Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Last days of summer - reflections and sky!

Most days, the dog gets to run around a beautiful field in town. It always gives me a sense of the seasons - the sky, air and colors all change every 4 months or so. The play of light on the grass and mountains, the shadows of the trees and clouds, the wide openness of the view make me feel so blessed to be able to experience this beauty every day.

The lily pond is the the Clark Art Institute and it always calls to me when I walk their grounds or visit the museum. Yes, we all think of Monet when we see lily ponds. Enjoy the scenery!

Monday, August 18, 2014

Open Studios tour

A few local artists in town organized a Williamstown Open Studios Tour. We gathered nine artists who were interested in participating and sent out press releases, printed flyers, and set up a FaceBook page.  We let all our friends and family know through email - and then set about cleaning our studio's. It's like knowing you have company coming - a good excuse to clean. We should do a tour twice a year just to have an excuse to clean the studio!

There are no before photo's so it will be hard to tell, but the studio is neater and cleaner than it was two days before the tour. With balloons on the mail box, doors of the studio and house it looked festive. There were cookies, water, grapes, trail mix and lemonade on tables but few people helped themselves to the snacks and drinks.
The studio - 20' x 20' former 2 stall barn.

Entering the studio...
It's interesting to answer questions and see what strikes people. Most asked about the design process and the construction of the studio. There were a few samples of small work that they could touch, and a large piece of dyed fabric. It seemed hard for them to visualize that all of my work and fabric started as white and then was dyed. Next time I'll have some fabric in the process of being dyed to demonstrate the technique. Here are some photo's of the way the studio was set up:
Fiber Now magazine open to a page that featured my "Circus Time" quilt and my resume.

Cookies, samples of small work, postcards and business cards, and small pieces for touching and showing techniques.

My wall of fabric, cutting table and drawers full of tools.

Hand dyed scarves for sale -

Office area

Sewing table, ironing station and thread cabinet

By the end of the day, I looked around and realized how overwhelming the studio might be to someone who isn't as visually oriented. The walls have family photo's, inspiration photo's, samples of techniques and small pieces of work on them. I can see most of my tools - fabric, paint, brushes, stabilizers, etc. Someone else could set it up very differently - but it's working for me so far.

Next post will show how displayed work in the house. It seemed helpful for people to see how the work looks in a living room. Thanks for looking!

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Photo's that take you other places

Steve McCurry is a photojournalist who I have admired for many years. His images are always impeccably composed, and he uses light to the fullest extent possible. He recently posted about how where you are born influences your life. Using photo's and quotes, the importance of place is shown to be paramount in our lives. It is a good reminder of how fickle fate can be. For those of us born into a family who always had enough, it's a good reminder that many don't have that fate.


Please take a look at his blog post and give yourself a thoughtful few minutes. If you're a photographer, you will also be in awe at his skill. Let me know what you think if you have time. His post made me want to travel to so many places, and reminds me to be thankful for my family and for being born into one that always had enough of everything to sustain us.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Abstraction, Reality and Feeling

"Nothing is less real than realism...Details are confusing. It is only by selection, by elimination, by emphasis, that we get at the real meaning of things." Georgia O'Keefe

Georgia O'Keefe is a favorite artist of mine - as much for her work as for her struggle to be able to do the work. Her life was not easy. Her flowers and landscapes represent how she feels about them. She was a friend of Arthur Dove, who shared her goal . O'Keefe wrote that she wanted to paint how she felt about flowers. Agnes Martin also wrote about making art about feelings as have other artists.

I thought I was going to begin a series about the way birds make me feel. The coloration of feathers, beak, eyes and feet are so full of variety and beauty that they bring a sense of awe. An Audubon book of birds shows the different species but can't bring the quick intake of breathe when you observe a bird in it's natural habitat and feel total wonder at the very fact of it!

I have made one quilt about the Magpie, a common bird in Ireland. They are white and black with markings like tuxedo jackets. When they lift off to fly, you see that their open black wings are iridescent. It was a wonderful treat for me every time I was close enough to see their wings.

I'm not sure if this quilt is successful. I'd appreciate any critiques. 

