three books

three books

Sunday, 27 May 2012

the times, they are a changing

I did a whirlwind trip to Vancouver Island today delivering a car so my brother and his gal pal could sail over in the boat they have been working on restoring for the past couple of months. (I'll have some before and after pictures in a later post) I got to have a brief visit with my sister and a quick hug from my gorgeous grandson which was worth a trip anyway but the highlight of this particular trip was a pilgrimage to the Barton Leier Gallery on Yellow Point Road  Anyone not familiar with these two amazing artists you should stop reading and go to their website immediately. For the rest of us who have been enjoying this unnatural phenomenon for nearly 20 years it is very sad news that the garden gallery will be enjoying it's very last summer this year. I know that I will still be able to savor their work at the Nanaimo shop location but, gulp, to never stroll down those amazing garden paths finding treasures in every inch of the lush greenery ever again. I have no words for how sad that makes me feel. I will say that the world will be a slightly less colourful place when Grant and Nixie take their love to town.
This morning, having arrived before they were officially even opened I crashed on through to their private quarters sobbing and wailing noooo say it isn't true! They graciously served up coffee and consoled me somewhat by sharing some of their new work for an upcoming show at the Old Schoolhouse Gallery in Qualicum Beach (August 13th-September 15th) I don't want to spoil any surprises by trying to describe what I saw but what Nixie has done with those doll parts she's been hiding under the bed is astounding and Grant is serving up an equally tasty accompaniment. I can't wait to see it come together.

Tuesday, 22 May 2012

two more for the ladies

patch work

These are still in the spirit of "women's work" and again inspired by the ladies of Gees Bend Alabama. The thought process led to considering the source of the material for the early quilts, clothing that was beyond wearing, literally scraps. One is called "threadbare" and the other "patch work". I'm taking this mind set to the next level by painting on recycled wood covered with linen scraps.

Monday, 21 May 2012

Decisively indecisive

The last of the furniture revamps sold last week and I've been out on the hunt for some more items to play with. It is getting harder and harder to find anything interesting at the thrift shops and their prices have gone mental on anything that smells moldy enough to be truly old so when I do spot a gem it's quite exciting. This little cutie was upside down on top of a heap of god knows what and I almost missed it.
It is an honest to goodness icecream chair that was dressed in a nasty bit of "dusty rose" coloured velour fabric probably some time back in the seventies when the continent was being painted that colour. Shudder. Fortunately it isn't a difficult thing to re-cover the seat and the rest of it was perfect, including just the right amount of chipping in the paint to make it interesting. When I got it home and stripped off the velour, there was the original black naugahyde in really good condition. Then I was stumped. I had thought that I was going to experiment with using an old painting to re-cover the seat but it looks so darned good in it's original state that I was hesitant to mess with it. Yikes, I'm so indecisive these days. I decided  I need a concrete plan for breaking through these little impasses and I came up with one - I will decisively allow the universe to make the decision for me. I listed it for sale on Craigslist and if it finds a home as is, okay. If not, then clearly it is meant to be playtime in the studio. Does it matter even slightly - nope - not even to me, so isn't that an interesting lesson? Aside from all the philosophical ponderances that come to mind regarding the acceptance of kismet, going with the flow, taking the path of least resistance etc. I have to admit that the term that comes to mind is somewhat less elegant but no less profound, "don't sweat the small stuff".

Saturday, 12 May 2012

homage to the ladies

A while back I came across a little book of post cards called "The Quilts of Gee's Bend". It caught my eye because my sister was madly quilting at the time but this was quilting unlike anything I have ever encountered. Having grown up in Ontario I am very familiar with the Amish and Mennonite quilts and I do admire them, they are lovely and structured. The ladies of Gee's Bend don't make 'em like that. I guess they make them any way they want to now because they sell for thousands of dollars but the originals of these were done of necessity and with materials at hand, literally rags and scraps, that came together in joyous combinations to make practical, usable art. Here's an excerpt from one of the articles I found:

Mary Lee Bendolph began work on her first quilt at age 12, in her hometown of Gee's Bend, Ala.

"I was 13 years old when I finished." says Bendolph, now 73. "We ain't had nothing to work with to make it, is the reason why it took so long. Every time I got a little piece of something. I'd put it in".

That is both amazing and humbling to me and it re-enforces once again, my commitment to using up every scrap of material stashed in this little studio of mine. I hauled out a couple more cradle boards that had been abandoned along the way and waxed on some scrap paper from my stash of trash (stuff that would have hit the bin at work if I hadn't rescued it) I let the leaf motifs in the paper direct the application of coloured wax and "stitched" the pieces together. Not so bold of colour as the ladies examples but true to the spirit because, that's what I had to work with.

Go be inspired at the link below.'s+bend&hl=en&prmd=imvns&tbm=isch&tbo=u&source=univ&sa=X&ei=Th-vT5fsOsqJiALUipmuBA&sqi=2&ved=0CIkBELAE&biw=1600&bih=749

Thursday, 10 May 2012

just because

Taking a break from my pi project I pulled out a cradle board I had started prepping for an image transfer a few days ago. I had abandoned it because it was just too darned pretty - all pale blue and fresh green - it just didn't work with any of the images I wanted to use. Instead of scraping it down I slopped on some dark brown, then a layer of grey and another of white. I got busy with my little flame thrower, overheating each layer so some of the colour underneath could leach up through. I happened to have some naturally dyed wool also in greens and blues so I embedded some of that before I carved up the surface a little and added some oil paint stick. The result is a lovely example of how satisfying it can be to work intuitively and spontaneously. Exactly what I needed to remind me to lighten up and let something develop on it's own.

Tuesday, 8 May 2012

putting the pieces together

A few days of mucking about with other stuff but finally back to wax. I'm still having an excellent time with my test tiles. Today I started prepping a whack for the "personal iconography" project. I'm going to attribute this inspiration to the amazing artist Sheila Norgate in spite of the fact that I am likely to slaughter her eloquent explanation of the concept. Instead I will offer up my interpretation of what she said which is that, as an artist, one has a responsibility to explore and develop a catalog of icons (motifs) that have personal significance. I like the concept of repeated motifs and even more so the fact that they are not chosen randomly but are developed into a sort of language that can express emotion or share experiences visually. Developing this personal language however, is considerably more difficult than I had expected. There are a number of recurring images I am drawn to and have used in a variety of forms but I have never actually stopped to think about them long enough to wonder why. Why this kind of bird but not that one? Why this kind of bug but no others? So, although I would start cataloging the images on test tiles and use each one in a variety of ways until it's story is revealed. Here are the first bits for contemplation.

Thursday, 3 May 2012

Polka dots 2

The polka dot project turned out a disappointing length (80 polka dots makes only about 4 feet) but I like it so much I think I need to do it again. This one was made from scraps of canvas, some primed, some raw, all painted with chalk paints and dipped in unrefined beeswax. Some of the discs have prints on rice paper applied with additional wax. The double dip ones are smooth and creamy while some of the others, especially those on the raw canvas, are more crude and kind of crusty. I hung it on the door to my studio so can smell the sweetness every time I pass. Delicious. Need more polka dots!
Boo doesn't really get it, he sniffed once and looked at me like this. I'm not sure what that means.