Friday, December 30, 2005

week #47-1/2: catching up

While I was baking, I resolved to draw again tonight. Some people do journal pages or morning pages and are diligent about it. I can't deal in the morning and this blog is my journal - usually at night, but sometimes during the day. The drawing thing, however, seems to be something that works best at night for me. Strangely relaxing. So, once again, I am playing catch-up with the assignments on Everyday Matters because I missed the whole year. The weekly drawing criteria for tonight's sketch are threefold +. 1 - Draw a shoe. Practically the only shoes I ever wear. When Jessica got married she said she didn't care what color my dress was, but I was NOT walking down the aisle in my Birkenstocks. 21 - Draw something old, antique or vintage. These are my first pair of Birks. They've gotten wet, had paint splattered on them, and are not only warped but in shreds. I wear them to take out the garbage or go for the mail when it is raining. I cannot part with them. 23 - Draw your foot. Pretty, it's not. But oh, well. 42 - Draw something you are thankful for. I already did this one, but it applies here. This is the "Florida" model and I am thankful that they have not discontinued it because it is the most comfortable strap configuration for my foot. I could not LIVE without my Birks, although I am always barefoot in the house. I have to say, I would know that foot anywhere. Goodnight

Thursday, December 29, 2005

cookies

First things first. I finally put my baker's parchment to the use for which it was intended. The cookie monsters (9 of them) are coming tomorrow so I baked - what else? Chanukah cookies. These six-pointed stars are supposed to be Jewish stars but honestly, every time I look at them I think they are miniature sheriff's badges. Nevertheless, these are divine no matter what shape you bake them in. Here is the to-die-for recipe for Brown Sugar Shortbread. I am not exaggerating when I say these are the best cookies on the planet. 1 cup soft butter 1/2 cup brown sugar (I prefer dark brown, but if you have light brown, use it). 2-1/2 cups flour (I used whole wheat flour today and they are just as good) -Mix above ingredients together (I use food processor). - Refrigerate dough for an hour or so (or overnight, or for a week - whatever). - Roll out and cut with cookie cutters. (my grandmother used a glass.) -Sprinkle w/ cinnamon sugar (optional). - Bake at 300 degrees 15-20 min on ungreased baking sheet (I use parchment paper and I like edges to be brown, so sometimes it takes a little longer. Keep checking. Enjoy!

new works of art

Not my work, but I thought I would post some results of gelatin plate printing two of my houseguests did this afternoon on my kitchen table. On paper towels, which add to the texture. What a brilliant idea! Suitable for framing, of course. Here are a couple more - a first print and a ghost.
Now they have gone to the movies with their father and grandfather and I am back staring at my design wall. Will check in later if I can.

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

week #47 - draw a challenge from the past year

There were lots of choices for this week's drawing assignment. This one fits the challenge, plus five more of the categories, so I feel particularly satisfied that I have accomplished something. Besides, this sketch makes me happy. I used watercolor pencils (sans eau) and a pigma pen. 14 - Draw what you see in the morning when you get up. When i come downstairs in the morning, I come into my studio first thing and pull up the blind behind the plants to let in the light. The bookcase (to the left of the chair I have lived in through sickness and health) is filled with my art books and art magazines, and the top is more cluttered than you see in this picture. The window looks out on the street - a drawing for another day. 15 - Draw a tree or trees, leaves or branches. Well, these leaves & branches are on houseplants. Good enough. 24 - Draw a piece of fruit. The plant on the left is a pineapple top. It's a few years old: it grows slowly in the NJ climate, but it amuses me. And it is still alive, which is more than i can say for my avocado plant or sweet potato vine. 26 - Draw anything you like. I did. 42 - Draw something you are thankful for. These lopsided plants make me smile and I am thankful every day that they manage to survive against the odds of my 'black thumb.' Here is the real thing. As you can see, I've edited the scene. Interesting exercise. It is so hard to make your hand do what your eye sees. But I realize that accuracy is not the point if I wanted that, I would stick to photos. I realize that what happens when I sketch is analagous to what I do when I make a fiber piece. I may start out being very deliberate and careful - but find that it really isn't any fun. As soon as I begin to take liberties, to improvise, and to play, things seem to come together freely and speak in their own voice. Yes, our work speaks in our voice also - but there is something that happens when we let the process take over and tell us what it wants to be. We just need to listen.

