Friday, July 27, 2018

Big Project Done

If you don't look closely in the dining room, where all the stuff that won't fit back into the studio is sitting, then I can say that the studio is done.


I am back at the table, working on little projects. Cleo Belle and I like to watch Karen Ruane's videos while working on these.


My son's friend from highschool has just had a baby. He is a big boy, the baby not the dad, and booties were not deemed useful. Instead, I decided to pull out an old pattern for a homely cat.


His name is Wobbles, he can do the splits and falls over really well. I like this cat a lot. I use left over sock yarns and scraps of wool or cotton for the tail and scarf. Wobbles is more homely than usual, his body length ran away from me and his arms a bit stubby. But how many of you know a discerning 3 week old?


About six weeks ago, at a gathering of women who work in textiles, the daughter of a friend of mine was fooling around with a paper bag and twisted a little doll shape into being. I was enchanted. I finally tried making one of my own. She is pretty little, a proto-type.

I cannot for the life of me remember the daughter's name. It will come to me tomorrow afternoon in the grocery store. She stitched some clothes for her doll out of other paper scraps and it was charming. I have 4 garbage bags full (just overflowing full) of fabric in the dining room and I wanted to stash bust. Reaching in, I found a 4 inch scrap and a 3 inch scrap. Stash busting success. I made a little top and skirt.


What I really like about projects like this is that I can scatter fabric and lace and buttons all over the place and let serendipity do the work. A little floral scrap made itself known and my mind was off, all ready to make another twisted doll. I am going to grab a bunch of bits, stuff them into a cookie tin and make a few of these while at the camp this month. That's why I like the little homely cat project too, I never know how the sock yarn will come out or how the cat will look in advance. A great way to let control go.

I will be at the camp for most of August. There is a cafe with internet in the village near us. A friend there keeps our spare ice packs frozen and we switch them around every 3 days. I can pop in and load up a blog, but don't expect and regularity until September. I hope that where ever you are, there is enough water, cooling breezes and cool drinks.

Monday, July 16, 2018

Big Project continues

The slow road to completion. Sometimes I think that should be the title to this blog. I've been trucking along, getting paint over everything. Steve has helped to re-install shelves and he will paint the window trim when the time comes.


The dining room continues to look like a bomb hit it, but it has entirely different stuff all about. I have sorted through tons of items and the ones in the dining room are not coming back into the Studio.


What I plan to do with all this stuff is a mystery, but not one worth writing a book about.
I decided that only the things that are used regularly or are valuable or projects in process will be in the studio.

I also decided that each shelf set represents a day of the week. On Monday, I blog. On Tuesday I write. On Wednesday, poor old Hot Flash Woman needs to be resurrected. Thursday is the day to stitch and Friday is sewing machine day. There is one shelf set dedicated to knitting items, because I do that in the evenings.

I think this strategy will work. It means no shoving things into nooks and crannies because I can. Stuff can't go on a shelf unless it is absolutely in use and relevant to that day's work.


I also decided to get rid of the TV and the arm chair. Everything feeds through the computer anyways, and no matter what I was watching, I had to regularly get up out of the arm chair to stop or start things. The plan is to sit at the desk and work while watching TV. If I want to fling myself into a comfy chair, I can go to the living room.

I've been getting overwhelmed in the garden this summer and decided to try this sectioning of time out there. Monday is veg bed day. Tuesday is deck area and so on. The goal is to not get stressed about yesterday's unfinished list. Move on.

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

New litte project continues

This is the allotment garden I have been visiting every Thursday morning. I try to get there before 9 a.m. so that I have an hour of shade.


I have followed this red watering can around it's plot. The plots are about 8 foot square. This plot holder has squeezed in many things, including the lovely little Johnny Jump Up that refuses to grow in my yard. There is hardly an angle in which these sweet plants don't show up in. I have to spend a day just drawing these. There are Sooooo many of them in clump.



At the far end of the allotment the plots merge into a soccer field and are a bit smaller.


The shade lasts a bit longer here, so I was able to do a complicated sketch.


There is a nice hill with trees on top and behind that frame the allotment.


My traveling kit has several H and B pencils, a .05 and a .01 pen, an eraser, paint brush and pencil sharpener. I'd like to add a .03 pen.


Back at home, or really, while at the camp, I added watercolours to the view of the hill.


I keep thinking I know what I want the colours to do, but I never stop to figure out in advance how to achieve that. I just toss water in the direction of the water colours and start mucking about. Afterwards, I think, "What a glop."

