Saturday, February 28, 2009
I've had my scarves for sale and gotten some encouraging feedback on them.
On the green one I added a strip of "eyelash yarn" down the middle. Then I added the fringe opposite to the yarn pattern.
I love this scarf. It's made of super soft multi-colored yarn. I figured out how to make curved ends and then I added 3 layers of fringe on one end making it really lush and fun. The other end has a single layer - I thought it would be too bulky to have it on both ends.
I did the same with this off white scarf, plus I added the eyelash strip down the middle.
Friday, February 27, 2009
It's hardly any good but I love it. It represents a growing bravery and freedom in my art. I have always loved Impressionism with it's loose and broad brush strokes, it's generalization of objects. But I was always so rigid in my painting, enslaved by a fear of imperfection. After all these years away from art, when I picked up a brush again I deliberately chose to be loose, broad, and general. And forgiving. I wanted a photo of Alaska on it but didn't know how I would paint around it. When I found this out of focus photo of the AlCan Highway I was really attracted to it. My husband took it out the windshield. It would go perfectly with the messy and very imperfect job I knew I would do of painting. The photo just seemed to call for the rest of the cover to become part of the image.
I am loving copper and turquoise lately so I decided to paint this next cover to look like patina-ed copper. It looks much better in person. I took the photo before I painted the label with the word "Sundays". It is the journal I use to take notes in at church. Unfortunately, because I had been using the book for a year already, I forgot to Gesso it before I began painting. The first time I used it (last Sunday) the paint on the binding started cracking and peeling off! So now I'm in trouble. I'll probably have to go back and Gesso over at least the binding tape. So far so good on the cardboard parts.
Next is my favorite. My husband takes all the best photos but this one is all mine. I love birch trees. I'm kind of proud of this photo because it sold once already. Someone actually bought one of MY photos! MY framed photograph is hanging in someone's home! That feels pretty cool. I also like this photo because it represents to me the importance of being open to observing your surroundings with fresh eyes every moment. We were at a certain place taking photos of Denali (Mt. McKinley) for quite awhile. After shooting Denali - THE photo destination - I realized how easy it would be to not see anything else. When walking back to the car I intentionally stopped and turned around, looking for any other possible photos. I turned and there they were. This beautiful stand of birch on a hill just above my head. For the binding I used some birch bark my husband brought home for me a couple years ago. (That was not fun. I used E6000 glue and man, that stuff not only stinks, not only is carcenogenic, but it's super tacky and nearly impossibly messy! But it is also wonder glue.) And yes, I'll probably run into problems again with opening and actually using the book. I'll have to be careful in deciding it's use.
Thursday, February 26, 2009
I was fascinated by the movie-material story of how his dad, Dick Mackey, helped organize the first race back in the 70’s and then dramatically won it the 6th time he raced. He was wearing bib number 13. Then years later Dick’s son, Rick, was running his 6th Iditarod, drew bib #13 and he won it. Can't top that, can you? Well, in 2007, it was the 6th time son Lance was running the Iditarod. It was the first and only time the Iditarod committee allowed mushers to pick their bib numbers, so of course Lance picked bib number 13. He won! AND he did it on the heels of running another 1000 mile race just 3 weeks before! AND he used many of the same dogs. His training and racing knowledge are changing the sport. No one had ever before considered running both 1000 mile races back to back with any serious competitiveness. Evidence now suggests that instead of the dogs being spent and needing a longer time to recover, they actually show greater strength, endurance, energy and enthusiasm the more miles run. Oh, by the way, Lance Mackey not only ran both races within weeks of each other, he won them both. Two years in a row. It literally stunned the mushing world. Oh...and Lance is a cancer survivor. Didn't I tell you it’s movie material?
I always knew the Iditarod existed but never thought much of it, even with my interest in Alaska. Finding out more about it just two days before the 2007 race was the perfect breeding ground for fanship. Two days later I was all over the internet and the Iditarod site "watching" the race. It's really interesting. The challenges these men and women face are real and big. They never know how the weather will factor into things but it always does. Last year's race was during a "heat wave". Temps "soared" up to the 40's making the trails and dogs slower. The dogs prefer temps below zero. The year before, weather affected the race with nasty storms producing white out conditions.
Well, I could go on and on.... but I'll spare you. ( I guess I kinda already did go on and on.)
Mushing was and still is an important means of transportation in many parts of rural Alaska. Lots of places today cannot be reached in winter except by airplane, snow machine or dog sled. Mushing certainly is a different kind of sport to "watch". You have to watch it by checking the current standings on the internet, checking local online newspapers and newscasts, seeing photos from various check points, or being a paid subscriber to the Iditarod's daily video coverage. Check out the very short video clip on the Iditarod home page.
