Thursday, July 31, 2008

Back from Somers and The Country Quilter after a fun class (what else??) and a great time with Jane Davila. I also left a few $$ at the store for exotic items like sewing machine needles, a magnetic pin holder thingie, small scissors, and thread. There is no fabric store around here since the Rag Shop closed (not that it was a REAL fabric store, but at least you could buy pins and needles). I stayed at Claire's beautiful house and when I opened my eyes this morning, this was the view out the window. The blind slats reminded me of the lines in the pictures I took at home last week and I couldn't resist grabbing my camera, eyes half-open, and shooting this. We had all made our gelatin plates according to the same recipe but some stayed intact
while others decomposed and got dings and dents and scratches in them.
And still others came completely apart.
We couldn't figure out why some of them stayed so pristine until Vivien posited the theory that the plates of the people who were near the air conditioners were the ones that didn't break. Seems she had something there. She was NOT near the air conditioner, nor was I. But Jane, whose plate is at the top, was right in front of it. Hmmm.... Here is Vivien with one of the pieces she monoprinted with a gelatin plate. Why can't mine look like that? And here are a whole bunch of fabrics drying in the sun. Large confetti scattered across the lawn! Of course, my battery ran out in the middle of taking pictures so that's all I have. But there was lots of variety and much fun.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

random Wednesday thoughts

While the echinacea doesn't look as vivid here as it did in real life, I loved the red and purple together - fleeting though they were. Wish I had more of those red daylilies. It took me about an hour and a half to drive up to the Country Quilter this afternoon and I was able to relax and decompress at Tazza - a place with excellent espresso and the best scone (meaning not sweet) I have had in forever. Better than a Starbucks, anytime. Tonight, Jane Davila, Claire (her mom) and I went out for dinner and now I'm back at Claire's. I made the gelatin plates for the demo at tomorrow's class and they're in the fridge. Claire is working on a class sample and I am in the kitchen, doing this. Yesterday, I unexpectedly went to Brooklyn to keep Jessica company. Unfortunately, I ran out in such a rush that I forgot to 1) take my camera and 2) give my visiting brother the house key. The door remained unlocked all day. Jessica and I went out for lunch, did a little shopping, and then stopped at Gorilla Coffee in Park Slope so I could stock up on their Brazil roast. All their coffee is good, but this is my favorite and it must be everybody's fave because Whole Foods hasn't had this one for weeks and there were only two just-roasted pounds left in Brooklyn at Gorilla's shop. Of course I bought them.You might remember that this package is what made me realize that I needed tile that color in the kitchen. You never know where inspiration comes from - things work their way into our subconscious and stay there till we need them. I seem to be in a red mode these days: just ordered new wallpaper for the powder room and yes, it is red. I don't even especially like red: I just seem to need it. Do you ever feel that way about needing a color? I mean, physically needing it - like food? On the subject of color: when I was young and people used to ask me what my favorite color was, i always said blue. BLUE? Then I found out that research said this was the answer most people gave. I rarely wear it or use it in my work - and I would never now say it is my favorite color. But the other day, this is what went up on my wall. Blue is calm, comfort, and trust. When you say something is your favorite color, is it really? Do you use it a lot? Do you wear it? Do you surround yourself with it? Or, in fact, do you find yourself using/wearing/decorating with a color you never expected to live with and didn't even think you liked?

new post

More of a place-holder. My laptop can't get a signal so I'm using the computer at the Country Quiltern in Somers, NY, where I will be teaching a class tomorrow in gelatin printing. My photos (such as they are) are on my laptop, so they will have to wait for either later or tomorrow. I hate when this happens.

Will get back to you when I can.

Monday, July 28, 2008

when all else fails, photograph the garden

Took these this morning. I find it really interesting that the green looks different in each picture. Can it be? Is it the angle? The light? I am off in a little while to meet Judy Langille in New Brunswick, NJ. We're planning the Art Cloth Network conference for September and have some last minute scouting to do. I am glad for the distraction, despite the 45 minute drive @$3.93/gal. plus tolls. If there is anything worth photographing in this re-gentrifying urban area, you can assume I will find it. When my kids went to Rutgers University in the 1980's, New Brunswick was somewhat iffy. Over the past 25 years the change has been good - but I miss the used book store, the dollar store, and the grittiness of George Street. On the other hand, excellent restaurants, the NJ State Theater, George St. Playhouse and Crossroads Theater are alive and well. Everything is a trade-off. On with my day.

