Saturday, August 19, 2006

First, some real sewing news. Nothing spectacular, but I did drag myself out of piles of dusty books and, at the last moment, went off to the studio to whip up a few flannel receiving blankets for my new grandbaby. I sewed late into the night, complete with a change of sewing machine and a Walmart run for the correct color thread. I didn't take a photo of them finished but I have a picture of some of the flannel I used here and another picture of more of the flannel here.

The baby shower for my DIL is Sunday in Redding. William, Rosie and I are headed over there this afternoon to visit and do some errands, spending the night with son Sam, and then attending the shower. I'd originally hoped to have the baby's "Grammy Quilt" all done for the shower, but that just didn't happen. It would have been nice to be able to show it off at the party, but, oh well. ("Oh well." That's my new saying. Very handy, useful as a response in many different kinds of situations, many different inflections.) I'll have the quilt done by the time the baby is born. And if not.... oh well! Let's not point out that poor Garret grandson is still waiting for his quilt to be finished. (I think the proper response here would be "Oh, dear!") But hey, I had a hard enough time finishing the receiving blankets yesterday, what with forgetting about the opening night of football activities for William, and a new episode of both Monk and Psych to lure me onto the couch.

I'm not worried about DIL Lisa seeing this post, because she and her mom flew up this weekend from southern California for the shower. She's probably somewhere over the Central Valley as I type this, sans her bottled water, liquid base make up, or yogurt snack. Hehe.

Moving on, here's a few more holiday photos, to go with the tourist pics I put up today on Beach Treasure.

Still up the wall in Conwy, Wales. Here is part of the wall viewed from a higher section. I liked the view through the wild trees. So much of the island we visited was domesticated.

I mentioned that part of the fun of walking high up on the town wall was being able to look down in people's courtyards and gardens.

I never tired of the way the stone walls aged, making homes for plants and birds, lizards and undoubtedly even a chipmunk or two. Do they have chipmunks in England?

Monday, August 14, 2006

Holiday photos to match the ones I put up on Beach Treasure today. As you may recall, I already shared a photo of some boats, taken while standing on the top of the city wall. The rest of these photos are also taken from atop this my-knees-were-shaking ruins of a structure.

Another view of boats from a window slit.

Here's another nice harbor view.

This was from inside one of the many turret corners. Originally these would have been roofed structures, rooms several stories tall. The walls and ceilings, made from wood, are all gone now, but the remaining circular stone towers are beautiful. It's really hard to capture the feel of them in a snapshot since you don't get that "surround sound" feel. I took a lot of pictures of the hardy plants that grew from any nook or cranny that would shelter a bit of soil.

This tower was the worse for wear. The only thing holding it together were the walls pressing it in from either side.

I loved the chimney pots found on buildings all over England and on top of this wall we got a bird's eye view of them. I'm not sure what their numerous uses were, or are - are they still in use or just remnants from the time when all the homes were heated with fireplaces? Regardless, I found them wonderfully whimsical. This crow (or rook?) obligingly perched, adding just the right touch to this photo.

Here are two sets that sat facing each other on back to back buildings. They reminded me of chess pieces. Here are the Yellow King's rooks and bishops.

And here are the White King's pieces. Anyone for a game of Wizard's Chess?

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

I decided instead of throwing more photos at you today, to create an art meme. When you're done reading about art in my head, feel free to tell us about art in your head on your blog. Are you an art snob? An artist or more of an art collector? Do you buy art that sings to you or matches or furniture? One medium or anything and everything is potential art material?

Art from Inside My Head

Favorite painters:

I have a lot of them. O'Keefe, Chegall, Gauguin, Van Gogh, pretty much all the Impressionists. I'm not much on Old Masters but now that I've had the opportunity to see a variety of it up close, Da Vinci is in a class of his own - I could pick his work out from all the others at a glance. It's all about his faces. Less historically renown, but I also really like Robert Duncan's country scenes and Brian Froud's fantastical fairies.

Favorite textile artists:

I love Pamela Allen's work. It always evokes an emotional response from me, makes me want to laugh or cry or hug someone. Well, except her fish. They just make me hungry. And although she's not famous or nuthin', Deb's work is always creative and fun.