yesterday's post

* Note: I was too tired to finish this last night, so here it is a day later. My day was too boring to discuss at length. I won't do a before and after of my kitchen cabinet with the plastic containers and lids and other assorted paraphenalia; nobody who knows me would believe that I spent an hour before breakfast cleaning and sorting this morning. So neat, you would think somebody else lived here. I wonder how long it will take to get back to normal. Tonight I have been printing again. I do not normally try to make fabric that goes with other fabric I already have. Sonji - and others who do this: I am finding it very difficult; this feels too self-conscious to me. I do not like thinking about what I am doing. And invariably, it won't all work together anyway. Too boring. But here is what I have, along the lines of the purple and blue piece from a few days ago. Some of it is blah, some is good, but in the end I will have samples to show in class. And I will invariably go back into a couple of these pieces.
This is the original one

I made a piece that is similar but layered slightly differently. Here is a section.

Then I made this one.

and the one below, which looked better before I washed it out. Finally, I waxed and painted this piece of fabric and then discharged it. It's a piece of Helene Davis' gorgeous hand-dyes that I wanted to experiment with. Her fabrics arae so complex that they discharge beautifully. This is better than it looks in the photo, which really doesn't do it justice. But we're not there yet. Onward...

Monday, December 26, 2005

a great shopping day

....For my husband. All those 50% off sales! He bought a suit, a sport jacket, 2 pairs of slacks, a pair of jeans, 4 pairs of socks and a tie. He can't shop without me and honestly, he shouldn't. Enough said. Me? I need to shop alone or with either my 2 cousins (one lives in Fla. and the other in CA) or with Helene (Paducah) and/or Marlene(London) -- any of which would be once a year if I am lucky. We all love the same store, which shall be nameless. BUT - I digress. Today I hit the jackpot! Instead of HomeDespot, we went into a local, old fashioned hardware store for a snake and a box cutter. Lo and behold -- TREASURES!! I was ecstatic at these wonderful, unexpected finds!! And the men (yes, in the hardware store they were all men) behind us in line were laughing and rolling their eyes at each other as I exclaimed aloud "O happiness, o joy. This is WONDERFUL!" My husband understood. I expect you do, too. Of course, they are NOT going into my kitchen.

Sunday, December 25, 2005

what am I doing up?

I've spent 2 days getting rid of a virus that kept redireting my browser to porno sites. Don't ask. Fortunately, wonderful on-line free help is available. But 2 days! And then I was on the phone with Comcast for an hour while we figured out why I couldn't get to the Comcast.net site. So, I am wired and it is 2:35 am. But, before I waltz up to bed... Today, I decided it was time to print some samples for the batik-with-paint class I am teaching on Feb. 11 at the Arts Guild of Rahway, NJ. I have plenty of wonderful samples where I used dye, but not so many with paint. I'll just post one because I am so happy with it that I might just use it before I show it to my class. Because it is done with paint, the other side of the cloth is slightly different: a plus, in my opinion. I like choices. Side #1:

I waxed the ovals and the circles first, then painted the cloth. I let it dry and then waxed the lines and painted over the whole thing. I love working in layers. Here is the other side, which is more muted and subtly different.

And if you really want subtle - here it is. Also done in several layers. It's light, but with a lot of transparency. This is a section of a larger piece - it reminds me of a galaxy. Also done with paint. The original fabric was gray from the rusting process I put it through long ago. And now, I am going to bed and will hopefully sleep a bit late tomorrow. Hope you all have a wonderful holiday, whether you are lighting trees or candles.

Thursday, December 22, 2005

extreme makeover

Somehow, I have managed to find time to print late at night. I finally bought a large enough pan to fit the large tjap into and got to play with it. Here is a piece of fabric I waxed and then painted a really ugly color of - what? peach? apricot?
BEFORE

Then I went to work, applying the makeup. Here is what it looks like today.