Friday, July 25, 2008

As I left my studio this afternoon, I spotted this piece of would-be sculpture outside the door. Too bad it weighs 5 million tons.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

going back in

Today was another studio day. For those of you who asked, Marty's eye is good enough for him to get new glasses, but of course, his eye doctor is on vacation:-(. I took my two pieces in process to the big wall; one of them is still there. The other one, I brought home to sew together tonight. It is still pinned. Tomorrow night, maybe. In the meantime, I did a lot of overprinting today: going back into pieces that were calling out for help. This piece was very nice, but so bland that I missed it 3 times while I was hunting for the image. Here it is tonight, after a couple of cosmetic overhauls with dye, screens, and paper. Don't ask me: I have to leave it up and contemplate it for a while. Do I add? subtract? multiply? or divide? In the meantime, i am going to bed. Last night I slept so well i did not hear the thunder. You cannot imagine how unusual that is.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

keep plugging away

Thanks, Judy Sall, for that comment about your art teacher. I'll take his advice to keep plugging away and see what happens. I downloaded the list I used to work from, which used to be on the Every Day Matters blog when it was just a little, intimate blog. I am going to return to it for my journal sketches - let's see how long it lasts this time 'round. I am SO out of practice. Tonight, I drew my purse: it was painful but I am encouraged because I am not a photo realist - I am an INTERPRETER. There! That makes me feel much better. My note, added afterwards, says the inside of my head is like the inside of my purse -- and you do NOT want to see what that looks like. Here is the outside (of my purse). it does not look as heavy as it really is. Today, my crit group met here and it was the first time in eons that I had been to a meeting.Some of us had no work, but that's okay. Some just brought printed fabric, others brought finished pieces, and some brought work in progress. We discussed the group exhibits we are having in January: two at the same time -- my goodness! And once we got the business out of the way, we looked at the work, had lunch, and talked. One of the things we discussed was intent -- that it is good to have an idea of intent before you start, even if that intent is that you want to use every piece of green fabric in the drawer in one piece. Right now, my intent is to go to bed so I can take DH to his eye surgeon checkup visit and then take him to work. Then, hit the paint store for yet ANOTHER sample; nothing has worked so far. And finally, to my s-t-u-d-i-o, taking with me the piece on my wall at home so I have more room to work on it.

Monday, July 21, 2008

revisiting the journal

< A few days ago my copy of Laura Cater-Woods' new book, Idea to Image: Tempting Your Muse, arrived. Hooray! Just what I needed. I started reading it yesterday and brought it with me to work on while I waited and waited and waited and waited with my mother at the doctor's office. I brought along a yellow pad and a pencil so I could - uh - doodle. By the time we had waited an hour, this is what I felt like. I read the doctor the riot act (nice way to start the day) and if I had been the patient, i would have walked out and not come back. But my mother was in pain, so we stayed. But we'll find another doctor if she has the same problem again. In 1999, I started to keep a visual journal: images that appealed to me, design ideas (none of which I ever used), and thoughts. When I look back at this image from 9 years ago, I see the x's and o's that I didn't realize were in my head that long ago. This piece is from 2007 - quite a bit less orderly. When I got sick in 2000, I stopped. And I never went back till 2005, when I decided I should draw. I can't draw...but I drew. I drew my foot, I drew the inside of my refrigerator, I drew my plants. and I drew the view from my (then) studio window. You can tell it is winter. Looking back, I am in shock. This is the person whose 7th grade art teacher gave her a grade of C on her tree. Would I still get a C? Maybe a B-. Finally, I found my Art Goals list for 2006. It is very short. My goal now is to get a good night's sleep. It is midnight in New Jersey.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

working from the cloth

Yesterday I did a little discharge on a piece of fabric I had printed on. The fabric was an icky olive green and some other color -- too dark for the black paint I had put on it. Rescue mission, more or less. Also a chance to use up some thiox paste I had sitting around, before somebody thought it was salad dressing. Today, it was time to cut it up and see what would happen. This is how I work: I start from the fabric, having no idea where I am going. Well, not quite true. This particular cloth told me what is was about - but then it was up to me to figure out how to make it work with the other fabrics I had hanging around in my bins at home. Give 10 people the same piece of fabric and they will all do something different with it. And the potential is there for even one person to do 10 different things with it. Which way to go? The audition process can be painful - above is the first act. Then a few more versions as I added, subtracted, substituted, and moved things around.
The piece does not, at the moment, looki like any of these versions, but this is always my process. I will leave it on my wall for a couple of days to see if I need to tweak it or start again from scratch. In the meantime, I could go pay bills...

