Friday, January 30, 2009

Weekly photo: Larsen lake greenbelt, 1/25

There's been a great blue heron at Larson Lake around the time I normally walk about half the time over the past 2 weeks. He likes a stump that juts out of the lake fairly close to the pier I go out on when I walk. But he doesn't like people being too close. So when I go on the pier, he flies across the lake to the quieter part on the other side. I've been using my photos of herons a lot lately - I seem to have a thing for them right now. I'm already planning how to turn this photo into a piece. I like the lines and colors of the bare branches and the reflection of the light on the lake.

Since the heron shot was at a distance, I decided to do a closeup shot of something. I'm in a facebook art group that's talking about texture right now so I tried to find something that showed the texture of the woods in winter. Here are 3 shots of the same spot with the log shifted in the view. I'm trying to decide which I like best as a composition. Comments on your choice are welcome.

First, I spotted the log, liked the texture of the cut end, and the moss growing on the side. So, like any snapshot, I put it in the center.

Then I decided to focus on the moss, so I shot it with the cut end to the right side of the view.

And last, I decided I liked the parallel line of the snag in the background so I shot it with the mossy log on the left.

It was definitely an interesting exercise in looking closely and thinking about composing with the camera. I think I'll learn a lot this year from doing these weekly shots. And it should be a fascinating look at how my local spots change over time. My opinion: I think #2 is the most effective composition, but I'm not entirely able to say exactly why.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Art: Working smaller, adding texture

I sent off a piece to the SAQA 20th anniversary traveling exhibit yesterday after facing an interesting couple of challenges in creating something for it. I had 2 new constraints: an 8" limit on the size of the final image, and a square format. I usually work in a much larger rectangle. But, this is an important exhibition to participate in, so I dug in and went to work.

First of all, here's the piece that went off, Tiny Dancers #1. It was my second try at a subject after I was so unhappy with the first one. I feel that I managed to work smaller with this piece and still have my love of color and sense of design show well. I've also combined motifs from two earlier works so in addition to working smaller, I'm doing a series. That's a realization from hindsight.

The idea came to me in that foggy pre-sleep time in bed on Friday night. It was fused, stamped, stitched and photographed by Sunday noon. This working smaller could become addictive...

Also, this finished at 9.5" square and will be matted so that only 8" shows. I'm hoping they realize they should cut off the bottom of the globe, not the outstretched hand of the dancer. At least, that's what I'd do. I'm looking forward to seeing it in the exhibit of work by all us studio art quilters.

My first try at a piece was completely unsatisfactory. I didn't take a picture of it and now wish I had so I could show the before and after. I started with a photo of bushtits in my backyard. I loved the texture of the lichen on the tree branches and the way it echoed the color of the tiny bushtits. And I loved the way the 4 little birds were almost doing a puppy pile. But, when I cut the photo printed on fabric up and fused it to the background hand dyed fabric, it was all a monochromatic blur. I wasn't happy. And running it by my husband, the red green colorblind family member who aids me as a tonal viewer, verified that it was impossible to see anything but a dappled green square. So I set it aside, and fretted about what to do, and then had my aha! moment which resulted in the Tiny Dancers #1 piece above.

As part of Tiny Dancers, I pulled out some fabric dye crayons and stamps and texture plates to pull things together a bit. The spirals I added to TD this way aren't as noticeable because of the richness of the background fabric. But, I liked the effect enough to start wondering if this wasn't a way to rescue the poor bushtits. So, I went to town, experimenting with everything that seemed likely and using lots of different colors. I really like the result. The visual texture I added between the photo pieces highlights the lichen texture on the branches that I absolutely love. And the orange and navy bits make the green and grey less bland. It's still a calmer piece than is usual for me, but I no longer want to burn it so I'm calling it good.

It's 11" square right now, so there's quite a bit on the edges that I was considering excess. I'm thinking I'll put it on stretcher bars so it finishes to the 8" square size that is intended. And then move on to the next experiment using this photo and see what else I can discover about how I work.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Going from greed to green

Today's email brought an article "7 Fixes from the Green Economy" which I thought worth sharing. There's a discussion of what to do as individuals, how it fits into a bigger plan, and how to pay for the changes without furthering damaging the economy. Since one of my goals for this year is maximizing energy efficiency in our house, I'm interested in sources that relate to that. This looks like a good one.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

2009 Goals

In the course of a wide-ranging discussion of New Year's resolutions, one of my fellow quiltart members recommended a book entitled Your Best Year Yet. I checked it out of the library and found I already knew most of the material, but realized I hadn't been applying it as well as I'd like so I decided to come up with a goal list for this year. And stick to just those goals. My problem being that I tend to overcommit my time and energy.