AFTER

CLOSEUP

The End

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Latkes - as promised. Starts Christmas- ends New Year's Eve

6 Idaho or Maine (russet) baking potatoes 2 onions 2 eggs 1/4-1/2 c matzoh meal salt to taste - 1-2 tsp vegetable oil * If you are doing this for the first time, you may want to cut this recipe in half. (or not) Peel potatoes and hold in a bowl of cold water with lemon juice or salt while you peel the onion(s) Cut potatoes and onion(s) in chunks and either grate or chop in the food processor. (I prefer to grate them). Add egg, matzoh meal, and salt. You need to work quickly, as potatoes exposed to air darken. (I add some lemon juice to the mixture to prevent this). tart with 1/4 cup matzoh meal and add more if the batter is runny. (You can't go too far wrong as long as you have enough salt & onion, IMHO). Heat vegetable oil in a cast iron or electric skillet till hot enough (test for heat and flavor by throwing in a tablespoon of potato mixture and frying. taste it. If it's delicious, go! If it needs salt, add a little to the mixture). When the fat is hot enough to fry a tablespoon of the mixture quickly till brown, get busy . I like about a 1/4 cup of mixture per pancake. Fry till golden on both sides. Don't even think of turning them before the edges are crispy brown on the first side.Replenish the oil as needed. If the potato mixture gets watery, throw in another spoonful of matzo meal in. Drain on paper towels and serve IMMEDIATELY, if possible. Or, hold on a platter in a hot oven. Or, you can do what I do to reheat them ... refry. Serve with sour cream and/or applesauce. I like the sour cream, my husband prefers applesauce. This is not a time to count calories!

Monday, December 19, 2005

Chanukah - the story & traditions

When I drew a picture of my favorite menorah and put it on my website, I took it for granted that everybody was familiar with this minor Jewish holiday -- if only because of its proximity to Christmas, which is purely coincidental. However, I thought I would offer a little explanation of this Festival of Lights. So here is more than you ever wanted to know about Chanukah (also spelled Hanukka or Hanukah, etc, and is pronounced Ha-noo-ka (accent on the first syllable). I gratefully acknowledge http://www.holidays.net/ and http://www.jewfaq.org where I obtained much of this info, edited for brevity. My comments in red. PART ONE: THE STORY Every year between the end of November and the end of December, Jewish people around the world celebrate the holiday of Chanukah, the Festival of Lights. It is a holiday that celebrates an historical event which took place over 2,300 years ago in the land of Judea, which is now the country of Israel. Chanukah begins on the 25th day of the Hebrew month of Kislev but the starting date on the western calendar varies from year to year because the Hebrew calendar has 13 months. We typically say the holidays are either early or late (although they really are on time). * Sometimes the holiday comes right after Thanksgiving (early) . This year, the first night is on Christmas Eve (late). Jews celebrate Chanukah to mark the victory over the Syrians and the rededication of the Jerusalem Temple. Judah and his four brothers formed an army and chose as their name the word "Maccabee", which means hammer. After three years of fighting, the Maccabees were finally successful in driving the Syrians out of Israel and reclaimed the Temple in Jerusalem. The Maccabees wanted to clean the building. On the 25th day of the month of Kislev, the job was finished and the temple was rededicated. When Judah and his followers finished cleaning the temple, they wanted to light the eternal light, known as the N'er Tamid, which is present in every Jewish house of worship. Once lit, the oil lamp should never be extinguished. (as the story goes...) Only a tiny jug of oil was found with only enough for a single day. The oil lamp was filled and lit. Then a miracle occurred as the tiny amount of oil stayed lit not for one day, but for eight days. The Festival of the Lights, Chanukah, lasts for eight days to commemorate the miracle of the oil. The word Chanukah means "rededication." PART TWO: THE TRADITIONS As you noticed from the above story, Chanukah is an historical holiday: a minor, religiously unimportant one. It has become inflated in importance only because of its proximity to the Christmas season. More about this below. The only religious observance related to the holiday is the lighting of candles. The candles are arranged in a candelabrum called a menorah that holds nine candles: one for each night, plus a shammus (servant) at a different height. On the first night, one candle is placed at the far right. The shammus candle is lit and three blessings are recited. After reciting the blessings, the first candle is then lit using the shammus candle, and the shammus candle is placed in its holder. The candles are allowed to burn out on their own after a minimum of 1/2 hour. Each night, another candle is added from right to left (like the Hebrew language). Candles are lit from left to right (because you pay honor to the newer thing first). On the eighth night, all nine candles (the 8 Chanukkah candles and the shammus) are lit. Why the shammus candle? The Chanukkah candles are for pleasure only; we are not allowed to use them for any productive purpose. We keep an extra one around (the shammus), so that if we need to do something useful with a candle, we don't accidentally use the Chanukkah candles. The shammus candle is at a different height so that it is easily identified as the shammus. Gift-giving is not a traditional part of the holiday, but has been added in places where Jews have a lot of contact with Christians, as a way of dealing with our children's jealousy of their Christian friends. It is extremely unusual for Jews to give Chanukkah gifts to anyone other than their own young children. The only traditional gift of the holiday is "gelt," small amounts of money. ** I grew up getting 'gelt' (usually chocolate coins covered in gold foil) and a small gift each night of the holiday. Chanukah is a children's holiday. We give gifts to our grandchildren - and one gift for each of our children. They don't give us gifts. It is traditional to eat fried foods on Chanukkah because of the significance of oil to the holiday. This can include fried donuts or fritters, and if your ancestors come from Eastern Europe, includes latkes (pronounced "lot-kuhs" -- or pronounced "potato pancakes" if you are not Jewish) The pototaoes are grated, mixed with eggs, onions, salt, matzoh meal or bread crumbs, fried, and are eaten hot with sour cream or applesauce. YUM. LOL. Let me know if you want my recipe. Another tradition of the holiday is playing dreidel, a gambling game played with a square top. Most people play for matchsticks, pennies, M&Ms or chocolate coins. The traditional explanation of this game is that during the time of oppression, those who wanted to study Torah(an illegal activity) would conceal their activity by playing gambling games with a top (a common and legal activity) whenever an official or inspector was within sight. A dreidel is marked with four Hebrew letters: Nun, Gimmel, Heh and Shin. These letters stand for the Hebrew phrase "Nes Gadol Hayah Sham", a great miracle happened there, referring to the miracle of the oil. The letters also stand for the Yiddish words nit (nothing), gantz (all), halb (half) and shtell (put), which are the rules of the game! . The youngest goes first and spins the dreidel. If it lands n Nun, nothing happens; on Gimmel you get the whole pot; on Heh, you get half of the pot; and on Shin, you put one in. When the pot is empty, everybody puts in another penny. You keep playing until one person has everything. Then you can redivide it, so nobody loses. That's it! More than you wanted to know -- and while I was at it, I refreshed my own memory doing the research.

