. Personally, my art is my self care. Knitting and stitching are meditative, relaxing, and soothing. Just looking at my art or picking up some fiber makes me feel better. Walking through a gallery or museum is time well spent. There is a huge painting by Franz Kline at the DIA that I always stand in front of for a few minutes and feel completely happy no matter what else is going on.

I've also learned that the comfort I get from making my art is also experienced by people who own my work. This image shows my nephew showing off the new pieces in their home - yes, my brother and sister-in-law own these two pieces, so they might be a little bias with their statement, but they have told me how the art creates a calming atmosphere in the room.

"These two pieces are the perfect addition to our home.
The photos posted only begin to convey how unique and magnificent they are in person.
There is something about the texture of Kelly's work that draws the mind and heart in at the same time.
The ways that the fabric is stretched and draped and the fibers thread through inspire contemplation.  Visually these pieces continue to bring comfort and peace to our home each day.
We absolutely love Kelly's work. She is an amazing artist with an equally amazing heart."

Some of my work holds memories of people I no longer see or who have passed-away. My piece, Thinking of Mary, was something I created in memory of a friend of mine who died of cancer. She was an amazing artist and huge inspiration. We did not spend a lot of time together but I always respected her opinion and cherished her feedback. Creating Thinking of Mary was the best way for me to process the experience of having her a part of my life. The piece is now hanging in my brothers home and brings his family a sense of comfort, which I am grateful for. There are plenty of things that we can be sad about and worry about and be angry about but I prefer to find a way to be comforted by the positive experiences in my life and turn the negative experiences into something beautiful. That is my goal - for myself and for everyone who owns my work. I want my work to provide a sense comfort and peace in your home. Not everyone will agree or believe that our feelings and intentions can become a part of the work we create, but I believe it is possible. Like the feeling you get when you walk into a room where someone was angry and feel the tension - you could "cut the tension with a knife". Or when you walk into a room full of people laughing, you can't help but smile.

If you would like me to create a piece of fiber art to honor your experience, then let's work together to design a piece that uses some of your yarn or fabric or paper in a way that brings you joy. I want you to look at the artwork and smile and feel a sense of comfort and peace and be reminded of the great things in life. Follow this link to my website for the choices available.

Monday, February 17, 2014

Warning: Visual Overload! (my inspiration)

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I am often asked where I get inspiration for my work and it always seems that in the moment I'm not able to think about one person, place, or thing to refer to as my inspiration. However, thanks to social media tools like Pinterest, I can share images of things that inspire me everyday. Some things inspire me because of the colors, texture, and lines. Other things inspire me because of the way I feel when I look at it. Still, other artists inspire me with their stories of why they create. There is no single element the inspires my work, but a lifetime of looking and making.

Montana Living of Montana Møbler
Like I mentioned before, I like saving things - especially multiples of the same thing - and this desk looks like an amazing collection of drawers all painted pink, which would be perfect for my future art studio. The desk also looks like it is the same on the other side - like a mirror image - so that the storage space is double. Maybe I would finally be able to organize my art supply stash!

Cornelius by Julia Haft-Candell
And in my new house / studio I would definitely love to have this sculpture, Cornelious, by Julia Haft-Candell. The list of materials alone is intriguing:
Porcelain, terra cotta, glaze, epoxy resin, cotton, polyester, thread, ink, paper, pins, metal, screws
And I love the texture and lines - the open lace like quality - and the soft muted colors. I'm also very intrigued by this piece because it is porcelain and I have never been a huge fan of ceramics or sculpture in general. I also wonder how delicate this piece is because I'm sure I would want to examine it up close - touching all the tree branch looking parts and figuring out where the pieces are connected. I know, you're not supposed to touch the art, but if I buy it I could - right?

cross section of pine
I'm often inspired by the patterns created in nature. I came across some microscopic images of the cross-sections of plants and trees and found that they look suspiciously like knitting. I used this inspiration to create a body of work for a solo show I exhibited in December of 2012. For example, an image like this image of a cross section of a pine branch inspired a series of 8 fiber art pieces including the one pictured here. I created knit circular patterns and combined that with embroidery and paint.

Stem by Kelly Darke

I am inspired by the work of so many artists: painters, illustrators, crafters, print-makers, weavers... I am inspired by work that is similar to mine and work that is completely different than anything I would do. So often it is the feeling I get when looking at a particular piece of art that in the inspiration. I want to feel that again, I want remember how it felt. I want to create work that resonates with others in the same way.

Any and all work by Cy Twombly - the combination of color, texture, and line in his paintings is difficult to describe. It's difficult to know why it inspires me - it just does.
Hero and Leandro by Cy Twombly

Notes from Salalah (Notes II) by Cy Twombly

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   I love the look of this fiber and mixed media mobile, but since I posted it on Pinterest over a year ago, the link only takes me to an Etsy page that says it's not available :( I don't know who made it, but maybe you do? I'll have to search a some more - I like the combination of colors and materials - natural and manmade objects.