I need to have a dedicated think time and write some short "To Do" notes and put them in with my paints. For instance. Never use the middle green, it is just wrong. No matter what I mix it with, it just looks horrid. Really, all my greens are disappointing. I use a fairly good flat of hard paint pans that are easy to mix and am happy with nearly the whole thing. Except the greens and the red that I keep forgetting is really purple. I'd like a crisp red. I have purchased several tubes of paint. Now to add them to the traveling kit.


I am finding this project surprisingly exciting. I look forward to each Thursday. I am more comfortable being out in the open and committing to the page. I start with pencil to get the main angles right. I hate wasting a page if the first strokes are hugely off. My goal is to reduce the amount of time spent with a pencil and eventually, start off with the .01 pen. Maybe by the end of August. Or Sept. Or next year.

Wednesday, June 27, 2018

New Big Project

Studio Windows!

Ten years ago I moved into the nearly deserted family room. People hadn't watched TV for months, no video games were being played and I thought, "Why clean this room if it is unused? I hoiked all my studio gear down from various closets, the attic, our bedroom and nooks and crannies. A studio was created. The only thing I was unhappy about was this.



This sorry assed little window let in hardly any light, was way too high for me to look out of and let in tons of cold air in the winter. Construction began on opening up the window to let in the lovely view and the lovely northern light.


 It looked scary for half a day, but I trusted.






I will be able to see my hard work in the garden every day now.



....Ta Da! Brent and Sam and Devon (not in picture) were the heroes who put it all together.

Steve's office has had a makeover as well. The plate glass window had failed ages ago, but we didn't have the money.

We didn't realize the view in the summer is so pleasant.


Now he has opening windows, a better quality light, as it isn't compromised by fogged up glass and the room looks a lot better. I voted for the wood paneling to be painted out, but it is his room, and he voted that it stays. I don't get it.


The front of the house looks a whole lot better also.


I am gloriously happy and now get to paint the studio and get it back together with a whole new approach to what to goes where.

Monday, June 11, 2018

New little project

A couple of years back when we traveled to England, we stopped by the Chelsea Physick Garden in London. I love those very old botanical gardens. This garden retained some of its original focus of exploring plant properties for medical purposes. It then incorporated new plants from all over the world and as the modern world has influenced botany, the garden has grown to include those.


 There is a lovely little site plan that inspires me quite a bit, but I didn't know what to do with it.

We have a number of allotment gardens in Halifax and a Victorian Public Garden, but no formal teaching/botanical gardens that I know of. Since I also love allotment gardens, old maps and flowers, I was thinking of a way to incorporate these all together.

In some round about way I came across Greg Becker's work. This is a sweet little book although after a few pages, a bit predictable. (here)


Last fall Steve and I went on a tour of trees in our part of Halifax. We learned all about planting trees and their diversity in urban settings. Along the way, we passed this hidden gem of an allotment garden and I fell in love. I put my name in for a plot, but the waiting list is long.


This bench is still in the shade at 9:00 a.m. when I get there.



Eventually, the dim light in my brain went off and I figured I could visit the allotment garden as an artist. On Thursday mornings I now trot off to the garden, a 20 minute walk away and spend enough time there to do two sketches. One is to be a bit complicated and the other is to be more spontaneous. I'm doing them in pencil, then overdrawing with a .01 pen and a .5 pen. When I get home, the idea is to add watercolour or pencil crayon. The paper in the sketch book isn't great for watercolour, so this week, I'll see how pencil crayon works. Taking pencil crayons to the allotment would be a lot easier than all the fuss watercolour needs minus the waiting for it all to dry.


Single Rhubarb leaf and garlics
 The first week I took my Ipod to take pictures. Last week I took the proper camera and it makes uploading to the blog much easier. I have to decide if I should take both, one for Instagram and one for the blog. Different devices for different devices. They say technology saves time, but only in washing clothes and baking as far as I'm concerned.

Rhubarb and Garlic

The location of the rhubarb and garlic I sketched.
The upper two sketches are the first week's adventure, the next one is from last week. I was away on a textile art retreat over the weekend and didn't find a quiet moment to complete it. I'm going to do this tonight in our hotel room in Charlottetown, P.E.I.


This is the corner of the garden I sketched.


The allotment gardener was thinking a sketcher might come by and set it up just so.

Tuesday, June 5, 2018

Bad Decision - oops

Back in March I took a look at the statistics of this blog and felt despair. Such a small number of readers. What was I doing wrong? Why aren't I the New Famous Woman of Wordpress? I decided it was too much work for too little reward after 8 years.


