Friday, September 28, 2012

Making something

Not sure if was worth making or not. At the end of the day yesterday this is what I had put together and I was pretty underwhelmed.

My starting point was a photo I took this summer at the Mission Santa Barbara. This is one of the bell towers. My goal is to simplify the composition, to focus on the lines, shapes and colors, as opposed to the subject itself and to rethink color. No more blue skies and green grass. This is simple. And dull. And flat. I am using solid fabrics here, which are pretty bland. My idea was that I would start with these flat fabrics and as I worked, add color and texture.

First color.

Then texture.

And, because I just can't resist adding some black drawing, some detail. Not too much, I hope.

Now that I have gotten this far I see a problem. The angle on that dark structure below the arched opening at the bottom is off. Arrrrrgh. And this is going to drive me crazy. I put it down and laid a piece of dark fabric over it and can see already that it will need to be fixed..

I also think the design needs to be cropped. Too much space with not enough going on.

If I fix the angle of that dark strip, this could work.

Or crop even more.

Or more. This one would eliminate the need to fix the bad angle, but I think it is too much. Darn. Now I see something else that is wonky. That arched opening needs to get wider at the bottom.

So, that is what I have been up to. This is a small piece made mostly to experiment. Slow progress and not much to show for it, but I am working some things out before I get back to the bigger piece I started in Elizabeth Barton's class. This may remain a practice piece. Those are often necessary!

Thursday, September 27, 2012

If I ruled the world...

Every sunset would be spectacular enough to suck you right out your kitchen window to stand in the yard with your mouth hanging open. And not because there are forest fires burning somewhere. Just because that's the way sunsets ought to be.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Fall is here

I have been in denial, but I have to accept that summer is over and fall is here. The leaves are not yet doing much here, but this brilliantly be-berried hawthorne, seen on our walk this morning was a clue. We turned on the furnace today. It was just darned chilly around here when we got up today.

I spent much of last week at the Northwest Quilting Expo where all the Twelve by Twelve quilts were being shown. I didn't take pictures, but Gerrie did. You can see them on her blog if you haven't yet seen enough of the Twelve by Twelve quilts. I ended up making the trip across the city to the Expo Center five times during the course of the show. When I discovered that they were charging $8 to park, each time, I decided to make most of my trips by MAX light rail, our public transportation system here in Portland. Somehow traveling across the city this way seems like a bit of an adventure, especially in people watching, but also it gives me a view of the city I don't see from the driver's seat of my car. There is an old part of Portland, a little grimy, a little rundown, that the train runs through and I have enjoyed seeing lovely old houses that may have seen better days, and old hotels and motels along a street that used to be a main thoroughfare, but no longer. I see a lot of old people in those neighborhoods and suppose they have been there a long time. I love crossing the Willamette river that divides the city and watch for big ships, dragon boats, sailboats. One day as we crossed I saw one of the bridges just up river open for a big boat. Many of the bridges lift or open, but it is surprisingly rare to see them in that position.

Last week's show was the last time all the Twelve by Twelve quilts will be shown all together. The Colorplay series will go to Australia for a show and the Theme series will go back to the artists. They are stacked in my studio and I will start sorting and packing them up later this week.

I am still thinking about the class I took and pondering where I go from here. I turned down an invitation to submit work to a themed show this week. I had to gulp twice and hope I was doing the right thing. It is a good show, but I knew it would be a big commitment and distraction from my refocusing efforts. I feel like I am making a change, but at this point it is all in my head.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Breakfast for dinner

 Breakfast for dinner seemed to be the way to take care of this day. I don't know about you, but this is probably my favorite, though infrequent, indulgent dinner. An omelet with cheese and bacon and salsa and avocado. And a glass of wine. Enjoyed in front of the TV, watching Jon Stewart recorded last night. Doesn't get much better, except that I was by myself enjoying all this. Ray is in Idaho with our son, Andy, helping my brother do some repair work at the cabin. They are having a good time too, getting lots of work done and having a guy week. Ray reportedly made my Mom's famous enchiladas which they were enjoying tonight.

My day started early. My alarm went off at 3:15, a godawful hour for anyone, I suppose, but it really offends every cell in my body to be awakened at this hour. I hurriedly dressed and headed out into the darkness to make my way across Portland to the Expo Center where the Quilt Expo is happening. The 288 quilts of the Twelve by Twelve project are being shown all together for the last time and Gerrie and I were to be featured on a brief segment of the early morning local news promoting the show. So weird to be driving the freeways with NO traffic. I arrived at 4:30 which was 30 minutes early, so I headed across the freeway in search of someplace to find a cup of coffee. I did not find the coffee, but got quite lost and was nearly late for our 5 am appointment with channel 8 news. Our reporter was interviewing one of the show organizers when I arrived.

