Thursday, January 31, 2008

New direction?

My toes are itching; I want to trade in daily routine for a chance to *FOCUS.*

Have any of you been to the Atlantic Center for the Arts Focus on Fiber? Or attended a class in Peters Valley?

Diane Savona will be teaching how to combine printing on fabric with wax, in Deeply Layered Images. I'm not the beginner she's planning to teach, but since she runs the class open-ended, I could presumably begin where I am and move forward from there. The idea of wax got me looking at encaustic work on-line, which led me to a local show on encaustic landscapes. Which has got me thinking about layers and structure. It feels like a road beckoning.

Of course, as Van Gogh said, the best picture is the one you dream about while lying in bed, smoking a pipe, but never actually paint. IE: Time to log off and DO something.

Any advice appreciated.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008


Shoulder to the wheel, and finish a bunch of work:
This long piece has been on the "almost done" pile since last fall. Now it IS done. This morning I stretched three canvases and mounted more finished work:

I like the formality and stability that mounting gives a textile piece. My table with number two in progress:

Feels good. Then, of course, I logged on 'for a minute' and wandered aimlessly in the thickets of the blog/design world. Even the dog, waiting for her walk, gave up on me.

Here is my other, gaudy side in play:

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Art in Real life

Follow this link for a whole page of breathtaking art: close ups of Agatized Dinosaur Bone.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Warming up

It got down to 48 degrees in my kitchen, so I finally put on my DIY hat and installed the sheet of plexiglass over the ridiculous excuse for a kitchen window, installed back when oil was cheap and no one had heard of climate change. The cold is a great incentive to work, since my iron nicely heats up my wee studio, while the temperature in the rest of the house sinks through the morning.

I have been finishing work for this Saturday's Open Studios, many Valentines:
If you are anywhere near Groton Massachusetts this Sunday, stop by for the Artist's Valentine sale, at the Kalliroscope gallery, 264 Main Street, from 2-5. Reasonably priced art (most pieces under $30) with a
Valentine's theme are donated each year by artists. Every penny from the sale funds is distributed as artist grants.

Warmth in Winter

The wind howled all night long. Today, drifting through blogs, every opening photo seemed ripe with sunshine yellow. No, this in not a fabric, it is a flower arrangement by Jacque Castagne:


I am off to the studio, uninterrupted by any grouchy teenager. (The average sleep-over has atleast a 48-hr half-life in misery.) On the bright side, I took her to see a production of Henry V yesterday. The cast numbered 5, the production was in the round, with no more than 6 rows anywhere. The only props a few swords. The energy, thorough and bright. I am full of iambic pentameter today.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

The figure in space

Despite my protestations that the sewing machine is not a pencil, I have found myself exploring the stitched line as a drawing tool.
The process feels rather like flying in the dark or painting with your eyes shut. You imagine what you want, then roar along on the machine, then stop and hang the piece across the room. Only when you stop do you see what you've done.

Both these pieces started with (unsuccessful) thermofax prints from a sketch. The one below I painted into until the piece was a mess, then, when I turned it over I found this great, but pale, watercolor.

I find I like to use the stitched line to position the figure in space. Don't have the nerve to touch the face --- can I get away with that?

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Ideas in progress

My task in this life appears to be: learn how to focus. In the store, in the studio, on the net, I so easily wander off course, starting new ideas and, day after day, wondering WHAT was it I meant to do?

So it is with great satisfaction that I finished a second tree piece, in nearly-done limbo for a year now. The third is in the queue. I also carted up books I'd gotten out of the library, and did some drawing, and drew, too, from photos on my studio wall. The link between the ideas - birds, trees, people - began to flicker. I'll post some of the sewing when I get it photographed, but here are some sketches for now.

Friday, January 18, 2008


I love illustration. I love making an idea, a moment, visible. I love the intersection of thought, word and picture. Why the tension between illustration and art? One painting teacher I had used "illustrative" as a pejorative term. Why? Something about the work not standing on its own. But that's one of the thrills, for me: when art points just behind you, or over your shoulder, and makes you turn around and look.

