Wednesday, March 31, 2010

All Spruced Up

Yesterday, while the rain poured down, the local news program Chronicle came to Western Avenue Studios. Nancy Tuttle of the Lowell Sun wrote up the visit. She calls us a "hidden gem."
How do you hide 150 artists?
Come to open studios this Saturday and see for yourself.
1.Dream Flag
2. dog for dave
3. paint pots at LFS
4. group shot small journals
5. me at work
6. Red Cat by Laura Gawlinski
7. sewing supplies at LFS
8. LFS door
9. a two hands
10. Gwen Stith
11. doll by Connie Wood
12. purses by Susan Webber
13. necklace by Gwen Stith

I'm in Studio 512. Come in the door that says "Hub Mills." Take the elevator to the third floor. Find a stairwell and come up two flights. We'll have water and cookies waiting for you at Lowell Fiber Studio, #512.1.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Forgetting Piece by Piece

This quilt is for my father, who died with Alzheimer's disease when my daughter was 4.
Trying to Remember, 2005

It is part of the exhibit, Forgetting Piece by Piece, has toured the country for almost 4 years. It arrives at the RiverWoods in Exeter, NH April 17, 18, and 19, and then travels to its final venue, the Shelburne Museum in Vermont.

The exhibit is part of the Alzheimer's Quilt Initiative, which has so far raised almost $400,000 for Alzheimer's research. On-line, she has auctioned off over 4000 pieces, all donated by quilters. That's a lot of stitches, a lot of time, a lot of love.

If you are in the New England area and haven't seen this show yet, go before it closes this fall.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010


My little studio is way too crowded. But at least there's a view.

I started my day by sorting piles, filling bags to donate, sell or give away.
The brushes live side by side with the scissors and iron. The paints are under the table, with the interfacing and Mistyfuse.

Today I painted for an hour before leaving to teach. I worked from an old photo of my aunt. She died in childbirth:This week we're working in pure chroma, an uncomfortable but exciting place, so I asked myself what color placement did to the image,while I get used to the feel of the brush in my hand.

If I lived alone I would eat cereal and go right back to work now. I have ideas: text and texture. So much to try, so much to learn.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Spring! Warmth! Sun. My studio was so hot in the morning sun I flung open the windows and got out fabric the color of flowers. I spent the morning making things from scraps, a delightful re-purposing of hand-dyes and hand-prints. I call these Dream Flags. They are scrappy pleasures - bits of lace, quotations, old linen and new cotton collaged on the fly. They have been selling well at Open Studios. I think will become the topic of a tutorial if I can remember take pictures of the whole process.
This one looks rather like a small apron:

I'm also working on new Note Carriers, these scrappier and more improvisational:
This one goes to my Etsy store for the month of April.

After dinner more painting. Here's my favorite from yesterday evening. Underneath the colors is a layer gesso textured by pressing lace into it while it was wet. The process lends a surprising, satisfying quality to the image.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

exploring color

Our assignment this week is to work in pure chroma - no white or black, and ditch the earth tones. The teacher also encouraged us to work from memory, "a great editor." I returned to the subject of trees.

At the same time I am re-learning how to handle paint: how to work quickly, how to move among several images at once so that the idea develops without muddying the layers.

Shyness is overcome by enthusiasm. I have paints and bits of gessoed paper all over my studio. The fabric doesn't have a chance. Gesso gives the surface tooth, and also makes the paint read more brightly. What happens when you embed lace in that surface? Tune in tomorrow. I'll show you.

Monday, March 15, 2010

I've been to art class. What a thrill. Everything looks like something to gesso, or to paint. The questions I carried away: What are you trying to say? Who are you speaking to?

Today, few referrals for your entertainment:

If you love anything Rube Goldberg, do not miss this video. It will make you want to drop everything and start building.

Here's a quilted tea cozy for a volkswagen bug.

