Sunday, September 25, 2016

Prepping the Studio

The time has come to shift artistic mediums and to focus on painting once again. While I have loved fiber art and it has comprised the majority of my work since the mid-1990's, my physical inability to draw with the sewing machine brings that chapter to a close. At least for now. I am presently contemplating the option of a shoulder replacement, but that shoulder - even if fixed to perfection - won't be available for sewing until next summer, at the earliest.

So my first love, watercolors, is back on my drawing table. You've witness a few of my attempts this year to renew and refresh myself in this medium. I can certainly admit that I was not overly pleased with those first results! I am, however, a realist. I know that after 20+ years away from painting, it will take many hours/months/years to develop my own style with watercolors, especially at this time in my life.

I'm not even sure what I am aiming for - other than to have the pleasure of losing myself in the creative process once again. I dearly miss the suspension of time/space when I am in the midst of creating. Even if the end product is a failure, the process itself if amazing... I do not have a specific style in mind, nor even a favorite painting surface! There are so many surfaces to choose from! I've invested in some small gesso panels made by DaVinci with what they call a "medium texture." And I have lots of various watercolor papers in many sizes that I've kept collecting over the years.

So, after several days of cleaning, sorting, discarding, replacing, and locating what I need in the studio, it is now ready for me to tackle watercolors once again. To say that I'm a bit nervous is to admit the obvious. Any artist who has switched mediums is familiar with the trepidation of starting over again anew. Yet there is an excitement about it, too. And a welcoming home sort of feeling, perhaps.

Watercolor was my first love - Some 60 years ago when I walked into my first HS art class and saw just what one could DO with simple water, paints and paper - I was enthralled. I was in a small Catholic girls school taught by the Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet. My art teacher for those 4 wonderful years of art classes was Sr. Rose Aurelia, CSJ. She was already elderly but she was a joyful child whenever she painted. And she painted all the time! While we plodded along learning how to cut stencils or do calligraphy or draw the ever-present still life set-ups around the room, Sister was at her desk painting in watercolor.

Every spring, she painted daffodils and lilacs. I've never yet seen lilacs painted with such ease and clarity and liveliness as Sr. Rose Aurelia could paint them. Every year, bouquets of lilacs appeared in our classroom - but only seniors were allowed to paint them. Seniors also spent weeks working on their own perspective of the Cathedral of St. Paul as seen from our 4th floor classroom windows. I could hardly WAIT until I was a senior and could try my hand at painting those two subjects. My older sister had already done a wonderful rendition of the Cathedral - I only hoped I could do as well.

As so many other younger siblings have often felt less talented/able/creative/whatever, than their elder siblings, I was sadly disappointed in my results. I never did like my version of the Cathedral. And, sadly, I don't even recall painting lilacs that year!

Anyway, yesterday, to feed my soul, I went to the Spring Creek Park in Houseerville, PA - a hop, skip and jump from our house. I spent some time just listening to the water flow. Always refreshing for me.

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Thoughts on Facebook and Blogging

Facebook is quite amazing, isn't it?

I've been Facebooking for many years - and Blogging for even longer (11 years and counting). Facebook, at first, was a great way to stay connected to my kids and grandkids... but now, only one of the three of them posts much on FB anymore. One is way too busy in his final year of college as a double major science whiz. The other one is a busy mom of 4 year old twins and she barely has time to eat, let alone sleep or doing anything on FB! The one who does post on FB is the manager of an organic farm affiliated with St. Joseph's University near Portland, Maine. I love her posts - lots of photos of fresh product, baby animals ever growing up, and all the labor intensive work that goes into farming. I've even painted (and posted) some from her photographs of sheep.

Over the years, my Facebooking revolved more around reading about fellow artists and photographers. It's been a great way to keep up with the swiftly changing world of art supplies, techniques, and styles as well as stay connected to artists whose work I admire.

And yes, I can & do keep in touch with family - near and far, via Facebook. And I'm able to keep up with some genealogical sites, too - which is cool as well as informative.

But more and more, I'm noticing that Facebook is fading in relevance, for me, for my family, and for my friends. And the politics of the past few years has definitely influenced, and for me, contaminated the air waves, the posts, the sharings, the photos, etc. I'm dreadfully tired of seeing that same face making with nasty expressions in so many places. Not to mention that catching up on Facebook these days takes a LOT of time!

I'm realizing that I am missing the thoughtful posts that blogging offers. While there's not the same back and forth dialoging that FB instantly provides, blogging is an opportunity for a more in-depth approach to whatever is on one's mind. Neither is fool-proof, of course. Lies and half-truths will abound. Opinions will rise to the foreground, but with blogging, there is the time/space required for more thoughtful consideration of whatever the topic. And fewer off-the-cuff responses that often miss the point of the conversation.

Finding blogs with detailed before, during, and after photos and explanations, particularly of art projects - this is delightful! It's even better when the artist provides a commentary about why they are choosing to do what they do when they do it, as well as HOW they do it. I guess that's what makes really great teachers, those who can share the internal processes as well as the external ones that lead from a concept through experimentation and into a completed work of art.

