Tuesday, June 7, 2022

BLOG: A graduation lap quilt to carry hugs from home and family off to college

      In May I heard grandmothers were making memory quilts for graduating seniors. I mentioned my failure to Hannah. She said I could make one for her if I wanted to. With little time left, I imagined the color blue she likes, saw some clever patterns in stores and decided I would make a book quilt for Hannah who is a phenomenal reader.

       I researched "book fabrics" online and found fabric with prints of pages of books and stacked books. Amazon mailed. Like the graduating student, I didn't know exactly where I was going but I moved with the adventure. Inspired by Katie, who was creating a 45" x 45"of life and ball game T-shirts for her grand, I decided to make a lap quilt size so the memories would fit on a dorm bed or chair to provide hugs from home and family. I would sew the fabric face to face and somehow look for gold cord for the edges. This I found at fabric discount store, Sewfisticated in Somerville which also had upholstery trim loaded with tassels that I cut to attach to suggest book marks. The trim and cord were so inexpensive, I bought more than needed. Maybe a pillow? Katie said she prefers lap quilts at  45" x 45" and she used cozy flannel instead of batting. Mine was to be 45"x 56". I got thin cotton batting Quilter's Dream that is good for hand quilting since my sewing machine was acting cranky.Joe designed the iPhone pocket and I sewed a label underneath saying "Made With Love." 


        There were many crises and mistakes figuring how to insert the ribbon of the cord between the fabrics. I watched videos and realized I needed a fancier zipper foot to ride the cord. Next time I might sew on a cord without the ribbon. I did lots of hand sewing and there is a thread made for that which slides more easily into the fabric and batting. I finished after about 7 intense days doing little else. I had blind quilted the batting to the books fabric and now had to tie surgeon knots to the three layers as invisible as possible.I grew to love the quilt and am missing it now.We are so fortunate to have the Internet and videos to fill in the gaps of what we need to know and how to solve crises. I am glad the quilt was a hit.

More "book quilts" found online. and there are others.



Friday, April 29, 2022

NYC art trip blends into Ukrainian egg play solutions

      In New York City it was good to see the Holbein paintings and drawings and return to the condo to make my own portraits .It was good to visit the New York Historical Society to see all their outreach to more diverse groups but also enjoy the paintings of the city and recent purchases to their collection. Our 3rd stop, the New Museum, was also extraordinary and where I got great inspiration: I thought I knew Faith Ringgold's work but there was more. She has been painting her world on fabric all her life. Painting what is going on in my world now is my charge, 
but I am not quite ready to show my new political drawings. The final day was a visit to the Whitney, just before the Bicentennial, The Whitney like the MFA, Gardner, ICA and other museums are making efforts to include those who have not been so present in the art world in the past. Our experience is richer for that.

      All of a sudden it was bunny time and what to bring new to the event. The awful war in Ukraine was on full force. I remembered that I once painted Ukrainian Pysanki Easter eggs. I probably didn't know where Ukraine was. I would use permanent markers to draw the symbols and patterns on eggs that had been blown or sucked out of shells  I thought it a good time to think of and talk about Ukraine and the amazing leader, Zelensky.

       First I attended a Senior Center event to paint or batik the eggs as traditionally done. I had so much fun that Joe made me some tools that I might use to let the wax paint designs and the egg be dipped into color after color like batik and the wax finally melted off for a special glowing finish. You can Google how to paint Pysanki patterns, find story books and watch the process on YouTube.  I needed tools. Joe took some paint brushes, removed the brush, drilled holes and glued cake decorating tips in the holes. If the super glue does not hold in the flames, we will need another solution like tiny wires to hold the nozzles in place. Wood pencils were inserted in handles for a cool hold.

       Two other finds were the squishy eggs to paint on. I gave the grandchildren Ukrainian pattern books but they have their own ideas. And the wildest find was the shrink wrap for Pysanki egg decoration. I ordered the shrink wrap designs online from Diximus through Amazon. You merely slip the designs on any eggs. I had wooden eggs. You boil water, turn off the fire and in slotted spoon dip the 
egg into the hot water. In two to four seconds you have gorgeous eggs.Nothing wrong with easy.




Friday, April 1, 2022

March Madness close to home

In March, I continued painting daily. Joe framed the paintings as fast as I produced. I continued to learn from free courses online.I took an humble seascape and repainted it using the composition rule of thirds, one of many seascape composition ideas you can Google to find at Pinterest.  It made all the difference in a repaint.

A trip to NYC for museum shows further inspired. Three floors of Faith Ringgold's work at the New Museum in the Bowery impressed me how she integrated all in her life, constantly, in creating her art work.   We visited Holbein at the Morgan Library and Museum and hit both the New York Historical Society (paintings of NYC and Black Dolls) and the Whitney  for more.

I enjoyed sketching the amazing Judge Brown, hopefully the next member of the Supreme Court. She made a terrific model on the screen at son's house in NYC.  Joe and I also created a bouquet for church, a new adventure. We awaited more excitement in what schools the children would choose; and we returned home with several painting ideas!

Monday, February 28, 2022

Return to the classroom

     Do you know how many free art and writing lessons are out there on the Internet. Often the free courses create a group on Facebook where you can show your work progress and make artist friends. Last month it was a stitching class. This month I checked into some painting courses. I believe in always learning and it is quite fun in a course. Nietzsche said, "The doer alone learneth!" If you go for one free course, you will hear about others, on Facebook. 'Tis good to be shadowed by algorithms for productive reasons.


