Monday, October 26, 2009

The Changing of Season

The fall colors are wonderful and I'm spending time trying to drink in their beauty, to breathe the crisp fall air and soak up the little warmth the sun holds as it moves further South. That said, I have been productive in the studio.

October has been busy with local and regional shows, as well as a deadline for a juried, international show and work on several commissions. I made the deadline for the show, barely, but don't know if my work has been accepted or not yet.

This is a piece that is currently hanging at the Polk County Heritage Gallery in downtown Des Moines, IA. The title is Tide Pool. It shows the many stages of silk from cocoon to silk rod, silk hankie, and the woven background.

"In The Wild" currently hangs at the Fairfield, IA Art Center. This piece was done by painting with dye, then "thread painting", a free-motion technique with the sewing machine. It's an interesting process which I could blog about when I begin the next dye painted works I have in the schedule.

Then there are the small pieces. Exercises in composition, but also with a purpose. These, 4x6" pieces make great postcards. A first class stamp sends them anywhere in the USA. What better way to give someone an original piece of art?

As October moves into November with shorter days and longer periods of darkness, the shadows become stronger even in mid-day. While the stronger light of summer brings warmth and brightness, the longer shadows of these months seem to bring a clarity to the environment. There is so much to see; so much to wonder at.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Balancing Act - Part 2: Visioning

I'm not balancing very well yet. I am spending a good deal of time in the studio, which is good. But not enough time focusing on writing. Why is this a problem? Because writing my thoughts adds a great deal to my creative process. As I think through the possibilities, they become more concrete in writing. Once ideas are on the page (or the computer), I can't forget them, therefore they become more of a reality. If I am to create a more consistent body of work, then I need to focus and balance both of these creative aspects.

The Visioning Project officially kicks off on October 1st. I have made my list of goals, which need to be refined, and made a choice on the theme. I have become fascinated with quantum physics, quantum mechanics and particle physics. Do I understand it? Absolutely NOT! (Math was never my strong suit, either, but I have a great appreciation for it.) But there's a challenge in there that leaves me breathless and excited at attempting to understand - and filled with awe at the complexity of the universe. Because this subject matter is so wide, I have decided to narrow things a bit, at least to begin with, and explore the aspects of space/time. There are so many questions and really very few answers. The sketch book is new, but has words written now, so making other marks in it won't seem so intimidating.

Not sure where this will take me - but it certainly will be interesting. Stay tuned . . .

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Balancing Act

It boggles my mind that I haven't written in more than a month. Where has the time gone? It's not that I haven't been busy, or that I haven't been working. I have. I've just ignored some of my networking responsibilities in order to take care of other things. It's time to get back to work here.

I have committed the next year to focusing on building a consistent body of work. In other words, I'm going to attempt to actually focus on one theme throughout the year. The Studio Art Quilters Association will begin "The Visioning Project" this fall. I have committed to this one goal and the group of artists who are also taking part, will, hopefully, be able to hold me accountable for getting the work done.

This means I will need to create balance between my daily life and my art studio, as well as create a balance in working on my art. I am interested in so many different things, there are times I feel scattered and unfocused as I work - jumping from one technique to another, from one project to another.

It's going to be interesting to see what happens as I actually attempt to focus myself and work intentionally in a different manner than I'm used to. I will be blogging on my experiences as I work. Because a year long focus is new for me, as well as the type of work I'm contemplating, I have no idea what will happen other than, I know I will learn much about myself.

Vacation's over - time to get to work and create my balancing act.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Why So Difficult to Write an Artist Statement and Bio?

What goes into an Artist Statement or Biography? And why is it so difficult to actually write them? I need to write one of each for an upcoming show. It sounds so simple when others say, "tell why you do what you do, and how you do it". Finding words for these things isn't always easy. Why do I do it? I have to, I'm compelled. How does one write about a compulsion and have it sound romantic? I guess it's a more positive compulsion than some others I can think of, so why not romanticize it? I'm working on that.

