Saturday, June 30, 2012

Safe in Rochester

As you can imagine, it's been a hectic week now that I am in Rochester with my friend who is getting tests and treatment at the Mayo clinic here. I've taken pictures all along the way but just haven't had time to do much with them. I thought I should at least let you know that I did arrive on time and without incident, and that things are moving along for my friend. But it is Saturday and we are getting a few days off from tests and appts and worrying. I spent some time this afternoon sitting near this fountain tucked away in the children's garden next to the clinic buildings.

And for the first time since I hit the road, I had the desire to get out one of my projects. You may remember that this is the first in my Azalea Mosaic series. I appliqued 4 squares while enjoying the sound of the nearby fountain and the nice (although humid) weather. A check of the home town newspaper confirms what I knew - that Sandpoint was getting way too much rain for June, about 6.6 inches. I was ready to get out from under the rain cloud for awhile.

Judi joined me a little later, and we giggled while blowing bubbles. Turns out I'm not very good at it, but I got off a few good ones.  

Am anxious to share more with you - this is an amazing place. Art and inspiration everywhere. This was one of the benches I sat on near the fountain.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Off To See The Wizard

The creative journey is about to take off in a slightly different direction. My good friend and fiber artist, Judi, is on her way for testing and treatment at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, MN, and I am not far behind her. We suspected this was coming but thought we'd have more lead-time to prepare and get out there. This is why all work on Masks suddenly stopped. This is the higher priority, making all the arrangements and deciding what to take so that I can serve as her support person while in Minnesota.  We anticipate about a 6 week stay, much shorter than we originally thought, and if all goes well, if the Wizard is successful, we'll be driving back to the Pacific Northwest together by the first of August.

I've found another friend to keep me company and share the driving on the trip out. I've packed some applique projects, some knitting, a sketchbook and lots of reading, not really knowing, but anticipating I'll be doing a lot of sitting and waiting so will want something to keep my hands busy or my mind distracted. I did say at the start of the year I wanted to do more handwork, so I guess this plays right into that plan, although the projects I'll be taking have little to do with my art quilting. It will be nice to allow them to slip up the priority list. Ditto with the knitting and the sketching.

This will also give me a chance to put the laptop to the use I intended when I rationalized buying it last year. I am of an age that still equates travel with being cut off from everything associated with one's daily life. How much easier this trip has been to plan on short notice because of the internet where one can research accommodations, make reservations, access banking, bills and bill paying all on line, send info back and forth via e-mail, and not just from home. Once on the road, I'll be able to keep up my blog, play with my photos, check up on friends and family through Facebook and their blogs, maybe even watch some of my favorite shows I'd otherwise be missing. Guess I have to take back all the less than favorable things I think about this sometimes over-connected world.

So the creative journey has hit a bump in the road, and it would be easy to say it will be on hold until I get back. Yet every experience, even trying ones, can lead one a little farther down the road. New scenery, new people, new environment, and lots of time with my friend. I may not do much with it while living through it but you never know, and it can't help but shape what will come next. 

Judi & me on a 2008 road trip

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

ArtWalk Again

We are well over the average for rainfall this month, day after day of overcast and rain - sometimes just energy-sapping drizzle, sometimes out and out downpours. I realized that everything looked a much richer green than I'm used to, a Seattle-strength green. And when the sun did deem to come out, the saturation of the green really showed itself.
I take it as a sign of maturity that I have learned to recognize when a goal cannot be met and accept without guilt that I cannot keep a commitment. Something came up last week that made it impossible for me to finish Masks in time for this year's ArtWalk. Even if life had not intervened, I think there was much more to add to it than time left. So I fessed up with my coordinator and she graciously suggested I just put in old work. Since my last new work went up in my solo show which I'm assuming many did not see, those are the pieces that will now represent me in ArtWalk. That would be my Palouse Hills pieces here and here. There will be time later to finish Masks, and other exhibits to show it in. Until then, I have a more important obligation.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Another Generous Friend

Cathie wrote me awhile ago that she wanted to send me a small package with some batik scraps. I waited and waited and finally this week it came. Not what I would consider a small package!

Nor would I call this leftovers or scraps! Cathie admitted she kept adding to the pile after telling me it was on its way. Like me, Cathie is a lover of batiks, and I cannot believe she would part with this to share with me.

And look at these stamps! Thanks Cathie!

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Eyes for Masks

After a bit of steaming, Masks is all nice and flat now. Time to add some squares to make it a little more interesting, squares with eyes on them. There are only certain parts of this batik that work with my quilt, and I had some strips that were wide enough to use. For once, it didn't take me forever to figure out I didn't need to cut one big piece the size of my freezer paper, but could just iron the strips to it and place my jpgs in the print layout accordingly. Worked really well.
I had a visitor yesterday (more on that in a bit) who asked why I was adding these squares with eyes; she could understand adding some beads but what's with the eyes? Good question. Took me a minute - I've been mulling this idea for a very long time and I just know at some point adding eyes made sense to me. Hiding behind masks while eyes try to seek you out may be one scenario I had in mind.  But one never knows if an idea will actually work, just have to plunge ahead and see how things look. I remember a long time ago taking some leftover squares and randomly placing them on my painted fabric and liking how they looked. Now with it all quilted up, the random placement of squares became problematic.

