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Archive for the ‘surface design’ Category

artistic license run amok…

Sunday, June 14th, 2020

step 1

In April I posted about freshly painted cloth for new projects. My intention with the red and blue was to create a piece about the toxic tribalism that is plaguing our country. Tribalism has been around since the beginning of time but in the last three years has become increasingly toxic. There are many opinionated people, seemingly most of them are on social media. All of their real life & online friends are people who think just like they do. They have no tolerance nor respect for anyone who thinks otherwise. And often they hide behind their keyboard spewing hatred towards anyone who doesn’t think like they do. It has become incredibly toxic to our society and humanity, this world of US and THEM.

I typed a Word doc of words, phrases, various aspects of tribalism and screen-printed that to cloth. After heat-setting the paint I put both the red and blue painted cloths up on the design wall. I stared at those for over a month. I kept waiting for divine inspiration. Nothing happened.

A colleague posted an image of her WIP and a light bulb went off. Her work was composed of multiple geometric pieces. DUH…go back to quilting 101! Cut up pieces of fabric and piece a background. As I sorted through my various blue and red batiks and silks, I came up with a new design. The pieced backgrounds grew, then the next decision was what shape I wanted to make this work. I knew I did not want your basic geometric quilt shape.

before the stenciled letters came the pieced letters …

I wanted something that exemplified the chaos created by this tribalism. So I worked towards a big piece that was exactly the same dimensions on each side, of the blue and red. I got it all pieced and cut to match, and still it wasn’t right. I thought about my works Upheaval with their wonky shapes. Maybe I could do something like that? Instead of doing something familiar though, I decided to make it really difficult for myself!

step 2

I took a photo with my phone and printed out three pages of the image. I proceeded to cut and tape various combinations of a different shape. I came up with three good ideas. I laid out the big background on my design table and cut what I thought were equivalent-sized strips. One by one I sewed together batting & backing of each stripe. I overlaid fused letters of US and THEM in opposing colors and then took the quilt-lets to the mid-arm and stitched.

Back in the studio, I arranged the quilt-lets on the design wall. Somehow with all my careful measuring and cutting the composition was heavy on the red and not equal with the blue. I didn’t like it! So I sewed an extra 5″ blue quilt-let (which I ended up not using!)

I decided each quilt-let needed blocking so it would lay more flat. I blocked them. After they had blocked, I tried different compositions. I tried weaving the strips, nah, that hides the lettering.

woven quilt-lets, on black Kona as design wall surface is now deteriorating from all the blocking…

Nothing resonated. I began to research buying more red and blue batiks, online during the pandemic, and to start over. I decided to try one more thing first.

I would backstitch the quilt-lets together. I did so, leaving the bottom half of each quilt-let open. This allowed them to twist and turn as they wanted to do. And what a perfect metaphor for the dissension within the tribes! So I continued on, whip-stitching from the backside, until I had a full composition. Still the reds were wider than the blues. Then I remembered there are more red states than blue states in the US, so that is ok. (as if artists license were not enough!)

I still was not sure I liked it. I began to consider how many pieces of art I have made but did not like (not that many, actually). I just began to let go of it. Not everything is a masterpiece. I pressed it again and pinned to block on the wall. When it was dry I took it downstairs to photograph, for posterity, because surely it is not going anywhere else!

When I turned on the photo lights, something really weird happened. I really LOVE this piece! All that angst and turmoil turned into a piece I am really proud of!

Tribalism, 2020 …finito!

This quote is printed on the front and back of this work….

The individual has always had to struggle to keep from being overwhelmed by the tribe. If you try it, you will be lonely often, and sometimes frightened. No price is too high to pay for the privilege of owning yourself. Friedrich Nietzsche

 

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 a lasting marriage…

Friday, April 3rd, 2020

…just married (1971)

Forty nine years ago today I married a man I met on a blind date just the year before. My first thought this morning was I would do it again, in a heartbeat, because in those 49 years, I have learned so much. I learned so much about him, about myself, about tenacity, about strength, about courage, about wisdom, about endurance, about stubbornness, about love, about character and about commitment.

While I tend to think of myself as level-headed, easy-going, flexible; I truly am complex. I am an artist after all! I really don’t think being married to me has been a picnic. Yet the stoic Swede has been steady Eddy for all of these 49 years. And how blessed have I been to have his calming force in my life.

