Tools & Talismans #62 — Mary Anne Radmacher

Today is the last Tools & Talismans post of 2016, so I wanted to pause for a second or 3 and take in that I've painted 62 of these collection paintings, and each and everyone of them has taught me something about painting, about life, and about the “stuff” we save and treasure.

My biggest take-away so far is really understanding how most {or at least many} of us move through our days and weeks and years with a small collection of talismans that are touchstones to our hearts, to our centers, to our practices, but mostly they are elements that remind us of who we are, and that help us feel a sense of certainty in an ever changing world. The other interesting thing? Many of these talismans are also tools. Functional. Practical. Useful. There's something in that apparent dichotomy that fascinates me — lucky charm or amulet to utilitarian utensil. Something to ponder, right?

So today, is Tools & Talismans painting #62 with Mary Anne Radmacher, an old friend, collaborator and fellow artist. I talked to her a few days ago to let her know hers would be the last one posted this year, and she had some additional thoughts to share:

“Right now, in this period of time, my tools and my talismans have been my tether, my roots and my wings — both grounding and lifting me. My tools and talismans aren't decorative photo shoot props, they’re functioning elements of my everyday life as a working creative.

It's always a physical thing with my tools and talismans — the old ruler {pictured above} is always in my purse, and I reach for it in moments of anxiety or uncertainty to remind myself of who I am, what matters most to me and what my priorities are.”

So, on to Mary Anne’s Tools & Talismans, some stories and some thoughts:

I admit to phases of favorite tools. The tools here have been “in phase” for years, or even decades.

I’ve worn through or lost more multi-purpose knives than I can count: this one has had its home with me for 12 years.  

The magnifying glass is especially helpful in cleaning art up before taking a scan, helping me look closely at my lettering lines.

I founded a state-wide conference for secretaries and administrative assistants decades ago. In my search for materials to assist the attendees in their work, I contacted the 3M company. They agreed to provide a host of products to my guests as long as I agreed to test a product they were considering releasing. Of course I said yes — and post-it notes have been a key part of my papered life ever since!

Clips. Especially wee clips. I use them to hold art, to gather cords, to hold all kinds of disparate elements together. 

I’ve made my own travel watercolor set using bubble tea straws and an old small mint tin. It fits nicely and with my water brush helps me be creative in the most unlikely places.

My very creative husband asked me what I wanted him to make — I asked for a representation of my favorite brush form, enso. It’s now my favorite talisman as jewelry. 

The glass icon I painted to look like fireworks in the night sky. I carried it in my pocket every day for over a year and now it is always close — even though it’s not always in my pocket.

Can’t imagine a life without dogs. And, fortunately for me, I do not have to.

Japanese Masking Tape. How did I live without it? 

My father and tools. He was a journeyman mechanic. welder. Production Manager for a manufacturing plant. I come by my love of basic tools honestly. I am never far from the reach of a ruler and that very old folding ruler is my favorite.

Pens. Of all sorts, of course.  I will say that writing instruments manufactured in Japan turn out to win my pen competitions almost all of the time.

— Author, artist and professional speaker, Mary Anne Radmacher