Reflecting on summer work, studio residencies, ‘from the field’ & ‘giving tuesday’

Resident Artist at Maine Farmland Trust’s artist residency at the Joseph Fiore Art Center. Photo by Kristin Dillon | Blue Horse Photo

Jeweler and Painter

If you received my recent email you may have already linked to the Maine Farmland Trust website page, with the snippet I wrote about my month long residence. There is so much to share! They even used my little watercolor sketch as the header of the past residents page, I am so honored. I could wax poetic about this experience for hours but here is a snippet.

Jefferson Maine is a formative place for me. I spent my childhood summers going to our log cabin ‘the camp,‘ built by my father, brothers and uncles, shortly before his life was eclipsed by cancer while I was very young.


It sits just a few miles away from where this artist’s center now exists, which would make my father so thrilled had he been alive to see this materialize. This camp I now share with siblings, is on the banks of a nearby body of water much smaller than this setting on Damariscotta Lake. The landscape is a part of my cellular memory, the plants almost a part of my DNA. This experience was a priceless opportunity to re-connect with parts of my integral artist being, for I began my adult life as a painter. This time reassured me, that my instincts are correct and I now have a path to pursue a project that will hopefully come to fruition in 2020.

Haystack and Legacies

Not only this one residency but I was fortunate to have  kicked off summer with a freezing two week residency at another precious place, Haystack.  I was accompanied by many amazing artists that I now feel are friends and colleagues.  I want to simply state how important artists residency’s are to an artist’s practice and development.

(NOTE: read more about Haystack and how it connects to my graduate school at Cranbrook and Black Mountain School, where Joseph Fiore studied and taught – click on the link above, which links to much press about the current exhibition about Haystacks formative years).

Giving Tuesday and Not for Profit Arts Organizations

So, as the paradigm  in the US does not currently support not for profit arts organizations such as these two, nor is it supportive of artists in general so please consider how you can help.

Thankfully places like Haystack School of Craft and Maine Farmland Trust continue to raise funds to support artists such as myself in our passions and our need for time and place to work. For this I am grateful… but I am also asking, as we are upon ‘Giving Tuesday’ to consider donating to as many arts organizations as you can.

I will just end with some images that Kristin Dillon of Blue Horse Photo took of me in my studio the open studio day at the Joseph Fiore Art Center.

Utricularia vulgares in guoache on 22″ x30″ BFK rives black paper. Plant was released back into the lake from my kayak.
I did not draw or paint directly from this microscope borrowed from Maine Mychological Association, but it would help me look at plant structures so I could adapt my brushstroke to reference the gesture of growth habit. Sometimes counting parts for accuracy in morphology.
It was fun to see what details Kristin picked up with her lens. Wonderful person and wonderful photography.

A watercolor sketch of the black walnut tree outside of my studio I became quite enamored with.
22″ x 30″ moss gouache painting on paper by j.e. paterak- haircap moss on rock from stonewall at Rolling Acres Farm

Volunteer herbarium preparator at Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens










On the first Tuesday of every month for over a year now, my friend Rebecca Goodale (a book artist) and I have been going to Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens to assist with the preservation and display of plant samples for scientific, historical and climate related research for the new herbarium in place at the gardens. In a recent Portland Press Herald, Meredith Goad wrote an article about Herbariums in Maine. Images above (left) my grid of nine samples that I laid out and glued last month and then posted this complete set on Instagram. In the second image (right)  Gallium palustre that is the plant mentioned in the article for being one of the tricky delicate ones. However in December I learned the specimens that are collected from lakes are even more challenging, as they absorb the glue and do not remain rigid, making it really difficult to lay out. To see more photos and follow my explorations both at and beyond the bench, follow me on Instagram.

An invitation as I move forward (or walking as inspiration part 2)