Wednesday, February 25, 2009
I enjoyed his books (listed at right) so much that immediately after closing the 2nd book I jumped onto Google to see if he had a website. What I found was a wonderful surprise. Not just a book-promoting website, but a beautiful site and blog (Bedlam Farm) filled with his photography of the farm, his animals and his life in rural New York. He has several blogs within his site, the largest is called Bedlam Farm Journal. He also has Live Your Life, Today at Bedlam, and his Hospice Journal. He and his dogs volunteer visiting hospice patients. This has been such a blessing not only to the patients and families, but also to him. He often posts several times a day, either writings or photos. He continues his open vulnerability about life, conquering anxiety and fears, writing, art, his farm, and of course, his beloved dogs. After having written several memoir style books about his dogs and the farm, he is returning to fiction. He’s sharing the writing process with his blog readers and it is so interesting.
I just love this blog. I appreciate his openness about his weaknesses, about his quest to grow as an individual, his search for "a spiritual base" (I think that’s how he put it), his love for dogs, his pursuit of art beyond his writing. And I am totally envious of some aspects of his situation. I’ll save expounding on that for another post sometime.
Take a look at some of his sheep - they have these beautiful cinnamon colored faces!
Tuesday, February 24, 2009
One jar has lasted me a year, so even at the single jar price of $15 (or the 2 for $20 internet special) it's well worth it. You've got to try it!
Friday, February 20, 2009
I have other smells that take me back to a specific place and time. For instance, the smell of rubbing alchohol takes me right back to the bathroom of one house we lived in. I was in 7th grade and had just gotten my ears pierced. I had to clean my ears around the special gold stud earrings twice a day with rubbing alchohol. That smell takes me right to the very medicine cabinet mirror I used to see what I was doing.
Another one is the smell of Neutrogena bar soap. The original transparent orange bar. That smell takes me right into the bathroom in my dorm suite Freshman year of college. I love that smell. It reminds me of all the fun I had away at school that first year. Seeing myself in that bathroom reminds me of something that's funny to me now - not so funny then. Nearly every morning I would get out of bed and into the bathroom before my roommate, but only by a few minutes. The very first thing I had to do was brush my teeth. No matter how badly I had to go to the bathroom, I brushed my teeth first. It got to where it NEVER failed that the instant I was done and tapping my toothbrush against the sink - mere seconds away from going to the one and only stall for, by now, some much needed relief - my roommate would come marching in, eyes half closed, and head right into the stall. I had to stand there and wait for her. Every day. Aaargh!
Then there's the smell of mildew. I actually love the smell of mildew. It takes me right to the food cellar in my Nana's basement. Sometimes I would spend the day - or more likely a few hours - with her. She would play games like "I Spy" with me and let me throw clothes down the laundry chute to her. Then I'd run down to the basement to see where they landed. The chute opened up right next to the cellar door. From the cellar I would smell a mixture of mildewy moisture, potatoes and onions. To this day, I love the smell of mildew because it reminds me of fun days when I was being loved by Nana.
Funny how smells take us back.....
It’s the journal I’m currently using. I didn’t originally intend to leave the white spaces between patches but didn’t have much choice because I didn't want to risk the colors mixing. And I couldn't paint a second coat because I wanted the directional brush strokes to show. I think it looks a little like a psychedelic giraffe, but I still really like the concept.
Thursday, February 19, 2009
In my painting class I worked nearly half the semester on one painting. Then, I had about 5 paintings to do for the second half. One Open Studio Friday I was frantically painting trying to catch up. The Ceramics teacher came in and said, "I hear you’re taking my class next semester." Completely stressed by the Painting requirements, I said, "I don’t know if I can handle it. This painting class is too much for me." He assured me, in his drawling West Virginia accent, that Ceramics was nothing like painting and to just give it a try. I did. And while my boyfriend and I broke up during that semester, I fell in love with Ceramics and discovered my love for three dimensional art.
Well into my declared major I decided to minor in Art. I loved it! My art experience at the small Christian college I attended could not have been better. I became a serious ceramics student and was trusted with a key to the studio. While other girls without dates pined away in the dorms on Friday and Saturday nights, I was always in the studio. I was hooked.
I have always been too insecure to call myself an artist, though. In college I thought it arrogant of my fellow students to declare themselves artists. The title of artist, I thought, was something someone else should give you. I thought you had to be identified and considered an artist by others before you could really claim it of yourself. And even though others do call me an artist now, generous friends mostly, I still have a residual insecurity that makes me feel almost embarrassed to claim it for myself. I’m not good enough to really be an artist. I tend to think the same way about writing. I am not a writer; I just love to write. I am not really an artist, but I do have a measure of creativity.
