Friday, December 30, 2011

rooms with no view

"You need a room with no view so imagination can meet memory in the dark." Annie Dillard

Does anyone else compose or design while doing repetitive physical tasks?

I had to do a lot of errands yesterday and while I was the driving familiar neighborhood roads I spun myself the ground work for a new short story. Once the tasks were completed, I went to the Aquatic Center at Bethesda Park not five minutes from home and swam in the gigantic indoor heated pool for 45 minutes.

My stroke closely resembles a manatee in search of the dessert cart but it still taxes me if I keep at it. After a lap or two, seventy five meters worth each way, I stop, hang on the tile lip and stretch this and that before I turn and head back to the distant shore. A few times I put on the steam and swam like I was hearing the Jaws theme music, impressing myself with the pace I was making. The lithe, young lifeguard piped up "Best lap this morning!"- poor thing, she must be bored to tears. Did I mention that I have the entire pool to myself?It seems like the best kept secret in the county. No one else showed up before noon.

Back and forth, over and over, while other chapters of the story began to make themselves known. I tried to stay away from sharp details, descriptions or feelings, as these can slip frustratingly away with no pen and paper on hand to take notes (note to self - devote that new blank notebook to travel, even poolside) but it was a productive swim.

No visual expressions are coming from this activity so far. It's a pretty mundane setting even with one entire wall  of glass looking out into the Georgia piney weeds and winter sky.  That activity seems to live in a different place in my head but now that I think about it there is a huge wall on one end that begs for a mural...
Ocean Homes

Thursday, December 29, 2011


It's been nice to pick up the needle and get back to work on this piece but I constantly have to step back and remind myself to keep the scale of each element in keeping with the overall piece.

It's very easy to get myopic. Already there are two that I have over worked early on and will probably have to pick out.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Helen Frankenthaler died in the night.

She was one of the (many) reasons that I do what I do.

When I was in art school in NY,  I was once present when she was marshaling an exhibition of many enormous canvases, her work, giving orders to a group of assistants ..what went where, etc. It was quite overwhelming and I remember being terrified that my presence would be noticed. I felt like a spy in the camp.

Monday, December 26, 2011

nothing new

so here's something old.

"night wings"from 2005..early work with hand dyed and painted vintage damask, layered and machine stitched, 18"x24", give or take and I'm not exactly sure where it is. That will be a mission for the morning.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Merry Christmas

Our holiday was cozy and comfortable. Close family close, too much good food and wonderful presents shared all round. Cats running wild with too much fun noise and stuff. Happy Holidays everyone.

Friday, December 23, 2011

no more arguments and

no more wandering uncompassed.

I dreamed about the steps to arrive at this last night. It's happened before but this time the results were all I hoped for and more. 

spectacular messes=

While I was out shopping, the dye fairies came and messed about in my kitchen with a 20"x42" piece of Kona PIMA cotton that came my way from the Giftee earlier in the week.

The mess in the kitchen was total but this glory was left hanging from the octopus on the dyedeck in the winter sun.

Happy Holidays

Happy Holidays, everyone.
Time to get down to business.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

WEBTOOLS (for real this time)

(Jeez, don't screw up when you name post seems to be an irrevocable mistake) I was going to write about this yesterday but got derailed, hence the bobble. 

A while back I was web cruising about thinking how I wanted to reorganize and revamp my main website when I came across this nifty little web tool. If you maintain your own web presence even on a minimal basis, I'd say it's worth looking into. My own HTML skills pulled up short several years ago so the "What You See is (Almost) What You Get" format suits me just fine.

I had the devils own time with rearranging and editing it last night but I was ignoring the cardinal rule of coding "Don't screw around with stuff when you are tired!"  So the tool is called SimpleViewer and the basic version is free and I can tell you that I fully intend on paying for the full version...after the holidays are over.

So here is the quick and dirty what I have been up to with needle, thread and cloth going back to late 2009. There are other things, of course, but a trend is revealed. Of course I'll have to go back in and do the dirty work, you know, titles, dates, measurement, prices...all the mundane workaday stuff we all have to trammel with, but for now,  enjoy.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

is it wednesday already?

Work continues on the big one...I won't bore you with pictures at this stage but as I expected I'm running into ongoing unhappiness with the need to scale up the stitching and not be so tight. I think I'll have to get used to a different way of handling and stitching on this piece it's so much larger than the previous four. 

Everything is basted in place with nearly invisible single ply rayon thread, the next step is to anchor the tender, raggedy pieces with 12wt cotton  but here is where I get tempted to get microscopic. I think I'm going dump all the 12s out of my basket and stick with the DMC floss and some sail making needles..maybe take off the cheaters too.

