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Starry Road Studio… Looking Back, Looking Forward

December 28, 2014 , In: Inspiration, Studio
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About this time last year, I was holed up in our little cabin on the next hill over from where we currently live… I wrote about it in Cabin Fever.

That winter was brutal. The cabin is off-grid with only solar power to provide our electricity needs. But as the days got shorter, and the sunlight scarce, I frequently had to run a portable generator to charge our batteries (the cabin has an array of 16 batteries charged by the solar panels – or in emergencies, by a generator – these are what the house power is run off of). Eventually the pipes froze and I was forced to leave, to stay with Don at his place in Rochester where he stays during the week to work there.

At the end of February, I managed a small escape to Florida to see my daughter Audrey. It was pure bliss. I wrote about it in Ocean Inspired.

Meanwhile, construction at the new place carried on. Our friend Jack was in charge of the construction and he hired extra guys as needed to keep the work going. Still, it took a long time. It was windy and even more cold in our new location and the pipes with new never-used well and septic froze almost immediately. Argh. One frustration after another. I wrote about that in “A Small Update…“.

Ha! In reading that post just now, I see that all sorts of plans for handmade cabinet knobs and what-not have yet to come to pass. Too much to do, so we settled on commercially made hardware. Oh well.

Somehow, through it all, bead making and other art continued apace… I like to keep the creative juices flowing. I managed to get a little drawing time too – using new digital art tools…

Once we got moved into the new place, I continued building on work I had begun in the cabin, some based on sketches I had done over a year previous (summer of 2013), and even managed to get a little pottery done. I covered some of this work, such as my “Woodland Camping” theme in a post back in 2013, Autumn (2013) at the Cabin, and in a later post in May 2014, “Crazy for Clay“. Throughout the last two years, I continued to develop my core woodland themes with wood textures, tree and limb concepts, and all manner of birds and owls.

And so life went on… and I turned to new ideas, bird and owl totems, with symbols in their bellies, loosely inspired by indigenous american art. I wrote about this in Musings on Creativity.

Here is just a small sampling of the inspiration behind this work.

I carried this theme into a new motif based on Bear (which happens to be my personal totem).

I also explored Crow in more detail… covered in this post, “Crow“, and in bead strands I later assembled.

Looking forward, I have begun working on a couple of new series: one based on quilt motifs and stitched elements… here is some preliminary work for that…

And another is a series based on stars, constellation, and celestial navigation. This is in part an homage to my father, a career Air Force Navigator, who used celestial navigation in his work to plot the courses of planes he flew (this was in the days before computer and satellite navigation), and to my own love of astronomy (I’m a total space geek).

Here are a few bead “sketches”, works in progress, and inspiration images… much more to come!

My dad, explaining the use of a periscopic sextant for celestial navigation on airplanes.

Well that’s it in a nutshell. I have more ideas in my sketchbooks but whether I get to them or not remains to be seen. I’ll keep plodding along and we’ll see what pops up.
I wish you a happy and creative New Year. 🙂 

Karen Totten

Karen has worked professionally as an artist and designer for over 30 years in a variety of creative disciplines: architectural design, illustration, art direction, mixed media art, interaction design. She currently works full time as a User Experience (UX) Design Principal for an international consultancy. When not flying to work every week, her other passions are ceramic art, sketching, and occasionally, jewelry design. “For me, the creative life, from UX to fine art, has always been one of exploration and adventure. As the daughter of an air force navigator, I grew up a traveler. To this day I am intrigued by stories and motifs that transcend time, culture, and geography.“
  1. Reply

    Somehow, I missed the Bear totem! It's wonderful. I love the idea of constellations! Looking forward to the quilt motifs, too! Happy New Year to you!

  2. Reply

    Hi Karen, This is a wonderful post. I am amazed that you kept making components through the building that went on last year. I enjoyed your look back. Looking forward is even better. The quilt inspired beads are way cool and I like the constellations too. The space pics are awesome. I look at them too for inspiration.

    • Reply

      Thanks – it is funny because I didn't realize how much I got done over the year until I did this post. I feel slightly less guilty lol.

  3. Reply

    What a splendidly nerdy post! Thank you. Your tenacity and your art are amazing.

    • Reply

      "nerdy" – I love that! Pretty much how I am. Thanks!

  4. Reply

    Your life and work (past, present, and future) are interesting in equal parts! So very nice to read about your year, Karen! You are an inspiration! -Sharyl

  5. Reply

    I enjoyed your look back and look forward. I love the meaning you bring to your work. Your designs and glazes are amazing. You inspire me too.

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