I would like to share work of all the artists I met, and I might over the next year. But there is one more for now—Katalin Ehling. I was particularly in awe of this artist whose work I saw daily as I entered the room. Katalin was using hand stitching on organza as her line and applying to her paintings which told incredible personal stories of home and place.
For about 40 years she worked in batik and has also done encaustic monoprints. The hand stitching she produced was so fine I thought she had used a machine, but this was a skill she learned from her mother. You can visit her website at: http://www.katalinehling.com/
My mother lives in assisted living and has Lewy Body Dementia. Her window looks out over the parking area. She knows when the ambulance comes with a flashing red light, when the workmen are cutting grass, when the aides take their midnight break. What she doesn’t see, she hears.
Her world is much more than the window, but sometimes especially at night when dementia overtakes her, I imagine it may seem that small.
Why creativity and art are even more important as we age
Reason #2 It Keeps My Mind Engaged
We all know the “use it or loose it” theory and I’ve written quite a bit about how art is good for cognitive function. My simple explanation of scientific theory is that it helps keep those connections viable. So whether we play an instrument, paint, or write, we are exercising our brain.
To me it’s like working a puzzle. Admittedly, I don’t always work that fast, but like a lost word, I know the idea will eventually gel. I will know what colors to use, what textures, what markings, and how to put these elements all together for a painting. (To Be Continued)
Sometimes I think most of my small pieces should be named “Trial” or “Error.” I use them quite a bit to try out colors or shapes or line. This small piece was created as I work on a much larger piece. It is my attempt to look beneath all of the layers and see what is there, what has meaning, what I can take away and enrich my life…and my larger painting.
This summer I taught a class called “Visual Storytelling,” a mixed media class based on a wonderful book about journal writing—Storycatcher: Making Sense of Our Lives through the Power and Practice of Story by Christina Baldwin. Baldwin’s idea is that “story opens up the space between people.” So armed with that thought and the knowledge (as a former writing instructor) that many people find writing intimidating, I designed a class that was visual. The end result was an altered book.
In one class, it is difficult to tell what impact art or the visual process had either on the storytelling or the sharing process, but I think perhaps the art made both more successful and meaningful. Focusing on the visual process seemed to make it easier to reflect on our own personal stories. And sharing what we created had a bit of magic as well; it helped open us to others in the class.
These are pages from a couple students who graciously allowed me to share. None of the books are completely finished, but neither are our stories.