Monday, January 22, 2018

Those Inspirational Images are...

A Pain in the Butt.
After retrieving all those images and more on the horizon, I thought "OK, just what service do they provide?"
Are they actively involved in the current studio practice? If so, in what way?
Are they an image that I jump off and collect lines and shapes from? Are they colour collections? Are they the root of a story. The answer could be yes, but do I actually do that? Or just think I do.

As an experiment, I pulled one image out of the file, had it printed in colour and black and white and thought about the different ways I could use it.
I could get different fabrics and make up a direct copy of the container squares or do the same using stitched squares.
I could use the black and white, trace the dominant lines and come up with a skeleton shape that could be infilled with the colours but not as a replicate, more as splotches of colour.
I could cut out paper and magazines and fool around with the shapes towards a collage. Then I could find a way to collage the paper and textiles together and get something else.
I could find a nice piece of paper and write it all down in very well sectioned off squares and make a rubric. That would make a very nice visual To Do list.

That I would IGNORE.

Once I had figured a good many variations of what to do with the image, I was bored. Bored out of my mind. Once visualized in my head it was DONE forever.

Dear good image, I am sorry to report that your services are no longer required. Hope tomorrow is a better day, love Laureen

The question remains, what are they good for? I am thinking about it, I will let you know. P.S. I was quite startled to see the Instagram slide show up top on the right. Were you. I have to take that selfie off, it is silly.

Monday, January 15, 2018


The piece Two by Two is approaching the end.

It comes out to 42 inches long x 7 inches wide. The two edges of pillow cases have been joined together and old buttons added. I haven't had much success photographing it as a whole without it looking like some kind of weird scrap pile.

Free motion lace made by me has been overlaid and it now remains to fill in the gaps with more stitches.

I love this little section. I don't think it will stand out against the other sections, it will be a wee surprise.

I am also returning to work on this little booklet. The drawing comes from the image below in my not-everyday sketch book. I'm not sure what inspired the little house, it popped up. I'll show it again once the watercolours are added.

The booklet is a gift so I can't share too much until it is delivered. I have about 10 pages to fill in with images, collage and stitch. If I focus, it can happen.

I have also started another class with Karen Ruane, Embroidery School. There is a link up on the sidebar to her site. We will be exploring specific stitches that are less common and how they can be enhanced to add some zippity-do-dah to our work.

I decided that part of getting more serious about my work was to finally join Instagram. I have some lovely sites that I follow on facebook, but they are more about eye candy than people's work or my own work. I intend to post mostly work related images on Instagram. Once I figure out how to do this without too many bloopers, you might want to visit there. I do believe that the link on the sidebar is working.

There are still a billion images from Turkey that inspire me and i haven't even looked at Spain or Iceland. Going through these pictures makes me realize how lucky I have been to travel and to see such cool places. Since I live through my stomach, I have also had the blessing of eating some amazing meals too. I have a small idea about the images I have presented so far and will hold off on further images of inspiration until a later date. More on that another post. .... a reason to come back.

Monday, January 8, 2018

Image inspirations continued

Hello All, I hope your December's were filled with what you wanted them filled with and that you have recovered from what you didn't.

Today is the best day in the world, my birthday. I love my birthday. I try to make it last at least two weeks and so far, so good. I've had lunch with two good friends yesterday, tonight I am going out with my son and his girlfriend and Steve for liquored up coffees and cake, Wed I am meeting with a gang of good friends for coffee and treats (we do this every Wed  most of the year) and I will plan something for Friday to make it a wonderful week. I have my tiara on while writing. I wear it all day. I have a small box of chocolate candies to munch on guilt free and a lovely scotch to look forward to this afternoon. Bliss.

I am continuing the photos from my various trips that inspire my studio work. Today they are from Turkey. You may have seen some back when I talked about this trip. I have a billion photos and the following photos reflect only the first two days. Turkey was/is such an amazing place. Every where you look, there is something different, something startling, something lovely. The most significant difference between Turkey and other travels are the layers and the intricacies. Modern architecture and urban planning have wiped a lot of this intricacy out in urban centres. I don't think there is a lack of interest in it, but more a lack of funding. That seems to be a world trend. Build fast and furious and forget about any civic interchange between the built environment and humans. However, the past continues to reign supreme in Turkey, because it is everywhere.

Time to stop talking and start looking.

This is a wall. We traveled with a group of 9 other people and unloaded from the mini bus into a parking lot of dubious appearance. We were waiting for a second mini bus so we could all go to the first night's accommodations together. This huge wall faced us. A building had been torn down beside it and what you see is an attempt to cover up graffiti and the existence of the torn down building.

The wall is covered by whitewash and a black tar-like substance. It glistened while the white was very flat.

The wall was probably about 60 feet long and well over three stories high. It was an extraordinary Modern painting, only no one was noticing.

Very worn out steps butt up against a recent repaving of stair landings at a botanical garden. The changes in scale are interesting as well as the grout lines of  the older stonework. The colour palette of greys with that hit of blue and touch of coral could be fun to play with as well.

