Friday, July 1, 2016

Oy Vey

I was so dissatisfied with Tree of Life, that I removed the previous post.  I decided to remove ALL the embroidery.  Of course, there are pencil marks on the fabric, but I'm looking at a variety of just-Googled ideas for removing those lines.

Anyhoo, if you didn't see the previous post yet, that's a good thing.

Have a great weekend!

Friday, June 24, 2016

Energy Rising

It's done!  This is the piece I've been working on for the last two weeks.  It is a representation of the chakras, the subtle energy centers in our bodies.  If you're not familiar with the chakras, this link has a really good description/explanation of them, including their color correspondences.

I've been working with my energy recently, meeting weekly with a friend who's been reading my chakras.  It has been quite illuminating.

A couple weeks ago in meditation, I had a vision of my lower chakras -- the root chakra (red), the sacral chakra (orange), and the solar plexus chakra (yellow) -- as being a cauldron heating my energy and sending it up into my heart chakra (green).  My opening heart was sending energy up into the throat chakra (turquoise/blue), the third eye chakra (indigo), and the crown chakra (purple), with energy also streaming down from my crown to my heart.  The resulting stitched piece, surrounded by squares of white/ivory fabrics representing white light, is the manifestation of my vision.

I had zero problems with my hands during the production of Energy Rising.  I've been using this arnica oil two to three times a day when I'm stitching or otherwise using my hands intensely, and I swear it works.

Energy Rising is composed of 115 inch-and-a-half squares of cotton fabrics (and a few pieces of silk), and measures 8 x 36 inches.

So...I guess I need to begin soon on that appliqued tree I mentioned a couple weeks ago.

Hope you all have a lovely summer weekend.  Blessings. 


Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Staying in Touch

I spent Wednesday through last Sunday working on my latest piece, which isn't this nine patch.  I won't show the new piece until it's finished.  It's long and narrow, that much I'll say, also that it has personal significance for me at this time. 

What I accomplished last week was to assemble the 115 inch-and-a-half squares together, add batting (a thin piece of fabric) and backing, and quilt it.

I've just begun the embellishment, most of which will be embroidery.  The next few days are completely clear for me so I hope to make a lot of headway...or possibly even finish.

I'll also say that this piece, which came to me last Monday evening, will be the first piece of art in my life that went from inspiration to fruition in such a brief period of time.  I've been known to fiddle-fart around to the point where I completely talk myself out of even bothering to begin many projects in my life.  So this new thrust of "idea to manifestation" is new for me. 

I attribute this change to numerous threads in my life right now ~ the idea of impermanence, that everything changes all the time and that we only have now, really; the opening of my heart and my creative channels with the healing work I'm doing; love of the raw materials and the sheer joy of working with them; and likely more I can't think of at the moment.

The small piece above was a test piece I did prior to completing Gravity's Rainbow, on which I experimented with construction methods as well as that cool embroidered dot (thanks Jude) in the center of each square.

Lots of good things happening here.  I hope there are in your life as well.


Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Work in Process

This is a stitched piece I've been working on.  I actually started it before Gravity's Rainbow.  This one will be called Tree of Life, and my next step will be to fashion something tree-like in the center. 

Originally I thought I might embroider the tree, especially after seeing the awesome embroidery Jude has been doing lately.  Towards that end I spent most of last weekend trying out my embroidery chops -- satin stitch specifically -- on a nine-patch sampler I made for that purpose.

Jude uses a stitch she calls Stacked Running Stitch, and I did try some of that in the piece below.  Satin stitch works better for me, though.  Although it does use more thread, satin stitch goes much more quickly, and you don't have to keep moving your stitching hand back and forth between the front and the back of the fabric.  Anything to do less unnecessary hand movement in my book.

Instead of embroidery, I decided to applique a tree.  But alas, this project will have to wait because I had an inspiration for another piece on Monday night that I am hot to get moving on.

The last photo is of my favorite piece of my own art, from the 1970s.  A framed color wheel of satin stitch flowers, inspired by my 7th Grade art teacher who taught us about color wheels.

Hint:  the new handstitched piece is another rainbow of sorts.

Hope you're having a great week.

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Coming Home

I'd had a yen to handstitch again, so that's what I've been doing for the last little while.

This is Gravity's Rainbow, 14 x 17 inches, more handmade fabric than not, entirely handstitched, inspired by Jude Hill/Spirit Cloth.