Sunday, December 18, 2005

week #46-holiday drawing

While everybody else is sketching away at Christmas trees, wreaths, and so forth, I have been attempting to draw what is really a beautiful sterling silver menorah. When Jessica (my youngest) spent her junior year in London, she spent the subsequent summer waltzing around Europe -- and she went to Israel. She bought this dazzling, contemporary piece for me and sent it home with a friend - or the friend's parents (even worse) who were coming back to the U.S. toute de suite. They must have sat on the damn suitcase, because the 9th candle holder for the shamus (the candle from which you light each of the others) was bent. I never had it straightened, and so it has its own character. In the drawing, the whole thing looks crooked. But that's because I couldn't get the angles or the proportions right. Trust me, this is the third try. Don't forget to click on the drawing to see it close up in all its glory (grin). It's difficult! Every time you move your head one inch, the whole view changes. Maybe I should wait till Chanukah starts and draw it each night with the requisite number of candles. After 8 more tries, I might get it right - LOL

Saturday, December 17, 2005

Saturday R.I.P

My optician put a rush on the new ones and I got them today. Now that I know the prescription is a good one, I ordered sunglasses, which I won't have till Thursday so I'll have to squint a lot while I drive. Two pairs of glasses cost more than two round trips to London. Aarrgggggghhhhhh.

Friday continued...

After Gilda's Club yesterday, fast forward to mail delivery late in the afternoon. I found a package of goodies from my friend Cindy who lives in Indonesia. She prints some of the most gorgeous silks I have seen. The package contained pieces of Indonesian paper, this card of handmade paper by the Women of Bak Jok, a tsunami-affected community,
and a gorgeous shawl that my pictures cannot do justice to. It is black and gray, with gold threads running through it: perfect for my next opening - whenever that is. Detail of the gray part. Marty took a picture of me wearing it, but that was too gruesome for words. And my picture of the diaphanous black part managed to make it look like a hairy animal. So you'll have to imagine it. After dinner, I went back into the blue and green fabric that had picked up a streak of orange-ish dye and finished adding color around the wax. It is nicer than it looks in these pictures - and seems to be a companion to a piece I did a few weeks ago. A series in the making? Here is a detail.
I applied the wax resist with household items and a block of scrap wood, which is the white curved rectangle on the lower right. Sigh...I am happy. This was a busy day and thank goodness, the end of another long week.

