Be Delighted

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

Auntie Mame

Friday, February 17, 2017

The T-shirt That Went to Art School

First of all let's go back to 1994. That was a great year and it only seems like a decade ago, but I've been around awhile and time does gallop on.

We were on a vacation at Big Bend National Park with the kids, (aw, look how cute they are!) and I was wearing this T-shirt that said Free Your Mind on the back. BTW, that's the Rio Grande and that's Mexico on the other side. It doesn't need a wall blocking this fabulous view.

But I digress. The T-shirt was inspired by a popular song at the time, by En Vogue, and since I was teaching dance at Lubbock High I liked to use contemporary music so the students wouldn't revolt.    "Free your mind and the rest will follow. Be colour blind, don't be so shallow."

     That shirt got pretty ragged and old but just when I was ready to throw it away my daughter took it over in 2006 when she started art school at Texas Tech. Four years later it was a sad little paint and clay spattered shirt with holes everywhere, but Naomi was now wearing it as a night shirt so every time it went through the wash it got a little more raggedy and sad. I liked the words on it, though, so I could never bear to toss it in the trash.
       Last year our fiber arts group, the Caprock Art Quilters, began planning a big exhibit at the Buddy Holly Center. We wanted a theme to tie everything together so we came up with the idea if recycling and upcycling, using non-traditional fabrics and materials to create an art statement. For some reason I was instantly inspired. I took that pitiful, threadbare T-shirt out of the drawer it was lingering in and came up with my idea: The T-shirt That Went to Art School. T-shirts are long lasting clothing that are a staple in nearly every wardrobe, and because of that they are associated with memories, with moments in our lives, and with a reputation for endurance. (My oldest T-shirt is from 1973). Not only that but both my daughter and I had shared it doing what we do best: being creative.
     I began by cutting the front of the T-shirt apart from the back and stitching it down onto a piece of navy blue linen. I cut the slogan from the back and stitched it vertically to the side of the front. Then in true boho, shabby chic tradition I began embellishing it with embroidery. It recalled my college days when we used to embroider flowers and symbols over the holes in our blue jeans. The whole concept of upcycling is to add onto, embellish, or deconstruct an item in such away that it becomes more valuable or interesting than its original state. It is transformed into something greater than the sum of its parts.

In progress.
 Added an old paint brush and scraps of kantha cloth.

                                                      More messages and more flowers.
The moon was a lino print I carved, then I scanned and uploaded the printed image into my computer and printed it out onto sheer organza, which I placed over the printed message on the front of the shirt: "write poetry, read philosophy, study art"
                                      Actual turquoise paint. It needed brightening up a bit.
I stretched the whole thing over a canvas to give it artistic cred, plus make it easier to hang. I can't tell if it's just a big, hot, hippie mess at this point but I had fun doing it.
Our show opens next week. Lots of others artists have their own interpretations of this theme. Check it out. And free your mind.

Friday, January 6, 2017

Let's Drink a Cup of Kindness Now

New year, new me? Not really. Most of the changes in myself are so gradual and imperceptive I need about five years to look back and see the process. We like to think we all slowly get better with age, more wise, more discerning, less concerned about what others think. Some do. Some give up, dumb down, and wallow in self pity. Some become angry and bitter, usually out of some deep seated fear of change, which is also a fear, ultimately, that we will be closer to death in a world we don't understand anymore.

Ooooh, a nice touch of existential angst to start 2017. Hard to avoid it after the past year. Onward through the fog, as they say. Or as Carrie Fisher put it. "If my life wasn't funny, it would just be true. And that is unacceptable." Carrie's been through a lot more than I have. But she also writes better.

How am I getting better?
    I make art every day now. It is ingrained in my heart and soul.
    I still have a sense of humour. If I lose that.....see Carrie quote.
    I value kindness and compassion still. Still.
    I recover more quickly when people hurt my feelings.  OK, sometimes.....
    I am not afraid to let go of toxic people in my life.
    My health and fitness are still a top priority even when my aging body complains more.

How am I changing in less positive ways?
    I am more irritated with some people and less empathetic than I used to be with a lot of people.
    I really like to be left alone.
    I don't always choose my words as well as I used to. Brain filter has grown weaker.
    Passive-aggressiveness still kicks in. Also whining.
    I drink more wine. Hey I need that serotonin boost so I won't be angry and bitter.
    I don't always realize when I'm annoying. (OK, that's not a change but more of a fixed thing.)

