Sunday, January 30, 2011

No rest for the weary

I am every sense of the word. Last week I finally had some time to relax a bit. So what do I do? I decide to finally redo my bedroom. (I am not sure that I know HOW to relax...(unless it is with a cocktail :)). Not an hour after my last post I could be found in my bedroom scraping the wallpaper that has been there since my childhood. I have been living here for about 3 years and I think I have finally figured out that I am going to be here for as long as Dad is still here.
(Side note to family: I am not staying here after prepare for the house to be sold when the time comes! More on this later.)

My other reason for starting this project now is that my bedroom gets some wonderful sunshine in the winter. The dining room where I work is on the north side of the house and is rather cold. I thought if I fixed up my bedroom it would be an inviting place to do some of the less favorite parts of my projects. Sewing and beading could be done up there in the wonderful sunshine.
My enthusiasm for this project has been somewhat dampened because:
a. the ceiling needs to be fixed which has to be done on someone else's schedule,
b. I was physically tired from the first day of scraping wallpaper (apparently different muscles are used in this activity than are used in felting),
c. the wonderful sunshine was not so plentiful,
d. the wonderful sunshine was not so plentiful because the snow WAS,
e. the removal of said snow also involved using different muscles than are used in felting,
f. is for felting, which the lack thereof seems to dampen my enthusiasm for life in general.
While I would rather have nice white snow than the freezing rain/sleet mix we have been getting a lot of the last few years there is a point when enough is enough.

And when it comes to snow, 'enough' for me is when the removal takes up so much time and energy.  I had to shovel my path just to get to the the chicken coop to give them their breakfast.

This last snowstorm also made it necessary to rake the roof. Now THERE is a whole set of muscles that really don't get used often. I don't remember ever having to rake the roof before. And we have more than one...

I didn't spend ALL my time dealing with chores though. I enjoyed photographing the changing sky at the end of the storm.

 I thought the cloud above looked like a bridge.


 This cloud reminded me of the sign for infinity.

I also HAD to make at least one piece of felt. I decided to experiment with a few different things; a VERY limited palette, a piece of strange netting that I found here, and a different way of laying out the fibers. I learned a few things from the exercise and decided that this would be a good piece to use when teaching to demonstrate the effects of values and context in a landscape.

My sister brought over her landscape to show me how it has progressed with the needle felting. It is wonderful. And I was especially proud when she said that when something was not looking right she was able to figure out what was wrong and how to fix it because of the lessons I taught her.
Here is her piece before the needle felting...

 and after...

And now that I have finished this post I am planning on getting in 'the studio' and finish felting this fish that I started last night....if I am not too tired!

Sunday, January 23, 2011

A Chance to Relax

I have been so busy this month with several things needing to be done at the same time. Most of the demands on my energy surrounded the Huyck retreat exhibit and article for the International Feltmakers Association. I brought the pieces for the show up to the gallery in Albany yesterday. It was four hours of driving during which I had a change to unwind and just enjoy the ride. I love when the driving is easy, listening to music, singing loudly, and enjoying the scenery. It was beautiful driving through the Berkshires even though I just stayed on the highway. The sunlight and clouds cast wonderful shadows on the mountains which were a wonderful dusky lavender and plum color. The trees were stunning with their frosting of snow and glaze of ice. The snow was still sticking to the medium size branches but the small twigs at the ends were only covered with the ice. The snow outlined the main parts of the trees and the ice twinkled from the tops. It was like a fairly land and made me think of Narnia and the white witch. It also was almost too much of a distraction and really made me wish I had my camera.
Though I was busy with those tasks, and dealing with problems with the computer, and with an offspring, I balanced the struggles with some fun. On one of the nicer days I went out and played in the snow while I was visiting with my chickens. I was only going to shovel to find them some grass to eat but I seem to have a way of getting distracted by the need to create. I did not uncover too much grass...instead I made a snow chicken.

Here she is almost done but something was not right.

