Sunday, March 31, 2013

Being Loved

The consciousness of loving and being loved brings warmth and richness to life that nothing else can bring. -Oscar Wilde

I love making cards for my two great nieces- Alexis and Makayla. Who doesn't like getting mail? While they only live about an hour away, I only get to see them about twice a year. Sending them cards keeps us connected.

Wishing you a day of being loved.

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Day of the Dead Mask Has New Home

John loved his new mask! This means a lot to me because he is a skilled potter and artist.  Isn't it great that his nose fit perfectly. I also had the opportunity to educate people on the Mexican holiday. Life is good!

Friday, March 29, 2013

Gratitude Friday and a Travelling Journal

 Above all else, it is about leaving a mark that I existed. I was here. I was hungry. I was defeated. I was happy. I was sad. I was in love. I was afraid. I was hopeful, I had an idea and I had a good purpose and that's why I made works of art. - Felix Gonzales-Torres

The Sisterhood of the Travelling Art Journals is having another round. I was so excited to receive Helen Lindton's journal because I had an idea for her "Icons" themed journal--Uncle Sam. Helen is from Australia so I thought this was perfect. Why not give give her an American icon? I didn't like the first background I created so I scrapped it and started over. Once I got going it came together quickly and I was having fun. It felt so good to be in a creative groove. I think the warmer temperatures today had a much needed positive effect on me. I put a short history of Uncle Sam in the envelope I created. I even learned some things I didn't know too.  Since it is a fold out page, I am still thinking about what to do with the other side of the page. Thoughts?

Nolwenn Petitbois does Gratitude Friday on her blog.  I remember Christine Castro's "Good Things" journal entries. More than twenty years ago, I started my "affirmation" (affirming good things) journal where each night before I go to sleep I write down at least five good things that happened that day. It changed my life. I love the idea of actually sharing and hopefully getting other people to do the same. Just think of all the positive energy we could put out there. I think I will start more of an art journal just for my Gratitude Fridays. I don't think Christine will mind.

So here is my list from this week:

1. Nathaniel going to Pensy's for me and picking up salt free lemon pepper.
2. Tyler singing with me. I know he is not even three months old but when I sing, he sings! It is so incredible.
3. The followers on my blog. Can't live without you and your kindness.
4. All the artists who share their art and lives with me- Sisterhood of the Travelling Art Journals, heARTist Trading Cards, Crossing the Line: Artists at Work, and Postmark'd Art.
5. Sunshine
6. Johnny at Trader Joe's for the daffodils and telling me that I had "good karma." All I did was wait patiently while he took over and bagged my groceries. I'm good at it! It's like a puzzle.
7. My new camera
8. The light box now installed in the basement
9. Encouraging words
10. Tom who may not get what I do but never stands in my way and never complains that I use the laundry room for clay
11. The female crow who continues to visit me
12. Watching the expression on the little boy next door when his mom read him my chalk message for him on the sidewalk in front of his house. Priceless.
13. The wonderful people at my Dominick's store. I love them! They make my grocery shopping experience a joy.
14. Moroccan stew
15. Changing the stories in my head
16. A clean sink
17. An organized closet
18. The battered women's shelter resale shop for taking my donations and helping me have fewer unneeded things
19. Michele Bilyeu
20. Nina-Marie Sayre and her Off the Wall Fridays

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Possibly the First Embroidered Music Video

My friend Carol Esch sent me a link to this fun video, Black Books-Favorite Place. I think it has to be the first embroidered music video. I especially liked the the words created with needle and thread. In the description it states, "10 000 photos, 1 km of thread, 350 reels of thread, 73,000 embroidery stitches, 6 kg of scraps of fabric,100 needles and sewing pins." Enjoy!

Monday, March 25, 2013

Sometimes You Just Have to Stop Fighting

Sticks and stones my break my bones,
but words can also hurt me.
Stones and stick break only skin, 
while words are ghosts that haunt me.
Slant and curved the word- swords fall,
it pierces and sticks inside me.
Bats and bricks may ache through bones,
but words can mortify me.
Pain from words has left its' scar,
on mind and hear that's tender.
Cuts and bruises not have healed,
it's words that I remember.

