Just finished “Being Alive”

So loving the cooler fall weather! The garden, while still calling to me, doesn’t need constant watering and I now have the luxury to spend six-to-seven hours working in the studio. Seems like I’ve been stitching (on and off) this piece forever (or at least a good part of the summer).

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The animal fabric is by Julie Paschkis, who’s work always makes me smile. The feather fabric was the inspiration for my newest tattoo (I think it’s part of Kaffe Fassett’s recent range). Marcia Derse created the dot fabric – I met her recently at Quilt/Knit/Stitch – love her work! Searching the web for great quotations is an on-going obsession and I’m particularly fond of these words by Frederic Buechner. Such bright words called for sparkly beads, don’t cha’ think? Ironing and shadow box framing will come next and then this work will be for sale in the SHOP.

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Henry was impressed with all my stitching until he saw a bird . . .

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Lots of little stitches . . .

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. . . and glass beads!

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Needless-to-say, this is the ONLY time you’ll see the back!

Whew – Potholder Shop is live!

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I’m presently residing in “Potholder Heaven” or “Potholder Hell,” depending upon my mood. Needless-to-say, photographing these babies and creating a new page took awhile. In the future I may be creating an Etsy site or trying FB’s sales page, but for right now this will suffice.

Click on “Shop” at the top of the page to view what’s for sale. Email me to purchase, comment or whatever. I am able to take cash, check or credit cards (via Square). If you live in PDX or thereabouts you can shop at my studio in SE. Otherwise I’ll mail your order. 

I’ve been creating these potholders for several years and have many satisfied customers. I use them in my own kitchen and to quote that infamous infomercial “They really, really WORK!” If you enjoy using hand crafted items (and want to help me pay my studio rent) these re-purposed felted wool sweater potholders are just what you need. Make handling those hot pots fun!

Now back to the studio . . .  Oh, the featured potholder above is SOLD!

12 x 14 x 10 feet

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Having a studio space is a must for me. Throughout ‘adulthood’ I’ve had 12, some more commodious than others. A partial list includes: (1) spare bedroom in our first apartment in Eugene, as a newly married lady with a law school husband; (2) large open concept studio at the Eugene Warehouse Studios, started with 8 artist friends; (3) room in a little duplex owned by Euphoria chocolate company (heavenly); (4) 2nd floor shared studio (with my artist pal, Barbara) above Newberry’s 5 & Dime; (5) custom-built “Tuff Shed,” complete with wi-fi, cable tv and skylights; (6) 4th floor studio with amazing views of Olympic Mountains; (7) shared studio in an artist-owned building housing 19 artists. Each space was what I needed during that period of my life.

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My present studio is 4 miles from home (my farthest commute to date) and the smallest (12 feet x 14 feet with 10 foot ceiling). South facing in SE Portland, my sunny 3rd floor studio fits my present needs. We downsized with our Seattle-to-Portland move, getting rid of stuff that no longer supported our “empty nest” life style. So too, it is with my studio. Working in a smaller studio forces me to focus on what I really want to create. It’s challenging to move away from my pack-rattedness (I’m a hoarder of scraps of paper, bits of ephemera or snips of ribbon), but so freeing to throw (or give away) materials that no longer hold my interest.

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Of course I lust after a larger studio (doesn’t every artist?). Somewhere I wouldn’t have to put everything away and could work on multiple projects at the same time. In the end tho’ it’s about having my own work space, regardless of size, where I can come and create. To paraphrase Virginia Woolf. . . a woman must have money and a room of her own if she is to make art . . .” As I’ve recently “retired” from my graphic design/invitation business, I just need to figure out the money part!

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Time well spent

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Family & friends – what could be better? Being with them at the beach in Manzanita! The “Robin & Bob Memorial Birthday Weekend,” a long-standing family tradition, was celebrated with gusto: delicious food (fabulous dinner at Blackbird), tasty beverages (French 75), good conversation, vigorous bike rides and sandy walks.

Our friend Betty contributed paper napkins for Sunday evening’s cocktail party. I snagged one and ripped it up, then embedded it in beeswax to create this encaustic collage, commemorating time well spent. Wish you’d been there too!

Sweet memories

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Monday – a little rainy, a little sunny – I’m at the studio, savoring this past weekend (and a double-tall, nonfat latte). The opening at Maude Kerns was a great success – very well attended and the staff and volunteers did a bang-up job. Everyone’s art showed well. So satisfying to see my six months of work displayed on those white walls (am SO glad that I spent the money to have all seven pieces framed). Dear friends, acquaintances and gallery patrons were very enthusiastic and I was honored by all the positive feedback I received.

