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Archive for the ‘textures’ Category

the weary life of a studio artist…

Wednesday, September 22nd, 2021

Endless, 5″ x 120″, photo credit by Joe MacDonald, Digital Grange

I’ve been actively limiting my screen time for two reasons, both related to over-use & my body complaining. After a three day migraine caused by a “small” volunteer project for a non-profit organization; a database update that required three documents to be open simultaneously and transferring data from those three to another file online while ignoring the screaming body, as we workaholics are prone to do; followed by eye problems which are ongoing and now nerves in my back and legs screaming from sitting too much. Aging is a privilege for sure, but definitely not one for sissies!

Before all this drama, I finished two pieces about plastic waste. Two years I became aware of all the plastic floating in the ocean, washing up on worldwide beaches. Apparently I had been living under a rock until that time; too bad, so sad, you know the drill.

Upon awareness, I immediately began to take note of my own plastic consumption. I was horrified as I began to notice all the little bits of plastic in my life, everywhere. I stopped buying bottled water in plastic right away and then added more measures such as bringing mesh bags for produce, refusing plastic bags entirely, no straws or anything I did not absolutely need for living.

At that time, I was also finishing a year’s course of braces to restraighten my lower teeth. So I had all these little plastic boxes of plastic toothpicks, and those containing wax for the metal ends of the braces, and plastic toothbrushes, and hotel room keys I had collected for years and expired credit cards, (thinking someday I would do something with them), plastic food netting, berry baskets, straws and so on and so forth. I decided to hand-stitch these to a cloth-covered substrate and thus I created Endless.The piece is 5” high by 120” long which when coiled sits in a 24” circle and was photographed by the fabulous Joe MacDonald of Digital Grange..

Also I designed Recycling (Plastic) is a Myth. Inspired by Plastic Free July and the myth that if we all just recycle a bit more, we could solve the plastic problem. The key to solving the plastic problem is to stop making the plastic. But as fossil fuel companies have stepped back from gas-powered engines, they gotta do something with that fuel. Enter the “cracker” factories, which produce plastic. As we speak over 300 new factories are either permitted or under construction in the US. I digress.

We have been indoctrinated since the advent of recycling that if we toss all plastic into the blue can it will be recycled. Wrong! Actually less than 8% of plastic is recycled. 12% is incinerated, emitting cancer-causing toxins into the air; primarily in lower income communities. Over 80% of plastic goes into the landfill or is sold to brokers and shipped overseas. So the solution to plastic is to stop making it, to stop buying it, to refuse it and to use other reusables such as aluminum, wood, glass, etc. This piece is aptly titled Recycling (Plastic) is a Myth.

Right now I am sewing scraps in colorways, mainly because the scrap drawer was too full. I hope, in short order to being able to start new work.

time well spent…

Saturday, August 21st, 2021

dorothy’s dahlias

This week I was blessed to have a private visit with my 93 yo Aunt Dorothy, who is the light of my life. She, being an extrovert, often has a crowd around her, so for us to just enjoy private time together was so special to me, and seemingly her. She has always had my back, as I imagine she has many others. She is the most kind, giving and generous spirit I’ve ever known; although Marion was a close tie.

In conversation, I ran something by her that had really upset me, although it was by then, days past the incident and I was pretty much over it. I just wanted her wisdom on this. And she delivered!

Upon waking this morning I had an epiphany from that wisdom, that toppled my decades of resentment.  She knew so well this disturbing dynamic having been a witness, for all of my 7+ decades. Her comments were as if she handed me the missing piece to the jigsaw puzzle of my life. All of a sudden, everything fell into place! Old hurts and conversations now all made sense.  Relationships that had tormented me for years all suddenly made sense. I could have been SO angry and yet I wasn’t. I finally felt free of the burden. First, I felt absolute liberation, then I got angry, then I wondered if my time here was nearly over, since I had finally figured this huge juggernaut out?!!!

And then I went into another Zoom meeting. The speaker, Paula Kovarik is an accomplished renowned artist who seemingly is my kindred spirit. I identified with so much of what she said, not only her artistic inspiration (Klee, Calder, Kandinsky etc) who are also mine; but her philosophy about life and art-making. Wow, just wow!

