Tag Archives: embroidery

Mind on Fire

Difficult to believe that at this time just last week, we found ourselves in the magical, mist-ical lands of coastal California -my hub just barely cracking through his shell of over-work, only to have to dive straight back in again.  But it was good to see a glimpse of himself to be sure.  I am hopeful he could be coaxed back to this real life once again soon.

It is always a strange thing to return back to our regular doings back here at home in Ohio.  For me, the mark of Good Travel is that it makes for a yearning and a churning of the soul, a fire in the mind, which keeps us asking questions of ourselves about how we are living this One Wild and Precious Life of ours.  While we balance chores and responsibilities, work and dreams of what can be, time marches on ever faster.  We must make sure we are on the right track.  Travel and all the soul-nudging it brings with it, is one sure way to track our proper path isn’t it?

Yesterday my daughter sent along a new song to add to a running playlist I get going each year which tends to set the tone for the up and coming Taos sketch trip.  This annual trek to the high desert is a flagship workshop for me as an instructor/facilitator.  And the yearly playlist often carries a loose theme through the songs which happens strangely and organically.  One year it was about light, especially Golden light, as I found myself craving the sparkling quality of light that is found in places such as northern New Mexico.  Yet another year the loose theme seemed to be about the heart of the matter  – on finding ones heart beating below the surface of all that is thrust upon us in the drudgery of the day to day.

On a whim, I sent along this new song to a dear musical friend of mine, also the parent of a young adult daughter, knowing the both of them might appreciate it.  He asked how I found myself relating to this new song and it got me thinking about my playlists in general and how I use and relate to them.  About why I gather songs and how they capture a moment in time.  Like the old mix-tapes we might have traded around in our teens, these playlists relay a certain kind of longing.  Today’s longing is a more complex, multifaceted thing than my middle school obsessions.  Now, I find myself pining for wilder places versus people, be it a sea of salt-water or a sea of sage.  I suppose my yearly playlists are a listing of love songs to landscapes that are out of reach to me in my daily life.

“Wildness reminds us what it means to be human, what we are connected to rather than what we are separate from.”  ~Terry Tempest Williams

Once upon a time, I dreamed of being a scientist. I love all animals and could spend hours upon hours in observance and wonder of them.  Alas, I do not have the mind of a proper scientist which remembers long and (to me) complicated names and specific facts and figures, and so my observance skills took a different path to that of artist.  Now, my very favorite thing is to go to a wild place and watch, and draw, and wonder.   Just a different kind of scientist really.

We had the great fortune to obtain access to a beach near Santa Cruz which the majestic elephant seals come home to for a season each year to go about the Business of Life.  Here they mate, struggle for territory and status, give birth, nurture and nurse, grow and learn, rest and recuperate.  We were fortunate to have a patient guide on our tour who allowed us to tarry a bit longer than other groups so as to take it all in properly.

“In all things of nature there is something of the marvelous.”  ~Aristotle

And amidst all of this marvelous wildness, we had also the comfort of dear friends who welcome us to this wild land with open arms.  In the evenings there was a warm fire in the hearth and plenty of tea and long over-due conversation.

The ocean and it’s splendor was a indeed big player in our whirlwind trip west.  I had a run on the beach one morning and we sketched the waves.  I was captivated by the variety of dogs to be found having their daily walks along the shore.

We also took part of a day to meander down the coast and visit the Monterey Bay Aquarium where we watched, entranced, the displays of Jellyfish and other watery wonders.

“Jellyfish: The sea offers up flowers of glass like thick light.  They are transparent landscapes.”  ~Raquel Jodorowsky

I was reminded of some old work of mine with the jellies, and vowed to come home and make more.

“If there is magic on this planet, it is contained in water.”  ~Loren Eiseley

“…the sea, once it casts its spell, holds one in its net of wonders forever.”  ~Jacques-Yves Cousteau

Amazing bronze drinking water fountain in Santa Cruz.

But the trip was not all ocean all the time.  I was invited to an Irish music session at a local home of a friend of a friend of a friend, which is how it works in musical circles, and was welcomed with open arms to share a few tunes.

Welcomed with open arms is also how we felt in the Redwoods just minutes inland from the sea.

