Tuesday, October 31, 2017

The End of #INKtober Shoe Sketches

Whew! I actually did it. A drawing each day of October without fail. Here are the last three, one more boot, an everyday shoe, and a vintage heirloom passed on to me from my mother.

Full disclosure, there are two more shoes I could sketch - an old pair of white tennis shoes that I only use for my daily walks (a bit of broken stitching but still serviceable as long as I keep replacing the insoles) and a pair of white water shoes that are like tennis shoes only with mesh so the water runs right out (great for our gravelly shorelines that would hurt bare feet when wading and for washing the car). I'm glad I didn't have to sketch them.

And now, regular service must return. I need to finish up some art quilts for a December exhibit...

Sunday, October 29, 2017

#INKtober Shoe Cavalcade End In Sight!

Here is week four's shoes from my #INKtober sketching challenge. It found me sketching styles from dress shoes to winter boots.

And so I've diligently sketched each day for four weeks, a whole month, right? Not quite. Seven days in a week times four weeks is only 28 days and there are 31 days in October. Just three more days with three more shoes to go!

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

An Autumn Overachiever

That's a 12 inch ruler at the top
It's been windy the last few days so I've stayed away from the park on my walks. There's a big stand of cottonwoods at the end of it, all golden and beautiful and for the most part, holding on to their leaves. But not all of them, I discovered yesterday when I ventured back into the park as I enjoyed the crisp but sunny day. Holy Cow!!! I had no idea cottonwood trees could produce such huge leaves.

Now you all know I've sworn off bringing home colorful leaves, but really, do you blame me? If nothing else, I needed a picture and I didn't have a camera with me. The leaf picking is addictive though, and as you see, some smaller versions also came home along with a few really small (by comparison) aspen leaves and one leaf that is still pretty green. All these strewn together on the path skirting that stand of trees.

And I have a mind to do something with them, although my first guilty thoughts were to just take pics and toss them. I like that fan arrangement of the big ones. I'm wondering about using them for sun printing or some other kind of printing. I've layered the smallest ones between sheets of that paper I made not long ago, wondering if any of the pigment with bleed into it as they dry under weights. The big ones have been flattened as best I could (they were quite ruffly around the tops) and also are under weights. No harm in that, right? Let the imagination percolate a bit, right? Fall IS my favorite season, no doubt about it. So much so that the poem below sent me on my own flights of fancy.

"Delicious autumn! My very soul is wedded to it, and if I were a bird I would fly about the earth seeking the successive autumns."
from The Writings of George Eliot, vol. 23 (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1908)

Sunday, October 22, 2017

Third Week and Still #INKtobering

The third week of a month long challenge can be the make it or break it week for me. I had  an unusually busy week of meetings and appointments, and even if I hadn't, it would have been very easy to say I didn't have time for the sketching, should be using my time another way. It's that mid-race slump where your mind is apt to try to talk you out of finishing. But I soldiered on, with only one misstep (no pun intended). There was one pair in which my over-confidence was put in its place! Can you guess which one?

One week and a few days to go. I've done a count of what's left to sketch and it looks like I'll have just enough shoes to finish out the challenge. Others are telling me that they can see my sketching improving, and with these last two pairs, I think I now can see it too. Plus I've gained a new appreciation for what I have available to put on my feet, and see that some of them have been collecting dust for no good reason. It's been fascinating to observe each shoe's construction as well, just how the detailing was done, the variety of ways one can crisscross straps to create different patterns, how many shoes I own that have the overlapping straps and not just sandals. This week has been full of that kind of discovery.

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Peaks and Valleys

So here's my sad tale. At least, I think it's sad. Life is full of peaks and valleys, highs and lows, and quilting is no different. No sooner do you have a success and are riding on a confident high than the tides turn and you are sunk down frustrated and wondering what happened. I'd finished quilting the fat quarter quilt top inside of the borders, an accomplishment in itself. I'd been pleased that I got faster and better the more of it I quilted. Now "all" I had left were the borders, and once I picked out the thread, it would be easy and go quickly because I'd be quilting around the paisley shapes in the fabric print. I was days away from being able to add the binding and toss it on my bed.