The quilt below is titled "Magpie". It is made with Shibori pole wrapped fabric. 
I have shown it to a few people whose judgement I value, and there has not been an "Ah!" One instructor recommended cutting it to the composition below. What do you think?

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Edith Head exhibit in Lancaster, Ohio

Edith Head (1897-1981) was a costume designer in Hollywood who won 8 Academy Awards, and was nominated for 35. She worked for Paramount films for 43 years before leaving to work with Alfred Hitchcock at Universal Pictures. "The Sting" was one of the films. She also designed the costumes for "Rear Window", one of my favorite films. Remember the beautiful dress that Grace Kelly wears when she's trying to get Jimmy Stewart to go to a fancy society party with her?

While I was in at the Crow Barn, we took a field trip to the Decorative Arts Center of Ohio, in Lancaster to see the exhibit including a tour with Randall Thropp, the curator of the show. He knew the history of the dresses, which he explained had been rented out for costume parties over the years.

Mae West is quoted as telling Edith Head:
"My dresses should be loose enough to prove I'm a lady but tight enough to show 'em I'm a woman." The last film Edith Head worked on was "Dead Men Don't Wear Plaid".

In each room there was an IPad on a stand. You could click on a dress and it would show you a clip from the film with the actor wearing it. It was an effective way to see the dress being part of the directors vision for the narrative.

This is the front of the building.

Below is my favorite dress. Look at the details in the dress. Wow!

These 3 dresses were in the beginning of the exhibit. She could design sexy, over the top feminine and elegant. 

Most of the dresses were filmed in black and white. Although the dresses above were in taupe or gold, they look great in black and white.

Check out the soutache on this coat. It's really pretty and dramatic. The photo below shows it on Una Merkel, the actress it was made for the film "Summer and Smoke".

This was Roy Rogers jacket. I was most excited about seeing this - he was my hero when I was little. Beautifully made and he was so accessible to children - nothing scary like some of the superheroes. 
In February 2003, Edith Head was featured on a U.S. Postal Stamp. What a career!
If you can get to the exhibit, it is worth seeing. I found that the dresses looked very different on the mannequins  than when you saw them moving with the actress in the film. The building is beautiful as well.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

A few reasons to go to the Crow Barn for a workshop

That's my workshop buddy, Dianne Mehlinger from VA, Dorothy and me. See how relaxed we are?
I've taken about 6 workshops at the Barn, and always feel that it is an inspiring experience. The last one with Dorothy Caldwell was paced very well, so that there was always something to do, but it never felt rushed.

I'm going to post a few photo's so you get an idea of the place and for those who have been there, to enjoy with your memories!
John Stitzlein, Nancy's husband and partner in all things. Such a good guy.

Quirky insects you don't find anywhere else.
Panoramic view of the inside of the barn. That's Dorothy Caldwell standing up.
Big table space (4' x 8') and design wall too. Makes you happy to spread out!

Margaret Wolfe makes lunch, snack and dinner every day. And dessert after dinner too! This bowl was our cookies for snack on Friday that we could take with us. Look at that great wrapping and detail. Margaret goes the extra mile for everyone.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

More Marks and Bookmaking

During the "Human Marks" workshop taught by Dorothy Caldwell, we were given a very nice paper that was scored in the middle for folding. We cut out shapes using an Exacto knife and then made marks on them. Dorothy had given us two Micron black markers. One had a .05 point on it, and the other had a brush point. I used the brush point to write the words above using the stencil I had cut out.

On the left side of the page above, the word was "egg" and on the right page it was "whole". I don't know why I came up with those words, but part of it was because I liked the way they looked when they were repeated.
The page above was filled with squiggles, reminiscent of an "e". I had left negative space on the left side, but decided to cut it out and let a discharged fabric show through from the other side. It needs more work.

This is a batiked and discharged fabric page. It was my first experience doing soy wax batik, and I really enjoyed it. The discharge was done with bleach. There are so many ways to play with soy wax, it will definitely add to my repertoire. Cheryl Rezendes teaches the technique in Massachusetts and I would like to take a class with her so I can further explore this medium.

Let me hear from you!