I look to the work of Patricia Carrigan to remind me of grace and spontaneity:

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

night skating

waiting until after midnight, waiting for the furnace to kick on so the sound would cover my movements, the muttering mechanicals breathing warmed air throughout the house, everyone deep into their dreams but me.

Thick socks over thin, jeans and sweater pulled on over pajamas, I sat in a chair in the kitchen and pushed my feet into my skates and laced them tight, tight, my high heels, in just enough time to ease the back door open, slip out and close it before the furnace sighed and stilled.

the ground was covered with brittle brown grass, frozen hard and unforgiving of the misstep. I picked my way carefully down across the yard to the edge of the lake where the ice had trapped little pockects of air that you wanted to avoid stepping on and cutting with the sound like ripping silk.

keeping the blades flat and taking the first steps out onto the black ice..right foot left foot ..tock. tock, tock  then leaning and letting the glide take me further away from the house into deeper silence and darkness  then setting the toeteeth and pushing off. Another long glide before settling into the rhythm and picking up speed, steadying, shifting and lifting the right foot up and back, leaning in and forward, shoulders down, head up..flying into the night on that burning, bad, but anchored, ankle.

Picking up speed in a wide arc I fly off into the darkness for  a while but soon catch a careless toe and go sprawling. Heated up and winded, I lie on my back and look into the overcast blackness unable to find any stars, my eyes smarting with the cold. The ice speaks underneath me then, through me, a thrummimg groan, booming low and pinging high at the same time. letting me know it's gathering strength under me as unseen snowflakes land on my burning cheeks and melt instantly the water running into my hair.

Monday, December 19, 2011


"Healer" 22"x'22"  2003

I was tinkering with my laptop this morning and some of the newer versions of programs I have been forced into in the move to Windows 7 when I stumbled across a bunch of files from back in the day.

When I first started learning HTML for the purpose of building and maintaining my own website I didn't pay a lot of attention to organizing the files properly. Files are named cryptically and are scattered all over the place. 

this B&W image caught and soothed my over stimulated eye this morning.

Both built on common cotton bandanas, this is a companion piece to "Parking Magik" which was created for a black and white challenge and is part of the Del Thomas Contemporary Quilt Collection . Once upon a time I was enthralled by commercial cotton prints and beading with no notions of dyeing fabric.

Saturday, December 17, 2011


When I got up this morning I discovered that the Head Chef had turned his kitchen fairy loose in the night and my one big chore for today had been handled for me. Molte grazie amore mio .

I took the great luxury of starting the basting on this piece with only one or two changes along the way. As the stitches replace the horde of pins it begins to feel like cloth again and not a clanking torture device determined to slash me full of holes. I am happy with the layout now  but the colors are feeling very fruity so the next layers will be all about moderating the first go round of color choices. Looking at it closely, not in a fugue state with eyes all crossed and crazy, I know there is going to be arguments about the stitching...what thread? how loud?  all those variables.

Friday, December 16, 2011

eye candy friday!

So this one is shaping up to be about 30"x30" and the individual elements worked themselves out to be scaled the same as the four previous, smaller pieces. This is only the first layer of course and I'm seeing one or two things I want to change before I start basting.

And speaking of grand scale eye candy, check out the amazing works of   I Wayan Sudarsana Yansen.. here and here where you can get an idea of how big his work is.

Recently I was fussing with myself about wanting to make cloth look like paint and here is an artist who has made paint look like cloth at it's most glorious - in motion on the wind or in water or maybe worn by a dancer.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

more than just a dream

While I was looking for something else, I found the last piece of that gridded slinky stuff- a blend of silk and rayon maybe, and quickly put it to work as the next step in the series. After a few hours of auditioning bits and pieces, I put it down on the floor to take a picture and looked around for my black scissors to throw down for scale. Something else materialized in seconds. Sweetie is more of a doer than a dreamer, and yes, we are both on diets.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

grand rêves

I've decided to stop causing myself any additional stress so far as how and where my art and chosen medium are taking me. For now, I just want to go along for the ride. "Broader Strokes" has come off  the design wall and has been disassembled - the pieces will be put to good use in the next project. more on that tomorrow. The materials for finishing and mounting these four have been ordered.

Monday, December 12, 2011

mending with color

The  corner of this tablecloth had a spray of rust stains. Now garden islands are poking through melting snow.

Right now I have no plans to use this technique in a piece but let me think on it some.

If you are shopping online for the holidays, the last day to mail first class for Christmas arrival in the US is next Tuesday, but I'm calling it Monday, 12/19. ..the store inventory is current! Run Wild!

