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.

Friday, May 12, 2017

Of Dog's Ears and Seascapes

In looking back at my now-and-then postings over the last year or so, I noticed that I was under the misapprehension that I had written about the pieces I had completed. I live with them for so long as unfinished processes that I feel I must have told their story. So today I am taking a step back in time to remedy the situation.

In 2016 I finished this piece in the series I have been working on using raw-edged applique, hand sewn to a background.

It began with a piece of snow-dyed fabric that hung on my design wall for a while until I saw a direction to take. Perhaps all my weekly walks on the beach help me see water everywhere and led me to add some water to it, and playing with various orientations brought me to the What If moment of trying to change the traditional landscape orientation from horizontal to vertical. I had also been reminded that being able to change perspectives is a great gift that was only reinforced by trying to see the world through the eyes of a then six-year-old grandchild. And changing perspectives can also help you see the essence of things, and sometimes the truth of things. 

So I dyed and printed the fabrics and began happily stitching those undulations in the middle. When I got to the lighter blue on the right (perhaps the sky) and the light brown on the left I felt the need for more texture and so the stitching became a bit more complicated.

Both of these fabrics were printed with oatmeal resist and I wanted some subtle texture--and it is indeed subtle. I wondered whether it was worth the effort but I have finally decided that it adds just a touch of shadow texture that is enough.

I also fused some brown shadowy pieces to the main curved piece to give it a bit more definition and finally added beading for a touch of that water/sand sparkle. The piece (28 x 20") is called "Seascape."

As I write this, I am also thinking of those of my artist friends who believe you should never explain anything about your work, even or especially the process, that the viewer should be allowed to approach it fresh with no preconceived notions or limitations. And this is indeed what happens when a piece like this hangs in a gallery (and it did make it into the Regional Juried Exhibit at the Newburyport Art Association in Newburyport, MA!). But I often find it enlightening to hear a bit of the story behind a work. And, as I read over my comments here, I realize that even more is happening in this piece for me that I have not discussed, so there is still plenty of room for each viewer to connect with it in his/her own way.

Oh, and the title of this post: I had been meaning to write this all week but there was no time and this morning when I finally had a morning at home I was procrastinating with a variety of tasks that got more frivolous until I found myself brushing the dog's ears and realized I was looking for ANY excuse to not sit down at the computer. 

And if you are still reading--and not off brushing your dog's ears, thanks for the company!

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