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Sunday, August 6, 2017

A Good Way to Spend an Afternoon

Yesterday I got a surprise. I went to the opening of the Contemporary Art Quilts Show at the Whistler House Museum of Art in Lowell (MA)--a beautiful show that I was honored to be juried into. And here are a few of the impressive works:
Channeling Ernst Haeckel 3 by Sandy Gregg

Three Figures by Valerie Maser-Flanagan
Growth Factor by Betty Busby

I was enjoying catching up with some other artists I had not seen in a bit--particularly an old friend who I had not seen in several years when it was announced that awards were to be presented: a juror's award from Wen Redmond that went to Poseidon by Marilyn Belford, and two Whistler awards, given by the director of the gallery, one of which went to Queen Bee by Nancy Turbitt and the other to my piece, Insight! Congratulations to my fellow award winners!

Poseidon by Marilyn Belford

Queen Bee by Nancy Turbitt


Insight (my piece)

It was quite a day!








Friday, July 28, 2017

Insect beauties

No creepy crawlies posted this week--just a butterfly and a moth that are both easy to love. As part of an overnight adventure at our house, I took my granddaughter to the Butterfly Place in Westford, MA, in the late spring, a magical place where colors and shapes flutter around you and sometimes land on your arm. Although I have been trying to keep my insect project limited to those that live around here, I couldn't resist adding just one, even though its home is in the tropics.


This is a Common Birdwing that had a distinctive design on its hind wing, which became the basis of my block a couple of weeks ago.


In early April I took a quiet walk in Maudslay Park, a 400+ acre estate formerly owned and enjoyed by a very few people, now owned by a forward-thinking state so that many can walk its winding paths. The spring frogs were vocalizing but I saw few insects until a bit of orange caught my eye among the leaf litter. It was a moth, quite active for the daylight hours. On investigating further at home, I discovered it to be Archiearis infans, also called The Infant, one of the first moths to show up in the spring. 

And so I had to celebrate it in some way.



I am realizing now that the orange in the photo of my block is reading a bit redder than the actual fabric. So just imagine the orange triangle as closer in color to the moth's hind wings.

And, if you are still reading about my adventures with the six-legged creatures, thanks for the company!

Linked with Off the Wall Fridays.

Friday, July 14, 2017

Looking Back

It's Friday and I am reflecting on a busy week--that is not over yet. The beginning of the week involved a successful artists' reception for Untitled, an annual exhibit at the Newburyport (MA) Art Association Galleries of works by members of the Abstract Artists Group of New England, which includes me. This year 23 artists were involved, working in a wide range of media, although oils and acrylics tend to predominate. It is show I am proud that four of my pieces are part of.

"It Is What It Is," one of my heavily textured pieces

I am always pleased when I see how well the fiber art integrates with the other works. 

"Elusive" on right, a work by Tricia Jones in center and works by Jennifer Burnham on left



Working on and at the exhibit plus some wonderful days spent with my favorite eight-year-old means that I am running behind again on my insect project, but luckily I am running behind in recording my little 5x5s. So here is my focus from a couple of weeks ago:



An Eastern Pondhawk, one of the more dramatic dragonflies, was flitting aAndround our front garden and then landed on the neighbors' house. And no, it does not have eight wings, just a clever shadow. This guy loves ponds, so she more than likely spent her early days in the pond behind our house, and I am labelling it a female, since the females are this lovely green and black, although immature males are also this color until they turn a solid powdery blue. The piece I made honors both the genders:




I'm linking with NinaMarie's Off the Wall Fridays!



Saturday, July 1, 2017

Of Winged Things

I was walking down our driveway one morning when I saw this little beautiful little guy clinging to the clapboard on our house. I had never seen one before, but he looked a little like a crane fly--one of those giant mosquito-like insects that frighten many people who don't know that these creatures have no interest in human blood. So I began my search in the crane fly family and there it was: a Phantom Crane Fly, called a phantom because in the shadowy spaces under heavily leaved branches where it likes to hang out, all the black parts disappear and it looks a giant snowflake hovering in the shade.


And here is my rendition:



It has tiny wings, which it hardly uses because those enlarged black areas on the tarsi (toes) are a kind of air sack that makes it very light and able to catch the slightest wind so that it moves by being blown from place to place.


This is one cool insect!

The next week continued with more muted tones as I tried to suggest the patterns on a moth's wing (an ironically named Colorful Zale).




More colors will return next week. 

And I am linking to Nina Marie's Off the Wall Friday!

