Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Prayer-wrong number: a journal quilt

The memorable incident this week to record with a journal quilt, took place on Sunday at the Memorial Church at Harvard. During the closing prayer of the service, my cellphone went off. Joe and I had rushed out of the house to get to Cambridge for the 11 AM Palm Sunday service. He had grabbed my cell phone and handed it to me since I can forget to pocket it on the way out the door. During an earlier prayer, I had a warning: my mind wandered to wonder if the phone were turned off; and since I am married to a dedicated caretaker I decided Joe had turned it off for me. I thought it might be more disturbing to look to check mid-service. Wrong.

The swirling circles in the journal quilt can refer to the noise of the phone's ring as well as to the whirlpool of my embarrassment as I fell down to my pew seat to find the phone in the furthest pocket and realize the impossibility of rising. I was so mortified.

I could not think of a metaphor for the church and prayer; so the circles and colors (more magenta than here) are going to have to refer to eggs/colors of the season, a stretch but a reminder. I thought I might Google Images, for praying hands, to find something to embroider outlines later. There I found a tutorial on drawing such. By the way, amazingly, I saw noone looking at me at the time or afterwards. People must have realized I was humiliated enough; thus the closed eyes on the quilt.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Colored eggs and heavy thoughts

Busy getting switched over to the new computer, reorganizing and hooking up things, I thought I might not have anything to post, being too busy to live. Then, we got a phone call that this would be a good day to dye eggs, Monday's bringing Passover and Seder.

And today is Palm Sunday, so we made it into Memorial Church at Harvard to hear the passion according to St. Luke and Peter Gomes talk about why we celebrate Passion Week...that life is full of sadness, treachery and violence; and the point of Jesus' being God incarnate is that God shares all of this with us.

Next, it was rushing out to get eggs to boil and dye, chicken pot pie makings to create with the grandchildren before coloring. I got the usual color tablets, a kit to marbleize with and pulled some Model Magic off the shelf for rabbit, chick, egg modeling and cookie cutting. After dinner I read Rechenka's Eggs by Patricia Polacco, a good tale with pictures of pysanky eggs. I finished with another of Mrs. Piggle Wiggle's cure stories. It was a sunny, rich and colorful day.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Historic Healthcare, a journal quilt

Abby, creator of the terrific While She Naps blog, said that a blog is an impetus to produce. So true today. I need to set up my big new exciting computer, but I am stopping everything to get out today’s posting. This week’s journal quilt had to be about the Healthcare passage, a historic event.

I have a truncated beachball, not beached, w hints of the Healthcare logo (in all honesty, I didn’t have time to perfect which probably improved the idea for the quilt) all on a stormy sea. I must find a new metaphor for stormy seas in novelty fabrics! A different fabric than felt would have been more difficult for the logo, and I don’t mind these results. I got the journal up in less than the goal of two hours despite the detached scanner awaiting hookup to the new computer. Harried but happy here.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Double Drawings

Adrienne, a good friend from 40 years ago, joined me for lunch yesterday. We like to share our journals and latest projects. She knows I like to have a big blank book about 8 1/2” x 11” that I can open each morning at the breakfast table, so that as I read the newspapers or magazines I can clip out what interests me visually (or want to think about) and can save to sketch, embellish or add to. I never know when something I cut out, glue, draw or develop on a page will be a source for a spontaneous future piece of art.

Some time ago I found this photo of an artist and the child he painted (I assume his nephew or grandson) and pasted it into my book. Much later in Houston when I was visiting with my nephew, we decided to draw each other in charcoal at the same time, probably prompted by that painting in my journal. It was fun and a surprise for me to see how much Alan remembered from his visit to my studio in Boston: a record I now have of three special memories.

I regret I do not know the source of the magazine illustration or the artist’s name.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Sketching Portraits and Flowers

Sometimes it is fun to sit at the kitchen table to watercolor (the most difficult medium IMO) or enjoy Holbein Acryla Gouache which I discovered about a year ago, a fast-drying, opaque acrylic based watercolor paint which is water soluble when while wet . When dry it is water-resistant, matte and opaque. The latter is easier to use like oil paints, in that you can paint over your mistakes if you know what they are! Easy water clean-up.

Tonight I wanted to watch Baylor and Kansas play in March Madness basketball, a new stretch for me and paint at the same time, in order to have something to post. I thought I could try to watercolor Molly, a memorial portrait. I immediately wished I had gotten out the acrylic gouache.