My first session quickly showed I'd slid off that peak of confidence and was struggling to quilt even a small area. I'd chosen a dark thread for the bobbin to match the top thread, wary of it pulling to the top and showing if it was a lighter thread to match the lighter panels of the backing. I'd chosen the dark thread for on top because I didn't want it to pull the eye away from the metallic gold outlining the printed paisleys. The two threads were a great match for both the border fabric and the dark blue panels on the back. I thought I'd be able to see where I had stitched as I moved around the design, but I couldn't. And when I checked to see what was going on with the thread on the back, it not only glared at me on top of the tan fabric but showed tension problems I'd not had with the thread I'd quilted the rest of the quilt with. I quit in frustration and wouldn't face it all week as if I was punishing the quilt for misbehaving! So much for my increased machine quilting skills and confidence.

I did eventually sit down with it again, with an idea for a different approach and a possible solution for the tension issues (I'd changed to a slightly heavier thread without changing to a bigger needle so switching out the needle appeared to help a lot). I'm still not crazy about how the outlining of the fabric design looks on the back and is so blatant with that dark thread, but at least I'm moving over the border with a bit more ease. It's slow going even so and will take probably twice as long as I projected. I may have to take it out of the machine and set it aside after all because I now have a December deadline for the exhibit I knew was coming up sometime before the end of the year. I have several things mostly done but nothing ready to go. I'll give it another week and then I'll have to switch gears.

So that's my sad story. But I'm bouncing back!

Sunday, October 15, 2017

Another Week of #INKtober Shoes

A friend who follows me on Facebook as well as here asked yesterday if my shoe collection ever ends. Eventually it will, but at the moment, it doesn't look like that will happen before the end of the month. I'm noticing trends, themes, and buying habits that are not confined to shoes alone.

And although I had hoped to get quicker with my sketching as time went on, I only appear to be taking more time. I can't stop adding in details - the more I look, the more I see. Actually, it's eating into the time I might otherwise spend at the machine. I'm not minding that too much (it's another story I'll share later), but it does influence which shoe I choose each day, trying to go for the simpler ones in hopes I'll finish sooner and have time for the studio. So far, not happening. And there's one shoe in particular I keep putting off drawing because of all its detail. My days get away from me somehow, but I still manage to get a shoe or pair of shoes sketched each of them.

Sunday, October 08, 2017

A week of #INKtober Shoes

Those last two hikes I shared took an unexpected toll on my body so there's been no work at the sewing machine. But I HAVE been keeping up with drawing a shoe or pair of shoes each day of the first week of the INKtober challenge. Just like I thought my choice of cups and mugs last year would be easy to whip out (and were not), I'm finding the shoes I thought would be quick and easy are demanding much more focused observation and addition of details. Some days I felt I was spending way too long adding everything in. A few days I felt short on time so I sketched just one shoe of the pair. I'm struggling to show value and changes in texture within the limitation of a few colors of ink and my poor hatching skills. Well, it IS a challenge after all. Click on any photo for a larger version if you are interested in the narrative and type of pen and ink.

I've been posting daily on Facebook as an accountability prod and realize they may be revealing more about me than it occurred to me they might. The shoes themselves don't embarrass me, as they are all ones that I wear around other people so what's there to be embarrassed about? It's more how long I've had some of them around and how many there are. Well, as the month wears on, perhaps you'll see what I mean. I suppose it's one thing to wear shoes as one goes about one's daily business with few people taking notice or commenting, but something else to put each out on display and say, "Here, look at my shoes!" No no, I'm putting them on display and saying, "Here, look at my sketching!" And indeed, people are looking and seem to like my choice of subject, even if they think it odd. Some are accusing me of being a serial shoe sketcher, in jest of course, and I fire back that I've been a serial mug sketcher too. Ahh, the fun of sharing!  

Monday, October 02, 2017

Another Day In Paradise

Well, at least MY idea of paradise. Friday was to be our last sunny day in the 70's before another cold front swept through bringing a week of cooler temps and rain. So it was off to the woods again to hike an unexplored trail that's been on my list for awhile. Gold Hill is directly across the lake from Sandpoint, so a hop, skip and a jump away. In fact, we sailed along it on my birthday cruise. There'd be no babbling brooks this time but the promise of a viewpoint, so I traded my sketchbook for a camera.