Gerrie was futzing and fussing with the Twelve by Twelve quilts, getting each one smoothed and squared up.

Soon it was time for our bit. It went quickly and was over before I knew it.

Here is a link to it. I don't know how long they leave these videos up, so it may not still be there. The reporter was a really nice guy, who seemed to turn into a crazed maniac when the camera focused on him! It was all a little surreal. Then I drove the 18 mile trip home, with a brief stop at Starbucks on the way. I was home by the time I usually awake in the morning.

Later I went back to the Expo, choosing to take the train, rather than make that drive a second time. The exhibit of our Twelve by Twelve quilts looks great. They have been on a long journey, but still look pretty stunning I must say. This is the last exhibit of all 288 together. The Colorplay challenge group will go to Australia from here where they will be shown. The original theme challenge quilts will return to their owners/makers. They are the first thing you see when you enter the Quilt Expo. I hung around the exhibit for awhile today and talked to a few people who all seemed to love our quilts. I met some really nice people. It is like this whenever they are shown. I am, again, filled with gratitude that I have been a part of this adventure. Right now I am also filled with breakfast-dinner and bone weariness. I think it is time for a long sleep. Good night.

Monday, September 17, 2012


Oh my. Oh well. I have a lot to say, but hardly know where to begin.

I will warn you that I am in a very inwardly contemplative mood. Thinking very self-absorbed thoughts, probably not pretty, about the artwork that I have been doing. It has not been very satisfying lately. I am tired of myself and what I have been doing and been in severe need of a whack alongside my head. (Figurative, not literal. Don't touch my head!) The nasturtiums were probably the final straw. I know a lot of you said you liked them and I appreciate that. It wasn't so much the final product that got to me (though it does strike me as a bloated and desperate piece), as it was the experience. My heart wasn't in it. I finally (finally!) realized that I have gotten onto a detour somewhere and bogged down in technique and materials and curlicues and themes! Oh, the themes. Everything I have done for months has been for some show with a theme. I think I said more than a year ago that I wasn't going to do that anymore. Then I got right back on that theme horse and there I have been.

I have made some work, using the show theme that I loved doing—that "Fire" piece for example. That was really fun. One of my favorite ever pieces was this Douglas fir cone. There is a clean, simplicity in this that is really where my heart lies. It was also made to a theme, but the theme hardly mattered. This was something I wanted to do.

So I am making an effort to step back and reconsider some things and shake myself up. I started by taking a class from Elizabeth Barton last week. Our guild brought her to Portland for a two-day workshop and it seemed the perfect opportunity to experience a new point of view. I have long loved her work. (Look at the quilts on her web site. They really speak to me.) Her blog is one of my very favorites. Her class was called "Working in a Series" and she has inspired me to begin a series about architecture in Latin America. Her class was not about making quilts exactly like hers, it was an approach to planning and preparing and the discipline she believes is needed for work to be good. My wish is to work looser and with simpler forms and I discussed that with her.

I came away from the class with sketches and value studies and an idea. It is interesting that I started this year talking about some of the same things I am talking about here and I did not follow through. "Intention" was my word, but I did not grab hold of that intention. Perhaps now I can. I have made a start.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

New Gig

I was asked to be a contributing artist for the Sketchbook Challenge blog. I will be posting a couple times a month, responding to the theme of the month. This month's theme is "pattern" which suits me to a T. I posted my first post last week. I am working on another pattern post which will go up later. I am looking forward to this! I have been following the Sketchbook Challenge since they started. I figured when they first got going that it would be all about drawing, which excited me. I discovered that some of the posts are about drawing but many are about all kinds of artwork and artist journals. Look for the little Sketchbook challenge graphic in my sidebar. It is a link to the blog.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012


Seven years ago tonight I sat at my computer, wondered how you set up a blog and followed some links down a rabbit hole. I came out the other end as the new owner of a blog called And Sew it Goes, which I have to explain is a name arrived at through desperation. Every other name that popped into my head had been taken, including my own name.  I remembered that in the early days of the internet when I joined my first quilting listserve I used to add that line to my posts. The internet seemed so anonymous and I was having trouble keeping people straight on the list. The tagline seemed like it might be something memorable to distinguish me from the faceless multitude. I now regret using the cute "sew" in the line. "And so it goes..." says better what I intended, but of course that was the line associated with Linda Ellerbee the wonderful journalist. Also a heartbreaking Billy Joel song and a refrain in the Kurt Vonnegut book, Slaughterhouse Five. But there it is. And now, seven years later, I am still And Sew it Goes.

