Archive for the ‘aging’ Category

on proportion…

Friday, December 18th, 2015
church pew

church pew

The muse is in residence these days while the brain is trying to interfere with ‘maybe now would be a good time to clean out the basement’ or ‘ let’s start the final purge in the living room today.’

The first is illogical and the second impractical. Who wants to spend time in a basement in December? And since I already purged the entire house, I have more than enough tax deductible donations for this year anyway.

One should never ever ignore the muse when she is thriving! So now ‘we’¬†are designing number ten. That in of itself is exciting, meaning I am nearly to the half-way point in the series. I continue to love and be inspired by this meaningful narrative work.

While I was gifted with an innate sense of color I was behind the door when perspective was handed out. Well that is not entirely true. I have keen perspective on human interaction and social behavior, but am ‘blind’ when it comes to seeing proportion and perspective when I design my work. I have taken numerous classes in perspective, which have taught me at least where to start but it is as if that part of my brain is asleep. So that is where my in-house critic comes in handy!

It has not always been this way. I have been designing textile art¬†for over a decade now and initially ¬†resented the in-house critic’s comments about proportion and perspective. Eventually or as my mother used to say…too soon old, too late smart I figured out it is not criticism as the word critique might imply but rather an enormous aid to a skill I simply don’t possess.

Since I don’t see perspective it’s a challenge to draw a cartoon for¬†my¬†work. So I googled church pews to get a picture from which to start. Even so my first construction of the pews did not look like rows of seats but rather lines on fabric. In stepped my helper and mentioned the pews go all the way to the floor (duh!), so after a bit of repositioning, voila! church pews. He also helped me with the building. And I plan to engage his point of view later today with another aspect.¬†We make such a good team but then¬†I already knew that!

country club

country club


life stories…

Wednesday, September 23rd, 2015
Medical Research from the TallGirl Series: A Body of Work

Medical Research from the TallGirl Series: A Body of Work

It has been nearly a month since I posted. I used to be so good at this! Well I do have my list of excuses‚Ķ As a wizen woman once told me, what good are excuses if we don’t use them?¬†

I continue to work on and enjoy the process of the collaborative series. I am now stitching #9 while simultaneously drafting the design for #10.

Number eleven will likely be the surgery piece of which I am still uncertain. A therapist long ago told me I might never get over the drastic changes made to my body. This subject has literally defined my life so it absolutely needs a place in this series; yet what to say that I have not already said?

Appropriately enough I have, for the past year had major inflammation & debilitation issues with one of my knees which was replaced four years ago. All tests have proven the prosthesis is stable but there is definitely something amiss. Some say more surgery, others say no more surgery!

This reminds me once again just how unique my medical history is and how I continue to be a medical oddity. And yet I push through, a day at a time, putting one foot in front of the other. I do admit though to being envious of those who move with ease in the world without so much as a thought. Sometimes I just watch people walk, in complete awe of how effortless it seems. Yet everything is relative, as I feel cheated by those who can walk, run and sprint; there are those who have felt cheated to have been cut down in their prime.

Last week another such wonderful person, a strong and courageous friend of over six decades, died. Chris and I met in utero as our parents were university neighbors and life-long friends. Although we lived in different states, our families gathered together almost yearly. Chris and I really connected in our adolescence and stayed in touch throughout high school, college, marriages, divorce, kids, careers, retirements and cancer. Whenever I feel the least bit of sorrow for my broken body I am also aware of just how blessed I am to be otherwise healthy. I am a little slower but still putting out the art and increasingly grateful for the opportunity to do so.

on reinvention…

Saturday, January 3rd, 2015


We have arrived at the reinvention time of year. That time of year when optimistic folks think they need to change the very behavior that makes them human. And being such they lapse back to their comfort zone generally within the first month.

I have not set New Year’s resolutions about as far back as I can remember. It is part of my herd-free¬†mentality. I never want to be doing what everyone else is doing at the same time.

This is the primary reason I have not allowed my hairdresser to color my hair lavender or aqua or green. I will wait ten years until no one is doing it and then if so motivated will go for it. After all, I was the first white woman in suburbia with an afro back in the ’70s. As soon as the grannies got into the ‘fro act I was¬†done. For me it¬†is the same with self-improvement resolutions. I continue to be a work in progress year-round.

For the past several years I have been setting art goals for the year ahead, however. Often they have been quite optimistic yet when revisited have often come to fruition. And yet in December I was unable to find the motivation to set goals for the 2015 year.

And then it hits me. I have not written my art goals for 2015 because I am still thick in the middle of my art goals for 2014. So the primary goal is to continue on, to continue the work that is hammering me physically and psychologically. The work I have chosen to do, the work that further examines how my upbringing shaped my world view. And how I have lost balance, have no leg to stand on, have been rendered paralyzed numerous times in the past six months which has in turn kept me from my work, from my studio, from the progress I need to make to achieve this goal.