Favorite any other artists:

I don't really know any names. Or more likely, I'll think of them later today after I published this. Oh! I love the whimsical world of Kipling West.

Favorite mediums:

watercolor, acrylics, textiles, photography, collage and oooooh, I'm having one of those sticky brain days - what do you call it when it's like a collage but you use 3-d items. How embarrassing. Someone please tell me so I can go "Duh!"

Favorite art styles:

Impressionism, Surrealism, Expressionism. Realism in more contemporary artists. I'm not big on abstract paintings, yet I really like abstract work in textiles. Most modern art - I'm kinda 50/50 on it.

Mediums you have personally worked in:

textiles, oils, acrylics, watercolor, pencil, ink, charcoal (like, from the woodstove!), charcoals, plaster of paris, wire, plants, mud, DNA (my babies were all beautiful works of art)

If you were given the opportunity to change all the artwork in your home for new, would you?

Nah, I get attached to pieces. But it would be tempting.

Have you ever won a prize or award for your work?


Have you ever sold your art work?


Have you ever given away your art work?


Favorite colors:

I can't pick a favorite color for working with since it would depend on what I was making. In general, red and green always sing to me. Blues can be either calming or depressing, depending on the context. I like orange. I didn't like purple much at all until the last six years or so.

Warm or cool:

There's no doubt I'm first drawn to warm colors. Although...... I particularly like blue/green combinations.

Bright or subdued:

Bright, zany, wild. Pastels - pretty much blech. I like earth tones though, both the pale washed out colors of the desert or beach, and the deep colors of... well, earth, soil, deep woods. In fact I was just chewing on this fact. I'm redecorating my house and I have to make the bright zany artist and the earth tone primitive in me co-habitate happily.

Where do you get your inspiration?

Oh, EVERYWHERE! Other artists - although then I worry about it being a "copy". Other artists obviously influence one another, and yet you want your work to be unique. Nature inspires me. Light. I'm somewhat influenced by emotional experiences, but I think visuals trigger my art more. Emotional experiences, I'm more likely to express myself with in writing.

What are you currently working on?

Hmmm, ah, well, uhm, you see, hmmmm..... my house. But I have a purple challenge fabric piece halfway done. And another challenge is beyond the planning stage - it's ready for me to start cutting and laying the pieces together. Uhm, that's it. Sigh.

What do you want to work on next?

After my museum hopping this spring, I'm wanting to paint again after letting that fall away twenty years ago. I also want to do some collage and.... whatever the word is - 3-d work. I bought a collection of fabrics last year to use creating somewhat abstract beach scenes. And I want to start making dolls again. I love making dolls. I don't know why I don't make that more of a priority.

If you could own one famous work of art, what would it be?

It would probably have to be an O'Keefe. One of her flowers. Or Van Gogh's Starry Night. Or let's go completely wild here, how about the the Winged Victory of Samothrace. I could put her out in the garden. Hehehe. Well, she's kinda big. How 'bout a sculpture of The Three Muses.

Would you want to make your living as an artist, or prefer to keep money out of the creative process?

I'd be thrilled to make my living as an artist. Doubt I'm that dedicated, but if someone wanted to throw gobs of money at me, sure, why not. I wouldn't do it if it meant changing my art to become commercially profitable though.

What kind of atmosphere do you create best in?
Music is better then television. Unless it's mindless television. Soothing music is better then loud music. Loud music is better for cleaning, And it depends on what part of the creative process I'm in. I've not very good at working around other people, so classes and workshops, while creatively inspiring, don't allow me the privacy I need to do the actual work. I can work around crowds though - for instance, in a park or a cafe, then people become background noise.

Do you use/control your muse or does your muse use/control you?

My muse is definitely the one calling the shots.

Well, I can't think of any other questions. If you can think of anything I forgot to include, please add it. And let me know if you answer it on your blog, so I can come read it. Now I better get going. I need to get painting this afternoon. Very creative. I'm painting a wall.

Monday, August 07, 2006

I spent the entire weekend immersed in beauty and art. Well, not the entire weekend. But it was more then enough.

