Monday, October 29, 2018

Mist on the Moors

After a month of travel we are home, home just in time to witness the mist and fog wrapping itself around us. The spider webs dripping with dew have been strung with care. Usually to catch those unaware. The colorful leaves here in the NW have almost rivaled those of New England. One might ask how many leaves did I collect on the trip?  Lots!  I put them in an old phone book while traveling and into the book press when I got home. I tried to record the location of each batch. They will make good stencils for future artistic efforts.

My trip was all about going home to my childhood home, 
to the place I went to college and to see family and friends. 
My college friend was so welcoming I had to make a thank you book.
It was composed of photos from our walk on her property. 
It was one of those perfect moments in time. 
The fungi were scattered through the forest. It was like a treasure hunt. 
The leaves on the trees were a blaze of color. 
The temperature of the later afternoon was like crisp apples. 

The amate paper I used for the book cover pleasingly 
looks like it came from the earth. 

I love the accordion book technique. 
The twenty one images each have their own space. 
Make it into a star or stretch it out or double it up. Great variety. 

Back at home we discovered this bad boy of a web had 
taken over the covered area. 
This wasn't your typical web... definitely not made by a garden spider.
Perhaps something  more sinister... with long black legs? 

October is a time - they say - when the veil of death is thin.
This poor little chap met with an unfortunate death. Cause unknown.

To every season there comes a purpose and a special beauty. 
My purpose is to collect colorful leaves and enjoy their beauty. 
Hope you find the purpose and beauty too.

Thursday, September 20, 2018

Between the barrels - botanical printing

Yes... a whole season has passed. It wasn't without a bunch of hoopla.
Right after I wrote that last blog an unexpected thing happened. I had a close encounter. Let me just say, if you can't pull up your big girl panties you might be in a peck of trouble - and I was because I couldn't. I couldn't do anything - not a thing - raise my arms up, brush my hair, drive a car, or walk with any certainty or least of all dignity. Needless to say, it captured my attention. Fortunately with modern medication I am somewhat better. I could go on, but won't... I mean seriously - art is so much more fun to share.

By late July things were some better - I was able to do some stuff! Good thing too, because I was suppose to help organize Catherine Alice Michael's Botanical Printing Workshop offered by Puget Sound Book Artists. It turned out great, but who the heck ordered the 90+ degree day? OMG! Thankfully all went well and I am pleased to say I came away with some lovely prints. Here's one.

I spent the month of August trying my hand at Catherine's method. Let us just say, this art form has many variables - water, plant material, metals - yeah or nay, paper, time in the pot, the skill of the artist, type of mordant, temperature and more.

I call this photo selection -  Between the Barrels...

It is always good to see the whole spectrum to understand the potential. 

Sometimes though, you don't know if you have fallen off the turnip truck or not. I find that is exactly the best time to - rust!

If still confused as to what variable is speaking the loudest... you can always turn to suminigashi to straighten yourself out.


If you still haven't got things straight then you can bounce to making books. Why? 
Because there are no rules to this art making thingy. 
I mean, you can make books out of anything... 
even goeduck shells, mineral paper and real sea lettuce!

Or you could use the botanical prints and write a little story about August and
 even make it look like a real book with stitches and everything! 

You could also print the image of the botanical print on Mineral Paper! It's so smooth!

It is only when you feel the last of the warm sun  fading into autumn 
do you rush outside to make solar prints 
You may note you never see anyone doing them in the winter... do you?
The best leaves would be all be gone, right?

I love the little bites on the leaves. You can't quite see the tendrills on the sweetpea, but they are cool. 

I think these botanical prints will make a a very nice book. 
It is something to look forward to and way better than thinking about hair falling out 
or mysterious illnesses or
Supreme Court Justices with issues! 

Happy Equinox!

Saturday, March 10, 2018

Sense of Place Stories

What are the stories we tell?

Mark Twain is quoted to have said "Write what you know." I have taken that advice to include the concept - Sense of Place when making my art books. Dr. Thomas A. Woods, President of Making Sense of Place, Inc., provides a lovely, textured definition of Sense of Place:

What is a Sense of Place?
People develop a "sense of place" through experience and knowledge of a particular area. A sense of place emerges through knowledge of the history, geography and geology of an area, its flora and fauna, the legends of a place, and a growing sense of the land and its history after living there for a time.

The feel of the sun on your face or the rain on your back, the rough and smooth textures of the land, the color of the sky at morning and sunset, the fragrance of the plants blooming in season, the songs and antics of birds and the cautious ramblings of mammals are environmental influences that help to define a place. Memories of personal and cultural experiences over time make a place special, favorite objects that shape to your hand or body with use, songs or dances that emerge from the people of a place, special skills you develop to enjoy your area--these too help to define a place and anchor you in it.

Through time, shared experiences and stories (history) help to connect place and people and to transmit feelings of place from generation to generation. Shared physical perceptions and experiences help people from different cultural groups fashion a local culture that expresses their unity in a place. Finally, place becomes unique and special for individuals and their group, and the group solidifies its identity through celebrations and rituals.
Developing a sense of place helps people identify with their region and with each other. A strong sense of place can lead to more sensitive stewardship of our cultural history and natural environment.
As the years go by my appreciation for our little six acre oasis has grown. I wonder at times if I am the last of the earth lovers. Over the last ten years I have watched the parcels that did not 'perk' be developed. Communities all across America are being swallowed up by the gentrification mold that is consuming the land - farmland as well as wetlands, trees, open space and waterways. In my community the farmers and common sense folk are being replaced by the "instant people," those who have no care or respect for nature, water, or soil.

It has been difficult to watch. Since wisdom comes slowly I  dare not disparage too loudly. Instead I try to respond to this disturbing trend by making art where my previous understanding has been changed or improved. In the end I may just speaking to myself, but don't you think it is important to review one's belief system once in a while? Is it not important to question the beliefs given to us by the others when we were children? As an adult, I am happy to say I have let go of the concepts of perfectionism, the biblical mandate to fill the earth and subdue it, and the many willful-man-models. I am relieved to find Mother Nature is forgiving. I find grace and peace within the folds of her earth skirt of many colors.

My latest art books are about two, maybe three subjects which cause many people to have opinions. The subjects are dandelions, crows and ants.

Illuminating Taraxacum officinales endeavors to shine a light on the humble and much maligned dandelion. The translucent images of the dandelion’s seed head can be hinged together to form 4 luminaries or into one long photo essay. The companion book contains facts, poems, childhood memories and a recipe. Perhaps I was trying to shine a light on hate as well. There seems to be so much hate in the world even small plants are caught in the battle. Is it possible to see the beauty and good?  

Crow Anting is my fourteenth art book about the life and times on Thistledown Farm. One seldom ever sees a Crow Anting as crows are rather private creatures. They like to spy on us, but they do not like to be studied. I felt quite lucky to see the sky fill up with the dark raucous forms. They landed on tree and shrub and grass. The first crows strutted up the anthill with such great dignity. How quickly it turned into jumping and squawking, hopping and flapping. Laughing and guffawing came from the rest of the murder above. Amused by the sight I giggled too.

I have sent my entry form off to Puget Sound Book Artist Exhibition 2018. We will see if they both get in. The dates of the show are: June 4 - July 27, 2018 at University Puget Sound, Collins Library. 
Till then I will be in the garden... learning more from Mother Nature.