Snow and Stitches

Some years it doesn’t snow at all here…temperate air from the Strait of Juan de Fuca, contained between Olympic Mountains and the salt water. This winter had started so benignly, with crocus blooming and trees budding. Always a surprise, the snow started a week ago Saturday, added at least a foot yesterday, with more promised this afternoon through Tuesday. I need to get out and get the first layer carved down before more is added, because it’s also colder than I’ve ever seen it in my 14 years here, down to 15 degrees (above) this morning. I thought I’d paid my dues in my years in Northern VT, MA, and NY.

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I’ve used this snowed-in/early dark opportunity to finish a fabric book I started as a Portable Project when I was traveling to teach in the Nineties. I bought a tube of words at the craft conference in Cleveland, and made 3 fiber pieces using up all the letters.

I have been stitching, and can just stay home, if necessary, with plenty of great food laid in. Fortunately my neighborhood did NOT get the high winds that hit west of here and in Seattle, shutting off power yet again after the Big Windstorm. I know, I am Very Spoiled!

In typical fashion, I added images and words, carrying out the theme of the poem, images of both grandmothers, an altered polaroid of me from my first time at Fort Worden, now in my neighborhood.

And more collage/drawings with words inspired by Dancers Among Us from the library. I have my round former dining table by the windows to the left of my larger computer, so I can play PBS  American Masters, Art:21 and work on collages.

Now out to shovel…and shovel…and shovel.

Hastings.P+Grndpa copy
Me and Grandpa from the Book in the Metal Box. I turned the pages  from Passion Princess into a book last night while watching a pretty stupid movie and Netflix.



Creative Time, Production Time, The Endless Task of Managing Myself

Artist Book, individual fabric pages in a metal box. Actual photos of my first 2 years of life, black/white/gray color scheme with antique buttons, beads, stitching

All my life…at least since grade school, I’ve worked on learning to manage my time to be as productive as possible. When I was 8, I remember Realizing that if I just got my homework done, I could go outside and play, instead of wasting time at my pink and white desk. When I had my own business  for those many years, I knew to work on new designs in the morning and production in the afternoon and evening, and always be ready early if I had a show or travel…when I was married, my husband would always twist his ankle or find another way to distract me from my own priorities.

The other side of the pages…I ended up with raw edges after all, but after all the stitching was completed, I had to add 2 pages to fill the box

Since I don’t have responsibilities to any job or person but myself now, I find me pushing myself to be creative and productive Every Minute, and failing miserably.  I’ve been reading 2 books about artists in their studios by Joe Fig…and NOBODY is Creative every minute of every day…I just don’t have all those mindless production tasks, like packaging patterns or sewing and stuffing piles of bodies that I used to…SO: I must invent projects that require lots of repetitive tasks and don’t take up much space to store…or be content with feeling lazy…hard to watch movies in the evening without keeping my hands busy after years of practice!

Artist Books could fill the bill. Closer view of the pages above. My father printed all these photos, and maybe now they will survive a little longer than they might have. Every picture tells a story.

I’ve been working on the Hot Flash and Beyond book. This is an altered Hot Flash book over a 1908 cook book, pages dealing with Life Goals and how I sort of achieved them…finished this week.

Early in the week I did a new series of drawing/collages from a different book…a collection of Instagram photos…I’m still using the same materials and the pieces of tissue paper glued to the page to start…interesting how the images I chose affected my outcomes…I enjoy this process, partially because I have much lower expectations of myself for the outcome.

For the book, I was brought back to a journal with metal covers that I carried during my years of transition between living in NY with a partner to living on my own in the NW.  I took myself on a trip down the west coast of WA to Long Beach and a stay at the beach for my 60th birthday. It snowed and rained every day but one, but I had a Wonderful Time! “the old life evolves into the new.” Always!



Finishing is Fun…Sometimes

This is the painting I started on New Year’s Eve…I took it along further and hate it…not as much the next day as right after, but I’m going to try not to buy any more painting supplies…It is very difficult to separate feelings about myself from feelings about what I make. I think this is common.

This week, as opposed to last week, I’ve finished a lot of different things, some more happily than others. Again, I’m ready to give up painting…such a struggle, and my paints and gesso are drying up. I love the physical sensation of laying paint on canvas, but feel varying degrees of Hate for the finished product. I enjoyed using the large canvases and liked much of my portrait series…I suppose most painters work in series, in order to learn and tweek accordingly. I no longer feel that I want to spend the money and storage space on large canvases…Are organizations of color and shape in fabric as “good” as paintings? Since I’m no longer trying to make money or compete in Art, where does my Striving come in? I want to see evolution in my own work.

I designed a new doll to use all Marcia Derse fabrics. With dolls, I don’t mind adjusting and tweeking.

I found myself enjoying working in my least expensive sketch book, because I was less inhibited about using up the materials. I read Old in Art School a while back, and a friend is reading it now. Even though the author has an entire successful career behind her when she starts a graduate degree in fine arts, she still falls prey to the Art Game. I’d like to keep working on getting more effective with art making, without beating myself up for imagined failures. I Hated what I did with the painting, had fun using photos for jumping off points for drawing…and I’m still enjoying stitching on my box of pages about my earliest childhood while watching Gossip Girl on Netflix…Hard to believe that they have managed to keep it going this long.