To walk and wander in a forest of these trees is to experience the notion of Cathedral.  We found ourselves whispering in hushed tones out of respect. Even the local wildlife is quiet.  With the trees comprised of naturally inherent tannins, they are insect-repellant, and therefore even the chatter of birds is kept to a minimum.

We sat and sketched a giant for a good long while.  It was cold and quite humid.

All in all, it was a wonderful getaway.  January in Ohio is not for the feint of heart.  A friend of mine, also from the world of Irish music, was saying last night that while she has lived in places with reputations for the harshest weather winter can throw at us (i.e. Alaska, Montana) she has found that winter here in SW Ohio/ N. Kentucky is particularly draining for it’s gray heaviness.  Difficult to convey to anyone who hasn’t experienced it, we here in this river valley trudge through the winter months as best we can, thankful for the opportunity to get out of town when we can.

I left the Hub in California to do his work and I to come home to do mine.  The temperatures were in single digits upon my arrival which was shocking to the system to say the least, considering I had had my toes in the pacific ocean just days before.  But, I made some little woolen boots for my smallest dog, brewed a lot of tea, and carried on.

“Have you seen the girl with the mind on fire?”

“Have you seen the girl with the heart as big as the sea?”

I am not the only one with a big heart and a mind on fire, yearning and churning for a bit of change.  The world at large is calling for it as well, at least women and those who love and respect them.

This past weekend marked the 1 year anniversary of the Women’s March and we did it again.  While the news didn’t make much of it, the numbers appeared to be as large if not larger this year.  I was at our march here in Cincinnati and while the palpable shock of the election of a vile predator-in-chief was not as present this year, a continuing sense of outrage was.

The energy was palpable.

These strange times seem to have unleashed a free for all on many levels.  On the one hand, the highest levels of power, especially in this country, are seemingly above all scrutiny.  Politicians who once would have run a president out on a rail for the kinds of shenanigans ours pulls off, merely turn a blind eye and shrug off the behaviors of the current administration.  I marvel.  But the flip side of this coin is the notion that really, anything is possible.  And I find a bit of hope in this.

I find that there is a fire in my own mind of late.  The travel bug is turned on full-force by this most recent trek to the fair state of California.  Guatemala is right on it’s heels, a mere 37 days away for me, with workshop participants arriving shortly there after.  And there are more adventures to follow.  Traveling shifts perspectives and asks us to consider hard questions.  Questions such as, should we give up this little track of land, with is gardens and trees and lovely, soul-nourishing green space and quietude, for a condominium with less upkeep?  Could doing so free up even more time and money for travel? Or would we regret giving up this amazing space?  Do we want to even stay in Cincinnati?  For me the draw of my family and friends (this includes my art and music family) is a big one.  But part of me feels my studio practice could really use a daily walk in the wild, versus the familiar suburban paths here in Ohio.  These are all the questions burning just now.  And likely they will continue to do so for a while.

One could go a little off the rails with these ponderings, but the work will always bring me back to center.  Sitting down to write a bit here settles my bones.  From across the room, the paints call to be mixed up to craft some new paintings.  Who knows where they will lead.  Story ideas come and go, flitting and floating in clouds of doubt and fear.  Rays of light amidst the dust particles.  Today on this day of endless gray, I’ll follow the words, follow the paintbrush, follow the breath to whatever comes next.

I could live in condos such as these, couldn’t you?

 

 

On Youthful Imagination

A number of years back, one of my dearest friends discovered a little light growing inside of her, someone we all were excited to meet.  Someone who at the time we called Orby –  for he embodied that ‘little orb of light’ that we,  especially his delighted parents, could feel among us as a presence already.   There were not only adults awaiting Orby’s arrival here in this world, but a number of young kids, who adored the parents-to-be and wanted to create something special to welcome their new little friend to this wild earthly existence.

So, as one does, we gathered everyone’s ideas.  We knew that monsters can be the bane of a young person’s existence, at least at first. This group of youngsters wanted Orby to feel safe and loved and to know that not all strange creatures were out to get ya.

As the artist in this particular community, I collected the children’s ideas of monsters in the form of drawings from them.  Some of the kids were older, some mere toddlers, so the monsters ranged in complexity.  But they all told a story, and they all had heart.

Some were bagpipes, which had been feared, but without reason.