Friday, July 18, 2008

one of the best things

is the joy of seeing what people do with the fabrics they have printed in class. For me, this is one of the the rewards of teaching that makes all the preparation, travel, and aching feet worth it. So, this is an intermission from the circles to share the piece Cécile Trentini made after she left QSDS and returned to her home in Zurich. The five-day class included two days of printing and three days of creativity and jump-starting new work using what they printed in class. A few days ago, Cécile, who is a teacher in her own right, sent me a picture of a piece that grew from a sample she started in the workshop. It is approx. 34" x 16" (click on it to get a closer look) The left side is the mini-piece she made in class and incorporated into the larger composition, which works so well. This is a wonderful example of working from the fabric and seeing where it takes you -- a spontaneous approach that looks easier than it is. Thanks, Cécile, for brightening my day! On another note - I am working at home tonight, sewing together the beginnings of something that was on my wall in the studio. My good machine is at home, so I prefer to sew here. And my print space there is so good that it seems a shame to waste time sewing when i could be doing surface design! I stopped briefly at the studio to make a screen, after a stop at the paint store (as in kitchen wall paint) where I spent $16 on four teensy jars of paint to try. My first choice is not bad - but Not Bad is not the same as Good, so I'll try the other 3 shades tomorrow. Oh, good grief - I remember the last time I went through this - 4 years ago. Here we go again! Finally, I have to do a little shameless self-promotion: go here and scroll down to read the reviews that have been posted on C&T's website. Aw, gee...

Thursday, July 17, 2008

circle dance

Round and round and round we go.

Studio day today. And as I was overprinting a couple of pieces of fabric, I realized the irony of yesterday's statement about not being interested by circles. In fact, this screen came from a photo I took in 2004 in Brussels. I think it was some kind of sidewalk insert - who knows?
Then there was this piece of fabric -I hated it before I discharged it and it was not much better afterwards. So I went to work on it and below is the first new layer.
Good grief, more circles -- in orbit. What was I thinking? Ah - that is the problem: I WAS thinking. Always a mistake.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

taking a "muse" break

For the past couple of mornings, I have been walking the mile around the complex before the heat and NJ humidity became overwhelming. I really feel better after I walk, but it has been a difficult year in which to maintain a routine - or even the semblance of a routine.

This morning I took my little camera with me to see if anything struck my fancy enough to put it in my "muse" folder. I shot quite a few circles, and while they really don't excite me, I guess they have potential. Once you start looking, you can get crazy with the variety. Tip of the iceberg.





There were lots of pretty flowers but I still like my unkempt garden the best.
I fooled around in Photoshop to see what else I could get. But as inspiration, fleurs don't do it for me. Too pretty.
As I walked I thought about why we are attracted to certain lines and elements. For some people, nature is a great inspiration. Except for my woods, I don't find much inspiration in things that grow. But give me grit, graffiti, garbage and grids and I'm inspired. This is the first picture I took this morning - before I left on my walk - and it is still my favorite of the day.
I took this one after a rainstorm a few years ago - I do love it.
And I haven't the vaguest idea where I took this or what it is, but it is in the same category as the two above it. Look at the common elements.
The question is WHY these speak to me...and I have to think about the answer. There is a certain order and geometry in them; the light plays beautifully in each one, and the elements are simple and abstract. Interesting, since my work is neither orderly, geometric, simple, or abstract.

What is it that speaks to you? And more important, WHY?

what's wrong with this picture?

These pictures, actually. I will spare you the images of my nice, neat, organized sewing room that you can actually walk into! After two days (and not finished yet) of filling trash bags, sorting, filing, and whatever else I have been doing -- I am left with two piles that mystify me. On the left, lids - not a single matching bottom. On the right - bottoms, no tops to be found anywhere. Worse than socks disappearing in the dryer! Another of life's little mysteries. The room is approaching dangerously neat but so far I am doing ok with it. I brought home a piece from the studio that I'm working on; it needs to be here so I can sew it together as I go along. And I have two pieces that need to be put under the needle. This is a smidgen of one of them. Tomorrow, my contractor will finish up. He was here today, which is why I was home cleaning out STUFF. Tomorrow, I hope to actually sew. I'm too tired tonight, but I hope also to go back tomorrow to Laura Cater-Woods' new book, which I am determined to use! I started reading it the other night and collecting images or ideas. A workbook is good - it forces you to write things down and then you remember them.I will tempt my muse after what I hope will be a good night's sleep. Anon.