Sunday, December 21, 2014

Winter's Solstice

Father Sun, Mother Earth...
the season ebbs and flow around me in mysterious ways.

Winter Tide
A warm wind howled through the trees this day.  I looked up to see a murder of crows flowing on waves of wind, each darkling darting, dancing, and roaming free. My spirit soared skyward for a few brief minutes till a gust swayed me as if I were a tree.  It would have been hard for even the most distracted to not notice something was different about this winter tide day. Many will embrace the balminess and call it good. I will call it a new becoming and exclude judgment.
I still wish for a winter like those of my childhood. The ones where all motion stops. It is only then do you hear the silence nature offers. It is the kind of silence that restores one's soul. Instead I will use other artificial methods - mood music while staring into the open flame of candles or fire to find the space in between all the busyness.
I wish for you the restorative feelings that come from nestling down deep. I imagine a little hole deep in the earth. It is lined with sweet grass and bunny down. It would smell sweet of earth and grass. It would be warm and toasty too.  We would hunker down and tell storiesfor it is the time of remembering and releasing all that has built up over the year. Can you see the white of a new clean piece of paper? A new page on which to write our dreams.
Happy dreaming.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

October's passing

The web - it's all connected somehow - holding the new grandbaby, traveling, mowing the pasture, winterizing the outdoor pipes, picking up wind fall branches, knitting socks, washing clothes, cutting blackberry canes while they aren't so prickly, creating a new kind of winter stew, sewing a new pattern, rowing on the Verite in Commencement Bay. One thing flows into the other. The spiral keeps adding a fiber. The days just pass by one after the other. It's all good.


Saturday, October 11, 2014

On the Misty Moisty Moors

It has been a lovely autumn. I probably should have spent this past dry month in the garden rather than the studio. Instead I have been researching and experimenting with charred wood and sticks and mono printing a variety of natural and manmade materials. I'm searching of the right imagery to depict soil (the theme of a show next year). I have been using the hand pulled prints to make digital images that I can layer in Photoshop. Line over color, lines over lines. I have lost hours, days and now weeks in the process. My shoulders have been up around my ears as I hunch over the computer in search of just the right mix. Artist seldom talk about ergonomics but we should.

This past week the mornings started out misty, moisty, dewy, drippy. The cobwebs bejeweled and more spectacular than ever. I couldn't help but turn my attention to them. I wondered if I could use them somehow in my project? After all it is the web of life that I am trying to capture. Yes its perfect!

So, this is how I catch the webs.

The best time to collect a web is early of a dewy morning. The web can't be too bejeweled with water drops or it won't come out clear - as you can see from the second picture.  I use black cardstock as it has more body in the damp air. I sneak up behind the web (make sure the spider isn't in it) and gently push the paper onto the web creating a slight bow so the web flattens against the paper. You will probably have to carefully break the fibers that extend beyond the paper. Typically these are the guide wires that hold the web in place - they are extra strong. It is a delicate operation so the web on the paper doesn't move. I return to the house where I carefully sprinkle the surface of the paper with white flour using a sieve. I want it to gently fall onto the paper. I make sure all the web lines are covered. After a few more seconds or so I tip the paper and tap the flour off. Yeah, cool! I spray the whole surface with a clear acrylic spray. I use care so I don't over spray the surface.  I do one web at a time so that the moisture of the web doesn't damped the paper too much (otherwise it will attract the flour). This method will give you a web that will last for years. Each web is unique. I do however, limited myself on my collecting as it means somebody will be going hungry that night.

The above image is a geli mono-print image with
a spider web image over the top. 
For the web I used the digital effect - invert so the lines are black.
I guess the next thing to do is find a spider willing to have her picture
 taken for the center fold.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Coming up for air

It's been a long time, but who is counting? The month of August was spent in dutiful letting go, lightening the crush that surrounds us. Betwixt and between the papers, memories were found. Pounds of paper reduced to smaller bunches but why no increased elbow room? Why? No doubt we will have to do this again. I have not been ruthless enough. Raised by depression era parents - my excuse.

There have been some moments of pure bliss. Times spent in pleasant play. It was summer after all and the blackberries were ripening. One afternoon was spent making and playing with blackberry ink. Unfortunately it is light sensitive, but what fun to use for a harvest festival invitation.

It comes out different colors on different types of paper.

Then there was the one afternoon when I had had enough with making decisions about OPS
(other people's stuff) and got silly.
I used some limbs to make this cheeky sculpture.
Perhaps I was delirious - but they look like the feminine form to me.
With the celestial skies in the background maybe they are Roman goddesses?
I spent one weekend this month at a workshop -
Expressing your ideas on Paper and Cloth.
 It was taught by Deborah Greenwood, Lucia Harrison, and MalPina Chan, 
all members of the Puget Sound Book Artist group.
What a wonderful experience.
We printed using handmade gel plates, paper lithography, and making hand printed book cloth, plus a dozen or more side track paths of learning.
Needless to say, I came home prepared to get busy.
I made big chart with a long list and immediately started cranking stuff out.

