Thursday, May 31, 2007

If two are good

then four has got to be great. That was my thinking when I went to bed a little after mid-night. So this morning early for me (8:00 AM) I was off to Lowe's for two more clamp on lamps and two more 120 watt bulbs. It was not my choice to be up that early, but John the grandson over slept and it was either me or his mother. I could hear his mother's grumpy response to his plea for a ride to school through my closed bedroom door so I said I would do it with the knowledge that his school was only 4 miles from the Lowe's and since I would have gone out later in the day to get the lights I might just as well do it earlier rather than later.
Most of today after I get my two new lights placed I will be getting quilts ready to ship to Henderson, KY for an exhibit with my friend Valerie White from Louisville, KY. The show will be up from June 6 through August 5 at the Ohio Valley Art League Gallery in the Old Henderson Public Library. If you are in the area stop in. Speaking of exhibits, I mentioned Marti Plager's show a couple of blogs ago, but failed to tell you where to see it. It is at the Carnegie Center on Spring Street in New Albany, Indiana. Stop in to see her art work too if you are in the area.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Light, I need light

I have always been sensitive to the lack of sunlight and I am feeling the loss of it very much this week. Every day since the week end it has been over cast with rain or the threat thereof. Journaling last night before bed made me realize just how much the lack of light is affecting me again. I knew when I set my studio space up here that I was not going to have the wonderful lighting that I had in Louisville. But hey, I thought I had solved the problem with the floor lamps from Big Lots. But I haven't. It was always high noon on a sunny day in my Louisville studio even at 3 am but not so here. I realized too that if I am going to be dyeing fabric in the garage that has no windows I will need an additional source of light beside the one bulb in the ceiling on my side of the garage. I opened the door last week to let in light, but I also let in every fly in the neighborhood too.
Generally about 9:30 I am ready for bed because there is not enough light to fool my wake sleep cycle. My friend Marti thinks that that's a good thing, I am now in tune with the majority of the world. But despite me being up early I am not in tune or tuned in. My creative juices simply do not flow in the morning no matter how early my feet hit the floor. Most day the desire to simply move my butt from the bed to the kitchen for a cup of coffee does not present itself until nearly 10 am.
I have always been the most productive after 4PM and now because of the lack of light I only have a 3-4 hour window to work. I do not work well in starts and stops. I prefer long stretches of uninterrupted time. Light, I need light, I journaled. The lack of light is cutting into my productive time.
So this morning remembering my journaling from the night before, I went off to Lowe's to see what I could come up with as supplemental lighting that would not alter the room I am using. Yet give me the sense that the sun is shining not matter what time of day or night it is. I made three trips to Lowe's trying out various set ups. Halogen bulbs gave me the best light, but Boy are they HOT. I could heat a small country with the heat that came from just one light, I would have been the sole cause of global warming if I had plugged in all three that I brought. Back they went. The cute curly fluorescent I brought home next did not give off enough light so my last purchase for today was two 120 watt fluorescent flood light and clap on metal fixtures. This is the least attractive of the three options, but I am not looking for cute. I am looking for serviceability. I will let you know how they work for me since it is now after 10 pm and with all my running back and forth to Lowe's I have spent all of 30 minutes in the studio, with most of the time spent cleaning and oiling my machine. I'm going to see if I can get in a couple of hours, maybe more if the light is good enough.

Monday, May 28, 2007

A thought came to me

last night, actually it was more like early morning since it was a little after three AM just as I was closing my eyes for the night. This thought that I thought was very insightful at the time had me thinking for a instant that I should turn the light back on and write it down in my journal/sketch book that lives on the right hand side of my bed, but I didn't. This thought I thought in error was so wonderful I didn't need to write it down because as wonderful as it was, surely I would remember it in the morning. BUT NO>.

When I woke this morning no matter how hard I tried to remember what I was thinking as I fell asleep I couldn't. Which as the day has gone on I have denyingly concluded that possibly the thought really wasn't all that great after all. But then what if it is a case of a great thought/idea that was so great that since I didn't take advantage of it it went elsewhere to inspire someone else. Oh well, I'll never know because I simply cannot remember. TIP: If a great thought pops into your head, write it down, it just might be the one I fobbed off.

