I’m sorry I haven’t posted in such a long time. I arrived in Asheville in mid April on a glorious spring day. The dogwoods were still in bloom soon to be followed by azaleas and rhododendrons. It was a wonder to drive from winter to full out spring in two days.
My “stuff” (aka my life) went into storage and I began searching for a suitable house. I found the perfect townhouse but the process of purchasing it, closing the sale and moving in was an adventure I would never want to repeat. I finally moved in about 3 weeks ago and am still dealing with boxes and repairs. But its all good.
The studio space is wonderful. Large, open and with great natural light. There’s even good storage space but its going to take a while to get moved in and organized. And from where my desk (OK, folding table but I’m going to get a desk) is positioned I can look out and view the mountains. Once my space is set up I will be excited to share photos.
With all that has been going on there hasn’t been much time for art and the stress is not conducive to creativity. But last night a few of us got together to form the Asheville Surface Design Group. Our first meeting was a hands on gelli plate activity lead by Lisa Heller. It was so much fun to play with fabric, paint and texture again.
And this has convinced me that no matter what needs to be done around here I still need to feed my soul with some hands on art activity, and not to worry about coming up with a finished product but just to enjoy engaging in the process.
Swan Song 36″ x 25″
The summer of 2001 was a special time. We were finally building our dream house on Lake Marion. I spent the summer in the apartment over the garage; Bill came up on weekends. So I was alone on 9/11. But not quite alone. A juvenile Trumpeter Swan was hanging out on the lake. I began feeding him and he got used to me sitting by the lake.
I took many photos and have depicted him in fiber art a few times. I made this last piece in January. The house sold while I was finishing it.
The lake ice went out much earlier than usual this year. Even though its still very cold the lake is full of migrating waterfowl. The loons have returned and I am so happy to have caught sight of one. My swan never returned to the lake but I will take this one with me to North Carolina. And it seems like a good image for my last post from the 45th parallel.
I should be packing but I want to reestablish my blogging habit so here goes.
Yesterday I closed the sale of this house. I’m relieved that its finally over. I so clearly remember purchasing the first of the three lots nearly 35 years ago. Thirty years ago we built the garage & apartment that was our vacation get-away and later my studio. We did a lot of the work ourselves and I remember every detail. Fifteen years ago I supervised the building of this house from that apartment. It was such a fun and exciting process. Then converting the apartment to the studio. We loved it here. But its not the right place for me now. Time to move on and take my memories with me.
And my relocation plans have changed. For the better but it suddenly complicated everything . The house in North Carolina sold! I am so relieved. It was right for us but wrong for just me. Now I will rent a small furnished cabin and store almost everything I am taking with me.
The cabin is small and very basic but the setting is lovely and the location ideal for house hunting. Setting up a makeshift studio will be challenging but I will figure it out.
The packing seems endless and more complicated since most things are destined for storage. I am closing out a long chapter and starting a new one. I don’t know what is ahead but moving forward is the right action.
27″ x 20″
A forest fire can be destructive but it can also renew a forest with new growth. Some species, such as the Jack Pine, require the heat of a fire for their seeds to germinate. I tell myself this to put some positive spin on my new piece. I made it in response to an assignment to illustrate movement.
Last month I began a year long online master class with Elizabeth Barton. Each month Elizabeth presents a concept via an essay with examples of artwork illustrating the principle. Each participant produces 3 sketches based on the concept and we need to turn them in by the 10th of the month. They are posted to a private blog with Elizabeth’s critique and we choose one to develop. We have another 10 days to produce a block-out mockup of our piece and submit it for comment. The finished work is due by the end of the month.
One of the things I love about this class is being able to follow the progress of each student’s artwork. Each student has her own style and methods. No two pieces resemble each other at all. Since its all on our blog I can spend lots of time studying the photos and reading Elizabeth’s comments and suggestions.
In January we explored contrast and I will share my January piece at some point. I submitted it to a show and while there is no restriction about showing it ahead of time I’ve decided to see if by some wild chance its accepted.
I found the February assignment to be challenging. For some reason I wanted to try a subject I had not explored and to treat it in a somewhat abstract way. I’m not sure where the idea of the forest fire came from.
The fire in the background was a lot of fun. Nothing like hot colors in drab and dreary February. The trees gave me fits until I realized that I was falling back on my very literal tree shapes that did not work with the abstracted background. I took another look at how Patty Hawkins suggests trees with simple shapes. All my fabric choices seemed too heavy and then I recalled a very old piece Ghosts of the Forest and decided to try organza.
Ghosts of the Forest 2006
I finished in time. March & April might be tricky but I am really going to try to produce one new piece each month
The “Litle House in the Big Woods” sold last week. If nothing goes wrong I’ll be closing in April and heading to Asheville. For now I’m planning to move to the house we purchased in 2014. Its been rented out but the tenants moved the last week so unless it sells before April it will be my temporary house. Just don’t need to take on another large house with acreage and all the maintenance that requires. But at least I have a landing space.
Sometime soon I will be migrating my website to a WordPress platform and incorporatig my blog. It will need a new name since I’ll no longer be living on the 45th parallel.
Lots of time to think about it but in the meantime I have a lot of packing and planning to keep me busy through the rest of winter. And some time in the studio. I am working again. I won’t have a lot of time for art right now but I know that I need to carve out a few hours here & there to feed my soul.
Having the first “Portal” hanging on the design wall must have influenced the two pieces I started this summer. I meant to post weekly about my progress but got sidetracked as I worked toward a deadline for a Fiber Artists Coalition exhibit entitled “Wabi Sabi: Appreciation of the Imperfect.” which reflects the Japanese aesthetic centered on the acceptance of transience and imperfection. I felt the “portal” was transient since it appears to float and this piece would be a good candidate to enter. I set about working on additional pieces for the show.
I continue to gravitate toward greens, grays and browns. Probably because that’s what I see living in the woods. At some point I noticed doors and windows in the constructs. I didn’t consciously plan them; they just happened. Thus, Portals became a series:
Portal #2 Through the Forest 32″ x 25″
The next piece was more deliberate. Two memories influenced the doorway and the branches obstructing entry: an abandon temple in a Balinese forest that has been taken over by monkeys, and the steps leading to a Mayan temple ruin. I didn’t attempt to find my photographs since I was aiming for the feeling rather than a pictorial likeness.
Portal #3 Enigma 20″ x 25″
So now the first piece is renamed and also photographed with proper lighting. All three will be exhibited together in Wabi Sabi.
Portal #1 Transition 21.5″ x 22″
And now I will turn my attention to the Blue Door. Another Portal.
Sometimes making a public declaration has helped me face a difficult task. Getting my studio habit restarted has proved to be difficult for many reasons, one of which has been lack of enthusiasm for a concept. I’ve played a bit with color and while I love abstraction I still want to work with imagery. I finished the binding and sleeve for a piece entitled “Portal” that I made well over a year ago and pinned it to the design wall. In studying it I got thinking about another piece “Doorway to the Future” that I made for the Mercy Education Foundation. Both featured doorways.
Over the years I taken a lot of photos of doors, doorways and passages. They interest me for many reasons. A door can mean many things including entry, new beginning, mystery, opportunity. It can be open, closed, locked. One series of photos that kept coming back to me was a blue door in Cotacachi Ecuador. I love the aged and worn appearance, the soft blue of the door and the contrast of the old nails and lock. So I will use this door as the subject of the next piece I start. There are so many directions I can take with the composition.
Tomorrow starts a new year for me and I am determined to begin digging myself out of this hole. So I commit to work on this idea and to post my progress. I will try to post weekly to keep accountable to myself.