Last year the lobby of our local post office looked like the deck of the Titanic as the last boats were being swung out....

Saturday, December 10, 2011

paying close attention

Seth just reminded me "Some things are true whether you believe in them or not"

Judy Martin's dots

Thank so much for the tutorial Judy!

Of course I chose inappropriate cloth, drew the wonky roundness by hand, did not baste and had no silk thread..still I like it. Where Judy's dots are almost holy in their precision, mine will be crawling off the blanket in their own organic way. Remember my notion of islands?  This technique could work for that idea. let's see.

Friday, December 09, 2011

broader strokes

I've decided to stop bitching about it and see how I can go about using fabric more like paint. There will be  a lot of false starts with stitch so I've basted this one loosely so the end wont have little blood stains all over it.

Most of yesterday was given over to finally getting my hearing tested and confirming what I suspected - that I am hearing less than half of what is said and have worked out a complex of methods to work around the loss. I really didn't realize how much I was depending on visual cues in face to face conversations.

The phone is another big issue. My job entails listening to incident reports over the phone and I depend a great deal on the fact that nothing much new and strange happens on a daily basis...repetition and anticipation, sort of human predicative spelling. I have reports typed out before people even finish dictating them. How many stupid ass ways can one slip and fall or burn oneself in a commercial kitchen anyway?

The doctor couldn't say if the tinnitus was a separate issue from the hearing loss but it certainly compounds the problem. I really miss stone cold silence. My range of hearing is narrow and odd and hearing aids are called for as soon as possible to prevent further loss/damage. They may or may not help the tinnitus. When it's at it's lowest level, I can pretend it's only cicadas partying hearty on midsummer's eve. At it's worst, a jet's engines revving up just before take off...only it never does. A new element cropped up the other day -- a mercifully short low toned hum, not unlike the reverberations of a really big bell came creeping in my left ear like a fat fuzzy brown caterpillar, and then thankfully slunk away. Sometimes it's hard to hear my own thoughts.

Tuesday, December 06, 2011

rainy day festivities

It was raining on and off all day..humid and too warm for December. Then the power was off for  a spell in mid afternoon. Some folks know what to do with days like this.

The light was too poor to continue.

Monday, December 05, 2011

letting it all rest

For a little while, I'll be making feathers, checking my compass and warming up to the holidays. Lovely to hear from everyone. Thank you all.

thank you John Hopper for a very timely post

rêver 4 finished

Except for a handful of white french knots here and there on the avenues and a little blocking, "rêver 4" is finished.
I had a fleeting notion of mounting the four of these together on a big canvas but seeing them together this way I have changed my mind. Now to commit to mounting them with acrylic medium on canvas.

and to every one who commented on yesterday's post, one by one I will be responding. many thanks for the input and food for deeper thought - all lights on a dark path are welcome light.

Sunday, December 04, 2011


detail from "Rêver 4"

 To continue a private conversation in public (and one I have been having with myself)  - Why use cloth as an art medium when the expressions I want to make have nothing to do with stitch or texture or hand?

What a pain in the ass it is sometimes and why in the world make art in a medium that has been stigmatized in so many ways that we have to spend valuable time countering stereotypes and consign ourselves to figurative textile ghettos to have any public voice at all.

It's been pointed out to me that a big reason people make art in the first place is to get "buy in" or acceptance of the visions that please or speak to them- an agreement of sorts. "I  like pie. I made a great pie. Have some. It's delicious if I do say so myself"

It's clear that most creative people would rather have agreement with their audiences (whoa!..sometimes in the form of exchanging art for cash!) than spend time cultivating the attitude of "F@#K you if you don't like it" and working in a vacuum or making pies and letting them burn black or throw them at passersby.

Since many of my readers are artists who work with textiles,  have you ever asked yourselves "Why cloth" and what were your answers?

untitled Rothko

Saturday, December 03, 2011

Chooglin' in the aisles!

It's no secret we don't get out much but my Goodman made the stellar decision a month or so ago to score a pair of premium seats at the Gwinnett Arena to see Paul Simon and his troupe of amazing musicians put on the kind of show that was so worth waiting for. Yes, the crowd was shiny bald and frosted with white and gray but baby, we was rocking the house with the Master.

Paul Simon's music has a special place in my heart and soul, his music came along at a time in my life when I never had to share him with anyone, no boyfriend, no one to convince what a genius he was. I just bought the record, or cassette and simply wore it out all by myself . I have never seem him perform live before so this was a special show. What a Hell of a great time we had! Thanks again darlin'.

Yes indeed. still surprising after all these years.