Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Another MA First

What better way to spend a crisp fall day than creating some color--and that's what I and two other adventurous spirits did this week, as I introduced them to the art of dyeing. It was the first class I taught since our move to Massachusetts and a bit of an initiation for my basement dye studio, a perfect size for me and for me and a friend as I found out this summer, but I wanted to see if it would work with more. I had planned some patio work that would have given us all some more room but the coolness of the day kept us inside and we managed to negotiate the space without any toes being stepped on and only a couple of stray drops of color falling on the wrong place.

We were all exhausted but still smiling by the end of the day and they went home with a full five-step gradation in one color, rinsed, washed, and partially ironed and several containers each that would sit quietly overnight and reveal their delights the next day. 

Saturday, September 19, 2015

Graphically True

I am in the middle of an intriguing book.  Nick Sousanis, who calls himself a comics artist, has written a philosophical treatise in a comics format that links graphics and words, and thus the format itself becomes part of the subject matter, one of those mind-twisting connections I love.  As I read, I continually find myself saying---Whoa! That is really cool!--or making some equally erudite or perceptive comment.

Unflattening begins with demonstrating that, because of our binocular vision, we are primed from the very beginning to see things from more than one viewpoint and the implications of that are significant for us citizens of a complex world. But I am not going to follow that path. Instead, I will focus on an art connection he makes on the way to making another point.

We live in both mind and body, in our thoughts and in our senses, one obviously influencing the other. Conceiving a thought and perceiving an object are two different aspects of how we function but creating art joins these two in a dynamic way: the idea in our minds becomes visible and tangible (take note, fiber artists) as the work takes shape, and then we in turn are perceiving, looking at, touching what was once a concept only in our minds. As we work, we continually move back and forth between conception and perception. His explanation of this point is of course enhanced immeasurably with his clever graphics.

Perhaps this joining of the two aspects of our nature is one of the reasons we can lose ourselves so entirely when we are making art.

And if I haven't entirely lost you, thanks for the company!

Sunday, September 13, 2015

The Old Craft vs. Art Question

So is this gracefully spiraling piece by Joseph Walsh, Lillium III, art or craft?

Or what about Poros by Nathan Cravan, which is actually a window (those bits of light you see are actually the trees, lawn, sky outside--and this is not a great photo)?

And then there is arrythmia by Chung Im-Kima piece that suggests a quilt because it uses industrial felt that is made of blocks silk screened (with a pattern based on an electrocardiogram) and hand stitched together.

Those of us who are artists who work in fiber or who call ourselves art quilters have had to deal with the craft vs. art question for a long time, but some museums and art galleries are just now discovering it. My local big name art museum, the Museum of Fine Art in Boston, just opened an exhibit titled "Crafted: Objects in Flux," which seeks to demonstrate that "the distinctions between art, design, and craft are shifting and porous." I, of course, had to see it. And it was well worth braving the Boston traffic jams to spend some time with all of the above works, as well as many more, like the spiralling room created by panels of indigo-dyed fabric sewn together and framed by one wall filled with the indigo plants the artist grew to dye the fabrics.

This exhibit implies that the MFA is answering the question in favor of the label art, but the exhibit also suggests that such labels become meaningless in the large gray area between the two. Many of the items in the exhibit play with your perceptions so that you are forced to see the world just a bit differently and that is always a worthy experience. And several of the works were created using CAD programs and 3D printers, another direction artists are taking and the art world will have to get used to.

And, to be fair, the MFA already places such works as one of El Anatsui's magnificent metal quilts made from found materials in the contemporary art section, but still they maintain a contemporary crafts gallery that houses such gems as this little sculpture made of wood, Familiar Strangers by Betty Scarpino.

Unequivocally art, in my opinion. But that is the point, I guess: The use of the two terms is opinion and only becomes an issue when a particular piece or medium is excluded from a show simply because of the labeling process. 

It's a beautiful, thought-provoking exhibit and, if you're still reading, thanks for the company!

