Wednesday, April 26, 2023

the organization light finally came on


I've been working on putting fusible on the back of fabrics for a new commission piece in progress.

As I was folding up the fabrics to put them away, a little light went on in the back of my head and I realized there was a better way to organize these things than what I had been using.

Let's begin with the obvious --- a lot of the pieces I make are either landscapes, or aged objects.  To make these kind of pieces I use fabrics that have prints that resemble wood grains, brick, stone, grasses, etc., in a whole range of colors.

Problem was, I was still sorting everything by the rule of color --- all of the browns together, the greens together --- you know the routine.

I realized it made more sense to the way I do my work if I were to put all the "grass" looking fabrics together, like the ones on the right here

And all of the stone together (left of this photo) and the wood grains together (right of this photo).

The rest of the stash of solids and blenders will still be sorted by color (the non-texture prints/plaids/stripes were already in their own area).

I'm pretty sure this will actually make fabric selections easier, and the put away easier --- and now I'm getting excited to actually get in and sort out the many stacks of fabric that I had been putting off looking at --- YAY!!

Friday, March 24, 2023

Saying Good-bye

 it's been a tough week

I was supposed to leave for a 2 week road trip with a friend a week ago yesterday -- the trip had been in the planning for over a year -- then I got Covid the first week of February, and she got pneumonia the first week of March -- and neither of us was really up to driving 1,300 miles (into an area that was under high wind and flooding warnings) --- so we cancelled our trip

then on Sunday, I got a phone call that my dear friend, art mentor, "other mother", my daughter's "Amma" who was her "other grandmother" had passed away

I knew that was coming -- she was 93 years old, and had been having physical difficulties for several years, but you know how the human mind works -- we always hope our loved ones will stay with us forever

My daughter and I had been out to visit with her about this time last year, and we had formulated a plan that when the time came that she and I would take my car and drive out those same 1,300 miles that my friend and I had planned to drive --- except my daughter and her family were 3,400 miles away on a spring break trip and I had 2 of her 3 dogs at my house

As I told my sister, I was hearing a lot of laughter from on high as we had tried to tell God what our plan was

Tomorrow (Saturday, March 25) is my friend's funeral -- my daughter (who gets home on a red eye flight in the early morning hours) and I will be watching the funeral via Zoom (I for one am grateful that this possibility was one of the good uses of technology that came out of the pandemic) -- it will be surreal -- 

So by now you may be wondering why the picture at the beginning of this post.  That painting was done for me by my friend, it hangs in my living room and I see it every day.  

E. June Ellington      June 29, 1929  --  March 19, 2023

There has been a song lyric constant in my head this week.....

        I've heard it said, that people come into our lives

        For a reason, bringing something we must learn

        And we are led to those who help us most to grow

        If we let them, and we help them in return

        Well I don't know if I believe that's true

        But I know I'm who I am today, because I knew you....

        So much of me, is made of what I learned from you

        You'll be with me, like a hand print on my heart....

        And now whatever way the story ends

        I know you have re-written mine by being my friend....

        And because I knew you, I have been changed

        For good



Friday, November 04, 2022

on moving furniture at long last.....

 two years ago I decided I wanted to rearrange my studio so I could have a new (BIGGER!) design wall, since I had begun making pieces that were bigger than the space I had

as with most of these kinds of projects, I encountered the "what do I have to do first?" issue --- at the ripe old age of 71, I can no longer shove around every piece of furniture in one day and then have a fun evening with friends --- my method of younger years was to push everything into the center of the room and then start putting things into the places I wanted them to be -- um, not so much now days

there has been, however, some real progress in the last week or so

this is the newly installed shelving in the back room of the studio where all of the "paper crafting" and the family history projects go on --- in order to set wood shelving on top of a metal file cabinet safely I built a wood top for the cabinet --- a piece of plywood with pieces of 1x2 on each side measured carefully so it is a really TIGHT fit so it won't slide around, then all of the particle board closet shelves stacked up and connected with small dowel pins to stabilize them

it gives me a safe and convenient place to store boxes of pictures as well as the certificates and photos that we have found that are bigger than 8 1/2 x 11

and this is the long planned stacking of two cabinets that began their life with me as storage in the kitchen of a different house, and then sat side by side in the studio

just like the shelving unit in the other room, with the help of my wonderful son-in-law who lifted the one on top and then fastened them together with metal bracing and the appropriate screws, these are safe from shifting, and I will be using them to store things like my tools --- electric staple gun, battery powered drill --- and other supplies like Madera 1000 spray fabric glue, E6000 glue, Alene's Clear Gel Tacky glue, textile medium, gel medium, starch, etc, etc, etc

so now I'm ready to move my stereo system (don't laugh, it's an ESSENTIAL part of my studio set up!!) over into the space vacated by the cabinet that is now on top --- soon, like maybe tomorrow

there has actually been work on art projects this week too

the stitching on this piece is finished, I just need to do the edges, which I'm still thinking on -- leaning toward doing a machine satin stitch around the outside edge and having an irregular outline -- I'll take it to my art group on Monday and see what kind of feed back I get on that idea

