So I have decided to try some dust it off and try my hand at thread painting. I am hoping it will work a bit like a hand painted photos, but whatever happens, it will be fun spending time with the family Matriarchs the only way I can now. Hopefully they will whisper some ideas into my ear while I am working!
Below is how I hand basted the major sewing lines to start with. Now onto the machine! Wish me luck!
To raise funds to buy new lighting, the McGuffey Art Center is hosting a art sale in November. They have distributed 12" x 12" boards to participating artists to do with as they wish... I wished to cover mine with fabric! This is the piece I have just finished. It was inspired by all the beautiful sunrises I recently saw in Virginia Beach. I have also included some close-ups so you can see the beads and stitches better! All of the works will be on sale for $150 each, and all the money will go for the light fixtures.
One of the great places here in Charlottesville is the McGuffey Art Center. It is an old elementary school refurbished into an artist incubator, gift shop and gallery. There are many studios for artist- in-residence, gallery spaces, classes, open life drawing, etc etc etc.... and .... wait for it... it is three blocks from my house!!!!
The first time I went there I was blown away by both the caliber of the art on display and the variety of artists involved. jewelery, print making painting of all sorts, sculpture, fiber, drawing, and even a performance area is available. The studios are open for people to walk in and talk to the artists and every one I met was really on the program of helping people to know more about their process and art in general.
They jury artists in twice a year, and September was a jury time. I made some new fiber art, sharpened my resume, and created the all important artist statement so I could throw my hat into the ring.
It was hard keeping my fingers crossed for several weeks, but it worked, and I got my notice of acceptance. I am thrilled to be a part of this organization. There will be an upcoming holiday show and then a show for the new artists.I am also making a piece to donate to their fund raiser in November. I guess I better get busy!
I will keep you posted!
My sister belongs to a drumming circle in Boulder CO, and I have had the opportunity to hear them a couple of times. It is both mesmerizing and strikes primal chords within those within hearing distance.
Today as I walked to the Farmer's Market here in Charlotesville, I heard the heartbeat of drums. At first, because this is the weekend of UVA's first football game, I thought maybe there was some sort of a pep rally with the UVA band, but no, it was a small group of joyful people playing in front of one of the coffee shops.
Both the participants and the crowd were diverse in age and style and all; but all were smiling. Some were allowing the beat to move their feet, while others gently swayed. But there was a magnetism and joyousness to the sound. Evidently they perform every Saturday around noon, and invite anyone who wants to join in to sit at one of the extra chairs and drums (see above).
It was amazing, and I can not wait for my sis to visit so she can join in. Here is a gallery of some of the shots I took... click on them to see them full crop and large. (as you can see - kids had mixed emotions about it all!)
I just ordered this book so that the many animals and plants from our WI home can be remembered and enjoyed here in Charlottesville. I do miss them all, but finding many more new ones here!
In Wisconsin, we had a porch and a swing and lots of untouched landscape. The occasional deer, many birds, and a clear view of the sky. It is a bit different in our urban digs in Charlottesville, VA. Tonight Jon and I decided to try out our new "patio... the fire escape!
The view is different, but no less interesting. Watching the people walking, the sun making the bricks glow, and the pigeons and helicopters overhead. There is even greenery around. Here are some more shots to let you enjoy the view with us... you will have to supply your own wine though! (Click on any picture to see it larger)
A long time ago a very wise man, and a mentor of mine, told me that an artist should be able to find inspiration from whatever is in an eight foot radius around them at any time. I believe this with my heart and soul.
As I was thinking about Walter's words, I have noticed myself carrying my camera everywhere, trying to take “good” pictures, and not just looking around and experiencing. So to solve this I am taking a two pronged approach for the next thirty days.
First, all photos will be taken within a one block radius of my home. I will have to concentrate on that which I see regularly and find something new about it. Secondly, I will not take my camera elsewhere*. I need to go back to enjoying and experiencing the whole and not worry about how everything will look through a lens or on screen. It is odd, but in some ways, taking pictures has taken me a few steps from experiencing reality.