Which means I spent a very long time today arranging and rearranging the squares, not to mention having to reject some of them because the color just wasn't right. At one point I realized they might work better if they were slightly smaller so started trimming them down. I'd backed them with Decor Bond, both for stability and to keep any texture from the background quilting from showing. I think I've finally got an arrangement that adds to the overall design and have started securing them to the quilt top with cross-stitches along the edge. As always, what color thread to use is always a question. First I tried the reddish Oliver Twist thread, thinking I wanted both the tie-in with the bit of reddishness in the quilt and for the stitching to show up quite a bit. But I found I didn't like the closeness of the x's nor the contrast.

So I moved to another square and tried the medium-value blue thread. You can see why I chose the cross-stitching finish, a link to the cross-stitching across the eyes and mouth picked out in the quilting. I think this is more what I had in mind - a softer approach that matches the subtlety of the rest of the quilt.  Once the squares are attached, I have some elk horn buttons to try out, ones that look like faces to me. Yes, I know, there are times when my imagination is quite vivid!

And for those who still might question my sanity for willingly hand quilting instead of choosing the speedier machine quilting, you can only get this kind of ripply texture with hand quilting, and I just love this look. I think the color in this pic is closer to true than most of the other pics I've shown. Neither of my cameras seem willing to capture the nuances in coloration, and this has been adjusted in software.

As for my visitor, that was Susan who went to the Timothy Ely exhibit with me last year. She popped over for the day to see the exhibits before they come down on Friday, and came bearing gifts! The personalized box is as lovely as the hand-dyed fabric that was in it. She also brought a loaf of divine rosemary cranberry bread from Petit Chat Villiage Bakery. I am so blessed to have such generous friends.   

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

June Newspaper Blackout Horoscope

I love these horoscopes by Austin Kleon, and felt mine for June exactly right - both for the way things have been going and for how they may continue.  Find your horoscope here.

Monday, June 11, 2012

More on the Myth of Originality

Old word cloud based on my blog
I just got an e-mail update from Smithsonian Magazine sending me to one of their blogs to read this post on Combinatorial Creativity and the Myth of Originality which has some of the same observations as my Steal Like An Artist posts. This one ties in some scientific data about the way the brain works that backs up what creative people intuitively know about how ideas come to us. I recognize this one from a book I read long before I started gathering quotations this year:
"Yet, no matter how much we know about the brain and the inner workings of creativity, the creative process itself will never be easy. Its most frustrating reality is that this crux of combinatorial creation – that magic moment when ideas click together and “make a stable combination” – cannot be forced. In fact, the more we consciously dwell on a problem that requires an innovative solution, the more likely we are to corner ourselves into the nooks of the familiar, entrenched in habitual patterns of thought that lead where they always have."
I liked this observation too because I know it to be the way I design:
"To create is to combine existing bits of insight, knowledge, ideas, and memories into new material and new interpretations of the world, to connect the seemingly dissociated, to see patterns where others see chaos".

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Last of the stitching

Oh yeah! I put the last quilting stitch in Masks this afternoon. With that much stitching through a thin batt (or even with a thicker one), there's going to be distortion - can you see the rippling in spots? And so the next step is some blocking with steam. While it dries, I can proceed with the next step - printing eyes on a coordinating batik that will be cut into squares to add some focal points across the top. Pardon the pun...

Thursday, June 07, 2012

Thousands of stitches...

I've had company the last three days, some out-of-town friends who wanted to see the exhibits around town that I have work in before they come down on the 15th. That would be Art of the Needle at Panhandle State Bank, Diamonds in the Rough at The Power House and my solo show at STCU in Ponderay. I really enjoyed viewing all these again with these art-savvy friends whose comments on various pieces helped me see them in a different way. But having company meant a break from quilting on Masks and now I need to get serious again. It needs to be ready to hang on the 20th.

I'm very close to putting the last hand-stitch in, just one small section to deal with then it will be on to printing eyes on squares to be scattered over the surface. There may be some buttons added and a few beads but it may not need that at all. I may end up facing this rather than binding it but again, too early to know. What I do know is that on this piece, my desire to return to more stitch in my work has been more than fulfilled. That needle in the photo is 7/8" long to give you a sense of scale. I had idly wondered if I had put in as many as a thousand stitches on this thing; some of the areas are quite densely quilted. So I counted up stitches in one square inch and came up with about 30 stitches, up to 45 in the denser areas. What with the draw-up from the hand quilting, the overall size of this piece has shrunk but it started out as a fat quarter - 18 x 22. You do the math - definitely thousands of stitches!  Just as well I didn't know that setting out or it may have daunted me into changing my mind. Instead, this has been a relatively stress-free and enjoyable process, and with the exception of a few penciled-in lines to guide, it has been done without marking. Just following the designs left by the paint, eye-balling spacing between lines, not striving for any kind of perfection. Love it and hoping that when it comes out of the frame for the last time, I have achieved the look I was going for.