Monday, March 17, 2008

The Crying Towel

I have been searching eBay for vintage fabric, like table cloths and linens. I came across this very interesting kitchen towel. Of course I had to buy it. In our family we have a running joke about optimistic me and pessimistic Joe. Joe always teases me that I see things too naively and would trade the house for magic beans (that's wrong?). I always counter that he could be a millionaire and still be worried and see doom and gloom around every corner. He explains that he is just being a realist.

So when I saw this towel I knew it was for my man. I keep it in a kitchen drawer and wave it around when he starts in on one of his the world is doomed rants.

The truth of the matter is that we need opposites in life and in a mate. Joe and I call it sharing the brain, but really its for helping to have a balanced life (even though my right side of the brain is infinitely more developed than his meager left side). We have to work with what we don't have, to be a whole person and a successful artist.

I can’t draw a picture without a piece of paper. I need it even though it is different from my paints or pencils. There are fabric colors that you may never buy or use, but to make the art work, you need them. Even if you don't like them. Many times you have to add the opposite color to make your art balanced and the painting work.

I have never been a fan of yellow. When I first started quilting, my fabric drawers where full of brights and jewel tone fabrics. I stayed away from gold and yellow. This seems funny, coming from a woman who lives in a yellow house (that’s another story for another day). When you are creating a painting, you naturally squirt out all your paint colors. The primary colors go first: red, blue and yellow and then you start mixing. I have never given it a second thought that yellow was on my palate. But when I started quilting or painting with fabric, I found I wasn’t buying yellow fabrics and I needed them. Just like it was paint on my palate.

You are making a conscious choice of fabric selection at the store. It is very easy to get distracted by all the beautiful fabrics and colors. We need to rethink the way we buy fabric for this kind of art quilting. Remind yourself when at the store that what you are doing is buying COLOR for painting, not quilting. The question needs to be If I had to mix it in paint, what
olor would it be? That means you will probably be purchasing the opposite of what you may want or think you need.

When painting with fabric you will need the muted, the ugly, the dull, the too bright and, of course, the extremes in values when building a balanced color palate.

That is why it is so thrilling to make one of my art quilts work. It’s always a surprise what colors I had to use to make it work.


Miss Magic Beans

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Visit to Chico

Just got back from teaching/lecturing in Chico for the Annie Star Quilt Guild.

I also had the opportunity to visit my son, Matt, and his friends at Chico State. Chico is a great place in the middle of northern California. It's like a hidden little jewel. It always blows me away to see these little towns all across California that I have heard of but now get to visit.

To get to our workshop facility we had to drive 25 minutes outside of Chico through miles and miles of beautiful almond orchards. They are all in bloom this time of year and the air smelled so sweet. I also learned that it is pronounced ammond not almond.

So I have to say my husband was right all these years.

I stayed over another night so Matt could take me around and show me the town and his favorite hang out spots. The first place we had to go was his and his father's favorite hamburger joint, Nobbies. They don't take credit cards, cash only. Wow! It was great (and cheap). Best burger ever.

The next morning Matt and Jenny (the cute girlfriend, that I love) took me to their favorite brunch place, Breakfast Buzz. It was a true college hang out. Including a few college guys trying to shake off the hangover from the night before with a champagne brunch.

It was fun to watch the college crowd and be with Matt and Jenny.

Chico has some great eating establishments. We walked around the town and went into a great art store so I could stock up on supplies. I am really glad that Matt is at Chico. He is doing so well.

Monday, March 3, 2008

Sand Dunes at Asilomar

I have been to Asilomar 4 times now, 2 times teaching and 2 times as a student. I have never walked through the sand dunes. I always go directly to the beach. This time I spent some time exploring them early one morning before class. They are so peaceful and a little eerie.

As I walked along I saw little these little yellow flowers popping up out of the sand. Someone had come along and put chicken wire cages carefully around each flower. You could find some flowers without cages that must have popped up overnight.

I think they where protecting the flowers from dangerous and ferocious deer that roamed freely along the park grounds. Man doesn't have anything better to do than to protect nature from nature. Something is wrong with this picture. Haven’t they lived side by side for thousands of years? I guess there is always a cause that someone can get all worked up about. I wish that people would get more worked up about saving and protecting children and less about a deer eating a flower they have eaten since the beginning of time.

I did enjoy the flowers, but the chicken wire cages took something away from the experience of walking in nature.

Sunday, March 2, 2008

Asilomar in the Fog 2008

Just got home from 5 days of teaching at Asilomar for Empty Spools Seminars. What a beautiful place.

It rained so hard when we were driving there I was a little concerned but the minute we arrived it was a warm 57 degrees and sunny.
Each morning there would be a salty layer of fog sitting just on the shore that would burn off about noon. I forgot how much I love the fog. I took a lot of pictures of the foggy beach, waves and the sand dunes. I love taking foggy pictures of the beach. Fog seems to allow me to see color better. Maybe because I have to put color where there is none.

My class was very challenging this year. I love challenges. I always learn from them but, as for being the teacher I want to be, I have a long way to go.

I think the challenge started on the first night when they called all the faculty up on stage and introduced them one by one. I was already overwhelmed by who was up on stage. Alex Anderson, Sue Benner, Lara Wasilowski, Velda Newman, just to name a few. They usually go alphabetically and when they got to Kirby and Laura Schwarz-Smith I knew someone had passed over my name card. Diana is very organized so I ran up on stage and I made a cute joke about being forgotten. Someone later asked me if we had planned that cute skit (of course we had!) I don't know how Diana can remember everything she has to, because I can't remember my own child's name and I only have one.

My class was made up of beautiful women, all different but so much the same. On the first day we are supposed to start class at 4pm and end at 5pm, even though we only have 1 hour of teaching.

I had 2 students who I knew would be late because of a late arriving flight. They walked into the class and had this serious look on their faces. I thought its because they were late. But later we all found out it was because they had just gone through a hair raising flight, where they dropped about 2,000 feet, swerved to miss something, (God only knows what) while passengers were screaming and crying in fear. The things people will do to be in my class.

But in this class, I had a very interesting young artist that pushed my teaching skills. Every night I would go back to my room and try to figure out her daily questions. “Why do you do that?" "Stop encouraging me, I need criticism.” At first I wondered why she was questioning my technique. I then realized she wanted me to analyze my processes and put descriptive words on how the real artist, ME, does what I do. She was working on a commissioned piece in class, which now I know, was too much to take on when you're learning a new technique. She was also very concerned about wasting fabric and had not brought the right fabric colors for her 2 white flowers. White is very hard to translate, because its not made with all white fabric. The brain knows that they are a white daisy and a calla lily but the picture was taken with yellow light and shadows that
are not white.

It was like she was bringing a horse to a motocross race and wanting me to make it work. My technique is simple. I look at my photos, choose the right colors of fabric for that picture and start creating. As a teacher, I have had to train my students to look closely at their subject matter and the only way I can do that is to walk them through a series of exercises. They don’t really know they are going through this process. It slowly opens their minds and takes the fear away (there is a lot of fear going on) and trains their eye to look closely at the detail. By having them drawing on their picture, making a pattern of that drawing and the process of tracing the shapes in the pattern, by day 3 they have all weaned themselves off the pattern and are using their eyes to look closely at their original photo. My sweet babies .