So today's inspiration is warmth to offset the chilly rain outside. Go to Illustration Friday, and check out the work of Gina Triplett:

(Don't miss the hand-painted Converse sneakers half-way down the page.) No, not serious ART but nourishing in its ownway.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

On-line flattery

Thank you, Rayna, for the What color is your brain quiz this morning! My results? Perfect, of course:

Your Brain is Purple

Of all the brain types, yours is the most idealistic. You tend to think wild, amazing thoughts. Your dreams and fantasies are intense. Your thoughts are creative, inventive, and without boundaries.

Jeeze. I'll just come and read that whenever I feel down. What a hoot!

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Creaking with age

If I was a photographer, this post would be filled with images of snow-covered city at dawn. The light was all pink and blue, and every branch of every tree outlined with wide bands of snow. But instead I had to think about my feet, my knee (cranky ever since I landed on it in October), and the ice underfoot. Noble is the dog, that walks patiently behind its teetering owner.

Then I come home and drift through blogs, and I feel REALLY old. What's with the youngling fascination with aprons and 60's china? I keep seeing stuff I threw out idolized and sitting in a place of honor. O well. Everything old is new again, I suppose. Except my knee!

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Saturday date

Forgot to bring my camera today, which is a shame because everything was glowing after the rain. If I was a great photographer, I would have come home with pictures of all the little people out in their new mittens and hats.

My daughter has crossed the threshold of independence. Remember when the coolest thing was to be left home alone? That comes just after it was the scariest thing. Amazing. So for the first time in 14 years, my husband and I went into Harvard Square together, alone. Just ran errands, poked around in the bookstore, had lunch, walked home. O the quiet pleasures.

Friday, January 11, 2008

acres of stuff

In the midst of otherworldly rain and fog this morning, I drove with Mimi Kirchner to sort through fabric and craft supplies left behind by a friend's mother's death. Just about 15 months ago I was doing the same for my mother. All those purchases, initially hopeful, in the aggregate speak volumes about loneliness and age.

My mother discovered QVC after my father went into care. When she collapsed, we found crates of receipts. We found multiple irons, ironing boards, sewing machines still in boxes. Hundreds of boxes of cosmetics. And so many clothes you could barely move.

Ultimately we donated most everything to a local shelter: they had storage and would help us haul. My mom lives in one room now. We don't talk about that time.

Where do I post the sign to remind myself, don't do this to your girl?

Thursday, January 10, 2008


Making Valentines is fun.
I went to my studio to experiment, and three pieces tumbled out. The first is nearly done:

This one is half-way there:

The third is still brewing and not worth a photo yet.

Here's another Valentine. This one's off to a local Artist's Valentine's project. The work, all donated, is marketed by a local gallery, and the proceeds fund scholarship money for which the contributing artists can compete. What a great idea.

Monday, January 7, 2008

Stitching away

My large (for me) piece at last has got my attention. I stitched away at it during open studios Saturday, through "Star Gate" yesterday afternoon, and through the news this morning. Any clues from those more experienced about how to avoid hand cramps are welcome. Pacing oneself is all I can think of. Needle size? Any hints?

I like the effects. Lines appear, like sketching, and colors interact. Sometimes the lines break free and cascade through an area.I think more of that will happen before I am done.

Thursday, January 3, 2008

The value of edits

I spent years moving words around for a living. First lesson: never ship a first draft, except for review. Second lesson: even when you think it's done, your work can probably improve. (Third lesson: there's always a typo on the first page.)

So to grease the wheels after a week off, I took out two pieces that have not sold and went back into them. Here's the before shot of one:

That's supposed to be a building in the lower left, but the eye wants to read it as something up close: a mystery blob. Plus in the city a building by the water wouldn't stand alone. Plus the composition was just clumsy. In December I felt embarrassed to hang it during open studios. Time for some work.

Here's the edited version:

Poof. The clunky building is gone, the skyline has evolved, the reflections are more complex. It looks more like what I see when I walk the river each morning.