Everything about our lives together has been yin and yang. He grew up as an only child in San Francisco, the son of an immigrant carpenter, whose parents argued constantly and loudly. He left home as soon as he could, joined the Army, went to Germany during Vietnam era, came back and joined the Daly City Fire Department, where he worked for 33 years.

I was raised in an affluent suburb of San Francisco, the eldest of three daughters, of a corporate executive. My parents never argued in front of the children, but often slung sarcastic biting comments at each other. They were not pleased when I became engaged to this stranger from another world, this blue collar person. Sadly, for them, they never took the time to know him, to comprehend his character, his kind & generous heart; instead directing their attention to the husbands of my sisters, both Mr. Flash and Dash. Neither of those marriages lasted.

So coming from such diverse backgrounds, and having such opposite personalities, it has been an interesting ride. We both had to learn good communication styles; his calmer, mine more direct.  I’ve had a lifetime of grandiose ideas. He has always been the voice of reason, the ballast to my sails. Had I not met him I would probably be living in my car! We have accomplished more than anyone on my side thought possible. We bought a home, raised a child, were good worker bees, traveled the world, retired early & securely. Yea… a real disappointment!

stitched photo of walk down aisle

I, of the grandiose ideas have been plotting course for the potential of our 50th anniversary. Yet this year I have been dealt another dose of reality as my rock is crumbling. His body wracked with Parkinson’s is failing him. I don’t know if he will be able to travel a year from now. He often reminds me that we have seen more of the world than most people. We have seen 46 of the 50 states, and 14 countries for me, 12 for him. (I went solo to Japan and Hong Kong in 2002). Recently I’ve thought we might just do something low-key to commemorate 50, unlike the big parties my grandparents had to celebrate theirs, when we were just newlyweds. We are going to practice for 50 by celebrating our 49th with a takeout dinner, in lockdown due to the coronavirus!

The images are of Defining Moments 16: Marriage. I dismantled my wedding dress, which my mother had made. It was exquisitely and intricately sewn of heavy cotton pique, lined with heavy flannel. I could have gotten married in January in the Yukon in that dress, it was that sturdy! In honor of my maternal heritage we had a Russian theme, thus the headscarves.

Some thought it sacrilege that I would take apart my wedding dress! GASP!  I made a screen from the vows in our wedding book, screen-printed those to the cloth and then layered it with my headscarf, the hand-crocheted headscarf of my Russian great-grandmother, and a bridesmaid’s dress. Yes, they did wear red/white/blue paisley dresses with go-go boots. It was the 70’s after all.

Defining Moments 16: Marriage

Yes, marrying the stoic Swede was definitely one of my better defining moments.

 

 

 

 

new work…

Saturday, March 7th, 2020

the very abstract Liar Liar 1

Just before my creative process came to a grinding halt, I finished two new pieces! They were both inspired by our pathological liar-in-chief. As many in my generation I was raised to be honest and sincere in my speech. Any lie I told got me in a whole lot of deep doo doo. So I continue to be stunned and amazed by our leader whose default is to just make up shit. I am reminded of that childhood taunt, liar liar, pants on fire.

With over 16,000 lies to choose from, I chose 100 to print to cloth. In Liar Liar 1, I had manipulated the image too much before sending it to print. The cloth arrived and the words were not as legible as I would have liked, so I designed another image in PhotoShop, had that printed to silk chiffon, which I then screen-printed, overlaid, stitched and slashed. I like it a lot, although it is very abstract. One has to really study the piece to see what it says which is also ok.

Liar Liar 1, detail

So I went back to the drawing board and manipulated the file again, had it commercially printed a second time, cut and rearranged, and laid flames on top to depict the liar on fire, which is Liar Liar 2.

Liar Liar 2

detail Liar Liar 2

Since then, my creative process came to a screeching halt. There are a number of factors; i.e. my having had two viruses in two months time, all the political chaos, being over-scheduled, and my husband’s declining mobility and worrying about travel because of that. Just yesterday I cancelled a spring trip to France. The coronavirus was an easy excuse when in reality I am more concerned about his ability to make long haul trips anymore. He reminds me we have seen more of the world than most people, and that is true. It really comes down to common sense and gratitude.

Nothing our fearful leader knows anything about.