I had used this gouache to paint several self-portraits (the first two here) on one trip to NYC when I had no other models. At the Neue Gallery I bought and studied a book on Paula Modersohn-Becker portraits. She often painted flowers under the faces of people and I decided to add to Molly’s portrait the flowers Dianthe brought by in remembrance. As art often surprises, they formed wings for Molly.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Spring Cleaning Surprise: NYC Zine

Until a few months ago, I had never heard of a zine. But loving books and magazines, I turned my hand to one, using the format of the magical paper book in my March 10 blog.

After the holidays, a trip or two. and lots of arts and crafts, it was time to spring clean. What a treat to locate my long lost beading books flat in the bottom of a small cloth bag I must have taken to show someone. And then in an envelope, ready to mail, I found the zine I had made of a NYC reunion trip I had w a dear college friend. It was my present to her she never received.

The zine is created on an 8.5” x 10.5” sheet of paper. I affixed photos, text and Japanese tape (Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum) in positions that would fold properly into a zine for Alice.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Water Water Everywhere...

The ten inches of rain in Middlesex County is certainly the subject for my two-hour journal quilt this week, but w hints of other things going on as well. I will surely add some bugle beads for the rain’s coming down and some rounder glass beads for the splashes out of the barrels or buckets used in my studio.

That night (Bill’s birthday and the rising waters) when the grandchildren were here going through my fabric stash and expecting me to whip up something in minutes, I found my machine stalled. All I needed was a new needle, hooray! Also, reflecting on how surprised the beaders were that I don’t make doll clothes, I asked the girls what doll clothes I could make for them and they chose the 18-inch Snow White outfit. One for each. Little did I suspect the rains would slow down that effort and others! But we know, the sun always comes out. Coincidentally, Hannah had chosen the ocean fabric for her project. It was reflecting on her smile and compliments that kept me relaxed and alive while bailing that night.

Monday, March 15, 2010

A Rainy Weekend

As a child, I loved rain. It meant I could stay inside to color. My Aunt Clarice could be counted on to drop by with craft supplies.

The last few days with rain pouring was no exception except for the surprise ending. We headed to the Currier Museum in Manchester to see the wider range of watercolor’s potential, a beautiful building and fine shop. I wished for my brother whose birthday is this weekend and my granddaughters to see this show.

We stayed indoors away from the rain for dinner w neighbors in their home theater. And the next morn, we prepared for son’s family dinner. He wanted Key Lime birthday pie, and tacos.

The girls and I sewed at down times and after dessert. Hannah made Wolf-Wolf a pillow/blanket and learned to use the rotary cutter under watchful eyes. When I helped Erika make a ballet pillow, Hannah activated the stored easel/paints by pouring paints on the hanging paper (Jackson Pollack put the canvas on the floor). I handed her a brush to move them around and suggested keeping the paint off the carpet. A lovely time…then…

So much rain (ten inches) in Boston, no place to go. My basement studio said “Come in!.”
Two old geezers wet-vacuumed the night away until two a.m. and then let portable sump pumps take on our task.

Friday, March 12, 2010

In Memory ~ Molly, we miss you.

I think dogs are the most amazing creatures; they give unconditional love. For me they are the role model for being alive. Gilda Radner

My friendship with Mitzi was like the friendship that many children have with their pets. My mother and father thought it was "good for me" to have a dog for a companion. Well it was good for me, but it was only many years after she died that I began to understand how good it was, and why. Fred Rogers

Children and dogs are as necessary to the welfare of the country as Wall Street and the railroads. Harry S Truman

If having a soul means being able to feel love and loyalty and gratitude, then animals are better off than a lot of humans. James Herriot

Dogs are not our whole life, but they make our lives whole. Roger Caras

...love knows not its own depth until the hour of separation. Kabil Gibran

Thursday, March 11, 2010

The webs we weave and populate

Today at beading, I rummaged through my craft bags to find a mysterious box at the bottom. Spring cleaning provides surprise treats. There were these two beaded bugs I'd made last year, inspired by clever Chrissy’s entrance hall to her colonial home where she maintains a spider web w beaded spiders representing her family, gifted to her by Nita, another beader. My first attempts are not as good as hers, but it is always fun to try.

As Chrissy tells her story: “We purchased the web very early on in the progress of our house renovations (we moved into the house in 1975 and we are still renovating) because it seemed to personify our progress. It came from the gift shop at Drumlin Farm. Then not too long ago a friend who is a beader found the spiders at our favorite bead store and gave them to me for Christmas. There are two big ones to represent my husband and me. Then there are two sets to represent our two children and their families, color coded for male and female. We always had comments on the web, but now that it is populated by spiders, it seems to be even more interesting.”

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Magical paper books

Yesterday, the Louis Bourgeois DVD was due at the library, but one of the “extras” showed a recent fabric book (2005, in the MOMA collection), almost soft as a pillow, that was made from the fabrics of her life: napkins w monograms, clothes, her handwork.