-Ruby Redfort

Next month's theme for heARTist Trading Cards is Sticks and Stones. The first idea that popped into my head was quite literal which I decided was not artsy enough. I attempted several other ideas and none of them worked so today I went literal with an homage to Ruby Redfort's poem. I used a piece of commercially available paper, a rock and grass rubberstamp, a branch rub-on, a swirl rubberstamp, a Stazon stamp pad, my computer for the "Be Kind", some fun scissors from my friend Marti and some paint. Sometimes you just have to stop fighting an idea and go with it. I'm happy and done early. The tree branches look very much like the ones outside my window.  Creating these today definitely helped my ever growing need for spring.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

The Importance of Community

Dawn asked me to bring in some of my work. Actually quite a few people at Clay Space have asked so on Saturday I took a few pieces in to share. I will admit to being nervous. I should not have been. The reception was so overwhelmingly good. Tom Davison immediately started taking photographs. He loved the backs as much as the fronts and took  20 photographs including the one that I am sharing here. Thanks Tom! I am so ready to get into my studio to work.

I gave Ken Maloney a small quilt of mine as a gift. We discussed that we are not into tit for tat. I simply thought that since he had gifted me a bowl, he should have a piece of my artwork too. It is what friends do. Again, I had no idea if he would even want the piece. He loved it!

I worked on the Day of the Dead mask that I am giving to John, the intern. He continually tells me that I am cool. To have a 25-year-old man tell me I am cool always makes me feel like a million dollars. It was so much fun experiencing his excitement as I checked in with him as the mask progressed. I want him to be happy with his gift.  I finished it last night and will give it to him on Saturday. I made this one larger than my first one. He is 7" x 10".

On the way out, I found three small pieces of copper pipe on the ground. I love these kinds of finds. Now I have to figure out something to do with them. Have you found anything cool lately?

I feel so blessed to have this community. A part of me wishes that it was a fiber community like Kindred Spirits in Houston. What I had not realized until lately is that I have missed being around creative people on a regular basis. When I walked in the door yesterday the first thing I heard was Ben saying, "Hello beautiful. I am so glad you are here." Besides community/people, it is good to get out of my comfort zone, to be a beginner, to fail, to explore, to learn something new in a supporting environment. I feel truly blessed.

Friday, March 22, 2013

Hope, Gratitude and Clay

Hope is the thing with feathers that perches in the soul- and sings the tunes without the words- and never stops at all. - Emily Dickinson

The older I get the more friends I have that seem to need comforting- health problems, deaths, divorces, broken hearts. For a while I sent my little "Mending a Broken Heart" hearts. Now I have feathers which I have been sending. Just small reminders to let people know that there is hope and I am thinking of them. My youngest son insists (daily lately) that I need to sell them so I am now in the process of setting up an Etsy shop. This is more of an undertaking than I realized but I hate to disappoint him. He is such a great cheerleader and he loves what I am doing. I know that I will get asked so here's the scoop and maybe you can share your thoughts with me. I am thinking about selling the larger feathers for $10.00 each or 3 for $25.00 plus shipping. The feathers are individually made and approx. 7 inches long so no two are alike as you can see. They are light enough to ship first class which will keep the shipping cost down. I have also considered including a small card with the Emily Dickinson quote on it. Thoughts?

Wednesday was a tough day. It was one of those days that started out full of promise and quickly turned into a day where nothing seemed to go right. That is until I arrived at Clay Space and found a bowl from Ken on my shelf. I didn't think he was serious when he said that he was going to give me the bowl. Ken is a new friend. He and I are totally honest with each other which is so refreshing. We can critique each others work. We both love the positiveness from the people from Clay Space but we both want constructive and honest feedback not just cheer leading.

When I finally ran into ken to thank him, he said that I could throw it in the dumpster. I have to say that at first I thought the bowl was a hot mess but on closer examination I found the shape of a tree. The bowl went from ugly to interesting. Ken was thrilled that I have seen the tree and happy when I called it a "hot mess." I am keeping the bowl as a reminder to not be afraid to try new things (Ken was playing with wax on this piece), friendship, kindness, and gratitude. Do you have something that reminds you to focus on good things?

I am making this my Off the Wall Fridays post.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

The Winner Is....

I had my son draw the name. When I asked him to please select someone who would appreciate it and has a good heart, he said, "Thanks for the extra pressure." Then I felt really guilty and said, "I am sure everyone with a name in this hat is deserving and has a good heart." Michele Bilyeu is the winner! She is deserving and while I have never met Michele, I know that she has a huge and caring heart. Congratulations! I hope you enjoy your new treasures and I really hope you use them! I am sorry that I did not own enough silk to share it with everyone. Don't despair. Next Blog Hop Giveaway, I'll share a little of my Georgian (country not state) silk. And I am thrilled that once again a follower of my blog won.