 I have always used water-based printing inks - that is up until this class,
because of the possible mess.
But watch out now.
After instruction from MalPina clean up could not be easier!
I am now a double fisted printer. 
 A tube of oil in one hand, water-based in the other!
The oil ink just slides right over the wood blocks.


Today I spent the WHOLE day in the studio.
I used rice paste and glued my rusted pellon.
I used two different types of rice paper just to test the process.
I think the pieces will make beautiful book covers.
The surface of the pellon captured the shiny rust and it
shimmers and is all purpley
(what you don't know that color?) 

I haven't tried gluing the fabric onto boards yet,
but I am pretty sure it will work well.
 I know... famous last works, I probably shouldn't have said that.

I've had a grand time burning wood rounds and ends,
printing over waste papers and gel prints.
Doesn't sound like work at all, does it?

I will have to figure out a way to keep the block in alignment... or not. We will see.

Frankly I am a little spent, but nothing a cup of tea won't cure! 
The smile of contentedness will surely be there for some time.  

Friday, July 18, 2014

Letting go

With Dad safely on his spirit journey I asked myself, "Now what?" I deliberately did not try to rush back into things too quickly. I wanted to sit with the moment, the memories, the quiet. It wasn't long, however, before the normal day to day stuff called attention to itself, but I rebelled. Rather, it seemed important to restore, to respond to my own spirit and needs which branched out into this:
 and this:

and that: Hand printing with the real objects-the study.
And yet something was still working at the edges of the "letting go." So, I let go of his clothing and made Tibetan flags. They flutter now in the copse of trees near my land bound crannog.
Quietly the muse stepped into the space with new inspiration for the materials recently "let go" by grieving family of Marie, a weaver and artist, friend to my friend. Maria was a consummate collector of paper making fibers and rusted objects. Many things magically found their way to me? Was it magic or by design? 
Together, the muse and I, with Maria on high, created a sculpture that signifies some of my recent lessons. I call it - "It starts with the hook".
The hook (hard to see), is innocent like a question, but it's not. Grating thoughts (grater) quickly follow. This naturally puts a wedge in between oneself and others. It makes one either feel like you have been pulled through a key hole or you are screwed (drill bit). For sure it is the devil's work (pitch fork tines).  I understand it is all about the E (energy) but when thoughts gather force the M (momentum) can overtake the situation. I understand now if you don't get the thoughts under control the emotions will grind you up (like a meat grinder) and life will spit you out!  Okay sculpture, remind me if I forget.
With rusty hands I let go of "those" thoughts and think of new ones.

Paper and pellon, a collaboration and sharing moves the letting go process into a new form.
And yet...
There's more personal 'letting go' to do.
I go to the places where the past is buried deep. 
I immerse myself in it.
It is the right time to do so.
I sort through all that has been cherished and saved for years and years.
I am reminded of what was,
and then with a knowing,
I let go.
I take a photo and wonder if it can't all go? If not why not?
Or do you do let go of as much as you can, stage by stage?
More pondering.

The practical side of me says - throw out all that watercolor paper? Eeeech such a waste. I imagine repurposing some of the discards. Okay... I will make an effort to make something out of one sheet to see if it is even possible. If not, then out it goes!

But, I must say, it hasn't been all hard work this past month. There have been good times. High Tea at Low Sea was a wonderful event. Perhaps you would like to see what that is all about:   Making the handmade gifts for those who made it happen brought out the whimsy. It is fun to play with child-like abandon with no limits on your creations.

Immersed in the waters of Goodwill we feel the oneness and we are thankful.
May your circle always be open, with someone always reaching out.
What was made is now ready to be 'let go.'
May the momentum of good feelings follow.



Monday, June 30, 2014

A quiet passing

It has been quite some time since I last posted. There was acreage to mow, weeds to be whacked, trees to be trimmed, wood to be stacked for winter. Every day it was up early and every night it ended with a medicinal small glass of wine to keep the muscles relaxed. Since it doesn't take much - snoring quickly followed.

When the majority of the place had been 'touched' at least once I made a decision to run down to Oregon to see the granddaughter and her parents. It  had been too long since the last visit. Caregiving my father in law kept me away, but as it looked like things could go on and on as they are I simply had to go. It's a 5 hour drive. I had only been traveling two hours before the first phone calls started - he's got pneumonia and a UTI  (two of the few 'outs' for Alzheimer's patients.) Very quickly it became apparent we were on a new trajectory. Hospice was engaged.

I guess the most important thing to say about all of this is it is possible to have a peaceful passing if enough folks hold it in their minds long enough to create it. And we did.