And here is a wonderful quilt, where Amish tradition meets jazz and bauhaus.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Class Tomorrow

Photos back from my photographer, Joe Ofria. This is the piece I did on commission last summer:
My class starts tomorrow. What a weird feeling, to be a student again. I bought watercolor paper yesterday, two huge pieces, plus tar gel and molding paste, the latter because of this piece by Rebecca Sower. I'm going to bring in lace and experiment, finally, with making impressions and even embedding fabric in the grounds.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Deskful of Ideas

Rainy day. On the road this morning to discuss kitchen cabinets of all things. That put me near the art supply store, so I got supplies for my painting class. Look at those colors. Better than a box of chocolates.
I am hip-deep in ideas and half-finished projects. I am hoping this class teaches me something about focus as well as exploration.
My orange kitty, who guards my studio, is ill. She is so thin. Nothing to be done but cuddle her and enjoy her purr while she's still here. Zen message, in cat form.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010


Finally had a sunny day to do some photography. Several notefolios - wee notebook holders - took their turn posing on my window sill:

These make me happy. I like the way they feature the last bits of favorite fabrics. I'll be posting them to my Etsy store over the rest of the week.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Sweet Bird Finds Good Home

Open Studios again last Saturday. Even tho' the elevator was out, people found their way into our studio. They seemed to enjoy the chaos we were in - spring cleaning half done, paint equipment everywhere. This little piece went home with a lovely woman. Now only one of the trio remains. I must get my little self upstairs and make the companion pieces. Needless to say, several are in pieces up there.
I call them "Dream Flags." They're inspired by the Tibetan Prayer flags. I imagine them hanging in the hall way, or over a child's bed.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Walking forward

Another long day at the big studio on Friday. Lots of progress, tho, of course, always less than I planned. Things I thought were finished fell completely apart and regrouped. A pile for companion forest/bird pieces has been set to one side:

A stack of 12x12 pieces emerged, which I brought home to finish. Also a couple of pieces too good to mess with: One narrow piece tripled in width. I'm still wrestling with the composition (ignore the red pole):
At the beginning of the week, this piece was just the left side. I like it better now that it's embraced some other thoughts - the different values of brown, and the movement of light through the dark. I think this one is just about ready to stitch.
Of course, everything came down off the wall, to leave it available to my studio mates. A good discipline, though often painful. If I left things up I'd probably stop seeing them. I have that problem in my little studio all the time. Right now the place is a virtual archeological dig of half-finished ideas. Fortunately Mimi Kirchner blogged about just this state of affairs, so I feel better.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Digital sketchbook

From this morning's cold walk. This would make a cool screen. The rust on this one, at the top of my street, has me wondering if I couldn't just leave a piece of vinegar-soaked fabric on it, covered with plastic and a notice saying "Art in progress" for a few days this summer.Wonder if there's a law about that?

For a break while doing my mom's taxes, I cut and paste on this, an idea that's been brewing for months now.

The taxes are done. All of them. I'm off to the post office. The reward is a trip to the library to wool-gather in the arts section. Chocolate and coffee would be appropriate too, I think.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Hard at work

Spent what passes for a full day at Lowell Fiber Studio yesterday. (Dog and Daughter mean I leave mid-afternoon.) Quiet focus, and many miles walking around the print table. Took a ton of photos, trying to document process as well as results.

I started out trying to match the last two pieces in dimension, with a changed palette. What emerged to my surprise was the reality of theme, or themes, really: Age and flight. Two directions, two series. Also, what I thought would be long pieces broke into coordinated smaller pieces, which I plan to mount on cradled board. Quelle surprise:

Because I share the studio, I bundled up the most ambiguous ideas, and moved the rest to one board to "steep." You can see the clock telling me it's time to walk the dog.

Meanwhile the professional photos of the last lot are ready to pickup. I finished my business' taxes and documented the huge donations my sister and I made of my mother's stuff at the end of the last year. This afternoon's job is to finish my mother's taxes. If there's any steam left over, my little studio could use some work.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Stark beauty

No snow here, but no sun either. Patterns are revealed in the monochrome world of March.

The garden waits for flowers.

The vines wait for leaves.