Thursday, October 22, 2015

A day's worth of phone photos

Every new gadget that comes along could change your life. Most don't. I think a lot about how the camera in my phone has changed mine. I remember when I first heard of cameras in cell phones. It sounded like a useless idea to me—a gimmick, that would never really catch on. And now I read that the iPhone is the most used camera in the world and that fact isn't even a little bit surprising. And I am 100%, unapologetically, onboard.


Beautiful, foggy morning for our walk. The wetland looked like a painting.

I drove directly from my walk to Oregon College of Art and Craft, where the SAQA group was meeting for dyeing and discharging demos and practice. I painted Soft Scrub onto fabric to see how it discharges the color. Here is the Soft Scrub drying on black cotton fabric.

Here are my two test pieces washed out. The pink, predictably, discharged to lighter pink. The black—hello!—surprise!


After SAQA, Ray and I went out to lunch at an Indian restaurant. No, I didn't photograph my food, though the butter chicken was a beautiful, rich orange color. Then to the Portland Art Museum to see the current exhibit, "Viewing Nature" works from the Paul Allen Collection. it is a gorgeous exhibit.


And it was fascinating to see, from above, a new exhibit being mounted in a different gallery.


Home again, and Ray was cleaning up the garden and disposing of green tomatoes, which made me wonder how they would work as fermented pickles. I rescued a bunch and filled a couple big jars with tomatoes and brine. It's an experiment. The jars look beautiful.


Emily had to stay late at work for parent-teacher conferences, so I picked the kids up from after-school. Em texted, asking how they were, and I texted back a photo, which I knew would make her smile much more than just the word "fine".


A day's worth of phone photos. None of them really keepers, but moments to go to and share or just smile over. Honestly, I end up deleting most of my phone photos, sometimes after posting to Facebook, or on this blog, and my friends and family do the same and, in this way—through our pictures—we understand each other better and we share in the everyday lives we all lead, even though far away. We see babies grow and change and know our far-off families and friends as we never could have. We share the beauty and wonder all around us, and I really think we are better for that.

I love this camera in my pocket.


Monday, October 19, 2015

House numbers

Getting ready for Open Studios last week, I realized that when we painted the house this summer we removed the house number and had not replaced it. Seemed kind of important for helping people find the studio.

When we moved onto this house (which, by the way, was 7 years ago yesterday) there were no numbers on the house. I hope you all know that, in case of emergencies requiring ambulances or fire trucks, it is really important to have a visible house number on your house. So I started looking for numbers that I liked and wouldn't cost a fortune. I'm fussy. Not just any old numbers would do. I wasn't finding anything I liked. One day I got a FedEx delivery and the driver snarled at me, "no HOUSE number!" So I made some numbers to use until I could find my mythical "perfect" numbers. I had a sheet of sticky-back black craft foam and I cut numbers from that and put them up above the garage door, and they stayed there until last spring when Ray peeled them off and started painting. Who would've guessed they would last that long? And, I have to say, they looked pretty good. And I still haven't found the perfect ones. So, off to Michael's for a sheet of sticky foam.

Using Illustrator on my computer, I found a typeface I liked and typed my numbers.


Two things I learned from my first round of home-made numbers:

  • Numbers that slant to the right are harder to place evenly with the slant angle matching. This time I picked a face that is vertical.
  • Numbers with perfectly straight lines and sharp corners are hard to cut perfectly. This time I picked a face with a hand-drawn look—slightly wobbly lines and rounded corners. Besides, I like this one and think it has a hammered iron look.

I enlarged the letters to the size I wanted, turned them into outlines (not necessary, but it saves ink when you print) and flipped them to mirror image.

Then I printed it out, glued it to the peel-off sheet on the back of the craft foam and cut each letter out.


I laid them out and arranged them so they would look good, then measured the arrangement and found the center point.