working backwards

Yesterday(Friday) started with a trip to Gilda's Club to take down my "Bad Hair Day" piece that was part of the art exhibit there. The director's eyes filled up when I took it down. What a wonderful place! Established in 2000 by Gene Wilder in memory of Gilda Radner so nobody should have to face cancer alone, it is a beautiful, welcoming, warm, home-like environment for cancer patients, survivors, and families to come and drop in for support. They have an art room, a great kitchen, playroom for the kids; group discussions, activities, and support for everyone. There are knitting groups, yoga, meditation, art therapy, lectures, social events,- or you can just go hang out. I was so taken with the place - I wished I had known about it when I had cancer 5 years ago. The whole place just shouts "healing!!!" I volunteered to go there in March and do a workshop of some sort. I know that my art kept me sane while I was going through chemo, and every artist I know who has had to cope with this stuff, has said the same thing. I wish I had had my camera with me - but I will take it when I go back.

watch this spot

I was going to post but I am too tired, so come back tomorrow. xxx

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

sandwich club or club sandwich?? edited

Here is a sketch I made in 1999 when I was totally exasperated with being in the 'sandwich generation.' I was at my wit's end - and thought this would be a great idea for a quilt. I never made it...but maybe I never have to. Here is the drawing. I hope if you click on it, it will get large enough for you to read. This is another version of the actual sandwich. I don't think the women look sufficiently unhappy or stressed, however. When I cleaned my glasses this morning, the nosepiece broke off from the right eye and I was left with the Humpty Dumpty of the eyeglass world. I can't drive without them. I also can't drive without sunglasses - and I have clip-ons. So, I put one half of the glasses on each side of my face and putthe clip-on sunglasses on, which sort of held them together. Oh dear. Now that I've discovered drawing, you'll have to put up with it till I get tired of it. And I will.

a new wrinkle

New wrinkles in my face? Probably. But this is a drawing wrinkle. After having been told by my 7th grade art teacher that I had no talent and could not draw, I never took an art class or drew again. Till now. I've been admiring some of the sketches on some of the blogs and in my old age, I have decided "what the hell!" I'm challenging myself with the Everyday Matters challenges and this morning (before coffee!) I did this week's challenge, which was to draw the inside of your medicine cabinet. Naturally, I did the one in the guest bathroom which is empty except for a new toothbrush and my daughter's old contact lens case. So - don't laugh! I think my art teacher, Mr. Holly, an ex-marine who didn't like my lollipop tree, may have been correct - but gee whiz! On the other hand, I might not ever have worked in fabric if I had been able to draw...

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

circles

This has nothing to do with circles, but I just watered these and with the shades down in my studio tonight, I can pretend that it is spring. The poor, pathetic snake plant that looked so beautiful last summer is not happy. But the asparagus plant has little red berries on it. Is this homage to the season? Finally, my pineapple top. It's been growing for a few years now. The feng shui book says you shouldn't have spiky, sharp-edged plants in your room, but I like it.

Ok - so down to business. I seem to be doing spirals (viz - yesterday's post) and circles. Hmmm. Yesterday's play day at the museum yielded this piece, which is paint and wax resist. I ironed the wax out of it it tonight and it's not bad. Don'tcha love the look of the wax coming through the newspaper? I do. It is sooo satisfying. My friend Rachel commented that it didn't look like me -- it was so - uh - happy. Oh, dear, bad for my image..

Here is a detail.

Rather than reflecting what is going on in my life right now, the circles and clear colors are a counterpoint to it. Tomorrow, my quilting angst. The chocolate is wearing off and I am on my way to bed.

remains of the day

Well, where else would I get the energy to still be up and lively at 11:15 pm?? No, I didn't eat it all today- I've been savoring it for weeks. Bittersweet is the only chocolate I eat: full of antioxidants. Then there are the leftover fortune cookies from the other night's Chinese take-out. We always open the fortunes and throw the cookies away. Doesn't everybody? Of course, most of the time you won't miss anything by throwing the fortunes away, too. But here is one I thought was pretty strange. Written in the passive case(poor writing unless you are being deliberately obscure) this begs the question, "by WHOM? Even better is the one I didn't photograph. It says "There is not greater pleasure than seeing your lived ones prosper." Ain't it the truth?