Others, haunted the high hill tops and deep valleys of far-flung mountainous terrains.

And still others could be found deep at sea, or perhaps outer space.  Teaching us of worlds away from our own.  For what else are monsters for, if not to inform us of the unknown; worlds outside of our own imaginings?

Orby was born, given an earthly name of Elliot, which suits him beautifully.  And soon, he was drawing his own early doodles, as was his young sister Alice Willow just a few years later.

Their beautiful, crafty mama translated a number of their early drawings into little embroidered keepsakes to keep on the wall in their home and they are lovely in their sweetness and simplicity.

I asked her to snap these lovelies, as well as to take some updated snapshots of the Orby quilted flora and fauna in support of an up and coming embroidery class to be held again at my favorite fibery haunt these days, Fibergé.

The drawings of children are so telling – of what they are feeling, seeing, experiencing beyond the bounds of language which eludes the most adult among us, yes?  With most kids, if we are paying attention as parents or teachers or aunties or care-givers, there is that first magical drawing which actually has a name.  The one in which the child says, “that is the moon.”  or “that, is a pig.” or “that is a feather.” for the very first time.  These are magical moments when the drawn image is tied to an idea.  And if you are an educator or merely a parent fascinated by the stages of youthful development, you know the importance of this jump between what happens inside a young mind, and how that young mind ties it to the outside world through a drawing.

I was in Fibergé the other day picking up a new skirt I commissioned from her collection of AMAZING fabrics (more on that soon hopefully on the blog!!) and we were talking of what might make a nice theme for our next embroidery-class partnership.  I love teaching there and was keen to do so again.  We got to talking about Mother’s Day and how fun it might be to do something along those lines and we came up with the idea to follow the lead of the kids, much as I had done with the Orby quilt years ago.

As a busy working mama running her own business, Lysha of Fibergé-fame has amazing kids who take it in stride to spend time doodling or playing when mama is with a customer or a vendor.  And Lysha pays attention to the evidence of these times with the love only a working mama or papa can have.

I kidnapped a few of these sweet drawings (with permission, of course!) to interpret into samples for the upcoming class this May 6th.

I had a ball and they came together beautifully!

If you are local to the Cincinnati area, do consider joining us for this upcoming class.  Beginners are welcome as we will be covering the basics, of course.  As you can see by Kristin’s sweet hoops above, simple can be absolutely stunning with a simple chain stitch!  But I can also fill you in on how I approached the rest of the monsters in Orby’s quilt and send you home with some ideas for such.

Or perhaps you just want to come in to create a gift for mama, or grandmama (Dad’s? Don’t think you can’t wield a needle?  Do check out the work of Mr. Finch!).  Either way, consider joining us for a workshop at Fibergé on May 6.

I look forward to seeing you there!  In the meantime, stay tuned to this space.  travel season is beginning…….

 

May the Fourth Be With You

Kevin Necessary's poster for the Star Wars tribute show
Kevin Necessary’s poster for the Star Wars tribute show

Tomorrow evening, a bunch of us Cincinnati based artists and illustrators will be gathering to celebrate what has turned out to be a fantastic group show featuring all things Star Wars.

I have two small works in this show featuring two of my favorite characters from the original trilogy of my childhood, Master Yoda, and R2D2.  These two are part of my daily life and even serve as dashboard saints on my treks ’round town….

(note that Yoda wields a crystal wand AND a paint brush. Talented, he is)
(note that Yoda wields a crystal wand AND a paint brush. Talented, he is)

Per my obsession with all things embroidery in recent months, when the opportunity came to whip up a little something for this show, I dove into the thread basket to see who might be lurking in there.

Yoda process

Yoda came first.  He’s turned out quite nicely and is at the ready with a lovely complement.  Who couldn’t use a dose of Yoda by the mirror on the way out the door for the day, yes?

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At the last minute, I added some fluffy frizz of hair to this work which really makes it, but I didn’t get a proper photo so you’ll just have to come and see him in person!

Next, R2D2 decided to get in on the fun.  Though he opted for really miniature form.  He started with a drawing and a few stitches.

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He came together quite nicely.

R2 process 1

And eventually was placed into a wearable silver hoop, just his size.

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He’s in a frame for the art show itself, but he is ready for your silver chain, should you choose to make him your own.