There was one time this distance served me very well, though! Years ago we were on a sailboat in the Virgin Islands. Every day we had been safely nestled within the small islands there. The one day, we decided to head out into the ocean, beyond the sight of land. I was excited and not at all apprehensive, until land disappeared. It was then that I learned the panic that happens when one discovers a new phobia! The only way I made it through that day was to look through my camera… it took me far enough from reality that I stopped panicking.
I think I have stopped panicking again, but this time I want that thrill and uncertainty of reality. My husband was telling me about a lizard he saw the other day, and I replied that I hoped I got to see it and that I better have my camera with me when I did. It was almost like I thought the experience wouldn’t be valid unless I recorded it. That feeling both surprised me and made me think hard about what I want from my photography.
The creative process, not the end product has always been the best part of art for me. I want to express the way I see and look, but I do not want the icon to be more a priority than the experience, so time for this exercise. I find it so easy to gt enthused and excited, but also it is so easy to fall into comfortable or safe ruts. I am not taking photos for fame or profit, so I must do it for my enjoyment and expansion first, so off I am to do that. I have to see if I can focus in and expand out at the same time!
You will see the results in my daily photo posts this month. Today I have posted the last theme photo for a while (my trusty foil) and have a few more words there about this topic, if it interests you. Wish me luck both on the new activity and the withdrawal!
*unless I am visiting the grand kids, maybe!
Recently "The Guardian" reported the following about Charlottesville, VA:
Last week, this central Virginian town was named America's happiest city – or Joy Town, USA, as America's media quickly had it – by the US National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER). It's quite an accolade. But an informal poll of residents didn't find too many who rejected the finding. "I don't know about the happiest but it's certainly all right," says Jackson Greg, on Main Street late on Friday evening.
The band was also quite the mix of talent and people! I think every musician played several instruments and, as you can see here, sometimes two at once! Thanks to them and kudos for the fun they had and brought to us!
Here are a few more shots of Baaba Seth; just click on any of them to see the whole picture and a larger view!
I was recently involved with yet another 'critique' discussion in a group for art makers on Facebook. It involved someone being upset and losing confidence because of the comments they had received regarding art they had posted. I have been involved with feedback/comments/critique and such for over 40 years now... on all sides; as a customer, instructor, maker, and professional. I am continually astounded at how often comment is mistaken for critique. And how often the subjective and objective are blurred. Or when critique is asked for simple validation is what is wanted.
NOTE: I am going to ignore the added level complexity and vitriol comments brought on by the anonymity of the web, and focus on the comments that would be more universally applied in any situation.
First, when one asks for feedback they should be clear as to what they are looking for! "Do you like this?" or "what do you think" leaves one wide open for anything, and everything, from opinion to fact. A friend asked me one time what my "favorite" painting in a museum was. I replied with the name of a fairly minor work. He could not understand my response, until I explained that he didn't ask me which I thought was the best painting... just which might be my favorite.
I would choose two very different paintings to answer each question:
Favorite? A subjective, gut reaction; Do I want to live with it on my wall?
Best? An objective ranking of technical skillfulness, academic proficiency, and appropriate use of subject manner.
There are many great artworks that I appreciate, but would not choose to live with, and there are many not so perfectly composed or produced artworks I would be pleased to have in my home because of the emotions they evoke, or they simply include subject matter I identify with. I love Folk and Naive art as well as Children's art. Rarely can those work be deemed the work of a virtuoso, but they may have great merit and emotion. If asked to critique them, I wouldn't bring up rules of design, or color theory; solving or applying those issues was not the intent of the creator. I would give an answer about why they subjectively appealed to me or not.
However if someone is asking peers for critique to improve their skill or marketability, they should be ready for both the objective evaluation of the technical merits of their work as well as how people respond subjectively to the image. Each person who responds will bring with them their own level of expertise, prejudices and preferences, and all can potentially be helpful, or if not, ignored!
It is up to the artist to use or ignore the feedback they asked for, and to decipher what of it is subjective and what is objective.