I think what probably precipitated this moment of insight was me journaling last night for over an hour about what I want to do for the next year. I haven't journaled for a long time. I once did religiously every morning before I started my day. My journaling served as a way of clearing my mind, dumping my woes, planning my day and studio time. But since I moved here my morning routine is not the same. My life has changed and for the longest time I haven't felt the need to vent privately or plan. I am trying to get a handle on why that is. But last night I remembered how much self knowledge I gain from journaling, that I missed it and I believe for my art sake I need to get back to doing it as faithfully as I did for years. I'm thinking, the night time, just before lights out might be a better time to journal at this point in my life. Maybe instead of planning the day, I need to rehash the day, evaluate the day and my work. Maybe journaling can take the place of and fill the void of not having a critque group here like the one I had in Louisville. Maybe that is at the heart of my need to journal again.

My friend Marti's solo show of 33 pieces is up in the two galley spaces that my work will occupy this time next year. So there is nothing like a looming deadline. I must get busy.

I started journaling by asking myself several questions about what it is about making quilts that excite me. What inspires me. What I like as well as what I dislike about the work I've done the past 5 years. What I find interesting in the current works by other artist and does any of the approaches and techniques fit with my way of thinking or working. I asked myself should I continue in the same style or try something new. I've followed along with and asked questions about gelatin plates and wondered how and if this is relevant to my work and concluded that it isn't. I've never been able to express my self with surface design. I came to realize that most of what I've done in the past through the years I have been happy with. My large scale flowers and my more recent round flower series. I tried going in a different direction the latter part of last year and some months into this year when it was suggested that I expand my thinking and approach to include non-representational abstraction. ButI find that no matter how exciting the line drawings I come up with the construction process to create compositons with repeat motifs bore me. I also find, repetitive strips and straight lines too regimented and everything I did for months with these elements is still un-quilted with the exception of one piece.

I think color, I feel color. I think literal. I see holistically. I can not compose improvisationally although I admire those who do. I see finished pieces in my head. I work from scale drawings and I know from the start each steps required to get to the finished piece. This is how I work although I know my way does not work for everyone, but it does for me and I am all that matters when it comes to my art.

When I journaled more about the one piece I did finish I realized why I liked it. It's uncomplicated. It is what it is: color based and I enjoyed every minute of constructing it. It is not unlike an Amish quilts especially the Pennsylvania Amish variety that I so admire and ones that drew me to quilt making in the first place. I'll journal some more tonight, possibly into the early morning hours, but I think this renewal of journaling is going to be a good thing and relavent to discovering what I will be doing next.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Because Karoda asked

and I lost her e-mail address when my laptop died a couple of months ago, everyone else will get the answer to her questions as well. How much fabric is in buckets with the handles hold? What is in there now as pictured is a skinny two.
By that I mean I buy my PFD 60 inches wide. Then cut two yard lengths and tear it down the middle making pieces that are 30" x 72". I do this mainly because I rarely need 60 inch wide fabric but often can use a length of fabric that is 72 inches. So the 30 x 72 was most logical.
When I creating a piece that is longer or wider than 72 inches it is generally a custom piece, in which care I will dye the length needed.
For years my friend Marti and I have dyed using these 1/2 gallon BR tubs. They are so much easier to deal with than plastic freezer bags. The will hold 3 yard of 45" wide PFD, but you are really stuffing it in and you are using very, very little liquid. Fabric stuffed in this manner, has lots of molding because being stuffed creates areas of resist and this works well for double and triple dyes.
I think single dyes need more room to develop in Low water immersion. So generally we limit ourselves to skinny two's in the BR tubs. But the gallon tubs, the ones with the handles would hold 3 yard of 60" or 4-5 yards of 45" wide without any problem.
When I moved to Columbia I left my BR tubs with Marti in Louisville and I had to start a collection for myself here. (Any old excuse to eat ice cream) But the BR store is not as convenient to get to here as in Louisville which in some ways is a good thing. But that didn't stop me I just went to plan B. Which hinges on the fact that I love ice cream, no matter how cheap and for convenience sake ONLY (Ha!) I started eating and keeping the gallon tubs of HyVee brand ice cream. HyVee is my favorite grocery store here but I've been know to buy from Gerbes (Krogers)too.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

