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.

Sunday, March 11, 2018

Book of Bedtime Dreams

Below is finally the video of the booklet I have been making for ages for my daughter, Phoebe. It includes collaged papers and stiching, some painting, some buttons, lace, and odd bits. Where I have painted a picture, the adjacent pages are meant to reflect back the colours or details or images. Phoebe had originally built this book for me with watercolour paper. I wanted it to take with me to Turkey and to paint while we traveled. I took it with me, but we were so busy, the painting rarely happened. When I came home, this is how the new project evolved. Each little grouping hopefully inspires a small story that you can take to bed with you and let a dream develop. The book covers are made by Phoebe. Many of the pages were made while watching videos from Karen Ruane's classes, but are not directly connected to the class content at that time. As with all lessons, however, new ideas creep in, so a lot of credit does belong with Karen for her ongoing inspiration. Let the pages turn.

Bedtime Stories by Laureen van Lierop from Laureen van Lierop on Vimeo.

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Book "Bedside Dreams"

I spent a morning videoing the stitched book, Bedside Dreams, but the file size is too large. I can't upload it right now. I'll have to get some advice. In the meantime....

On a trip to Ontario, we were able to visit with Phoebe and give her the book in time for her birthday.


After a long journey through Ikea's aisles to buy kitchen chairs, everyone was a little zonked.


The reason for going to Ontario was for Steve to celebrate the launch of his book "Living Lightly on the Earth" at the Art Gallery of Ontario. It was a fun event and he sold several books.


I'm not sure the video is going to upload successfully, so I'll keep this short and see what happens. More information next week.

Monday, February 19, 2018

A Quicky and 3 books

Busy days this week in the studio, but hardly any photos to show it. Lots of stitching, lots of tearing of paper and lots of attempts at making a video.The video file is too large to upload, I have to find someone to advise me on how to do this. Expert advice welcome.

I have been doing Karen Ruane's (link on sidebar) Embroidery School this winter as a way of getting another voice in the studio that is interested in cloth etc. We've been learning a bunch of new stitches. I have several of them in my own stitch books. I say, I must do that, it looks interesting and then I wander away from the book. This way, I do a few new stitches on a sampler, promptly forget the name of the stitch but do remember doing them. I have incorporated the web stitch in a few places already. Below is the ....


I had to look it up. It is the Pekinese Stitch. I have stitched it with wide loops, narrow loops and a wide/narrow combo and added beads to the longer loops. There are lots of options if colours get introduced to the playing as well.


Some of the ladies are making up lovely little patches of stitch samples and working towards a stitch booklet. That is part of the lesson's agenda, how to present the sampling. I am going to stick to a very low effort, write the stitch names on a piece of paper and staple it to the back. I have too many other things going on to pay a lot of attention to this, but it is certainly restful and soothing to work on this Friday afternoons, while watching Karen's videos.

About a book. I haven't mentioned any books here for a while. I have to say, it has been a bit of a desert lately. Long time readers know that Steve and I usually have a read-aloud book on the go and that has been most frustrating lately. We picked up John Steinbeck's The Log from the Sea of Cortez. Steinbeck, sea, exploration, how could we go wrong? We could. Steinbeck took it upon himself to record all the tiny details of the packing/loading/day by day account. The back of the book says this book combines science, philosophy and high-spirited adventure. When, I ask?

Thirty-Three Teeth by Colin Cotterill is great. Either aloud or on it's own, Cotterill has a nicely paced mystery combined with the mostly unknown setting of Laos in the mid 1970's. Dr. Siri is a 72 year old coroner for the entire country. He is called to solve unlikely situations that the government is uncertain it wants figured out. He is also the human conduit for the god Yeh Meng. This is news to Dr. Siri and he is trying to sort out this as well. This is the second book in the series, and we are still very engaged.

Last book. Maybe not a good read aloud option but a very fine book indeed is The Baker's Secret by Stephen P. Kiernan. Emmanule (Emma) is the only baker in town during the occupation in the 1940's. I think it takes place in France, but I am not positive. Emma finds a way to turn 12 loaves of bread meant for the Kommandant into 14, using two loaves to trade and barter and feed those seriously in need in her village. Skirting the fine wedge between survival and the resistance, (not the formal Resistance) both seem to be actions subject to death. Emma and her fellow villagers struggle on. The plot isn't complex but the range of characters makes this a very good drama.

I'm off to Ontario for some good times. I'll be back on Monday but may not get the post up until Tuesday. Cheers.

Monday, February 12, 2018

A good studio week

On weekends I try to sew clothes. I think I said that recently. The week had been moving along so well that I couldn't bear to change directions although I did try on Sunday to get a few small things prepared to sew a shirt for Steve.


On the paper and cloth side of things, I managed to do some pin tucking. A double needle is used on the sewing machine and two lines of thread are inserted into each needle.


I pin tucked some paper,


some cloth,


and some glued paper. The twin lines show up best in the cloth, which is flexible enough to tighten up and show some texture. On the paper, it adds a ghost of line-work.


I wanted to make some paper lace as well. I used an easily torn paper, free motion embroidered circles along an edge and then tore away the unsewn parts. While that was happening, I had a stroke of brillance and this happened. I haven't any plans for them yet, but I think they are kind of cool.


Oops, sidewise photo. This is a long paper piece. Long pieces are so hard to photograph. I moved it to a beige background and took a couple of close-ups.


There are three kinds of torn paper sewn by machine together, then I added some couching and stitch work. The bottom edge is the paper lace I was speaking about. I am using two spring like greens, to help keep me from tearing my head off. I like snow in winter. It is bright, reflects whatever sunlight we have, hides all the brown and is romantical (once I have finished shoveling the paths and driveway). It has been a dreary grey/brown winter so far, my least favourite colour.


Towards the bottom of the paper I added a small patch of lace and french knots. Looks like a better close up is needed. Tomorrow's work.


While waiting for something to happen, I forget what, I sketched a bit. Girl waiting with bus stop. It is a mobile bus stop, she can take it anywhere.