She spoke of bringing what is inside, out; which is exactly what I am doing in my work presently. And in releasing old painful wounds. I am in awe of her work and her art practice, and her discipline (treating art-making like a job!) but mostly what I gleaned from this look inside in her world, today, of all days, is the reminder.

The reminder from Paula and from my  aunt, of paying attention, being present; not only smelling the roses, but observing… the textures, the colors, the patterns, the shapes, all that forms our personal universe. Paying attention, so that when another life lesson presents itself, we notice, and don’t spend decades harboring the hurt. Some folks NEVER get that, whether they are not paying attention or thinking it unimportant. I am blessed with awareness. And most of all, learning from those lessons and moving forward…

And in others news…I just noticed I have not blogged about two pieces of work that were juried into the prestigious Intl Fiber Arts X at Sebastopol Center for the Arts, in beautiful downtown Sebastopol! The show is on now till September 12, open Thurs-Sun 10 am-4 pm; masks required. It is an incredibly diverse exhibit of fiber work, much of it sculptural.

what good are excuses anyway?

Thursday, July 1st, 2021

Hypocrisy 1

In the past month, I finished new work that absolutely stumped me in design for the longest time. When I finally figured out what I wanted to do, it went swimmingly and I love it so much! It is titled Hypocrisy 1; because you just know I am making another! It is about evangelicals who worship on Sunday and make mayhem on Monday. It is bound to really anger some devout folks, but most people I know who sing the praises are good, decent, loving, kind people. This work is not directed at them; but instead the hypocrisy of whose who claim to be Christian yet behave badly.

Additionally I have been submitting entries to exhibits and this week got the fabulous news that two pieces of my work were juried into the prestigious biennial International Fiber X at the Sebastopol Center for the Arts, July 31-September 12. Seventy two pieces were accepted, many of which are being flown in from all over the world. I’ve entered this show every two years but have not had my work accepted since 2010, so it was really gratifying to get that email!

And, I decided once again to bail on satellite TV. I nearly did a year ago but it all seemed so complicated. Yet when hubs could not watch his beloved Giants (baseball) a couple weeks ago that was the last straw! Oh he could watch it if we added another premium channel to our already bloated plan. So I said uncle and started the process.

The transition required several days of patience, investment in two new Smart TVs, a new iPad for him, because his was too old to stream, several days learning curve and a surprisingly polite conversation with an agent at the satellite company. It turns out I can keep the dish, and do whatever I want with it, for which I have no interest! And no I am not making a quilt of it. My patience continues, as every day hubs needs instruction in how to work the new remote and get where he wants to go. I knew this would be an issue, due to his cognitive challenges, but decided it was STILL worth it to unload the satellite company. And I still believe that.

I joined a FB group for Parkinson’s caregivers which is basically saving my sanity; sometimes having a place to vent is all one needs. I also got my long overdue quarterly art newsletter done (only 3 mos late) and scheduled to blitz mailboxes later this week. I should have taken the time to learn the latest template, but I am a quart low on learning new technology right now! I made labels for work going to exhibit and entered 3 more pieces in another show. Plus there have been those lunches with friends in a valiant attempt to revive my mastery of speaking in person!

So there…all my reasons for neglecting to blog. As an old woman told me when I was young…what good are excuses if we don’t use them?!

stuck on a title…

Friday, December 18th, 2020

Choose Love Over Hate

Usually when I make a piece of art, the title is the least of my concerns. Not so this time. When I was self-educating on black history I came across a talk by a director of the Southern Poverty Law Center who spoke about hate groups in America. Of course I had to follow that lead, only to learn to my shock and amazement that as of 2019, there were over 940 hate groups within the United States. I found that an unbelievable statistic so I explored further. What I found out was that there is not just one anti LGBTQ group in the US but 49; there is not just one anti-Muslim groups but 100 and so on. Nine hundred and forty hate groups in the US, and that was in 2019. How many more are there now? 

This lead me to reading about hate groups, and how hate is a learned behavior. No one is born a hater. They have to be taught to hate. Which lead me to thinking, why could these folks not be taught to love instead, which led to designing this work.