I've been busy

Finished sorting and refolding more bins than I care to count worth of fabric and straightening up what is suppose to be the guest closet in our foyer. But is one of two closets that I use to hold fabric and other stuff, like batting, extras sewing machine, etc. When I first saw this closet I knew there would never be a coat hung in there. (WHO HAS THAT MANY GUEST ANYWAY?) I'm getting a price quote on having 6 rows of wire shelves installed because there is a lot of wasted space with this wire basket system that worked well in my condo studio but is not at all efficient here.

Because I was up close and personal with most of the fabric I have I realized that I was missing several of my favorite hand dyed colors so I started dyeing fabric this afternoon.
I started with the yellow dye bath for 8 gradated steps of a triple dye, then over dyed 6 yards of gradated yellow-green double dye fabric with mixing red that I found in my stash that I didn't like so who knows what that will come out looking like. Probably a red-brown. Then I over dyed with turquoise a three yard cut of purple that had way too many light to white areas left in it. That should be interesting. Then I did six different red/oranges; (love love love that color), using different combinations of tangerine, fuchsia, red 305 and red 312 and yellow 104. And finally I did three different reds, one 312, one 305 and one a mix of 312,305 and fuchsia. Oh yeah after reviewing the photo image I realized I did a bin of turquoise too. Tomorrow will a be a wash and dry day.

Monday, May 21, 2007

The Waiting Game

I think that is what my life is becoming. And while I am waiting I seem to be just sitting. Well in my mind that is how it seems when in fact it isn't.
I finished the sample quilt and delivered it to the quilt shop so they can advertise the class.
I was waitng for Sunday to see if the article I was interviewed for would be published , but it wasn't. Maybe next Sunday so I'll be waiting again.
Today I am waiting for the Priest at the Newman Center to call me about a commission that was arranged for me through the gallery after he was in and saw my work. I was told about this on Friday. While waiting for this job, I've been somewhat reluctant to start on something new least I get in the middle of it and have to stop and I know me. I tend not to go back to an abandoned work if I have to stop in the middle of it for something else.
So yesterday while waiting, I weeded the front garden area and attached some wild mushrooms this morning that popped up over night in the front garden. They look so cute when they first sprout but grow into grotesque things that have to go as they age.
On Saturday we had a tree planted at the far back corner of the yard. Not that we had planned on planting trees now, (tree were in phase two of the landscape project) but our neighbors; two of the five who's property line adjoins ours were having trees put in and they looked so nice and the tree company had several extra ones on their truck so we thought why not.
Now I have to go buy at least another 100 feet of hose to attach to the 100 feet we have in order to reach the tree from the back of the house to water it. Yesterday one neighbor while watering his new trees and seeing that I could not reach mine with the length of hose I had, watered mine too. That was nice of him I know, but in fact my tree is closer to his house than my tree is to ours.
Looking toward the house from where the tree was planted behind the berm I decided that the berm needed reshaping and enlarging. I hope the landscaper brings the rest of the top soil and gets it spread around and leveled today. Seeding would be good too, because it is going to rain here on Tuesday and Wednesday.
So today while waiting for the landscaper and the call from the priest I think I'll go organize my fabric closet. It is such a mess.
I'm not good at waiting when my hands are not busy so I do hope I don't have to wait too long otherwise more than my fabric closet may get organized.

