Patience is a Virtue

_MG_5477Gray, sub-freezing days do not inspire me to do much of anything…except, maybe to crawl under the covers with a good book.  I am not a winter person, probably due to those many New York winters of endless snow shoveling.  A few weeks ago, on a rare day out, I treated myself to a visit to the local garden shop.  This isn’t just any shop; this one is owned/connected to the Anthropologie store across the highway.  And, it is one of my absolutely favorite places to wander and to linger.  As with its parent store, the displays and merchandise are always original, creative and over-sized.  Such was the case of the huge tin urn filled with eight-foot tall tree branches sporting lots and lots of fuzzy buds…some sprouting gorgeous hot pink flowers!  It was two degrees outside.  Inside, there were flowers…blooming!  An unexpected sign of spring.  So refreshing.

Looking out my back door a few days later, I noticed a tree that had some fuzzy buds on it. Could it be?  I grabbed my clippers, crawled over the pile of snow and ice left by the plow, and cut some branches.  (Mine were NOT eight feet tall.  Maybe, two feet, if I was being gracious.)  I scrounged up a vase and arranged my finds in a sunny spot on my kitchen table.  And then, I waited.  And waited.  Nothing, for days; for weeks, even.  Ready to give up and toss them out, I grabbed the bunch…but, there right in the middle of my hand, I noticed this little pink thing peeking out!  The next day, nothing new.  D-A-Y-S later, a few more fuzzy buds yielded a hint of pink.  This morning, I counted nine.  Not splashy over-sized Anthropologie-worthy blooms…but, for me, still, a truly encouraging sign of the new season to come…and it can’t do that too soon for me.

UPDATE, March 2:  Nearly all the fuzzy pods have popped!  I have the promise of Spring on my kitchen table!  Tried to take a photo, but it all doesn’t fit in the frame…isn’t that wonderful?

 

A Thought for the Day

IMG_0182No deep words…just the result of a bit of “found” time in the studio on a recently unearthed flat surface.  It felt good…both the “doing” of the work and the feeling that some old activities that I used to love are once again possible.  Happy Valentine’s Day.

A Fresh Point of View

In the last few days, it has occurred to me that what I have been bemoaning (now THERE is a classy word for “complaining”), i.e. all the time that has been stolen away from my “real work in the studio”, has not actually been lost at all.  I can see that now, as I am nearly done.  I will try to explain.

IMG_0163I have been painting my house, room by room…and, sometimes, the large, connected spaces, all as one effort.  There has been A LOT of sanding, patching and prepping.  I did choose a color palette for the entire house, thinking of it as “all of a piece”.   But, except for the “white” spaces, in the end, I have abandoned the color chips, and mixed the colors myself.   (That is a risky business, which I may pay for down the road, when the inevitable touching up is necessary).  But, after more than one disappointing session when the color on the swatch or in the can seemed to be perfect, but looking too dull, too bright, or just “not right” on the wall

IMG_0169…I finally just started stirring up my own.

It is not as adventurous as it sounds.  I have been working from a very limited palette: a fresh blue (actually named A Breath of Fresh Air), a light pink, and a cool and a warm darker gray.  My white is a creamy one, just the color of whipped cream, with a dash of vanilla stirred in.  All of the trim is white; most of the wall colors are rather light.  My now pale pink dining room is a real treat.  I love walking by it: the color changes throughout the day because of the light shining in through the windows.  And although, the entry and the hallway up the stairs are the exact same color, they all look different, each from the other, all at the same time…Again, because of that magic light.  The gray in the kitchen and down the halls is silvery.  I mostly chose it because I didn’t want a “real” color.  Early on, I did mix a blue to paint the ceiling in the nook off the kitchen, where we eat.   (Little did I know, I was setting a precedent with that “paint-mixing thing”)…But again, because of the light, it is blue during the day, but gray like the walls when we are in there at night.  The studios were all colorful flights of fancy, but I have written about them before…

Hit the wall (so to speak) this week though.  The living room.  The trouble with it was that we actually LIKED the color in there…but, it needed painting badly…and, in the end, it seemed too dark with all the lighter color play going on in the spaces adjacent to it.  We made a best guess and picked a color: not quite the Wedgewood Blue it was, lighter, but blue.  I painted a wall…and it was a lovely color…painted another wall and still lovely, but bright…just…BRIGHT.  I poured the paint in the tray back into the bucket, dumped in some white,IMG_0172 stirred and stirred…and painted another wall.  Still…wrong.