I've also worked on the bird quilt this week -- the second bird is nearly done, and I'm pretty sure I've decided on a background, so I'm happy with that 

all of the pieces for the bulldog are done, so I'll be putting him together so I can measure to knit his vest

moving along nicely despite loosing most of 2 days this week for the most dreaded of all medical screening tests - the colonoscopy - I survived another one!!  the test was done Wednesday and I'm still feeling the unhappy gut issues, but I don't have to have another one for 5 years, so I'm happy

time to get moving on some projects

Sunday, October 30, 2022

ending one week, beginning another

making progress is a good thing!

the quilting on this is coming along nicely -- I've just started working on the "shadows" below the bottles on the window sill -- so far I like it -- 

I'm hoping to get this piece finished this coming week -- still have not decided how I will finish the edges -- I've been thinking about using a very tight machine satin stitch around the edges and leaving them uneven and somewhat "ragged" -- we'll see

 have finished stitching down this bird -- have one more to do at the other end of the "perch" -- the pieces are somewhat "fiddly" as this is all hand stitched raw edge applique and some of those pieces are smaller than the size of my little finger nail

on to the next bird (which is all blues, and smaller), and while I'm working on that one I can think about what I'm going to use for the background 


for a number of years I've been building some sort of "stuffie" as a stocking gift for members of the "clan"  

this year "Mr Cute" is in his first year of middle school (!?!? how DID that happen?!?!) and his school mascot is a bulldog, so I decided he needed a bulldog as his "stuffie"

the pattern does this all in white, but I know not all bulldogs are just white, and that pattern thing in that case is just a suggestion as far as I'm concerned - I'm adding little splotches of brown in random places

so far the body and the 2 front legs are ready for the assembly, and the yarn arrived this week for the appropriate sweater vest for the dog to wear (I get to "make up" that pattern on my own -- it wasn't included -- no problem, I've knit a few vests!)

feels like there was an inordinate amount of time spent on medical stuff this past week -- the annual "smash and flash" of the mammogram and checking on blood pressure and tweeking the meds, trying to get it to the proper balance -- nothing serious, just annoying as it takes me away from the studio

this coming week is the dreaded every 5 year check for colon cancer --- the procedure itself isn't all that bad -- just a little nap while they take a look around -- but the prep for it is torture as far as I'm concerned -- and again, it takes me away from the studio -- I'll be happy to be done with it 

see y'all on the other side

Thursday, October 27, 2022

why we keep learning

I've been reading a book about Leonardo di Vinci

 (and may I add as an aside that it is wonderful to be able to read again --- the cataracts were really impacting that more that I realized!)

anyway, this quote really grabbed me:

"In rivers, the water that you touch is the last of what has passed, and the first of that which comes...The instant does not have time; and time is made from the movement of the instant....Observe the light.  Blink your eye and look at it again.  That which you see was not there at first, and that which was there is no more."

 I am more aware now days of time's passage -- wondering some days how it got to be Thursday again already -- fussing about the idea that I never seem to get the house cleaned to my prior standards, yet feeling little inspiration to spend time doing that -- I want to make more art!!

Also feeling more pulled to taking the time to spending meaningful time with other people -- family and friends

Does it really matter if the house is spotless (or as close to that as it ever was)?  I think not --- 

I'm going back to the studio to work now --- new art is calling, the river and the instant and the light keep moving on

Tuesday, October 25, 2022

When last we saw our hero......

 Yes, I know ---- it's been a really L .O. N. G.  time since I put anything out here ----

It's not that I have nothing to show for the last two years, it's just that I have not  felt like writing about it any more that the brief FaceBook posts --- writing something bigger than that requires more concentration 

And I'm not promising this will continue on any regular basis, we'll see how it goes

As I write this I'm listening to the thump, thump, thump of the tennis balls in the dryer that are doing the "fluff" portion of the drying cycle on the first of the loads of flannel that arrived yesterday.  It's nearly November, which means shortly the PJ factory will temporarily take over my studio so I can get the Christmas sewing done.

If you visit my kitchen on any given day, you may see odd things going on!

Like this little set up, for example.

I'm in the midst of a piece that includes bottles sitting on a window sill, and I've been struggling with the shadow aspect of them for several days.  Yesterday I was approaching the "sling it across the room" stage when I had a conversation with a fellow artist about figuring out this issue.

No matter how many formulas or written descriptions I might read on the subject, setting these up and taking that photo provided the answer I needed --- a picture is worth thousands of words!!




Sunday, February 28, 2021

Learning by Immersion

I signed up for a seminar on Color that began five weeks ago, and I have learned a lot about color and remembered a lot about color that I knew and had forgotten about.  

