Sunday, October 16, 2016

A New Leaf

One of my latest works began as a small piece of fabric that I had done some experimental printing on. I so liked the results of the leaf print on top of several textures that I hung it on my design wall and there it stayed for months as I focused on other larger works. Finally I decided to applique it down on a neutral background and add other colors. I had a design worked out and had chosen just the right tones to create a meaningful composition. I am being vague about what that composition would look like because the of-course-I-will-remember-this-because-it-is-so-obvious became I-haven't-a-clue-what-I-had-in-mind, after six months of working on still other projects. Even the small pile of carefully chosen fabric had disappeared as I borrowed one piece after another for those other projects and they never found their way back.

So, having hit a snag on one of those big projects one day I decided to solve the problem--again--of what to do with that fascinating but neglected little leaf. And here is what I came up with:

It's small--12 x 14 1/2"-- and it's done! Is this a better design than my original? I have no idea. It's name is Harmony, a little signature of coherence in this incoherent time.

And someday I will learn that notes and sketches are worth the effort. . . but then again maybe they are not.

Thanks for the company!

I'm linking this week with Nina's Off the Wall Friday.

Sunday, September 11, 2016


Anyone who knows me well knows that on the introvert/extrovert scale, I fairly consistently fall toward the introvert end, but there are times when I do appreciate a good crowd, and the Abstract Artists Group of New England certainly had one last Saturday at the reception for their exhibit Edge. The Newburyport Art Association was just about filled wall to wall and that meant there were a lot of folks looking at the art, including the five pieces I had in the show.
One of those pieces Seascape is above, second from right. Once again I was pleased with how well the fiber art fit with the oils, watercolors, acrylics, and pastels. I also heard many compliments on the quality of the hanging. Twenty-one members participated so there was a wide variety of styles and mediums, but I was willing to accept one-sixth of those positive comments since there were six of us who worked very hard to create a coordinated show. And look at the sight lines that were created! Things moved easily from wall to wall. Here's a bigger view of the downstairs gallery from one perspective:
On another wall the very strong, very large piece by Jane Coder connects with Ethel Hills' and Ted Leigh's small collages:
So the six of us managed to create another work of art by committee. 

And here is a quieter wall with another of my pieces In Possibility on the far right.

Upstairs were more walls to fill, where my piece Dancing with Shadows paired nicely with one of Anika Savage's

And we had plenty of space to give some of the many small pieces our members created some breathing room:

As all exhibits must, this show comes down this afternoon. 

Friday, August 19, 2016

My Favorite Color

Cardinal Flower

Usually I just let these photos speak for themselves but there is a story behind this one. I have always loved cardinal flowers and found what I thought was the perfect spot for one when we moved to our new house. The backyard gets wetter as the tiers get closer to the pond and cardinal flowers love moist earth so I planted one. It didn't grow much the first year--as a matter of fact, it didn't grow at all, but it didn't die. It just sat there all summer but somehow over the winter it gave up and I declared it dead in the spring. 

While visiting a local plant farm, I could not resist the cardinal flower again. But when I got home and looked around, my original choice still looked like the best spot. So I decided not to learn from experience and planted it right there. What seemed to be a foolish decision was rewarded with a plant that grew two feet high and produced three catch-your-eye flower heads that give focus to all the wild vegetation around them. 

If something doesn't work out the first time, that alone does not mean it will not work if you try again. This will be helpful as I embark on yet another new experiment in fiber.

Saturday, July 23, 2016

Stitching life

I began work on a new small piece as I often do by thinking about a technique I wanted to explore a bit further. I had been experimenting with lines of stitching of varying value and thickness to suggest depth and thought they might work in a landscape using some of the cheesecloth I had dyed this year. So I began securing one side of the cheesecloth with machine stitching, which also stabilized the quilt sandwich I was working on.

But then emergency rescue vehicles appeared on our street and rushed away with a neighbor who was having a massive heart attack. I spoke with his wife to see if she needed any help and she was her usual calm, take-one-thing-at-a-time self, worried but handling the situation. That evening when she returned from the hospital, I went over to help her put some things away in the yard and, after a few minutes, it was evident that her calm exterior was only an exterior.

And when I returned to my little landscape the next day, the horizon line no longer separated up from down but inner from outer.
It ended up being a rather minimalist piece and now bears the title Psyche-scape. It can of course, as all abstract pieces can, move in many directions, but that was the main theme that generated it. It will hang in the Newburyport Art Association's 8 x 8 Exhibit and is therefore wrapped around an 8 x 8" wrapped canvas, a requirement for the show.

Its theme is an obvious truism--that we often present a face to the world that has little to do with what we are experiencing or have experienced. It is something I have seen in myself again and again, but it is so easy to forget when we are looking at another person. Perhaps now that I have felt it in my fingers, I will be more likely to remember.

There is more fiber art to explore at Off the Wall Fridays, where I am linking this.

Tuesday, July 19, 2016


I have a website! Well, I have unofficially had a website for a while that my husband was building from scratch, which meant that not only did I have to find the time to make decisions, prepare photos, write text, but he had to find the time to manipulate them into the site. Consequently, the website had been under construction for years. A couple of weeks ago a great salesman from my website hosting company called and successfully sold me their website building services. For reasons too complicated to list, I ended up with a deadline of ten days to get a reasonable version of my website up and running. Deadlines can undercut the enjoyment of lots of other things in your life but they also mean that you get something accomplished--especially if it's something you do not find particularly fun.