His boots may be empty, but his spark carries on.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014


We have returned from a needed get-away. Two nights away with no phone calls! Yeah! We traveled east to dry land and filled our eyes with the openness hoping it would offset our feelings of being overrun by vegetation.  We appreciated the rolling land with the crisp well-maintained farms where you can see the edges of  "everything."

Before we left town I turned in my donation for Marie Watt's Blanket project:

My blanket (quilt top) donation came via the Goodwill. I had stopped by the Goodwill (by the pound) this past week for potential art materials. It is unlike any other thrift store. I am not sure why I find the place so jarring. As I watch others paw through the mountains of "stuff"  I go into research mode. I have so many questions, it is like a social experiment in progress. I want to write a book complete with photographs about this unique environment but typically I forget because of the stuff I find. This week I found an antique quilt top thrown into the fray. I snatched it up as you would a child running into traffic. I was surprised by my reaction. It was so immediate and  strong. The quilt top shouldn't have been there! It was out of context. The stars had been lovingly stitched from fabrics worn thin by their previous life. The quilt was soft and muted; so unlike the quilts of today made from new cloth. I looked through the bin for more clues. Often when a person's life is up-ended into the bin the pieces fall there together. Yet there were no more clues. I had no personal need for this quilt top, but I just couldn't let it lay there to be thrown from one bin to another with disregard or worse yet to be bailed up and shipped off to some unknown destination. Surely being bronzed would be a better fate? I am not sure if it will meet with the artist intention or not but on this Memorial Weekend I pay homage to this unknown woman who stitched by hand these pieces worn thin by life. I pay homage too to the women before me who worked so hard to fashion a life out of what they were given. There on the hills of their little communities we found evidence of their lives, buried there with their tiny children. I prefer this to remembering all the wars.

Genesee Valley Lutheran Church and Cemetery
 Saint John's Lutheran Cemetery and Saint Mary's Catholic Cemetery
The signs say a lot, don't they?

The view was grand and the wind constant.

And the best part -
  we weren't caught in any traffic -
well, until we got closer to home.
But after consuming a 44 oz nobody better get between me and the barn door.

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Side tracked on 6 acres

No art this past week. The sun came out and I hurt from stem to stern. I've been reminded every May is this way. Scratched, bruised, sun burned and sore. Keeping up with Mother Nature in May is a difficult task. For weeks and weeks it has rained down on us - in great big buckets. It was upsetting because you could hear the grass growing the whole time. So when suddenly it was nice out - holy cow! Get out the machete! My whole life changed - big swaths of time were dedicated to one purpose. To restore order and a path to the house!  One day was spent mowing hill and dale, the next it was  trimming trees (which was suppose to be weed whacking but the shade was preferable - since my skin hadn't seen sunlight in months). I mean, the sun was soooo bright and hot! For two days I picked up limbs and trimmings which I constructed into this lovely above my head brush pile berm on the edge of the pond very artfully arranged I thought. I hope the winter rains will reduce it down eventually turning it into soil (in my lifetime?)  As I dragged the last load to the pile this 'voice' welled up inside me and said "that is enough of that! It is time to play!"

OMG! I play as hard as I work, but this morning when I had my first cup of tea out there - it was pretty wonderful. With my imagination on fire I studied the situation from the inside. I brought with me a cut up milk jug. Thinking it might make a nice outer covering. It would let in the light yet be strong. I do think the covering for my little land bound crannog should be from some sort of recycled product. Although if I don't get to weed whacking soon I could cover it with shocks of grass. But, oh my... it is so lovely to look out in all directions. If only I could have it be transparent. Any ideas out there?

So, that's my story and I am sticking to it!

Under the shade of the old plum orchard...with clippers, long loppers, short loppers, chain saw and weed whacker.

I know it is hard to imagine you can make a pile 15 feet long, 5 feet high from this little spot, but you can.
You have seen those etchings of old women hauling sticks on their back, right?
See me dragging sticks up the hill to my little crannog.

My little crannog is a 'land' crannog surrounded by a wall, rocks dug out of the pasture by hand, thank you very much. I got tired of chipping them down with the mower. Did I mention I needed a new mower? Yeah, that part hurt too. I know the Scottish built their crannogs over water, but if you use your imagination you will see the green as a pond filled with beaver dams in the distance (actually they are more brush piles). There's at least 5 brush piles that are 4 - 8 feet high. The blackberries are trying my spirit and my skin, and trying to take over the pasture as are the nettles, thistles, and thorny prune plums. I ask does everything have to have a thorny needle? No, there's ivy and privet and apparently grass made in hell. Just ask my 7th weed whacker.

But really, when you sit there in the little crannog, tea cup in hand, ignoring the jets flying over and Gorge the goose who apparently has assigned himself the job of waking the neighborhood, it is pretty darn nice. They say it will rain today. Maybe grass would make a nice covering?