I had Spoonflower print the numbers/names of the hate groups on white cotton. I then designed a collage of love words, from love songs and poetry; both things I recalled or collected over the years. I screen-printed those in white paint over the hate group background, which kind of distorted it, and what I was hoping to achieve. I also screen-printed the same words in red on a vintage French tablecloth. I cut that randomly to create a mosaic effect of a heart partially covering the hate group background. Perfect! I achieved exactly what I wanted…that is until I got to the title.

At one point the label had one title, it went to the photographer with another title, my website had a 3rd title! Right now, they all say “Choose Love Over Hate.” I think that is actually quite adequate as really, is it not a choice whether to love or hate?

Initially, it was ‘Love is The Answer’. Then it was ‘Only Love Conquers Hate’ and then ‘Choose Love Over Hate.’ It seems important to me to include the words both love and hate; otherwise will the message may not be apparent. Maybe so? The jury is out! Your thoughts?

lovin’ me some blanket stitch…

Saturday, May 2nd, 2020

As of today we have been ‘sheltering in place’ aka SIP, in isolation, on lockdown social distancing and in captivity for

pathway rock

7 weeks, aka 42 days. In all honesty it really has not been that bad! Of those days I have only had one where I thought will this ever end? Mostly it has been like everyday life with the exception of not seeing friends, going to lunch, getting culture and grocery shopping. Oh how I miss grocery shopping, which of course is something I never thought I would say. With the kindness & generosity of friends, neighbors and kin we are thriving.

In our past life, we would be packing this weekend for a trip to France on Monday. I had planned to take an organic embroidery workshop in Brittany at a fabulous country manor, taught by a Dutch artist Mirjam Gielen, who I follow on Instagram. When she mentioned this workshop on her feed, I jumped on it, as the class was for just 8 people. I pondered, decided, reserved class and air all within 24 hours!

As the coronavirus began to spread from Asia into Europe I began to rethink the possibility of making this trip. With my husband’s mobility becoming more and more challenged, I began to worry whether he could make this trip, how (un)cooperative he might be about accepting assistance in airports and on land. So using the virus as an excuse that he could accept, I canceled the trip. Eventually the class was postponed anyway as the virus spread throughout France, and then within the US.

Because I had to cancel for reasons other than the virus, and obviously would not be able to take the workshop, no matter when it was rescheduled, Mirjam graciously asked me if I would like to proofread the tutorial she wrote for the class? That way I would be able to glean the material from the class without attending. After all, I had paid a non-refundable deposit for the workshop. I agreed. She sent me the 50+ page tutorial in a .pdf file while I was in the middle of resizing images for my updated website. So when I finished that, I started reading her materials. Initially I thought that 50 pages would take me a long time, as I am such a slow reader, or rather lousy at comprehension. Yet the material was interesting and fascinating, and I felt, when finished as if I had actually attended the class.

One of the stitches that rocked my world was the blanket stitch. I had tried it several times on my own and always came up with a jumbled mess. I used it in the most recent ‘morning walk’ stitched collage, as part of a rose petal, and it turned out well. So now I am on to another morning walk stitching and I have used it as the crevices in a flat stone, cut for a walkway.

blanket stitched rose petal

My morning walk collages have become part of my ritual of walking our dog. Since we have been SIP for 42 days, there have been no excuses, appointments, classes, lunches, cultural outings, nothing to interfere with getting our exercise by walking the pooch. So every other day for 42 days I have been walking Mops, and taking photos of things that catch my eye along the way.

I started taking photos while walking, about 5 years ago, as a way to distract myself from the creaking & cracking of my bones and/or pain from my joints, while out walking. Because I am visually oriented, I see art in everything! So I started taking photos with my phone, while walking the dog. Using an app or two I collage the photos and post to my social media accounts on Instagram and Facebook.