Do stop by Wednesday if you are in the area.  All food and drink proceeds from the evening will benefit the Force for Change charity. This should be a fun time!

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Flights of fancy

Luna

I love moths.  Not so much the ones who like to eat up our woolens when we aren’t looking, but rather the more showy ones.

A number of years ago I embroidered the luna moth above.  She remains still one of my favorites.  Although the model for the above moth hailed from West Virginia, all sorts of varieties of marvelous moths can be found in this Ohio River Valley, including the Luna, as we are situated along the very edges of Appalachia where loads of wonderful creatures reside.

I am excited for summer’s warmth to come to us (though not our late-summer heatwaves!) and along with it, perhaps a few more interesting moths to observe in the local woods.  The One-Eyed Sphinx Moth, though not tremendously common, might be found on occasion in our Ohio woods.  Today, however, I found one in my thread basket….

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Well, really she came from my mind’s eye, with the help of a guide book and some source photos, with the eventual plan of being worn as a talisman.  Much like the recent mushrooms growing in the same said basket!

It’s still quite chilly out of doors, so it is no surprise I found her curled up amidst the chaos of my embroidery.

threaded chaos

And as I was home today awaiting some puppy meds for our Iris, I decided to follow this moth’s lead, and see where she might lead me. sphinx midway

Eventually she came together into a tiny, mothlike facsimile with which I am fairly pleased.

sphinx

The art of embroidery is a slow and steady conjuring, consisting of the magical ingredients of time, patience, a bit of thread, and perhaps, a dash or two of binge-able Netflix.

one eyed sphinx

As this work is so tiny, it will be installed into a wearable frame, looking much like a little embroidery hoop.  I shall post it on my instagram feed when it is ready.  Should this lovely moth strike your fancy, let me know.  I’d love her to go to a wonderful home…..

ps… here is the necklace this little sphinx found herself into.  I think it turned out nicely!

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Quetzal

Quetzal 1 Just before my recent trip to Guatemala to celebrate our 25th (!!!) anniversary, I drew a little bird  on a bit of cloth, knowing there might be long airport waiting times ahead and that I would  need something with which to keep my hands occupied.

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The bird who came to alight in my thread basket is a quetzal, the symbolic representation of a country I left behind long ago as a child.  I wasn’t sure I’d have the opportunity to see one in the wild, and as it turns out, we were too far into the lowlands for all that.  But we did see the quetzal bird in all sorts of other intriguing forms such as money and even dangling from the rear view mirror of our taxi cab in Guatemala City.

While still in the comfort of my studio, I got the stitching started by tacking down a bit of background color (most of which would eventually be covered) and by making sure my thread basket had all of at least the basic colors I might need while on the road.

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I worked on quetzal bird a good bit along the way, while also taking the time to do quite a bit of sketching….

belize postcard cecropia leaf sketch jaguar temple sea turtle spider monkey

Upon returning home, there was still much to finish on my quetzal bird.  And so, while catching up at the day job, realigning with all things homey, I stitched here and there to tidy it up.

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quetzal 9

Quetzal 7

Many colors were used, bold and subtle alike.  I worked off of many source photos, not just one, so that my bird would be like no other, but rather, have a personality all its own, which I think it does.

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I don’t really know how many hours I put in on this project, as it was done in fits and starts, with bits and bobs of time and materials, here and there, to and fro…

And I am not even sure if this bird is ‘finished’ or slated to become a part of something else entirely one day (been a while since I’ve made an art quilt….).  But for now, here is Quetzal.  I am excited to share it with you here in all it’s feathered finery.  If any of you are signed up for the embroidery class at the end of April (which is full but we are planning others!), I shall bring Quetzal to show and share as honestly, photos do not do justice to delicate needlework.  And I for one, think this quite the gem.  (This comes from one not prone to self-congratulatory behavior, generally speaking).

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Below is a quick trip across the needled landscape of this embroidery project….

Flux and Catch-up

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It’s a delightfully cozy morning here.  I am just landed from a wonderful weekend away to Oak Ridge, Tennessee for the 8th annual Tune Junkie Weekend where a few of my normally more summery connections gathered to play music and catch up and play more and more and more music.  We are indeed junkies of a sort, fairly obsessed and addicted to this delightful folk tradition.  The weekend is mostly a ‘session-centric’ event but there was a concert put on and a few of us flute players played a few sets with the help of a couple of fiddles and a piano.

