Tuesday, December 30, 2014

The Best of Intentions

"What you are is a complicated girl with simple needs. You need your books and time to read, and you need a few friends and you need someone-not to take care of you, but to care for you. If you have all those things, you'll always be alright."
Brian Morton
Yesterday I created this cozy reading nook, from an ill used corner of my house, with the best of intentions- read more.
Over the past several years I have gone back to school, gone back to work and committed to eating clean and daily exercise. As a homeschooling mom/artist/art teacher I have long since mastered the art of time management. I'm good at multi tasking and working...all the time. What I'm not so good at is relaxing. This year my intention is to take time, slow down and read some damn good books. This cozy reading nook overlooks my hydrangea garden and veggie patch. Summer sunlight streams in through the windows and overhead skylight. In the winter, a cozy fireplace is just around the corner. There is no reason not to curl up with a good book and a cup of tea and to simply sit and gaze out the windows. Heck, I may even lay my head back and close my eyes. SShhh. Mom's napping.

Monday, November 10, 2014

The Becoming

be easy.
take your time.
you are coming home,
to yourself.
the becoming/wing
The Becoming
24" x 24" mixed media on paper mounted on wood cradle.
Over the past several months I have indeed been on an artistic journey away from home; away from the portraiture and figurative work I fiercely love. I got lost and scared. I got lonely. I knew all along I would need to come home.
When I look at this piece I can see the markings from my struggle shining through the fa├žade. This is the sixth and final piece from this experiment: The Never Ending Painting. Every painting along the way, whether I saw it as a success of a failure, was instrumental in creating the depth and meaning created in this final piece.
Here, in order, are the 6 paintings; each one painted on top of the previous one.

Monday, October 13, 2014

For Ollie


He puts his cheek against mine
and makes small, expressive sounds.
And when I'm awake, or awake enough

he turns upside down, his four paws
in the air
and his eyes dark and fervent.

Tell me you love me, he says.

Tell me again.

Could there be a sweeter arrangement?
Over and over
he gets to ask it.
I get to tell.
Mary Oliver
12" x 12"

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Installment 3: The Never Ending Painting

"Only after disaster can we be resurrected."
Chuck Palahniuk
Fight Club
#3 "Dissonance Resolved"
Freedom has a way of destroying things. Or at least that's how I felt earlier this week when this painting went through some rough transformations; most notably, the "red version".
"All Hope is Lost"
The red version here is sanded down in preparation for moving forward. I hated this painting so much! I felt all hope was lost for this painting because I had wrecked it beyond repair.
But then I received these kind and inspiring words:
"if you haven't wrecked your painting you aren't pushing hard enough, or risking, or growing. So.....you must be doing all of that right now. Your painting practise is just like your life practise and as you let go of control, things will turn to chaos and feel awful for awhile because they are different.....and then something magical happens out of that chaos and you find an opening for yourself to be more free."
It gave me the encouragement to forge ahead; to resolve what was dissonant; to reach for harmony.


Friday, September 5, 2014

The Never Ending Painting

I have stood before more than one abstract painting in my life and thought WTF. I rarely get it. And worse, I don't even know what I'm supposed to BE getting. But hey, have you ever tried to create it? It's a lot harder than it looks. And it's almost impossible create the really good stuff; the kind that makes your pulse quicken, your breath weaken and your heart emotional. There's just something about it that stays with you. I'm lucky enough to have a friend who is quite brilliant at doing just this. She recently set me a new painting challenge. And has it ever been challenging!
For two decades I have been painting representational portraits. I usually know exactly where I am going with a painting. I also have a really bad habit of becoming attached to my paintings; probably because I'm often attached to the subject. My friend Cheryl suggested I work on a project called the "Never Ending Painting" as an exercise in letting go. The idea is to start a painting. Every two weeks, alter it so it looks like a completely new painting. Do this 6 times. It was hard. It was hard to fall in love with parts that I had to let go of. It was hard to work on something I presently hated parts of. Mostly, it was exhausting to be in constant dialogue with a piece.
So far I have created the first two paintings in this process. I know they are not very good. But I'm learning to let go of that and to allow myself to be swept up in the process instead.
#1 The "OMG I love it so much, please don't make me paint over it" painting.
#2 The "Ugh, I'm trying too hard and I suck at this!" painting.
This weekend I plan on painting the third layer. I'll keep you posted.