     The class that excited me most was one that taught me to think about painting in smaller blocks of time on smaller canvases. Too often, in the past, I would paint from 9 am until 9 pm. I painted lots of huge paintings. Recently I have worked small. After dinner, I may decide to go in to paint for half an hour. Of course I get caught up and can't quit. Mary Bentz Gilkerson taught many things, but what I got out of her pedagogy was not to concern yourself with critiques and try to make a painting in 20 minutes. I gathered that 90 days of an activity can turn into habit. Sure enough, I paint every day now. I finally have something to report in my blog: recent paintings above and two I am still working on below. There are several other courses I tried and loved, including abstract art. I recommend your checking them out and maybe bite off a bigger involvement in learning. "It does not matter how slowly you go, so long as you do not stop!" (Confuscius)

      I got started on the two paintings below, a few nights ago. I am like a beginner, learning all over.  Thomas Jefferson said, "I'm a great believer in luck, ... I find the harder I work the more I have of it." I am finding the more mistakes I paint, the more I learn. It is such fun. These below are not finished.

      Making my beginning efforts easy, I am using fast drying Holbein's Acryla Gouche. It is water based, and I used small nylon brushes. If I had it to do over, I would use a few basic colors to mix to make my colors, rather than try to buy a color for every nuance. Also, I have to move my painting posture to standing up and return to oils or acrylics, bigger brushes and more movement. Sitting so long is not wise. I anticipate painting the grandchildren on oval canvases before Easter since they are almost an egg shape.

Monday, January 31, 2022

The Internet Connects to Inspire

Facebook remembers and connects us to old memories. A self-portrait lost to the fire reappeared this week and made me look fondly at two paintings that were saved and presently flank our bed. 

The Arts Council of Princeton is back to offering more free virtual Art-Making classes based on the Princeton Universtity Art Museum collection, starting with Durer's rhinoceros. I'll be there. 

Deborah wrote that TextileArtist.org had a free five-day Stitch Camp. What fun. Day by day they gave us another step in this adventure with needle and thread, fabric and paint. The first day we made paint marks on two fabrics, then cut them up, sewed them together, embroidered, painted and appliqu├ęd. Working with Gwen Hedley while seeing the class results, it was a happy no-pressure learning experience Gwen Hedley: Stitching distress and repair - TextileArtist.org. Slow stitching is meditative. Most people stitched abstractions of many emotions, but we all LOVED our process.You might visit TextileArtist.org and get to know these wonderful artists. Joe rolled his eyes, but I won't forget this adventure. It is time for me to iron and line this double pup piece for a bookmark.

Paint fabrics in two colors, all sorts of marks and more

Cut into pieces, look for connections, join and embellish

When finished, line the back and present it

No longer lost. Found hanging in plain sight!.

Friday, December 31, 2021

Drawing on Blank Pages in the New Year

It is the end of 2021, New Year's Eve. We are in Belmont, rather than New York City because of the raging Omicron virus. In the new year, there are blank coloring pages on which to draw our lives.

Inspired by Ellen Katz and Jay Werb with their beekeeping and honey, Joe is talking about keeping a hive. I wish he would. As for me, I need to organize my life more. I could change the direction of my blog. A plan is not needed. One can just make the jump or find a better way.

For a start I want to shine a spotlight on the creative Sally Baker. In secret she made a lap quilt for her husband who is from Kentucky horse country, finishing just in time for Christmas. She said I could share the My Old KY Home with anyone I wanted. That lap quilt is so lovable, no wonder she is not tired of it after all her labor!

My heart beat to see horseshoes revealed in the quilting.The longarm quilting was done by Creative Longarm Partners in Marlboro MA. They have lots of patterns to choose from, so Sally was thrilled to see they had a horseshoe. I love her color choices and the horse variations in the blocks. The reverse or back side is clever with the roses placed after the finish line! The third photo shows how she "fussy cut" the horses from fabric.

People in Boston have been elated by the big quilt show at the MFA and the surprising history it reveals, not just technique. I recommend a visit. Pamela Reynolds in the Boston Globe wrote: "while many of the quilts on display are the traditional idealized rustic 'Americana,' many others are analytical, critical and socially aware. These are not your grandmother's quilts." She paraphrased quilter Mazloomi's saying "quilts can be a soft place for hard conversations." I must return to the show. I'd like to make a lap quilt.

Tuesday, November 23, 2021

Thankful for Thanksgiving 2021

       Over the River (Charles) and through the towns, to grandchildren's home we go. The car knows the way, that I will say. Glad it's leaves, not snow all the way! The children's mother invited us to Thanksgiving and said I was not to bring anything. However, one has to have surprises for any event!

       First I think of novelty hats. The party store was out so I was glad to see some hats from 3 years ago Beth had saved and put out on her kitchen table.  I was tempted by the big turkey balloon, but was glad they also were out! It will be crowded enough in the kitchen.

        Usually we have a Thanksgiving tree. We write on paper leaves what we are grateful for. Then we glue them on a poster's tree created by a grandchild, or tape leaves on branches held by a vase or block of wood. I prefer what the grands make but will create and take a pile of colorful leaves, just in case. Blessings can always blow in on the tables.

        Next is the prayer. One year I found a prayer on line. I am still looking for the author artist. Many Thanksgiving prayers may be Googled online. I like Ralph Waldo Emerson's or Psalm 100. See below one that I put in little addressed envelopes on the plate at each seat. I noticed that Joe saved his.


         I was hoping to find the author of this beautiful prayer and drawing found  several years ago. Ellen Katz helped me to find Kathy Davis and the card which can be purchased at American Greeting Cards, online.

            I will take an Asian pear and arugula salad w goat cheese as well as Japanese fruit pie, a southern dish. That is your surprise. Happy Thanksgiving!