Crawford's Flutilla and friends, photo courtesy of TJW organizer, Chad Beauchaine
Crawford’s Flutilla and friends, photo courtesy of TJW organizer, Chad Beauchaine

It was, overall, just a fantastic time and my musical cup is full.  I am grateful for this last weekend as it helped pass the time that I must wait for the next Big Trip coming down the pike.

Very soon, my long-time honey and I are off on an adventure to places of a more tropical sort and I almost can’t stand the wait!  But for now, I must catch up on work both here in the studio, and at the shop.    There are exciting things brewing!  I’ll share a little bit of it all here…

First up, a dear friend of mine is in the process of putting together an online marketplace which will feature some of the arts and creative wares from our general vicinity.  There is so much talent and creativity here in this rich Ohio Valley.  I am proud to be a part of it and thrilled to have a few of my cards and other small works soon available for sale through her efforts.  Business acumen is not a strong suit of mine and being a part of this marketplace is an opportunity I am really grateful for!!  I will certainly keep you posted when the shop is open for business which is slated to be in March.  More soon!!

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Meanwhile, the annual Taos Trip registration process is chugging along briskly.  I have a lovely group put together already, but there are a few slots left.  Do contact me if you are interested in learning a bit about my journaling process which includes drawing, watercolor painting, and collecting the beauty of the travel experience.  And, while I’m at it, the beauty of day to day life really.  All of this is enhanced by making note of what captures our fancy in a little book. This is a process I have found to be life altering.  And I don’t say that lightly.

While not running hither and thither with a sketchbook, my studio based work has been essentially two pronged.  On the drawing table, Ginger Small has a little dummy book put together that I have been shopping around.  This process of putting my book ideas out there is daunting, as one doesn’t get much response beyond the occasional ‘no, thank you’.  But I know that this is all part of the process.  I have so many ideas!!  Like spaghetti thrown at the wall, something eventually has to stick!!  Best of luck to sweet Ginger and her stories and pictures….

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Also from the drawing table, my artwork now covers the gorgeous new album by Nuala Kennedy.  We worked together to capture the magic and adventuresome, seafaring spirit of many of the songs and tunes she’s collected in her latest work.  It’s a delightful listen and I am proud to have helped put visuals to the stories she tells.

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The other prong of my art making process has been lately centered around the sewing basket.  Perhaps it’s the time of year.  Or the fact that embroidery is super hot right now, but that’s primarily what I have been working on.  Needled pictures which are time consuming but great fun to produce.

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I’ve been revisiting some older embroidered works of mine over on my Instagram page, as well as creating new works like the Quetzal in process (above) and a little otter friend too….

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With all this stitching going on, someone was bound to notice and so I am very proud to say that my large scale embroidery, Leviathan,  is now Whale-in-Residence at my favorite fibery haunt of late, Fiberge Knits and Bolts, located in the Pleasant Ridge neighborhood of Cincinnati.  If you are local, do stop by and visit her!!  It was sad that she was trapped in my studio behind the door.  Now she swims the walls at this beautiful little shop.  There are some rumblings about a possible spring class I may offer at Fiberge about the art of pictorial embroidery.  I will post more on that here on the blog when we settle the details.

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And that, as my mom says, is all the news that’s fit to print.  I will certainly be sharing my upcoming adventures via stitches and sketches in the coming weeks.   For now I will ride the wave of flux and change and ebb and flow that this life seems to be offering me just now.  I am filled with gratitude for it all.

 

 

 

 

 

A Need for Slowness

azalea

It’s a gloriously frosty morning down here in this Springvalley of ours.

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The cold seems to have settled in for the season and it all feels a bit early, though I suppose it is November.  This week I dug out the heated waterer for the girls so they have access to unfrozen water, and we are back to our morning ‘oatmealworm’ breakfasts to keep them warm, fed and with enough salt in their little systems.  chicksThis time of year always puts me in a bit of a hibernatory place, in spite of  our culture’s Countdown to Christmas mentality.  I find myself drawn to slower pursuits and am inspired by others seeking the same in their worlds.  Since it has been a little while since I have checked in here at my online home, I figured I’d share a a few things I’ve come across which consider a slower world-view, as well as a couple of updates in studio news.  

