Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Some Thoughts On Connection and Home

I was thinking, as I too often do, about my paintings and what connection they have to each other, if any.  (Aside from the fact that I put the idea onto paper or canvas or glass...)  In "art speak" this is referred to as a body of work.  What is the overarching theme that shows up?

I have considered this before without coming to any real conclusion, but this time a thought surfaced.  I have an affinity for the sky and clouds, and the space and openness they convey.

Stay with me. . .

I also paint ornaments with houses on them.  But the idea is that these are more than houses, they are homes.
They are places that bring forward a memory, an emotion, a connection for the person ordering, and the person who receives it as a gift.  I love hearing how those sparks happen.

Are you still with me?

Clouds, houses. . .

"Where we love is home - home that our feet may leave, but not our hearts. " Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr.

Some of my canvas paintings aren't necessarily houses, but there is something that to me, makes a connection, creates a memory or elicits an emotion. 

Through A Glass Dimly
Come to the Table

Coming Storm

"Never make your home in a place. Make a home for yourself inside your own head. You'll find what you need to furnish it - memory, friends you can trust, love of learning, and other such things. That way it will go with you wherever you journey."
Tad Williams
Clouds, houses, home, connection. . .

This painting seems to have a little of everything in it.  It is a painting I started in college, and then 20+ years later I started re-working it.  It is a view from what was my grandma's kitchen window, looking out toward the cow barn. We spent many summers helping put hay up in that barn, or playing upstairs in the house.  
My Heritage Painting - in progress
It has clouds, a house, a connection - to home. 

Home isn't necessarily a place but a feeling.  A sense of belonging of being in the right place.  We may have a connection with a particular place, a memory that lingers about fitting in and being comfortable there.  But how do clouds fit in to that idea? 

Well, for me as a Christian, this might be part of it:

2 Corinthians 5: 1-5   For we know that if the earthly tent we live in is destroyed, we have a building from God, an eternal house in heaven, not built by human hands. Meanwhile we groan, longing to be clothed instead with our heavenly dwelling, because when we are clothed, we will not be found naked. For while we are in this tent, we groan and are burdened, because we do not wish to be unclothed but to be clothed instead with our heavenly dwelling, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life. Now the one who has fashioned us for this very purpose is God, who has given us the Spirit as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come.

 And this:

Ecclesiastes 3:11   He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet[a] no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end.
Sun's Rays
There you have it - well, at least part of it.  That is as far as I have gone in my thoughts about the subject.  I don't know that my art will continue to follow this pattern, but for now this seems to be my direction. . .

As you look at some of the pictures in this post, here, and in the gallery I'm curious if you see other patterns or have other opinions about connections.  Leave a comment and let me know!

Part of the reason I began the Art Story Friday series, is to share some of the background and story behind these works.  Visit again, or subscribe to receive updates via email. . .

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Making a Pom-Pom Throw Rug

Because our budget is usually pretty tight, I tend to find ways to make things rather than buy.  It doesn't always work out, and the finished product may not be quite as well-made as a professional version, but I like trying new things and seeing just what I am capable of doing.

This is another project that I really didn't know how to do, but with a little research and patience (mostly from my daughter's perspective - it can take me a long time to finish things...), I can add this to my portfolio of experiments!
When we moved last year, the room my younger daughter chose didn't have carpet, so we discussed and looked at small area rugs.  They can be rather expensive, and though there are some beautiful options, none of them fit her personality (at least not the ones that were in our budget).

So I did what I do quite a bit - I asked the "magic box" to see if there was a way to make a floor covering. And found some tutorials on making pom pom rugs.  I asked M. if she would be okay with that option, and she was, so we went to the fabric store and she picked colors of yarn that matched her room.  Because we are renting we couldn't paint the walls, but she had picked out a bedspread that gave us some colors to work with.

I had her choose five, because odd numbers are a little more interesting from the design perspective.

I saw a few different tutorials, and they had some differences and some similarities.  I will walk through what I did here.

I began with looking up how to make pom-poms.  If you already know how, then you can skip this step!  At first I made my own cardboard template/pom maker.  It worked great for a while, but because I was making so many, it started losing its shape.