The biography is another story (literally). What does one say about oneself in two or three paragraphs that lets the viewer know who you are as an artist? What if I don't know myself? What if I just like making stuff and sending it out into the world? I guess the difficult part is pulling it together into something that makes sense to someone else. When it comes to my creative self, she's a little bit skittish. She doesn't like being tied down with words. She likes her hands in the "stuff"! So I'm attempting to reign her in enough to get a sentence or two out of her. Wish me luck!

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

A 60 Year Celebration

Today is my parents 60th wedding anniversary. We celebrated last Saturday with a reception. Family came from all over. It was the first time in many years that all four of their grandchildren and both of their great grandchildren were present at the same time.

I keep thinking about the longevity of this relationship and the partnership they have formed over these many years. There's an interdependence that exists between these two, who have complete trust and reliance on each other. They make a good pair. Not many can celebrate this milestone. (Perhaps that's why I could find nothing in the stores to say congratulations on 60 years. No cards, no napkins, no invitations.)

Aging is not for the weak, they tell me, and I laugh at the irony of that statement. But as I watch them move through their daily lives, and experience the many losses that come with age, I also witness a grace that has come upon them. One that gives thanks for the abilities that remain, and the gift of still having one another in this life.

For all this, I am very thankful.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009


What inspires each of us to create? It's probably different for each person. For me, it's usually something found in nature, but it can also be an emotional experience, a cause that I believe in, or the plight of others.

Lately, it's about texture. A camping trip to a friend's ranch in Eastern Wyoming has provided much to think about. The first photo is looking up from the bottom of a slot canyon where the water has carved the rock. The visible swirl patterns mark the path of rushing water over the centuries. It's hard to imagine as this is a fairly dry climate - high plains, but when it runs, it runs quickly. The canyon is only about 50 yards in length, and tells a long ago story.

The smooth texture of the rock as it's been carved is wonderful to feel while walking in. It narrows to about 12 inches in some spots, even narrower at the ground forcing one to "walk" on the sides pushing against the rock with feet and hands to move forward.

Then there's pine bark. What wonderful pattern and shifts in color! Different pines have different bark. I found this one to be most interesting.

Now I just need to see what happens when I start playing with art stuff.

Friday, May 29, 2009

The Blank Page

It's a frightening thing - the blank page, the blank canvas, the blank anything, if one is expected to fill it with something. As a mixed media artist who sometimes writes, I have been intimidated more than once by the blank, white canvas/page. What is there to do when you stare and nothing comes? I suppose it's a common thing for those who compose, whether using musical notes, images or words. It's nice to know I'm in good company, but it's not a comfortable place to be.

There are discussions about when to stop - how do you know when a piece is finished? But what about how to begin? Sometimes, if I can just make the first mark, or cut a piece of fabric, or put one sentence on the paper, I have a place to begin. The first mark can be quite intimidating, however, especially if I let that old inner critic have a say; or if the fabric was pricey, it can be anxiety producing to make the first cut.

Make a mark, then another. Write a word, then another. Make a cut, then another. Off we go. Still, I'd like to know how others deal with the beginning.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

What's in a Name? (more on titling art)

In posing the question of whether all art needs a title, I was hoping to generate conversation. It did just that and I'm appreciative of everyone's thoughtful responses. They were somewhat varied, but most agree that art should have something that identifies it, whether it's a full title or an identifier such as "color study: blue and orange". I also read several articles I found on the internet regarding the subject.

According to Robert Genn, author of The Painters Keys, " . . . titles serve to confirm what's seen but also to add knowledge, insight, and a glimpse into the author's mind set." In keeping with Genn, Holly Huffstutler's article at stated "art can be imbued with greater meaning with the addition of a title" and discusses how a title can capture the viewer and draw them into conversation about the work instead of dismissing it. She sites the example of Marcel Duchamp who took a urinal and placed it in a different context and titled it "Fountain". Both authors are worth the read.

The conversations are convincing. One should have some type of identification for each work of art. How else will you know which is which, after all? One wouldn't want a list of works with "Untitled #1", "Untitled #2" etc. That would be boring.

The title of the work in the photo is "Blooming". The title of the piece from yesterday's post is "Stormy Seas".