Onwards about 9 weeks and many sad days. "Just the winter blahs", I thought. Eventually I realized I had watched too many episodes of Britians Got Talent and You Tube videos of cats. Everything was slipping, photographing life, reading books, getting to the gym, liking people. Liking people can be an activity all in itself some days. Even eating cake was humdrum.  What?!


I've had a few small set backs. A publisher I had my hopes on refused my book for young readers. It was done very nicely but it left me drifting. I had a small back injury that meant I couldn't get to the gym and I need those endorphins badly. I had an allergic reaction to a cream and spent days trying not to scratch. All this contributed to drift.


Here it is June and I haven't found joy of soul for ages. Now that made me angry. Time to kick myself back into gear.


 I went to a poetry reading last night with a friend. On the way down, we talked about the difference between enjoying the process of making art and the product. We talked about the effects on ego by having things bought and not bought. We started to talk about how the small but perfect rewards of a community that "gets" you is essential. At the end of the poetry reading, one of the poets said, "It is so wonderful to look out into a room of people that are happy to be here listening to poetry. It is such a joy. Thank you."


I looked around, there were mabe 40 people in the room, many of them family and friends of the three poets. "Who cares" I realized. This room of people get these three poets and it will be a high point in the poets lives this year. Maybe for many years.
I've been avoiding the little voice that has been saying get back to the blog. It gives a focus to the week, a great start and it gives purpose to the photos. I need to produce work to take photos of and I need to find interesting things to write about when there isn't any work.
My apologies for that upsurge in ego.


My gratitude to the loyal readers who keep coming back to this blog. Thank you for getting me. 

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Capturing the past

A goal this winter has been to photograph all completed works. I went into several boxes and the cedar chest and pulled out everything.


I thought this was it but the more I photoed, the more I realized I had stashed work elsewhere.
I have a nice little set up in the studio for taking photos of smaller items. Steve organize this for me last Christmas as my gift. I need to remove the mirror so light doesn't bounce back, but it is a great treat to have this all in one place, and not need to borrow things from Steve. Larger items need a different treatment, which I haven't figured out yet. I have about 5 things that are too big for this area. Thinking....




This is an older piece, a triptich, representing the dams at Vollendam, Holland from 1973. I visited there as a 13 year old and was fascinated that all this black and oily tarmac was protecting the village from the sea. I remember the slope of the wall that could be walked upon, the particles of tarmac, the seeping oilishness in the hot sun and the sparkle. I am not sure what is there now, but this has always been a fascinating memory. It holds back an entire sea.

At the time of stitching, I thought all this detail and coloured quilting would kill me. I laugh now looking at it. It barely scratches the surface of what can be done to create texture and suggest waves spilling up the tarmac slope.


Back when this was made, I felt pretty daring, adding in colours that were not factual, that didn't really go with dark blues. And velvet. What courage.


This piece is part of a duo. I was attending the Unitarian Church of Halifax (late 1990's) and the challenge was to create a piece of art that reflected an important value. I had bits of clothing from when the children were small and decided to not cut them up too much. Steve's shirt he had for years until it simply shred apart. He loved carrying the kids on his shoulders. Phoebe's little sun dress that was donated to us, we had so little money. Lucas's vibrant shirt we were able to buy for a birthday and my blue and black shirt that was the only button up shirt I had for eons.


I am glad I kept the clothing pieces fairly large. There wasn't a lot of time to complete two small quilts. The decision to use larger pieces meant less complex stitching. Looking at these two items together, I get a good sense of people, of family and of interdependence.


The second piece has the two same adult shirts. Lucas had a pair of blue shorts that were so long when he first wore them and they gradually shortened to little shorts. Phoebe had another donated sundress and then she graduated to Lucas's worn out shorts. They suited her personality better. When I made these, I was underwhelmed with them. Now that the kids are fully gone from home, I can appreciate them for the stories they remind me of and the tight knit group we once were. We still are in our way, but distance plays a bit of a shit show with it.

Last for today's post, is a self-portrait I did in the late 1990's. It was part of a group event for a quilt retreat I attended. It wasn't meant to be explicit, it was meant to give clues and then the game was to guess who it represented. I don't know why I didn't put hair on me, maybe because it was so long then that I thought it would be a dead give away, as if the wooden shoes weren't a bold enough clue. However, my portrait made it to the second round of not-guessed-at, and that was fun. I've been debating about making this into a thank you card. Is it too egoistic to make a portrait of yourself as a thank you card to give to people who have done something nice for yourself. It's definitely introverted. Maybe I should look at something else?


That's it for today. I will share other photos next week. The computer has been flashing warning signs to me yesterday and today, so I better upload before there is a melt down.