An older section of the botanical garden's pathways. I like the  centre section with it's almost completely ruined appearance. There is a little hit of gold and white at the centre top that interrupts and conflicts with the central focus. I like it.

This is looking upwards into a vault kind of corner in  a courtyard. Here I am interested in the interruption of the lines and the changes of direction.

This is similar to the image three above. This was the most lovely spot I have ever had tea and fruit in. An enormous and I mean enormous fig tree covered the entire patio. A spring of fresh water poured out of the wall and these channels of water ran through the patio. There were stepping stones over the water course ways. It was so cool and delicious. I hated to leave. The memory of this photo is very visceral. I feel cool and relaxed and excited looking at it. But it has the further wonderfullness of having such interesting intersections of lines and complexity of shape. The grey of the stones shows a lovely selection of values. I think this is a photo that could be really challenging to work with.

This image reflects the layering of old Turkish construction techniques literally butt up to the new. On your left are the walls of an old four story building that housed stores and small cafes. The right side is a new block of apartments.Do you see how the grouting of the old blends into the newer construction? In the upper left hand corner you see a very delicate fern like moss that grows in the porous rock, while the concrete blocks are sterile of growth. This image is more about the poetics of space and time.

Now this image is back at the botanical gardens. I have been working with paper and thread to depict pathways through gardens. If I squint and blur the greys and greens, I get a nice curve of a path leading to a happy surprise. The buttressed wall gives the path a secret room effect. The challenge here will be to both create a room like response and keep the surprise at the end of the path rather than at the front.

This is just funny. The geraniums were spectacular. The one on the far left is in a cooking oil tin. The gnome on the far right is goofy. I keep looking at the plants but the window details are important. The sign above the gnome is the detail that makes this a rather inspired composition. All thanks to the gardener, here. My photo is simply capturing the skill of another artist.

If Steve were writing this post, he would tell you exactly where this path was, the history of the community and why it is important in the history of Turkey. I, on the other hand, can't remember a thing except this was the most interesting hill I have ever climbed. It is super old, there were nooks and crannies everywhere, doorways leading to hidden courtyards and acute angles that caused these very cool overlaps. The walls are of wattle and daub. Vehicular traffic knocks the stone and parging out regularly, repairs are constant. The shawls on the far lower left are un-inspiring in themselves but as a break in the lines, rather fun. You can take this image and turn it around. Each rotation shows up different focal points. I had so many favourite places in Turkey but this hill is in my top ten.
That's it for today. It looks like Turkey might take a few more weeks, but I will also get back to my own work. I hope this inspires you to go through your archives of images and pull out the ones that might inform your upcoming work. It is so nice to go back to those "A-ha" moments and either relive them or get recaptured in the excitement of the the discovery.

Monday, December 18, 2017

A few more photos that inspire me

It is interesting that different things capture our attention at different times. Sometimes we notice colour, sometimes we notice people. A lot can depend on our mood or a lot can depend on how different an environment is to us. We've had the good luck to travel around a some, both rural and urban. At times a tree seems like any other tree and sometimes one city is the same as any other. It is the hidden or the unexpected that makes us get a little tingle of appreciation and we want to capture that. Here is a small offering of some tingles from my photo archive.

Grand Manan Island was a foggy vacation. The Queen's Anne's Lace stood out against the green with a nice sparkle.

We drove into the parking garage at the Halifax airport and snagged a spot right beside the overpass to the airport entrance. A rainy day and no breeze meant the drips just trembled there.

A rather weird moment on Grand Manan. We had just left a fairly typical woodland trail, mostly with wood chips paths and logs over the boggy bits when this very, very groomed hedge appeared. I don't recall the full story, but this hedge is a community effort.

Again on Grand Manan Island, a rather clever set of steps up a sharp hill

The local community garden had several sunflowers growing much taller than me. This one curved back down to my eye level.

Looking out my kitchen window. Some flowers in a bud vase leaning over. They looked so nice against the neighbours teal-blue wall. He painted that about 10 years ago, only the first coat. His marriage fell apart before the second coat was applied. It is a dreadful looking wall. It finally had a purpose.

I didn't realize how well I had lined this image up until I saw it enlarged. At a friend's cottage, the hill appears to have buried the neighbour's cottage. The little triangle in the upper left is a brass down spout.

Along a canal tour in Amsterdam. The canal is so long and so busy that air traffic control methods are used to keep everyone from bashing into everyone else. This is one little "island" that is completely filled with containers.

I think this is the ceiling of the Oude Kerk in Amsterdam. The church has been turning into a museum. It hosts musical events and has a very nice tea shop. I wish I had a close up of the tiles intersecting at the arch. I think some interesting intersections are happening up there. But I also like the slight gold look at the centre of the arches.

I still have Spain and Turkey to stroll through. Come on back next week for one country or the other.

Monday, December 11, 2017

Inspirational images for me

While I was away from the studio, I was able to get through half of my photo archive and thought I'd share them with you. I look for pattern or colour or shape. Once in a while there is a little story that is charming. Enjoy.
A boat on the docks in Peggy's Cove. Lines and shapes.

Ropes on the same dock in Peggy's Cove. Colours and curves.

