Tuesday, July 24, 2018

The Reception And I'm Done

It was a beautiful summer Friday evening which made me fear we would not have a decent turnout for the Ode To Water opening reception. So I was most delighted to arrive to crowds already milling about before the official start time. It's not a huge venue so the 60 plus people who attended really filled it up. I'm very pleased with where my lovelies are hung, where they get not only light from above but lots of light streaming in through the glass doors at the entrance to the left. The quilting texture of both quilts really stood out and I think perhaps drew people over for a better look. The comments I received showed an understanding of the time and work behind the execution, and a real interest in how it was achieved. There were artists I hadn't met before exhibiting too, and it was fun to chat with them about their work. For instance, that picture to the left of my pieces at first glance looks to be black and white photography but is actually done with graphite pencil by Doug Fluckiger. His three pieces were very large but he said he tends to work quickly so the size is not a big deal to him. You can see more of his work on his website, dougfluckiger.com.

Dividing Up The Spoils
I've been toying since the first of the year with the idea of taking some time off from my art quilting, at least in terms of meeting exhibit deadlines. This is the last exhibit I committed to earlier, and I am going to try to make it my last of the year. That way, I have nearly half the year to myself. Perhaps this happens to you, wanting to work on something only to realize you really can't spend the time right now, there's something with a deadline that must be done first. Well, no more pushing things aside because of an exhibit deadline to meet. Nope, I've been thinking all along what my quirky illustrator Mattias Adolfsson says in the drawing above, except for me it's not that the rest of the summer is mine, it's that the rest of the year is mine.

Seed geranium with a coral tinge

And what do I plan to do with this time? Well, I sat down with a spiral notebook and started writing it down - 5 pages worth! I need more than the rest of the year for everything on my mind, but I can get an awfully good start. For one thing, I can spend more time on my back deck reading or doing handwork now that the weather is nice. I have 2 hand applique projects and a partially hand quilted wall hanging I haven't touched for years but that are tugging at me to enjoy the finishing of while also enjoying the flowers I've tucked into the deck planters.

Snapdragons in pink...

...and in yellow with a green tinge

There are other quilting ufo's to work on too - that baby quilt still needs quilting, the lap quilt needs its borders quilted, a stack n whack top perfect for the chest in my living room is calling to be layered and quilted and enjoyed. Any number of things could be pulled off the design wall and played with or pulled from a stack on the floor. Might any of these end up in an exhibit? Probably. But that will not be foremost on my mind.

Dianthus smelling of spice

There's also the bookbinding and altered book projects awaiting. Plus some things that fall in the mixed media category. No end to what catches my attention and intrigues me.

And when I want to be out of the studio, away from textiles altogether, there's always sketching: the buildings on my list to add to the architecture sketchbook, the urban sketching at the park, the sketchbook skool coursework to finish, the play with watercolor and other wet media added to my sketching. Just getting out - into the woods, out along the lake - with or without sketchbook.

Marigolds to add a dash of brightness and chase away the ants

I need to clean out my garage, rearrange, set up my dye station better, be able to make paper out there. Make paper out there and finish the dye runs from last year. I even have a couple of boxes from the move nearly six years ago that need to be unpacked (mostly things for the china cabinet). Shampoo the rugs inside. The list goes on.

A recently acquired & scanned slide of my oldest brother holding me
My biggest project though, which even if I did nothing else but work on it would keep me occupied into next year I suspect, is organizing and scanning family history ephemera, and perhaps doing some genealogical research as well. I'd already started on this a few years ago, in short spurts, enough to realize the scanning of photographs, letters and documents will take longer than I thought, and that the narrative I want to write to go with it will certainly add to that. And now I've recently gotten my hands on all the family slides I'd given to my brother to keep safe years ago - dozens and dozens to be scanned. But it is the sort of thing I really enjoy doing, and with no children of my own to hand this off to and family members, interested nieces and nephews, far flung, I realized I could digitally preserve what I have and put it up on the internet for easy access for them. Must get cracking on it though! 

Wednesday, July 18, 2018

'Tis Done At Last!

"Adrift" 24" x 26" - Sheila Mahanke Barnes ©2018
Another exhibit, another open house on the horizon and "Adrift" is ready! I dropped it off this morning, along with another piece, my contributions to the summer exhibit at The Power House - "Ode to Water". As the call for entry stated, "We are looking for works that celebrate water, Lake Pend Oreille and the boating season" because, well, we're pretty much all about the water come summer. And as I think I said before, I needed motivation to complete this quilt which I have worked on in fits and starts and long gaps in between since September of 2014. The shibori fabric was done in August of 2013 and a year later I'd paired it with the hand-dyed piece at the top. I let it intimidate me off and on over the next few months as I slowly got a handle on how to quilt it. In February of 2015, I was asking my art group for help, knowing that it needed more than the quilting and a few leaves floating on the water. In March 2016 I was back with the art group with a breakthrough but needing more help.