Brew a cup of tea, or pour a wee dram of something else to warm you…..

The title for this particular post came from a quote from the above video.  “What we have is a need for slowness.”  I couldn’t agree more.  This couple and their enchanting caravan lifestyle came across my path via the interweb-wanderings and sharings from a couple of artist/writer/performer types upon whom I have recently been keeping a close watch.

Rima Staines and Tom Hirons have crafted a world full of magic and old-world style mystery with their art work, poetry, puppetry and beyond and they are fixin’ to take it on the road.  To live a simpler life in general and to share their artful wares and wonders with folks farther afield than their current home in Devon, England.

Tom and Rima created their crowdfunding video with the help of their uber-creative community of fellow artists.  Their project harkens to a world just outside of the reach of modernity, at the edges of our imagination and land of dreaming.  Hence, their new collaboration has the perfect title, Hedgespoken.  I have made it a point to share their project here and there on my own tendrils of social media because I really believe in what they are doing.  I grew up on the move myself (which is a story for another time and a longer burning fire) and have vivid and beautiful memories of time spent in my grans’ airstream trailer each summer.  Nothing fancy or romantic really, but for me, it was life shaping.

grans

People like Tom and Rima are quietly rebelling against the things that rush our world into the Land of Too Much (be it stuff, to-do lists, etc.) Their theater and home on wheels could possibly slow things down a bit for just a few people along their path, and remind us of the magic to be found in all things, if we but take the time to listen and look more closely.  Hedgespoken is in it’s home stretch of fundraising and I wish them a firm breeze at their backs as they sail on home to port with it.  If you believe in this particular brand of magic, head on over and toss a few coins into their hat.  You’ll be glad you did, as their blogs (here, here, and here) are chock full of fascinating and shadowy paths down the proverbial rabbit hole.

Another delightful bit of sweetness that has come across my path this last week is an interview of a quiet gardener in Ireland named Eimear Moran.  I found her thoughts on finding beauty and synchronicity and yes, the Divine in her own humble back yard to be truly inspiring.  She is another quiet rebel walking the path of slowing down and waking up to things that are in our reach in the day to day.  If, again, we but take the time to listen.

Eimear’s book is nearly available and I look forward to getting my hands on it.  In the meantime, you can keep up with her daily garden thoughts and meanderings at her page on the Book of Faces (I have Rima to thank for coining that lovely phrase.)

With all of these beauty-full beacons to light my own path, I am truly sinking into the season here myself.  My own small crowd-funding project to shore up my residency plans this January in Taos, NM is going well.  I too have a few more weeks to get to my goal and am so grateful for all the support thus far.  Ginger Small and her adventures have gotten the bulk of the attention lately as she is really the sparkly one of the bunch.  But there are also sheep and rabbits coming along with me on this trip.

Mona Lisa 1

Cards are being made of a number of these images, should you be interested in counting a few sheep….foggy sheep sun on foggy sheep

Or channeling your inner rabbit….bunnies

 

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I am having great fun with all of them with thanks especially to my friend Vanessa Sorensen at Nessy Designs. She recently gave me a few pointers in photoshop which has helped me turn some of the mere sketches in my journal into things I can work with in print.  Vanessa and I get together occasionally to sketch and sometimes even to collaborate on a craft project.  The most recent of which is this little wonder of fashion…..

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Part of this notion of slowing down in my life includes activities like knitting, embroidery, printing my own clothes.  Vanessa’s cicada print, my years old skirt and a bit of embroidery to bug out the eyes makes for a wonderful one-of-a-kind fun thing to wear.  And to top it all off, it meant an afternoon spent with a fellow artist, sipping tea and sharing bits of things that had set our minds to wander and our hearts to sing lately.  That is the true gift.  Time Well Spent.

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Speaking of bits of embroidery…..

Bogard_Leviathan_1Leviathan will be on display at the Kennedy Heights Art Center’s upcoming show Imagine, featuring members of the KHAC’s Artist’s Collective.  The show opens November 22.  If you are local here in the Ohio River Valley, do stop by and see us.  Some of my recent skull studies will also be up for grabs…..

unnamed skull study oil 1

What do you do to stem the flow of time?  How do you bring a desired slowness to your everyday?  I’d love your thoughts and links to others who might be in this same camp of Time outside of Time.

