Monday, November 22, 2010


matisse 012
It's journal time again. This small monthly activity is sometimes the only thread of fiber connection I can conjure up. Thank goodness for quilt journals! This month's focus, from the MASTERS, was brought forth by Terri, who seems to always come up with good artistic challenges. In my mental ruminations, I felt I had two options for approaching this: to study the style of one of the masters and create my own piece in that style, or to just replicate a piece in fabric. With my busy and disheveled life, smack dab in the middle of  remodeling projects, I chose the latter.
One of the things I love so much about my new town, Jacksonville, Oregon, is the library. In my summer spot of Refuge Cove, the closest thing we have to a library is a tiny book exchange. In Mexico, there is a great gringo library, but mostly filled with donations over a period of 10+ years. No interlibrary loan, no search engines. Mostly I am forced to bring along my own books to keep my reading spirit fed, and I'm always checking with friends to see what they have available. Here, I am a 15 minute walk away from a small but beautiful building that has the world at my fingertips. So on a lovely fall day I headed downtown to check out books of the MASTERS.
Dali, Degas, Renoir, Matisse, Monet, van Gogh... I spent a lovely hour perusing through these books to see what would jump out at me. What was I most attracted to? What could I handle in fabric? It was the color, shape, line and abstarct qualities of Henri Matisse that led me to focus on his work. And from there I chose his 1950 piece "Zulma" (he was 80 at the time) to recreate.
I dug out my stash of hand-dyes to look for potential colors. I started slowly (hand stitching all the way) with the shapes of the background, moved into the side tables and then struggled with the body form. Achieving that perfect drape and stance next to the table was tricky. And then when done, my form was so much more MATURE than his. But I let it go and continued. After all, mature figures are a good thing, as I tell myself these days! I know, many fiber artists use transferring tricks and materials to get the perfect copy, but that's never been my thing. There's something about the "look and cut" method that I far it works for me!
I was just about ready to leave off the two vases but then decided to go for it. The stark white against the colors of this piece seemed to be quite an anomoly to me, so I chose to go with buttons which also stand out in this piece. I'm happy with those little white buttons.  The eye is drawn to them, but then back to the colors, the shapes, the lines. There's much going on of interest in my little piece.
Thanks again Terri, for your MASTERS challenge!

Saturday, November 13, 2010


I've been doing a lot of nothing lately. At least with fabric. I do have a few hand stitching projects nested next to my "spot" on the couch, and occasionally they get a few more stitches added to them, but mostly I've been involved in our "extreme mobile makeover" project here in southern Oregon. It's a two month project to set ourselves up with a little home between our frequent travels between Canada and Mexico. We've been ripping and tearing, digging and planting, and just plain having a pretty good time.
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You see, southern Oregon is an amazingly beautiful area. Add autumn to it and you've got a prize winning setting. And to top it off, there's an amazing wealth of  fiber artists here. My friend and neighbor from Alaska, Christine, is one of them. I certainly have an inside track into the fiber arts scene with Christine. I've already had a couple of dye days, and one evening I wiggled my way into a crowded living room of women who have organized themselves into a mini guild with an art twist. They most recently created a "River" project that shows 20+ individual quilts connected side by side as if it flows along the banks of the local Rogue River and its valley. A treasure for sure. The talent and enthusiasm was emanating from their beings!  So midst my metal sculpting (trailer renewal), I've found very inspiring ways to keep my passion going.
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So these fall days I just live vicariously through my friends, both old and new.  Here Christine shows off her hand dyed, then bleached (discharged) bag that she whipped up one afternoon. Hmmmmm.... love that dreamcatcher motif, Christine! I think I'm going to like it here in Southern Oregon just fine!

Wednesday, November 3, 2010


fall 041
Next to my TOILET in our summer home in Refuge Cove is a painted mask of a GOAT. The background for this west coast Native piece is weathered barn wood.   I love northwest art and when I was hanging my eclectic collection around the house when we first moved in, the GOAT piece was the last to go up. Despite its sentimental value, I never found another spot for it and it resides in my bathroom to this day.
When “masks” was introduced as the October assignment for our quilt journals, I knew what I would do.  I took a photo of the GOAT and cropped it so that when I printed it out onto 8½”x11”paper, the size was perfect for transferring onto my fabric. I chose a hand-dyed piece that had a similar weathered barn wood look for the background, and simply put them both up to a window on a sunny day and proceeded to draw the outline of the mask details with a black “sharpie”.  Now all I had to do was color in the lines with my new Shiva Paintsticks. Finally, I sliced it with my rotary to represent the barn boards and placed it on a backdrop of black cotton. My current living situation is such that handwork is a better option than machine work, so that was my choice for finishing off my piece, along with a few buttons for eyes and teeth.
At the bottom of the original piece, the word GOAT is written in white on the left, and the artist’s initials are on the right. I found I didn’t plan for that, and was stuck with a tiny slice of black background on the border in which to squeeze my altered words.
So why is this GOAT so sentimental? I purchased this piece as a birthday gift for my dad about 30 years ago. I was working at Mt. Rainier National Park, a place he too worked as a young person, and found it among the NW art treasures in the gift shop. I knew my dad would like it as he too was a lover of west coast Native art. He chose his patio as the display point for the GOAT. When he passed away 15 years ago, I was happy to receive it back into my life as a special reminder of my dad.
As adolescents, my brothers and I secretly called him “Art the fart”, or a casual friend might have referred to him as “Arturo”.  His undecipherable, scrawly signature somehow displayed “ABC Jr.” But most of the time I just called him “dad”.
Born in 1915 to Gertrude and Kim, he was the oldest of five boys and one girl, all raised in an ultra-Catholic home in Tacoma, Washington. He lived through the depression, avoided WWII with his bad eyes, and spent his career as an insurance broker in his father’s business. He married my mother, Mary, and together they raised four children in the Catholic tradition. But my father had a conflicted inner world, perhaps as a result of pressures from being the first born, and slowly grew distant from my mother, divorcing after 20+ years. He had two other marriages (the last which was happy through his final days) and battled with alcohol (in the closet). He loved traveling and was keen on accompanying his travel-agent wife on the many trips she organized around the world. He always stayed close with his siblings and their families. Multiple cancers got him in the end and he died at home at the age of 78.
But my memories are unique. I remember his large record collection and loved to hear his newest acquisition. He taught tennis to the neighborhood kids at a local court, loved gardening, and wore flashy clothes. After my parents divorced, I was estranged from him for about 4 years, probably through anger and confusion, but we later reconciled and maintained a strong relationship from then on. He was always my supporter, there for me through thick and thin, without questions. I’ll never forget his words to me as I was floundering through life in my early 20’s: “no matter what you choose to do in life, I’ll always love you”. Those words gave me the freedom to live my life according to my own personal values, and to this day I try to extend that message to my own son.
So my altered words at the bottom of this piece read “my old goat…ABC Jr.”
And first on my list is to move the original OUT of the bathroom to a place of much greater honor.