That said, a bit of self reflection is always a good thing, even when it is uncomfortable. I just have to make sure self reflection doesn't turn into self justification.

Enough of that. Here's some art from the past year. Rather a mixed bag. Like my brain.

 Blue Betta. Art quilt submitted to SAQA touring trunk show. It will be on the road next year.

                                       From my Empty Bowl series. I had a Zen moment.

                                                  Two small pieces using monoprinting.

                                   November Light. Acrylic on cradled board. 20" x 20"

                      Two pieces for the annual Dia de los Muertos exhibit. Bowie and Prince.

 Another of my Moon Hare paintings. It was created over a landscape painting I made a big mess of.

                     Mr Badger, from my storybook animal series. Painted figure over monoprinting.

   Cat at Window. A collage on cradled wood board to cover up yet another failed painting. 20" x 20"
 Silk Road. Batik dyeing, quilting, and embroidery stretched over a cradled wood board. This is going in a fiber arts show next month.

Also I couldn't look back without one more look at my happy, wonderful dancers from my dance, Candycornucopia, for Flatlands Dance Theatre. A sure cure for 2017 angst.

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Good Dog

This has been a tough year for many. We lost some great people like Bowie, Prince, and Alan Rickman. We've had an ugly and endless presidential campaign. And in my own life, I lost my sweet doggy companion, Penny, on October 7th after 16 years as a well loved family member.

Although I've done a lot of artwork of animals, and other peoples' pets, not to mention a feral cat, I have not really used Penny as a subject matter other than a sketch here and there.

Penny sketches.

However, over the years I have taken hundreds of photos of her, probably more so than my children, once they reached their teens. Penny was present, available, and endlessly photogenic. In the last year of her life she became a Facebook celebrity for managing to never quite be in her bed. Here then are her top five failed attempts:

And here are her first picture, (when she was rescued from the Dallas Animal Shelter and rode back to Lubbock to her new home), and her last, as she lay quietly in her bed. In between was a life well lived, full of walks and snuggles, love and devotion.

Friday, July 22, 2016

Gazing at the Moon

There is a tradition in British and Celtic lore of a hare gazing up at the moon. Supposedly, when a wild hare does this it symbolizes fertility and abundance, a good harvest, the continuity of life.

Last Christmas I did a small illustration of a moon hare and made it my Christmas card.
I also did a few greeting cards with this motif, beginning with a carved lino block of a leaping rabbit to make prints from, then embellishing each print with paint and ink.
I used the same print to make a small, detailed illustration.

And another one on watercolour paper.

But then I kept seeing other animals gazing at the moon, as many of us tend to do, because that gentle night light in the sky has intrigued us for centuries. We contemplate our place in the universe as we look to its glow, its waxing and waning. So because I also love foxes I did a larger painting of a young fox also gazing at the moon. This one is called Magic Hour. It went to a friend's son and wife for the upcoming birth of their baby.

When my nephew and his wife were expecting their baby I knew their colour scheme was pink and grey so I returned to the image of the moon gazing hare and painted Pink Moon for them.

And for my sister's birthday this year I did this painting for her veterinary clinic called The Night Watch. Two happy friends communing with nature.

The moon appears in a number of my artworks, as does the sun. They define our days and nights, give us rich symbols, myths, legends, and stories, and will be here long after we are gone.

Friday, May 27, 2016

Hidden Domains

Like many people, I sometimes pass ancient or abandoned dwellings slowly decaying into their surroundings, and I ponder both the stories of the place and the people who long ago left them, The ancient ruins, like those in New Mexico, or Mesa Verde, Colorado have a documented history, even if there are unanswered questions.

Chaco Canyon, New Mexico
 Mesa Verde

Other ruins are often found out on the West Texas flat lands, old farmhouses or barns gently disintegrating into their environment. Just a forgotten place, a lost history.

When I do abstract paintings they may seem to be just an exercise in colour, form, and design, but I often tap into meanings that come forth in the process. In the case of my new series of small works, and in a number of previous abstract paintings, there seems to emerge a mysterious sense of place, geometric forms that suggest structures, often lonely, vacated structures, weathered by time and nature. In each image there seems to be a window, a door, or even a crack opening into another place, another time. I like the fact that my subconscious can dwell in these places, calm, silent, and solitary.

Forgotten Place-2013

The Guardian-2013
Hidden Domain Quartet-2016

 The series, framed.

A smaller image, 5" x 5"

 And sometimes, even a tiny 4" square of scrap watercolour paper, with a few strokes of paint on it, can evoke a sense of place.