Thursday, October 30, 2008

Old work part3 Mummies

These are some drawings I did of Chilean Mummies. Charcoal, ink and chalk on paper, I may have mushed in some gesso too. I think I ran into the original images of these in a National Geographic or something. I don’t know a lot about them but if memory serves many of them were children. Here is an actual picture of one:
First they were mummified by desiccation and then much later they were reconstructed with the masks and wrappings.

Then they were left or buried overlooking the sea.

They captured me.
Texture, mystery, age, freakiness I dunno why but I find these both creepy and compelling. I have a hard time trying to figure out why someone would create them in the first place. A photo of them half buried in boxes of sand is really fascinating to me, again not quite sure why and yes I know it is a fairly disturbing thing to be attracted to. As a general rule I’m quite normal but I am willing to accept my weirdness on occasion so I went with it and made the drawings.It is doubly weird in my case because I am really freaked out by dolls and ventriloquism dummies I just don’t like them at all… empty glassy eyes staring at you. It is just too easy to imagine them being possessed by some evil entity and brrrrr…Happy Halloween!

Monday, October 27, 2008

Old Work Pt 2- Figure Drawings

More old stuff… These are some of the drawings I did going forward after my initiation back into classes. I decided to continue with the figure drawing, taking some Cont Ed classes and also going to open studios. I cannot recall how long this went on for, I’m guessing a year or so I know I did at least 1 class at the Attleboro Museum School with Robin Wiseman and attended a bunch of his open studios at his home. Robin has taught at RISD for a long time he is one of the Foundation instructors, teaches Cont Ed and gives a number of lectures each semester. Or at least he did at the time (I am currently out of touch with the state of RISD’s faculty and classes). A very talented man and teacher. I enjoyed his classes a great deal. I also did one figure painting class at RISD, oils, from a model, one long pose per class (no pics of paintings at present, will try to get some photos at some point).

I enjoyed this period of time. I felt as though I fought my way through some weaknesses in technique (such as leaving the head off of the initial sketch then trying to draw it in later- that has got to have some sort of psychological significance) an example:

This would have been a good drawing if the head had been developed at the same time as the rest of the figure not stuck on at the end.

I found I had a resistance to dealing with figure/ground preferring to zoom in on the figure so I didn’t have to deal (come to think of it that probably has a bit of significance too- I have a talent for navel gazing)
The photo at top is a 20 minute sketch that I felt incredibly good about. It was one of those moments when all the skills I had been honing came together and I made it over the "no head" issue. It’s a pretty good likeness too.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Frozen in Time

Once upon a time I made a bunch of heat set ginkgo leaves. I thought I would do a large piece based off of the original sketch for this attempt and what I came up with here. Ginkgo leaves, circles... with the addition of the 3-D quality I started to think of ripples, leaves gently drifting down onto a pool of water, all very poetical and graceful. This is as far as it got and all I know for sure is its missing something... Shawn suggested color... maybe... all I do know is its missing something. For this picture I took it outside in the sun so the textures (which I still love) would be visible. Right now it is sitting in my studio sulking at me as it has done for months. grrr.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Old Work

Reorganizing all of my computer files this summer led me to discover some forgotten work. Thought I’d share…
After I quit college I started trying to draw and paint on my own, frustration quickly set in with my lack of skills and brought me to the beginning of a long career in Cont Ed classes mostly at RISD.
The very first class I took was Victor Lara’s figure drawing class. It was a good choice. The class was open enough in format for me to be able to relax and enjoy the process.

Each class began with an exercise in mark making with charcoal on newsprint. Designed to expand our drawing ”vocabulary” we would sometimes draw with our eyes closed or with charcoal on wet paper.
The point was to learn to make a variety of marks light, heavy, smeary, sharp, fuzzy with the medium. Mine tended to end up looking like cellular structures or gears on strange organic machines.

The second half of class was actual figure drawing from the model. Starting with quick scetches.
Then moving on to longer poses and more developed drawings.
We were to try to apply the vocabulary to express the form with all of the underlying structures of bone and muscle. Wonderful fun and incredibly messy I would emerge from this class looking as though I had just spent time digging in a mine.
Perfect for someone who was a bit shaky about reentering the academic world, even on a Cont Ed basis. It was fun, relaxed and helped me to push some barriers and learn a lot in the process. I gained back an iota of lost confidence with that step. Thanks Victor.