Monday, December 12, 2005

topsy-turvy

First, my comment on your comments from yesterday. I am blown away by how differently you all saw the piece I posted. It just proves to me -- yet again -- the case against artists' statements. It is obvious that we all bring our own sensibilities and experiences to anything we view, and that if an artist tells us what the piece is 'supposed to' represent, it limits the viewer's relationship and/or dialogue with the piece. I have my vision, you have yours -- and Today was Studio Six play day at the museum: we did gelatin printing and everybody had a great time with it. Amazing how versatile a medium it is and how everybody's work reflected her own style, no matter what. Of course, I didn't like anything I did so I rinsed out the paint from the cloth and started again, using soy wax as a resist and leaving the gelatin plate till some other time. Then tonight, I've been playing with a piece I printed and overprinted. I've added and removed a number of elements that were not there to begin with and I just couldn't make it work. Then I rotated it in all four directions. These are in no particular order. Amazing what a difference turning it around makes. A very interesting exercise. I highly recommend it.

Sunday, December 11, 2005

rorschach

what do you see?

Sunday afternoon

After my finger was attacked by the sewing machine needle this morning, I decided it was quitting time. Went downstairs to mix up some more dyes and get to work with the wax. The first pass is on my little drying rack (at left) and I'm about ready to go downstairs and decide what else to do with it. I was going to do this one in just blue and white but couldn't stand it and decided to do a variety of blues & greens. Of course, you may notice if you look carefully, that some red dye from a piece of silk that was lying around under it on the table, seeped through. So much for a blue/green color scheme. Serendipity or sloppiness? Don't answer that! This is why I teach that you can't make a mistake when you print -- and why I work in layers. I really didn't WANT red in this piece. What would you do?

Sunday in the studio

This morning, I have spent some time quilting the Gates piece I made last February after we had that wonderful day in Central Park. Atypical of what I do -- and larger (44"x44" before I straighten and face the edges) -- it has been languishing in my studio for all of 2005. Although I am not finished, I thought that since we were talking the other day about how to quilt a piece, I would post a pic or two of how I am working with a blocky piece like this. While some people do a wonderful job of allover quilting, I change color of thread and quilt in whatever way the block tells my machine to do it. Since my pieces are not about the stitch, I no longer worry about it. After a couple of hours of plugging away, it's time to shift gears and do something else. Here is a closeup of a couple of those blocks - you see what I mean? So now, I need to make another gelatin plate for tomorrow's museum day with my Studio Six group. And then, who knows what? It is a bitterly cold, sunny day, and I am happy to be in with Mozart string quartets.

Friday, December 09, 2005

snow and more snow

Sun just came out, although we are plowed in with a couple of feet from the plow, blocking our driveway. I'm not in any hurry to go anywhere, although my husband can't stand that he is not in the office. Before I try to get some work done, I thought I'd post a picture or two. First, here is the whole piece of cloth - 60" that I showed a fragment of the other day. I used some traditional wood blocks and copper tjaps on it, as well as an antique potato masher and that wonderful, rusty round thing with the holes that probably fell off of somebody's muffler. Have no idea what it is.

Next, the picture of me with red highlights. I asked my husband to take this picture this morning, and he STILL hasn't noticed either the haircut (and trust me, I looked like an overgrown tree yesterday morning) or the color change. Then again, maybe it isn't that noticeable...it certainly can't hold a candle to the 16 different colors of red that Glamourous Gabrielle has in her locks. But then again, I wasn't striving for this -- it was a surprise. Looking at this picture reminds me that while I was standing in line for 15 min. at the post office the other day, the woman behind me was wondering how many of our tax dollars go to print and distribute the pile of FBI's most wanted posters that hang in every post office in the United States. She was also wondering how many people ever look through that pile -- and how many most wanteds are caught because somebody in line for 15 minutes at the post office looked through them and recognized one. Well, at least the 15 min. went fast while I was having this conversation.

Time to make the donuts.