The original willows leaves were ditched for these batik ones

I brought it home from that meeting, rolled on a pool noodle and found I could not face it time and again. But with this enforced deadline and a renewed attitude, it was time to get it out again and resolve those demons that kept me second guessing every step of the way. That two year hiatus was worth the wait because I had not been idle in my thinking about the leaf placement up in the left corner and my foggy mind had cleared. It was pretty much full steam ahead, and with a purpose.

But boy did I cut it close! I spent more time working on it on Monday than I've been able to make myself work in a day in a long time. Sunday's output made it clear that the hand-couched grasses were taking longer than anticipated plus I kept needing to add more (and actually having fun with this part). I refused to quit until they were all on and then addressed the edge finish. I simply could not leave that for Tuesday, my last day to work, along with attaching the sleeve, taking pics and filling out paperwork. I'd already done a loose zigzag stitch around the outside and planned to stitch the braid along the edge, but that zigzag turned out not to be enough. I experimented with a few ideas geared to attaching the braid to something that would wrap around the edge, but ended up just doing a round of more tightly spaced zigzags. It was tricky keeping from stretching the edges as I did a double row of straight stitch through the braid, but luckily, it came out fairly even and any ripple steamed out.

detail of bushes stamped on after quilting

Still nervous about my shrinking timeline, I saw I had just enough time left to cut and stitch the sleeve. It had been so long since I'd layered this up that I had no idea if I had more of the backing fabric left. But I had set aside what I'd cut off during the squaring up process and low and behold, as I unfolded the backing that had been turned over the batting to the front, I found that I'd taken care of the sleeve issue by leaving enough extra backing on one side to cut the sleeve from. That was a hallelujah moment for sure! The sleeve was quickly cut and sewn and pinned to the back before quitting for the day.

Couching stitches atypically showing on the back.

And so on Tuesday, the day before it would be delivered to the exhibit site, "Adrift" got its sleeve sewn in place, was given a good steaming and a photo shoot, and its label inked on the back. Yes, I keep thinking I am getting lazy about some of these things like making a separate label to be sewn on the back, but maybe it is just being more expedient. I'm surely not quite as neat and tidy on the back as I used to be when I knew a quilt would be inspected both front and back by quilt show judges. There was a time when I definitely would have carefully traveled that couching thread between the top and backing so that it did not show. The busy backing print helps disguise some of it, but in truth, I could hear my "I don't care" mantra kicking in as I couched away. Time was of the essence!

My other entry - "Far From the Midwest Prairie" ©2007

So it was with a great deal of pride and relief that I loaded up the car this morning with quilts and paperwork and dropped them off well within the time limit. It really is a bit of a boost to my ego when I can meet these deadlines and am happy with the work. Of course, I KNOW I can do this sort of thing if I just apply myself, but it doesn't hurt to prove it to myself every now and then!

If you are in the area, please stop by the opening reception on Friday and say hi.


Wednesday, July 11, 2018

"Adrift" Less Adrift

When I was cutting out leaves from a batik fabric to add to "Float", I was reminded that one of the reasons I abandoned work on "Adrift" was not just the unproductive dithering I'd been doing on leaf and grass placements, but also the realization that I would need to fuse more batiks together and cut out more leaves from them. That may sound like a silly little reason, but the fussy cutting already had taken its toll and I found I couldn't face fusing and cutting out more. But the leaf cutting for "Float" was going so well, so easily, the placement of leaves also, that it gave me renewed energy and confidence for completing "Adrift" at last. In the time since I'd last had it out (over 2 years ago), I'd also been keeping an eye out for branch placement in other artwork and photos, setting aside both photos on-line and in my own reference files as well as ones in magazines and books on hand. By the time I opened it out to work on it last week, I had a better idea in my head of how the branches formed from leaves should be placed and angled. Lots of rearranging and additional leaves cut and added got me to a point where I could say, "good enough; it doesn't have to be 100% accurate." I'd also been mulling forever how those leaves would be attached and couldn't come up with a workable way to stitch them down. In another rare for me "I don't care" moment, I simply glued them in place with Fabri-Tac, an adhesive I've used often and which has never failed me. The leaves were always meant to have the edges free so just a dab of glue in the center and along stems was all that was needed. The old me would be appalled at this, I admitted to myself; the older, tireder, and less rigid me was glad for the quick and easy application.

Once that was done, it was easier to see how the various yarns for the grasses needed to be laid out, how far up on the right and how much of a slant as they progress across the bottom. I'd spent a fair amount of time trying to figure out how best to attach them too when it dawned on me I could hand couch them. It gives me the control I need and the option of how much if any of the couched thread I wish to leave exposed, and I can quickly change from one color to the next as I work my way across. When I took this photo, the yarns were just clinging to the top naturally, but I could see that wouldn't do for long. Back to gluing, this time with Roxanne's Glue baste in a few spots along each strand, enough to hold everything in place until I can couch it down. All these processes are slow ones, but I don't mind. As long as I keep working steadily, I will make the exhibit deadline a short week away.

