Not squares

July 17th, 2019

Last week I was invited to join my friend, Jane, at Needlers Camp—a group of women who meet to share their fiber projects, good food and good company. They meet during the year but one week in summer they meet every morning and call it camp! So many talented people, so many inspiring projects, so much skill and love of their work. I was asked to bring my “Stitches, not Words” project, “Fiber Book” and “Bridges” project for show and tell.

Image of madder stitch project
Not squares.

I wanted to take something to work on but the bridges project is solitary as I need it to speak to me for direction so I need something else. When I was finishing “Stitches not Words” I had made one base that had been dyed with madder in addition to the rust and tea that the others had been. I had grown the madder and harvested it a number of years ago.
The piece is rectangular (9.25″ x 7.5″) and assembled in triangles, not squares. I wanted to stitch on it in triangles and add some text. I have some ideas but will wait and see what it says it needs.
So that’s what I worked on while having a lovely morning chatting and nibbling away. Thank you Jane and thank you Needlers!

Bridges

June 28th, 2019

Been working this spring on a series of landscape paintings, concentrating on my mark making with palette knives etc. They are not finished and will post about them when they are.

I like to work in different media at the same time. Clears my head, yet keeps me working—that accounted for the book project in the last post and as an extension of working with fiber and “slow stitching”* I’ve begun a new project involving bridges—combining fiber, photography, and painting—not all in the same piece.

I love bridges, how they connect different places and allow people to interact in ways they couldn’t before. Previously I’ve painted older bridges over the Wissahckon Creek and some will be included in this series. Recently I hiked in Deleware, along the C&D Canal and photographed several bridges that cross it. I’ve ridden over them on my way south to VA before but never walked slowly under them, photographing and sketching both the man made and nature’s response.

My plan currently is to print my images on rusty dyed fabric and combine them in slow stitched collages which also include stitches depicting the plant life under the bridge.

Image of start of project
It’s a start.

The second part of this project is to create paintings of the bridges. Planing on studies of at least three bridges—love that number three! Should keep me busy and out of trouble this summer.

* Slow Stitching is a way of working, on this case stitching, that is slow and allows for contemplation and a release from the other wise busy things todays life so often demands. It is almost zen like and I find it complements my other work which tends to be more hurried and frantic.

Fiber Book and my Very Fine Hat

May 2nd, 2019

Spring has come, all of a sudden everything is green… and magenta and yellow and violet—Philadelphia has a very wild burst of color when spring arrives. I’ve been busy working on a new set of paintings but I spell it with stitching.

My latest “rabbit hole” is a fiber book based on my grandmother, her mother, and her mother. Using many bits and pieces from their collections of saved fabric, lace and trims—my grandmother was the youngest and as all this was passed down it ended up with her and then to me—I descend from savers or some might say pack rats. All three women sewed so there is a wealth of scraps.

Slowly the pages have been taking shape as things are rearranged and reassembled. I learned to print photo’s on fabric—that was a big break through… my dyed fabrics make an appearance as does my stitching. And finally I made a commitment on a cover. So here is the cover and the pages for each woman.

Image of book cover tied shut Image of book cover untied

The cover is piece of canvas dyed with tea and rusty bits. It is stitched and has self ties. When untied it reveals a pocket with a photo of me with what I thought was a most wonderful hat when I was four years old.

Image of my grandmother Image of my grandmother's mother Image of my grandmother's mother's mother

Three generations of women, all “Stitchers”, although I don’t think they would have used that title.
Other pages and spreads consist of fabric and buttons and feathers and prints and lace and … some are still in the works…

These women have inspired this book but it isn’t necessarily about them but rather about women in general, things that were important to them in their time and that belonged to them in their time.

Explorations

April 2nd, 2019

Been exploring mixed media (currently oil pastels, charcoal, ink and acrylic) on paper. Trying hard not to begin with a direction but rather prepare my state of mind by reading or a walk for example, and see where it leads me. It’s difficult for me once I see a direction not let my thinking mind take over and to become literal. I am also trying with this work, to not dwell on the dark forces that occupy the world today as they take up too much of my life as it is but rather use these explorations to examine hope. Here are two recent results. Different days- different images.

Image of Mixed Media Exploration
Untitled #4

Image of Mixed Media Exploration
Untitled #1

I’m interested to see how these studies affect my other work.

Ireland Paintings

March 29th, 2019

I said I’d post some of the paintings from studies I did several years ago in Ireland. Took a while but here they are. I’m still working with the idea of time and the landscape. The ancientness of this land and it’s history is overwhelming to me. Ceide Fields are bogs covering settlements over 5500 years old. I’ve done several more in this series, but this gives you an idea.

Image of Ceide Fields and the North Sea
Ceide Fields and the North Sea
Down Patrick Head in the distance with Sea Stack, Dún Briste
Image of River and mountains, Co. Mayo

The impact that people make on the land and how people and our civilizations with all our grand ideas pass on and the land has remained is haunting to me. Nature reclaims—so far…

Travel Sketchbooks

March 24th, 2019

Artist, Susan Abbott, is teaching a “Traveling with your Sketchbook” workshop in DC and posted about it. I took a workshop with Susan in VT this past summer and I can attest that one gets their money’s worth from her. She covers so much and caters it to each person’s level. Susan’s blog post asked for comments/thoughts on personal experiences and I wrote the folllowing”

“For years I took new sketchbooks on trips and returned with them as new as when I left. All the things you mention in the post. Then one year friends gave us some tulips at the airport on a trip to France and the French let me take them with me… So I sketched them in our room once each morning until they dropped and then I kept sketching on that day. I realized I had given myself permission to sketch. After that I started making one quick sketch from my window each am on trips – sometimes an incredible view, some times a parking lot… but once I did that I would continue to sketch for the rest of the trip. Now I can’t imagine travel with out sketching. Perhaps the favorite thing to do in my life.”

It got me thinking about how important sketching is to me and I thought I’d share my thoughts here. I dug out that old sketchbook and below are some of my sketches from that trip”

Image of first quick sketch of tulips
First quick sketch of tulips – I was tired but wanted a record for our friends

After this I warmed to the task.

Image of drawing from hotel window Image of Niki de Saint-Phalle Image of schloss in Baden Baden, GR
from left: hotel window, Saint Malo, FR; Stravinsky Fountain, Paris, FR; Schloss, Baden Baden, GR

…and finally, I just sat down and drew. This sketch book became a wonderful journal of out trip – drawings, ephemera, notes.

Image of first quick sketch of tulips

Unfortunately, I used a pen with ink that bled through the page to the image on the other side. Didn’t do that again!

As I said in my comment, once I make that first sketch on a trip it is as though I have given myself permission to continue. Don’t know if this works for everyone but it sure works for me. Sketching when traveling has become one of my favorite experiences. It allows me to slow down and see things that I would have missed and gives me wonderful sources of memories – how I felt when I saw these things and as I sketched.