Friday, May 18, 2007

Another flower

this one "Red Bloom on Blues" was made as a sample for the class I will be teaching here in Columbia, MO at Satin Stitches Quilt Shop. The class won't be until August but I didn't want to wait to get this project off my to do list. The photographer for the paper was here as scheduled and took pictures of me sitting at my sewing machine quilting, which was a hold lot easier to do then try to keep a "GOOD" face while someone strange is taking your picture portrait style.
Will let you know if the article is in the Sunday Columbia Tribune as the reporter said she wanted.

For Mother's Day the grand boys got me the flowers you can see on the Shepherds hook where it is in the ground out side my studio window also in the other photo you can see too what I see when I look out at the planted area too.


The weather here is great, the sun is shining and the temperatures are very comfortable with low humidity. If I knew what colors I needed or wanted to dye this would have been a great day to be out in the garage working, but alas I have no clue. So besides finishing the Red Bloom quilt, I watched the landscaper ride back and forth across the yard making it level. I watched him bury the drain hoses for the gutter run off and move the dirt into position for a berm. Finally there is progress in the yard. There is hope for green grass by mid June.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Passing the days

is how I am spending my life and it has been good. Not sure where Saturday went except it did. I'm sure I did something related to quilting. Oh yeah.... I designed a small wall hanging for a class I will teach next August here in Columbia at Satin Stitches (a local quilt shop with really, really really friendly people) Went there to pick out the fabric since you know how some students are. They want their piece to LOOK EXACTLY like the teachers. Spent more time there than I had planned because they were so friendly. Came home to work on it. Timing myself as I went.
I got a lovely hanging basket of flowers and a shepherds hook for Mother's day from the grandsons and my daughter which hangs right outside my studio space window and dinner cooked by her as I worked in the studio. She made my favorite; fried corn. At the end of the day I knew that the pieced background I was making for the class project was going to be tooooooo involved for a two day class and went to bed knowning I would chuck it in favor of a more simplified one that time wise is much better. Of course that meant another trip to the quilt shop since I had brought only enough fabric for the project on Saturday.
This will be there first time in ages that I have made something completely with commercial fabrics. But when you teach in a quilt shop, they do expect to sell some of the stuff they carry to the students.
So on Monday, I stopped at the quilt shop on my way back from St Louis where I had dropped off the oldest grandson at the airport. He was returning to Louisville. He had had enough of us I guess and choose to fly back to Louisville instead of taking the chance that I would change my mind about driving to Louisville on Wednesday after a doctor's appointment on that morning. I will miss him a lot.
As we were driving the 120 miles from Columbia to the airport in St. Louis which is my third of the way to Louisville point, I remarked that he had to be at the airport about 2 hours before his flight and if I kept driving I could be in Evansville, 2/3 Rd's of the way to Louisville before he got off the ground. Then he has an hours flight at which time I could be near Corydon, Indiana' less than an hour from Louisville. By the time he was at the gate and the time he'd spent waiting for his luggage I could be crossing the bridge into Louisville.
That's the main reason why I drive it instead of fly. Plus I can lug more stuff with me. And yes I can still drive there cheaper than flying despite the cost of gas. I'm happy with my little diesel engine car that gets over 45 miles to the gallon on the highway and takes less than 13 gallons of fuel to fill it up. Around here, diesel fuel sells for about 50 cents less per gallon than regular which went up to $3.09.
Today the sky is grey and a cool front is coming in with a promise of rain. And no the yard is not done yet and I refuse to talk about it or think about it today.

Article update: The photographer for the newspaper is coming this morning at 11:30 or this after noon at 2:30 so I am on standby. The reporter, said she will try to get the article in the paper for Sunday the 20Th. Will let you know when it appears.

Friday, May 11, 2007

Good new comes in three they say

at least it has been true for me.
The last two weeks have produced. One. Less than a week ago the galley sold Coming Round again"
a small piece that had been a class sample. I was surprised when the check came in the mail.
Then two yesterday as I was waiting for the lady to come for the possible commission Sue at the gallery called saying they had sold "Red Bloom" and they needed another piece of my work to hang in its place.

if you remember this is the piece that I started as a commission and the person changed their minds midstream and wanted different colors.
Then the third thing, I got the commission. The piece won't be that large, but hey it will be flowers and they will be red and they will be on a green background, in a design of my choice.
And I still have the reported coming in an hour or so. Gotta go put some curls in the hair and a little color on my lips.
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Wednesday, May 09, 2007

A garden update

I wish I had taken some before pictures but didn't. It was really bare looking, but here is what I have done so far.