Apparently my critics noticed too.

I finally realized i had forgotten to give her a wattle, and though the sun had gone below the horizon and I was really getting cold I had to add it. I could have wasted spent many more hours on her. It was probably good that it was getting dark.
 I also went out to help my daughter with her snow cave later in the week. I thought we could improve the aesthetics if we made it look like a castle, so while she worked on the excavation I added the 'stonework'.

It would have looked better if it had not been made out of the dirty snow bank, but what a perfect home for two out-of-work recent college graduates.

I am happy to say that even though I took that time to play I managed to finish the banner I started in my last post. I am not very happy with it but I learned tons. One of the things I learned is that I can not work like Joei and Beth did on their landscapes. I tried to be more careful with my layout and think more...not a good thing for me to do. I also learned that when working big like that it is even more important to remember to step back and look at the whole image...even though stepping back involves a step stool.

 I needed to add a heron although it is way too large for the scene. There was one fishing the pond every day of the retreat...besides I love birds.

I also made a sculpture of Indian pipes. I have always thought these were magical and it was like uncovering a secret of the forest the first time I ever saw them.

I added leaves and a newt and called it 'Healthy Humus, Healthy Habitat' since these plants only grow where there is humus rich soil and the health of the soil is important to all living things. (I won't get on my environmental soapbox here).

And once I got all the paperwork etc. done for those pieces that were finished for the exhibit I was able to work on the 18x24 I had said I would do. I didn't think I could get it done since it was the night before I had to deliver the pieces but I got it to this point...

I brought it to the galley even though it was not really done and ready to hang (I was surprised it was not still damp). Since there was a lot of wall space to cover in the gallery the curator, Sara, said that she would like to hang it. I didn't even have time to stitch my initials on it!
And now I need to go clean up after that felting frenzy.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

How to avoid writing an ARTIST'S STATEMENT

I am sitting here very early in the morning while a nor'easter rages outside, trying to think about my art and come up with some kind of ARTIST'S STATEMENT for two shows that I have coming up. I thought that reading some of the old posts here would help, and it has somewhat, but writing a new post about what I have been doing lately is much easier than writing that ARTIST'S STATEMENT . I am finally facing up to writing a real ARTIST'S STATEMENT because my friend Joei was here this weekend and working on hers for one of the shows. She shared the information she found about how to go about writing the dreaded ARTIST'S STATEMENT , for example we found this website helpful for getting the ideas and words flowing; . The funny thing is that I think writing an ARTIST'S STATEMENT could be very enlightening for me if I had the time to fully examine what my art is. The conundrum is that I need the pressure of a deadline to actually do the work. I have several other deadlines to meet the next two weeks so instead I will escape by writing about the fun I had with Joei this weekend.
Joei has been wanting me to teach her how I do my landscapes and since she is my best friend and we share so much I gave her a private lesson. Besides a year ago she showed me how she makes her beautiful nuno felt pictures, including the secrets of sanders, dryers, and fussy cuts! We started the weekend in our usual way; talking, drinking, and making flowers for the guild. Only three got done but we had a lot of catching up to do since we had not seen each other since before the holidays.

Unfortunately I forgot to get a photo of Joei's finished landscape. You will have to look at her blog for that. I did remember to take some photos of her layout though.

And I got one of her doing her needle felting after the wet felting.

She really wanted me to teach her how to render the light in a landscape and I think she nailed it. In between giving her advice I worked on none of the things I should have been doing. I made this instead. It is a fish candy dish. I think I have to get some Swedish fish to put in it...I would use gummy worms but I think they would get covered with fibers. I am going to put it in the Huyck show so the time was sort of spent on one of the things I should be doing.