This was an enjoyable exercise: A book of photos by Dorothea Lange and my 8″ square sketchbook, which was sufficiently cheap to use up without worrying.

I used light-weight food tissue paper on each page with a white border, to make a more sturdy base for markers, small bits of collage paper, a black brush marker and a little brown. Having reassured myself that I wasn’t “wasting” supplies, I felt free to experiment. I think I’m more effective working quickly and again and again, than struggling over one thing…at least where drawing and painting are concerned.

As I continued, I felt more free to experiment, to throw in more colors and see the dynamic lines in Lange’s photos. Writing becomes part of the texture and adds to the story. I want to do more with this technique.

Funny, my stitching is very slow and time consuming, but I’d rather do a whole suite of small…or large and sloppy drawings, than one incredibly detailed one. These look even more interesting to me with the remove of digital printing.

The last one from the Lange book.

I have a plan for a series of small black and white fabric pieces that would be a series with the two Syria pieces I did…There are no shortage of Shameful Acts in the history of homo sapiens…no shortage of material for me to work with. One of my favorite artists since High School is Ben Shahn, the master of line and social commentary. My beloved high school art teacher, Jessie Loomis, introduced me to him and to using text with images…I don’t need to pay for grad school…just keep doing the work.

Slow Stitching, Slow Week for Finishing Art

So my friend, Barbara, can have sun whenever she needs it. The orange fabric is by Marcia Derse that I bought last Saturday, the green and black from one of the first doll conferences I attended.

I love Slow Stitching…so meditative…especially in these days of long darkness. I can see the sunrise and sunset inching apart…if I check the computer. I start the day with Large Ambitions. I got my sales tax completed and sent in, prepared the numbers for both my and my mother’s federal taxes. I sewed more indigo and white patches onto the dark blue blanket while I washed the yellow sheets yesterday. I designed a doll using Marcia Derse fabrics I bought last weekend on my road trip to Port Gambol in SUN!

50’s and 40’s most days in January this year. I go out every day to pull rogue donkey-tail euphorbia (narrow leaves) and round-leaved millenium plants…and just for the joy of being outside every day. We’ve had a LOT of rain, so easy to pull, but many more plants than usual at this time of year.

This week I MUST get back to the Hot Flash and the Rest of It book and stop being afraid of the chore of getting it published on Amazon.

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Right now I’m afraid of finishing the painting I started New Year’s Eve and afraid of finishing Hot Flash and the Rest of it.

I’m going to do this year’s Brooklyn Sketchbook Project all in Graphic Grannie. Is learning to forgive ourselves for not Saving Everyone and meeting all of our own High Expectations the most challenging Life Lesson? Many are quoting Mary Oliver this week…she has words about growing old as an artist. “Instructions for living a life. Pay attention, Be astonished, Tell about it.”
I’ve been reading a LOT this winter. Sing, Unburied, Sing right now…Powerful!


Feeling Fragile…Doing my Best

1917 book, no copyright, telling women to be happy and thrifty with “home making”  it can be a full-time job, for sure, but now women can hold bigger dreams.

The first full week of 2019 means lots of appointments: check eyes, fix the latest tooth repair, make the hair as appealing as possible. I hate watching the wearing out of my body and the planet: finished the third book by Yuval Noah Harari, 21 Lessons for the 21st Century. Homo Sapiens is making itself extinct…along with a lot else. Yuval’s answer is to meditate–Buddhists’ answer is perhaps to recognize the futility of life…although there are Buddhists who, like other Sapiens, don’t mind killing their neighbors for doing a different style of prayer.

Graphic Grannie to jazz up the cover, No Housewives Life Book

I accept the inevitability of aging and and death, but I don’t have to be happy about the process. I keep reminding myself to enjoy my many benefits of living…a sunny, warm day in January for a trip to Port Gambol, delicious food, new fabrics that stimulate ideas, talking with people, the joy of slow stitching and watching movies. My eyes are getting worse only slowly. I can afford to buy lunch and take a drive on a sunny day.


Men probably felt as constrained by their role as women, but they had more power and probably more fun

I’m altering a 1900 Larkin book for Housewives for the Hot Flash book and it gives me a place to put loose pictures of my life. I am Very Lucky! I sat at my table this morning, eating delicious and wholesome food and feeling the sun on my back, reading a bio by Leonard Bernstein’s daughter. Yesterday evening when I didn’t feel well, I lay in my bed, warm and cozy, and watched a movie of a Louise Penny book on my small device.



The World is still full of Marvelous Things! I’ll finish this, take a walk in the Sun, and come home and work on Art…slow stitching. Please join!


Art is Work…Keep Moving or Stagnate

2.5 pages to finish my purse sketchbook, started at the beginning of 2017,,,Keep Working!
From the detritis on my round work table, Part of an image of me from the Seventies…good goal, but not always possible…Keep Working is more like it.
Last image in the book, Great Grandmother Leonard, from the days when Xerox wasn’t that good, along with a list of movies and a podcast to check out.