A comment or even an objective evaluation is there to use or not use. If you don't agree with it, you could/should ask for further explanation or reason for the conclusion, so you can understand where the critique is coming from. In doing so you may find that it is formed from a very personal experience, or from a fount of knowledge, or just from a gut reaction...
that will give you more information to weight the applicability and universality of the comments as they apply to the work. Or you can simply ignore it.
It is up to those critiquing to understand what comments or opinions may be important and useful to the artist. So make sure you understand if they are asking for a gut check, or whether they used a technique correctly; Were they asking if their color usage was effective or if you like the subject matter? If they have not made that clear - ask so you can be more helpful.
The beauty of art is that there is a myriad of reactions involved in each piece - and that sum is then squared by the two parties involved. There is the maker's intent and the viewer's reaction. Only the maker knows their intent and communication goal. Only the viewer knows their reaction. Sometimes those are in sync. Many times they are not. This could be from an incomplete presentation or failure by the artist, or a non-receptive or ill-educated viewer, or simply two people coming from very different places. Only dialog between the two can bring understanding and additional knowledge to both parties if that is the goal (for some artist the making is enough, and the viewers reaction unimportant, but that is a whole different discussion!!). A viewer saying that Lautrec should know that people are not blue, or that Miro should draw more realistically, would probably have been ignored or corrected by those artists, because they would have known they were not a meaningful comments in regards to their intent. But that doesn't mean the comments (heard in art museums quite regularly I would assume) are not valid reactions from that particular viewer. Only by understanding the cohesiveness of the intent and the reaction can an artist and a viewer understand if the critique is useful and relevant or not.
So to be a productive critique, the artist must be specific about what they are asking, and the respondent must honor that with appropriately directed responses or bow out . It is as appropriate for a viewer to appreciate only realistic renderings, or a specific subject matter, as it is for an artist to explore the avant-garde and conceptual ideas or technique, however they must understand the differences of thought before they hope to connect productively in a critique forum.
It appears that the printed word is alive and well in Charlottesville, VA. Yesterday I became an official card carrying library patron! Of note, was the claim that this C'ville library was the most frequented library in VA. Good to know. It is a beautiful old building, that seems to house a great collection of information and entertainment. I was warmly welcomed to the community by Jeanne, the librarian. Can't wait to explore it thoroughly.
From there, I went to visit some of the bookshops in town. Being a college town, it is not surprising that there are bookshops, but the variety of independent, non-academic and used booksellers is wonderful. I guess that the biggest festival in Charlottesville is the Virginia Festival of the Book every March. I can not wait to participate net year!
This week I went to some of C'ville's very diverse book shops - all within walking distance from home. The first, The Blue Whale - Antique Prints, Books, and Maps, is guarded by what the owner described as "the sweetest dog on earth". When I countered with "aren't all Corgis sweethearts", he confirmed that none other is as sweet as his. This shop has not only books, well cataloged and displayed, but also prints and maps. It is a tony shop - with beautiful entrance and interior wood, well arranged bins and shelves, and the ambiance of a private library, with the congenial owner at the ready behind a beautiful library table/desk appropriately stacked with papers and books.
The second shop, Daedalus bookstore, (NOTE: link is to reviews - it appears they have no website!) appears to be a small shop, but has a seemingly endless maze of books. The building was a very compact home at one time, and has retained the many tiny rooms that once housed a family. Each room is fitted - or more correctly, crammed, with bookcases of every ilk and era. It was evident the proprietor knew most of the customers who edged their way between the shelves, a sign that this was a store for local regulars more than collectors or tourists. This warren of paper and ink is the perfect place to lose yourself on a hot southern afternoon. The musty smell, creaky staircase and millions of paperbacks and hardcovers will keep you busy for hours, even if you never crack open a volume - just read the myriad of titles!
Perhaps, this Yelp review describes Daedalus best: "I was afraid to pull out any book for fear of toppling over the entire building! If bookstores are measured by the sheer density of books per square foot, and by the precariousness of the pathways through them, then store is by far the best one that I've ever visited. Some of the hallways require turning sideways, or bending yourself like a pretzel. A very nice man was there to help me with anything I needed."