What I have lost is the "how to" find blogs that would interest me. There used to be a great way to be in a blog chain of sorts, to link up with other sites along the same line, to explore those writing about similar topics. I can't remember what it was - and that was years ago, anyway.

If anyone out there is listening/reading, would you offer your ideas and suggestions as to how to find other like-minded bloggers posting about their creative processes in watercolor, pastels, photography? Of nature, beauty, life and more? I'd love to learn more and to find the niche where I may fit in and learn from and share with others via blogging vs. Facebooking.


Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Fibers Unlimited Artists

(Click on photo to enlarge)

Here are the wonderful members of Fibers Unlimited, to which I belong. They are, from Left to Right:
Polly Miller, Tina Aumiller, MaryLou Pepe, Pat Dolan, Irmgard Lee, Nancy Silverman, and Janet Lindsay.

The photo was taken my MaryLou's husband, Peter, at our opening reception, Foxdale Village, State College, PA on August 21st. The exhibit will remain up through Monday, October 10th, Columbus Day and is open to the public.

Monday, August 22, 2016

Our "Fibers Unlimited" Art Exhibit 2016!

Our opening reception yesterday at Foxdale Village was a huge success. Foxdale outdid itself with the food preparations - photo below! And we were delighted with how many people came to the opening! Lots of questions were asked - particularly "how did you DO that?" and "what did you use to make that?" It was a great party.

Here are the photos of the exhibit following the hanging last Thursday. I'll do my best to identify the artist for each piece. The members of our group are: Tina Aumiller (fine embroidery as well as quilting); Irmgard Lee (color artist extraordinaire); Janet Lindsay (batik & quilt artist); Polly Miller (applique genius); MaryLou Pepe (award-winning quilt artist); Nancy Silverman (creativity specialist); and myself.

By Polly Miller

By Irmgard Lee

Large quilt: Polly Miller; ? (top); Pat Dolan (bottom); Pat Dolan (far right)

Left to Right: Irmgard Lee; Irmgard Lee; Pat Dolan; Pat Dolan

By Pat Dolan

Close-up of Tina Aumiller's embroideries

The embroideries on the left are by Tina Aumiller as is the top one on the long wall, the bottom piece by Pat Dolan; the piece on the right: MaryLou Pepe

Quilt by Tina Aumiller

L to R: Nancy Silverman, Pat Dolan (top); ? (bottom); Irmgard Lee

Left to Right: Pat Dolan & Janet Lindsay

By Pat Dolan

I think this one is by Nancy Silverman, but I'm not sure...

By Janet Lindsay

Challenge Quilts: (L>R) Polly Miller; Janet Lindsay; Pat Dolan; Nancy Silverman (top); MaryLou Pepe (below)

Looking down the hallway...

Both art-quilts are by MaryLou Pepe

Pat Dolan

L > R: Irmgard Lee; Nancy Silverman; Pat Dolan (top); Nancy Silverman (below)

Left: Standing piece by Nancy Silverman; Art quilt by MaryLou Pepe

L > R: MaryLou Pepe (one of two First Night quilts); Applique quilt by Polly Miller; MaryLou Pepe (2nd First Night quilt)

Art quilt by Janet Lindsay; painting by Pat Dolan

Art quilt by Irmgard Lee; Book and Standing piece: Nancy Silverman

Irmgard Lee

Janet Lindsay

Far L: Irmgard Lee; Janet Lindsay; Pat Dolan

Large quilt by Polly Miller; Nancy Silverman (top); Pat Dolan below and on right

Close-up: Janet Lindsay; small embroidery by Tina Aumiller; Pat Dolan

Delightfully arranged platters supplied by the Foxdale Village kitchen staff. Thank you!

Sunday, August 14, 2016

Upcoming Art Exhibit!!!

Our local newspaper, the Centre Daily Times (in Centre County, Pennsylvania) today published an article about our Fiber Unlimited's upcoming art exhibit at Foxdale Village in State College, PA. Unfortunately, the link will not post here.

It's a fairly good article, although it fails to mention the names of all seven of our members. So here we all are:

Polly Miller; Tina Aumiller; MaryLou Pepe; Pat Dolan; Irmgard Lee; Nancy Silverman; and Janet Lindsay.

So this week we all are busy with our preparations - hanging will be on Thursday and an open house sponsored by Foxdale Village is next Sunday, August 21 from 3:30-5:00pm. See here for details.

Stay tuned for updates!

Tuesday, August 02, 2016

The Crazy Person I've Always Been...

Some days when I wake up, I just KNOW it will be a good day! Today is one of those days. Strange thing about these kind of days, however... I always get involved in WAY too many projects and never complete a single one of them in all that enthusiasm and good feelings.

I suppose most creative types bump into this aspect of themselves on a regular basis. This summer has been one week after another of me bumping into my craziness and getting too interested in doing too many things. One mark in my favor is that I chose to take the summer off from volunteering at Centre Peace, Inc. I love the group of women with whom I volunteer and I totally enjoy the tasks I'm given. Centre Peace, Inc. Our group is given the task of cleaning donated household items and pricing them for resale in our store. It's a fun job and we see all sorts of things from items that remind us of our grandparent's homes to things we have no clue of how to identify them, let alone price them. You know, those new-fangled things on the market that have little or no discernible purpose!