It feels a bit like I've come home, to cloth that is.  I'll paint again at some point, but for now my love is working with fabric again.  Everything I do, though, will be handstitched.

My hands really got a workout the first couple weeks I returned to cloth, and I had a tremendous amount of pain from overusing them.  Not arthritis I'm glad to say, just overuse.  I've learned now to take it easy and spread the work out over more days than previously.  The stitching is addictive, however.

I had great fun reorganizing all my fabrics, handmade and commercial, into drawers by color.  I have more future stitching projects in mind than I'll probably ever get to in what's left of my lifetime, or til my hands give out.

I just reopened my Etsy Shop, and listed a number of paintings in addition to the handwoven fabrics that are there.  I also listed three small framed art quilts, with a few more art quilts to follow.

I've been reading lots, as always.  Here are a few books I recommend:

In other news ~~ Life is good and I'm glad we're on the cusp of summer.  Been cleaning up my garden, such as it is, a little bit at a time.  Continuing to eat extremely well and I've lost about 10 pounds without that having been a specific goal.  Mail art still comes in and goes out.  Now that the weather has warmed up I'll start walking again more regularly. 

Thanks to all you folks who have continued to read the blog in my absence over the past couple months. 

Enjoy the last of spring!  Blessings.


Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Retreating Again

Art Journal collage, 8 x 8 inches
My busier-than-usual winter is over, and I can cruise into the rest of the year with as much ease and grace as I can muster.

I'm "talked out" here for now, and not yet back into an art-making mode.  Nor do I have the desire to push myself or rush into anything.

And I do want to pull inside myself again and quit this public venue for a while.

So I'm back on retreat, and this will be my last post for the foreseeable future.

Hope you have a wonderful season.  I'll see you when I see you.


Friday, April 1, 2016

Personal Projects

This last batch of ATCs was created a couple months ago.  Most of them are in others' hands by now.

I've been devoting myself over the past few weeks to a deeply personal project ~ changing my eating habits for good.

Although I've been lacto-ovo vegetarian (dairy and eggs in the diet) for many years, over the last few I found myself eating way more processed wheat products, cheese and ice cream than I knew I should have been.  And not enough actual vegetables. 

For the past nearly-50 years, my forays into tinkering with my diet included spans of time as a vegetarian, times of relatively light meat eating (beef rarely but chicken and/or fish fairly often), a couple of vegan years, and many years of periodic extended juice/fruit fasts.

I'd also been a light drinker for most of my adult life.  Never alcoholic, but a social drinker and someone who looked forward every early evening to "wine o'clock."

That same inner voice that almost two years ago told me to start meditating in earnest, told me last July that I'd had enough alcohol, that I was done with it and ready to engage life without it.  I've been alcohol-free for nearly nine months.  The mere thought of drinking now makes my mind swim.

Remember that sinusitis I mentioned a couple months ago?  After thoroughly researching the issue online, taking numerous OTC drugs without success, going to the doctor just to have confirmed that I did not have a bacterial or viral infection...I started in with several alternative home-care remedies and finally the sinus situation began resolving itself.

Which led me to realize that I needed to change my eating habits.  Although I had blood drawn in January and the typical allergens in my blood were very low to non-existent, nevertheless it became obvious to me that my body has been reacting to something or things I was ingesting, or something(s) in the environment.

So I've cleaned up my diet for good.  I'm now gluten-free and vegan.  I'm eating to satisfy my body's need for nutrition, not to satisfy my ego or my sweet tooth.  I've given up all processed foods, instead eating fresh or dried grains, nuts, seeds, vegetables, fruits and a few other extremely healthful things.

This is actually easy for me to do since I always only cook for myself and I very rarely go out to eat.  I gave away everything in my pantry and refrigerator that wasn't what I want to eat now, and replaced it all with the most healthful options.

Most likely this sinusitis, these protracted allergies, are environmental in nature, because I haven't cleared them up fully yet, and they keep coming back.  At least I've ruled out food allergies, though.  And I'll continue to do everything holistic that I can to strengthen my immune system so that this relatively minor problem doesn't become something far worse.

I've had the good fortune to be healthy.  I'm not taking that for granted any longer.

If you're one of those few who truly want to explore this subject, Healing with Whole Foods by Paul Pitchford is indispensable.

Happy Spring.  May you be healthy. 