Thursday, October 23, 2008


I love books, it’s a weakness. At the moment I’m trying not to buy (m)any but that being said I just got myself a couple that are kinda exciting.
First up is Fashioning Technology by Syuzi Pakhchyan which covers methods of for adding basic electronics to craft projects. Squee! I can think of so many things to try with this stuff. Of course it will have to wait as I’m not presently ready to start lying in all sorts of new supplies and tools (where would I put them?). I love the idea of trying fiber optics and LEDs with shibori, it sets my heart all aflutter!
The descriptions of how to do things seem pretty straightforward, as I haven’t tried any of the techniques yet I can’t say for sure. The projects they show range from cute to lunky but as I’m more interested in how the electronic stuff works this suits me just fine. I may follow a plan once but usually after that I just take the stuff that interests me and reapply it in some thing else.
The second book I got was A Collaboration With Nature by Andy Goldsworthy I’ve seen Andy Goldsworthy’s work before but only bits here and there.
I’ve never known much about him or his methods. It appeals to me so much, I love the process he goes through to create these ephemeral works of art. All of his sculpture is made on site with found materials. He visits a site many times and listens to what it tells him is possible. These are works that are meant to be reabsorbed by the environment they emerged from, either slowly in the case of stones or quickly in the case of leaves or ice.
He often works without tools simply using the things he finds at hand such as thorns or stones. He photographs all of his work including the things that break or disintegrate as he is working. There are terse descriptions along with the images and some of them are really quite funny and revealing. It makes me ridiculously happy that there is someone doing this work even if I never see it beyond books. I expect the reality of his life is quite mundane but the work evokes an image of a solitary druidic figure wandering the woods listening to the suggestion it makes and creating these stunning moments in time.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Finished for Fall

The bird garden is open for business! All the transplants are in. I’ve hung and filled the feeders. It feels finished enough for this season. These pics are really dark the sun sets so early these days!
Just in time for the first frosts to start killing the leaves.
An hour after the feeders were up the birds showed up. So far I’ve seen all the usual suspects chickadees, titmice, nuthatches, blue jays, morning doves and one fat grey squirrel that I’m sure I will be cursing before too long. I will have to put some thistle seed out to get the finches. It is really pleasant to sit out there for an autumn afternoon and stitch in the sun.

This picture was taken at the height of the fall color a week ago (I am remiss in posting) This season is one of the prettier ones we’ve had for a few years. I’m a tough judge after living here for so many years. It seems we have had enough rain in the summer, not too much wind in the fall and enough of a proper cold snap to set the maples off properly. (If the leaves dry up before it gets cold the maples perform no better than down in the south, disappointing)
This year the maples have been a brilliant combination of yellow, orange, scarlet and crimson against bright blue skies. Now we will enter the second more muted stage of fall the oaks will turn tarnished gold, bronze and mahogany. A few holdouts of the maples will carry brilliant yellows but most will show silvery branches and the pines will remain steadfast. Lovely and rich a last lingering taste.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008


I’ve never been especially good at protecting myself.
My borders tend to be undefined. I have made some very bad deals in my time for attention. I tend to sell myself (artistically speaking) cheaply. I act from a needy place.
Two weeks ago I was faced with some decisions.
In one weekend I was asked to put my work in two different venues and I had to decide if it was a good idea.

A gallery expressed interest in having my work there (Yay! Attention!)
They said I could rent a spot on the wall about 5’ by 5’ for 75.00 a month (wha?)
Right smack dab against someone else’s 5’ by 5’ space (umm…)
Who is in the gallery because they paid not because their work is special (…)

A shop expressed interest in having some of my dyes (Yay! Attention!)
For a 50% cut of the sales (50? Wha?)
I would have to come in and set up the displays myself (huh?)
The shop was sort of dim and dusty looking (uhhh…)
And would I be willing to develop some new things exclusive to the shop based on the owner’s specs? (…)

Y’know the most amazing thing was that it took me two days thinking long and hard before I decided that these were not the offers for me, I deserve better and I won’t settle for less.
I got fierce