Monday, June 26, 2017

Experiencing Art

I did not post last week because I was getting ready for this:


As part of Amesbury Days, an annual event in our town, the Cultural Council now hosts a juried art show and I decided to participate this year. I, along with over twenty other artists, found myself in an unconditioned City Hall on an unusually steamy day for June with not too many people out and about looking at art. But I did have some good conversations with some of the few who ventured out, got to know three other artists a bit better, met six very interesting people, who I hope to know better, and I sold two pieces! 


Earlier in the week I took my favorite five-year-old on an adventure at The Butterfly Place, and we became lost in the experience of intense colors and patterns swirling and landing around us.



And now I begin a week where the art gods may allow me to do some work. We shall see. . . 



Friday, June 16, 2017

More Insects

As I was working on another project in my studio, the object of week 8 fell onto the windowsill beside me. Popping the little beetle into a magnifying box, I saw that two sides of the wing cover were a rich red, and the blackish triangle in the middle revealed itself to be an iridescent green as I carried the beetle outside to better photograph it. But even more interesting was its face--a pale tan which meant that its two little black eyes really stood out. I got the feeling that this little guy was staring back at me and I could see him trying to solve the problem of how to get out of this enclosed space with all the sense and senses available to him.

This turned out to be a Scarlet Malachite Beetle and it appears such insects eat other insects, particularly those that eat our cereal grains.


And here is my tribute to this little creature, who is endangered in the British Isles:


Terra and I took a walk a couple of weeks ago in one of my favorite nearby parks, Maudslay State Park, the one-time grounds of a mansion that no longer exists, and wandered down a new path, often a good thing to do. I began to see those tiny blue Spring-is-here butterflies flitting in the sunlight. I was lucky enough to have one land right in front of me so I could grab some photos and here are my thoughts on a Spring Azure (a female because of the black cap on its forewings):



One exciting discovery about these simple beauties is that their antennae and legs are striped black and white.


I have fallen behind in my recording of my weekly squares (not in making them, however!!), partly because of a couple of bigger projects I am working on, partly because of all the other parts of my life that keep filling my days, and partly because of this: 


Finally, after three years of making do with various floor lights as well as light from the windows, I have track lights in my studio! This meant a significant cleaning and rearranging of the studio so that the electrician could actually get a large ladder into the space but it is done, except for one more head that must be added--and, at the flip of a switch (actually two switches), I have wonderful LED light not too blue and not too yellow! I am very pleased--and my aging eyes are thanking me.

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

I am linking with Nina and Off the Wall Friday. Check out what's happening there.



Friday, May 26, 2017

More Insect Inspiration


Over the course of several years I have managed to collect several butterfly, moth, dragonfly specimens that met their demise due to natural causes of one sort or another. And I decided to take a look at these hoping for some inspiration for the sixth in my weekly series. These are all showing their age and lack of professional preservation techniques so, as I moved one butterfly aside, its tightly curled proboscis detached. There was my image for the week: a lovely, simple spiral shape. But I had to complicate it a bit with some research that reminded me that, under an electron microscope you can clearly see that this is a hollow tube (sometimes a double tube) and that the spiral is not a neatly rounded shape but curves tightly in on itself so much so it almost knots at times. 


The proboscis comes in many lengths as well, sometimes very short, sometimes extremely long, reaching far into a flower. What an amazing little tool to have attached to one's face!

That same week I was whining about the coolness of the spring that meant few insects were out and about and so I sought to literally uncover some under last year's leaves. And there, of course, were the ubiquitous roly-poly bugs. I chose one unlucky specimen to be examined more closely and discovered, with research, that it was neither roly-poly nor a bug. 


It looked exactly like a roly-poly to my uneducated eye but it didn't seem to want to roll up as those bugs from my childhood had always done. It was instead an entirely different species that goes by the exceedingly unsexy name of woodlouse or European Sowbug (Oniscus asellus). And it is not an insect at all but one of the few crustaceans that live on land. I had already suspected something amiss in this area when my guy did not stop at the requisite three pairs of legs for insectdom and instead wiggled seven pairs at me when I turned him over.

So technically this woodlouse does not qualify for my series but, since I am making the rules and most folk think it is a bug, I created a block in its honor:


One of the aspects that intrigued me about this creature was how its shiny shell became almost translucent at the edges and so I fused shiny strips of organza over the gray that do not show up so well in a photo. I also paid homage to those seven pairs of legs, but one of the most fascinating aspects of this woodlouse is the antennae that are never still and that are jointed in two places like the legs. 

These guys, who originally came from Britain, are actually of benefit, unlike many other of the imported species.They help plant materials decompose, adding to the fertility of the soil. They do not bite, they do not spread disease and they even lay their eggs in a pouch like a kangaroo's and carry them around until they are "born"--an all around pleasant non-bug.

I am linking this to Nina's Off the Wall Friday.