I thought I would also share with you that there was a woman sitting in the back of the booth where I bought the silk. Her image still haunts me. She was the saddest looking person I have ever seen. I always wished I had tried to find out more about her. While I was in Osh, I met a lot of women artists. Many practiced their art in secret because their husbands disapproved. I met women who divorced their husbands because they didn't want them to create art and then I met wonderful couples who created art together. It was truly an eye opener for me. I am so thankful that I can create anything I choose even if my husband doesn't get most of what I do. Make it a creative and caring day. It's my plan.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Winged Messengers

Few things in the world are more powerful than a positive push. A smile. A word of optimism and hop. A "you can do it" when things are tough. - Richard M. DeVos

On Friday, Scott, the dairy guy at my local Dominick's, was sharing how often he is yelled at for things outside his control.  It distresses him.  It distressed me when he shared I was one of the few people who are always kind to him. On Saturday, I stopped on the way home to pick up a Sunday paper. At the check out, a guy was screaming at the clerk who was trying her best not to cry. His accusation was the scale was wrong. He marched off with his cherries, making us all wait. He returned with a smaller bag and seemed satisfied that the scale had been fixed. The pain remained on the clerk's face even after the rest of us did our best to make her feel better. It's so hard to remember that so often it's just not about us.

For years, I have traveled with chalk in my pocket. I leave positive comments on sidewalks. I especially like leaving messages at the neighborhood school bus stop. I decided this just isn't enough. There needs to be more kindness in the world.  I remember years ago reading about Susanna Gordon's "winged messengers." She does letters so I decided to do hearts. I want them to be quickly made and put out into the world so I am trying to let go and not stress too much about how they look. I started using cardstock as Susanna suggested but have decided to move to watercolor paper. I think they will hold up better especially since I will be leaving them outside sometimes. I'm having fun. I love watching people react to them.  How are you putting kindness into the world?

Monday, March 18, 2013

Radka Donnell Rest in Peace

Yesterday I learned that Radka Donnell died about two weeks ago. I have not seen this mentioned anywhere which made me sad. She was born on November 24, 1928 in Bulgaria. She lived though the war years in Germany and emigrated to the United States in 1951. She was a graduate of Stanford University and earned her MFA from the University of Colorado at Boulder while raising two daughters. After moving to Kansas in 1965, she began making contemporary quilts. She also earned a Certificate of Art Theraphy from the Metropolitan Collage in Boston. Her book Quilts As Women's Art: A Quilt Poetics was published in 1990 and has been quoted from often in publications. As you can see mine is well loved.  She was living in Switzerland when she died. I tried to interview her for Quilters' S.O.S. -Save Our Stories and regret that we could never seem to make it happen. The quilt world has lost not only a great artist and poet, but someone who fought for the recognition of quilts as women's art beginning in the 1970s.

She wrote, "I stepped out of the 'art scene' when I began doing my quilts. I have stayed with quiltmaking because it helped me to find wholeness and be open to enjoy, advise, and validate the creativity of other women. I believe we are all equally creative, and my happiest moment regarding art was when one of my students said about my course, 'It helped me realize that I am more creative than I thought before.' This is my [current] objective, and if it does not make me an 'artist,' that's OK with me."

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Happy St. Patrick's Day

My father loved being Irish. I don't have the heart to tell him that the Musgraves came from England via Germany. I have been able to trace them back to the 1600s. When they came to the U.S., they were Quakers and farming seems to be their profession of choice. They took the southern migration ending up in Southern Illinois. My great-great-grandfather served in the Civil War for the North. My grandfather moved north probably for a better life. He died when my dad was 4 years old. My dad taught me to believe in leprechauns and magic. Hopefully someday soon I'll be able to prove the Irish heritage he so strongly believes is true. None of that really matters because as the saying goes, "Everyone is Irish on St. Patty's day." So today I'll celebrate my dad and good St. Patrick's Day memories. Wishing you good health, good luck and happiness today and always.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Day of the Dead Mask

I continue to play with clay and maskmaking. Last night I finished my Day of the Dead mask. I have always loved the historically rich Mexican culture and especially their view of death. This one is smaller than most of the masks I have been creating. It's 6" x 7.5". I am giving myself the freedom to use anything that will help me create the piece as I have imagined it. I was surprised, although I probably should not have been, that some people at Clay Space asked me if what I was doing was "allowed." Just as my thinking in the beginning was that I needed to use glazes, there are those who stay within those perimeters. Not everyone gets what I am doing and that is okay. It has been the story of my life. I am finding that most clay people seem to be more open to those who think outside the box and for that I am thankful. Right now I am having too much fun! What have you done lately that feels you with glee?