Tried again: stirred in some gray. IMG_0173

IMG_0176

UGH.  Defeated, I quit for the day.

For the past few days, I have been walking by that room, trying to catch the light.  I have a new plan for tomorrow…more dumping, mixing, and stirring…And, hopefully…the color will be beautifully “right”, and I will finally get to paint all four walls.   Then, the downstairs will be done!

Which brings me back to what I have discovered about the work I have been doing for the past year or so.  I was thinking too small when I complained about missing my creative life in the studio.  A year and a half ago, I packed up all of my things, and curated as I did so.  As I unpack now, I am still curating.  There is almost nothing remaining that I do not love or which does not inspire.  Most of it has found a new resting place.  It all looks fresh.

And, the space I now call home is (almost) truly mine…right down to that “just perfect” color on each and EVERY wall.  By the time I am finished (two rooms left to go), every single square inch of this house will have been worked on by my hand.  The colors will sing.  It feels good.

Looking Up

IMG_0155

A recent January night…totally frigid…but the light pulled me out my back door (in my bare feet!)…spectacularly pink, even pinker than the photo…

Flea Bitten

IMG_0153It has been a LONG time between flea “bites”.  Since we moved away from my favorite hunting ground, the Elephant’s Trunk (so sorely missed), there just haven’t been many opportunities for great finds.  Here in my new spot, there are still! boxes to be unpacked…mostly, just those kinds of treasures.  In a way, I guess I have saved the “best for last”.    In the last year, not many things have leapt off a table or shelf into my hands.  But, that very thing happened this week.  Twice!

I know most people don’t shop the Goodwill for “eye-candy”, but it has always been one of my favorites.  You just NEVER know what you might find.   Look what I found!  Fairy tales…in Chinese!  (thanks, Kate) with such gorgeous illustrations!  Think I am going to turn the pages into envelopes…

Envelopes?  A totally fair question.  Blame Pinterest.  I saw a pin that caught my mind and it just won’t let go.  Last week, while dropping off a donation to the Habitat Re-Store (house-fixing still taking precedence over time in the studio), I found a couple of truly battered books for a dollar to try out the idea…

IMG_0148

Probably, not “art”…just some cheap fun.  Will see where it leads…hopefully, not to an entire shelf of old books needing a new life…

ps:  I am trying out using my phone for photos…they will get better…(fingers crossed, because it sure makes the whole process simpler at the moment…)

Deviating from the Printed Path

IMG_0142The week has been gray, gray, gray, and rainy.  Thankfully, no snow.  Work on the house continues.  In the last few days, I have painted a very large closet, soon to be a pantry (and, hopefully, NOT the catch-all for everything else that still needs a spot).  I have painted the trim; the shelves are in place.  Done.  Cross that one off the list.  I have also painted three ceilings, and put the first coat on the walls of two of those spaces…There has been no progress in the studio…

Except for the knitting.  It is the current “pick-up work” when I just have to take a break…and that might be why, about four rows into the “modest ruffle” as described by the instructions, I discovered I had flipped the “right-side/wrong-side” row sequence, totally veering off the intended stockinette finish.  UGH.  Ripping back, or “tinking”, as I have heard it called (sounds more charming than the actual process) was not happening.  There were nearly 300 stitches in each row!  I took a leap of “whatever”, and LEFT THE DIRECTIONS behind!  Risky business, believe me.