Tucked on one shelf of early volumes, was this anonymous picture of a woman. I am sure it was found while unpacking books, but she was just about the only non-book item in all of the place! Who knows how long she has been guarding these volumes.
After that, the documentation of the trip took a rather interesting turn. They charm of the landscape was lost to me, and I turned to the car interior and immediate surroundings. Thankfully we made it home to VA safe and sane, and I thought I would share the results of my boredom with you:
We are now in Charlottesville, VA.Establishing new routines, finding new places, meeting new people, and suffering from exhaustion. But totally loving it. Today we spent 5 hours shopping at IKEA and to today spent 7 hours putting everything together! We decided to do that rather than move our stuff 800 miles to a place where it wouldn't fit, we would start new!
But before we started that, we walked about two blocks over and went to the farmer's market. It was great - and like in Madison, it is best before 8AM! Fresh coffee, beautiful produce, and other goodies. I present to you the proof below!
For dinner we just had fresh carrots, goat cheese, Italian bread, scallions, and other local goodies, with the wine jon got at the wine tasting he went to last night. We are both exhausted, so I will say good night.
Yesterday's schedule was supposed to be car maintenance and updating my photos files in the computer. BUT it turned out so much better!
We are a one car family now, so when I had to take my car in for work that was supposed to take all day, I had to find something to do. I packed my computer and camera (both of which can entertain me for hours) and headed off. I had a delivery to make to a friend, so he said he would meet me across from the car place for coffee. Well that turned into two hours of reminiscing, gossip and philosophy! I met Mike about 30 years ago through out mutual profession of Graphic Design. Since then we went on to teach together, and just generally weave in and out of each others lives. It was wonderful to spend that time with him. (and to get his semi-pro reviews of all things pop culture and media!) I had planned to then head downtown by bus, but Mike took me down to State street for my photo day.
I decided to go to the new Chazen Art Museum first, but as I headed there, it dawned on my that a high school friend, Jeri, who I have connected with through Facebook works right next store, in the Humanities Building. I decided to interrupt her work day (something we retired folks feel free to do!) and say "hi" in person. Well, a warm welcome and hugs ensued, and we headed off for coffee! Another two hours of wonderful chatter! Turns out we both have enjoyed working with fiber and quilting and sewing in all kinds of aspects. We got up to speed on each others adventures and plans, and it was wonderful to see her.
Then I had planned to meet my high school BFF, Marta, for coffee!! By the time we met at another coffee shop I didn't need more coffee, but was ready for more camaraderie. We saw each other through a lot in high school. I am not sure either of us would have made it through without a couple of wonderful art teachers (Don Hunt and Evelyn Bauman) and, of course, without each other. We got up to speed on each others lives, and then headed down State street for the Chazen Museum. We probably had made this same walk down State Street a million times in the late 60s, so of course there was a lot of "remember when" and "boy has this changed" talk along the way.
We wandered through the Museum, giggled a lot and finally said "good bye" when she deposited me to pick up my car. We lead different lives now, but are still sisters in heart.
And lastly, Jeff. We have been going to the same mechanic for about 35 years now. He is a great guy and has seen us through many cars. I got a big wonderful hug as we said "good-bye". Hope we can find someone even half as good and reputable in VA.
What is that Girl Scout song we learned? "Make new friends, but keep the old...."
This past weekend I attending the Quilt Festival in Chicago. This is a huge quilt exhibition, educational forum and vendor show. On day two of the show, I noticed a covey of young men outside the doors, and doubted very much they were quilters. I am both curious and forward, so I followed them up the escalators to see where they went.
There I came upon a world I had never seen before! It was a Grand Prix event for "Magic the Gathering". There was no admission and they were a welcoming bunch, so I went in. Amazing. Excited participants and camaraderie (just like downstairs at the quilt show); Vendors showing their wares (just like downstairs); Artists displaying their work (just like downstairs); People concentration on their work, making friends, competing, and using technology, all the same on both floors.
It made me think about how much more in common we have than we think we do. Perhaps, we just need to visit each others' sub-societies more often. Thanks guys for making me feel welcome, and introducing me to your world; hope you had fun when you peeked into the quilt show and saw mine!!