Saturday, August 23, 2014

Indigo Girls

"The beautiful thing about learning is
nobody can take it away from you."
B.B. King
Over the last many years of my adulthood I have knit, sewn, painted, sculpted and even felted countless artistic creations. But I had never experimented with indigo dyes. The process eluded me entirely. Luckily I have a fearless friend who was well versed in at least the research side of indigo dying, via her extensive collection of books, as well as the art of Shibori (Japanese knot tying). She is a "no guts-no glory" kind of lady and she landed on my mom's doorstep weighted down with bags of supplies, an indigo kit and a yummy sponge cake to fuel us for the day.
Getting Started
We started with an indigo dyeing kit that you can pick up at Opus for under $20. We also used rubber gloves, string, rubber bands, wood blocks, plastic pipes and various natural fiber fabrics and garments to dye.
Preparing the Dye
Preparing the vat of dye definitely took longer than expected, about an hour and a half. This is when you eat your cake and drink tea.
The bottle of dye and powdered fixatives are slowly mixed into a large vat of warm water. After the dye has sat, a flower has bloomed on the surface. Which is really just a nice way of saying a gross, slimy, frothy foam is now covering the surface of the pissy yellow colored water. Oh yeah, and it stinks too. Before you begin each project, remove the flower from the surface (which tends to form continuously).

The Projects
Using string, wood blocks and pipe we used traditional Japanese Shibori techniques to fold, pleat and truss up our fabrics to create interesting patterns. Here is my table cloth getting folded and wrapped around a 2" diameter pipe.
I tried thinner string and it kept breaking so ended up going with quite a thick cotton string.
Into the dye pot!
The magical thing about indigo is that in the dye form, all the oxygen has been removed. When the dye is exposed to oxygen it turns blue right before your eyes. It takes about 10 minutes to check the final color.
Here, you can see the fabric under the string is still green because it has not yet been exposed to oxygen.
The final product has a lovely complexity.
Mom and Judy used wooden blocks to press their folded fabric before tying with string.
This is my awesome mom!
Into the dye pot! Again! It was still really exciting. On average, we found 8 minutes to be sufficient.
The magic happens all over again. And yes, it was still exciting.
Judy wanted a bit more interest and depth to her project so she applied some more indigo by hand.
My mom decided to dye some natural colored skeins of yarn. She created a variegated look by looping rubber bands around the skeins.
I opted for some cozy wool socks. I dip dyed these in timed increments from 30 seconds to 10 minutes to create an ombre effect.
If you have managed to make it through this uncharacteristically wordy blog today, then you will sleep well tonight knowing I have saved the best for last.
Judy used only marbles, rubber bands and a plastic pipe to create the best t-shirt I have ever seen. Check this out!


Monday, August 18, 2014

I Knit The Sun Down

"I knit the afternoon away. I knit reasons for Elijah to come back. I knit apologies for Emma. I knit angry knots and slipped stitches for every mistake I ever made, and I knit wet, swollen stitches that look awful. I knit the sun down."
Laurie Halse Anderson, Wintergirls
I have admitted, on more than one occasion, to being an obsessive knitter. I knit the sun down, every night. In a hectic life of raising and homeschooling boys, being physically active every day, teaching art and creating art, it is the single most therapeutic thing I do for myself in a day. Sometimes I forget just how important it is to me. Earlier this summer I began knitting my latest cardigan, even though a portion of the yarn had been back ordered. I waited... and waited... and while I waited I grew grouchy and sad without even knowing why. I felt a void in my life. It wasn't until my yarn arrived in the mail that my mind turned towards euphoria and I knew. I knew I had desperately missed knitting. I missed the soothing of my soul.
The sweater is finished. And just as my pockets empty of dog bones, my knitting needles empty of yarn. I'll begin again tomorrow, thinking , "Now what shall we knit?"

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

The Eye Of The Crow

"I think she always nursed
a small mad hope."
Vladimir Nabekov
"Eye Of The Crow"
10" x 10" x 3"

Saturday, July 12, 2014

With Grace In Her Heart

"Receive grace, live in grace,
show grace and repeat."
T.B. La Berge


"Size: Grace"
24" x 36" acrylic on canvas

Thursday, June 19, 2014

A Well Travelled Woman

"For small creatures such as we,
 the vastness is bearable only through
Carl Sagan

"Size: Well Travelled"
24" x  36" acrylic on canvas

Friday, June 13, 2014

What's in your heart?

"So fill your heart with what's important,
and be done with all the rest."
La Dispute
"Vagina Warrior" No.3
18" x 24"

Sunday, June 8, 2014

To Be Gorgeous

"To be gorgeous, and high and true and fine and fluffy and moist and sticky and lovely, all you have to do is believe that one is gorgeous, and high and true and fine and fluffy and moist and sticky and lovely."
Stephen Fry
"Vagina Warrior" 2
24" x 24" acrylic on wood