Thursday, August 27, 2015

Paying Attention

With my last post, you know that part of my my being AWOL on the blog has been due to company. Not just the lovely time spent while they were here, but also the not so lovely time picking up my messes and cleaning. The guest room is also my office, where I have spread out all the family photo albums and letters and documents for scanning and researching. So I hurriedly scanned a few more things before gathering everything to be stowed temporarily in a close. It is also the room where I do my taxes. I still had a box with a year's worth of bills and receipts to shred. It's a mindless but time-consuming task so I had put it off. Now I was prodded into action.

Not long ago, I picked up a book new to my library, The Little Book of Book Making by Charlotte Rivers and was totally mesmerized by the handmade books it included from so many artists that make this form their preferred outlet. One using the insides of security envelops particularly caught my eye. Could there really be that many patterns out there I wondered? I was pretty sure the security envelops coming my way had only a couple of relatively boring patterns on them. I made a mental note to pay more attention to the ones showing up in my mailbox. And then I promptly forgot.

That is, until I started pulling bills to shred from their envelops and sorting for recycling the envelops with plastic windows from the ones that were all paper. Oh wait. I was going to look at the security patterns, wasn't I? What I found in that year's worth of envelops quite surprised me. What a haul of envelops I had once I was done. And because that's just the way I roll, I decided to carefully release where they were glued so they would lie flat exposing the patterns, and then sort the patterns into piles.

These were by far the most common pattern - I think they reflect the credit companies I do business with.  The printing was often uneven across the paper and the saturation varied from envelop to envelop. And most of the envelops were designed this way - basically rectangles with narrow extensions to close up the sides.

These were one-offs. You may need to click on the pictures for a larger view to see the patterns.

Most were printed with black or grey ink, but a few were blue like this one. My camera really didn't like figuring out what to focus on with some of these patterns.

One lone envelop was not the usual business envelop size but a nearly square one which will give larger pieces to work with.

Here's a close-up of that stripe. Eye's going batty yet?

Some return envelops had windows but some did not. These will give me the larger areas to work with too. There's that crosshatch again but the ones on either side are different from the rest.

Then I ran into envelops constructed in what I consider the more classic manner - set on point before folding in the bottom, sides and flap. Yet another pattern.

And two more patterns in blue from that style of envelop.

I've saved the best for last, or so I think. Yes, it looks like another crosshatch but this version has some interesting patterning going on within the crosshatch.

I'd be curious to know why this is as one really wouldn't notice it unless opening the envelop flat.

I guess that's the thing about humans and design - we just can't help doing more than is necessary or even seen.

Some of the patterning continued onto the flaps. These can be trimmed to narrow strips. Oh, and above the torn-off flaps, there are small pieces that I cut from an envelop that had a snowflake and lines on it. Definitely art journaling fodder.

I envision using these envelops in my book making as well as art journaling. I've been puzzling over what to line my recycled box covers with and this might be it. While it is exciting to find a use for these envelops, I fear I may have triggered an unstoppable obsession. Where once I could toss that envelop into the recycling bin, now I am hesitating and tossing it into my art journaling supplies. I'm paying attention!


Saturday, August 22, 2015

Reverberations Has A New Home

Me with my goddaughter and her husband - garden wedding 2013

I had a visit this week from my goddaughter and her husband. When they were married almost two years ago (yes, they are barefoot in the picture), I offered as my wedding present their choice of one of my art quilts. Their plans for visiting last summer fell through but not to worry; that just gave them more art to choose from when they finally arrived!

I probably would not have offered this if I hadn't known in advance that they liked my work. (The goddaughter's parents have several of my works in their collection and she informed me that she blog stalks!) In fact, they mentioned hoping someday to be able to afford to purchase a piece. Not to worry - you've just solved my gift giving dilemma!

Still, I work in so many different styles, themes and colors, and know so little about their own preferences that it made sense to let them pick and choose. I was very curious to see what would appeal to them. Over the course of their stay, they narrowed it down to three apparently, with "Reverberations" being their top choice. I couldn't be more pleased, in fact found myself hoping that perhaps it would be the one. It's a favorite of mine, but not so much so that I wouldn't be able to part with it. It's such a good feeling to know it will be enjoyed beyond my own walls, in the home of a couple so special to me. 

Reverberations by Sheila Mahanke Barnes ©2014

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Auditioning Beads

Look at all those dishes of beads!
I fear I haven't made much progress on adding beads to Masks. There have been distractions aplenty, and some days when I just didn't have it in me to decide on the next steps and methodically start sewing. But there have been days as well when I stood and stared, tried to envision, scattered a few beads here and there, consulted my beading books for ideas, tried to think my way to proper solutions. The mask on the right is starting to look like it is receding to me - standing just a little back from the one on the left and I like this, want to capitalize on that. I also thought to pick up the bit of green in the fabric by using green beads to outline what I see as the hat at the top of the mask. And don't forget, there may be a need to pull a few red beads up into this area too for overall balance.