I am reminded of a therapist nearly 30 years ago when after months of talking about all the obvious said, are you now ready to deal with your childhood? I said no, I am not. I felt then it would be a gigantic can of worms that I was just not ready to look at. How wise I was then to recognize the can of worms. For now I am in the can, wiggling about, and it is still not very comfortable, let alone without the wisdom of another to guide me. And yet I feel I have only scratched the surface.

My current¬†art goal is to continue to wade through the grief, to unravel the pain, to remember, to forgive, to have compassion, to make the work. And to create yet another body of work that impacts others to look at their own stories. I guess that is what they call ‘pay it forward’‚Ķit informs my life, both as¬†teacher‚Ķand¬†student.



unexpected nirvana…

Wednesday, November 12th, 2014
the view from our room

the view from our room

I just returned from a fabulous five-day art retreat on the shores of Lake Tahoe. What could have been a disastrous turn of events actually turned into nirvana for me. The classroom I was assigned to was midway up on billy goat mountain. I traversed it slowly with cane and friend in tow four times on the first day and that night my knee cried “uncle!”

In the night I decided that the best plan was to have my sewing supply bag and workshop machine brought down from on high to our large room. There I set up shop & laid out designs on the spare bed. Sewing primarily by hand, I worked propped up on the bed with pillows and ice, with lovely Lake Tahoe out the window and Pandora cranking out the tunes on my iPad. It literally was divine! What I actually needed on this retreat, without realizing it until then, was long periods of solitude, to rest my brain and body.

The teacher Lorie McGown, texted me during the days and asked permission to come to studio solitude to check out my work progress. That too was great as I got to know her, had private instruction and got her good feedback on my work. A kindred spirit indeed!

My intention for the retreat was to get going¬†on¬†another piece in the 25 pc collaborative series I have been working on this year. ¬†This piece is about my handcraft heritage and I planned to incorporate hand-crocheted doilies, hand-knitting, my great grandmother’s hand-crocheted head scarf, my father’s christening gown, etc.

What I hadn’t been able to figure out was how to make it pop as¬†the french vanilla beige was boring to me. Lorie encouraged me to layer and incorporate pieces of my own work into it and from there it just took off.

father's christening gown on handwoven cloth

father’s christening gown on handwoven cloth

For example, this piece¬†still in progress of my father’s christening gown is sewn to my handwoven silk scarf and my great aunt’s handwoven shawl. Another piece incorporated a lovely quilted belt my mother had made for herself in the ’90’s. She was a world-class hand piecer and quilter.

layers of doilies and Mom's hand-pieced quilting

layers of doilies and Mom’s hand-pieced quilting

Now I am back and rediscovering the challenges of not being able to hand-stitch 8 hours a day!

when enough is enough…

Saturday, September 13th, 2014

curved.pathWhen I am not making art, traveling, exercising, doing chores, sleeping or eating I am usually reading the few magazines that I receive which tend to stack up. I am not much of a reader, never have been, as my mind races. I acquire¬†most of my information off the internet or in snippets of articles in magazines, including art publications. And that is where today’s epiphany happened.

I have spent considerable time, effort and funds marketing my work over the years and I feel good about the results. And yet, as artists we are continually reminded how much more marketing we should be doing, how much more social media we should be engrossed in, how much the market is changing, different markets to appeal to, etc, etc, etc.

Simultaneously there are the consciousness messages about being fully present, taking no more than we need, giving back, healing ourselves, healing others, healing the planet etc, etc, etc.

When I read the latest marketing tips I often cringe because I feel I am doing enough already. Sure I could more, but how much more and for how long? I am not 30 anymore. I do not want to work 80 hr weeks promoting my art.  In spite of my work ethic I strive for more present moments.

For me, being fully present could be acceptance that I am doing enough to market my work. To engage in more social media, more time in front of the big screen is the exact opposite of de-cluttering my internal life. It really is the same old message about not being good enough but in a different dress. I am doing enough.


everyone has something…

Tuesday, August 12th, 2014

On Sunday hubs and I drove to San Jose for the opening reception of “Forming Our Lives”, a 3-woman exhibit at the San Jose Museum of Quilts & Textiles. My contribution to this show is five pieces from my Tall Girl Series: A Body of Work¬†which¬†best conveyed the gist of my¬†story.medical-research-D

A while ago I felt I was through showing this work. It had served its purpose in allowing me to grieve my lost body parts, the barbarism and the ongoing effects on my mobility and stamina. For me, the story simply became it is what it is, something I live with daily but rarely talk about anymore. The healing aspect of this work is complete for me. And yet opportunities continue to present themselves to showcase my story. This left me torn between trotting out old news vs. making an impact through storytelling. Now I realize the former has led to the latter.