I did do just a little work on what was going to be my banner for the Huyck show but when I held it up for Joei and my sister Beth to look at they could see the light coming through the thin felt and it added a wonderful new dimension to the piece. I decided that I would save that piece for a show in Rochester, NY and hang it in such a way that it could be softly lit from behind. The hanging will take a bit of experimenting to figure out since the felt is too thin and uneven to hang nice and flat, but I think I may have figured out a way. Here is what it looks like hanging in a window. The light shines through the really thin spots and looks like dappled sunshine in a forest, exactly what I was trying to depict.

I have to make a new banner to put in the Huyck show now. Here is the start of the layout (sideways because it is so big I have to stand on a stool and hold the camera over my head to get a photo of all of it).

On Monday I had another reason/excuse for not working on that ARTIST'S STATEMENT. My sister needed my help to boost her spirits. She was feeling like giving up on her endeavors in felting landscapes after seeing how well Joei's picture came out. Beth had been my guinea pig first student when I started teaching the landscape class and my teaching has improved since then. She had been doing some pictures on her own that are charming in their simplicity ...

...but she could see how differently Joei was laying out the fibers and how many colors were being used. She wanted to try doing something more complex. Her piece came out beautiful. Here it is after the wet felting.

So now that I am caught up on my blog i guess I have run out of excuses and need to work on my ARTIST'S STATEMENT. Unless of course I go out to shovel some of this.

On my way back from giving the chickens water.

The chicken tractor looks like a chalet.

I love the sculptures.
Getting the morning paper took some doing...just trying to get dressed. Here is Dad on his way out.

He shoveled the steps on the way back i think he will need a nap...hard work just walking when the snow is up to your knees. And it is still coming down.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Ah! Done with the holiday!

I am still trying to recuperate from the Christmas doings. I am too tired to write much but I wanted to make a last post for the year. I also am afraid I will forget much of what happened if I don't get it written soon.
A few days after my last post I found out I had sold one of the pieces I put in the Wesleyan Potters annual show ans sale. This was a real good example of things going well since it was a piece that I had forgotten I had and submitted it at the last moment! It is the one I did for the Granby Land Trust art show last year.

I finished the (insert the appropriate curse word here) project I was working on in my last post. I am proud that I finished it but it fought me all the way. The sewing went so badly that I went to my sister's house to do the button holes, which are no fun to take out over and over. It also convinced me it is time to buy a better machine. The project was to make a nice warm vest for my Dad.

The finished vest does not look terrible if you don't look too close, but it fits as well as would be expected for this project. I know it is not about the gift, it is the thought that counts, but I had so many bad thoughts about this does that still apply?
Once I had my shopping for gifts over with I got busy with the traditional cookie baking.

I like this part of the Christmas holiday...especially when it is a shared time. While I was mixing the last batch of dough my daughter decided she wanted to do a gingerbread house this year. She remembered the houses that my mother used to make. One year she made six of these...

We didn't have time to do the candy stained glass windows but I think we did OK.

A close-up of the lady of the house...

and our drowning swimming gingerbread man. We could make up a story that he is from the story and was no fox in sight to get him across the water...only the ducks. Or we could say that he was a participant in a polar bear swim, but really it just shows our strange sense of humor.

It didn't take me long to get back to felting. I didn't even wait until I had the studio(aka dining room) set back up properly. The blizzard prompted me into making a nice 'warm in the snow and wind hat'. It reminds me of a hat from the Star Wars movies but it keeps my ears warm and yet I can still hear. Besides I am not one to care about how I look, comfort comes first, though it looks kind of cute on my niece. I still need to do a fastener for the real windy days. It is just pinned in the photo below.

My niece decided to make a hat too. I could not believe how hard she worked and how she stuck to it. She even did more work the next day adding the finishing touches.

And now on the table is the beginning of a large landscape for an exhibit of work done by the felters who went on the late summer retreat at the Hyuck Preserve. The show will be at Davey Jones Gallery  opening in February.

I started this post last year aka yesterday but I got interrupted, which has been happening a lot lately. I hope the New Year goes as well as the last. I do know it is going to be a busy one. Happy 1/1/11!