When you merely scatter beads, particularly over a quilted surface, you really can't get the feel of what those same beads will look like stitched down. I finally admitted I must start "stringing" beads, trying various combinations and repeat sequences. In this case, I stacked the beads on a long glass-head pin. These will probably outline the "chin" area on each mask.

The hats have an oval "center" that calls out for a bigger decorative element. Could only find one such thing in my stash - an antler button with a turquoise center bead that I originally bought to add to a tote flap but now want to use on the forward mask. It is the perfect size and stylistic feel. Was not originally planning on giving that mask a green hat, but going blue seemed like too much since the rest of the mask will be outlined in a blue trade bead. Also thinking I don't want a solid line of green so am considering breaking up the line with an off-white bead as you see with these beads stacked on a long straw needle.

The upper receding mask was becoming a puzzling problem, suddenly solved when it occurred to me to try mixing in red beads instead of off-white. Was interesting to feel my whole body spontaneously relax when viewing how this new thought looked in place. (One of my meditation classes had us focusing on how different emotions make our bodies feel physically - otherwise, I might not have noticed the connection between satisfied in my mind and my body backing that up.) And I may be able to "build" a bigger decorative object for this hat with an old yellowed button that reminds me of aged ivory (or I suppose it could be bone as it comes out of my grandmother's button box). It has unusually large holes for attaching which emphasizes the effect of looking like a face. I think I will secure it with a red bead over each hole and add more red beads around it, perhaps creating a slightly oval shape. I'm also considering dangles along the front edge of the hats, but again - which colors, which sequence? I'll probably have them copy what I do in outlining the hats. The rest of the outlining of the mask on this one will probably be what you see strung on some thread on the left, an alternating of small groups of the blue and off-white trade beads. I did a quick estimate of how many it will take to go around that section and there aren't enough of either color so mixing is my only option. Don't really want to buy more beads even if they are still available.

I feel the most sure about those green and red beads to outline the hat, so that is where I'm going to start, this very minute. Yes I am...

Monday, August 03, 2015

Options... I need more of them. Actually, I was looking for something else when I found myself standing in front of a display of various decorative elastics and thought two things: 1) I can make my own elastic band for my sketchbook rather than wasting more time trying to track down one for a small instead of full-size notebook (that would be the package in the middle), and 2) now here's a thought for a padfolio or journal closure (that would be the faux suede cord package on the right).

And as I was looking at the other kinds of elastic, I was reminded that my friend Michele told me she uses elastic hair bands for her journals where one sewn into the edging on the back cover can loop over a decorative button on the front cover - much simpler than the way I've been doing it. But I never remember to go over to that department to pick up a package. But now I have (that would be the package on the left).

The irony of this is that as I made that last batch of padfolios, I asked myself if this was really how I wanted to be spending my time right now, and had pretty much decided no. The padfolios were going to the bottom of the priority list. And I'd had the same thought about making more journals. And yet, when I recently ran across a sale on the junior legal pads I include in the padfolios, I automatically picked some up because I had noted my supply was running low. And then, here I was, contemplating new and possibly better closure options for both, the subconscious apparently continuing to refine my product whether I like it or not. One could rightfully ask if I know my own mind, and I would rightfully answer, are you kidding? Of course I don't! I guess I'll let myself be comforted by this observation by Carl Jung: "The creative mind plays with the objects it loves." And these days, I appear to love a lot of different objects whether I consciously realize it or not! 

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Taking a Hike

I may regret this tomorrow, but if so, it was soooo worth it!

 I've been wanting to explore this relatively new Pend d'Oreille Bay Trail that starts about a half mile from City Beach, snugged in between the roughly north/northeast shoreline of Lake Pend Oreille and the railroad right of way. It's been a long haul for the group pushing this project forward. Most of the land was privately owned so there has been much work to raise money to buy parcels or encourage donations of land and secure easements where outright ownership was impossible. And then too, much work to improve the trail, making it accessible not just to hikers but to bicyclists, wheelchairs and in winter, cross country skiers. If you click on the photo of the map, you may be able to see that the trail is not complete yet. There are plans to extend it about another mile, essentially connecting the towns of Sandpoint, Ponderay and Kootenai via a non-motorized route.

"Sitting Wall" installed in 2014 courtesy of The Rotary Club

This is my first "real" hike of the season, as I claw my way back to health and regain some stamina. It was so good to get off the pavement and onto the well-maintained trail, which although mostly flat, does have a few small elevations, something I really need. My usual daily walk is totally on pavement, perfectly flat and around a mile in length. (Even when I change it up by walking at City Beach or along Sand Creek nearby, it is all paved.) Time to find out how much further I can go. If I make it to the turn-around point and back, I will have tripled my usual walk.

The first part of the trail goes through "Humbird Mill Park", former site of one of the largest sawmills in the area. Although it closed in the 1930's, there are still vestiges of it along the lake.