This installation, Falling Garden, by Gerda Steiner and Jörg Lenzlinger is amazing! I can only imagine how it would feel to be surrounded by this...
Falling Garden

Fiber art - Weaving - Knitting - Texture - Embroidery - Stitching

Memory Threads by Emma Parker
Emma Parker, aka Stitch Therapy, creates personal stories in fiber or printing or animation - whatever medium she uses it is always intriguing, whimsical, fun, and always authentic.

Abigail Doan is an environmental fiber artist and writer creating art and installations - working in New York and Europe.
Abigail Doan

Sheila Hicks

Extreme Knitting

embroidery by Cayce Zavaglia

What inspires you?

Monday, February 10, 2014

7 reasons saving things is not hoarding

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fiber necklace from that recycled sweater yarn
I have met many artists who collect materials for their work and end up with an overwhelming stash that borders on hoarding. I may or may not have such a stash of supplies, but I do know that there is a big difference between keeping things that may prove useful to your art and keeping things that have no use or value (hoarding).

I never thought that I was sentimental, but I have discovered that I save things because I want to make use of them. I save gifts that I may never use or wear because I feel the givers intentions of kindness are still held within the object and to throw it away would somehow feel hurtful. So, I keep it with the intention of reusing the materials. [reason #1] I do feel that all the objects I save can be given a new life.

I saved the first sweaters I ever bought for myself with money I earned form my first job at Stewart Photography while I was a senior in high school. I wore those sweaters out, but I couldn't bear to throw them away, so I decided to unravel (or is it ravel?) the yarn to reuse in something new. Just the process of pulling the sweater apart and rolling all that yarn into a ball was cathartic and relaxing. [reason #2] Honestly, knitting and other fiber arts are very therapeutic.

In high school I claimed my dads tattered old cashmere overcoat that he had when he was in high school. It was ripped up the back and frayed at every edge. My dad told me how he remembered the day he tried it on and his dad purchased it for him. I can't remember the rest of the story, but [reason #3] I remember feeling a connection and that it felt important to honor the memory in the coat. I cut the coat shorter because so much of the fabric was worn out. I repaired the rips in the lining and then added a deep red velvet (recycled from an old dress) to the cuffs and the collar. I was so proud of that coat and wore it all the time - in fact I still have it hanging in my closet. And every time I wear the coat I feel a connection to my dad and grandfather.
My daughter posing with the altered coat - it's difficult to see the burgundy velvet...

The more I collect materials to work with, the more I realize that reusing and recycling fabrics from previously used and loved items is an important part of my work. [reason #4] They add more meaning to my work. Even the current abstract embroidery work I'm doing has fibers and fabrics recycled from old bed covers, pillowcases, and threads from my own projects.

Community by Kelly Darke - embroidery on cotton

The more I think about the direction of my work and wonder where it all started I realize I've always been saving and collecting. When I was a kid I collected all kinds of fabric, yarn, and things. I didn't know how to sew very well, but I would make my own clothes. [reason #5] The freedom to experiment with materials was a great way for me to build my creative problem-solving skills.  One of my favorite pieces that I made was a patchwork wrap skirt that I made with pieces recycled from a worn out favorite plaid shirt, part of a t-shirt from a friend, and other various pieces that I had saved from other projects. I used to wear the skirt in the summer over a pair of shorts or leggings - I loved it.

the original cards I made
a very small portion of my stash
I also had bags of string, yarn, and cones of string for weaving (still do). I didn't know how to knit or weave at the time. I barely knew how to crochet. My older cousin had given me a spool of string and showed me how to make a crochet chain using my fingers. So, I made a lot of really long chains. At some point, my mom gave me a craft magazine with an article about card weaving, which was so inspiring! [reason #6] The support from my mom also gave me confidence to continue working on projects even when they didn't always turn out. I took some old card stock and cut into into squares, punched four holes in each, and started weaving.
ring made with woven gold wire

The first thing I made with that was a small pocket size bag with a strap that I painted with swirls and smiley faces. In college, I purchased the book, Card Weaving, by Candace Crockett and wove with metal wire.

I've since learned how to knit, weave, crochet, sew, paint, print, …. I am an artist - a maker - I am constantly making things and thinking of new things to make. I still use recycled fabric and yarn in my art today and it is often from personal source and contains a lot of meaning or emotion. As an art therapist, I continue to study the relationship of fiber art and emotions - our connection to the texture and memory of our fiber objects from clothing to soft toys. [reason #7] I also share my knowledge and techniques with other artists and therapists in online workshops. My early obsession with fiber has grown up a bit and is even more curious.

What do you do with your favorite old sweater? or that tattered old baby blanket? Tell me your ideas.
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