Friends started commenting about how my morning walk photos inspired them to notice more on their walks, and so on and so forth; which to me is pure gravy! How these images have transformed my visual acuity is a whole ‘nother story. I really feel as if my morning collages have grown into an art-form, in of itself as opposed to how it started off taking photos to otherwise occupy my mind. So now, we are out there, every other day, hubs using his walker, and me walking the dog & taking photos. During SIP we have now walked 22 miles and taken a lot of photos of glorious spring blooms and cracks in the sidewalk.

rock crevices

The stitching of the morning walks came from my need to be doing something while I watch TV. I had already hand-stitched three morning walk collages, before the pandemic began. Yesterday I finished a fourth and now it is blocking. Then I printed out four more, because once the wide format printer is fed with cloth, one wants to keep printing!

So I have begun anew and am enthralled once again with the blanket stitch. The rock (above) was sliced from a larger stone, laid out in a pathway in one of the beautiful gardens we passed by the other day. Using the blanket stitch to fill in the crevices, I am already dazzled by the start of the stitching of another morning walk collage.

Of course the question always comes into play…what will I do with this? Others ask, but I tend to not put that pressure on myself. The destination does not matter, it is the journey that is important.

What I do know is the hand-stitching of my morning walk collages is definitely contributing to my mindfulness during the pandemic.

 

the muse is back…

Saturday, April 11th, 2020

printed cloth…does that say asses?!

A weird thing happened on the way to the pandemic..my creativity came back. A lot of folks are saying theirs has completely dried up, they are filled with anxiety and/or the only sewing they are doing is mask-making.

My creative muse has been MIA since my dear friend and project partner Marion died, nearly a year ago. How that year has flown, with my missing her all along the way. When she left my excitement for art-making went with her.  I mostly have just leaned into it, spending my time doing hand-stitching a ‘morning walk’ collage, and reading, which for me is truly foreign.

We have now been in isolation for 4 weeks tomorrow. I realized during the first week that in order to maintain my sanity I needed to not take in too much information. The nightly news, plus the “breaking news” plus the pandemic specials plus the “news” conferences plus the local news, plus all the scary stories online all became just too much. Besides hubs is watching enough for the two of us!

We all know what to do by now. Stay home, wear a mask when you do go out, wash your hands, and keep social distance from others. I don’t know about you, but it does not do me any good to be more any informed than that. It just scares me. It makes me anxious. It make me angry. It gives me nightmares. It kills my creativity. And so I simply stopped listening. Just tell me when it is over!

As my right brain creativity was awakening I was hard at work on a left brain task. That was resizing and uploading images of my work, for 7 days straight as my website was being redesigned. The timing could not have been more perfect; for once my schedule was free. It needed a contemporary makeover and I am very pleased with the outcome. I was daily reminded of just how prolific I have been at making art. And that did not even include at least 30 early works for which I had no images, other than quilts on clotheslines!  I debated how much of the Tall Girl Series to put up on the site, whereas before I had three images, and the book, which is now out of print. Finally I decided this was not the time to be shy; after all this work has been shown far and wide, in six exhibits, so I uploaded all 23 pieces.

As I was finishing that job, I began to ponder… what is next? I work best when I have the next piece (following the one I haven’t made yet) in the pipeline. So as I was taking a break from PhotoShop, I went to the basement and began to paint cloth for two new pieces. Additionally just before we went into isolation, I ran to Kinkos and made copies to create screens for printing several new works, so those were ready to go.

strip letters

Today I played around with sewing letters by strip piecing ala Chawne Kimber. It was a bit of a challenge, as sewing strips of anything is not my best work but I kept at it, while watching/listening to a recorded program. The jury is still out as to whether I will use them or not, but I kind of like them and will continue to play around until the wording is finished, before I decide.

Everyone is coping with this history-making time in their own way. I say yes! Find something you love to do, whether it be sewing masks for thousands of first responders, working in the garden, bingeing on Britbox or Netflix, baking till the cows come home, or painting anything, just do it.

And stop listening to so much news, because like it or not the anxiety and stress are not good for you either.

Be well…

 

 

 

on saying something…

Tuesday, January 21st, 2020

Lavender Garden by Connie Mygatt

Now that the bathrooms are mostly done; the last custom glass shower door goes in tomorrow and the window shades in early February; I have rehung art, that had been removed for construction. I rearranged some pieces and relegated a couple to the basement gallery. I added to our lavender bedroom wall my latest acquisition by art colleague Connie Mygatt. It is stunning!

