I’m teaching at Art and Soul Portland September 2012!


Art and Soul Inspirational Mixed Media Retreats

I’m teaching how to make my Scrap Fabric Book and Multi Dimensional Book (images below) at Art and Soul Portland in September! I couldn’t be more excited. Traveling to teach has been on my list of things I really want to do… a dream come true. View more of the other fabulous artist workshops here. I’m especially grateful to have been asked.

Scrap Fabric Rectangles

©2010 Leah Virsik, Scrap Fabric Rectangles multi-section pamphlet stitch, paper, thread, hand screened cover, eyelets, button, elastic 5 5/8 x 5 5/8 x 1/2 inches

Snack: Hungry for Growth Series by Leah Virsik

©2010 Leah Virsik, Snack: Hungry for Growth Series paper and thread, running stitch binding 2 x 5 x 1 1/2 inches

On that note, I was browsing through the Cal State East Bay magazine tonight and ran across an article stating that students who blog get jobs. Having an online presence has definitely made a difference in my career. It has broadened my world and put me in touch with people I wouldn’t normally come into contact. It’s a valuable source of connection.

Meanwhile, I’m getting ready for Teahouse Studio’s Holiday Art Fair in Berkeley on Saturday, December 10, 2011 • 10am – 5pm. Come and support local artists and crafters.

Crafting Table!
From 12-3pm a crafting table will be set up where you can make your very own fingerless gloves! All materials will be on hand to get your craft on!

Refreshments & Drawing!
Food, drinks + a drawing to win a free spot in a future Teahouse Studio workshop.

Mati Rose McDonough • Tiffany Moore • Stefanie Renee • Liz Kalloch • Jen Hewitt • Steph Cortes of Nerd Jerk • Stacy Newman of Hello Cupcake • Blue Chair Fruit • Jennifer Parker • Leah Virsik • Yueh-Wen Chang (Wen) of Sora Designs • Rachel Cole • Amelia Strader of GoGo Craft

**More details here


Squares in Circles
©2011 Leah Virsik Squares in Circles acrylic, paper towel, tissue paper, found paper, wood shavings, punched circles and squares on paper 4 x 6 inches

I’m feeling a lot of gratitude lately. I had a wonderful Thanksgiving visit with my in-laws. Tom made a really yummy fish soup per my request. I made pomegranate balsamic vinegar dressing. We both exercised in the morning. Tom encouraged me to go the night before by asking if I had ever felt bad after I went to yoga. Never. I always feel better afterward. It’s helpful also to commit the night before when I have morning practice.

Alice, the owner and inspiration behind Loka Yoga has built an incredible community of people and made a comment about how appreciative she is that people continue to show up to practice. It’s like having her birthday every day. It brought tears to my eyes. I get that when I teach. It’s incredible and amazing to have people show up.

Some other highlights: Tom and I are having fun in the garden building planter boxes. I’m enjoying Linda Lum’s Collage and Composition class at Foothill College. It’s much  more difficult for me online so I’m glad to have the opportunity to go to campus for the rest of the class. Tom and I saw the documentary The Swell Season last night. Loved it. Any opportunity to see Glen Hansard and Markéta Irglová I am there. 🙂



Send your promo cards to art schools too

I love listening to artists talk. I feel very lucky to live very close to Mills College and enjoy the opportunity to hear their visiting artists’ lectures. Last week I heard Leslie Shows who will also be in conversation  with Lawrence Rinder, the Director of Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive on Wednesday, December 14 from 5:30 to 7:30 at Haines Gallery. Talk is at 6:00 p.m. She was quite articulate and left an impression on me. I’m looking forward to seeing her work in person. Her strong interest in materials is reflected in her work.

Afterward, I was in the hallway looking at the promotional art mailers on the wall and a postcard of James Gayles caught my eye. I know James through the Artists Engaged critique group. I had never thought of sending one of my promotional postcards to art schools but what a great idea. Thanks James! I’ve put my cards out at art supply stores, on the community board where I go food shopping, cafes, galleries, but yah, now I’m adding art schools and art centers. You just never know how people will find you.

Cloth Paper Studios Pages Premiere Issue

The Premiere Issue of Cloth Paper Scissors Pages is out now and I’m excited to say I have an article in it. The page with the number 45 below shows my mostly orange watercolor and fabric journal with a red button. It’s filled with lots of great books and articles that I got to enjoy when I got home today.

I got a really wonderful email from Rebecca who read the magazine and wanted to know where to get cloth book tape or if she could use something else. I have found book cloth tape called Filmoplast T Tape at Talas and PaperSource and Paperstudio.

One can also buy book cloth and use PVA glue to adhere it to paper or board. Another option is to make your own book cloth. Google “make your own book cloth” and you’ll find many resources. Here are detailed instructions from the fabulous Roz Stendahl. You really could use something else besides book cloth too. I imagine velvet could work and something that’s flexible and durable like laminated (multiple sheets glued together) sheets of Tyvek.

Many years ago before I had email, I was reading a cooking magazine and I wanted to make the complicated recipe that included fennel. I didn’t know what that ingredient was at the time and I called the chef in New York to find out. He actually called me back and it really touched my heart. I’m grateful for that experience and for so many people in my life who I’ve asked questions of and they’ve responded.