Saturday was our local Art in the Garden Tour. I know they have these in other communities, but if you aren't familiar with the concept, a group (in this case it's our local county art council and the Monticola Club, I think), gets 6-8 people to offer their gardens, hopefully unique or special in some way, for people to tour, like a home tour. Then they set up different artisans in each of the gardens, as well as different food stations. To take the tour you buy a ticket and they give you a map so you can spend the day going from garden to garden.

In our small community, it's not only a chance to see lots of art and flowers, but also a chance to see "that house on the hill I've always wondered about" and an opportunity to bump into lots of friends and social acquaintances. Also, a lot of my mom's friends and acquainances. She moved away from town two years ago and I still get asked "How's your mom!?" at least a half dozen times at activities like this.

This year's gardens, the theme seemed to be - amazing water features. One rambling garden had 4-5 different water features - waterfalls, ponds, fountains, scattered across an acre of different garden "rooms". I think that one was my favorite.

Another home, you had to climb up a very steep mountain driveway. Honestly, I thought the beauty wasn't worth the fact that they were living directly in the forest - lots of atmosphere but no defensible space against the inevitable forest fires we have in this part of the country. Their gardens were every child's fantasy playground. The family that lived there though, all the children were grown and the grounds were designed with grandchildren in mind. Wouldn't you love to have enough money to be able to indulge your grown families! My favorite part of that garden however, was a little surprise encounter with a ribbon snake in their vegetable garden.

Yet another home had one gigantic pond with waterfalls, "streams" and landscaping all around it. The rest of the yard was nothing more then sweeping green lawns. I guess that's all you really need however, when the lawns toe up to a completely wild valley and sweeping mountain peaks devoid of any other buildings. I overheard the owner explaining to another guest "this is why we bought this place" as she swept her arm across the view.

Yesterday I went up to Chester, a pretty mountain town nestled on the northern edge of Lake Almanor. It's one of those towns where the population more then doubles in the summer, when wealthy city folks come up to their second homes, settling into a smaller, closed-up-for-the-winter, locals only mentality when the snows fall. It was bursting at the seams with people yesterday however, as it was their annual Art in the Pines art and craft show, and the local guild's biannual quilt show.

I was very proud of myself, I didn't bring home a single piece of art or kitschy knick knack. I did spend a long time chatting about a lot of beautiful art with the artisans, but I explained that I couldn't buy anything as I didn't have "a single surface, horizontal or vertical, left in my house to display anything". It was surprising how many people rolled their eyes and laughed, admitting to the same problem. I also explained that I was "in the process of redefining my space". I didn't know I was going to use that term, it just sort of popped out and I realized that was exactly what I was doing. I could also say I'm "reclaiming my space", as that touches more on the feel of almost having to battle for every square inch. But as I keep going, it's feeling less like a war and more like an art project in and of itself, so redefining works. It certainly sounds better then "I'm getting rid of all my crap."

That doesn't mean, however, I came home from the fair package free. Alas, I was rather indulgent. But I ended up only purchasing practical things that I had already had on a mental list to find and use. Only, instead of finding ordinary versions of them, I found wonderful artsy versions! I bought myself some kitchen glasses and a cup. I posted photos over at Beach Treasure. Go, see. They're wonderful. At least I think so. I have a rather.... odd..... sense of humor. I also bought some raspberry vinegar and a jar of jalapeno/olive relish. Yum. Last but not least, I bought a hanging hammock chair for the back yard and another swinging hammock that I don't have a spot for right now but the price was right so I'll save it for some future spot.

The quilt show was very nice. Not a lot of vendors, which was fine, it's not like I need any more fabric. I bought a half yard of a hand dyed and three FQ's. There were over two hundred quilts. Mostly traditional quilts, although they were nicely done and a few of them were really lovely colors or were special in some small way. There were a generous sprinkling of wall hangings and art quilts. I took photos but, dang, my camera just does not do well in low light conditions. Here's a few of my favorites, blurred or not:

Probably my favorite - it was made for a challenge, I didn't catch the challenge theme. The quilter used gross grain ribbon for the top straps of the flip flops. Don't they look 3-D, as if they're gonna just fall off the quilt at you!?

This was stunning. It looked like stained glass. Here's another close up of it below:

This was a simple four patch with sashing and posts, but I really loved it. The sashing, as you can see in the close up below, gave it a wonderful whimsical mood.

