Wednesday, November 18, 2009
Every Wednesday, Jamie Ridler asks "what do you wish?" This week's theme is "What do you wish to embrace?"
This is only the second time I have answered her question on my blog, not because the questions are not intriguing, nor because I don't have any wishes, but primarily because I always feel like "What if I choose the wrong thing?"
This week, the answer came immediately. I wish to embrace uncertainty. I have been running from uncertainty for over three years, and it turned into a long range marathon in December of 2006. I am stopping now, and turning to face uncertainty, embrace her and welcome her into my life. Because, really, no matter how certain we think we are about our future plans, what we are going to do tomorrow, even today, that certainty can be swept away at a moment's notice. Life happens, jobs are lost, people get sick. Good things can happen unexpectedly as well. It's all part of the uncertainty.
So this week, my wish is to embrace uncertainty, and to enjoy the journey.
Tuesday, November 3, 2009
When I was a kid, my dad would draw the most goofy drawings on our bills before mailing them. He painted larger versions of them on cars, making a “Dart Bird” on our neighbor’s black Dodge Dart, and decorating my uncle’s panel van when they drove down from Minnesota to visit one summer (when you have eight children in the family there weren’t a lot of choices of vehicle back then; mini-vans hadn’t been invented yet).
When I was five, he taught me how to draw a hot-dog horse (using the shape of a hot dog to draw a horse) and when I was eleven, he took me to the real art supply store (Lewis Art Supply on Woodward Avenue) and bought me a real sketchbook and a set of Buffalo markers.
I drew, and drew, and drew some more, filling that sketchbook and many more after that. I loved the control that drawing gave me. It was also neat and portable. Painting seemed to be something scary and different, at least the kind done with the Grumbacher tube colors. I also remember my grandfather asking when I was going to start painting, and giving me my first quart of linseed oil in a green and white checkerboard tin, even though I had absolutely no clue where to even begin to use it.
When I was seventeen, I received a set of acrylics for my birthday, and played with them some. There wasn’t the control I had with my drawing, and my attempt to recreate a photograph of luminous purple grapes fell flat. It was the time of budget cuts and jobs moving to Mexico and there weren’t art programs in my school, and my dad was lucky to still be working the afternoon shift as Shop Steward in his job as a metal patternmaker. I had to learn it all on my own, and I gave up and returned to my beloved pencil.
Over the years, I kept dancing with the idea of painting. I loved the idea of being able to sweep my arm and create a line of color that followed my motion. I also loved the photo-realism of Audrey Flack and Ralph Goings . I’d buy paints and canvases, and play a little, but then put them away, distracted by life and fear.
Recently I began painting again, inspired by the work of Lynda Barry. I gave myself permission to play, permission to make mistakes, permission to take time to learn. I have been having a blast.
I posted some of the paintings earlier this year, from my journal. Some have gone on to my Etsy shop, and now I am also painting on canvas.
Just Dessert, 2009 6” x 8”
Harvest, 2009, 6” x 8”
Mom Mom’s Kitchen, 2009, 12” x 9”
Each piece started with a blank pre-stretched canvas. I made color photocopies of either images of my work, or of old family photos, and collaged them to the base using matte medium. This gave a nice under painting, and adds to the content of the work when the image ghosts through the top layers. I drew on the canvas using my trusty India ink, and once that was dry, I painted the image using acrylic paints (a mix of brands I’ve collected over the years, but I am trying to move to Golden brand as I need to replace paint). Then I coat them with a layer of matte medium and two coats of varnish to seal.
Having the foundation of images already in place made the blank canvas a little less intimidating. It also helped the subsequent layers have a depth of color. I like the way the lines of each individual copy can still be seen in the finished work, giving it a quilt-like texture that I miss in traditional painting. Right now working this way is the perfect melding of the control of drawing and the looseness of painting, feeding both those needs in my soul.
Next up, paintings without foundation images!
Monday, November 2, 2009
The San Jose Museum of Quilts and Textiles is hosting its “High Fiber Under Five” exhibit and sale, starting tomorrow and running through November 8th. This is an excellent opportunity to acquire works of art from many well-known fiber artists for $500 or less per piece. Whether you are just starting to collect art, or are looking to add to your collection, this show promises something for everyone.
I chose to send pieces based on my drawing experiments of this summer, as well as the piece which is based on my photo from the banner above. Here is a sneak preview:
Garden Party II, approximately 16” x 20”, available starting tomorrow for $450 This piece includes my hand-dyed and hand-painted twill, fabrics from the Stonehenge collection by Northcott fabrics, as well as machine cording.
African Masks I, 9” x 6”, but sewn to a 10” x 8” canvas, as are the other three pieces in the African Masks series. This one includes shibori from Debb and Michael Lunn, and commercial cottons. I collaborated with my son on this piece, he created the original drawing on which the quilt is based. This piece, and the other three pieces in the series, are available for $150 each.
African Masks II, commercial cottons, machine quilting.
African Masks III, silk suiting fabric and commercial cottons.
Unfortunately I was running right up to the deadline to finish African Masks IV, so do not have an image of it. It is red cotton on a base of golden yellow silk dupioni, also machine quilted.
I really enjoyed making these pieces and can see making more small pieces as studies for larger works. I am grateful to the SJMQ&T for inviting me to submit work for this show, it provided me an opportunity to try something new, and for a good cause. (All proceeds above the artist’s commission goes to help fund the museum and its programs.)
If you are interested in acquiring one of these works of art, you may call the San Jose Museum of Quilts and Textiles at 408.971.0323 x14 after the sale starts on November 3.