My taste has changed, especially since becoming a visual artist myself. And just because I bought a painting years ago does not mean I have to live with it for the rest of my life. In fact one of the very best uses for used art is to donate it to a non-profit for a fundraiser. Next time there is a call for that, I will be ready.

double shower, hall, Italian tile

During the first half of the remodel my creative muse was stuck. It was probably the selection, re-selection and re-selection again of materials. Two decisions x two bathrooms on tile. Three decisions on the hallway flooring. And paint colors, oh the paint! Those decisions took up a large portion of the muse’s energy.

master/Superman-sized shower, Italian tile

Midway through the project, the muse came roaring into the studio and I designed two pieces that have been in my head for awhile…more narrative art with a political bent. Not quite ready to share but needless to say I am thrilled with how they turned out.

Today I waded through my folder of new work ideas and came up with no less than four more good ideas. I also have the wise women series, for which 5-6 interviews are completed, but somehow I am having trouble getting going on those. I believe it is a combination of two things.

My late friend Marion Coleman always encouraged me to be a storyteller, to tell these stories that need to be told. So whether it is “work that says something” i.e. of a political, or social justice bend or one of activism, I am inspired to do more of this work. Secondly, the telling of others’ stories still festers, as I decide it’s purpose in my art practice. Interestingly it is the learning of the stories that resonates for me, more than the telling. Time will tell where this series leads.

Interestingly I am learning that the ‘controversial’ work pays a price as many venues do not want to show work that is going to make folks think, or worse yet, wake up. So the decision for me becomes should I make more “pretty”  or “precious” work or should I make work that makes me think; as well as the viewer?

Long ago I decided I was not in this gig for the money. Sure if someone wants to buy my work I am not likely to turn them away. But the almighty dollar is not the reason I am an artist. I am an artist because I have something to say, and cloth seems to be the best way I can communicate it. So I will keep on doing what gives me great satisfaction and a voice.

After all, hasn’t art caused people to talk about it, for ages?

dazed and confused…

Friday, December 20th, 2019

Fire & Flood 2, detail

While undergoing bathroom reconstruction in our home, I decided to do some construction of my own and created two 20″ x 20″ pieces for exhibits in 2020. I decided to do both on climate change, as followup to Fire & Flood 1, so now have Fire & Flood 2 and Fire & Flood 3. Nothing was particularly difficult about them until I finished, cut the slats, photographed, cleaned up in PhotoShop, and put up on my website. Well actually the confusion began right after the photography.

I had a challenging time trying to remember which detail belonged to which piece. The full-views show two different designed pieces, but the details, not so much. Was that tree branch on the left or the right? Is the text on the black next to the trees or the water? I finally had to pin a number to each piece so I could keep them straight. Then PhotoShop started telling me I didn’t have permission to work with my own images. Then there were the actual construction questions and updates. And then me questioning why did I choose to do this right now?! Well, it is because once I finish work, I like to photograph, file my images, update my website, do the documentation for posterity (you all do that, right?!), label and store. I’m not big on work languishing in the studio when I am ready to move on to something new.

One of these pieces will be my juror’s piece for a SAQA East Coast exhibit titled Visionary that I am jurying next month. The exhibit curators changed their theme title because of the popularity of the year 2020. Already I have seen several calls for entries titled 2020 Vision, 2020 Visions, 2020 Visionary, 2020 Visionaries. Undoubtedly by the end of 2020; 2020 Vision in particular will be tied with American politics as the most exhausted theme/buzzword/catch phrase of the year!

Both of these pieces address climate change, which actually does exist! It proved itself last winter when in the course of 4 months there were both devastating fires and floods within miles of where I live. The irony struck me. Too little water, too much water.

Now that one shower is complete I am re-installing artwork in the bathroom. My motive is simple. All the artwork from the hallways and bathrooms has been stored on my mid-arm machine table. I want to use the machine, so the artwork needs relocation. I just know the contractor was thrilled to see 12″ quilts all over the bathroom when he arrived this morning to install the new faucet on the sink. Good thing he is an artist himself.