I put in some wax begonias as well as tuberous begonia and impatience in the area that stay mostly in the shade all day. I brought several more pots of perennials this morning for under the two trees at the front of the house plus some annuals. When I got back I planted for about an hour and a half until it got too hot then came in for lunch. After lunch I decided to give up planting the remaining 36 dahlias until later in the day. Once again they are promising rain for this evening. I hope it doesn't we need some dry days, all the rivers are flooding. But we are on high ground.
When you are used to planting annual flowers in deck railing boxes and pots you do them compactly for instant beauty, but it is different when planting perinials in the ground. You need to leave room from the plants to grow and spread which is what is suppose to happen. I have to be patient. I have to be patient. I have to be patient. I keep telling myself and not overplant. pPosted by Picasa

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

It doesn't pay to have garden envy

because if you do it cost you money and hours in the sun and sweat and back pain and arm aches. When I lived in my condo, I tried to plant up every square inch of the balcony every spring and I enjoyed sitting out there early morning and in the evenings. My little Eden. Of course you all have been living with me through all the trials and tribulation of us just getting some grass to grow in the back yard which is close to a 1/2 acre and as of today is still unseeded. The Bobcat is gone but that's all and alas it is still only mud with the promise of rain for the next four days, so I try to keep from looking out at the back yard.

Instead I spend my time in my studio. I changed my sewing table around so now I can look out on the front yard and the area to the left of the front door. When we moved in last year it was too late to plant annuals there and since we had not lived here to see where the sun shone during the Spring and early Summer it was hard to decide what to plant in the way of Fall bulb that would bloom in the Spring. So we had none. While the front of the house faces southwest it really does not get direct sun on the left side of the front door until late in the afternoon due to the eaves of the house and the porch. And then for only about three hours.

I have however planted Summer blooming bulbs on both sides and today I went to get part sun/shade for the left side of the house and full sun perennials for the right side of the front door because it does gets full sun all day long. How much did I get, a whole car full, front passenger seat, the back seat and some in the trunk. I was ambitious. The garden guy thought it would take me two days to dig the holes and plant then, NOT!!!I dug up two scrubs,one myself and Josh, the oldest grandson the other, scrub type unknown I just knew they looked unhealthy and replaced them with something I liked, the names of the newly planted escapes me (good thing I pushed the pot label into the ground near them so I could remember what they are). After I planted about a third of the plants myself, Josh came to my rescue and did the rest. Hew said I was looking a little wilted. There is nothing like a young back and male muscles.

I brought lots of other plants beside the scrubs, remembering to get three of each so it looks more natural. I love the look of an informal garden one that seems to have taken root over time. I know this look will not be realized for at least three years but I have made a good start. Tomorrow I will buy some annuals to fill in some of the empty spaces and some seeds that I hope will germinate and bloom about mid to late summer. Will give you a look at what it looks like after I finish up tomorrow.
And now for a report on my quilt life here in Columbia. After all my quilt life is what this blog is suppose to be about and not my garden although it is flowers that are my inspiration. First off, someone is coming on Thursday for a possible commission if she does not see something of mine that is already made that she likes either at Bluestem Gallery where she will stop first or here at the house in the closet or hanging on the walls.

Then on Friday, a reporter for the Columbia Tribune will stop by before lunch to do an interview. Will let you know how that went and when the article will appear in the paper.