Friday, March 15, 2013

UFO Done and Perfectionism

My applique leaf UFO quilt is done! Thanks to everyone for their suggestions and kind words. I tried to find something to use as a sashing and could not find anything in my stash that worked. I have vowed not to spend money on fabric to finish my UFOs. I realized that I was beginning to over-think. When the over-thinking mode happens, I start to spin, feel tense and nothing happens. I can be my own worst enemy. The realization that over thinking may be a form of perfectionism also occurred to me.

Perfectionism is a killer to creativity. I have watched it happen with friends and students. I have experienced myself. Just Monday night I was talking to the intern in my pottery class. She never finishes any of her painting because she is worried that she won't get it "right." Yesterday I talked to a former student who shared that she could not create "serious" art until she had the "perfect" studio. It did not seem to matter to her when I shared that for years I created on a small rickety card table set up between my washer and dryer. Or that I always travel with handwork of some kind.  I wish I could have made her believe a little more in her abilities and less the need for the "perfect" place to create. Hopefully she will realize this sooner than later. Thanks to everyone who shared that perfectionism has been a problem too. It is good not to be alone and have support.

Julia Cameron in her book Finding Water: The Art of Perseverance said it best. “Perfectionism doesn't believe in practice shots. It doesn't believe in improvement. Perfectionism has never heard that anything worth doing is worth doing badly--and that if we allow ourselves to do something badly we might in time become quite good at it. Perfectionism measures our beginner's work against the finished work of masters. Perfectionism thrives on comparison and competition. It doesn't know how to say, 'Good try,' or 'Job well done.' The critic does not believe in creative glee--or any glee at all, for that matter. No, perfectionism is a serious matter.”

Here is to gleeful creating with no need for being perfect!

And once again I'm participating in Nina-Marie's Off the Wall Fridays.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Imperfectly Perfect UFO

I dug out another UFO. I cannot remember when I made it, but it is more than 15 years old. It did not take long to realize why I did not finish it. I appliqued one of the funky leaves the wrong way. Ugh. I must say I did a nice job with the applique so I do think this is worth finishing. The question is how. I do not want to take the leaf off and redo it. I'm afraid the fabric will not hold up and I no longer have any of the fabrics. The blocks are not square but 10.5 " by 11." Originally I was going to make it into the square arrangement. I could put them in a row (second photo). Thoughts?

Thanks to everyone who wrote me and said that they were going to embrace being "imperfectly perfect"! You made my day.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Incubating Ideas and Feeling the Fear

For nearly two years, I have been thinking about creating a crow painting to honor the female crow that has adopted me.  Saturday after open studio at Clay Space, I decided that I needed to just do it! No more thinking about it. No more kidding myself that I was letting the idea incubate. It was way past time. If it did not work, I would not have to let anyone know. I used Golden fluid acrylics and once I got started it just flowed out of me and it felt so good. That less than an hour had passed when I finished was truly a shock.  The painting is going to rest for at least another day then I will decide if I want to tweak it. It will hang either in my office or studio until it finds a new home as many of my artwork does.  Every time I face something that frightens me, I feel empowered. Whenever I let go of trying to be perfect, I feel better about myself. Perfectly imperfect. That is where I am and where I will stay.

Acquiring some understanding of why we do things is often a prerequisite to change. I am still trying to figure it all out and in the mean time, I am going to create more art! I hope you will join me.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Found Objects and Sharpie Pens

I've been pondering why I love found objects so much. I think it must be the thrill of the find. It is always an unexpected gift. One of my favorite finds is feathers.  The only time I am not happy about finding lots of feathers is when it is evidence of the Cooper hawk's dinner, then I am just sad even though I know this is how nature works.

My particular love of feathers has moved into my pottery work. I can't wait to share with you my crow mask. Be patient. The first one fell apart. It's a live and learn thing. I am still finding my way.

On Saturday, I bought a package of colored Sharpie pens (fine point). They were on sale at Staples and I couldn't resist. I'm a sucker for pens. The packing said that they would not run so I tested by using them on the last page of my journal.  I drew the feathers and of course, wrote with them then used water colored over it. Thrill of thrills, it worked! I am so excited. This opens up such wonderful possibilities. Am I the last one to know this?

Thanks to everyone who has become a new follower. I am overwhelmed with the response to my silk giveaway. I promise to do it again. Wish I had enough for everyone.  For me it has been a grey, rainy day which is making the snow disappear so it not all bad. Happy creating!