Because this art quilt has black sashing and binding, and is hung against a black background, it's hard to see that it's not rectangular in shape. I want to do something like this. But with a different theme. My "sea" themed fabrics? My halloween fabrics? Even my fabrics similar to the ones used in this quilt. Hmmmm, the mind is a-churnin'.

The card on this one (my one criticism of the show, the cards were displayed very haphazardly, sometimes almost completely covering some of the smaller quilts!) said it was inspired by a banner used in a scene from the Lord of the Rings movie. Pretty, yes.

I walked up to this one and said to myself "Hey, that looks like Heceta Lighthouse!" Reading the description card, yep, that's what it is. One of my favorite spots on the Oregon coast.

Saturday, August 05, 2006

Yesterday was a hu-u-u-uge score day. I did some thrift store hopping for the grandkids, found lots of goodies, and also found a glass door cabinet at a local antique shop, something I've been trying to find for a couple years. And if that wasn't enough, I came home to a package from my mom. I called her up and told her I had two things to say to her. "Number one, don't send me any more stuff - I'm trying to pare down on my belongings!" and "Number two, I LOVE THESE LADIES!" A mixed message to be sure, but I can't help it. Sometimes she just sends great stuff.

Aren't they adorable!? I don't know which one I like best. I think I need to give them their own names. Anyone have any ideas? This first one is really sweet, in a homespun wool dress and the cutest green hair, holding tight onto her little ghost friend. Hmmm, I think her name is Mossy, because of her hair.

The other witch is..... not grumpy exactly. I can really identify with her expression. A bit frustrated, a bit exhausted. She wants to get on her broom and fly away, maybe someplace tropical, but there are pumpkins to water and crows to be fed and she's head of the planning committee for the next full moon gathering and..... sigh, she'd fly away but, frankly, she's to tired to even try.

Here's a close up. See, she's not a scary witch, just an overworked one. She's a crone with soft gray hair and yet she's not afraid to flaunt her stuff - check out the flamboyant cape and feathery, bright orange cuffs on her dress. I should probably name her crow (and the ghostie above) as well.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

More holiday photos - yah! Today's selection seem to be primarily water scenes. Boat scenes to be more specific. All but the last one which sort of.... isn't a boat scene.

I said we'd moved on from Bath, but I was wrong. One more picture. This image's middle name is peaceful. Yep, Image P. River. That's it's name.

Now, we're in Conwy, Wales. Their harbor was torn up, in the process of being remodeled, redesigned, reconstructed - whatever it is you do to a harbor. A number of locals apologized for the less then picturesque mess. And parts of it were indeed a mess - large earth moving equipment laying about, piles of broken concrete. But no matter, we found plenty of great images to try to capture and bring home with us. I adore the splotches of red in the photo above.

Here's another one with a nice red boat for focus, and lovely dabs of blue throughout as well.

I took this picture from high above on the city wall. Conwy is an ancient walled city, most of the wall is still standing and, if you don't suffer terribly from vertigo, can be walked. There's also a mighty fine castle, one of a string of them the English king Edward the I built along the northern Welsh coastline, the point being to rub it in that he had conquered Wales. It's actually much higher up then this picture would imply, I used the handy telephoto capabilities to get this shot. It was a lovely hodge podge of beached water craft and I had a difficult time getting a shot I liked, particularly with William restless and telling me to hurry up. If I had unlimited digital memory, I would have simply snapped off several dozen shots and sorted it out later.

Look, no boats. No water. This is part of the wall from the around the land side on the outside, looking up. This particular area was a sort of bike path and playing fields for the community, this abandoned apple orchard hugged the old stones. I doubt the orchard is as ancient as the wall, in fact it's probably not possible, although I suppose it could be the descendants of a line of apple trees that have grown here through the ages. How long do apple trees live? But I still imagined young maidens wandering through this orchard long ago when it was tended and tidy. Maybe picnicking, their embroidery brought along to work on while enjoying a sunny day. Maybe a clandestine walk with some dashing knight. While we were there, however, the only people we saw in the orchard were a couple of teens and a woman and her terriers.