Thursday, July 05, 2018

Remembering My Music Man

My talented husband, second from the right
It's that time again, the anniversary of my husband's death and a time to pause and remember. Have I already told you that we met at college after I decided to join the Jazz Band our junior year? I don't know what possessed me to answer the call in the student bulletin for a saxophone player, and I tried to talk the conductor out of accepting me (don't own an instrument, never played jazz), but he poo pooed all my excuses and before I knew it, I had a school sax and a folder of music to brush up on before the first rehearsal. My time in the jazz band turned out to be the highlight of my college experiences, even if Allen had not decided to set his sights on me and eventually propose.

Love this shot of him (on the right) where he's counting off his rests

Truth be told, I actually had my sights set on two trombone players in the band, and did my best to chase both of them down, including a sneaky setup during a bus tour to ride with one on the first leg of the trip and the other one on the return trip (More than one bus to hold us all made this possible.). Imagine my irritation when this other guy (who I'd noticed joining whatever group I happened to be engaging with and who I'd pointedly been ignoring) boarded the bus, asked if the seat next to me was taken and when told it was, replied, "Too bad" and promptly sat down in it. The start of a beautiful relationship? Not exactly, as once we got back to campus, I continued my chasing of the trombone players while he continued his chasing of me. Eventually he caught up with me, and I discovered what an interesting and talented person he was (not to mention the fact that he appeared to love me and had similar life goals to mine). He won me over and we married shortly after graduation.

I tell this story because of someone who unexpectedly showed up at the ArtWalk reception. That's Shelleye in the above photo who was in the symphonic band at college and thus was on those band tours with the jazz group, some members who, like Allen, also played in the symphonic band. Shelleye tracked me down on Facebook a few years ago and frankly, I didn't have much of a recollection of her. I think she knew me more through Allen who she would have known better. That did not deter her though from becoming a fun Facebook friend, and thus I soon learned that although she was living in the southern part of the state, her hometown and her parents were just 30 minutes or so north of me. She even managed to strike up a conversation on an airport shuttle with one of my art group members. But she and me getting together? We just hadn't made it work in spite of her frequent trips north.

Me, the purple dress and the borrowed sax

Until Friday night and the reception. Oh, how wonderful it was to talk to her in person! She is as fun as she looks in photo (and a quilter too!). And before long, we were telling college stories about the band (and the questionable purple dresses we had to wear) and Allen and how, unbeknownst to me, everybody BUT me apparently knew Allen had his sights set on me. Slightly embarrassing that, but after we'd both gone home, I realized what a gift it was to have Shelleye show up at the reception, so close to this oft difficult anniversary. I have fewer opportunities as the years go by to reminisce with people who actually knew Allen. Certainly none of the friends I've made here knew him. So it was very special to see Shelleye after all these years and hear some things about those college days I was unaware of. Thanks Shelleye!

Wednesday, July 04, 2018

The Reception

Horrible lighting for photos, great lighting for viewing
Road construction, detours and frequent showers be damned, Sandpoint art patrons came out in full force for the ArtWalk opening receptions last Friday. I discovered that my pieces were hung at the end of the second floor of the Cedar Street Bridge in POAC's office. Sway was the one chosen to hang at a separate location with other representational artwork of artists exhibiting at the bridge. These remaining three made a nice grouping in this little corner space. I was pleased. And I was a bit surprised at some of the superlatives used in reaction to these. Fracture has been out before, maybe more than once (I lose track), but I don't remember it garnering the high praise it got this time round (stunning, exquisite, oh my!). It's always interesting to get others' take on a piece and one man who is a native but now runs a shop in Japan said it had a Japanese feel to it, high praise indeed in my mind. Of course, there were many noses close to Leaf Cluster VIII studying that garnet stitching, then looking over at me with either a look of disbelief (You must be crazy! Yes, just a bit!) or a nod of approval that all that stitching was worth it to get that kind of background texture. And then there was the man who confided that Float reminded him of a tarot card and took the time to point out why. I'm not overly familiar with Tarot cards but I could see his point.

There's not a great deal of wall space in this office but the windows looking out onto the walkway allow visitors to peek in at the art even when the office is closed. These sculptures are by Patrice Webb. It's a good location for fiber pieces as even with the windows, it doesn't not receive any direct sunlight. I didn't have a chance to check out the exhibit beforehand and no time to take pictures during the reception so you will have to wait to see the rest of the art at this location and the physical attributes of the bridge. POAC was able to take over several empty storefronts along the length of the bridge so visitors were treated to several "galleries" as they traversed the walkway as well as some pieces hung on wall space along the walkway. A challenging but effective space for exhibiting.

Back to the office space, besides my pieces and the sculpture, one of my art group members, Terrie, also had quilts there. She displayed four original designs that she has patterned either for individual sale or have been published in one of her books. The realistic nature themes always go over well here - more than one man stopped to take in the fishing one, pointing to the details that make it so special. Click on the photo for a large view to see those details. Rounding out the selection were four photographs of local birds and flowers. The Cedar Waxwing got the most comments. All of us seemed to have a story about encounters with that bird.

Once again, it was great to see so many people come out to view the art and interact with the artists. Such positive feedback as I received has me once again feeling I'm on the right track with my current little obsession with leaves.