Be Delighted

"Oh my my my my, what an eager little mind!"

Auntie Mame

Saturday, June 23, 2018

The City Different

I haven't kept track of how many times I've visited Santa Fe. Probably close to a dozen, beginning with our honeymoon in 1978, The beauty of the place is that apart from the inevitable sprawl it still retains a warm familiarity, a timelessness that defies the decades. At the same time there is always new art to see, new restaurants to try, and old haunts to revisit. I end up coming home with stacks of brochures, flyers, and postcards from galleries, to browse over and file away, mementos of a happy journey.

                                                                         Road trip!
                                                  Just west of Clovis, New Mexico.

                                               Classic Santa Fe house on Delgado Street.

                    Our AirB&B, Casita Corvo, just north of Canyon Road. Cozy and convenient.

                                                         The poppies were in bloom.

                                                         The Buddhas were blissful.

There were whimsical sculptures everywhere.

Glenn needed his coffee and Kindle time at The Travel Bug.

The wine was good

The gods were smiling.

                                       Our breakfast at Clafoutis Bakery was just perfect.

We had our traditional martini at the Pink Dragon.

And dined at La Piatta. Mmmm, heavenly trout.

We met with good friends, Toni and Gordon, at Rancho de Chimayo

And drove to Santa Cruz lake.

                                 We visited the Ortega Weavers and bought a lovely rug.

Here it is in our house.

Enjoyed a spa evening at Ten Thousand Waves, a hot soak, massages, then dining at the Izanami restaurant. My salmon was fresh and delectable.

                                                         Couldn't miss brunch at Pasqual's.

Or a visit to my favorite bookstore, Collected Works.

Or buying art supplies at Artisan. I probably spent more than Georgia.

Farewell, for now.

Monday, May 21, 2018

A Sea of Grass, a Pool of Tears

One day last February I was asked to come to Levelland, about 30 miles away, and give a presentation on Seated Yoga to a ladies club. (It was a delightful group, btw). It's a quiet, calming drive, a straight line through the plains without much variation in topography and lots of open sky. On this day the sky was overcast, the day was chilly, and as I approached the town I saw a farm road off to my right, and along its edges, waves of dried, bleached grasses and winter-dead shrubs. I was ahead of schedule so I took a detour a few feet down the road and got out of my car with my cell phone to take an atmospheric shot, as well as some close up shots of the grasses for inspiration. I worked a little Instagram hocus pocus and came out with these two images.

This isn't the first time I have been captivated with the texture of prairie grasses. A few years ago I painstakingly stitched this image from a photo I had taken on another country road near Wolforrth.

Later, while going through my fox phase I did this painting, which became more about the surroundings than the little sleeping fox.

 So I started out by doing a small painting of the Levelland grasses.

Then I started painting grasses just out of my imagination, in different colour palettes.

It's tricky catching the colour and depth on my cell phone. My daughter will take professional photos later.

Finally I prepped a larger canvas and went back to my original photo for inspiration.

It was met with great enthusiasm on social media. In fact I sold it even before I had added the final coat of varnish.

Which is when the unthinkable happened.
I was indeed adding that final coat of varnish, after having done three layers of glazing to create a warm, radiant effect. This was the same varnish I had used on the other paintings, and many paintings before but.....maybe it was the damp weather and the other glazes hadn't set, but before my eyes, the varnish and the glazes began to frost over then turn into a gelatinous mess. The more I tried to smooth it out the worse it got. I grabbed the painting, ran to the bathroom and began hosing it down in the bath tub, rubbing with a washcloth to get the varnish off before it set. Not only did the varnish and glazes come off but so did flakes of paint from sky and field. It suddenly looked like a 100 year old painting that had been left in the sun. I just stood there paralyzed. Now what?
Well, after the painting dried I took it back into the studio and for three hours tried to salvage it. I had to sand down and completely repaint the sky, painting right over the telephone poles and wires, then painting them back in. I then had to restore the fields, bring the faded colours back, and repaint grasses one by one. It was at least better than sitting in a puddle of tears.
So here is the second version of the painting over the first version. The sky is a bit different as is the left part of the field. Same scene, maybe as it looked ten minutes later, with the clouds shifting and the wind blowing a different direction. I hope I saved it. I hope my blood pressure is back to normal. I don't want to ever do that again so thus far I have re-glazed the surface three times but not added varnish. I am terrified of varnish.

Monday, April 30, 2018

A Stitch in Time

I'm teaching a workshop next month that focuses on the contemplative pleasures of "slow stitching". It's a way of honouring thousands of years of hand sewing, stitching, repairing, embroidering, and embellishing. Many of those women, and sometimes men, did not have the luxury of doing it for pleasure. They either had to patch, repair, and make do with clothing worn year after year, recycling or adjusting clothes for their growing children, or hire themselves out to spend countless hours of work making fine apparel for the very rich. Often considered women's work or domestic skills, the craft and beauty of it has often been overlooked.

A French dress from the 1770's. The sewing machine wasn't invented until 1851.

In a very rushed world, bombarded with audio and visual stimuli, it is very soothing to just sit and feel the texture of cloth beneath your fingers, to savor creating patiently and seeing pattern and texture emerging, to appreciate the history of a garment or piece of fabric and to give it new life and new beauty.

My focus for the workshop will be on the simple running stitch (and a few others), especially as used in Boro and Kantha techniques.

Boro: a repair technique from Japan.

Late 19th century kimono.

Kantha: a repair and repurposing technique from India

Kantha cloth, gently worn and repurposed.

Here are some examples of each, little projects that I created for the workshop but that are slowly developing and growing. Each row of stitching gradually embeds the layers of fabric into each other, adding weight and strength, as well as integrating a variety of disparate pieces into a cohesive whole.

 This traditional hexagon flower was also pieced together by hand before being embedded into a background fabric. I might turn it into a tote bag. With enough dense stitching it should be able to hold a few groceries.
Silk, linen, and cotton fabrics, plus tulle net and a crocheted flower.

The beauty of this technique is that it is as simple and as basic as it can get. Needle, thread, some scraps of cloth, and your own hands. It can go anywhere. In an age of technology where a $5000 sewing machine can do all your work for you (it can do embroidery by pushing a button while you leave the room to get a cup of coffee) there is something satisfying for the soul in making something entirely by hand.
That doesn't mean it can't be combined with machine work. I have often combined both hand and machine stitching in one piece just to get a variety of of textures, lines, and details, and, frankly, it does speed those big projects on to the finish line.

My Heart Skipped a Beat
Almost finished. Some final quilting and binding to get it ready for a show this summer.

Another piece for a show coming up about the colour Red (detail)

  My sources and inspiration are these two books , and also the work of Mandy Patullo, Cas Holmes, and Jude Hill.