The drive along Bottle Bay Road was a bit harrowing - a narrow winding road without shoulders or painted center line and few guardrails with speed limits between 25 and 35 mph. I really wanted to take glances of the lake but didn't dare take my eyes off the road. The locals who live along this stretch know the road like the back of their hands and one impatient truck roared by me without a pause. It occurred to me that when I was young, most main roads were just like this one. I was very relieved to pull into the trailhead parking lot after almost 5 miles of this. I gathered all my gear and headed up the mountain, the moderate-rated trail immediately showing me this was going to be a true hike.

The trail was a steady ascent zigzagging its way up through the quiet and shadowy woods, the southern exposure getting little direct sun. For the most part it was soft packed dirt but occasionally there'd be outcroppings of rocks and exposed tree roots. The trail is rated most difficult for Mountain Bikes and I'm thinking this sort of thing along with the incline are some of the reasons why. I was hoping there'd be none on the trail this day as I'd had a near collision with a couple of kids on bikes on a different trail.

The climb would be even steeper if not for the switchbacks allowing the trail to go back and forth across the face of the hill. I would not want to be on a bike heading down and through these sharp changes in direction. But that's just me. I did actually pass two bikers on the way up, let them know with a laugh that I thought they were crazy, but they were not kids seeing how fast they could go. They were taking it slow and steady and letting me know how many of them to expect as they were fairly spaced out.

Because of the relatively moderate incline, I could usually see where the trail would cross above me and where I had just been. At one point I heard voices and looked up to see two twenty-somethings running down the trail above me, water bottles in hand. Too much energy, I told them as they passed.

I didn't do much looking or any picture taking on the way up, focused on getting up to the first observation bench which I estimated would be a little more than a mile along the trail. I haven't done this strenuous of a hike in quite a while and this was a test of my strength and stamina. I kept checking now and then to see if I could spot the lake through the trees but they were fairly dense. I'd have to wait for that viewpoint if I could make it.

And I did, with this as my reward. Darn trees. I'm sure when this resting spot was put in on the trail, these trees were not blocking the view. I've seen this at other viewpoints too, where the forest has grown up to block the view. Still, it was a pretty nice spot.

Here's a zoomed-in shot. This is looking northeast of Sandpoint where the Pack River drains into the lake forming a delta rife with wildlife.

The bench has a dedication plaque to someone I don't know. But I took courage from it's message: 'He inspired us all to stay focused on our dreams." Well, that's what I was doing here, wasn't it, fulfilling one of my dreams of exploring in the surrounding woods? While I sat taking a break, taking in the view and snapping a few pics, a  young couple arrived on their way up. I asked if he'd been up the trail before to see if I could get an idea of how much farther it was to the next bench and he said, oh yes, he'd been up the trail many times but not for quite a few years. She was quick to add that this was her first time. Couldn't help but think, ahhh young love; the boy wanted to show his girlfriend or maybe wife where he'd spent his youth. They were full of energy and headed on up the trail. I didn't feel very worn out so I decided to go on up the trail too, at least for a little bit. I've always been lured by what might be around the next corner if I just went a little bit farther. But I knew I didn't have it in me to make the next viewpoint, and checking the time knew I needed to head back down.

Now that I didn't have to expend so much energy, I could look around me more and take a few pictures. There were lots of granite boulders, some quite large, which may or may not have been left by the ice-age floods.

And because of the shadiness, most of these were covered in moss and interesting lichens.

And I was reminded again of my fascination with rock layers turned on end, a sight I grew up with in these north Idaho mountains. This one is not as extreme as many in the area.

There were more birches and aspens mixed with the spruce, pine and cedar than I expected, one startling me with the silent drop of a single yellow leaf beside me. I was more startled that I'd missed this richly colored trunk on the way up.

And of course, if it is cool and damp there will be ferns. I didn't notice until I was reviewing my photos at home that these two are slightly different. They seemed to insist that I will sketch the simpler of the two once home and perhaps even thread sketch it. I've not really been a fern person in my textile work but for some reason, studying the symmetry in a single frond reminded me of a Zentangle design I'd liked and why not work with this?

I had dawdled quite a bit on the way down, taking much longer than I had anticipated, but finally the parking lot came into view.

And I'd be heading back down that narrow winding road, the one with the blind curve preceded with a warning sign of "road narrows" (even narrower than what I've been white knuckling???) and the bit of guardrail looking as if it's sliding down the embankment into the lake. I'm not sure I want to brave that road again just to see if I can make it farther up the hill next time. I can access the top of the trail by a different road which may not be as harrowing and will provide me with a spectacular view from the start.