Wednesday, September 2, 2015


I have been too busy living life to write about it but that element of reflecting upon events that is part of writing is also important. So I am beginning with a new resolve to post more often. And what a wonderful to event to start with: As a member of the Abstract Artists Group of New England, I have seven pieces in their annual show, Transcending Reality, at the Newburyport Art Association and feel honored to be part of this event because it is such a strong show. Here are some of the works:

Above on the end of the wall are two of  my pieces Arc, above, and Ballad, below, which is sold! But this gives you a sense of the some of the downstairs gallery space.

A beautiful piece by Cheryl Dyment

Another two small pieces of mine are in the bottom row--Etude and Lienage.

One of my scrunched technique pieces--Opening.

'Tis a Gift is center left

A wretched photo of World Without Many.

There were works by twenty artists and a total of 119 pieces in the show in many different media, oil, watercolor, acrylic, mixed media, wood sculpture, but I was still the only fiber artist. Our opening reception was an evening full of people and some great conversations explaining how my pieces came to be. This is my second show with AAGNE and I am very glad I have found this group.

And if you are still reading, thanks for the company! 

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Learning New Tricks

I have used Photoshop Elements for a number of years. I knew the basics and always planned to do some tutorials to discover some of the many marvels that Photoshop could reveal but there was always something more important to be done. When Kathy Loomis, whose opinion I trust, sang the praises of the a Photoshop class for art quilters taught by the Pixeladies, I signed up before I had fully thought it all out. And I am so glad I did. I just finished the second week of lessons and I can do magic!

Here is an original photo, one that I had planned to delete because I couldn't get a good image of an amazing moon:

But those tree branches were still there:
It's still not a great photo but could be useful for something.

Getting a quilt to be absolutely square in a photo for an exhibit entry form can be so frustrating but now I can do it:

And there is much more to come.  While the lessons (4 a week) do require a bit of work, it is not overwhelming and their clear explanations make it easy to make progress. I used to guess and try something but was not sure why it worked and whether I could ever repeat what I had done. Now I have added some great tools to my collection!

If you get a chance, take their classes--unless of course you are among the many who already know their way around PSE.

Sunday, May 31, 2015

My Favorite Color

I haven't posted one of these in a while and usually I would post it with no words. But I had to comment on this one. One of the parks (Maudslay State Park) around here is the site of an old estate--the house is gone but the acres of grounds still feature paths that wind through hundreds of rhododendron and azalea bushes. I missed their blooming entirely last year because we had just moved and almost forgot this year. Yesterday I could have been working on this project I must get done but instead I opted for a lovely walk with Terra and Tom. Many of the blossoms were well past their prime but there was still plenty of beauty and intense color. My attempt to squeeze one more thing into an already crowded day was a success, although the stitching never got done.

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Feeling Good!

One of the things I have treated myself to for a number of years is a massage every month or two. My hands, wrists, and shoulders that do so much concentrated work are particularly appreciative. The move from PA meant that I lost a massage therapist who knew exactly what I needed, but I was lucky on my first try here. Michelle took care of an aching wrist for me on the first massage and I needed to look no further.

Two weeks ago before she started to work her magic, she completely surprised me by asking if I would want to hang one or two of my quilts in her office--a beautiful space in one of the many old renovated mills around here that has a ceiling that goes up two floors in places, creating all sorts of nooks and crannies and tall white walls. She had not been in this space long and was still figuring out how to decorate it. I went home, looked at the quilts I had available and decided that I could do this. About a week later we arranged for me to bring in several pieces to see what would fit and what she liked. The quilts all looked magnificent on those white walls and she decided on four: a large piece, a medium one, and two small.

I finally gave up trying to photograph the fourth, the edge of which you can see in the above photo, since the window light kept dominating the picture. I was able to put labels with each piece, explaining a bit about them and including a price, and I also hung a brief bio under the largest piece, Unexpected. No sunshine hits these. What a great venue for textiles! I smile every time I walk past this building.

Hope you are smiling over some good news as well! Thanks for the company!