I have taken so many pictures of our birds, and with a wren house in the tree right outside my window, you would think getting one of him would be easy-peasy... but no. This little guy and I have been dancing around each other for weeks now. I do not think that a wren stands still for more than a millisecond at a time, and they are the same size as the leaves they perch in. That combined with my general lack of patience (some would say severe ADD) has made for a real dance - one that I am positive the wren knows he is a part of! Anyhow, today I finally got an acceptable shot, but thought you might enjoy the lead up to it...
DISCLAIMER: Please note the following shots are numbered for your convenience... I have not included the many that were taken just after he left, or when I knocked the tripod in my excitement to shoot. Accuracy would have them numbered "shot 108, shot 437, etc", but I have simplified it for you.
Above: I decide to focus on the house... Day one (top left) he never appeared. Day two (top right), this was as good as it got. Day three (bottom left) he mocked me by photo bombing my shot as I waited thinking he was in the house! Day four (bottom right) (coincidentally right after finding a four-leaf clover) I got a great pic of the house, but he was twitching a bit fast.
ABOVE: After another week or two of trying to follow him from branch to branch - resulting in many blurry photos of our apple tree - I decided to tripod-up and wait for him to land in one place. This required almost more patience than I could endure, but because it was possible to wait with both coffee and sitting down, I made it. The first shot (upper left), he was almost out of the frame, the second (upper right) he was posed beautifully with his head directly hidden behind the branch. In the third shot (lower left) he shows us how he can hide - yes he really is in the shot. The fourth shot (bottom right); we are almost there.
Finally an acceptable shot. We have now called a truce. I have learned that I will never have the patience (and probably not the equipment) for really amazing nature photos, but it sure is fun trying. It is amazing how much you learn about the habits and reactions of something you are trying to photograph. I have also learned why you see many pictures of finches, cardinals, oriels, and robins, but rarely the little wren.
You can relax now Wren, The paparazzi have left.
Bessie has left the building.
Five years ago I went to Milwaukee Sewing Machine Company and purchased this industrial serger sewing machine. I had a small home machine, but had found it not "up to snuff" in the speed, agility, or strength departments. It takes a lot of whatever to handle several layers of heavy sweater knit fabrics and not complain or balk.
I brought her home and set her up, and I have to admit she intimidated me a bit. All those threads, exposed motor, and speed. It was a bit like getting out of a Chevy and into a Ferrari. (not that I have even driven either of those!)
But we soon became fast friends. As long as I gave her appropriate oil cocktails, and cleaned her out now and then, she ran like the wind! Scarves that had taken a long (almost unprofitable) amount of time, were now swiftly and securely seamed into glory! She never grumbled when summer came and I switched from sweaters to t-shirts. She loved the velvets I started using just this past year. If ever she coughed or skipped a stitch, it would be found to be a result of my ineptness, not hers.
In a happy coincidence, my Facebook photo group had the theme "motion" and I had a trip to see my grand kids... what better combination could there be! To see more of the pics I took, please go to this link.
But beyond thinking about photos, I was thinking about kids and adults. Watching the big group of students at my Grandson's pre-school "graduation" made me think about how much we confuse our kids. We are vigorously pushing them ahead at the same time telling them to sit still!
The kids sitting at the ceremony were not bored, or "restless" they were excited and nervous and giddy... all of which caused eyes to constantly scan, feet to constantly swing and heads to bob. Many could not contain themselves to decorous walking, so they skipped or ran or danced up to get their diplomas and hugs! We adults giggled and "awwed" when it was annouced that the child wanted to be a superhero, or police officer, or mommy, or doctor, or earth worm! But that is still their reality - anything is possible. I know, until told otherwise, I truly thought I could be a horse when I grew up.
I am not sure how or when we lose this. Or maybe, more accurately, it is taught out of us. When we lower our standards to reality and make our feet hold still. Some people never do. They are the lucky ones. The world retains its energy and potential for them.