Project Leviathan

“If we want to create art, we have to stitch together the inner world and the outer world.” ~RobertBly

With all of the usual autumnal preparations in full swing, combined with fundraising and setting things in order for my residency, I haven’t had as much time to sit down and make art as I might like to.  There are paintings I’ve been meaning to make for an upcoming group show at the Kennedy Heights Art Center but I may not get to them in time.  Instead I managed to put the finishing stitches on the Leviathan project I have had going for some time now.  She turned out beautifully, as an embroidery project at least.  I am not quite sure where her future lies.  Will she eventually find her way onto a more finished quilt like my wolf did a few years back?  Or is she merely enough as she is in her moody blue  drapy-ness.  I do not know.  I suppose she will at least find her way into a proper display set up for the Kennedy show, and possibly for an online show as well, should they invite her…..

Bogard_Leviathan_1I love the art of embroidering.  It is much like painting and drawing, stitch by stitch by stitch, and in that way is meditative and lovely as an activity.  Yet it can also be a painstaking and excruciatingly slow process with which to make art.  That said, almost the minute I complete one embroidery project, I am instantly considering and conjuring the next.  And so eventually, I begin again.  With an idea of an image I may want to spend years with.1898189_10153780870350048_721167188_nI don’t know how the finished project will look when I begin.  I never do.  This is the same with paintings as well.  I just consider my materials…..1922105_10153780207655048_914064522_nand stitch……1795597_10154422136285048_5971372013822465434_nThis project was rather large in scope, the finished whale being about 4′ x 2′ in size.  Perhaps my next project will be a bit smaller…..484891_10153818732570048_1197715817_n

1618532_10153797970915048_1623107545_nIt is so nice to discover the landscape of a creature with my stitches.  And every session of stitching brings with it my own moods and feelings to it, and so there are a variety of marks made over time.Bogard_Leviathan_2While I am prepared to focus on my illustration work this winter to get my book ideas ready for the world, I will likely still spend my evenings under a lamp with some new shades of thread from the craft store, a few rightly sized needles and a nice piece of fabric.  These projects calm my spirit which often runs rampant, hither, thither and yon like a squirrel.  I am thankful for this calm work which sits with me over time.  We shall see which creature decides to come nestle into my embroidery basket in the coming months.  Hawks and Foxes have been loitering around… perhaps I can tame one of them to sit with me for spell…..Bogard_Leviathan_1

Harmony

Outside, the sky is falling.  Pieces of it, in the form of ice crystals, go pitter patter on the roof and windows.  We are weary of winter here in Ohio, in a way we haven’t been for many years.  Spring will be a welcome phenomenon, once it arrives.  I have faith that it will.  In the meantime, indoor activities beckon, as well as Life in Our Imagination, which is not at all a bad place to spend time.

*special thanks to Astrid and Doug Mast, dear friends and fab musicians who were inspired to write Ginger her very own original waltz. I find it to be very catchy and a lovely little tune to accompany any day’s adventures. Enjoy!*

When not pursuing the adventures of Ginger Small, my mind and hands and eyes have been thinking a great deal about life under the sea.  One of my favorite books of all time is Sensitive Chaos by Theodor Schwenk.   It is a lovely tome visually showcasing how the design of all things natural may be observed to be similar, connected, all part of one system of harmonic beauty be it air, water, human tissue, sea creatures, tree bark, land, etc.  This harmony can be heard and observed mathematically in music and movement as well.  Now I am no mathematician, and I can barely call myself a musician, but I find these connections not only fascinating, but heartwarming.  The patterns of these Mysteries relate to one another to create what we know of as earthly beauty.

I am fortunate to spend much of my time around Irish musicians, whom I believe are some of the smartest people around.  I am not sure whether smart people are attracted to the music, or if the music might make one smarter in some way (or perhaps it’s a combination of both things) but suffice it to say, there is usually a critical mass of PhD types around the table at the weekly session.  Recently at one of these musical gatherings, my exploration into Spirographs as related to patterning in doilies came up in conversation.  Our friend Peter, who plays a mean concertina, mentioned that he had a handmade (by himself!) harmonograph at his place and that I was welcome to pay a visit any time to see it work.  Related to spirograph imagery, harmonograph drawings are more three dimensional due to the entropic nature of their production.  As the pendulum slows, the lines move inward toward center and a sort of topographic quality emerges.  I had to go see this for myself.