As part of the work I have written my MAC grant proposal on, I will be posting (here) reflections on the urgency of climate awareness. I am no preacher, but I do believe beauty carries with it a message that deserves listening to. For me part of my work, in addition to making objects to be worn for consumption and adornment, is the fact that my basis for making anything is to communicate and I communicate through beauty. I observe then I make. I take photographs then I make. I walk then I make. I draw then I make. It is this rhythm that I am becoming more acutely aware of now, after years of not being afforded the luxury of time. There was a necessary interruption as I became caretaker, for my elderly parent and children, which need tending to daily. An art unto itself, but I must confess I desperately missed my studio time, my walks, my life of inner thought and making. Now that I am back I will share here, as well as on instagram, my observations, thoughts photos and drawings. For me it is not a way to sell things as much as a desperate call to others to view my work as a vector, to create actions of observation, awareness reverence even, perhaps be cautious about consumption and waste and to pay attention to rhythms and witness nature’s extreme intelligence that deserves more than for us to simply tread upon it. As I look at moss, into tide pools, at mushrooms, roots and rocks, look with me and yes perhaps help support me in doing so. My intention is to create enough work (prints, drawings, objects, jewelry) over this winter to have an exhibition that better express my desire for a course correction in how humans interact with earth. Here you can chose to revisit or not as I work towards this goal.


One touch of nature makes the whole world kin.  William Shakespeare

Walking as Inspiration


Excerpt from a recent artist statement of mine:

Walking is an act that is critical to my practice. Gazing towards one’s feet is meditative, just as one’s breath. While navigating the ground below, patterns of growth and life are ever-present underfoot. I find this comforting and forever rich with material to draw from. I am happy to become lost, in the sense that my explorations take me to places where I am uncertain of what is next or what the outcome is, but it is through this act of getting lost that we come to know ourselves the best. It is also a place where we can connect with others.

I have needed to write an artist statement for a few things recently. Eventually I may settle on one, but currently I change them often. Each day I walk into the studio I am pondering new thoughts and along with them many ideas are happening with never enough time to make them all. But I thought I would share with you my recent reflections on walking and hiking. I guess I think of hikes when I really have to pack a bag that has not only a snack, my phone and water, but various layers for weather changes, hiking polls, proper footwear,a few emergency provisions such as a knife, some twine, my bevy etc…. but whether it is a prepared for hike to the White Mountains with friends or more simply a walk on familiar turf, such as Capisic Pond Park or Evergreen Cemetery, I eagerly take to the trail or road ahead.  Sometimes it feels like an escape from the mundane daily tasks that must be done, but can be tiresome without respite, but more recently, I am finding as ‘food’, as a part of my practice. It feeds my work in both direct and indirect ways.

Without writing at length it is hard to summarize how I hope this develops in the next year. I plan on updating this news/blog more often for my patrons and customers but also for myself. Soon I will write  about seaweed and moss | land and sea and work I have planned for 2019, in part due to a small grant from the Maine Arts Commission. For now, I will just leave you with this simple ring that somehow emerged as I worked in wax one day, only later I realized it was the roots, the ridgeline and the geological markings on stone all at once. Our brains are fascinating filters and when walking it all happens quite effortlessly.

This would look quite lovely in gold with an itty bitty diamond. Always happy to work with gold for custom work.



Plant forms, seeds (plant ovaries), flower forms and more!

Botanical forms and imagery have long been a part of my work, and landscape has been at its roots.

j.e. paterak studio jewelry and botanical inspiration
Studio as laboratory

Given the chance, I can wax poetic about the role of plants on this blue marble we call Earth. We cannot exist without them, which is the simplest reason to revere them.

Being an artist, it is of course the beauty and grace of form that gets to my core. My curiosity and quest when I go out into the world is unceasing. Numerous threads of inspiration began this summer, as I adventured and explored some enamel techniques I had only admired from afar.




Penland experiments in progress
Penland experiments in progress

Enamel is a pathway back to using color in my metalwork. I do not want to reveal too much as this work is really in its embryonic stages, slowly forming in my mind as I do not have the kind of time I will once I am back at the bench full time. Soon. In the meantime I am following threads finishing pieces that have long been in process or have been in my psyche. I am engaged and happy at the bench with small breaks of walking observing nature moving into quiescence.

Bear in mind while you wander and observe along your paths, that plants, in addition to giving us food, energy, shelter, beauty, also hold secrets, secrets we may not even know.

I am in love with the fact that new scientific discoveries are still made every day! This is fantastic news because it gives me hope that someone is going to discover something that will finally change the destructive course we are currently on. Buckminster Fuller said that he believed there are invisible structures that we cannot perceive. I feel I have observed some of nature’s notations on structure and it relates to sound and form. As artistic inspiration it is a wonderful thing when something can capture your curiosity and take you down a path. I am following a path, curious to discover where it leads. Wonder.

I may come back and add some links to this post and embellish it further but in the mean time I will just add a few images of plant forms I find fascinating, enjoy.

sundew at HVNC bog
sundew at HVNC bog