I am sure by now many of you are thinking "will you just move already!!!!" We have been so lucky to be able to really have the time we need to divest and move. The couple who bought our house, rented it back to us for the last several months while we each prepared to move. We just got back from taking another load to Charlottesville. So the next time we go will be the real deal!
My last mannequin and I contemplate our futures while we wait for her new partners to show up to take her away. Both she and Sasha have found employment at Community Centers as decorative participants in Halloween and other celebrations. It is a bittersweet thing to say good bye to them! The third is now showing off historical costumes near here.
The tent left yesterday to now house welded sculptures of a local artist, John Pahlas who I think has a very bright future ahead. He will be doing a number of shows this year, and will be on the Mt Horeb artist tour in a couple of weeks. I wish him the best!
The machine will soon be headed to Baraboo, WI to make the beautiful purses created in Helen's Daughters' studio. Her things are amazing and, after having been through several shows together, I can attest to her creativeness and just plain nice person-hood as well! I hope it serves her as well as it has me.
For those of you looking for garments, may I suggest a friend and great designer, Secret Lentil. I am sure many of you have already found her, but if you haven't be sure to check her out! She used to be on Etsy, but now sells direct from her site - tell her I said "hi"!
Another great source for knit goods is "The Devil Made me Do It". She is located in DC, but sells on-line also.
The maker at "The Painted Daisy" bought all my unused cashmere, so I am sure there will be some wonderful winter things offered in her Etsy shop. Herr summer things also look fabulously fun!
Another Etsy friend who is also a great maker, a bit different style, but always good service and work; Gail at Savoy Faire, has a couple of shops, and does a lot of the the 'shabby but chic' type clothing for all sizes and occasions.
Of course those are just a few of the great makers out there. I hope you all find someone to make your life and garments more fun. Be sure to keep purchasing from the handmade community at your local art fairs, and on-line. We appreciate it very much.
Here is the instruction sheet... The magical dress has several layers to accommodate a soft cushy belly in one layer and a pouch for the baby in the second layer! Wow - why didn't I think of that! This is so much easier than that silly birth process we all know and love. Be sure to check out #3... as a mother of two, I can assure you this is not true.
It has been quite the month. We have made it through most of our 35+ years of accumulation, and much of what my mother-in-law left, and a bit of what my mother left. My kids are both grown and gone, but their stuff lingers on. I thought I might share a few of the things I have learned - mostly about myself - through this process.
What I think I will wear and what I wear are not the same!
To start the great closet purge (we are going from two walk-ins to one shared!), I sorted what I wear regularly from what I wear rarely (or if truth be told, never). The results were startling. On my left (wear) was a collection of solid and subtle prints of black, white and a few khaki items. On my right (rarely wear) was a cacophony of color and prints. hmmm. As I thought about this, I realized that one of the best parts of the garments I made for jill2day was the chance to make colorful and statement garments that I would love to wear, and then see the joy they brought to those who actually wear them. I think I have to work on this "when I get old I shall wear purple" thingy.
I can not remember a time when I have not made things. I can not remember a time when my brain didn't immediately crop and compose whatever I am looking at. I can not imagine my head not saying "what if" and "what about if you"... This is not a brag or a exhalation, just a constant reality of my life, just as each of you have a constant in yours. This is also influenced by the weeks of going through all my saved possessions and artwork as we prepare to move.
I like the resulting photos (above) They show the story of the spring flowers - not just a record of their botany, but recognition of their place in the cycle of spring and in the world around them.
Perhaps that is just true of life in general... neither we or our actions exists in a vacuum, and the context is what often gives us our meaning. Our position and perspective changes within the place and surroundings, what is mundane in one place, is glorious in another. That which hurts us today could be the basis for our happiness tomorrow. Context. hmmm. just another thing to think about when being creative.
I guess it is the same with the horses I photo'ed yesterday. While the horses were fantastic; They are fantastic anywhere anytime! The specific story of these photos is the horse in the specific context of the Midwest horse fair. (see Daily pictures for 4/13/2014 for other horse fair pics or go to THIS Facebook post)
If you are really into history, click here for blog posts prior to 2014 !