Then I took my letters and a stepladder outside and starting from the center I started peeling and sticking the numbers very lightly to the house. I stood back, looked hard to decide whether everything looked centered, even and correctly spaced, made some final adjustments, then pressed them down hard.


Ta Da! I like them. Maybe someday I will find those perfect, gorgeous house numbers. Maybe not. Either way, these, at about $1 total cost, do the job nicely.

PS, I know someone will ask why I didn't use contact paper or black tape or paint, or something else. I love two things about the foam. It has this velvety, unshiny matte texture and it has dimension, being about an 8th inch thick. It really could fool you into thinking it is cast or forged iron.


Monday, October 12, 2015

Getting ready


Next weekend is Washington County Open Studios and that is my cue to get in gear and get the studio ready to receive guests! I have been merciless this week about decluttering. All my studio visitors will think I am organized and tidy every day of the year.

Today I hung up some recent work (above) and cleaned off my work surfaces before I headed down to the Beaverton Library for my volunteer docent stint at the Beaverton Art Mix show. It is a really nice juried show and I was pleased to be juried in for my third year. My piece was the only fiber work in the show this year, but it seemed like there was more mixed media, sculpture, ceramics and metalwork than past years, so not so heavily painting. A very good show, I thought.

Here I am with my piece, "The Moon is a Mirror". Today was the last day of the Beaverton show, so I will have the moon to show at the studio next weekend. It is the piece that is in the printed program for the tour, so it will be recognizable. I'm thinking I might hang it on the outside of the studio, next to the front door. I hope it doesn't rain. I am always asked questions about how the quilting is done when I have visitors in the studio, so I plan to have one of my machines set up with a sample quilt sandwich that visitors can try quilting on.


Open Studios is so much work, but so gratifying. It isn't about selling stuff (though that is sometimes a nice bonus). It is promoted as an opportunity for the community to get to know their artists and see where they work, and the people who come really seem to get that and have great questions and nice things to say and bring a feeling of celebration to the event. People of all ages, from small children to old folks all seem to get into it. Last year I was busy with a large group of people when I noticed a teenage girl slip in the door and begin carefully examining each exhibited work. She was dressed all in black, with blue-colored hair and her body language and bored expression did not invite engagement. I couldn't imagine what she was thinking. As she was about to quietly leave, I thanked her for coming and she finally made eye contact. "This," she said, twirling a finger around to indicate the entire studio, "Totally awesome." And she was gone, before I could return the compliment.

For all the information and list of artists and directions for the tour go to the web site, or pick up one of the great catalogs in public locations in Beaverton, or come to my studio first and I'll give you one. And did I mention—the tour is free. And totally awesome!


Monday, October 05, 2015


There's a word I don't use much, but that is how I am feeling about my last post. After writing about the toilet paper quilt an anonymous commenter told me they thought my sense of humor was in the toilet, which made me laugh out loud, so I may not be a totally lost cause, humor wise. Another commenter suggested that my reaction was one of the reasons people think artists are snobs. Even I, the next morning, wondered what had gotten into me. I could try to explain it, but suffice it to say I overreacted to something trivial. I was in a mood. And I have to agree that time spent making any kind of a quilt beats the heck out of innumerable other ways one can waste one's time. Chastened, I am. Let's just forget the whole thing, okay?

And on to something else...

I think I have mentioned that I am making quilts based on some of my USA cross-country trip photos. I am into my third one. My process has been to make a little digital sketch based on a photo, or in one case, a combination of elements from a couple photos.

Sometime toward the end of our second week on the road, we drove through a little section of Pennsylvania, and we decided to leave the interstate highway and take some back roads through some beautiful countryside. As we passed through one little farming community I snapped a photo of a lovely old house and as I go back through all the photos I took, I keep stopping at that photo, so I finally knew it was going o be a quilt. Here's my sketch.


And here is work in progress.

This series of quilts was going to all be landscapes, but I can't resist a charming old building, in a landscape. Landscape to come...