Friday, May 22, 2009

Does Art Always Need a Title?

I've been thinking about titles and art work, and wondering if it's necessary to title everything. I know there are many untitled works hanging in galleries world wide, but the majority of my work is titled, and today, I'm wondering why I find it necessary. The meaning of every work of art is decided by the viewer. I suppose if the artist wants to lead the viewer, a title might be helpful, but I wonder if even then, a title really makes a difference.

This is a piece I just completed, with full view and detailed. It's hand-dyed cotton with thread, paint, iridescent gel medium, and dyed cheese cloth. I have not titled it. I'm wondering what others see in it, what thoughts and/or emotions are evoked in the viewer. I look forward to comments, and think I'll leave it untitled. At least for now.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Nature's textures

Isn't this grand? Birch bark has such wonderful irregularities. The textures of bark fascinate me. I'm gathering a library of photos of textures so I can begin to explore different textures with my art. The woods and trails around Greenville provide excellent subjects for photography.

Walking through the woods here has been wonderful. Yesterday as I walked the path, along with the wonderful textures, I noticed the steady hum of bees all around. The honeysuckle is just beginning to bloom. It wasn't a soft humming either, it was as if I was in the middle of the hive. To stand still and listen, while breathing in the sweet scent was magnificent. A treat for the senses.

Today is the final studio day. I will use the time to explore some new materials.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Greenville Arms, Greenville, NY

The confusing part is that there are three Greenville, NY's, each in a different county. For someone from the Midwest where spaces are fairly open and distances between things are spread out, it's a different experience. The Greenville Arms was originally built by William Vanderbilt as a summer home.

It's a beautiful place, which served as a private home until 1952 when it became an inn. The hospitality is top notch and the setting wonderful. There are hiking trails nearby, which I have taken advantage of, and will again later in the week.

The studio is in the carriage house, where there is plenty of light, room and electrical outlets. An important piece for an artist who uses a sewing machine to draw.

It is now the beginning of the second day of the workshop, and the sun is shining beautifully. I am anxious to get to work.

Monday, May 11, 2009


The drive to Greenville was beautiful and virtually no traffic. We arrived at the Greenville Arms around 3:30 pm. Wonderful place with lots of character.

Today we will finish setting up the studio and preparing for the workshop. Studio space is great. It's set up for any type of media and lots of electrical outlets.

I plan to walk some today and see the town and surrounding area.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

On the way to Jamestown

Today we decided to change our route and get off the toll road and heavy traffic. Left I90 at Erie, PA and finished the day in Jamestown, NY. I saw this flowering bush at a rest stop. I'm not familiar with it. Perhaps a mountain laurel, my traveling companion said. Not sure, but it's quite beautiful. So much inspirational countryside and visual stimulation.

Jamestown is a wonderful place. The downtown is fun. This is Lucille Ball's birthplace. The photo at left is painted on the side of one of the buildings. Many references and business names connected to Lucy and Desi here. We took a little drive through most of the downtown area. Would like to spend a little more time here one day.

Tomorrow we will reach our destination, the Greenville Arms, in Greenville, NY.

Looking forward to more beautiful countryside. So many shades of green, so many different types of trees and plants. A visual feast along the way.

Travel day

Our first stop is South Bend, Indiana. There really isn't an alternative route to I80 through the Chicago corridor, and our timing wasn't that great. We hit it right at the beginning of rush hour in the middle of construction season. Sigh. Stop and go for many miles. At least they've widened this corridor in the past few years. It used to be worse.

South Bend is an interesting town. Several colleges and universities clustered together. Beautiful campuses and the downtown area was fairly easy to navigate. I know this because we missed our first exit to get tothe motel and took the scenic route through town. One of the highlights was spying the "Cat Nap Inn". I presume it is a "Kittie B&B". Large silhouettes of cats all over the outside of the house-turned-business. We got a good chuckle out of that one, and wished it wasn't so late so we could stop and get a picture.

