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Archive for February, 2011

Today would have been my father’s birthday.  He passed away 5 1/2 years ago.  I thought of him first thing this morning.  Wished him a Happy Birthday, told him I loved him and missed him.  Then I started my day.

I didn’t think I was going to start my blog with that thought, but it popped out and I guess there’s really nothing wrong with sharing it.

What I thought I’d write about are all those New Year’s Resolutions, or Goals as I prefer to call them, that have disappeared round about now.  One of my goals for 2011 was to post to my blog on a weekly basis.  And here it’s been 2 weeks since my last post.  😦 How is it that time flies by so quickly? I still think weekly postings are a goal I’d like to strive towards this year. I like recording what I’ve done in my studio over the past week.  It’s another way of thinking about what I’m working on and why.  It is so helpful to have to talk about my art.  Otherwise I’m not always clear about where I’m going.

My last week has been rather frustrating.  I spent a huge amount of time on my computer unable to accomplish the task at hand.  I’m proud to say I didn’t hurl the computer out a second story window, nor did I throw it against the wall. However, I did think about both possibilities frequently. Despite the hours in front of that confounded machine, I did manage to get into the studio and make a few pieces of art.

One of my favorite little galleries in the Catskills (the Catskill Artists Gallery, Liberty, NY) is having their annual small works show in June.  This year there is no theme, so I decided to try making a piece or 2 for it.  “Small” is defined as no more than 8″ in any direction. I made one piece and discovered this is HARD!  It is a totally different way of working and seeing. Ah, so the challenge is on.

But first, let me show you the piece.  I was trying to pull out some of the geographical imagery in my brain from my trip to the Grand Canyon in December.

I didn’t like it!  Not one little bit.  I really didn’t like the stringy haze of wool over the yarn shapes.Here’s a close up so you can see just how awful it is.

I’d put that wool there to hold the yarn in place, but once felted the yarn seemed pretty solidly attached regardless of the wool on top. It did a great job of hiding the effects of the different colors of wool under the silk top piece too.

So, I just decided to get rid of that awful wool and carefully pulled it off.

Ah, much better!  The piece is still pretty lousy and unexciting, but I’ve a couple ideas brewing that might be able to turn it into something I wouldn’t want to throw in the trash can. We’ll see where it all leads.

As I mentioned, small is a totally different way of seeing and I was beginning to enjoy the challenge and the learning involved. Next I thought I might try making a large piece and a small piece simultaneously.  Setting them up next to each other and trying to capture the same imagery in each. I also decided it would be a good time to try and capture that picture that was still rattling around in my brain.  The one of the stream up at Natural Bridge Park that caught my attention on a day I didn’t have my camera.  (See post of  January 16, 2011 ).

I realized when all was said and done that I’d forgotten to take pictures throughout the process.  So I only have images of the pieces after felting is done.  Here are the 2 side by side.

Here’s just the large one.

And just the small one.

Getting a little better I think.  I hope.  As I’ve been living with them up on my studio wall I’ve been enjoying the textures of the different materials I used.  I think the materials give a great feel to the fluff of snow, the vibrancy – and the coldness – of the stream, etc. Here are some close up shots of those elements.

As I gaze at them I also hear my inner voice telling me “not abstract enough.  You stayed too close to the realistic elements.  Never your best work”.  So, there is at least 1 more of this scene coming.  Maybe I’ll try doing the 2 sizes again. We’ll see what next week brings.

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My meditation teacher always told us to start each day off with a “beginner’s mind”. This is especially important as you become more and more experienced in whatever endeavor you’re involved in.  The beginner’s mind brings you to your activity fresh and enthusiastic. It often opens up new doors that you couldn’t even see because you were so involved in “been there, done that.”  (Who started that saying?  I dislike it enormously!  which is not to say I haven’t used it myself).

My current meditation teacher focuses a lot on “refinement.”  Yeah, maybe we think we know something, but we can always know it more deeply, more intensely.  Our understanding and knowledge can always be greater and more expansive.  It’s a bit of a foreign concept to us Westerners, but a tried and true maximum in many Eastern philosophies.

This past week brought me back to “felting for beginners”.  I spent time making scarves to show the students in my next workshop that I’ll be teaching in a couple of weeks.  Not only did I enjoy myself enormously, and like the scarves I produced, but I challenged myself by making some styles of scarf that I’ve never made before. I had such a good time that I think I’ll make a few more this week.

Here’s a wool scarf that uses mohair to create a curly fringe. The wool and mohair are hand-dyed which is why they match so well.

The next 2 pictures are of a reversible scarf I decorated with tencil (for sheen) and a novelty yarn (for fun visual interest and texture). The decorative touches may be a bit hard to see in these pictures.

The rest of my week was spent in administrative tasks.  The usual search for exhibitions (I now have 9 possibilities to sort through and apply to.  With deadlines in the next 6 weeks, I also need to get busy and make some new work!), publicity for February’s teaching (the workshop is in a week and a half), etc.

I am putting aside time every morning to knit (I’m making a vest for myself) and to spin (yarn for sale — any knitters out there?).  Spending just 1/2 hr. on each.  I’ve discovered the world of timers.  Just set it and then go! It’s amazing how much I am able to get done that way. I also love starting my day with such basic arts.  It feels like I ground myself in life’s basics right off.  Then, and only then, I move out into the fast paced world.

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