Saturday, May 05, 2007

Iside my head

is a dangerous place to be when there is nothing stimulating to hold the old brains attention. Thus was the case with my brain this morning as I sat quilting on a relatively uninspiring piece. A top that I have put off quilting for months although I know I will need it for my exhibit of 30 plus works next year to act as a foil between two of my floral pieces.
When I need to quilt one of my flowers I follow the shape of the flower to contour it or I quilt following what would be the natural veining. These quilting lines add shape to the image and visual dimensionality. Quilting like this is entertaining. But when I quilt something non representational, traditional just shapes I have a hard time deciding on how to do this interestingly for both me and the viewer.
I do have a repertoire of stitched lines I use which really are no different from a lot of other machine quilters however I find that I do lean toward a select few, they being the in and out square and what I call a rail fence effect. Occasionally the in and out circle. Then there are the imperfect circles that eat up a lot of thread, but I so love sewing them.
Once my brain got going on this inventory of stitches I took a mental and then actual stroll through the house when I needed a quilting break to see what I had done with other pieces that are hanging on the walls and found that I do follow the lines in a pieces of fabric when appropriate and I do, do some free flowing type curves for fillers in the background of my nature pieces at times.

When I went back to mindlessly quilting my thoughts again wondered all over the place and finally came to visit the word PLAY as many often call what we do when we go in our studio spaces or sewing rooms and I came to the conclusion that I do not PLAY. Thinking further, I concluded I don't know how to play with stuff that can be made into something. I remember playing on the play ground or at the beach but nothing creative came of this playing. I remember playing kick ball but for many children there is line that is crossed from when they are playing kick ball and when they begin practicing Soccer. Playing I have concluded does not produce tangible results.
Possibly there was a time in my infancy when I played with my mother's pots and pans that I can not remember. however I do know that I never played with my own when I got them, only cooked. I never played with flour for instance. With flour and and other ingredients , what I did under my mothers tutelage was practise making cakes and biscuits and gravy until I could make them well. I never found a love for cooking so I can cook and bake but just well enough that I and my children and husband did not starve.
In order to play the piano, I practiced but not long enough or hard enough to be a pianist but still I did not "Play" with the instrument.
Instead of play, what I want to do in my studio space is explore the medium of quilt making and the different media that can be used. But I can not bring myself to play with the fabric or the sewing machine or the paints and the thread. What I want and do is weight the possibilities, consider what if, reflect, ponder, think, consider, examine and plan. But none of this is for me is playing. Making quilts for me is not play. It is my work, my vocation not unlike when in an earlier time in my life I was a Nurse, no matter how much i enjoyed being a nurse I certainly did not PLAY at being a Nurse I practiced being a Nurse, I worked at being a Nurse. I was a good Nurse. And now I work at being a Quilt maker and I practice the skills and study what I need to be an Artist.
I teach too and what I have concluded after years of doing so is that there are many many who want to be good quilters but who do not want to put in the work that is required to be good. They say they love quilts and love making them yet they want good even greatness instantly. When told they need to put in the time, to practice, to study, to explore, they say they can not. They say they don't have the time. They say there is this and that and the other that they must do instead.
Then in the mist of all these heavy brain thoughts, the stranded Bobcat in the back yard passed through my brain and I wondered when if ever the landscaper will come again to do something with the yard. If only the God of rain would hear my prayers for a week of sun, gentle winds and only light rain once the grass seed is sown.
For those of you who do not know it I am a native Louisvillian, born and raised there and this is the first year in my life that I have not been in Louisville for the Derby and I really truly miss not being in the city today.
I'm off, got to get back to work on the quilt until the Derby race runs and I can scream for the horse, "Any given Saturday. " big better that I am, I've got $2.00 on his or her nose.

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Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Rain rain go away come again another day

please please please after the landscaper is done with our yard.

Last fall this is what the yard looked like and I could imagine it having flowers like the yellow one growing in my friend Marti's yard in Kentucky and those growing at my friend Sandra's house in Virginia. .
As the landscaper started grading the yard on Sunday and came back to work again on Monday I had vision of grass and eventually trees and flowers but alas the rain came again on Tuesday and it is raining again today and all there is is mud and it is to rain every day until Sunday. YUK!!!

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Will I ever see flowers anywhere besided in my studio