I had no idea what this blog would become for me. It is, first and foremost, a journal of my past seven years. The only journal I have ever kept. It didn't occur to me that it would engender a community of friends and open up opportunities never anticipated. I can't imagine coming to a place where I have nothing more to write about. I know it is probably the height of self-absorption in some peoples' eyes, but it is something that I now love so much that it doesn't matter to me.

They say that life happens in seven year cycles. They say that every one of our cells is replaced in the space of seven years. So, the new me wonders what the next seven years will bring. You know where you can find me.

And so it goes...

Monday, September 10, 2012

The folks who couldn't leave well enough alone...

That's us. Most recent domestic project has been cutting the shed out back in half.

When we bought our house Ray said the ugly shed out back had to go. Was it a shed or a bunker? You decide.


This was a really big, windowless shed. Might be good for some sort of illicit operation, but it was an eyesore. As I said, Ray planned to tear it down and replace it with something smaller. It was my idea to just cut it in half and remove the front half, leaving the back half. It took Ray awhile to appreciate the cleverness of my idea (ahem!) but he came around and this weekend he and our son, Andy started on the project. This is how it looked on Saturday.

And today, after the debris was removed and a temporary wall nailed up. Half the size it used to be. Some people enlarge their sheds, we are "ensmalling" ours. It will hold such things as the lawnmower and wheelbarrow and storage for deck furniture during the winter.

There will be a double door and siding at this end, as well as a paint job and some landscaping. I am dreaming of a big circular vegetable and flower garden just beyond the edge of the deck.

Part of the conditions for starting this project was getting rid of most of the stuff we have had stored in it since we moved here. One of the last things I had to deal with was a big box full of my old silkscreens, squeegees and cleaning fluids.

 and more.

Among the screens, to my surprise, were some pieces of art I had forgotten were packed with the screens. There was the lino cut print I did of yellow daylilies that you see above, and some of my mother's work.

These are pastel portraits she did of my children as little kids. Works of pure love. She adored her grandchildren. I took Emily's to her on Sunday and Andy's will go to him soon. In the manila envelope in the photo above were several unfinished pieces of Mom's, including this one:

Me and my daughter, Emily, when she was about two. I remember the photo Mom was using for this. Unfinished as it is, I may need to frame it and hang it in my bedroom. Finding this was a little like getting a message from my Mom, who has been gone for 14 years. It kind of takes my breath away.

I sorted through the silkscreens, and discarded the ones that cannot be reused. A trip down memory lane. So many were for items I made to sell at the Shakespeare Festival (aprons, totebags, bookcovers, etc.) and have Shakespeare quotes on them. They make me smile.

"I count myself in nothing else so happy as in a soul remembering my good friends."

"Small cheer and great welcome makes a merry feast."

"How far that little candle throws its beams. So shines a good deed in a naughty world."

Sunday, September 09, 2012

Artsy Saturday

This has never happened before. I had work in two shows that were having their opening receptions on the same day about 40 miles apart. Fortunately the first reception was from noon to 3 and the second from 3 to 6. Pretty well filled up my Saturday! The first was the opening of the new High Fiber Diet show "Elements" which is at the Woodburn Art Center in Woodburn, Oregon. It is a nice venue and a nice show.

The earthy works you see on this wall are by (right to left) Gerrie Congdon, Karen Miller, Bonnie Bucknam and Mary Goodson. Mary is in the center of this shot in the teal top.

Works along this wall are by Diane Born, Gerrie Congdon, Catherine Beard, Diane Born, Gerrie Congdon and Mary Arnold.

My four pieces are on another wall, grouped together. I thought they looked great in the space!

My friend, Jeri Flom didn't have work in this show, but she came with me to the Woodburn opening and then we hopped into my car and drove the forty miles to the Washington County Museum where we both have work in the Washington County Open Studio Artists show.

This show is very diverse and it looked great! These are the artists who are taking part in the Open Studios Tour in October and the show is a sneak peak of the work that can be seen in the artists studios when they open them for the tour. This is the third year of the tour and the second that Jeri and I have participated. We were both on the organizing committee this year and have been putting in some time and energy for the tour. It was nice to see it all coming together!

You can barely see a couple of my pieces on the wall at the right. They were hanging right above the food table so they were hard to miss!

The three small framed pieces starting on the left are Jeri's intricately embroidered fiber pieces.

After our big artsy day Jeri and I relaxed on my deck with a glass of wine and discussed what we had seen. It was a great day of art viewing and driving through the beautiful Oregon countryside. Both shows will be up until the end of September. If you are in the area I think you would enjoy them!

Friday, September 07, 2012

Frog—then and now

I got word this week that my small quilt "Small Frog, Big Pond" will be featured in the gallery section of the upcoming issue of the eMagazine In Stitches. It was first published in Quilting Arts Magazine with an article I wrote several years ago. It appeared last year in the Best of Quilting Arts book. That little quilt has had a nice life. I sold it several years ago, so it is nice to see it in print and soon in digital "print."