Flashbacks of our seven years of college and law school life flooded back during our brief visit to Eugene. How much and how little had changed since we left in 1982! We all spent time in there (my husband Bob, brother JS and sister-in-law Robin) but have such different remembrances – often about the same people or events. Distinct instances blur, melded together to become tangled memories, threads of life that seem distant and close at the same time.

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I don’t know the date this photo was taken, the original hangs at my cousin’s house along with the typewritten card. My grandmother Hattie Viola May (my father’s mother, our daughter is named for her), taught Sunday School in Guin, Alabama. I don’t know the children’s names or why they were photographed. I do know that there’s innocense and sincerity in both the picture and Hattie’s pledge that speak to me and I’ve been making copies, hand coloring certain elements and using them in little encaustic collages. I wonder about “overall boy” (as I fondly think of him) with his buttoned-up shirt and forthright stare. Who is he and what happened to him? My grandmother was a hat maker, excellent seamstress, mother of three rowdy boys, gardener and devout member of her church and the stories I know create the fabric that binds my cousins and I together and makes us “May” women. The past is always present in the most touching ways.

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The florist at the 5th Street Public Market had glorious displays and the lupine were quite spectacular.Image

Robin lusted after this rustic green house, too bad it’s too large for her garden.Image

We were thrilled to re-connect with our friend Cindee. She and I were traveling companions on Amtrak’s Empire Builder – it’s how we arrived in Eugene from Tuscaloosa. Additionally we were hiking/camping buddies (along with my husband and brother). Her photo of our camping adventure gave us the opportunity to celebrate our “younger selves” and laugh about good times past.

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Wish I knew every photograph’s story . . .

 

 

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After my mother’s death in the fall of 2007, my brother and I emptied her Florida home. As we sorted through stuff we were surprised to find out that our mom, Audrey, had some major packrat tendencies. Phone books dating from the ’60s and ’70s took up a corner in her closet. She had 14 bathing suits in various stages of decay (she walked in the community pool with her “noodle” every day, weather permitting). An antique marble-topped dresser next to her bed was crammed with papers, pictures, cards and more.

Our baby pictures and color photos we’d sent her of our daughters throughout the years shared space with small black & white snapshots of high school chums, girl friends from her art school days in New York City and dapper young men in WWII army uniforms. Report cards from our elementary days were in folders next to numerous typewritten resumes (with carbons). They belonged to our father, Merrill, who died in 1964 when I was 10. Job inquiries, yellowed newspaper clippings of her fashion illustrations, matchbooks, her wedding announcement with the Crane’s engraving plate and other documents that were obviously precious to her were nestled in the dresser. Our history mingled with hers in four wooden drawers.

Most of her belongings; clothes, furniture and knick-knacks were sold, while paintings, silver and china were shipped west to Portland and Seattle. Audrey’s small red rolling suitcase was filled to capacity with the treasure trove from the bedside chest.

Yesterday, when I opened it, looking for items to copy to incorporate in my encaustic art, I was struck with how little I actually knew of her life. We didn’t have a close relationship so I know the big stuff, but who are these saddle-shoed teenagers she’s goofing with? Who’s the bearded old gentleman in the pith helmet next to the plow horse? What are the pictures of clouds about? The tiny details that make up who she was are lost to me and what I’m left with are images of people and things that mattered most to her. I could be cynical and liken all the items in the dresser to the phone book cache – stuff she just never got rid of – but I don’t think I will.

Great freedom in being a beginner

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I like to reside in the comfort zone of competency, using skills that I’ve already mastered (or so I believe). Being a beginner, listening to that pesky inner demon camped out on my shoulder, hissing “this is SO easy, why can’t you figure this out?”, “you’re doing it wrong”, “who DO you think you are?” is not my idea of a good time. Looking at “experts” in a particular medium can be overwhelming.

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Having embarked on “the encaustic journey” embracing and coming to grips with my “beginner status” is an eye-opener and much to my surprise I’m having a blast. There’s great freedom in not knowing exactly how to do something. I am following the basic instructions, especially those involving safety – overheating the beeswax, having stuff catch fire and burning down the building would be a bummer for sure. Daniella Woolf, Lissa Rankin and Patricia Baldwin Seggebruch, all encaustic artists and book authors, have become my new best friends even though they don’t know me!

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Familiar images, handmade papers (crazy love for Indonesian batik dot paper), relatives’ & my own handwriting all meld together and the scent of beeswax is so intoxicating (yes, there’s adequate ventilation). The process has me hooked.