29 Sep

It’s Crafturday! (14)

Mostly I sew, but sometimes I knit. And now I’ve knit long enough that I’ve accumulated a decent sized collection of needles and supplies. I had been storing them all in one roll, which was great when there wasn’t much, but recently it’s been getting out of hand.

Knit and Crochet Tools Storage

So I spent Friday making tidy little cases for everything. The best part — I used hand silkscreened fabrics which I’ve had for a few years but been stingy with since I didn’t have a really good project for them. Now I’ll get to admire the fabrics every time I go to knit.

Circular Needle Book, closed

I started with a “book” for my circular needles since they were my trouble makers.

Circular Needle Book

The house fabric was oriented the wrong way and too bulky for the pockets, so I used this aboriginal-inspired print from my stash. I like that the colors coordinate and the fabrics share an Australian ancestry. I’m also busily plowing through my stash right now, using up stuff and that makes me very happy!

Crochet Hook Roll

Chuffed with my needle book success, I made a little roll for my crochet hooks.

Crochet Hook Roll, open

I realized after the fact that the chunkiest needles should be on the opposite end of the roll from the ties, and that I had missed an opportunity to line up the house fabrics, but that could all be remedied in the next roll. Before, my crochet hooks would fall out of the needle roll every time I opened it since they were in bigger pockets than my knitting needles. Now the problem is solved and I will no longer have loose crochet hooks rolling around!

Straight Knitting Needle Roll

Now I was on a roll (punny) and made a slightly larger needle roll for my knitting needles.

Straight Knitting Needle Roll, open

I realize that this would not accommodate a full flight of knitting needles like serious knitters have, but I’m not there yet and this will do just fine for the immediate future. Besides, now that I’ve taken everything out of my first needle roll, it is ready and waiting to be re-filled some day.

With one of the scraps, I even made a little lined pouch for the funny shaped bits and bobs like a stitch counter and a little container of stitch markers, my needle gauge, small scissors, tapestry needles, etc.

21 Sep

The Journey

Back to life drawing studio yesterday. I hadn’t picked up a pencil all week and now I’m starting to miss it. Who knew?!

Figures 9/20/12

I’ve been noticing a confluence of themes. At the Diebenkorn exhibit, the big picture for me was seeing his process. My Quilt Mom Gerrie and I have been having a bit of an email conversation about what it is about the artwork that she likes so much, since I was kinda lukewarm about it. She said,

I love his use of line and the details that are hiding under a layer of paint and you only see on close examination. I think it is how they [abstract expressionists] uncomplicate a theme or a scene in a painting and yet on close examination, you see much more. There is nothing precious about their work – not sure if that is the word I mean.

Ah, there it is, the visible process. I had a similar conversation with my dad too — seeing the decisions the artist was making and how one decision affects the next (not being afraid to change things even if you’ve already committed to a big expanse of paint or a particular color) is far more interesting than an entire story read in one take.

Figures 9/20/12

What does that have to do with my figure drawings? Yesterday I had a great discussion with Jean, who organizes the sessions. She said that she doesn’t come to the life drawing studio to make Art, she comes to explore. I love that. She put into words my motivation too. Each pose provides something interesting and intriguing to discover. Sometimes it’s the hands, or maybe the way fabric drapes, a gesture, the negative space between body parts, or the musculature in an arm and shoulder. I’ve come to realize that I focus on different things depending on which model we have, and with each pose I find one thing to focus on and then build from there.

Figures 9/20/12

My process with art quilting is similar too. I start with an idea, but explore and change as I go. I never quite know what the finished piece will look like until I’m there. It’s a wonderful journey.

19 Sep

Arty Fun Weekend

Now that we live on the US Mainland, everyone seems so much more accessible.

Long time blog buddy, turned Twelve by Twelve compatriot, turned real life friend, Deborah, is only a state and a district away. We’ve been plotting to get together and decided that last weekend was the time. She had a SAQA Parlor meeting and a Metro Threads meeting so I jumped at the chance to tag along and meet other area quilt artists. I thoroughly enjoyed the programs and the sharing of artwork and discussions that emerged. We enjoyed sharing our 20×12 pieces that we’ve completed so far.

While we were off doing our thing, Deborah’s husband gallantly herded the kids. They were amazing together. Reading, playing games, goofing off. They entertained each other for two and a half days.