The large band of bumpy stitches in the photo is my sorry mistake.  Whatever is beyond that is my attempt to recover from it…so far, so good.   The pattern calls for 10 rows of stockinette…don’t know if my extra row of yarn overs will make my ruffle “immodest”…but, it just doesn’t look done yet…I AM keeping track of that ws/rs business, though.  And, oddly, the project has all of a sudden gotten much more engaging.  Go figure.

Using the “Shotgun” Approach…

I freely admit it.  I am, “oh, so tired” of this “making art on the run” bit  (and that doesn’t even address the excavating of the “good” stuff  still in the pile in the first place, and then, the securing of a flat surface to play/work with it).  And, inspiration for serious, thoughtful work???  At this point, totally, just not there: I am SO done with the distraction of it all…

But unfortunately, I still live in a project “under construction”, with boxes (in an ever-dwindling pile, thank goodness)  still waiting, taunting…

One might propose that if I have lived without the stuff in those boxes for this long, maybe I don’t need it???  Not so.  EVERY box at this point yields treasure and inspiration…after all, the pots and pans were unpacked months ago.  What is left is the good stuff…

My response has been to be inspired by what is at hand.  Therefore, I am

IMG_0132

knitting an infinity scarf using three gorgeous yarns found when I unpacked my “stash”.

IMG_0126

…trying once again to be a “knitter”…that being “one who can follow directions and end up with something useful”…as well as beautiful???

IMG_0124

Struggling with directions (written by a man…just saying…) to make a fun and lovely scarf, spotted in a yarn store during the holidays…a yarn store, that,  I have to admit, I had no business wandering into…stay tuned…I haven’t given up yet.

IMG_0134

…and, just messing around with a chunk of rubber (and, my daughter) having fun egging each other on to cut ever more silly stamps…which turned into pieces and parts of a village…having way too much fun to quit now…  So far,  I have houses, a store, some roofs, a flag, a street light, a fence with a gate with a heart carved into it…a topiary in a pot(!!!)…more to come…all, just plain fun.

IMG_0136

…which led to the challenge of what to carve into the leftover, cut-away shapes…

IMG_0129

Not to mention, the acquisition of some lovely wool roving  (note to self…”stay OUT OF THAT YARN SHOP!”)…I was planning to order felt balls online…(Have you seen the lovely things by FacileCecile on Pinterest?)  I think some time with hot water, soap and the wool above is in my future…but, isn’t that the truly wonderful thing about a fresh new year though?  new ideas… unlimited possibilities?

IMG_0138

And then there is that pesky new year’s resolution to try to get some of those ideas that are like the bumper cars in a penny arcade, careening around in my head, onto a piece of paper in some serious kind of way in which they might actually be available to inspire when all else seems to be “just done” and dull…a run-on sentence if there ever was one…but, thank goodness for the “run-on” of ideas at the moment, one good one, leading to the next great one…no creative block here, at the moment…truly, inspiration “run amok”…

That’s it…the shotgun approach to just getting something done…it all counts, right?  a Happy New Year…it can be exhausting, don’t you think?

Christmas Leftovers…

IMG_5440

We just got home.  Sent the kids back to their “spots” last night.  They got home safely.

It is a new year, but I am feeling like I am not quite done with Christmas.  It was such a rush to get the “painting project”, i.e., the house, in shape for company on Christmas day; Seventeen for dinner…haven’t ever had my dining room table stretched out so far.  And all that lovely china and old silverware added to the day’s sparkle.  It was such a joy to drag out the familiar old (and much treasured) ornaments and decorations to find new places for them to shine.  The house feels more like home now.  It was a good holiday.  I am going to savor it all for just a few more days before the ladders and brushes come out again.

IMG_5421 IMG_5425 IMG_5439 IMG_5443 IMG_5454 IMG_5448 IMG_5459

 

 

A Post Script…only because it seems like it must be said:  We celebrated the holiday; we savored the good family times; we truly enjoyed being altogether…we “got through”…IMG_5428

 

Tai-Jin was sorely missed, will forever, be missed…but, we got through.

May this New Year be a good one for you and yours…we are hoping for the same.