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

 

 

new work…

Sunday, November 3rd, 2019

timeline Frances, 98

For the past several months I have eluded to new work coming from yours truly. I have now finished the first piece in what I hope will be a long series with a wonderful cast of characters! After telling so many of my own stories, I decided to tell stories of elder women.

When I was in my thirties, I began to really consider my grandmother as my wise elder. I thought a lot about the wisdom of all elder women, and how each one had a story. At that time I considered going to rest homes and speaking to elder women.

Life intervened, marriage, motherhood, worker bee, volunteerism, retirement, art-making. And still the elders called to me. What I had learned since my 30’s was many of the women residing in ‘rest homes’ or assisted living or memory care units or skilled nursing facilities were not lucid. Many of these stories are locked away for good. So I began to look elsewhere for women who might talk to me.

As an elder myself, I chose women 80 plus as my starting point. To date, I have ‘interviewed’ six women, two in their 80’s and four in their 90’s. Many more are on my list. When I hear about an elder woman, usually someone’s mother, I query, is she lucid? Would she talk to me? Recently a friend said of her mother, she won’t talk to me about her life, maybe she will talk to you!

I have had only one refuse. We had quite a lengthy face to face conversation about it. She really does not want her story told, nor her photo displayed. She even asked what would become of the quilt with her face when I am no longer here? Many of her friends and family told her to do it, but she simply is not comfortable with it, and I completely honor that. Ironically she has had a noteworthy life, but we all face decisions in life, some that make us squirrelly. Sometimes facing the fear is just not the right choice for that person in that moment.

I also have been torn about the title for the series. Marion actually told me it would come to me in its own time! At first it was the Women’s Wisdom Project, then it was Aging & Resiliency, the Resiliency Project and Resilience in several other  combinations. It is pretty rare I believe for a woman to live a life; full of aspirations, challenges, successes, defeats etc without developing resilience. Just the fact that many women give birth more than once shows tremendous resilience!

As much as I loved that, I then started noticing that resilient and resiliency are the new buzzwords. Nix that. And then, just as Marion said, the other day, it came to me…The Wisdom Gatherers. Women have been gatherers since the dawn of time. They have gathered food, children, community, resilience, wisdom and so on…

So I present Frances, 98.  

gender pay inequality

Frances was born in the countryside of Cochine County, AZ. Her mother was a pioneer woman and her father a mean man; a jack of all trades. She left home at 16, as valedictorian and moved to California. Shortly after she moved to Kansas City and worked hard to put herself through 3.5 years of nursing school, graduating with honors. She worked as a nurse in the first aid clinic at Marinship during WWII, where she met her husband, who placed wells at the shipyard. He got a slag burn through his leather pants and came to the clinic for treatment. Despite her nursing degree, she made the same as the man picking up trash off the ground. Her husband bought the house where she still lives for $6500 in 1943, and then proposed. They raised their brilliant and successful children there! She went back to college at 50 to earn another degree. Her mother’s best advice was to hold your head up, and look the world in the eye. What matters most to her in life today is to get the toxins out of the creek behind her house; buy stamps to keep the post office in business; being kind to city council officials as one day one might need their help, and for people to talk to each other again instead of texting. She has a mint condition cherry red Jaguar in her garage but no longer drives. She is now 99.

I screen-printed and digitally printed her story to the background. I screen printed her handwritten portions which I used as ‘frames’ for the many photos. All of her photos I took with my cellphone camera when I went to speak with her. She is a vibrant, engaged, elder and a very wise woman!

engagement photo & wedding announcement

Frances, as elder

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!

restarting the engines…

Thursday, August 22nd, 2019

after and before step one in the makeover

As many of you know my creative mojo aka the muse went south just before Marion died in April. It has gotten progressively docile this summer, and brought the realization that this is likely the first summer of my entire life that I have relaxed! What a concept.

Lately I have had several days where I thought TODAY would be the day when I start in again, but alas I spent that day hand-stitching, reading or too much time ‘researching’ on the computer.

Today I decided to just start, do something, no matter what. I decided I would paint over some quilts! I have done this before, with excellent results. So why not again?

Last year I made four quilts about plastic in the oceans. While I believed it to be a timely, relevant topic, all four were repeatedly rejected from exhibits. When four quilts are rejected at least 4 times each, there is a loud and clear message there. So I decided today to just start in and overpaint one of them! If it works, I may paint them all. I have absolutely nothing to lose!