Here are my directions for using a cardboard template (pictured in the photo above):

Cut two circles out from cardboard, then cut a center circle out of each. I traced around a jar lid that was about three inches in diameter, then traced a nickel for the center.  The size of your (outer) circle will be the approximate size of your pom-pom. 
  1. Cut a length of yarn about 8 inches long and set it aside.
  2. With the two circles together, wrap your yarn around, creating about three layers - depending on how full you want your pom-pom.
  3. Using smaller, sharp scissors, cut the yarn moving the blades between the two circles.  Be sure to hold the circles together even after you are finished cutting.
  4. Take your length of yarn and work it between the two cardboard circles, and tie a slip knot, pulling it as tight as you can between the knots.  This is what holds the pom-pom together and creates the round shape.
  5. Remove the cardboard circles, and you have your first pom-pom!  It may need to be trimmed a little, so give it a hair cut as you see fit.
 Repeat this process to make as many poms as you need.

For the backing of my rug, I used the rubberized shelf liner which is less expensive than the no-skid rug backing. I simply slip stitched two lengths together to make it wide enough and away I went. . .

To attach the pom poms to the backing, I used a crochet or rug hook to pull the two yarn ends through two separate holes, then knotted them on the bottom.  Repeat this until you have the size rug you want, or you have used all your pom-poms.

As I mentioned, the cardboard circles worked great to begin with, but eventually started wearing out.  I found out about these pom pom makers, so I went to Joann's and got a set that included the size I needed.  It was much easier, and they come with instructions so I won't bore you with those here.  :)


I didn't get the rug as large as I was hoping, even after buying more yarn, so know that it does take quite a few poms to fill in.

The neat thing about making this is that you can choose the colors, you can make a pattern with the colors if you want, and it is really soft on the feet!  I suppose if I made smaller pom-poms it might have used less yarn, but M. wanted a thick rug, so this is what we did!

Have you made pom-pom?  How did you use them?

Friday, February 13, 2015

The Story of My Art - "Kusterer's Last Stand"

I painted this over 25 years ago, when I was just getting the feel for watercolors.  It was also when I used to take my 35mm film camera with me wherever I went.  You just never know when inspiration will appear, so you have to be prepared.  As Picasso said, "Inspiration exists, but it has to find us working."

I could learn from my younger self...

The original photo was taken in downtown Chelsea, Michigan. (I'll show it to you if I can find it!)  Something about the storefront caused me to pause and take another look, and then a photo.  It seemed a sad end to a chapter of someone's history, as the windows stood covered in a red paper, the awning tattered and faded.  While progress moved along the sidewalk, this spot looked as though it had been left behind. 

Watercolor Painting

Friday, February 6, 2015

Figuring This Out


I am just getting started on some thoughts for why I do what I do.  What I try to focus on when I create or think about doing projects, and how I tend to view things around me.  Here is where mine begins:
  • Understand you will never know it all I acknowledge my limitations. Sometimes too much - There does need to be some confidence in what you DO know!

  • Be Curious I ask a lot of questions. Maybe too many? Is there such a thing?
  • Keep your sense of wonder I look around and see so many amazing things.  How can I not help but feel the wonder of it all?   
I have to fill that out a little more, but I needed to start. . . 
I have heard quite a bit of buzz lately over the term "manifesto"?  It is a declaration of what you value, what you want to see happen, what you care about.  And while there are some well known, not-so-pleasant versions, I have read blogs and articles on the subject, and have found some versions that are geared for authors, creative people and more:
What about you?  Do you have a set of goals, values or ideas that you follow in your day-to-day work and life?

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Cold Weather and Baking Bread

I live in the Northeast, and as you may have heard, we had some snow this week.

During the first storm which came through on a Saturday, I decided to make some bread.  I found this recipe for 4 Hour Baguettes and since I have a thing for baking bread by hand, I had to try it!

I don't have any pictures of the mixing or rising dough, but it was pretty straightforward.  It just required some patience and not too much watching or poking...

They came out of the oven looking nice and authentic (maybe not quite as pretty as true French baguettes, but not bad for a first try!)

Even the inside looked like a good baguette with lots of holes and a chewy texture...I will definitely be making those again!

Then the past couple of days we were visited by a blizzard!  Juno, to be exact.  And with the wind howling and the snow flying past the windows, I thought it was a good day to warm up the kitchen with another batch of bread.  This time, we needed bread for sandwiches so I went with a wheat bread recipe from the cookbook my grandma gave me as a wedding shower gift.
Again, it took some patience to let the yeast do its work, but since I was working from home during the storm, I had some tasks to keep me occupied.
I would like to try sourdough, though I know there is some prep work and warmth needed in getting a starter. . . well, started.  So that might be something to try when the weather is a little warmer.

Until then, it might be time for another batch of pretzels ... hmm...

Do you bake bread?  If so, what is your favorite recipe?
If not, what keeps you from giving it a try?