Every one of us has a story¬†which is¬†what the Tall Girl Series continues to remind me. By outing my story I am encouraging others ‘permission’ to tell theirs.

At¬†Sunday’s reception two of those seeking permission appeared. The first was a lovely woman who asked me several questions about why I decided to tell this story and also mentioning my courage in doing so. Through¬†telling my¬†story I’ve learned that¬†those who mention my¬†courage also have it themselves. The courageous recognize it in others! When I told her that I continue to show this work to encourage others to tell their own story, her eyes welled up. And I knew in that very moment I had given her permission to¬†tell hers.

Then there was a petite Asian man who read the statements,¬†examined the work,¬†walked over and said‚Ķ”people always ask me where I am from?” ¬†And there it was again‚Ķa seeker. Some one who got it! Everyone does have something, everyone has a story. And yet so few allow themselves to feel it, to experience it, to well up over it.

The Tall Girl Series…the gift that keeps on giving!


the zen of the doodle…

Thursday, June 26th, 2014

My friend Franki Kohler is a whirling dervish of art techniques. She is always strengthening her creative muscle by learning, playing & dabbling with various art supplies and medium. She recently posted about making art books out of junk mail and mentioned taking an online class from Silly U. I could not find Silly U as art classes when I googled so I emailed her and said…huh? She said she had linked to the site which of course I had missed because I never read every word of anything!

So¬†I followed the bread crumbs to Carla’s site and looked at all the class options and found Zentangle. And thought WTH is Zentangle? I met a woman last year at an art retreat¬†who told me she Zentangles. But¬†I wasn’t sure if it had to do with art or square dancing? So I googled it and it is an actual technique someone has created¬†out of garden variety DOODLING. The concept being the doodle untangles the mind and takes the artist to a Zen place.

And this being America, land of the free, home of the capitalist you can even pay to learn how to doodle! And better yet you can buy a kit which is essentially a pen and some paper.

doodle062514As I settled in last night with my usual iPad games to multitask while watching TV, I remembered the doodle! So instead I grabbed a drawing pad and a micron pen and while we re-watched The Kings Speech and the replay of Giants game I doodled.

It was awesome until it wasn’t. About 3/4 the way through my hand began to hurt. You see I have not used my dominant hand to draw, write or knit¬†in a very long time. ¬†I massaged said achey hand¬†with¬†analgesic cream and this morning it felt better but still a bit cranky.¬†It truly is a muscle I need to strengthen by doing more doodle. ¬†

Now I know some wise apple is going to say…you could make a quilt out of that! You know what? I could but I hardly need one more could in my life. All I really need is more doodle time free of attachments or expectations. Ah Zen!



on purple…

Thursday, June 12th, 2014

houseIt is a pretty well known fact amongst friend and foe that I love purple! And that the Red Hat Society very nearly ruined it for me.

My love of purple started in my 20’s when I sewed a purple dress and wore it to work. People came out of the woodwork complimenting me on the
purple dress. I always felt good when I was wearing purple! Shortly afterwards I learned the meaning of the color purple (and I don’t mean the movie). It stands for royalty‚Ķwell there you go. I felt absolutely regal wearing it.

Word got out and one year for my birthday all the gifts were purple. It didn’t matter if it was anything I needed or could use, it was simply purple. As I have aged my color tastes have changed but purple has remained. My hairdresser has tried in vain to convince me to dye my hair purple or streak it purple but I want no part of it because so many my age are doing it. I never want to look like everyone else!

When I was fitted for my custom titanium knee brace earlier this year she asked if I wanted purple? What gave it away? Oh yeah I was carrying a purple purse and wearing 3 shades of the color. I was a little disgruntled when she also told me that purple is the most popular color. There it was again…everyone doing it!  It was almost enough to choose puce.

So when the homes on our street were going green, I opted for purple! Not royal purple, lavender or orchid but a deep gray with a hint of purple. It is so exquisite as it changes with the light. In the early morning hours it looks more lavender and in the evening more gray. I love it, except that it fades fast because of the blue in it. Last fall we had the badly faded sides professionally painted which was incredible in that it was done in a day!

While the kitchen was being remodeled my husband, who as a young buck painted houses for a second job, brought out his brushes and ladders, and began to repaint the kitchen and family room. He paintedblue.orchid2 the ceiling twice with at least five touch-ups after various stages of construction. Then he decided the hall looked dingy compared to the kitchen so he repainted that!

I had been asking for the bedroom to be repainted for at least 5 years and once the lighting was upgraded which required the ceiling be repainted and by default the walls, he got started. Today he finished. The entire room is now blue orchid with the trim one shade darker. I preferred one shade lighter but the painter vetoed worried about dirt showing.

