Original fine art ©Michelle Rummel Shellrummel.com
I have been living and working in New York City for the past 8 days. It was an unexpected opportunity to rent an apartment in the city…A friend leaving town, she thought to ask me if I would like to stay. Too good to pass up, I just yelled YES…and imagined how I could and would spend two weeks away from home and my family in one of my favorite places. The first images in my mind were that of painting, creating. Quiet is a rare commodity in my home/studio. I don’t have the isolated, solitary, quiet painting time I used to have when my studio space was separate. And I miss it dearly.
I packed everything I could think I might want or need to create…art books that have been sitting, unread. All my watercolors, even the rarely used tubes. I brought my paper cutting knife…an interest I haven’t had time for. I brought yards of embroidery thread and needles to try my hand at embellishing my paintings.
The city is stimulating…I find I can get lost for hours just looking out the windows and watching the crowds float by. It’s loud. City noises that I am not used to hearing kept me up those first nights. I’m adjusting now and I imagine that by the end of this adventure I will barely notice the sirens and the horns at 3am (no matter, I’m usually wide awake then anyway;). The subway brings me downtown and unexpectedly, I find I like riding it! I walk everywhere, discover new streets, shops, restaurants…daily. I love the market…it has fresh flowers and smells so good. And I am working! A lovely morning at the NYDesign Center was filled with eye candy. I spent a day meeting with my design team in the showroom of my bedding Licensee and had a fantastic meeting to plan out the new collections that will launch in Spring 2015. I met with a potential new licensee too, and I know that partnership will be quite special when it finally comes together.
All these wonderful things and yet… I couldn’t paint. Oh, I tried… It’s all been set up and ready for me since day one. But I have found that it has taken me some time to get settled…to find a quiet pace that feels comfortable and good. I have had to be patient with myself and take time to adjust into this new place and space. An easy rhythm is necessary for me to create…
It seems today it finally came. Inspired by a photograph I took yesterday of two orchids in full bloom in a Madison Avenue window, my first ink and watercolor painted in my makeshift studio in NYC feels just right. I loved that walk…it was gently encouraged and it calmed me and inspired me. Looking forward to seeing what else may come from the brush/pen/thread in the coming days ~
There are many links in the above text, they just don’t show very well…hover over the text to see some of my visual inspiration ~
Original ink and watercolor ©Michelle Rummel
One of my fondest childhood memories brings me back to time spent getting lost in the pages of a set of old hardcover books that sat upon my grandfather’s bookshelf.
My grandfather was a serious, stoic man… hardened by the life he led…almost always gruff and slow to smile. I was often fearful of him; his voice stern and his words, sharp. Our paths crossed very little, except when I would get up the nerve to ask permission to enter his library and look through his collections of books.
His library was sacred space. A man of little means, he deeply valued his books and he spent his lifetime amassing a formidable collection. I was drawn to the space and learned early on that this was the way to his heart…he always allowed me to enter and choose a pile of books to quietly sit and sift through. He had one particular collection that always caught my eye…There were about 20 books. They were big, heavy, dusty…with cobalt blue hardcovers, each containing pages and pages of stardust swept stories of far off places; fairies in patterned petaled dresses and beautiful gossamer draped forest nymphs dripping with flowers and ocean waves tumbling with starfish and and seashells covered with glitter and always, always there were the most glorious mermaids with long flowing hair, it seemed. The illustrations were simply magical and they must have struck a deep chord with me as I sometimes catch myself adding, to the art I create all these years later, intricately detailed elements, not unlike those from the pages of those magical books .
This quick sketch from yesterday began, inspired by a photograph of a dancer that floated past me in the stream. As is my way for figurative sketches, I used the photo as a quick visual reference for shape but allowed my imagination and the free flow of ink to fill in the rest of the details. In the end, there is a joyful, illustrative quality that shines through in the lines of her … It brings me back and there is just something so lovely about that, I think ~
Design work has pulled at me daily for months. I love it…every consuming part of it. It’s been a very big project; 6 distinct bedding collections for a very prominent manufacturer that will launch at Fall Market in NYC…a huge undertaking that has been just as much a personal challenge as a professional one. Two of those collections have now been sent off to production…two more technical packages for beds 3 and 4 were printed today in my studio… The final 2 beds will come together in the next two weeks. I am so pleased I can barely contain it…surely those who know me well will just take one look at me and see, beyond my tired eyes, the pride I feel. It spills from me.
And so this week, with one major deadline almost behind me, in the gentle lull of a peaceful moment, I finally took a very deep breath. And somewhere in that quiet space between, I realized just how much my fingers ached for the brush. So I painted.
This one began as most do… a very quick sketch to get the form down. I wasn’t sure of it at first. I drew her free hand and I felt my fingers tighter than I like…I struggled a bit with proportion but eventually, the shape came. Watercolor next…a light touch, my usual palette…comfort in watery blues. I felt her neither here nor there until I detailed in some ink which added something indescribably wonderful to my eye.
And that’s when I realized how much I miss the feel of it…and when I say that, I mean more than just the way the brush feels in my hand…but also the way I feel when I am lost in a moment of creation. It’s a spark of sorts that fuels me on, effortlessly. Like a whisper that says, breathe….
In those moments, I listen…I smile slowly with closed eyes…I come alive.
Original ink and watercolor ©MichelleRummel
A wistful photograph floated my way on Pinterest and I was instantly drawn to it, the feel of the image…the mood created. And of course, it’s only natural considering how I feel about the sea and ocean rocks and all things pulled by tide and time. Inspired, I sketched her quickly in pencil, added detail in ink and let the watercolor flow as it does best. I like that there is a sense of contentment in the pose…of being one with saltwater, anchored in a daydream…at peace with the waiting ~
Original Pencil, Ink and Watercolor ©Michelle Rummel
This week’s play…an experiment of sorts. There have been a few ideas and techniques I’ve been wanting to explore.
Time is precious these days…my design work often leaves little time for play like this. Recently, since sleep has been eluding me, I’ve found myself sitting at my desk late into the night trying to fill the creative parts of me that ache to sketch and paint like this.
I like what’s emerging…There is possibility here. To my surprise, this little botanical sketch made my twitter stream explode ~ As of this writing, I am still gathering energy to make my way back there to thank so many for their kindness. It is always so curious to me, the paintings that seem to resonate the most with others.
Original Ink and Watercolor ©Michelle Rummel