January 31, 2009

Watt & Shand Further Progress

I finished the edges of the first Watt & Shand quilt with a narrow binding today. It needs a bit more finish work, then it will be ready for its official portrait and reveal. I'm happy with it. It's tricky to work with a lot of images and highlight them all, while also making a cohesive work; I think I've pulled it off.

I'm eyeing up the next set of images and excited about working on the next one in the series.

January 27, 2009

Lancaster Square Demolition

Cities can fall victim to fads as easily as individuals. In the late sixties and seventies, Lancaster (PA) underwent a spurt of "urban renewal", partly funded by the government, in which historic but neglected buildings were demolished and replaced by concrete boxes designed by urban planners. Unfortunately, it failed to stem the migration of residents to the suburbs and shoppers to the mall, and the new buildings never became the hoped-for urban hubs. It didn't help that they were, by any objective standards, ugly and awkward.

In the hopes of attracting developers to redesign/reuse the space, the worst of the facade of the concrete monstrosity on North Queen Street is currently being removed. Above is a partially demolished pedestrian walkway, that mostly served as an home to pigeons.
No one is going to miss this mess. You can go here to see the original Hotel Brunswick that was torn down in order to erect this--aah, the wisdom and twenty-twenty vision of hindsight!

I am getting some cool photos of the process--click the one above and see a shovel full of debris on its way down to a dumpster.

I don't think these images are going to inspire any artwork the way the Watt & Shand renovation has (if you are new here, click on Watt & Shand in the sidebar at the right to see a beautiful and creative demolition/reuse of architecture). But I applaud the efforts being made to further transform Lancaster City, and look forward to seeing what's next. Go here to read a local newspaper story about the project.
On a mostly unrelated note, I just realized that I've been blogging for exactly one year. In that time, I've produced 145 posts, shared a LOT of photos, talked about my inspirations, my travels near and far, my work in progress, and my work that has made it's way out into the world. I've enjoyed the process immensely, and I hope you are enjoying the posts and will stay with me as we journey further into this brave new world.

January 26, 2009

Cold Cave is Quilted

I finished up the quilting on Cold Cave tonight. I love the way it changes things--the stitching adds so much texture and dimension to the images.
These are just quick snapshots, so the color isn't quite true, but you can get the idea.

I'm always fascinated by the way stitching a pattern on a piece of hand painted fabric changes it completely.
I'm planning to do some beadwork on this one. I haven't had a hand beading project for a little while, and I'm looking forward to it.

January 25, 2009

Opening Reception at York College

Update: Read an article about the exhibit in the York Dispatch here.

I had a great time at the opening exhibit for the PA Arts Experience show (see previous post). My work was well displayed and well lit, which I always appreciate, and generated a lot of interest--I spent the better part of the evening talking to a lot of friendly and wonderful people (like these two women) about what, why, and how I do what I do.

The galleries were packed all evening long, with people engaged in lively discussion and art appreciation. It's a wonderful and unique set of artworks, and I'll reiterate how pleased I am to be involved with this group. They produced a good looking catalogue, and it looks like this exhibit may be traveling to other exciting venues--I'll post details as I receive them.
The exhibit is up at the College until February 28th, so stop by if you are in the area. Rob Evans, the curator and one of the exhibitors, will be giving a gallery talk Wednesday., Jan 28, 2009 at 7 p.m.

January 19, 2009

Fireball at York College

I'm pleased to announce that my newest work, Fireball, will be on display at the Wolf Gallery at York College (PA) from Jan. 22 - Feb. 28, as part of an Exhibit of Works by Member Artists from the Susquehanna Valley - Pennsylvania Arts Experience. (You can see Fireball as a work-in-progress by clicking on "Fireball" under Labels in the right sidebar.)

From the show announcement:

"The focus of this current exhibition at York College is the newly launched Susquehanna Valley portion of the PAE Artist Trail, the first of the three regions to open (the Brandywine/Schuylkill and Delaware Regions are currently in development). Presented here in two parts, the exhibit features a group of extraordinary portraits, created by renowned photographer Bill Simone, of selected trail artists in their studios, plus a sampling of works created by these and other trail artists representing a diverse cross section of the many talented artists and artisans working in the Susquehanna Valley.

We hope that seeing these remarkable artworks, the portraits of the artists who created them, and the unique and fascinating spaces in which they were created, entices you to explore our trail and take advantage of this rare opportunity to visit and interact with these artists as a participant in the Pennsylvania Arts Experience."

Please take a moment to go the the website for the details of the exhibit, and be sure to click on the preview link to see the works that will be included. I'm really happy to be exhibiting in such great company!

I will be at the opening reception this Thursday, Jan. 22, from 5 - 8, so if you are in the area, do stop by and say hello.