Art is Work, title of a book in my library about Milton Glaser. I need several projects in order to keep moving, stay sane. Sometimes it’s tempting to coast and keep repeating themes and methods, but there are aspects of rote work in any art project and I keep those for evenings, when my creative spark is banked, and I watch trashy shows on Netflix and do repetitive stitching or scratching away with pens. We each have our different rhythms, so you’ll have to experiment to see what works for you. Sometimes it’s just the process that is So Satisfying, arranging colors and textures, stitching in and out, but New Years seem to demand new projects…Where to go? What to do?

Photo I chose to inspire the painting I’ve started at the beginning of each new year..tradition since I moved here in 2005.
Rough sketch of the elements, Xerox of a photo of my paternal grandparents way before I was born…Keep playing with the images to try to find a way in

If  I had gone to Art School, I would feel more free to use up tons of canvases, just playing around, copying the styles of other artists, until I found something of my own.

I had a 24″x24″ canvas I’d painted solid yellow, so experimented in my messy sketchbook, using a glue stick to attack elements to a yellow page

I am attracted to paintings now that include both figures and words on a relatively solid background. In the old days I would have just started in, but now my funds are limited, I’ve taken to working things out in one of my sketchbooks first…would have always been a good idea.

I would have loved to work this much, much bigger, but large canvases cost a lot AND take up a Lot of storage space
I painted a bunch of sketchbook pages solid yellow to replicate the canvas.
I wasn’t happy with the images of my grandparents, so worked on them more
The ink drawing of my Grandmother on the right captures her better…both my Hastings grandparents had angular noses…where did my father and 3/4 of my brothers get our round ones?
The photo lower left must have been taken by my dad…I have a wealth of artistic inspiration in his photos.

Does the subject even matter…or does Art=Process? When I did the 100 Hot Flash Women series, I used a differentpainting style, and I was trying to use more flat planes than realism. One could tell the paintings were done by the same person…is our particular style of art making unique, like our hand writing?

Another try on Grandpa Hastings, ball point pen…I’m finding the experiments more fun than the painting…less pressure!
Current state of the canvas…I drew figures onto Japanese paper and glued them to the canvas with mat gel medium. I’ll paint on top of this and use some of the black lines.

I’ll show you how it goes. In the mean time, I’m in love with 23 Sandy Artist Book Site  Artist books combine images, materials, and styles of all kinds, fiber, stories…stay tuned!

Snow on the mountains behind the high school, but none at my house (500 feet above sea level) yet
Snow drops blooming under the palm tree with holiday lights in Port Townsend yesterday. We both met to eat, talk, watch Mary Poppins…he brought me some of his New Years’ vegetable soup, which I’ll eat tomorrow after my next crown. He made me a beautiful black/white/red glasses case, too. We share So Much, in spite of having been born 16 years apart.

Happy 2019…I hope it turns out to be better than we fear.

Make Lots of Art, because… Why Not?

End of 2018, Family, Friends, Fun

12.28.18Just Peachy
OK, a little Art Work, a couple of collages, work on the box book

End of 2018, I’m hoping for better days for All, the planet shifts toward the sun (on my end). Work, even Art Work, takes a back seat to Family, Friends, Food, and Fun. The darkness is why so many cultures invented dark winter holidays.

Luxurious breakfast: spinach/avocado/cream cheese omelette, cinnamon roll, book and note taking…sometimes breakfast takes til lunch time, especially during the dark season.
Breakfast in PT with Mike and Katie, Amazing cornmeal/sour cherry pancakes, by the water and the RV park. After small plates at Alchemy and an amazing movie about Queen Anne at the Rose, a sleepover and breakfast…so I don’t have to drive home in the winter dark–a great tradition!
Altering a book for my Hot Flash and Beyond book–I’ll get back to working on it tomorrow. Winter Solstice was my Christmas and New Years, Though Christmas Day at Colleen’s was lovely…she and Greg have interesting friends.
Connie made me a cherry pie for when they came over this weekend…but they left it on the counter at home, so she whipped up a second cherry pie…not much left now. We also stopped at the Blackberry Cafe in Joyce to try their Blackberry Rhubarb and Egg Nog Custard pie…Connie’s was better. Hugh treated us to dinner at Kokopelli Saturday night…also Very Good. We played a lot of games of Five Queens as well.

Sunday, today, we walked part of the Spruce RR trail…along with a lot of other people. It actually became sunny, the rain and wind stopped, the snow stayed on the mountains where it belongs.

Lots of families out walking together today. Lake Crescent…so Many Gorgeous places to go. The tunnel was finished since the last time we walked here…I hope the four miles helped to work off some of the pie. Spruce RR Park.

Back to Art Work and the two book projects tomorrow.

I hope there will be time for Lots more Family, Friends, Food and Fun in 2019…but just in case, try to be kind to yourself and those close to you…and Make Art…it Helps!