And of course, the local graffiti artists have been hard at work.

There's more to see when the lake levels are drawn down in the fall, a practice that didn't start until flood controls were put into place with the building of Albeni Falls Dam in 1955. One historical account talks of piers the company built out into the lake to receive logs by float or by train. That might be what is showing just above the surface here or merely parts of the mill on land that once only had to contend with the natural levels of the lake.

A little further along the trail I spotted a bench, and then this place to enjoy a picnic with such a view!

But once out of the Humbird Mill Park section, the trail continues through trees, mostly shady and cooled by the breezes off the lake. 

The only sound to hear is the water splashing against the rocks, the wind through the trees and the occasional bird.

Maybe halfway to the turnaround point, I came upon this "Cairn of Thanks". It's probably 5 ft tall and inscribed with the names of people and organizations that helped make this trail possible. There are names on all four sides, but here are three of them.

I made it the mile and a half to the turnaround point, which actually is not far from my house as the crow flies - I'd driven to the trail and nearly walked home. This is also next to the former site of a smelter - still a hazard from lead in the soil and one of the next big hurdles in extending the trail. I looked back toward Sandpoint and City Beach area (the dark area along the water mid-picture) from whence I came. Can't really tell in this picture, but you can also see the long bridge filling the gap between that dark area and the mountains on the left.

And this is looking more or less east towards Montana - my big beautiful lake...

I was more focused on monitoring how I was doing as I trudged the bulk of the trail than noting "inspiration" along the way. But now that I had succeeded in reaching the turnaround point not too worse for wear, I made me way back a little more leisurely and with more awareness of possible "artsy" things. A yellowed leaf along the path...

and odd shadows far from a source.

But I was feeling the length of the walk and looking for that bench I'd seen earlier so I could take a sit for a bit. As I rested and let my gaze wander, that's when the truly "artsy" impulse kicked in. This shot was not because that big weed was aesthetically pleasing. It was an exercise in composition.

And after staring at the mountains for a bit, I picked out this formation and worked on framing it with foliage. This is cropped way down. The haziness is smoke from the many wildfires we've had in the area lately.

Then I spotted the post and dry grass, liking the color palette of the grass against the water. These have also been cropped.

And finally, as my eyes roamed the area around me, I spotted bright red berries. I have no idea what this bush is but it seemed odd that nobody - not even birds - had been pecking away at what looked like fully ripe fruit.

Now a bit rested and knowing I wasn't far from the trailhead parking lot, I completed my 3 mile hike, feeling great and so glad I seized the opportunity. How amazing that I trail like this is a 10 minute drive from my house. It mostly felt like I was far from civilization, enjoying a state park like the one I hiked at last year.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Next Up - Red

Have finished with the blue beads, moving on to the red ones, continuing to make what I had on hand go farther with the new beads. Wishing I had been able to find matte in the red but perhaps in the grand scheme of things it won't really matter. Really liking that small ashtray Susan sent me - nice and heavy and an easy size to handle when I hold it close to the needle picking up the next group of beads.

Saturday, July 18, 2015

Another Sketching Experiment

Oak Street Food Court
Once a week I have a class downtown and park in pretty much the same place each time - by a small park with a food truck court on the other side. One day I had a clear site line of this tree, and its shape caught my attention. I've been scoping it out for a long time, thinking about how I would sketch it. Last week all things came together for a little urban sketching after my class.

What I had decided was to try drawing the main parts of the tree with a brush pen. I bought one as suggested for my art journaling and have only used it a few times for text. It didn't work as I expected and left me unsure of the advantages of brush pens over other types, where would be the best place to put it to use. Perhaps using it to make broad sweeping marks like for this tree is what it is meant for.

I'm still a little fuzzy about it but perhaps less so. It felt a lot like using a marker but I did figure out that the "brush" part allowed me to do finer lines too. With practice, I could develop a little finesse and can see how this one pen could take the place of several different pens - an advantage when working outside the studio.

I used a regular drawing pen (like a Pigma or Pitt pen but a different brand I can't remember at the moment) for drawing in the smaller branches and leaves. This side of the tree was actually in shade and the leaves so dense that those big thick primary branches disappeared behind them. But I couldn't figure out how to make that happen on the page. And then I noticed that this was a flowering tree, with beautiful pink blossoms here and there. It was at that point that I knew I'd be adding color at least to the tree. What color you see was added with Prismacolor Verithin colored pencils after I returned home.

After starting the sketch in my toned sketchbook designated for architecture and which I keep in the car along with a few sketching supplies, I remembered that I was going to draw this tree in a different sketchbook, one where I could draw just the one tree. Too late now - I was lucky I'd remembered to toss in that brush pen! So once the tree was done, I felt a bit obligated to add the truck and canopy tent sitting behind it. And the clouds that aren't shaped much like any clouds you'd see. Not much architecture there, but it does give some notion of the size of the tree.