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Monday, December 25, 2017

Friday, December 22, 2017

It Is What It Is

My choice of handstitching to create my pieces means that I am living with them in an unfinished state for a long time. And more often than not, there comes a time when I find I dislike or cease to believe in a piece. This could be an accurate evaluation of the work, but it happens so regularly that I have come to expect it and can usually find a way to work through it.

In early 2017 I launched into a new heavily textured piece that would use browns of varying hues-- a color that can easily become drab but I took that as a challenge. About a quarter of the way into the piece I decided it wasn't working. I shifted the colors a bit and it got interesting again. At half way through I was on the point of moving on to something else, moving it to some horizontal surface where it would quickly become covered with fabrics pulled out for a new project--when I changed the orientation to vertical and thought that worked. By the time I finished the top I hated it--until I realized that its orientation really was better the way I had originally envisioned it. But something was still wrong.

It sat on the design wall for a couple of weeks until I came up with the idea of beads. Ultimately, buttons were the perfect solution as well as some adjustments on the black outlines.

It Is What It Is       24" x 20"

It was no longer the piece I had originally envisioned but something new--and I liked it again. But I had moved between being pleased and hating it so many times that I was not sure whether anyone else would find it interesting. I christened it "It Is What It Is" because it is a piece I had come to accept not for my vision of it but for what it is, and, with some trepidation hung it in the Abstract Artists Group of New England show. It was noticed. It was liked! 

This piece, which kept moving from the dark to the light in my evaluation, seems appropriate for the solstice. 

Happy Solstice everyone! The light will return!


Linked with Nina-Marie's Off the Wall Fridays.


Friday, December 8, 2017

Questions

Some famous archaeologist, who discovered the skull of a major link in our evolutionary chain, once said that he only found what he was looking for and so, one day in October, I decided to look for a Wooly Bear, since we now live in an urban landscape where Wooly Bears are not an everyday occurrence. And there one was--right on the violets growing next to our front door.

In case you are one of the few people who has never seen one, here is a photo of one of the insects consistently described as "cute."


My Wooly Bear block is more symbolic than abstract this time, suggesting the main association of Wooly Bears and questions about the winter weather, one of the many vain attempts we humans have made to try and peer into the future and see what's coming at us.


I do understand why this guy was labelled wooly, but "bear" leaves me with another unanswered question.

And one more question of the week: will these hand-dyed half-yards fresh out of the washing machine dry in 45 degree weather with rain predicted any minute?


The answer to that was no.

Hope you are all contributing your light to this season of darkness!

Check out Nina's Off the Wall Fridays.



Friday, November 24, 2017

Elusive

This year I began a new series partially in response to the rhetoric of certainty that seemed to surround me, partially in response to life. It is dedicated to uncertainty and  "Live Frugally on Surprise," a line from one of my favorite poems of Alice Walker's, could easily be its mantra.

One of the fruits of this series is Elusive:


The background is a product of a successful snow-dyeing session with some added silk screening and painting. The texture in the piece (the arcs or wing shapes) comes from another experiment this year--dyeing cheesecloth and hand stitching it to a background.

This piece is larger than I have been working, 43" x 25", and a judge liked it enough to put it into the Newburyport Art Association Fall Juried Members Show, where it was the only piece of fiber art. 


Since it is abstract, it is open to interpretation and I usually try not to limit those interpretations to what inspired me to create a piece. But if I am asked about a particular meaning, sometimes I try to get the viewer to look a little more closely at the piece. "Those are obviously planets. Why did you make planets?" But the piece is green, not a typical planetary color, and if the piece is about space, it is also about spaces.

It is Thanksgiving weekend and I am writing this as I sit awaiting the arrival of voices and smiles and energy with reminders of all I am grateful for. I am also feeling gratitude for those quiet spaces in between, for all the multiplicity of this amazing, ever-changing life. 

Hope your Thanksgiving gave you even more to be thankful for!


Check out Off the Wall Friday--another thing to be thankful for!

Friday, November 17, 2017

Loving Goldenrod

Since scientists have freed goldenrod from their reputation for causing allergy miseries (their pollen is so sticky that it does not float in the air easily), I am free to declare my love for the plant and to have beautiful bouquets of it in the house. And when it is in full glory in early fall, it also attracts a number of interesting insects, like the Locust Borer:

This guy is in the long-horned beetle family (note the antennae), but the patterning is what you can't help but notice. And so it was an easy decision to capture that pattern that is a bit different on every individual yet easily recognizable.


This beetle is more than just a handsome face. It does serious damage to Black Locust trees when it lays its eggs, but Black Locusts have become invasive in some parts of the country. I pull up hundreds of little annoying Black Locust sprouts in our yard every summer that come from our neighbor's tree. So this little bug--particularly this mating pair--cannot be easily labelled, like so many things in life, as harmful or helpful. 

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

I am linking with Nina-Marie's Off the Wall Fridays. Check out what some other fiber artists have been doing.

Friday, October 27, 2017

Experience

My newest textured work, which is finally complete enough to photograph:



This piece (25 x 18") is a little larger than I have been working. I seem to need to make a golden piece every now and then and so this began with that need as I played with various rough sketches that would suggest directions for textured rows. It is made with all hand-dyes and quite a bit of silk along with the cottons and then hand stitched with perle cotton thread.

I titled it "Experience" because that is the word it came to represent for me--in all the aspects of meaning that word contains.


This post is linked with Nina-Marie's Off the Wall Fridays. Check it out!

Friday, October 20, 2017

Discoveries Literary and Biological

One of the joys of living near a pond is seeing dragonflies, but that is also a source of frustration because many of them do not like to hang around and pose for a photo and, if they do, identification can be next to impossible. But a couple of weeks ago I found a very willing couple who decided to spend an extended period of their mating on a plant right near where I happened to be standing.


I at first thought that this would be an easy ID since that glowing sunset red had to be distinctive but, as I paged through the guide, the number of red dragonflies kept growing. There was hope, however. The stigma of this particular dragonfly (the tiny bar on the top outer wing edge that may help provide a counterweight in the aerodynamics of the wing) was distinctly red on the upper one and gold-yellow (or saffron) on the lower one. And yes, that was distinctive. Only the Saffron-winged Meadowhawk had stigmas of those colors, with the male on top and the female curved below. 

And so I decided to emphasize the colors in my journal block:


I spent the morning in the presence of another kind of journaling: the journals of Henry David Thoreau, on display at the Concord (MA) Museum, in celebration of his 200th birthday. I have read many things Thoreau wrote but this was akin to the difference between seeing the photograph of a work of art and seeing the work itself. Standing in the presence of paper and ink he actually used is a particular kind of experience that virtual reality does not capture. When he first began writing the journals that he kept for 24 years, he wondered whether they were a productive use of his time, but decided that he would keep at them and see what happens. 

And thanks once again for the company!

I am posting this on Off the Wall Friday.