The reason I took the summer off is to prepare for our Fibers Unlimited art exhibit at Foxdale Village, a lovely, Quaker-established, retirement community in State College, PA. Since I volunteered a few years ago to initiate this venture, I'm now in charge of seeing to the completion of this task! Thankfully, most of the prep and advertising work is now done. We hang the exhibit on August 18th, have a grand opening on Sunday, August 21st, and take the exhibit down on October 11th. So only the grunt work of hanging and removing is yet to come - plus the celebration party hosted by Foxdale Village.

Back to craziness. Besides spearheading the above art show, I also am supposed to be doing more in my acrylic bird portrait series for our local frame shop, The State College Framing Company and Gallery. All nine of the bird portraits I submitted last spring were sold, and John McQueary II requests more. I've begun painting two of the 7 I have drawn up on canvas... and they are going to the Foxdale exhibit! So I clearly need to do some painting and SOON!

Then, to make matters more interesting, I decided to take Melody Johnson's on-line free Focus on Fusing class when she mentioned on her blog she is offering such a class... That involves buying more fabric, of which I have more than enough - but precious few solids live in my closet. I have enough batiks to make 17 quilts, but I have next to no solids, let alone finely woven solids, which she requires for her fusing methods. So I've been shopping on-line and in the stores to build up my little supply. I only intend to make small pieces, but one needs a LOT of different colors, doesn't one??? And bolts of Wonder Under... Hmmmmm. And time, energy, space, and storage containers!

And there are six old bananas on the kitchen counter-top awaiting my hands to mash, stir, and bake into wonderful loaves of banana bread...

And Frank is out grocery shopping, so that will require some putting away of goods. Not to mention the load of laundry in the dryer that will soon need folding, or the fabric I bought yesterday that needs to be fused, then cut into leaf shapes, etc.

So, in all my craziness, I really had to sit down and think about it all. Why do I do this to myself? Why do I find a zillion things so interesting that I must work on them TODAY? Why is it I see the dirty laundry and decide today is the day? Why do I remember I wanted to put up some photographs with my art quilts at the Foxdale show and TODAY is the day I want to get the photography taken, edited, printed, and mounted on display board? Oh, and I took a few photos last night of the humming birds - I want to put them up on Facebook...

So what did I do to think about it all? I sat down right here and wrote about it. Just why I did that, I probably couldn't tell you, but here I am. Then again, maybe I do know why. When I write, I have to slow down my thoughts and concentrate on what it is that I want to say with the words that are being written. What has been learned by this exercise? That if I accept my crazy self and celebrate her, I will enjoy myself. If I judge myself and believe that I ought to be doing something else for whatever reason,I will be unhappy, dissatisfied, and depressed...

The bananas are waiting, as are the clothes in the dryer. Frank came home, we put away the groceries and had a nice lunch. Now it's time to finish up what I started - with this blog, anyway! I may as well find a few photos to add to this post to make it more interesting to anyone finding it on computer land.

I hope you have as much fun today as I am having, all scattered and crazy and fun!

Monday, July 04, 2016

Happy Independence Day!

I love the 4th of July! I enjoy the fireworks, the picnics, the parades, the family time.

But more important than all of that, is the true meaning of Independence. It has layers and layers of meanings, mostly depending upon one's own experiences and history. For me, July 4th has always be a fun day full of good food, family/friends, and celebrations. I have had to drag some folks along to enjoy the fireworks, but we always have a good time while we are there. Alas, they don't appreciate that the aftermath of driving home through lots of traffic is really worth all the time and energy it takes!!!

But independence means so much more, especially as I age and being independent is getting more difficult to maintain. The truth is, none of us are really independent. We all need one another, we rely on others each and every day of our lives for the things we take most for granted - water, food, clothing, home. We rely on the service industries, the utility companies, the educational system, the traffic lights, and so much more. We are NOT independent of one another at all.

For me personally, this year planting my flowers required some help from the younger generation, not just from my spouse, who has always had more physical strength than I to dig holes for rose bushes, etc. This year, kneeling was bad enough, but the getting up and getting down is so difficult that I did not want to plant the seeds myself... This may be the last year I try to do that, sad to admit. My body is no longer strong enough to do simple, routine tasks that once went unnoticed by me.

Independence equates freedom to most of us. The freedom to be who we are, without shame or derision. The freedom to say and do what we wish, provided it's legal to do so, of course. Yet there are so many people who do NOT have that freedom in our country. The impoverished, the homeless, the "people of color" (or African Americans or whatever we are deeming the polite way to differentiate them when they are not different than anyone else), the indigenous peoples, the mentally ill, the physically ill, the disabled, the list is endless.

We talk about "diversity" as a good thing, yet we all have experienced it as a negative. And the more "diverse" one is, the more difficult life is for that individual or group. Why is that so, in this land of freedom?

Just my musings for the day... even as I celebrate freedom. I hope you enjoy my photo collage created with the help of Picassa and lots of fireworks photos collected over the years. May each of you enjoy your independence today and every day.