Today we shuffle off to Buffalo. More later.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

The Road Less Traveled

I love road trips. Not only do I enjoy driving, but I love being able to see the countryside along the way. I'll take interstate highways when I have to, but I prefer roads less traveled. They take you through the heart of the country. Passing through towns and cities, one is forced to slow down. Watching people as they do their daily work in their environment, while I remain somewhat invisible - just a passing car, from out of state no less - gives me a glimpse of life in that place. While it is only a glimpse, I can learn much. Does the town seem to be thriving, or does it look a little dilapidated and in need of more commerce? What might be the main industry here? In smaller towns, one can usually surmise that it's the agriculture surrounding it, that keeps the businesses afloat. But what of the midsized towns? I look for clues as I drive through.

Tasting my way across country is always fun, too. I prefer locally owned establishments to chain restaurants. I'll eat at the chains if there's nothing else, but I like asking someone who lives there, where they like to eat. I've found some gems in unlikely places.

I'm heading out for a road trip. In the next two weeks, I'll be blogging about where I am and what I'm doing. My destination is Hudson Valley, NY for a week long fiber art workshop. I'll be blogging about that, too. The entire experience is food for creativity. My camera will be busy. So check back frequently. Find out what little gems I may discover along the way.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Ground Hog Day

This little guy came to visit yesterday. I knew there was a ground hog that lived behind our fence along the railroad track and next to the creek, but I never expected to make his acquaintance. I'm glad I keep the camera right next to the deck doors. If I didn't, I would miss some good photo ops!

It's been an exciting week at our house. The orioles have returned! Bright orange and black arrive at the feeder and feast on grape jelly and oranges. So far we've seen two males which means there are probably two females around as well. Then the cat bird made his/her appearance. He/she eats the parts of the orange the orioles leave. I'm sure the hummingbirds are right around the corner. Must get the feeders up.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

April is the Cruelest Month - T.S. Eliot

I'm looking out my window at a gray and rainy landscape. Two days ago is was sunny and actually hot. I relished the sun and worked in the garden for the first time. Felt so good to have my hands in the dirt, dividing and transplanting. Then it all changed and we're back to cold and gray. I am glad for rain instead of snow, however. The grass is green and the trees are budding. Daffodils and tulips are in bloom. T.S. Eliot called April the cruelest month, and it can be pretty fickle. Snow, rain, sun; warmth and back to cold. But April also marks the beginning of the new cycle of life and hope. Gray and rain will change to sun and warmth. Birds are gathering nesting materials and the trees will leaf out quickly. Winter birds have gone and summer birds will soon be here, if they're not already. I've been listening for the orioles, but I haven't heard them yet. Only another few weeks before the first ruby throat humming bird will arrive. In the meantime, I'll enjoy the unfolding of Spring.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

After the Rush

After delivering the vestments on April 10th, I spent a week focusing intensely on the final preparations for my daughter's wedding, which was Saturday, April 18. It was a beautiful wedding, made more beautiful by the sheer joy reflected in both faces of this young couple. They've waited seven years to make it "official". I am thrilled for them.

It is a strange feeling as I write this, however. With my large project mostly finished and delivered, and my daughter's wedding over, I have time to reflect. Both of my children are young women. Both are married and I am the grandmother of a four-year-old granddaughter. I am content in my life, my relationships, and am pursuing the artist' life I've always dreamed of having. So where has the time gone?! I swear I've been aware of every part of my life as I've lived it, yet looking back, it seems as if it's gone so quickly. Weren't they just little girls yesterday? Wasn't it only a week ago that I was taking pictures of their first steps, first day of school, first date? There's art in the making here. Time . . . an intangible that there's never enough of.

Friday, April 10, 2009

The Satisfaction of Completion

I have finished the major portion of the commission I have been working on. The chasuble is the piece I had the mishap with the lining!! Thank goodness for reputable fabric stores who keep good fabrics in stock and will send things quickly.

There are two pieces remaining to be completed, and I will finish them in the next week. These pieces and three others were delivered yesterday. They will be used this weekend for the Easter services, beginning Saturday night.

Each time I accept a commission, I wonder if I've lost my sanity while I'm working on it. The deadlines do help me buckle down and get things finished, but when I mess up, it creates more anxiety than I like. And yet, when the piece is completed, and I see that the "client" likes it, I am ecstatic! It's all worth it, and I will continue to accept commissions. I find them challenging and great learning experiences.