IMG_5473

 

 

 

 

 

In the “Nick” of Time

IMG_5411Like many, I assume, there are things I love doing for the holidays, and things that get done because others in my family love them, or would sorely miss them, if they didn’t happen.  Given that I am having Christmas dinner for seventeen in a room that just barely got finished (dark cranberry red has given way to shell pink; wainscoting and trim, a bright, soft white), doing “my things” for Christmas has been a challenge.  But, my ornaments are finally DONE!  Cut out and sewn “on the fly” between painting and unpacking sessions… stuffed with polyfil on the plane to California… beaded in the early mornings with coffee while everyone else slept, during our visit…”feathered”, over the last week at odd moments…”winged”, the last few days…signed and dated yesterday…DONE!

IMG_5405I like them.  The inspiration for them was a small scrap of fabric that came in my box of shibori silk scraps from Carter Smith.  It was an oddly-shaped piece of  embroidered brocade that went from rose through violet, to blue.  With strategic arranging, and choosing to use a scrap of a lovely red-violet shot silk for the other half of the heart, I was able to make twelve.  That is a good number.  My kids love getting “first pick”; three, for family, a few for random acts of gifting…and, hopefully, several left, at the end for me.

I love that each heart is different and yet, part of a collection.   Carter’s brocade set the scheme; the purple silk was from my stash; the vintage metallic inset, a victim of the randomness of an ice-dyeing session… voila…twelve hearts, each related, but unique.  The cut glass bead  embellishments were also from my stash.  To travel, I had to “pre-edit”.   I took two small plastic containers, each with six pie-shaped sections with snap-tight lids.  I filled them with some sparkly violet, green and multi-metallic larger beads for around the edges of the heart, some seed beads to anchor them, and, some oval beads from an old mother of pearl necklace…and hoped for the best.  In some ways, the limitations inspired some unusual pairings.  That was good.

Once I got home, figuring out what to use for “wings” was a bit tough.  I guess the choice of feathers (now that the hearts are finished) seems obvious!  But, it took me a while and some grazing among my stuff to settle on them.  That green feathered hat gave its all!  It looked like a “ratty” old thing, but it yielded many, many beautiful feathers: some, striped, some a bright green, others, various shades of dark green…all, just the perfect size.  They were gathered and stitched into wings, then attached in pairs to the back of each heart.  Small sequinned disks (bought in a street market stall on my trip to Amsterdam in October) and a dome-shaped brass finding anchored the wings in place…

IMG_5418I am not sure if others find these ornaments to be “odd”.  For me, they are the result of a creative journey which happens during a special time of the year.    I hope you have traditions that make your holidays special too.  Enjoy.

 

 

Minor Victories?

As of a few weeks ago, we have now been in our “new” house for over a year.  And, though it seems that I have had a paint brush as a somewhat permanent extension to my right hand for most of the year, there remain rooms to be painted, and boxes to be unpacked.  Most importantly, time in the studio is still very “hit or miss”, mostly “miss”.  But, oh how good it feels whenever I “drop in” to gather together sketches and supplies for the random pick-up work that keeps me feeling like the artist I used to be…

This year’s holiday cards got done that way.  Stopping in to pull out potential papers, to trace out shapes to be cut “on the fly”, then to punch, stamp and glue…a few at a time, in random stolen moments.  More than once I have taken and edited photos as the cards took shape to post…even, posted some that were “up” for about a day.   But, I truly hated them (think all the gold foil really confused my “smart” camera).  Tried taking photos on sunny days, and on those far more common gray November ones.  I finally gave up, snapped a picture with my phone, and that is the one that graces this post (so to speak…)

IMG_0100In the scheme of things, I know that homemade cards just aren’t that important.  But, I have made them for years and years.  I enjoy the once a year challenge to make a small piece of art in a series using random stuff from my stash.  And, hopefully the friends and family with whom I share them look forward to receiving them as part of their holidays, as well.  This year, though designing and making them happened in random “free” moments, finishing them seems like a victory of sorts.  Happy holidays!  I hope you and yours have one filled with meaningful traditions of your own.