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Blog — "art"

Light City Baltimore // Part Two

Heidi Shenk "Baltimore" art

Light City Baltimore

I don't usually post on Saturdays, but I couldn't help myself to squeeze in a second round of Light City Baltimore. And since the festival's last night is Sunday, I thought I'd post a few more photos to convince any of you locals to go this weekend if you haven't made your way there just yet. The diamond structures that you see above were some of my favorites in terms of their subtlety. Can they just stay along the promenade permanently?

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I loved the interactive nature of the installation The Pool. It kept both children and adults happy and delighted as they hopped from one circle to the next in order to create change in the light patterns and colors.

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In general, I loved the atmosphere of the festival. Everyone in attendance was so incredibly happy and in awe of the installations. The energy of the festival reminded me of why I love this city. As we near the one year anniversary of the riots that occurred last April, this festival felt symbolic for so many of us who live here. I only hope that it continues to be an annual tradition of celebrating Baltimore for many years to come.

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Light City Baltimore

Heidi Shenk "Baltimore" art music

Light City Baltimore

When I first started hearing about Light City Baltimore, I had no clue what it was. All of the descriptions were incredibly vague and didn't really explain things much. Essentially, I knew it was going to some sort of innovative festival dealing with lights, installation art, and technology. There was going to be a conference aspect as well.

As the festival neared, I learned more about it through various outlets. A friend of ours and a co-worker of Andrew's was working on a team for their firm to create an installation on the Living Classroom's lighthouse (pictured above) in the Inner Harbor. Andrew would tell me here and there about what he knew about the installation, and I learned more tidbits through the grapevine as well. Slowly the concept of the entire festival was coming together.

On Monday night, Andrew's firm hosted a happy hour to celebrate the beginning of the festival and the reveal of the light house installation. Afterward, we were able to take in the first evening of the festival, and it was spectacular.

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While each of the installations obviously involves light in some way, many of the installations also have musical and interactive aspects to them as well. There was something so incredibly excited about walking around the Inner Harbor amongst a crowd of people that were happily and excitedly talking about the art. Music from the installations drifted through the air, live music performances were taking place, and the city was aglow.

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We didn't have time to make it to each of the installations, but we plan on visiting the rest of them by the end of the week. If you're a Baltimore local, the festival runs through April 3rd, so there is still plenty of time to take in the installations and performances. I also highly recommend visiting the Light City Baltimore website, so that you can either plan a route or create a plan of attack since there is really so much to see and do.

Have you ever been to an installation art festival? Does your city put on similar festivals? If you're from Baltimore, have you been able to explore Light City?

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5 Ways to Jump Start Creativity

Heidi Shenk "business" "design" art daily life

How To Get Out of a Creative Rut

The past week has been slow in all senses of the word. The post-Valentine lull has arrived in my shop, I'm physically tired from the busy season and have been slow to start my days, the week has felt as though it's been creeping along, and I'm having trouble in the creative department.

This is not unusual. I have times like these throughout the year where I find myself needing to reboot. I might even have a mile long list of card ideas just waiting to be designed, but I just can't jump start my mind to get to the point of putting those ideas onto paper. When I'm stuck, I've found that there are a few things that help me to get out of that creative rut and become more productive again.

1 // Find a change of scenery. Usually this means that I pack up my tote with some sketchbooks, my idea book, and my pouch full of pens and markers and head to a coffee shop. I leave my computer behind, so I'm not likely to fall into a black hole, and I order a latte and a snack and just start sketching. Getting out of my studio and out of the house is a break from the norm that helps with productivity.

2 // Look for inspiration by visiting an art gallery. Sometimes when I'm in a creative rut, I need something to act as my brain's jumper cables. Being surrounded by art, reading the stories of the artists, and taking in different colors, textures, and ideas always leaves me feeling refreshed. This past Monday, I found myself in the American Art Museum in Washington, DC amidst O'Keefe, Miró, Picasso, Hockney, Lichtenstein, and Calder. I left the gallery feeling refreshed.

3 // Do something creative that isn't what you normally do. Sometimes I simply need a break. As much as I love illustration and design, doing the same thing over and over again can be monotonous. When I'm feeling a little this way, I turn to other outlets. I work on a craft project, bake something or try a new dinner recipe, play guitar or piano, or try a different art medium such as paint or pastel. Doing something different helps clear the mind and leaves me ready to come back to the task at hand.