I wonder about other artists and commission work. Even though it can be anxiety producing to accept them, the reward is so great when I see their face as the work is unveiled. I'd be interested to hear what other artists think or feel about accepting commissions.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Breathing Deeply

I know that in the world of creative endeavors, there is a great possibility that what I've created or attempted to create from the vision in my head, won't work, and I'll need to start over. Many projects have ended up in the waste basket, but I have learned from the mistakes. That's why I try to give myself extra time to work on things when there is a deadline involved. Even so, I've lived the past few years with the horrible fantasy of mis-cutting something right before a deadline, and having to order fabric to finish the commission. I just kept telling myself that if I were very careful, it wouldn't happen.

Well, it's happened! I miscalculated, my pattern slipped, and I don't have enough fabric to re-cut the pieces. I have one week to deliver this work. I have ordered more fabric and am hoping upon hope it arrives within 2 days. It was either that or pay as much as the fabric is worth to have it sent over night. I'm just thankful it isn't the night before, and also thankful that it's the lining rather than the top, which is where all the fancy stuff has been completed. I'm trying to look at the bright side. I'm also trying not to panick. That wouldn't be helpful.

So, I'll focus my energy on the companion pieces until the new fabric arrives, and breathe deeply, in and out.

Monday, March 23, 2009

It's Officially Spring!

It's finally here! The season of unpredictability! Unstable weather conditions prevail. One day it's 70 degrees F, and the next, 35! Rain may give way to snow, or even thunder snow, while flowers begin to bloom. I have a small patch of daffodils in bloom close to the house. The iris is pushing out of the ground and the cuckoo pint is tall and green.

The bird population is beginning to shift. The junkos have gone and the dreaded grackles are back. In a couple of weeks I'll be listening for the distinctive sound of the Orioles. We will fill the feeders with oranges and grape jelly and watch for flashes of brilliant orange as they come to partake of the sweet treats. Much to look forward to in the next few weeks as the light continues to increase and the landscape changes from brown to green.

Warmer weather, more hours of sunlight, and new growth always energize me, both physically and creatively. Sometimes it's difficult to corral the ideas floating around. I try to travel with my camera and/or a small sketch book, but don't always manage. Sometimes, the tiniest little thing will inspire a thought process that takes me on a journey I never would have imagined. I can't wait to see where this Spring takes me.

Do others find the Spring season more energizing? Is there an increase in your creativity?

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Why is it Difficult to Claim the title of Artist?

As I've been reading blogs and tweets and articles, and talking with other artist friends, I have noticed that it's difficult for some creative people to refer to themselves as artists. There's a tendency to apologize for being creative, and spending time in creative endeavors. This strikes a chord with me, because I, too, still fight feelings of inadequacy and insecurity.

I remember having a conversation quite a few years ago with another artist friend, about whether we were artists with a capital "A" or a lower case "a". I'll give us credit for the fact that we were even talking about being artists, as I felt that just referring to myself that way was somehow unthinkable. Years later, it seems somewhat sad that we even contemplated a difference. Which brings me to the question, what is the mystique of calling oneself an artist? Why is it so difficult to claim the title?

David Bayles and Ted Orland, in their book "Art and Fear" talk about the "view of artmaking today - namely, that art rests fundamentally upon talent, and that talent is a gift randomly built into some people and not into others." In other words, the artist has been given a gift and is able to create great works of art because of this alone. Prodigies are rare, but as a culture we've all bought into the image. Speaking for myself, it leaves me with feelings of insecurity, and wondering if I'm "talented" enough.

Intellectually, I know, art is made by ordinary people. People who work hard to learn the basics; who produce a lot of work that ends up in the waste basket. While talent might be a step in the proverbial direction, it's really an issue of passion. When the desire to create overcomes the fear of not being perfect, one can make marks on the paper, or put brush to canvas or cut the fabric. When I'm not thinking about the end result, but focusing on the process, I learn something. What I'm producing in that moment may not be the best work of art I've ever done, but the knowledge gained from creating it will be put to use on the next piece. It's the passion that makes me want to go the next step, create the next piece. It may end up as part of the trash tomorrow, but today, it's what I do.