January 18, 2009

Slower than Molasses in January

I suspect this is an expression that does not spring readily to the lips of today's youth, but I heard it often in my childhood. In my parent's generation, molasses was common in the kitchen--to add sweetness and B vitamins to porridge and baked goods--and in the barn, as a supplement to animal feed. In a farmhouse without central heat, or an unheated barn, the molasses would congeal in the winter and pour verrrry slowly, hence the expression.

We have been in the deep freeze, weather wise, for the past week or so, and on a subconscious level everything slows down to a molasses like pace. The main concern has been to keep warm, in the necessary dashes from house to car, and to avoid the temptation to cancel all obligations and curl up for hibernation.

I've been working on the quilting for the Watt & Shand piece, and it is proceeding slowly as well. It's a largish quilt, so there's a lot of area to cover, and I'm stitching it rather intensely. I'm not complaining; I enjoy the process and the pace of it. With every few square inches of stitching, there's minute decisions to be made about where to go next and how to arrange the patterning., and that's a lot of fun. And it changes the look of the piece so much; it simultaneously blends all the small patches into a whole, while highlighting the small motifs within the patches, and makes the digital images "pop".

The cabin fever has not abated, but I'm working on my coping skills.

January 12, 2009

Escape from the Cold

It's cold and windy and icy outside, with more of the same forecast. I get outside and walk as much as possible, but there's practical limits to that plan.....I feel cabin fever creeping in, and I'm starting to daydream about warm places. I'd like to go visit the Senora: And the Senor:
If diplomatic relations improved, I could go to sunny Havana:

All from my collection of vintage embroidered table runners.

January 6, 2009

Watt & Shand in progress

I've been working steadily on the first quilt in the what will be the Watt & Shand series, and have the top assembled and basted. (If you are new here, you can track back by clicking "Watt & Shand" under Labels in the right sidebar.)

I was attempting to explain my working process while making this, and decided it was akin to putting together a huge jigsaw puzzle, only there's no picture on the box to serve as a guide. There's only the picture in my head, and it's rather indistinct until I work it out as I go along.
I have a marked antipathy towards measuring things. I don't like following recipes when I cook, and I don't like measuring and sketching and planning when I assemble a quilt top. It seems to me to impose an unnecessary intermediary between the materials and the idea.
I spent many years making garments from patterns, and making semi-traditional quilts from my own designs with perfectly matched corners and so forth, so I am capable of doing the math and fitting things into plans. I just don't like it. The really interesting thing is that as I proceed, I put segments of the work on the design wall and eyeball them as to how they will fit in with other segments, and they always do. Before I put the other borders on this Watt and Shand top, I did get out the yardstick and check to see if my visual perceptions were correct. It was within a quarter inch of being perfectly squared up.
I can't explain how I do that, although I do know I can't think about it very much. Rational thought has to be kept to a dull roar in the background as I work out the puzzle. It's a very joyous process, and I feel very lucky that I get a chance to engage in from time to time.

January 5, 2009

Geese at Grubb Lake

I stretched my legs with a winter's day hike around Grubb Lake. The lake is a former iron quarry, that supplied the raw material to the Henry Clay furnace featured a few posts ago.
While I was there, several large contingents of migrating Canada Geese flew in and landed, to the accompaniment of much honking, quacking and flapping from the geese and ducks already in residence.

You can see some of them standing on thin ice,

which was just beginning to form around the edges in the shadier spots.

Something new to me was the wholesale shedding of bark from dead trees--I saw this in several different spots. It must have been some combination of rain, freezing temperatures, and recent very high winds that caused large sheets of bark to fall off en masse.

Last but not least, an attractive burl.

January 4, 2009

Cold Cave in Progress

I went to the studio fully intending to work on the Watt & Shand series, but got happily seduced and sidetracked into putting together something entirely different. While rummaging around, I came upon the print I was calling Blue Cave, and I could suddenly envision just how to use it. I've renamed it Cold Cave, which is the name of the actual cave it is based on.

Part of the serendipity was seeing it juxtaposed with a piece of fabric from Deb Lacativa.
I recently purchased some of her really unusual and unique handdyes from her site Like Hotcakes, and was intrigued by some sugar-dyed damasks she had listed. Deb graciously sent me a huge sample so that I could see if it was suitable for my purposes. She is correct that it would be difficult to piece intricately--the fabric is lush but very drapey--but I wrestled it into submission for this quilt top and I am enormously pleased with it. It has exactly the right feel for the woodsy area around the cave site. That's it on the right above, with a few smaller strips in there as well.

The pink leaves are a print from a scan I did several years ago. The pink and green panels, above, are cottons that I handpainted last summer. The print along the bottom is a fabulous rayon ikat weave I brought back from India in the 70's. The leaf print to far left in the picture above was an extra from when I was making The Cul-de-Sac.

That's a lot of disparate elements for one medium sized work, at least in theory, but in practice they all work fabulously to make a unified whole. This one practically fell together, it was an enormous pleasure to make, and it reminded me what I love so much about the creative process.

Stay tuned for further updates--it needs a lot of stitching, and quite possibly some beadwork, before its official debut.