4 // Get outside and explore your surroundings. Fresh air is one of the best ways to get the creative juices flowing. I might go hiking at a state park, go to the arboretum, or take a walk along the water. And you never know what you might see that will be inspiring in some way.

5 // Make plans to meet up with other creative people. Talking with others that are artistically minded is a huge creative booster. Hearing about projects others are taking on often helps to get my wheels spinning. My gold foil landscape prints came about after grabbing coffee with my cousin who is a painter. And I sometimes get ideas for designs while chatting with other card makers.

Is anyone else feeling a little stuck these days? Maybe it's just the winter weather bringing me down. Nothing like some good sunshine to boost my mood and productivity!

 

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A Family of Makers

Heidi Shenk art daily life

It wasn't until recently that I really thought about the family I am a part of as all being one in the same. And I don't mean that we're all the same people. We're all very different, but we all have something in common with our occupations-- we're makers. This was the norm growing up, so I don't think I ever thought anything of it. Certainly, I had always felt a bit out of the norm while explaining my parents' occupations, but it was also what has always been, and so I knew nothing else.

It wasn't until recently when I wrote this post, and my dad happened to like it, that I remembered my battles are the same ones that many in my family have fought over the years. Yes, we've talked about these topics quite a bit, but I just never stopped to think that we're in our own little world-- a world that many don't quite understand or will ever understand. We're outside of the box drawn by traditional career pathways and social norms, making a living off of something we're all passionate about doing-- making things.

My father is a luthier. For those that aren't familiar with that word, he builds instruments for a living-- mostly acoustic guitars and mandolins. He taught himself how to build his first guitar in his 20s, and he kept building them. He is a master woodworker outside of the guitar making realm as well, having spent years also building furniture and creating beautifully detailed woodwork in others' homes and ours as well. When my sister and I were little, he was a stay at home dad. His guitar shop was in a spare room in our house and he was able to work away while also taking care of us at home. In high school, I would go straight to his guitar shop after school, and I worked with him to build my own electric guitar.

My mother is a baker. She owns and operates a European style bakery that offers bread, pastries, and other food options. She bakes a large portion of her bread in a woodfired oven that my dad built. Her bakery began in the same spare room that my father's guitar shop used to be. She moved a massive four shelf commercial oven into the room when I was in elementary school. 21 years ago, the demand for her bread grew so much that she moved the bakery into a larger space outside of our home and officially opened the bakery. Several years later, she moved the bakery again into an even larger space, where she is currently located. I grew up with amazing bread and food as the norm and early on, I spent my summer working for her, running the cash register and serving customers.

And my sister knits and paints. Her knitted and painted apparel is her occupation. I don't ever remember a time when my sister wasn't making something. Growing up, we'd spent countless hours at a newspaper covered table painting with watercolors. Or we'd be up in the wee hours hunched over our sketch books with a fist full of markers. In high school we shared art projects. She brought home a mosaic, I a massive charcoal drawing. She a painting on canvas or board, I a piece of pottery thrown on the wheel. As siblings often do, we didn't always agree on everything and have had our fair share of bumps in the road, but one thing we've always been able to connect with is making.

Recently, I began to realize that making is something that extends far beyond just our immediate family. My grandmother, who recently passed away, was an amazing quilter. She had many patterns and works published over the years and even had her own fabric store for quite some time. She was always making something and often sold her wares at craft markets much like my sister and I do today. I have a cousin who is painter. An aunt who is an amazing knitter and book maker. A second cousin who is an incredible potter. Another cousin who makes films. An uncle who directs plays and creates costumes. Another cousin who is constantly making whether it be all sorts of amazing food, building his own house, or installing new floors in his second home. And when I stop to think about it all, I wonder if making is in our blood. But genetic or not, I feel proud to be part of the tradition of makers in our family.

Are you a maker? Are many others in your family makers as well, or did you choose to take a different path than those around you?

 

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On Being Creative

Heidi Shenk "business" "design" art

I stumbled upon this soundbite from Ira Glass a few days ago, and I could completely relate. During the past couple of years, I've worked really hard to hone my craft and to get to the point of making cards that I really, truly loved. Some of the cards that I designed when I first started my business were ones that I really didn't love, but it was the best I was able to do at the time. It has taken me five years to get there, but I feel happy with where I've found myself now. And because I've found my voice after all of that time, I feel even more creative energy through my work.

If you're struggling creatively, I hope you'll give this a quick listen. It's reassuring and encouraging for anyone who needs that little boost.

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