So, what about others? Is it difficult for you to call yourself an artist? And if not, have you always been able to? I welcome your comments.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

How Do We Balance Social Networking and the Business of Work?

I've just entered the social networking system with Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. Information moves almost instantaneously. I can "instant message" with any one of my "friends" who happen to be online through Facebook, or through my computer's camera on other networks with family and friends anywhere in the world. I can find and network with those who might have mutual business interests and I don't even need to leave my house. The world at my fingertips!

While all of this is wonderful, and somewhat miraculous to my baby boomer mind, I also feel a little bit like my "network" is beginning to sweep me off my feet and carry me down stream. I'm having difficulty keeping up and wondering when some people who post often to Twitter, etc. get their work done. Finding people around the world to network with is great and offers unlimited possibilities to build a business, but how do others balance the actual work production of art for sale (which is why one networks, isn't it?) with marketing and connecting?

I'd certainly be open to suggestions as I'm finding it a difficult balance. How about it . . . how do YOU find the balance?

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

What's an art quilt?

I was asked by a fellow artist the other day, why so many different names for art made from fiber, i.e. art quilt, fiber art, textile art, mixed media, etc. She also made a statement that as she has perused other artists blogs and websites, what she often sees that is referred to as quilt art, has nothing to do with quilts. She was somewhat confused. I attempted to explain how I see the differences and why different people might want to refer to what they do differently. That attempt follows:

What is an art quilt? According to several organizations, the definition of a quilt is, 2 or more layers held together by stitching. Most will have a fabric sleeve on the back for hanging with a rod. An art quilt is intended for the wall, and may or may not have, any number of surface design treatments, using applique' and/or other media, such as paint, ink, photo transfer, beads, yarns, and found objects attached in one way or another to create the image.

Most quilt shows now have a category for art quilts. As a matter of fact the International Quilt Association show in Houston every year is really dedicated to the art quilt as well as "the art of quilting", offering thousands of dollars in awards for the most outstanding work. The American Quilters Society is another large association that has large shows offering awards, and has a quilt museum in Paducah, KY.

Contemporary quilting is very different from the quilts our foremothers made. The majority are no longer only utilitarian pieces made from clothing scraps. The patterns are well thought out, drafted and executed using a sense of color and design to enhance the pattern. The quilting, or stitching, patterns themselves have evolved into being more and more complex. The majority of quilts are quilted by machine rather than hand. Even if a quilt is intended for the bed, coordinating and contrasting colors and fabrics forming the design, present a contemporary way of creating quilts.

I believe there is a bit of politics involved as well when referring to ones art as art quilt, fiber/textile or mixed media art. In my experience, as soon as someone hears the word "quilt", grandma's bed quilt/blanket tend to be the associations. For some, to call themselves fiber or textile artists, or mixed media artists, gets away from that perception, and they feel their work won't be prejudged by the term quilt. These artists may want to become involved in gallery shows as well as, or instead of, quilt shows.

Not all fiber art meets the definition of a quilt. Some artists frame their work, or put it on stretchers to hang. In these cases, the work may not consist of layers held together by stitch, but instead may be any treatment of fabric or use of fibers in a surface design. My own work consists of both art forms, the art quilt, and fiber art that is intended to be framed or stretched as a canvas. Therefore, I refer to myself as a mixed media and/or fiber or textile artist.

For more information on textile art go to: Studio Art Quilters Assocation and/or the Surface Design Association

Friday, February 20, 2009

American Gothic

A friend sent me a quote this morning via email that I've been thinking about all morning.

"Masterpieces are not single and solitary births; they are the outcome of many years of thinking in common, of thinking by the body of the people, so that the experience of the mass is behind the single voice. This experience of the mass is what gives art its healing power, its prophetic strength and durability." Virginia Woolf

I had the opportunity to view Grant Woods' painting, American Gothic last week in person. Our art museum has it on loan as part of an exhibit called "After Many Springs: Regionalism, Modernism & the Midwest". It's a wonderful exhibit with some great photographs, and paintings by Wood, Thomas Hart Benton, John Steuart Curry, Jackson Pollock, Ben Shahn, Dorthea Lange and others. But I went to see the masterpiece: American Gothic.