Blue orchid is a very grayed lavender and difficult to photograph. Although this image is dark and looks pretty much like the exterior of the house the bedroom is much lighter and gorgeous!  The paint is not even dry and already the wheels are turning about moving various pieces of art into the bedroom; for what every purple room needs is some complementary green, orange and yellow! It is going to be so spectacular I may not be able to sleep at night…likely because I will be considering the master bath which now looks dingy in comparison to the bedroom!

emerging as we speak…

Friday, July 5th, 2013

I really enjoyed my monthly art group this morning! Each time I learn something and as of late it has been how much I remnant sectionedit myself in my art-making. Case in point: this mammoth project for the “earth stories” project has changed in scope a couple of times as I find myself meeting exciting, interesting and ‘impractical’ design concepts with “practical” solutions.¬†Today I was reminded again to just move forward with my what if ideas and worry later about the post-photography clean-up and the shipping crates.

Of course this reminder shot me right back to a creative writing class of long ago where the challenge was to write, write, write and edit only when entirely finished writing. ¬†In the case of this ‘earth stories’ work I need to fire my internal editor. ¬†Interestingly enough in the group a couple others were struggling with the same nagging critic.

After completion of my Tall Girl Series  I thought a lot about making more narrative work. I have a lot to say, why not say it in cloth?! Yet something stopped me. I did do the Keeping Up Appearances series which is narrative but also humorous. What about narrative serious work about real meaty issues? What stopped me? Perhaps time to lose that editor again.

Related to writing, last week I came up with an awesome blog post on the eve of a short road trip and never got to the computer to write it down. So here goes from what I can remember of it! The date was the first anniversary of my father’s death and just two weeks after he would have turned 89. ¬†I was reminded of the ‘book of humor’ I drafted in the late evening of his 80th birthday.

We held his birthday party at the beach because he so loved the California coast. I had volunteered to get the cake. As a very young girl I always dreamed of being a ‘bakery lady.’ So it was only fitting that I should select and purchase the cake for Dad’s party. I went to a local gourmet bakery and ordered a chocolate ganache half sheet cake. We took the cake to the beach and it was a huge hit. After the party my sisters and I divvied up the cake and I made certain that I took home the end piece with the most amount of the super luscious chocolate ganache frosting. I had a piece of cake at the party, a piece at the beach house while divvying up, a piece when I got home that night. Fast forward to 2 am and I was wide awake flying on caffeine and full of the giggles. I got up, grabbed a legal pad and began to write. I wrote ‘the bones’ for 14 chapters for a book on humor. It was great, great writing! The next day, hungover from chocolate cake I typed the words from the pad into the computer and there they have rested ever since.

This year on the anniversary of my father’s death I decided it is time to ‘flesh out’ the bones written 9 years ago. So I set a goal for myself to not only flesh it out but also publish before June 13th next year, on what would have been his 90th birthday. Ten years fermentation seems just about long enough.

year end art goals…

Thursday, December 27th, 2012

stripsA funny thing happened on the piece I have been working on for the past month or so. Originally I sketched an idea and  made a pattern using the overhead projector.  Then one day after sewing one too many curved seams it took a  literal 90 degree turn!   Obviously the muse wanted something else to happen here.

I designed it on the bias for several days and was within 20% of completion when I looked at it from across the room and thought nope, that’s not what I want!¬†¬† I am usually very spontaneous in design so this conundrum has been a bit entertaining although I think this piece has been a metaphor for my emotional process these past six months.

So I returned to my original sketch but instead of following the template precisely I went off again from the original sketch!¬† The piece is now fully designed and ready to stitch which is going to be a bear so I plan to take my time. I can’t show you the work just yet because it is for an exhibit but this image is a piece of the 2nd version which I am not using this time. In the meantime multiple ideas for new work have been stacking up. I am anxious to get on with it!

And I have been considering my art goals for 2013…something I do every year end. Strangely I have only a couple goals, nothing too dramatic which I feel is okay.¬† I have been working really hard the past five years and this year brought so much life change that¬† the left brain may need to just coast for a while and let the muse take hold.

There is however a hankering to do two tasks which I know will consume my time if I let them so I may work on those on a limited basis. ¬† One is to continue downsizing possessions getting rid of things we absolutely do not use.¬† We need to continue this ‘cleansing’ while we are still flexible enough to get stuff out to the car and off to charity. ¬† The other¬† is to sort and digitize all photographs, slides and the file of wedding invitations, birth announcements, death notices etc.¬† All that important genealogy work!¬† When these two tasks are done I envision immense energy flowing through the studio.

Happy New Year!