Saturday, March 17, 2018

Of Photos and Life

I found myself in the midst of a number of art-filled events this week but, since I forgot to take pictures, did they really happen? I have never been good at recording memorable events with a camera and this seems to have carried over into my art life, where artists are expected to record (and post) details of their work and accomplishments. And I too often fail at this.

On Thursday the fiber art critique group I belong to got together to lay out a show we will be having in April at the Memorial Hall Library in Andover, MA. Trying to coordinate the work of seven very different artists and fit it the space we had was a challenge but we managed to come up with what looks like a great show in less than three hours. It won't actually be hung until Mar. 3 so we'll see how our vision transfers into real life. But I took no photos so you will just have to imagine the many, many quilted pieces that ranged from the quiet tones of eco prints to the bright purples and oranges on an octopus laid out at various points in the library as we shifted pieces and suggested changes and gradually reached consensus.

Thursday evening I saw many of the same people at the artists reception at a new gallery in Malden, MA, called appropriately The Gallery. The show, curated by Janice Doucette, was an invitational called Land & Nature Scapes that brought together the work of 12 fiber artists in a beautiful new space. I, of course, took no pictures. But here is a photo of the piece I entered in the show, Forest Geometry.

I did get some support for my lack of photo-taking from an article published recently that suggests that we do not remember the events we take photos of as well as unphotographed events. So I can tell myself I was immersed in the experience  and photos would have changed that. And I did indeed enjoy catching up with fellow artists I had not seen in many months, meeting some new people, and looking at the inspiring work on the gallery walls. And, since good art attracts more good art, we were treated to a surprise concert by Northbound, an a capella group who sing Scandinavian music in amazingly tight harmonies. Top that off with a memorable meal at a local Ethiopian restaurant and that was one good day!

Hope your week has been good whether you photograph it or not!

I am linking (a bit late) with Off the Wall Fridays.

Friday, March 9, 2018

Tree Love

Yesterday morning I woke up to this scene outside my studio window:

After four years of living in New England, I now know what many of the varied weather events are that the term nor'easter covers. This one involved lots of very wet snow that broke tree branches and pulled down power lines. The branches of that elm tree in the middle of this picture are dangerously drooping but the fates were with us. We lost a good-sized magnolia in the front yard but no major limbs from our big trees and our power didn't even flicker. 

All this tree focus is a good introduction to my annual Valentine project. This year Tom received a little 10 x 9" quilt from me, inspired by the crossing limbs of a Norway maple and a slippery elm in our backyard. 

I have learned from experience that I need to plan these out so that they are small enough that I can get them done in a brief slice of time borrowed from the other projects I am working on but they have to be in a semi-finished state by Feb. 14.  This one still does not have the facing sewed down in the back and needs a sleeve and label but I was pleased with myself for getting it as far along as it is this year.

If you are still reading, thanks for the company and I hope winter is dealing kindly with you.

I am linking with Off the Wall Friday. Check it out!

Friday, February 9, 2018

Bugs Again

As soon as I made a definite decision to put my insect project (see this post for details) on hold for a while, this critter walked across my windowsill.

It's a Western Conifer Seed Bug and has become a common sight in our houses in the wintertime. As its name implies, its home should be in the western US but since the nineties it has been making itself at home in the eastern states, where I live. It is just looking for a warm place to be, as we all are doing, but this is a bug (and he is a true bug) I find very hard to like. Its revenge on anyone trying to crush it--or even move it outside--is an unforgettable smell. And it makes little difference that it didn't make it into the Stink Bug family but is classed with the Coreidae or leaf-footed bugs.   

Because insects are few in number in February, I carefully moved this guy into a magnifying jar without setting off a stink bomb and for the first time really looked at it. And there on its back was a beautiful glyph-like marking on its brown wing covers. So I took some time out from my bigger project to capture it in fabric, a simple reminder of the value of looking closely. 

And now back to this--

Linked with Off the Wall Fridays!

Friday, January 26, 2018


I could blame it on the several snowfalls that changed the view outside my studio window into a world I have seen so many times before but yet always looks new, always brings out that little breath stop of surprise. Just as no two snowflakes are identical, no two snowfalls are ever quite the same.

Or I could blame it on the ice that followed as I walked the dog with cleats on my boots and horror stories of falls friends or friends of friends have taken echoing in my mind.

But more of the blame for not writing a post rests on the nature of the series I am working on right now. I am well into three pieces using my heavily textured, hand-stitched technique.  I am making progress but I do slow art and I'm not sure anyone wants to read: "Finished ten rows of stitching and added three gradations of gray and a medium turquoise to the piece," even though I thought the week a magnificent success.

In lieu of writing about what I am actually doing as I focus on getting something done for a deadline,
I will include a photo of something that I'm putting on hold for a while--one of my insect blocks (see here if you don't remember this project). This five-inch square, patterned on the compound eye of a butterfly, which is made up of 12,000 to 17,000 photoreceptors or "eyes," was one I began last spring. But I did add the final few French knots this week.

So welcome to 2018, and, if you are still reading, thanks for the company!

Linked with Off the Wall Fridays

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


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.