What is it about this painting that separates it from the rest? Why is this one a masterpiece? American Gothic was painted in 1930 in Iowa. The images of the man and woman, are iconic and somewhat mysterious. He looks straight ahead, while the woman looks off to the side. It makes one wonder what she's seeing, what she's thinking. Wood didn't say much about his painting, other than the woman is the man's daughter, when asked about their relationship. Their facial expressions are such that the viewer must decide what they are feeling.

I could stand close enough to the painting to see the brush strokes and how the paint was applied. But to stand a short distance away and take in the image in it's entirety is a wonder. As I thought about the quote above and American Gothic, I began to think about the story the painting tells. I thought about what I know about 1930 and the rural landscape of Iowa. About the Great Depression and what life on the land was like. I took in the facial expressions of the figures, this man and his daughter, and wondered. I was drawn in, caught up in the story, transported to another place, another time. Masterpiece.

Friday, February 6, 2009

It's Melting (or what a difference a week makes)

The sun is out and it's almost 50 degrees today! The snow and ice is melting. So I went and chopped away some of the ice and shoveled some snow off the storm drain in front of the house or else I was afraid the water would start to come up the driveway rather than go down the drain. I think it's about 3 ft. high on top and I could only get about 10 inches of the drain cleared. Made a huge difference though.

Then I went for a walk along the bike path behind our house which follows the creek.

I got some pictures of the creek and some weeds in the snow.

In my exploration of textures, I find the weeds quite interesting. I may need to enlarge this one and study it more.

I liked how the squirrel's next seems to have weighed the branch down so it hangs above the water.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Ramblings and new work

If you look closely, you can see the thermometer on my back deck is reading -20F. The sun is shining, but it was cold that day. That was about 2 weeks ago. Today is 20 above. A vast difference, and a little break in winter. I think I've written before about how watching the weather in Iowa is a pasttime, but also a necessity. This is why. It gets dangerous. This is really not unusual for these parts.

It's probably because this winter has been so blasted cold that my mind is traveling to warm places. This is a new work in progress, called Tide Pool. I intend to build a shadow box frame around it and perhaps tone down the green background a bit.

It's made of silk and cotton fibers: silk hankies, rods and cocoons, thread ends from hand dyed cottons, shells, beads and stones. I have a second piece in progress as well. Just looking at these colors helps me feel a little warmer.

I've been trying to explore textures as well. The soft "hairy-ness" of the silk hankie to the stiffness of the rods and cocoons. Soft threads in contrast with hard stones, beads and shells as well as the irregular surface of the silk background all stitched to painted canvas. I think its an interesting mix and I'm enjoying this exploration.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Dreaming of Spring

Snow, snow and more snow. I usually like winter, but something has happened to me this year, I guess. I'm tired of it.

I must admit, however, as I look out my window with the sun shining on the new stuff, I take note of the colors that appear. Someone suggested I find a hand lens, a little magnifying lens that botanists use. I think looking at snow through one might be quite interesting. I may have to go on a search for one locally. Surely the university store would have one? Might even open up an entirely new world! Sort of like looking at things through microscopes. I don't have one of those either, but that could be interesting subject matter for art work as well.

Today I start a new project. I have two in "sketch" stages. I may start both in fabric today. We'll see how far I get.

I'll post photos of sketches later for one of them.

Friday, January 2, 2009

New Year

A new year brings new ideas, new goals, new projects. For this year, I resolve to make more art. To play with it more rather than get caught up in trying to do show quality work. I'm going to give myself permission to NOT try and enter shows. I want to experiment with new techniques and get really wild and see what happens if I combine some "old style" painting with fabric on stretchers, while continuing to play with dye painting and stitching. There may be nothing to show this year but failures. So be it.

Let's see what happens in the next few weeks.