January 25, 2010

R.I.P. Random Racoon

As I wind down the Watt & Shand series, my mind is racing furiously in pursuit of my next project. I'm going to be focusing on the native animal life, and am currently gathering images and inspiration. So imagine my excitement when I went for a walk at Grubb Lake and stumbled upon a new deceased raccoon! I couldn't see any obvious signs of trauma, so I'm guessing it was hit on the highway and crawled off some distance to shuffle off this mortal coil. I took a lot of pictures, but decided NOT to bring it home for further study. I will do a lot of seemingly odd things in my occupation as an artist, but we all have to draw the line somewhere, and for me, the line not crossed involves collecting roadkill. For the squeamish, I have limited myself here to a picture of the beautiful tail, which I have manipulated to abstract it a bit and show off the patterning.
Also in the department of Things Found on a Woodsy Path, I was gifted with this wonderful branch, which rattles cheerfully when shaken. After eliminating all the things it wasn't, I wandered the highways and byways of google for a while until I found out what it was (thanks and a tip of the hat to this Tree ID site). It's a branch with seed pods from a Royal Paulownia tree, already one of my favorites because of the leaves, and the focus of this piece.

It joins this enormous leaf, more than two feet across, that fell in my path late last year, in the queue of images that deserve further attention.

The seed pods have very graceful shapes. The background specks are the actual seeds.

And while I'm distorting things, how cool is this?

January 24, 2010

Watt & Shand Series Progress

I have been stitching away very diligently on the remaining works in my Watt & Shand series and am making good progress. I am well on track to having it done with time to spare before the series debuts at the Arts Hotel Gallery in Lancaster, PA in March. I took some quick pics today to share; the colors are a bit off, but you can get the general idea. The quilting is done on #7, above and below, and I am still really thrilled about how cool my leaning construction worker looks.
Stitching is also done on #8:

And #9:

And #10:
Sometimes I question why I am involved in a medium that is so incredibly time and labor intensive, but when I look at the finished results I have no qualms, there's simply no other way to get such incredible texture, movement, and dimensionality. I still need to do the rest of the stitching on #5 and #6. Don't ask why I'm working backwards with the quilting, it just worked out that way. Then some binding and finishing, photography and photo editing, etc., and I will be ready for the big reveal. (If you are new here, you can track back the origins and progress of this series by clicking on Watt & Shand under "Labels" on the right sidebar.) Many thanks for following along so far, and stay tuned!

January 20, 2010

"More Than Fiber" at the GoggleWorks Center acceptance

I am very pleased to announce that "Fireball" has been accepted into "More Than Fiber" in the Cohen Gallery at the GoogleWorks Center for the Arts in Reading, PA. The Juror for the show is Warren Selig. There will be a catalogue for the exhibit.
The show runs from March 7th until April 18th, with a public reception on Sunday, March 14 from 11 am to 4 pm. I plan to attend, and hope to see some of you there--it promises to be a fabulous exhibit!

January 18, 2010

African Threads

I've just received this wonderful embroidery I purchased through Valerie Hearder's African Threads.
Valerie buys the embroideries directly from the African women who create them; they provide a valuable source of desperately needed income for basic survival. She also donates a portion of the proceeds to the SLF Grandmother's Campaign, which supports grandmothers who are caring for children orphaned by the AIDS epidemic.

So I felt good about my purchase even before it arrived; now that I can see first hand how wonderful the colors and composition are, how skilled the needleworker is, and the overall quality of the piece, I am thrilled.
There are similar ones available in the African Threads Etsy Shop--go and find your own treasure!
As a bonus, sewn to the back was a paper with this explanation of the work:
And pinned to that was this translation:

January 13, 2010

San Francisco: Muir Woods and Point Reyes

It's the time of year when cabin fever is becoming a palpable force, and in an attempt to keep myself from raiding the treasury to buy a ticket to someplace WARM, where I could be outside without fear and loathing, I am instead raiding my photo files for one final set of pictures from last year's trip to the San Francisco area.
These snaps are from Muir Woods, where the hiking started out groomed and easily accessible, then progressed to more challenging, and correspondingly rewarding, terrain.
It's so hard to capture the scale and beauty of the redwoods in a photo, but that didn't stop me from trying.

Next up was a trip to Point Reyes National Seashore. As an east coast native, the word "seashore" has an entirely different connotation--the approach to the New Jersey and Maryland beaches is flat, flat, flat. Here, I kept wondering the beach was, as we drove for some distance through scenic winding hills and meadows, through dairy farms, and past herds of elk:

At length we reached the trailhead for McClures beach, broke out the hiking poles, and headed down the trail:
And finally caught a glimpse of the ocean:
The views were stunning:

The beach had heaps of really interesting sea vegetation:
And amazingly, we had the place to ourselves for hours as we explored and enjoyed.

January 5, 2010

A Fox, some rocks, and a cornfield

This weekend I was treated to the sight of a magnificent red fox running back and forth across my suburban back yard. There are patches of woods nearby, and the usual assortment of rabbits, squirrels and groundhogs around and about on a regular basis, but foxes are scarce and elusive here. I was happy all day after this encounter.
And I don't believe in omens, per se, but it still seemed like a sign. You know how when you buy a blue Toyota, and suddenly you notice all the other blue Toyotas on the road? Sometimes events can serve to hone our attention, and that's what this fox sighting was like for me. I had a great year in 2009, with much of it devoted to producing my Watt & Shand series (if you're new here, you can check it out by clicking on "Watt & Shand" under Labels in the right sidebar.) I still have some stitching to do to finish out the pieces in the series, but most of the intense work is done, and I've been casting about for a direction for my creative energies for the coming year.
I'd been thinking about my "Skunk Cabbage and Possum", a piece I really enjoyed putting together using cyanotypes of a possum skull and botanical images. I kept meaning to expand on the idea that lead me to it, but got sidetracked.
The fox sighting helped put everything into perspective for me, and I'm happily overflowing with ideas on how to use animal images in series of works that will be my focus for the coming months. I invite you to stay tuned here as I work out the details and share the works in progress.
In other news, this winter is hard upon us, with snow, deep cold, and frequent howling winds. I find I get through it more easily, with less whining and better health, if I bundle up and get outside when possible. A recent foray rewarded me with this view of some nearby rocks dusted with snow:
And a view out over the valley with corn stubble in the foreground. There is a bit more light each day, and I am greatly encouraged.