Here's my list for this coming year, focusing on the major 3 areas I want to work in:


Redo webpage using plone or other cms
  • Add galleries with thumbnails
  • Create separate blog for sales or add shopping cart to webpage
Increase productivity/skills
  • Work in studio daily
  • Take classes (digital camera, painting)
Produce income
  • Teach classes
  • Add shirts for sales
  • List small pieces for sale online

Take Reiki Level 3 training

Chakra owner's manual work

Lose 20 pounds
  • Return exercise to base level
  • Cut back on extras in diet (less wine and chocolate)
Declutter life
  • Focus on main roles/goals
  • Get rid of stuff that's not being used or creating beauty in my life

Increase food production in garden
  • Plant perennial veggies
  • Increase food preservation skills
Maximize energy efficiency
  • Garage insulation
  • Energy audit
Paint exterior
  • Get quotes
  • Estimate labor/costs to do ourselves
Investigate IRA land possibilities

The book recommends 10 goals and I've exceeded that limit slightly. How typical. However, all progress is made one step at a time so this is my first step.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Weekly photo: Cougar Mtn Park

This year, I'm focusing on doing more fiber art using photos printed on fabric. Mostly I'll be using ones I take of birds and local landscapes, with a few bird shots from a couple of bird photographers I'm hoping to work with. In order to do this, I have to take pictures. So, one of the things to do to accomplish my goal is to take weekly pictures on my walks at either the greenbelt (Blueberry Lake) or Cougar Mountain Park. This week's photos are from Cougar Mountain. Some of the spring plants are budding out, but mostly there's the winter sparseness. And the winter water so that the streams are still running. I looked for things that might inspire me to interpret them or incorporate them into a fiber piece. This is one of the possibles from this week. I liked the way the water glimmered between the dead leaves and the stark tree trunks.

The second photo is from Coal Creek which runs along the meadow restoration site. I'm fascinated by the creek and the very narrow footbridge crossing it. Today, a fern next to the bridge caught my eye.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Going green, national level plan

I get a lot of email from a lot of different sites about what they're doing, and today brought news of The Real Deal, from the Post Carbon Institute. I've skimmed it this morning, and it looks like it's written at a reasonable level, both in covering why we need to act and what there is to do. I'm glad to see a coherent plan laid out, and equally glad to see they're getting name endorsements so it stands a chance of getting publicity. It's only 24 pages long which is also a big plus.

Check it out:

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Reinstalling my computer - or what I did with my weekend

My computer crashed. I was forced to realize how much I rely on this technology to stay connected to the people in my life. I'd been thinking of reinstalling because something went wrong with the computer writing to CDs so this just sort of moved everything up. I first tried to avoid it by cleaning up the drive and defragging which took all day Saturday, and I'll just note that the defragging shows a really pretty colored display showing before and after. I'd just recommend that people do this for their machines a little more frequently than every 5 years. Today was spent admitting defeat, and reinstalling. The problem with reinstalling is that you also have to reinstall all the software you want to continue to use. I'm about halfway through that, and have a couple of things to recommend, just in case you want to avoid the pain I'm suffering. First, keep all the installation disks in one place, including any drivers you've downloaded, especially if you keep hardware until it dies and the drivers might no longer be on the websites of the manufacturer. Second, do regular backups and keep those with the installation stuff. Third, a list of software you've installed from downloads would also be a good idea. We had to create the lists for all of these items and I'll just say how happy I am that my darling husband is a professional in the computer field and very knowledgeable about Microsoft. Otherwise, I have no idea how long I'd still be doing all of this. I'm still not done, there's a bunch of stuff to reinstall, plus restoring the backed up data. But I'm past the worst of it, especially the frustration of not being able to respond to comments, or even read my email.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Gaia's Dance - first art of 2009

I finished a piece that's been in the works for over a year. Finally. And I'm really happy with the results. I'm submitting it to the Sacred Threads show but won't hear if it's been accepted or not until the end of March. Here's the full size photo of the piece.

And here's a detail shot of the quilting. I did a post earlier of the trial piece for the quilting so some of this should look familiar to anyone who saw that post.

For those who are interested in the technical details, the piece is 38" wide and 47" high. The little dancing people are cut from several different fabrics and were individually hand cut (hence the long elapsed time as after cutting them all out, I needed to take a break). The globe and the lotus blossoms were printed on silk using my epson cx3810 printer.

I'm really pretty happy with it and I'm looking forward to applying some of the things I learned to future pieces.