"A measure of creativity." That is how I’ve come to describe my artistic inclinations. I cannot help comparing myself to others whom I consider artists. My creativity falls far short of theirs. Still, I know I have been given a measure. It is more than some, much less than others.
In life-after-college, I had varying creative expressions working at a flower shop. As life wore on, sadly, my creativity went dormant. Just keeping up with life was demanding enough. In the last few years I have been granted a Creative Awakening. My mind became awake to creativity again and I began getting ideas and seeing possibilities, always in three dimensional forms. I also came face to face with the reality that my chosen medium is prohibitively expensive. If only I was a drawer, I realized one day, all I’d need is a piece of paper and a pencil to do my art. But noooooo, I’m a 3D artist who chose clay and needs thousands of dollars of equipment to make my art! Part of my awakening has been finding other three dimensional means of creative expression.
With this Creative Awakening have come some beautiful opportunities. Namely a Sunday School class at church where we went through the book The Artist’s Way, and a women’s Bible study class entitled Art Expressions where we are learning how to meditate on scripture and then translate what we’ve learned into a creative expression using various media. (More on this later.) The result is that I am learning to accept the measure of creativity I have been given and run with it, even though it's much smaller than I prefer and I can still be quite intimidated when I look around at the vastness of the gift in others. It is freeing me. My creativity is growing as I become less focused on the measure of creativity I lack and more focused on the measure I have. I am learning to let go of perfectionism and just create something. If I don’t like it, throw it away or start over. I have also found painting again. And while it still is not my strong suit, I am enjoying it.
On this blog I’ll be posting photos of some of my works. Art is meant to be shared. It is hard to create something and not want to show someone. I guess it’s the same with other forms of creativity. Writers are not often content to simply write in their journals or write stories no one will ever read. (Except William in Finding Forrester, and I don't think he was as content as he tried to tell himself.) Actors are not content acting out monologues in the privacy of their bedrooms. Actors are meant to act for people. Writers are meant to write to and for people. Artists are meant to share their art. Creativity is meant to have an audience. So, in spite of my insecurities, I’ll post some work. Of course it will only be work I’m happy with, don’t you know. ;-)
Wednesday, February 18, 2009
I’ve asked myself why I want to start a blog. The simple answer is that I love to write. The deeper question is, do I have anything to say? I don’t want to be someone who doesn’t have anything much to say but, my, doesn’t she say it well! (I’ve read books like that and they were very annoying!) So I’ve asked myself, do I live a blog worthy life? Do I have anything to say? Do I have anything to say that anyone might actually want to read? If I was embarking on a specific adventure like spending a semester studying in England like my friend's daughter Miranda, or embarking on a special project - like an intentional exploration of how homemakers accomplished their homemaking a century ago like A New Old Fashioned Gal, or if I had far away friends and family to keep in touch with like my friend Linda, or if I was a prolific artist brimming over with uncontained creativity like my friend Angie...well, then I’d feel justified in setting up a blog. Or, say, if I was embarking on the adventure of moving to 5 acres of land, building our own house with our own hands completely off the grid, using generators for electricity and hauling in our every drop of water....now that’s blog-worthy. Unfortunately, that was 10 years ago when I hadn’t even heard of blogging, much less owned a computer or had the electricity with which to use it. Perhaps when we embark on the next adventure...a seasonal move to Alaska. Again, there will likely be no electricity. I will have to either use a computer by generator (that sounds kind of risky for the hard drive) or hand write my posts in a journal and make a weekly trek to the most likely wi-fi location - the best laundromat in the country, the Wash ‘n’ Dry in Soldotna 17 miles away.
So what made me take the plunge? God, through a number of means lately, has been showing me that each of our stories are valuable and worthy of being shared, regardless of how exciting they are or aren’t. I recently went to a women’s day retreat where one of the speakers, Linda Thompson, had exactly that message for us. She said, "Telling our story may help someone make sense out of their story." It’s as simple as that. We each have a story, uniquely ours. We live in community as relational beings designed to need each other and love each other. Part of that interdependency and love is sharing our stories with each other. So, while I’m sure my blog will get much more interesting with trips to Alaska and the someday seasonal living there, I’ve decided I do lead a blog worthy life, even now, simply because we learn from each other’s stories. Period. Everyone has a blog worthy life.
Now, after all that inner wrestling about the blog worthy life, I do feel rather foolish when I lift my head up from all my analyzing and realize that hundreds of thousands - if not millions - of people have a blog. It’s no big deal. Ppphhhfff! Why NOT start a blog?
What can I say? I guess it just takes me a long time to think my way around to reality sometimes.
So...welcome to my blog.