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Broader Horizons

Art Journal collage, 8 x 8 inches
Since my last post, I became a book reviewer for Net Galley.  I'm taking my reading to the max, you might say.  So periodically I'll be posting a review or two of new and forthcoming books, rather than just mentioning them...

...beginning with The Genius of Birds by Jennifer Ackerman.  I really loved this book, and if you're a fan of birds (and who isn't?), you'll love it too.  In highly readable fashion, the author deftly paints a portrait of the brilliance of our avian friends, based on extensive research as well as charming anecdotal stories.   Ackerman takes us around the world to different avian research centers as we learn about birds' vast smarts in so many areas, their technical know-how (using and making tools), vocal talents, extraordinary navigational achievements, aesthetic inclination, social intelligence and communication skills, and all-round adaptability to life.

If you love birds, don't miss this book.  It's heart-warming, engaging, enlightening.  Humans have a lot to learn from birds.  I'll never look at one again without realizing what truly amazing creatures they are.

In other's painting lesson is a good one, meaning I could get into this one.  But not right now.  There's too much I want to read.

With a few exceptions, like novels from authors I've been following for years, my reading has ventured pretty exclusively into non-fiction.  I'm letting myself be guided by a thread that's taking me from one book/subject of interest to another.  I suddenly feel open to learning about a lot of people, places and things that I've perhaps overlooked before.  Or never had the time to explore previously.

For the last couple years I've been reading AramcoWorld, a beautifully done bi-monthly publication whose mission is to "increase cross-cultural understanding by broadening knowledge of the histories, cultures and geography of the Arab and Muslim worlds and their global connections."  Especially in these days of rampant Arab-bashing and Islamophobia, I'm really appreciating learning about all the wonderful things happening in the Arab and Muslim worlds of business, culture and the arts, agriculture, sports, food, et al.  Subscriptions to AramcoWorld are free, renewable bi-annually.

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

True Confessions

Art Journal collage, 8 x 8 inches
So...the painting lesson two weeks ago did not inspire me at all.  So I "ditched" class that week.  Last week's lesson was also not real engaging, although I did do a bunch of starts (first-layered sheets).  But then I never felt turned-on enough to finish them off.

Meanwhile, I was really busy two weeks ago and also needed the time off from painting.  And by the time last week rolled around, my motivation for painting was kaput.

I've given myself permission to not finish the class.  There are four lessons left and of course I'll print out the PDFs and watch the videos.  And I might even feel inspired enough to do some painting.  But I'm not going to force myself if my motivation is still on the wane.

Another thing, at this point in my painting career, or anything else for that matter, if a lesson doesn't speak to me and isn't something I'll use in future, then I don't feel I need to do it.  Most of the earlier lessons' worth of paintings I posted used new-to-me techniques that I hope to explore later on.

I've also been involved in an intense online Buddhist Practice Period through San Francisco Zen Center since late January.  And the two major things together -- the Practice Period and the painting class -- have been too much for me to manage comfortably.  Had I not enrolled six months earlier for Jane's class, I wouldn't have taken it.  But I would have forfeited my money.  (Her classes regularly fill up six or more months before they happen.)

At any rate, I'm clear on my priorities -- I'd rather be focusing on Buddhist practice than painting now.  That, and reading a lot.

I got myself a Kindle Paperwhite recently, ostensibly so I could read the really wonderful eBooks that Tricycle Magazine publishes periodically for sustaining members.  There was no way I was going to read them on my computer.  So I bought a Kindle.  And I'm enjoying it a lot.  I've already checked out several books from Library-To-Go, and gotten numerous free books from Kindle and other online sources.

The last book I mentioned here, The Sound of a Wild Snail Eating, was a Kindle library loan.  Then I read C.J. Box's latest Joe Pickett book, Endangered.  Then I read a terrific bio of C.S. Lewis, called C. S. Lewis - A Life: Eccentric Genius, Reluctant Prophet by Alister McGrath.  Currently I'm reading a memoir by Lily Tuck called The Double Life of Liliane.  Plus those Tricycle eBooks one at a time.

In hardcopy, I'm reading David Whyte's Consolations, a beautiful journey deep into specific individual words.  Savoring, more than reading.  Also Diane Ackerman's Dawn Light.  I borrowed that from the library, and not far into it realized I needed to own it.  Another very evocative exploration of the wonders of the natural world.

Happy Spring!