Two days later I got a new (fierce) haircut. I’ve gotten more compliments in the first 3 days of my new look than I’ve gotten in a year. I guess I do deserve better.
I’ve begun to base my decisions based on the question “What would the woman with this hair do?”
Christine Kane has a great take on resolutions. Simply put choose just one word to embody the changes you want to make in the coming year, what you really want to be.
Fall has always been a time of new beginnings in my life.
I’m choosing Fierce

Monday, October 20, 2008


Aren’t these pretty fabrics?
I bought them ohh…probably 2 years ago on a whim. I loved the woven texture and the subtle colors. They have many different threads in the weft and a single color on the warp. 2 years, and there they sat.
Sometime last winter I finally tried to make something with them. I was trying for a folder cover. Good idea poor execution the design didn’t work out but I did discover that the fabric looks terrific with this vat dyed fabric.
The weave provides a nice contrast to the bold shapes and suede-like texture of the vat dyes. Since the project didn’t function I put it aside and there it sat…for 3 months.

Then I thought hmm how about table runners? That would look nice. I broke out the woven and edged it with some plain denim twill for stabilization and to stretch the supply. It looked good, time for the pattern, I fiddled with it poked at it and was unhappy with my designs. So there it sat… for 4 more months.

Finally last week I woke up thinking Aha! Hawaiian quilt patterns! I can modify the designs from them! That’ll be awesome!
Tonight I got the first prototype done, there will be tweaks in the pattern and execution but I actually like the way it turned out quite well. Measures approx 12” by 52”

Vat dyed cotton knit fused and stitched to the woven ground. I did the top stitching with a contrasting thread.

Only 8 more to go... I hope I can get them done a little faster than this one!

Friday, October 3, 2008

RI PBS Donation

I grew up watching PBS, in fact my folks had me fooled into believing we didn't get any other stations until I was 5 (how embarrassing!). My mom always supported the Boston affiliate as a member and as soon as I began earning enough I became a member too. I remember that as a kid I wasn't too fond of the auctions as they supplanted some of my favorite programming.

This year I will be donating 2 pieces to the 25th Anniversary Rhode Island PBS Arts Auction. I figure its a way to support a cause I really feel enriches my life and a way to get my work out there as well. It was a bit of a step to even consider doing this, my long standing lack-o-confidence made me hesitate (am I good enough?) but finally I decided that I was and I chose the two floral pieces I made last January for the Flower Show. I did make one change to them I stretched them as paintings are. I think it really raises the perceived quality of the work. Suddenly they seem more substantial to me. Something to remember...

Wednesday, October 1, 2008


OK not really sure where this one is going, so I will just describe the process. Decided to elaborate on this stitch resist (#3)
with the addendum of trying some heat set as well as the color
so, two layers one of a poly sheer one of cotton, laid one on top of the other, stitched and pulled, dyed with a pale turquoise color and an aqua (both thickened to try to preserve some of the texture), after dyeing they were heat set (microwave method)
all color came out of the white poly (of course)
and I expect most texture will eventually come out of the cotton.
I really like the play between them when kept on top of one another.
Finally I tried attaching a jingle shell to the two layers using (yup) metallic thread and this method. I love a bunch of stuff about this but I will have to work on how to connect the two layers and more shells... I think it may become a fragment of Aphrodite's armor.

3 Seeds

I will eventually get a picture of the entire piece up someday, maybe I will get lucky and have a chance this weekend to get a decent picture.

This is a detail of the last additions to Persephone's Path. Three little seeds made of the discharge fabric attached to the ground cloth with buttonhole stitch. I left the frayed edges, I just liked the way they looked.

One of the aspects of the Persephone myth I find myself drawn to is the moment she chooses to eat the three pomegranate seeds. Prior to this action she is always acted upon by others. Either as the daughter or the unwilling wife of someone she has never been the mistress of her own fate. At the time she is being released from Hades she chooses to eat three seeds he offers her. In that moment she transforms into a woman who has made a choice for herself (although she may not really be savvy to the ramifications of that act). That choice in turn leads her to spend a part of each year in the underworld as its Queen and Guide. She is still someones daughter and wife but she comes into her own independent identity. The detail that she lies to her rather overbearing mother saying that she was forced to eat the seeds is a funny little detail, so human... so many of us find ourselves being untruthful to our parents as we establish our first real independence.