The harmonograph is called such because the relationship between the pendulums which create the movement work best when related to one another in a harmonious way.  Too off kilter from one another and the image becomes cacophonous.   So Peter set the pendulums into a proper relationship to each other and we set it off to make its drawings.  Here are just a few of the enchanting images…

harmonograph 1 Harmonograph 2 harmonograph 3 harmonograph 4 Harmonograph 5

To me these images evoke sea creatures, turning inward on themselves like anemones, sea cucumbers, shelled animals and beyond.  Then again, that’s where my brain is these days.  They might also remind us of murmuration…

Murmuration from Islands & Rivers on Vimeo.

The weather being what it is outside, thoughts often turn this time of year to the embroidery basket.

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And other collected sundries I might have laying about.

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And I begin to think of what they might like to mimic as I work with them…

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upsidedown jellies

Soon, doilies (which remind me a good bit of spirograph drawings!) begin to think about becoming jelly fish, or barnacles who’ve maybe hitched a ride on a leviathan.

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Stitches find their way into patterns of light and how it plays so differently under the water.

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These works are still in progress and will be unveiled later this spring.  It is my hope they might have the honor of being a part of a local art show at the Kennedy Heights Arts Center called Splash, but we shall see.  It it not up to me to worry where the art will end up.  For now, my job is just to make it.

{The call to artists is out now and I encourage you to enter your interpretation of the concept of splash.}  

I continue to fill my well as best I can, even on icy days.  One place nice to spend time in on a bitter day is the Newport Aquarium.  This will also be a great place to escape heat and humidity come summer so I picked up a membership the other day, grabbed some fellow artists who enjoy sketching (Vanessa, Christina and Monica!), and paid a visit to the underwater world,  just across the river.

These little eels have a distinct muppet quality to them I believe….

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I struggled to make this drawing of an octopus.  It’s very dark where it lives so I did my best to get the pencilled in impression on location, then filled in with watercolors later once home in the studio.  Impressive creature, the octopus.  Along with whales and dolphins, I am not sure such a sentient being should be held in captivity.  But that is just my opinion…

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And so, as the sky continues to fall, I snuggle into my cozy work space to stitch and sketch, to ponder and marvel at things I barely understand, and to sludge through my first head cold of the season (I’d say I’ve been quite fortunate, wouldn’t you?)

How are you surviving this winter? Or perhaps you are Down Under, in the Land of Oz, dodging summer’s fiery wrath.  Wherever you are, I wish you creature comforts, real or imagined, such as they may be…. (I think I’ll go to the beach with Ginger)

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Quietly Mending

Here at Chez Beaugard, our puppies are slowly becoming more grown up (one faster than the other).  Lady Iris sits patiently while the climate of hibernation continues…

Back in December I participated in a Bereavement Quilt Workshop with San Fransisco-based Artist Sherry Lynn Wood. She posted a few of the photos she took over the weekend of our quilts in process.  Needlework is a wonderful way to while away winter hours and I have been doing quite a bit of it, knitting and embroidering.  Years and years ago, before art school even, I used to patch my jeans with fabric and whimsical embroidery.  I’m not sure why I got away from this playful process but I have been inspired to pick it back up again via Sherry’s wonderful blog entry on what she calls the “Unpredictable Geography of Mending”. I love this description of mending, especially when applied to matters of the soul.  The last couple of years have been brutal in so many ways, thankfully graced with touches of magic and wonder. I feel a tremendous sense of internal mending this winter as I rest and prepare for what will be an incredibly active spring of workshops and talks and the travels inherent to them.

Below are a couple of pairs of jeans that are  now a tad less breezy than they were.  Patching as a process is a good bit like drawing in a sketchbook.  It’s great exercise for the brain to relax and let newer, bigger ideas flow in.  If you have never picked up a needle and thread or a pencil and sketchbook, I encourage you to try it.  As Milton Glaser writes, “How you live, changes your brain”.  This includes activities like drawing…. and what is embroidery but drawing with thread.