Most surprising of all, I found that studying and absorbing all of the material and getting the homework done is a lot harder than it was when I was in my 20s, even in a subject matter that I really care about.

Coincidentally, at the end of January the local museum announced that there would be an exhibit of original works by Monet, Degas and Pissaro as well as some lithographs each of them did in collaboration with George William Thornley.  I was really excited by the idea of getting to see some art in person after months of confinement (and having missed the big Monet exhibit at the Denver Museum of Art that was in place this time last year).

Yesterday my daughter and I donned our masks and went in at our assigned time to see the exhibit. 

 At first impression I have only two words:  Oh, WOW!!!!

This piece, titled "River and Mill Near Giverny" was painted by Claude Monet in 1885.  It has  the same soft atmospheric colors that many of his paintings from that year that were painted in Giverny have.  It almost feels like there was fog from the river that made him actually see the colors this way.

This piece is a pastel by Edgar Degas from 1896, titled "Seated Dancer".  I had seen several oil paintings of dancers done by Degas, but this was the first time I became aware that he had done so many pieces in pastels or charcoals.  The color is a bit different from his oils -- almost more intense, especially the backgrounds.


"The House in the Woods", painted by Camille Pissaro in 1872.  I had never seen one of his pieces other than as a photograph.  His colors are very realistic, like a slightly blurry photograph, but without the soft "foggy" look of Monet's pieces.  I also noticed that each of Pissaro's landscapes also includes figures, almost as if the human beings had to be part of the story of each piece, while Monet's pieces were all about the landscape.


Of course I had heard of all three of these Impressionist artists, and before this exhibit had previously see some original pieces by Monet and Degas, but just who was George William Thornley, and why would three painters agree to work with someone doing lithographs?

The closest equivalent I can think of would be silk screens or block prints, but each of this approaches creates a different "look" than the original painting or pastel, just as the lithograph is different.

 Turns out that George William Thornley was an awarded painter at the Salon on his own, and my guess is that the idea of working in a different media was intellectually interesting.  Artists are a continually curious bunch, after all.

The result of the collaborative efforts were successful enough that each of the artists involved signed the lithographs along with Thornley.

"Sheltered by the Haystack" is the work of Pissarro with Thornley.  It has the soft sepia tones of an old photograph, but still all the great detail of Pissarro's paintings and the boy asleep making the human being the focal point.



One of the collaborations with Degas produced this piece titled "Dancers".  I was again reminded of a photographic technique as the color reminds me of a cyanotype , but it is without a doubt instantly recognizable as Degas' style and subject matter.


 "The Wild Coast" was my favorite of the lithographic collaborations in the exhibit.  Not only is it unmistakably Monet's minimalist landscape style, the choice of a blue paper with the black ink just feels like the wild, rocky and stormy coast line.

While Monet had not previously had any interest in making prints (unlike Dega and Pissarro who had worked with copper plates themselves), this collaboration was very successful.


After spending an hour and a half in the museum, my "art brain" was just buzzing and energized with new excitement to make more art!

A couple of weeks ago, my daughter brought me a large glass vase of tulip bulbs that were just beginning to have buds.  This picture shows what they looked like yesterday as they have all bloomed and are beginning to get a bit blowsy.

At some point in the last five weeks in the color seminar there has been some discussion about color derived from natural substances, and I remembered a project my very first art mentor had done a number of years ago with flower pounding.

I thought it might be a fun project to do, just to see what might happen, having no preconceived notion of what the results might be.  (Having done some natural dying of wool yarn about 40 years ago, I'm well aware of the fact that what you see can definitely NOT be what you get.)

So I pulled out a stack of old newspapers, a piece of cardboard from the back of a drawing tablet, some parchment paper, painters tape and a small hammer that I normally use to put nails in the wall to hang pictures.  I had some white fabric pieces that seemed like just the thing to use for this experiment, and so I set to work.

Let me say that the dog was unimpressed by the "banging", and immediately asked to go outside to hang out in the sun on the deck.


This is the result of my efforts.  I used only two leaves, and I bent one of them because I wanted a bit of variety in the placement in the finished piece.  And this is one tulip.  I removed the stem and the base where the petals were attached because I thought it was too thick to make a tidy pounding.  There were six petals, so I divided them into two groups of three so it looks like two flowers.

The color of the leaves was not a surprise -- very much the chlorophyll green I thought it would be.  The petals, however, were the expected surprise.  Although on the plant they look orange, the pounding is pinker, with some very purple tones in some places -- pretty exciting.  The really dark long oval shapes in the pounding are where the anthers of the bloom fell onto the fabric and I decided to leave them there just to see what would happen.

I plan to do a considerable amount of stitching to add detail to this and probably mount it on either a canvas or a cradle board.

 Now I'll be on the look out for anything that's blooming, just to do a few more of these to see what happens.

I'm feeling good about this weekend's art projects, and I'm ready to get back to work in class and in the studio.