My man had spent the last three days working in the area so he met the gang at Claire’s soccer game. Deborah and I eventually caught up with them too. I love it when two families can play together so easily.

On Sunday, Deborah treated us to a delicious crepe breakfast and then we headed off to DC to visit the Spy Museum. Totally fun. I think everyone enjoyed that!

The guys then left and the moms walked the kids over to the Corcoran to see the Richard Diebenkorn exhibit our peer group has been raving about. I can see in the fields of color and simple geometric shapes why the paintings have so much appeal to quilters. I have to admit that the first room or two of paintings did nothing for me. I found them to be “neither nor,” as one instructor of mine used to say. They seemed neither intentionally messy nor finished looking. However, as the exhibit progressed, I gained an appreciation for the insight into process which Diebenkorn appeared to be giving us. The layers informed each other and one could almost imagine the internal conversation the artist must have been having with himself about color and proportion. I still didn’t love most of the paintings, but I could respect what Diebenkorn was telling me, and there were a few that I do like, such as #122, an untitled one that could be interpreted as a landscape with a building, and the mostly dark #138. Part of the series included very small paintings on cigar box tops, which did appeal to me. There were small details of the box texture or printed labels that showed through the paint in enticing ways. I think it was the contrast in scale and rhythm that was working for me and which wasn’t so immediately evident in the larger pieces. I particularly enjoyed viewing the exhibit with a friend because we were able to discuss our reactions and interpretations of the art right there with it in front of us. We couldn’t linger too long though because the kids were not Diebenkorn fans. Deborah mentioned that it could be instructive to reproduce some of the paintings in cloth and stitch to see what happened, particularly since she saw Diebenkorn’s work to be almost opposite from her own in it’s spareness. That got me thinking about a what-if. What if we chose an artist whose works were very different from our own, or who we felt we didn’t like or understand, and tried to replicate their colors, composition, textures, etc in our medium (fabric)? I think it has the potential to be an interesting exercise — a learning experience, a path towards growth.

On the way out of the Corcoran, we made a detour through the small exhibit Anima, by Charlotte Dumas. Out of the corner of my eye, on the way to the Dienbenkorn exhibit, these photos of horses looked like they could be sexy portraits, but when we went in, they were far more moody and serious. My daughter Katja exclaimed that the horses looked like they were dying. Upon reading that these are the horses which pull the caissons with caskets at Arlington National Cemetery and that they were photographed at the end of their work day, I saw that my daughter was right on in her interpretation. Unfortunately, I don’t think that she really grasped that she “got” the art. I was still proud of her.

We treated the kids to ice cream and headed home, with full tummies, full hearts, and full minds. I can’t wait for more weekends with friends like this.

Claire and Zavi counting squirrels on the White House lawn. Deborah has more photos and her impression here.

17 Sep

SAQA Auction

It’s that time of year again. The SAQA benefit auction is underway. This is a great chance to buy a small art quilt (or two) and support the education and promotional goals of the organization. The price on the artwork drops each day of the week, but don’t wait too long because someone else might snap up the one you want!

I have a house quilt on page two of this week’s group, and there’s lots of other great pieces too.

12 Sep

Angora

I really wish that intending to blog actually resulted in a real blog post.

Kid Hollow Angora Goats

I spent last Saturday with these guys and I totally meant to share it. Aren’t they cute? They are baby angora goats and I love their curls!

Pretty much as soon as I arrived in Charlottesville I joined a knit night group because that’s an easy place to relax, meet people, and work on projects. Many of the members are also members of the C’ville Fiber Arts Guild and it didn’t take much arm twisting to get me to join their ranks. September’s activity was to go to Kid Hollow Farm and not only meet the cute baby goats, but to dye some angora yarn for ourselves.

Dyeing at Kid Hollow

The first step was to fondle all the yummy fibers in Pat’s little shop and then choose a color combo that we’d like to make (a few of us also purchased some yarn already dyed by Pat, ahem). Then we picked the raw yarn and wet it.

Dyeing at Kid Hollow

We were each given our own recipes for our color combos and cups of the necessary colors.

Dyeing at Kid Hollow

We poured and smooshed until we were happy. One recipe involved sprinkling the dry dye powder on the damp yarn, letting that spread a bit and then adding dissolved dye of the same color. It reminded me of the blotter paper and black marker experiments you do to see that blacks are made up of many different colored pigments. I’ve long known that colors separate and speckle when you don’t mix the dye powders well enough, but I never thought to work with that as a feature. The yarn turned out beautifully.