A snack along the creative journey

Snack: Hungry for Growth Series by Leah Virsik
©2010 Leah Virsik, Snack: Hungry for Growth Series paper and thread, running stitch binding 2 x 5 x 1 1/2 inches

I was among five other artists who won a merit award for artwork in the Adobe Art Gallery 34th Area Artists’ Annual Juried Exhibit in Castro Valley, CA. My piece “Snack” pictured above was recognized. The show runs through December 1, 2011. Click for more details. It was quite a treat. At the same time awards and approval are such an interesting thing. On one hand I want to analyze the process of how I was able to make this piece and repeat that effort. On the other hand, I know that as I create, some work is going to more admired by some than others and the less analyzing I do the better. I know the value of the creative process is the chance to get to know myself on a deeper level and to just continue making whether my work is liked or not. On to the next thing…

This week I’m wrapping up teaching a fun Mixed-Media Fabric Collage class this Wednesday at Richmond Art Center. I’ll be  finishing up my block along with a ton of other artists for Pro Arts Box Art exhibit on November 4. Later this month, I’m looking forward to visiting family in LA and checking out the artists books of Yani Pecanins at UC Irvine.

Thanks to Tom for doing laundry and his encouragement to help make this post possible.



Books and latest inspiration

I feel a bit of excitement. Another student signed up for a class I’m teaching next week. I was working in the studio this morning experimenting with burning fabric with a wood burning tool. Not exactly what I expected but different things emerged that I liked especially the color of  the  burned muslin.

I’m now reading Ernest Hemingway’s A Moveable Feast recommended by Natalie Goldberg in her book Writing Down the Bones. I love reading or hearing about an artist’s process and both of these books are very engaging. You have my high recommendation. I picked up both these books at the library. If there’s any way I don’t have to accumulate more stuff it’s a good thing.

Mapping the Intelligence of Artist Work: An Explorative Guide to Making, Thinking and Writing arrived today. I ordered  it after seeing Kathy deRosas‘ copy. We’re in a crit group put on by Lisa Kokin and I find the relationship building and personal growth invaluable.

I’ve been struggling with my work lately and Victoria May encouraged me to  honor my own process directing me to two artists Brad Brown and Nigel Poor who emphasize their process in their art.

I just discovered the wonderful collage work of Clare Goddard thanks to this Pinterest page of Ali Edwards.



Recent discoveries

What gets me excited? Discovery. Here are some recent internet discoveries.

I came across the fabulous blog of Shannon G. Wright looking at the SJSU Faculty. In this post of hers I especially love this quote:
“There are, it seems, two muses: the Muse of Inspiration, who gives us inarticulate visions and desires, and the Muse of Realization, who returns again and again to say “It is yet more difficult than you thought.” This is the muse of form. It may be then that form serves us best when it works as an obstruction, to baffle us and deflect our intended course. It may be that when we no longer know what to do, we have come to our real work and when we no longer know which way to go, we have begun our real journey. The mind that is not baffled is not employed. The impeded stream is the one that sings.”
— Wendell Berry

In her post, she also mentions the sculptor Tony Cragg who I hadn’t heard of when I initially read this post. But just this past week Tom and I were at SFMOMA in their sculpture garden and his sculpture Guglie left such an impression on me that I had to go look him up. Tom also pointed out a newly acquired SFMOMA work by Sergej Jensen made up of hand-sutured off-white and white linen scraps that I really liked.

Just came across this intriguing SF blog about books: Curled Up with a Book.

Lisa Occhipinti’s blog turned me onto the sublime (great description Lisa!) work of Gwen Samuels.

In Lesley Riley’s email newsletter she mentions Mark Carder.  Mind you, I have no desire to paint realistically with oils but after listening to his free videos on The Carder Method, I wanted to buy everything he’s created on how to do just that. Really worthwhile.

I listen to a fair amount of interviews and one I particularly enjoy is the Lesley Riley’s Art and Soul Radio. Today I listened to her interview of  Darlene Olivia McElroy. Darlene has some fabulous videos on her site including one I want to try:  Gampi transfers.

On getting published

There are different ways to go about getting published. Jen Segrest in this Craft Sanity podcast talks about her work getting published from it’s initial discovery on Flickr. That was enough to inspire me to join the photo-based community. Another reason I use Flickr is that I find it an incredibly easy way to document and categorize my work. I also appreciate the opportunity for feedback that the Flickr community provides.

Cloth Paper Scissors Studios found my art studio door on Flickr and used it for an article they wrote in their Spring 2011 issue. They liked some other photos I had on Flickr and with some cleaning and a wonderful mom who helped me arrange things, I was also featured in their Summer 2011 issue. Click to see some of my studio images.

Another way to get published…submit. That’s actually the business model of this magazine in particular. They rely on artists to write articles and submit photos, the artists appreciate the publicity and it’s a great way to sell their magazines.


Daily Practice and Poetry

Daily Book Page 3.23.11
©2011 Leah Virsik, Daily Book Page 3.23.11 found paper, wax paper, and ink on paper pages: 5 x 3 3/4 inches

This inspiring TED video featuring Sarah Kay really touched me. She creates incredible spoken word poetry. One thing I know to be true is the more work I create, the more I learn about myself.

And speaking of spoken word poetry, I came across this gorgeous typographic animation by Ronnie Bruce of Taylor Mali’s poem “Totally like whatever, you know?”.  via Alphabet Roadtrip.

Now, the Bowery Poetry Club is on my list of places to visit.


Daily Book Page 3.22.11

©2011 Leah Virsik, Daily Book Page 3.21.11 found paper, wax paper, and ink on paper pages: 5 x 3 3/4 inches

Much resistance this morning to getting up,  to doing this work above, etc. But I feel good having done it. It’s like a touchstone for the day. I realize this is probably how I best like to blog, jotting down short little snippets and random information about my day.

Really enjoyed listening to Ricky Gervais’ HBR interview on not having a real job yesterday. He’s the creator of the hit television series The Office. A couple of things that he said that stood out for me are to “write what you know” and that “the point of art is to make a connection”. Another great interview is that of Vidal Sassoon on Fresh Air.