 Hmm, I think this is in Montreal on the waterfront by the St. Lawrence River. Layers.

Two ladies resting on a walk around the lake at Uniake House in Nova Scotia. They were so sweet.

Seed heads at Crystal Cresent Beach. Shapes and layers.

Flowers and colour dispersal at a beach on Grand Manan Island.

Lines and intersections from the steel bridge at Mill River over the Medway River, just a few miles up the road from our camp.

Buried canoe, a rather popular brand in the 60's I think. This is on the Northumberland Straight and on the horizon is Prince Edward Island. I like the stories this suggests.
The front porch at Uniake House, Nova Scotia. The bright winter sunlight creates some interesting spaces and lines.

Looking through the wheels of industrial production looms. I think this is the textile museum in Port Elgin, Ontario. I'm not sure of the town's name but it the Ottawa River.

Waves and foam created by the water crashing over a dam on the Ottawa River, winter time.

Fiver turtles on a log in a small pond. I remember the drive, an old train on an old track that was used in a movie but maintaining the track is too labour intensive and the rather awful hamberger for lunch, but I don't remember where we were. It's a cute little story happening here.

I have still to go through the pictures from Turkey and Spain and I think Arizona. More images to follow next week.

Monday, December 4, 2017

A new shawl

That was a long 12 days away from home and hearth. Luckily, Steve took care the cat and the home and it wasn't so cold that the hearth fire was lit. After being in Toronto to assist my mom with several medical issues, I am back, the studio is clean, and I can begin, again.

While I was away, I managed to knit this lovely shawl for a friend.

The shawl isn't blocked, my friend is going to do that, since she needs it before I can do that task.The upper peak won't be there once it is blocked, it will be level and the peak at the bottom will be more pronounced. The pattern is 20 rows of stocking stitch, 10 rows of garter stitch and 20 repeats of (yarn over, knit two together) until the end of the row and purl back. There is an increase at the beginning and end of each row as well as an increase either side of the centre line. The pattern is from Ravelry (free) and is super easy. The yarn carries the day. However, I have decided that the thicker the yarn, the better the simple pattern shows up.

The first image shows the yarn as purple but this image is closer to the truth. It is a warm red with tiny flecks of a creamy-pink where the dye did not catch. It gives a lovely linen effect. Called Rosewood,the yarn is Rustic Lace by Ella Rae. It is a New Zealand wool and silk blend. It was purchased from Gaspereau Valley Fibres, one of the two best yarn shops in Nova Scotia.

I knit this while in waiting rooms, subways and on couches waiting for very long days to end. It is soothing and the yarn really made this something to look forward to each day. I have hopes of returning to Gaspereau and buying some for a summer sweater. (here) The colour options are delicious.

So Glad To Be Home. SGTBH

Monday, November 13, 2017

3 Shorties

For the past 3 days, I thought it was Monday and now that it is Monday, I think it is Sunday. On Wed. past my mom fell and fractured her pelvis. She is in Toronto. My brother had just left for the Dominican Republic and a few hours later, my sister landed from Vancouver. She was there for a fun filled weekend with her daughter. My sister and niece managed to get everything done that they had planned, but in a manner that only people on speed would find interesting. My mom is well and now in a rehab centre for a couple of weeks. I am due to go on Sunday because I am helping her get to and from some day surgery as well as keeping her entertained while she is recuperating. All this information to say that I have spent a lot of time on the phone and being stressed.

I made this little skirt from 3/4m fabric purchased last winter in Ottawa when visiting my daughter. It is a simple gathered skirt, no shaping or darts. I love it various colours and it has a lovely drape. It is going in the suitcase for Toronto.

Two weeks ago I made this wool herringbone patterned skirt from a new pattern. It too has a nice drape. It is lined and isn't itchy. It is meant for winter days when I want to wear a warm sweater and curl up in front of a fire. It feels very English.

It won't be going in the suitcase although I've been told that the temperature in Ontario has already been well below zero with wind chills. I will cross my mittens and hope the prediction of 2 to -2 degrees is correct.

The third shorty is this post. New windows for the studio are supposed to be coming the day I return from Toronto and I need to pack up the studio. That is an exercise in trying to keep one's shit from flying. What to pack and not pack. Stuff to pack for Toronto but will my stay be extended so I can help Mom when she is discharged. 5 days or 10 days or more? What can I work on before I leave? Will the windows even arrive? The windows might arrive but will they be installed? I need to spend more time than I like breathing the panic out.

Here's a little non-sequitor. A rouge tomato sprang up in a small pot that had nothing seeded in it. Out of curiosity, I let it grow and brought it in in the fall. It has been in a few sunny spots ripening. The other day I noticed this itty bitty spider roaming around the fruit. The fruit matured at the size of a ping-pong ball. Steve had it with a lunch last week and pronounced it good. Like god is reported to have said once or twice.

Mom's internet connections in Toronto are archaic. Remember the blue cable that connected us all to routers several million years ago? That is what she has. And it is a very short blue cable. I can only use it in her bedroom, on a very uncomfortable chair. I can't even get it to the bed. I might not be here next week. If that happens, send wishes or patience my way, I'll be looking for them.