I love the idea of creating books and sometimes it is good to add some magic to the making for your grandchildren. Always there are newspapers at hand, but you can experiment with any sheet of paper, 8.5” x 10.5” . With a newspaper you can make the books bigger. Cut out some paper dolls at the same time for the grandchildren to dress w colors or scrap fabrics. I have enclosed some rough instructions.

Also, I would like to hand the grands a little fabric book for them to stitch on, or better still, make my own.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Molly calls us home: a journal quilt

It has been a few days since our truncated trip to NYC (see posting March 6) ; and Molly, our beloved Beardie, is recovering quite a few steps at a time. I felt the journal quilt for this week should be about her. I may paint Molly to look more Beardie, and bead.

Last year, Geri Barr, a lively Australian quilter, taught a class nearby and handed out cardboard white frames of 10 inches square with the 8 inches in the center removed. We were to put this frame on a sandwich of 10” square muslin for the bottom, 10” square quilt batting, and 10” square pieced fabric w our design on top to quilt. First, however, we fused, glued or basted the top fabrics as the muse guided, and when satisfied, secured the sandwich with safety or quilt basting pins. Next, with the three 10” square pieces pinned and layered together, we quilted with a sewing machine or by hand.

To join me, place the white frame on the sandwich after the quilting is finished. Mark just inside the edge of the frame and stitch. Trim near the edges of the now 8” square journal quilt. Some in the class finished with bias binding or zigzag stitches, but I liked the look of pinking shears. Remember, it is a no more than two-hour project of a memorable event of a week in your life.

The idea may take longer, but not the crafting.
I wanted the woods in snow we viewed coming and going which were reminiscent of Pieter Breugel's Hunters in the Snow, a hint of NYC and a dog, perhaps missing us.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Truncated Trip

Joe and I drove to NYC to take in art for several days. Beethoven’s life played on the CDs, and I beaded another ATC fibrillating heart. I found an Altoid box lid to hold my beads, and it was perfectly fine until Joe hit the brakes unexpectedly :*).

As we drove down the Hudson River I was excited to see the Armory Show sites, and I thought about the Biennale. We parked on the street, got our Metro passes and rode two stops to Borders for my British Artists & Illustrators magazine I can no longer find in Boston. The next morning, we headed to MOMA for the fabulous Tim Burton and William Kentridge shows and a lunch of pan-seared salmon over chunky vegetable lentil stew topped w arugula. I was dazzled. Next were The City Quilter for what’s new and DaVinci Artist Supply for sketchbooks; but a cell phone call made us realize we had to jump in the car to return home for our ailing dog.

Molly is quite old, but doing better today! And it’s fun to be home w extra days to absorb the catalogs and visit MOMA’s exhibition videos on-line. My rule is: do favorite destinations first. Those imaginative and thoughtful watercolor and charcoal drawings along with simple, but powerful animations were exhilarating, a fine focus and enough for now!

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Chatalaine and Fabric Birthday Card

March madness is where I am with workshops to rearrange and dogs to groom. I missed blogging yesterday, so I must post something today: my chatalaine and the fabric birthday card.

Family birthdays/celebrations cluster this month and last. I feared I injured the sewing machine stitching a tape measure to the chatalaine grosgrain ribbon (a Valentine gift for my beaders) which is so handy to have around the neck when sewing and beading: an envelope for the thimble, needles and pins, a tape measure and snippers. But I vacuumed my asthmatic machine, changed the needle and thread, and the Baby Lock is happy again.

Curious if the machine had died on me, with a birthday Valentine party less than an hour away, I grabbed the cupcake print and quilted it randomly. Voila! It made a cute pin for the birthday girl. Perhaps I will send a quilted non-caloric postcard cupcake to my brother and son along with their Bananagrams! I always feel I must make something or it isn’t a gift, not that the recipient feels that way! :*)) Also, I can't believe the stamps stay on the postcards; but in art school, one student mailed banana skins.

(you may click on photos)

Monday, March 1, 2010

Thinking about Self-Portraits

The MFA in Boston is open on Mondays, so, wanting to look at paintings, I drove in to see the Luis Melendez show (Google Images, Luis Melendez). Most of the paintings are of still life. The artist’s self-portrait is a very engaging 18th century work. Some may say, in this case, it shows the artist’s ambition; but, in general, I always think of self-portraits as simply paintings, another handy subject for the artist to paint.

Looking back on my self- portraits where I have brush in hand, I may find more ambition than I admit to, but usually there is a comical, self-effacing element. If you check my website of self-portraits, I would be curious which you find the more ambitious. Mostly, I think they reveal another day in the life of a painter. Picasso said that painting is just another way of keeping a diary.