Dyeing at Kid Hollow

The dyes were heat set in the oven (the dye studio was of course completely separate from any food prep sinks or ovens).

Dyeing at Kid Hollow

Piping hot out of the oven, our yarns were then ready to be rinsed and spun out. Mine’s the one in the back.

Dyeing at Kid Hollow

I hung the yarn at home to finish drying and then wound it in a ball. At first I was worried that a few areas were too light compared to the rich browny, greeny, purple combo I was going for, but when the strands separated in the ball, it all looked sparkly and great. Now I just have to decide what to knit with it. I’m not ready to attempt socks, but maybe fingerless gloves.

06 Sep

Go Figure

I couldn’t resist a punny title. I felt like I hadn’t been to figure drawing studio in forever, but it’s only been a week. Weird.

9/6/12 Gesture Drawing

The lady who runs the Thursday morning sessions likes to warm up with quick 3 minute poses. I like these gestural beginnings too. I have no problem tucking into longer, tighter drawings, but the gestural stuff keeps me a little looser and has a tendency to bring out a bit more of the unexpected — and I like that. Not everything has to be perfect and precious — we have to start somewhere; and I think these kinds of drawings share a bit of that.

9/6/12

We did a few long poses too, and my drawings from them turned out fine. I was inspired by one of the guys last week to try drawing on black paper. Funny thing was, my black paper is smaller than the Kraft I usually use, so my drawings had this odd scrunched look to them! But I wasn’t as excited about any of the more finished drawings as I am about this arm. It has nice energy in it. It’s my favorite drawing from the day.

03 Sep

Art in Public

While we were on our road trip, we saw art in all kinds of public places. I often wonder, as a non-career artist, why I am spending my time making art. It seems such a selfish endeavor when I could/should be spending my time doing something that contributes more to society.

Hotel 21C in Louisville, KY

But then we experience something like this interactive video installation at Hotel 21c in Louisville, KY and I realize that art does contribute to society.

Louisville, KY

Meeting art in a city helped us to learn more about a place (like this bronze statue of a beloved mayor of Louisville), to slow down and enjoy the beauty, to smile and have fun!

Hoover Dam, NV side

This winged figure of the republic by Oskar Hansen presides over a star map at the Hoover Dam which is designed to show future visitors (perhaps from another planet) when this amazing feat of engineering was completed. Other art reflects the colors and patterns of the local indigenous tribes.

Hotel 21C in Louisville, KY

Back at 21c, the bathrooms had two-way mirrors (so those in the loo could look out) and videos of eyes watching (except that the eyes were those of blind people). It was thought-provoking and clever and prompted discussions we would not have had without the art.

Louisville Slugger Museum, KY

Speaking of clever, I thought these bats handing from the ceiling of the Louisville Slugger Museum were pretty punny.

In St Louis, MO, the downtown is experiencing a resurgence and smack in the middle of this urban area is a wonderful City Garden created to conceptually reflect the greater St Louis geography, and filled with artistic beauty to be enjoyed on a lunch break or weekend outing.

City Park, St Louis, MO

The more interactive an installation was it seemed, the more popular with the public. Who can resist tranquil pools or a forest of water fountains on a hot summer day?

City Park, St Louis, MO

The biggest and best surprise a city held for us was the City Museum in St Louis. It’s a building-sized sculptural fantasy that you can climb over and into, slide down, wonder at and swing from. I blogged about it here with lots of photos, but it begs to be revisited.

City Museum, St Louis, MO

City Museum, St Louis, MO

City Museum, St Louis, MO

Las Vegas was surprisingly art-filled as well. Crystals City Center has lovely areas to stop and enjoy the view.

Crystals at City Center, Las Vegas, NV

Crystals at City Center, Las Vegas, NV

Even gaudy can be beautiful, like this ceiling of Dale Chihuly glass at The Bellagio.

Dale Chihuly at the Bellagio Las Vegas, NV

A little art adds beauty anywhere (kelp sculpture at Aquarium of the Pacific).

Aquarium of the Pacific, Long Beach, CA

As a result of seeing how much my family enjoyed art in public places everywhere we went (and there’s plenty here in our new hometown of Charlottesville, VA as well) I will put some thought into how I can make my art more accessible to the public, be it scale, material, venues, or something else.