Choosing how I use my time has been a constant effort for me. Since Tom and I both no longer have a work schedule determined by a larger entity, each week must be given some attention. Sometimes I just tumble through, which can be a wild success, or more often, becomes a succession of scheduling repairmen, spending too much time on Facebook/email, making shopping trips--ending in a depressing feeling that I am dribbling away my life.

To market or to create--that seems to be an easy question to answer. When I finally sit down to try to come up with some appearance of control over this finite quantity of time allotted me, uninterrupted time in my studio is way up on the list and sitting at a computer creating a website is way down near the bottom, almost as far down as cleaning closets. But yet a website, like a clean closet, has a certain usefulness, particularly when I enter a show that expects all its artists to have websites or when someone expresses an interest in buying one of my pieces but lives too far to visit in person. And, like a blog, a website provides an opportunity to reflect on work I have done and perhaps even may inspire a new path to take.

And so I now have an official The name comes from the nickname my mother bestowed on me that seemed to fit with the crazy nature of some of my experimentations and the nature of the muse that orchestrates this passion of mine. Already it needs to be updated since several newer pieces are not on the site yet, but that will happen another day. No closets have been cleaned but I did manage enough time in the studio to finish another piece. More on that soon. And I even got a picture of (and identified--one of my priorities this summer)  an eastern pondhawk dragonfly--an eight-winged one!

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

Monday, June 20, 2016

Of Stitching and Sloughs

Finding myself in an endless Slough of Despond occasioned by just one too many (twenty too many?) stories about human beings wreaking or threatening to wreak havoc on whole groups of other human beings, I sat down to stitch. Making could be a useless act at this point in time but it might just be an act of defiance in the face of all the destruction and hatred. And making does nourish my spirit, which is sorely in need of nourishment.

So instead of railing against walls and guns and governments slipping into chaos, I will focus on a little 12 x 12"piece I finished, called Spring Thaw, the time when trickles keep expanding into rivers of new life:
This is another of my textured series, with hand stitching creating those wonderful ridges and wrinkles in my hand dyed cottons and silks--lots of silk in this piece. It was supposed to be sent off to the auction benefiting SAQA but didn't make the deadline. There's always next year and  it will be useful for several other shows.

And just to reinforce my decision to return to my studio for a while, this morning I happened upon an article by Carey Dunne about a new study demonstrating that making art (even if you're not very good at it--thanks for the encouragement!) reduces stress hormones in most people. This may not help a family trying to flee Syria but it might help those of us who are trying to find a way to help.

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Examining a bit of life

"Nothing is less real than realism. Details are confusing. It is only by selection, by elimination, by emphasis, that we get at the real meaning of things." This quotation by Georgia O'Keeffe that accompanied one of her memorable minimalist paintings, Gray Wash Forms, was only one of many elements of my day at the Museum of Fine Arts that I wanted to think more about.

Abstraction is a different way of seeing, a clear contribution that art can provide to our figuring out why we are here and how we are connected. Her piece and accompanying quote were in a paired exhibit with the galleries focused on the work of Lawren Harris, each of whose paintings of the Arctic and northern Canada exemplifies O'Keeffe's statement. The one that held me the longest was Pic Island, an embodiment of eternal serenity and mystery.
But as I thought about the day I realized O'Keeffe missed an aspect of abstraction that can also contribute to getting at the real meaning of things. Repetition offers a way of focusing, of noticing that a single image cannot. Megacities, a new major exhibit at the MFA, includes the works of eleven artists responding to conditions in the major cities of Asia, and I kept saying Wow as I wondered through the main gallery of the exhibit. Here is Take Off Your Shoes and Wash Your Hands by Subodh Gupta of Delhi, a wall of stainless steel kitchenware so shiny that the light creates even more patterns. 

And pattern is the point here. The repetition of similarly set up squares reminded me of the history of my own medium--quilt blocks, and the fact that these dinnerware "blocks" are similar but not identical keeps your eye moving, changes the rhythm that it sets up just slightly enough to keep you looking and looking closely. But the overall feel is multitude, of closeness that can be comfortable or uncomfortable. 

My favorite piece was another wall:

For Build me a nest so I can rest, Hema Upadhyay painted commercially produced bird forms to capture an amazing variety of bird species. I found no duplicates while I was looking although perhaps there may have been some. Here again the similar but not identical repetition sets up a rhythm further emphasized by the strip of paper each bird holds in its beak with a small bit of a long quotation written on each strip. It begins: "They will never be the same again because you can never be the same again once you leave behind who and what you are, you just cannot be the same. How often have I lain beneath rain on a strange roof, thinking of home. What you end up remembering isn't the same as what you have witnessed. . . ." The strips suggest a wave uniting the individual elements. The theme here appears to be migration in all its forms but particularly of the move to an intensely urban area like Mumbai, where the artist lived.

In among all the seriousness was the pure fun of Tech Styles: how the fusion of technology and fashion can produce such pieces as the 3D printed spiral dress.

The day ended with an all too brief visit to the museum's Zen garden, a discovery that I made on this visit and that is open only during the warmer months of the year. The peace is palpable as you enter. Can what we see, can what we surround ourselves with make such a difference? Lawren Harris certainly thought so.

And peace to those of you who have been on this ramble with me. Thanks for the company!