Tuesday, January 31, 2017

2017 Daily Stitch Project

Here's how my brain works:  my 2017 stitch project was inspired by these gorgeous silk threads that I found at an estate sale.  I thought it would be fun to focus almost entirely on stitch and mark making this year for my daily project, not adding too much fabric into the mix.  

But by the time I started stitching, I forgot all about those great silk threads.  I started Jan. by stitching with black and white, adding bits of red fabric here and there.  I'm perfectly happy with that, but I am going to break out the silk threads for Feb.

 Unlike my 2016 project that was done in individual components each day, this one is one continual piece per month.  Each day's stitching will be on a linen background 2"x30", so I estimate I need to fill up roughly an inch a day, not too much.

2016 focused on the shifts in seasons.  For 2017, I want to work intuitively with how each day feels to me, still keeping it abstract.  It might be weather related, but it also might be mood based.  I can see looking back where the especially chaotic, darker moments hit and where I felt more hopeful.

I'm finding some new challenges with this project.  I have to take more of a leap of faith that it will all hold together in the end.  I'm not sure if I want to go back at the end of each month and do a little unifying to make it hold together aesthetically, or just let it remain a random joining of days.  I'm also not sure how well it will hold together as a whole year at the end.  I already want to switch to cool grays, blues, lavendars for Feb, but those seem jarring after Jan.  Do I want to try to integrate them, or not worry about it?  Right now, I'm happily stitching and will see how it evolves.

Friday, January 27, 2017

Breathing Space

I think it's impossible for me not to be influenced by the seasons.  I start every morning with my coffee, looking out on the Portland hills with their classic northwest scenery of evergreens often draped with fog. Even when I'm not thinking about the it, the seasonal shifts in color seem to appear in my paintings. The Breathing Space series was done in spring and those yellowy greens and cool blues were appearing everywhere. This one is called "Spring Breeze" a little look forward on this gray Jan. day.

"Spring Breeze" acrylic on paper, 11x14"

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Getting into the Flow with Daily Projects

I love having a daily project!  If I don't do anything else creative that day, I at least have a feeling of accomplishment and moving forward if I complete my daily project.  It's nice to pick up something without giving it much thought and know exactly what to do.  It often jump starts me to move on to other projects, but if not, at least I did one thing.

 I can spend as little as 15 mins. on a unit or up to an hour with more intense stitching, so I know I can squeeze it in with as much time as I have available.

 My 2016 daily project was organized in little ziplocks.  (How did we function before ziplocks?)  I kept the backgrounds simple neutrals to unify all the pieces,and I stitched only in black, white, or neutral threads.  Each month I would fill a baggie with the colored fabric that felt right for that month.  Along with my needle case and a baggie of complete units, my whole project was ready to go.

 They all fit neatly into this wonderful bag my friend Lorraine made me out of a feed sack.  It's about a 12" square.

I've done other daily projects, like a 30 piece in 30 day challenge, but this is the first time I've stuck with something for a whole year.  I was thinking about some of the things that made this work so well for me:

1.  It's portable.  I didn't have to be in the studio to work on it, and I could even easily take it traveling, although actually working while traveling was another issue.

2.  It wasn't messy.  No paint, no clean up.

3.  It didn't take much thought to get started.  In fact, I often randomly drew fabrics out of the bag as a starting point and a challenge to make them work together.

4.  It was limited and contained.  No searching my entire fabric stash for the right fabric.

5.  Since each component was based on the seasons and their daily shifts in color and light, inspiration was always at hand.

6.  There weren't too many decisions to make.  Keeping the backgrounds and threads all neutral simplified that.

7.  The time required to do a component could vary depending on available time.

8.  There was some variety introduced each month with a new packet of colors.  I always looked forward to that.

So now I'm underway with my 2017 project which I'll show at the end of the month.   I'm already facing some new challenges and am not sure it will go as smoothly as this one.

Friday, January 20, 2017

The 70273 Project

The low point of this year's campaign had to be watching Trump mock the handicapped reporter.  Or maybe it went even lower when we realized that even that was not enough to end his candidacy.  When I heard about Jeanne Hewell's 70273 project, I knew it was just the compassionate antidote I needed for a while.  

Started before Trump's performance, Jeanne wanted to commemorate the 70,273 mentally and physically disabled people who were murdered by the Nazis.  After reading their charts, not even seeing them in person, a doctor would mark a red X on the chart if he judged that the patient should be murdered. Two doctor's red X's on the page determined the patient's fate.

Jeanne is collecting 70,273 white blocks that have two red X's on each one.  She will turn them into quilts that will be displayed at various venues when they are done, in memory of those who lost their lives.

I set the goal of making 60 blocks before my big, significant birthday this Feb.  I was a little speedier than I thought and got 60 done just in time for inauguration day.

I challenged myself to make each block different and was amazed at how much variety you can get with a few different pieces of red fabric and a few different weights of red thread.

Jeanne still needs many more blocks, so check out her site http://thebarefootheart.com/70273-2/ if you would like to participate.

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Arranging Components

I've been playing around with arranging the individual components from my 2016 daily stitch project.  I like their rough and irregular edges.

When I was making the components, I thought they would go together into one large piece when they were done, with the days flowing into months, the months into a whole year, but now that looks crazy, busy and all the nice edges get lost. 

I could join them with some transparency in between, so they are together but separate.

I think I'm liking the long, skinny arrangements best, but each month's panel will end up over 10 feet long. I'll have to play with these for a while.  Each month may get broken into two separate panels, so they can fit on a wall. 

Judy Martin has a beautiful blog post about Dorothy Caldwell and her latest work.  You can read it here.

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Breathing Space

One of the painting series I did last year was called "Breathing Space."  I wanted all the paintings in the series to have a feeling of openness to them, a moment of expansiveness, of catching your breath.

11x14"  Acrylic and mixed media on paper

This one is called "Morning Caravan" and was based on the many thoughts that travel through my head when I'm trying to have a peaceful morning of writing Morning Pages.

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

A Fresh Start

Well there's quite a mess to clean up when you haven't blogged for 3 years!  Guess I'll just plunge right in.  I've been needing some time to fully focus on the process of making with little concern for product.  As soon as showing my work is anywhere in the back of my mind, it's impossible not to think about the final product.  It's been a nice, long three year period of exploring in paint and stitch for me, but I have missed blogging, especially at the end of each year.  I miss having a visual record and seeing my thoughts as pieces develop when I share my work.  I also miss having deadlines to push me to finish things.

I thought about starting a fresh blog, but it seems appropriate to continue from my last post here--Dorothy Caldwell's workshop--since that formed much of my current direction, as did an abstract painting workshop with Steven Aimone, more on that later.  

My focus has narrowed some over the last couple years to pretty much entirely abstract work, but still in both paint and stitch.  I'll be playing some catch up here and blending in projects from the last few years along with current work.

One of my favorite projects last year was my daily stitch project.  Each day I hand stitched small, fabric collages that represented the day.  The piece above is my Jan. 2016 pile.  Here are a few of the individual pieces:

The colors and textures were largely influenced by the season, and they shift throughout the year.  I'm still finishing the months I got behind on, so daily stitching is used quite loosely.  I'm not sure if they will be joined together or if I will keep them in monthly bundles.  Right now I'm really liking how they join in long verticals.