Friday, March 8, 2013

Blog Giveaway- Sharing My Love Afffair with Silk

The wonderful Michele Foster is hosting another blog hop in hopes of chasing the winter blues away. I sure hope it works! I decided to share some of my silk from my travels.

The silk I am sharing today is from Kyrgyzstan, a small, poor country near China. I had the privilege of traveling to Kyrgyzstan to curate an exhibition of American art quilts and Kyrgyz patchwork.  The silk was produced during Soviet times. While silk use to be a major industry in Kyrgyzstan, that ended when the Soviet Union fell apart. There is a small effort being made to weave silk again in Osh, where I purchased the silk in an open air market. I've included a photograph I took of the women who were selling it (note the meter silk she is using to measure it). In addition, there is a photo transfer of postage stamps from Kyrgyzstan.

Each piece is approximately 9" x 28" and as you can see in the second photograph, you can use either side. I hope you enjoy owning a little bit of history.

Read Carefully:

1. I will ship internationally.
2. I won't be responsible if the package gets lost in the mail.
3. Winner will be announced on March 20 in honor of the spring equinox.  I will not track you down so make sure you either check back or leave an easy way for me to contact you so I can get your address. If I don't hear from you within 24 hours, a new winner will be selected.
4.  I love people who follow my blog and want them to know it so my followers will get their names put into the hat twice. My last blog giveaway a follower won!

Enjoy the hop!

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Fighting the Downward Pull of Too Much Winter

I thought I might have beaten the winter blues this year. Alas, I have not.  I have been able to keep moving even with the downward pull. Yesterday I finished a Java inspired mask that I created. I think the colorful nature of the mask reflects my need for spring with all of its wonderful greens and colors. Winter often brings out my most colorful work. How about you?

I love how I am pushing my pottery in new directions and using my arsenal of art supplies. For this one I used Viva Decor's Inka Gold in yellow green.  I have to say that I love it! Since it is paint that has a bee's wax base, it has no smell and it easily cleans up. I only own the yellow green so I will be adding more colors in the future. There are 19 more to choose. I also used Pebeo's Prisma Fantasy (one of the purples) which didn't quite give the effect that it does on paper, but I am still pleased.  And so I continue to work hoping the groundhog was correct and I'll get my early spring.

Decided to make this post for Off the Wall Fridays. Thanks Nina-Marie!

Monday, March 4, 2013

Zentangle Artist Trading Cards

I discovered Zentangles in 2009. I played around with it for a while, but it did not speak to me as it has done others. Lately, there has been a lot of talk about Zentangles especially in my pottery class. Postmark'd Art had it as a theme in the last round. I made a skull. heARTIST Trading Cards has selected the theme for May. I was too tired to do much on Saturday night so I decided to play around with making Zentangle ATCs. At first, it was tough because usually one works in a 3-inch square and Zentangles usually do not include color. The pieces just seemed to be screaming "color" to me and I like them so much better with color.  It was definitely fun to revisit this wonderful way to doodle. Not sure if I will make more cards or simply use these. Guess I'll decide closer to the trade. I will say it made me feel productive and creative during a low energy period. It most certainly helped me recharge. Now I can't wait for May to come around and see what everyone else in the group creates.

Friday, March 1, 2013

Creativity Lesson 7: Torn Landscape

Maybe at the root we are coils of possibility in constant rotation.  -Thomas Moore

When we walk to the edge of all the light we have and take the step into the darknessof the unknown, we must believe that one of two things will happen. There will be something solid for us to stand on or we will be taught to fly.  -Patrick Overton

Assignment #7 – Torn Landscape

In this assignment, “landscape” is used in the loosest terms. Remember the idea is to explore, play and be open. We will tear fabric instead of using a rotary cutter. I also recommend that you do this as quilt-as-you-go (all three layers sewn at once.) Cut your background and batting at least two inches bigger than you want your finished size (nothing smaller than 18” by 24” is recommended). You may also have a top fabric if you like.

Inning:  Instead of an outing, time to go inward. Identify one belief that you had when you began this journey and no longer have. I would love to know what it is if you are willing to share.
Suggested Reading: Original Self: Living with Paradox and Originality by Thomas Moore

My youngest son is beginning a new career in woodworking. One of the things that he is creating is signs that are different words- eat, laugh, create, dream, etc.. He gave me "create" for Christmas and I have not had the time to paint it. He is painting the ones that he is selling solid colors which he knew would not work for me. Anyway, I finally took some time to paint mine. He's happy with it and I love that this now hangs in my studio and it seemed perfect to share today. Happy creating!