It seemed like a good time to revisit that little frog. I dug out my original sketch and made this smaller (6" square) version. It will be for sale at the Open Studio tour.

Tuesday, September 04, 2012

Shoes and other things

So you thought I was going to paint my ugly shoes. Really??
You thought that was something I would do?

I guess I have seen some kind of cool painted shoes, but no, I wouldn't wear them.

 I once saw a pair of painted shoes in Las Vegas that were amazing. They cost $300, and I seriously thought they were amazing. They had Venus Rising from the Sea painted on them. But I didn't buy them.

Nope. You can paint your shoes if you want, but I'm too self-conscious for painted shoes. Too "ain't I cute?" for me. I can't believe you thought I was going to paint those shoes.

I wouldn't mind owning a pair of these, though.

Another little piece today. I made it from rejects. It pays to keep this stuff. This one is 8" square.

Monday, September 03, 2012

From Artichoke to Rutabaga

I have had such big projects going that I felt the need to work on something very small today. This little piece is 6" square. I am trying to make some small pieces for the Open Studios in October. It was fun to just bang this out.

I have had another idea circling for awhile that I finally got to today. I almost hesitated to post this because it is a truly nerdy idea, but I'll bet you've considered something like this. I have these shoes. I bought them at Goodwill and they were like new and very, very comfortable, but ugly. They made me think of Little Orphan Annie. Children's shoes in a very large adult size. Minnie Mouse shoes. The thing is they really are comfortable. Maybe you can see that they are lined with very soft leather, over very squishy foam. They fit just right too. Except for one thing. Those Mary Jane straps are insidious. They seem OK at first, but as you wear the shoes the straps begin to rub. Then they feel tight. I made them as loose as possible, but still tight and they hit at kind of an awkward part of my foot. So I quit wearing them.

I looked at them with disgust one day and thought, "I wish I could just cut the straps off." So today I did.

I used a piece of masking tape to see where the line should go and cut the straps off, leaving enough of the leather to turn the edge under and glue it. I had to trim some lining away inside and I considered trying to sew the edge, but that was getting complicated. I just glued down a little "hem" along the outer cut edge, then glued that to the leather lining. I used Fabri-Tac glue, which says will work with leather and used some binder clips to hold the glued edges together while they dried.

I left them to dry for several hours and removed the clips and trimmed the lining. They look pretty good. I have no idea how well the glue will hold up. If they come apart I won't have lost much. They sure feel good on my feet though! And I think they look less dorky too.

So, after all that productive work in the studio, I cooked rutabaga oven fries for dinner. I have never cooked or eaten a rutabaga, but I have been reading about them. I used this recipe.

photo stolen from the recipe site. They look better than they taste

 I was unable to find the seasoning blend used in the recipe, but used some seasoning salt and sprinkled with Parmesan when done. They were edible and not terrible, but far from exciting. But now we have tried rutabagas. The best thing was dessert. When I went to our fancy grocery to buy rutabagas, I couldn't resist a little carton of ginger ice cream. Now that was exciting! I think next time I will try the French Lavender. And skip the rutabagas.

Sunday, September 02, 2012

Not Labor Day

Tomorrow is Labor Day. Today, for me, is Not Labor Day. I am lazy. I am taking the day off. It wasn't planned, but I guess it was needed.

Here is where I am today. Stretched out on the chaise on the deck. The Sunday paper is spread out around me.

View, if I look straight ahead.

View if I look up.

View if I look down.

That's it. I'm not moving.

I can't remember the last time I was so relaxed. Like I wrote yesterday, it has been a great summer, but it has been a busy one. Wish I had a dollar for every meal I have served this summer. We have eaten well, if I may say so myself. And we've fed a lot of people around that table in the top photo. Good times. Really. But I am savoring the quiet.

The morning started with some ambitions. I tried to do some drawings. I have neglected my drawing blog badly and want to get it under control. My drawing efforts were half-hearted and bleh. I'll try again tomorrow.

I wandered out to the studio and looked around. I ended up fixing a pair of pants that have been in danger of falling right off of me. It's not that I have lost any weight—they are the kind that come out of the dryer fitting perfectly and within two hours they have grown a size. The weight of my phone in my pocket has me in fear that they will fall right off. Working a length of elastic into the waistband is the most productive thing I have done today. Then I lost momentum. Succumbed to inertia.

I finished reading Cannery Row and lay back, gazing up through the bamboo and pondered the grace and poetry of Steinbeck. I read some of the paper, lost interest and simply stared into space, enjoying the clear blue sky and noticing a distinct chill in the shadows. September has arrived. Life is good. I needed today.