I wondered if there were four recent pictures on my phone that could stand in for the same titles. These are the four I picked.
“The more we open to ourselves, completely and fully, then that much more openness radiates to others.”
Chogyam Trungpa, “Cutting Through Spiritual Materialism”
The heat here is oppressive. Gardened early and slowly yesterday, with long pauses for icy cold water. Today I’m taking a pass on dirt and sweat and retreating to the coolness of my cellar. AAAAAAAAAAhhhhhh.
Took this picture in a backyard on Sunday, while taking the Open House Tour — something I had never done in my 24 years of living in this town. It was fun… satisfying the nosy self, the curator/designer self, the history buff, and giving the bitchy, bitter self something to complain about. Kind of covered a lot of the bases.
This statue was in situated in one of the prettiest backyards that we saw. At Buddha’s feet was a fountain, gurgling up through loosely arranged stones on a single round block of rock. K. explained to D. how it was done. “So simple,” he noted. “I want one,” I exclaimed.
For the first time since starting these journal quilts, Sunday morning arrived without my having so much as having picked a background fabric. I knew I wanted to depict a polar bear, but that was it. Two weeks ago, sitting with two other artists in a fledgling crit group (yeah!!), a painter asked another quilter in the group, “Do you ever do studies before making a quilt?” While I make variation upon variation, I’m not sure I’ve ever made a study. I liked the idea. So, given that the “hot” part of the large global warming piece that is all over my kitchen table is resisting attachment to the “cold” part — study was definitely in order!
On Saturday, I did a google image search, gathering a handful of pictures of bears swimming, and fell in love with the above photo by ucumari (check out her great animal pictures on flickr!)
Sunday, I started the day flipping through a book of Rick Bartow‘s artwork — incredible pastels, ink drawings, and sculptures of animals — mythic and full of gesture. Absolutely gorgeous work. I was also remembering the stunning, muscular animals of the artist Nancy Erickson, who works on fabric and paper. (I looked at her website today and found that one of her polar bear quilts is titled the very title I was considering for my kitchen-table-piece — and that is, “Where’s the Ice?”) Anyway, their combined artistry inspired me to render my polar bear with pastels, rather than fabric. Since I am out of sheets of fabric to feed through my inkjet printer and since the deadline was rapidly approaching, I stitched the paper right on the quilt.
Now, I have stitched a lot of paper — for cards, in particular — but never for the central image of a mid-sized quilt. It was exciting and freeing, and justified the whole discipline of doing these journal quilts, I think, but I wonder at the durability of it. Even though these pieces are meant to be finished by Sunday, I plan to bind this one, and also to trim some of the pointy edges of the paper.
I stitched a bear constellation in the sky, using the leftover Heat n’ Bond paper from my earlier bear journal quilt as a guide on the wrong side of the quilt top, right against the batting. It was a good idea, but I would like this quilt better without it.
I am encouraged by this piece. It suggests a direction that might satisfy my need to work faster.
Speaking of stitching on paper, here is a flashcard I made awhile back. It is too big to be an official ACEO (Art Cards, Editions and Originals – must be 3.5″ x 2.5″, the size of a trading card), but could be a collectible nevertheless. I think I’ll offer it for sale in my etsy shop.
The front is a photoshopped digital image of a small Buddha statue which might have become a holiday card if I was someone who got it together enough to send holiday cards. I like the fact that there are two sides. The very emphatic directive to “find that peace” seems like a pretty apt suggestion from the Buddha!
Three images to start. How does one start? Always a question. “How does one finish?”, also happens to be a question that plagues me.
Starting in the middle, or wherever one is, seems like sage advice, and I didn’t make it up. See Natalie Goldberg’s books on writing or just about anything by Pema Chodron.
We have snow and it is hanging onto the rooves and curbs, in spite of rain. At least we have power, unlike many in New Hampshire, or even just west of here in Worcester.
I would like to work faster and larger. The whole business of quilting takes a long, long time. It is a wonder I do it at all. But water?!! Brushes?!! More crap in the basement?!!
Last night a scary dream about becoming disoriented… unable to tell which way I came in, I turn, go some distance, turn again, go some distance the other way, hoping something will jog my memory.
Many of my quilts address the uncertain business of memory. Here is one from awhile ago, from a whole series that I made using poppies as the central image. Poppies are an apt symbol for our flawed process of collecting bits of ourselves in memory, because they both signal remembrance (popularized during World War I) and forgetting (think: opiates). The fragmentation of the design is no accident. One thing making quilts about memory, and even painful memories, has taught me in a graphic way is that the pattern of a life makes for beauty, no matter what the components.
Julia Cameron says, “…by claiming our own memories, we gain access to the creative energy that they contain. Memories become a source, not only of inspiration, but of fuel.” In this quilt, I cut up a family photo (transferred onto fabric) found in a second-hand store. I wonder how the whole process would shift were I to use a photo from my own childhood.