Fire & Flood 2

Fire & Flood 3

 

 

redefining creativity…

Saturday, November 30th, 2019

We are now four weeks into a projected timeline of 4-6 weeks for a double bathroom renovation. Always the optimist, but also a realist, I recognize that it will likely run 6-8 weeks. Yet I choose not to complain, as it truly is a first world problem to complain about one’s home being renovated!  It is exciting that my envisioned improvement from years ago is slowly coming to fruition. It is interesting how many tiny details are out of one’s control once the process begins though, like having to ask to use the bathroom! And also curious how one’s everyday life is totally out of sync once a routine is broken.

definitely the mediterranean spa look…

My reluctant muse had just returned and now feels stumped, unable to function properly. An example being I went downstairs to paint cloth the other day. Weeks before I had moved my design table pad and tools, as the sink is also up for replacement at some point during this project. Then thinking the shower plumbing, above the table had been completed, a few days before my anticipated painting, I had moved my printing table pad back onto the table.

I was both surprised and annoyed to find cement dust all over my print table (as the plumbing part was not done)! I managed to clear most of it off, to the floor (where it belongs) and able to print cloth, although I did get a few unexpected resist spots from the errant cement dust. When I finished painting I wisely moved the pad off the table once again, for any other unforeseen construction remnants that might occur.

where are the q-tips?

Boxes of stuff from both bathrooms line up in our bedroom, and in my studio. Artwork from the bathrooms (yes! bathrooms make wonderful art galleries!) lounge in various places, mostly on the living room floor, wrapped in towels. A bathroom mirror rests on the living room table, and so on. The truly amazing part of this is how I somehow seem to know where everything is! Hubs asked for a q-tip the other day and I found it the first place I looked, filed under Q for q-tip.  All these boxes, and everything covered in cloth to protect it from mountains of construction dust however really inhibits my creativity.

I have found the muse languishing in small interesting places, though. I finished the second of my morning walk hand-stitched collages. Mostly I stitch these when traveling or waiting somewhere, but the other day just seemed like the right time to get it done. Immediately I loaded more fabric and printed out another walk collage to stitch. Ideally I would like to frame these but time will tell. And that is another of the bonuses of new bathrooms. We decided it best to repaint the bathrooms as well as the hall. I spackled all the holes and when I get back to rehanging artwork I may make different choices!

hand-stitched morning walk, detail

knitting ufos

I also culled my studio, which I try to do on an annual basis. And glory be, found a bag full of UFO knitting projects. Long ago started then forgotten. So I whip stitched three long strips together to make a very cool scarf….like I need another scarf! Now I am adding onto three random pieces to potentially connect them all for a shawl or maybe a dog blanket! At any rate, although I can’t seem to get in there and make big art, I can make small stuff, which is keeping me sane through this transition.

One thing I know for sure. When all is complete, none of this will matter. Our new kitchen is now 5 years old, and never is there a day when I think of the timeline, the delays and the inconvenience. No, I just think of how blessed I am to have a fully-functional beautiful kitchen. And for that I am grateful.

Oh and about the scarves…I have a vast collection of primarily artist-made scarves. In fact just ordered another for my birthday! My theory is when I am really old I can have one black outfit and wear a different scarf everyday! Small blessings…

before and after…

Sunday, October 6th, 2019

Two posts ago, I wrote about painting over two pieces of work on climate change. The gist of it was the original four had repeatedly been declined for juried exhibits. So in the spirit of adventure, I thought, why not add paint?  I really had nothing to lose. In the end I like them much better!

Underwater Garden: the ocean water looks murky and very mysterious, yet all the plastic debris is still obvious.

before

after

Plastic Ocean 4: Beyond the Glory...the paint made a big difference on the water. The plastic is still there, but  not so glaringly white. The paint also exaggerated the sunset sky.

before

after

Soon I will soon be getting a new sink in my wet/print studio. In order for that to happen all flat surfaces had to be cleared off. So I am happy to get these photographed and put away.

Progress!