Undoubtedly it appears to the more conservative of you that I have totally ruined this quilt. I may have and yet I feel no panic, nor remorse. It is because I know I am not done yet, with the makeover. There is more to come, once the paint dries. When I laid down the paint I was greatly surprised in how thick the coverage was. It was likely caused by the 3-dimensional pieces stitched to the quilt, so I could not get a clean screen pass directly on the cloth. I decided to keep going and work with it! What, me worry? Nah it just presented me with a new challenge. It is after all these challenges that both keep my brain young and keep me making art.

Stay tuned…

 

the Visions opening…

Tuesday, July 23rd, 2019

The Storyteller

As you know, I was ambivalent about the opening of our new exhibit Defining Moments in San Diego at Visions Art Museum. I was torn between anticipation and dread. I was very worried that my grief over Marion’s death would lay a cloud of darkness over the entire event. I was worried I would be tongue-tied if asked to speak, and yet totally resisted planning anything to say, deciding instead to rely on spontaneity. Apparently I aced it!

I kept my focus on being in the moment throughout the entire trip, which kept worry and grief at bay. I had been to an opening at Visions last fall when my work was in a juried exhibit, so I knew the location and the wonderful staff & volunteers, so all was good there.

the outer and inner tallgirl

Hubs and I arrived at the museum at 3 pm for an appointment to talk for an audio tour of the exhibit. It will be available to museum-goers on their cellphone.

audio tour QR code

Then I walked around and took it all in, before the galleries filled with people. Then I got it! It filled me up, from my toes to my nose! What an incredible accomplishment this body of work was! How important this work is! How sad so much of our shared history is still so relevant today. How people need to see these stories in art. And what an incredible friendship and working relationship I had with Marion. I just felt immense gratitude with not a shred of ego. It was exhilarating!

Gratitude that she asked me to create this project with her. Gratitude that she taught me our stories are important, that it is the job of the elders to tell the stories. And that we are the elders now…

The Harried Years, Maternal Grandparents, Paternal Grandparents by Larson

When I first began my Tall Girl Series, which was my first body of narrative art; someone told me no one wants to see this. No one wants to see your dirty laundry she said. Well it turns out that was one person’s opinion! People do want to see this work. People do want to talk about it. People do want to ask a myriad of process questions. It is all good.

The gifts I received from attending this reception were many. I had the wonderful opportunity to meet both of Marion’s sisters who have been entrusted with her quilt legacy. They asked me to please continue the exhibitions of Defining Moments beyond Lubbock in 2020; that Marion would want these exhibitions to continue. I could not agree more and was thrilled to hear those words. Another Defining Moment!

Tall Girlfriends by Coleman. I LOVE this quilt, and the artist who made it!

 

Most of all I felt gratification that I am on the right track. When I began this gig as a professional artist 12 years ago, more than anything I wanted to be seen. I often felt unseen in my highly educated family of overachievers, and my goal through my art was to be seen by them. Now who cares?! What matters to me most now is that my work is seen!

And I don’t mean that my work hangs in a gallery or museum and people pass by without pause. I mean people stand in front of it, look through the layers, read the story, think about their own story and how they might communicate that; and feel impacted by what they have seen. That is my greatest reward. I am on the right track. And inspired, finally, to begin again…

Immense thanks to Visions Art Museum and all who make it function so well for shining a light on our Defining Moments! This exhibit is open until October 6. Go see it, if you can!

i got my mojo back…

Sunday, January 27th, 2019

When we last left our heroine… after spending most of grey January attempting to make a replacement queen bed quilt, I decided I needed to play more. The first thing that came from that remarkable awakening was a complete change in direction!

So I ripped the blocks out of the rows and began anew, this time doing it my way! And incredibly, my mojo returned. Now I cannot wait to get into the studio and cut/paste this new abstract modern design for our quilt.

What all of this has reminded me is I am not the same person I was 20 years ago when I made the original quilt, which is now worn, thin and faded. Why go backwards? Why was I trying to force myself in a backwards direction? It reminded me of wisdom from my then 30-something daughter, when asked (not by me) if she would date an old boyfriend? She said why would I go backwards? 

before I came to my senses

after

Here are the before and the after. Clearly the after is so much more exciting, at least to me. And that is what matters, as I am the one who has to live with it. I can’t wait for that to happen!

Back to it…

scraps from cut bento blocks, artful on their own