Monday, July 30, 2007

Matting Madness

Grey rainy day. Working around errands and a sewing lesson for my daughter, I matted extracts from the printed fabrics made last week. Some become art with a little cropping, others turned into collages:

Notice the woman reappearing. I love her strong pose. Years ago I drew her, a big lovely woman who pushed her grandkids and my girl at the park, while I drew. I have never stopped being grateful for the respite she gave me.

Friday, July 27, 2007

Mess or Inspriation

I spent a hot morning at Lowell Fiber Studio, printing away. I am not sure where these pieces are headed. I love layering the images, and I am so often surprised how they change as the colors fall. Some promising "moments" resulted, as they used to say at school. But where are they going?

Trees and the human form: growth, movement, arms that reach.

Now the puzzle: how do the pieces go together? Which go with which, and what is still missing?

Thursday, July 26, 2007

for sale

Hard to think in the heat, so I finished and matted a piece for the gallery. Also, inspired by Rayna Gillman, I ironed and sorted my collection of printed fragments. Then the new Harry Potter and the new Annie Dillard for dessert.

Monday, July 23, 2007

Back to Trees

Continued with the tree drawing, but ditched the applique. Fused instead, and found myself in the world of illustration. I loved book illustrations so much growing up: all those exquisite lines and blocks of color. Here is the first, on an abstract ground:

The second grew more quickly, with the tree cut freehand now instead of following the lines. And a 50's silk dress surprised me as the background:

This piece of cloth wants to be a ground, but I love it so much I have been holding off (always a sure sign that it is about time to plunge ahead):

Meanwhile, to one side, leftovers from a larger piece resolved into a satisfactory sketch. I'll start there next time I get to my studio. (Errands errands errands this morning.)

Saturday, July 21, 2007

"Scrolls" Opening

"SCROLLS: A Fiber Interpretation" opened at Western Avenue Studios yesterday evening. Lowell Fiber Studio was fully represented. The piece above, "Untitled Scroll" is by our newest member, Cathy Granese. It is taller than I am by a couple of feet and exquisitely executed. Below is Laura Gawlinski, with her piece, "Codex."
Margot Stage's piece, Sands, is something like 15 feet long:

And a detail shot. She says it started with a the beach, and the lining of an old kimono:

Here is my piece, "One Way," inspired by the many trips to Lancaster PA for my mother:And that's just part of the fifth floor's exhibit. There were two sculptures, plus two more floors of art, including a moving piece by Karen Bettencourt.

Friday, July 20, 2007


Got an unusual burst of energy in the afternoon that extended until bedtime (fueled in part by the necessity of going to the laundromat to use their dryer: the humidity it too high for line-drying). The piece got a frame and a lot more stitching. I call it "Fractured" now. If you look up close, the broken, scratchy lines echo in the stitching. I threw some paint on it too -- it needs a little more, then it will be done.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007


Months ago an image caught my eye: one man consoling another after a bombing. I have worked and reworked it in my sketch book:

I been pondering about how (and why, and whether) to translate the drawing to fabric. Fabric is not the best medium for the human form. In my heart I think I would start with a huge canvas, and then collage and paint. But in my tiny studio that is not an option.

This weekend I figured why not? and started out on an old piece of linen. The first draft had a nice simplicity to it, sort of a haiku. I especially like the hand:

In my head, though, drawing teachers kept telling me to SAY what I MEAN. I took a deep breath and plunged in with color, in search of depth. Light blue, greens, red, even pink. Then the air around the figures needed life too: more space, and a bit more color. Now it is done, and awaits a context: a dark frame of hand-dyed fabric, I think:

Friday, July 13, 2007


If I just buckle down, work happens. I am reminded of an interview I heard once with John McPhee . His prose reads effortlessly, and he's written 27 books, so I was amazed to hear he too wrestles with procrastination. He said that in the morning, when he goes into his study, he ties himself to his chair with his bathrobe's belt, so he doesn't wander off. "And if I make a lunch date with a friend, then that's it for the day. NOTHING gets done." So I finished three 8x10 pieces yesterday, down to matting for display.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

A Day's Work

The simple act of putting my day's work on-line makes me realize why I feel so fractured. I am split between so many ideas. First some bread-and-butter work (the purses, key bags) each morning, to build inventory for the fall and Christmas sales: this work sells steadily and pays for supplies. Then larger but still affordable art, like the piece above: these go to the Cambridge Artists Cooperative and studio sales. Then there's printing: potential images are piling up in my mind and around the studio. And finally the pieces, like the trees, long for my attention. Somtimes I use an exhibition deadline to push an idea to completion. Other times, a piece grabs hold of me. Then the production work falls by the wayside and I wind up scrambling before a show.

How do you portion your time? How do you decide where to spend your energies?

Friday, July 6, 2007


I have been watching trees. To me they speak about continuity and change, age and growth: subjects much on my mind lately. Anyone who makes it to the Scrolls show in Lowell will see this image in my piece. I took it in Lancaster, PA, while closing my mother's house.

I've collected a bunch of photos from my morning walk, and drawings too. Here is one I did while waiting to pick my daughter up from school last winter:

Drawings tell me more. One sketch, years old, became fabric after I took a short class from Gabriell Swain this spring. More is brewing. I like how the printed marks and words mimic the intricacy of branches. The words are like the thoughts that go through my head while I walk.

Thanks to Gabrielle, I can work on the next small piece by hand, where there's air conditioning, when the heat soars this week.

Loft Dreams

Imagine this is the first thing you see in the morning. It is the view from the "guest room" in my friend's new loft in, of all places, Easthampton MA. It is on the fourth floor of a reclaimed foundry called Eastworks. Down one flight (huge industrial staircase) is her studio. On the ground floor are shops. Imagine sending your kids downstairs for groceries. I could get used to this. Of course, if I lived here I would surely fill the space with piles of Stuff That Might Come In Handy, so maybe I'm better off a grateful visitor. But oh, the view with tea at breakfast.

Thursday, July 5, 2007

New Kid on the Block

I have art to make, but a friend gave me beautiful decorator fabrics, so I have been making bags to sell. The shape is new for me: boxy, no zippers, pockets inside. The front is a mere 6 inches square. I had my doubts when the first one appeared, but it was so cute I took it for a test drive. Not only did I not lose it, but it has helped me keep my essentials organized: a minor miracle. Plus a total stranger ordered one while I was on vacation. So I guess these will be featured when I get to the RISD fall sale.

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

Upcoming Scrolls Exhibit

My textile group met today, and several of the pieces for SCROLLS arrived, complete or nearly so. The exhibit, in response to Lowell's display of Jack Kerouac's original On The Road scroll, includes work from a variety of artists at Western Avenue Studios and got mention in the Boston Globe last week.

Judging from the pieces already delivered, the show will be worth a visit. Put it on your to-do list, if you plan to come to the Lowell Quilt Festival.

Monday, July 2, 2007

Alzheimer's: Forgetting Piece by Piece

Just came back from the Vermont Quilt Festival, where I visited my piece, Trying to Remember. It has toured for two years now with Forgetting Piece by Piece: The Alzheimer's Quilt Initiative.

I have the book but seeing the works in person felt so different. Though the pieces were crowded (some hung so close that the descriptive cards overlapped their edges), they created an area of calm in the huge barn. People stopped to read. They looked, talked, looked again. Elsewhere the quilts celebrated technical mastery and sweet nostalgia, but here grief was shared. They created an oasis of caring. The Burlington Free Press sent a reporter, who did a fine job.