I walked into my studio earlier this month and saw, to my shock, that my huge installation work in progress was hanging by one chain instead of four. That day, while I waited for help to arrive to fix it, a young couple walked in to the gallery. They didn't realize the piece was anything other than supposed to look this way, and found it fascinating. Both commented how it looked like a cascading waterfall with water flowing on to the floor.

Seeing it through their eyes it stopped looking like a potential disaster and more like an idea that could be developed intentionally for the future.

One small chain held this whole piece up. When the other chains came down, the wooden hanger evidently tilted up against the suspended ceiling and helped add some support.

My husband soon arrived to help, and we carefully reconnected the other three supports to the ceiling grids. For the next two days, I untangled the chains and figured out where to rehang them. Many had fallen and come apart. Three days later, the piece provided a stunning backdrop when we welcomed 400 visitors to the gallery for Downtown Canandaigua's August Wine Walk.

It's surprising to me how unanticipated problems and obstacles can create new opportunities.. I like the idea of combining the openness of the left hanger and the denseness of the circular cluster on the right. My mind is quietly considering how I could make this happen intentionally - bent wood, wire form, free standing wire and wooden structure?

Isn't it rather surprising (and encouraging) how problems and setbacks can create new insights and opportunities?

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I spent the first week of May in Santa Fe, my third art retreat with my friend Diane. We immersed ourselves in journaling, painting, visiting galleries and talking non-stop about art, creative process and our challenges, desires and directions.

We set up the dining room table in our condo as our pre and post-class painting area. We'd wake up in the morning, eat, dress, go to the workshop and paint big, eat, then have a glass of wine or cup of tea and paint small until we went to bed.

Each day in the workshop I created (pretty much) a whole new painting. On the previous day's painting!

On the first day at Lauren Mantecon's studio for her four-day "Anything Goes: Working Large and More" workshop, I worked in greyscale for my painting start, just throwing marks and elements on the canvas playfully and without any thought.

The second workshop day, I selected the word "place" as an inspiration. Once I did, I could see architectural structures forming on this version. I added color, pushing back some elements and bringing others forward. I tried whatever came to mind, exploring, feeling my way. No matter that it was rough and unresolved, I liked what was happening and felt I could refine and improve it.

On day three, after a chakra-opening exercise, I became deeply aware of my desire for expansiveness and heart-opening. I completely covered up the second day painting start and headed in a new direction.

One of the most valuable parts of a workshop like this one is working alongside other artists. It really brought it home that I am not the only one who experiences highs and lows as I create. Almost every artist in the room had to reinvent each day. They took risks that didn't work, then reinvented and tried something else. It was amazing to both observe and participate in that process, because even though I invent and reinvent on my own in my studio, the sheer scale of a whole room full of artists doing the same alongside me was incredible. Such intense energy!

All the stimulation and perceptions from the week are still percolating inside. As my considerations lead to insights about where my art practice is heading and why, I'll share some of them with you.

When Susan Carmen-Duffy, founder of Create Art 4 Good, a studio and gallery in Rochester's Hungerford Building, invited me to participate in a collaborative art project, I said yes. Yes! I've always wanted to collaborate with other artists and see what trying to mesh distinct styles and mediums can inspire.

The collaboration guidelines are simple. Two artists both start pieces and exchange them two months later; then they each have another two months to complete the piece that's been given to them. Ten artists have been invited to participate and paired into five teams. Each team will produce two new works. The finished works will join the other collaborators' pieces and Susan will exhibit them in her gallery.

Susan chose Jennifer Buckley to be my partner. Jen is a friend from my Hungerford studio days; she's also a talented potter who makes functional pottery and incredibly popular garden totems.

Jen and I met to discuss options for how a painter and potter could work together and she showed me some interesting samples. I realized I could create a substrate using tools and materials that are comfortable for me and she could complete it by adding ceramic elements. She could even add a ceramic frame to a small painting.

When she showed me some little clay pieces she makes into buttons, I knew we could make it work.

Some of the little clay sculptures Jen makes in a variety of sizes, shapes and glazes.

I decided to create a 20" x 20" grid of textures and patterns using a variety of acrylic texture mediums and paints on a cradled wood panel. I decided different textures and patterns would give Jen a lot of inspiration. She can cover part or all of the surface.

Ready for Jen to create, glaze and glue design elements - I''m looking forward to seeing how she'll finish this.

Here's a close up slide show so you can see the textures more clearly. I'm trying to imagine what designs and colors Jen will choose to complete this, but we'll both have to wait until the exhibition to see the finished pieces.

In Part 2, I'll show you what I get from Jen to complete and try to figure out how I'm going to do that!

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