Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Juicy Houses

"Lindy's Home" painted for a friend who is struggling
 to keep her  home
I love this idea, from Carrie Schmitt's blog,  of making a collage of every home I have lived in. If that includes short stays--and so many of mine HAVE been shorts stays--I have some very interesting houses to include. Lets see. I've lived in an army hospital barracks, a patchwork house made of sheets of corrugated tin and desert dried wood, a chicken coop, a VW van,  a stone mansion on the shores of Hilo Bay, a house once owned by a French Princess, a sail boat...

This sounds like a series of paintings to me!

Monday, August 30, 2010

First Friday Art

suzannaleigh art-prints
Tulips on Silk
available as an art print

This Friday, as part of First Friday Art Walk, I will be having a reception for my show of watercolor paintings, silk paintings, and monoprints at the Vashon Community Care Center. It's the biggest solo show I have done yet, with 35-40 pieces of finished art.  I will also be showing sketches and photos that inspired and informed the finished pieces as well as showing the evolution of some images through several  media. I'm quite excited, and hope it will be well attended, inspite of competition from the Allied Arts Art Auction--THE big art event of the year!

The Arts Auction generally draws the work of about 150 local island artists, and the Blue Heron Gallery, where it is all displayed, is generally packed on the First Friday of September. This year I'm not represented; I was too focused on getting this show ready, AND work ready for a group show at the Quartermaster Inn.

If you live in the area, please come to the opening reception at Vashon Community Care Center. I would love to see you there!

Saturday, August 28, 2010

watercolor technique: dry brush or wet on wet?

dry brush
wet on wet

Still have lots to do to get the show ready, but couldn't resist just enjoying this fine sunny day!

I gave myself permission to paint at the beach this afternoon. I did these two watercolors, one starting with a dry brush technique, and one starting wet on wet. One was small enoufh to scan in, so the colors came out ok, but the other, the wet on wet, I photographed. Even with photoshop, I couldn’t get the blue out. Hm. This encourages one to  work small enough to scan the piece, especially if there's much white in it.

Friday, August 27, 2010

The Golden Pathway

I've been doing a Sufi practice called Rememberance, as described by Mark Silver,  a business consultant who practices business from a spiritual point of view. I would like to share some of my experiences with this practice occasionally.

The idea is to spend fifteen minutes a day calling into oneself the Divine, by what ever name one chooses. I  find myself choosing different names on different days. 

silk painting: Golden Pathway
available as a print
Yesterday and again today, the name that came to me was "The Way".  I felt as though a path opened up for me to follow in my business and in my life. It is hard to explain in words. The image is of a leaf strewn path through the woods opening in front of me. The feeling is of being on the path I am meant to be on, doing what I need to be doing.

We'll see how this pans out in the "real" world. Stay tuned.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Sailing Memories

Coming through the Swinomish Slough

After talking with Agnes Lee in -- was it June? -- I was inspired to try some landscapes in silk. I don't do landscapes from other people's photos, and didn't have any current landscape memories or photos in my mind.  I'm wondering, would this watercolor sketch I did while on the boat translate well into a painting on silk?

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Impossible Garden--deer devastation and first apples

The apples are beginning to ripen, but this is my entire bean harvest!
Remember the beautiful scarlet runner beans in the photo with the dragon? Well, they are no more. While I was enjoying the wind and water, the deer were enjoying my beans, and they enjoyed them all gone! Of eight feet of beans, Scarlet Runners and bush beans, this is all the deer missed.

The apples are beginning to ripen, though! And the friend who was house sitting for me left a gallon of fresh picked blackberries in the fridge for me. The black berries are now 7 jars of freezer jelly and a pie sized berry/apple crisp.

 Framing had to wait.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Home from the Sea

water color sketch of Swinomish Slough, SE of Anacortes WA

Five days of mostly sailing in the Puget Sound area--wonderful winds, some new skills acquired. My favorite sailing is close hauled (sailing close to the direction the wind is coming from), with one reef in the main sail (makes it smaller), and windwaves of 1-3 feet. And no bothersome sun! Too much sun hurts my eyes.

I caught a crab for dinner--with my bare hands! My son James, who crews for me, was rowing us ashore over a shallow sandy bottom, when he spotted a crab--and the chase was on! The crab was fast, but James  was faster, and I was able to grab it and throw it into the boat. It was a male, and legal size. We had him for dinner. Yum!

Friday, August 20, 2010

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

on the boat--a good sail!

That's me on Sea Change, Port Ludlow WA in the background. I am SUCH a lucky woman!!
Praying that all this good sailing energy will go into my friend and help her heal from the surgery that prevented her from being here today.
This photo was actually taken a few years ago, and I wrote this blog ahead of time, so I may  not actually be at Port Ludlow when you read this. Rest assured though, I'm somewhere in Puget Sound, relaxing after a good day of sailing!

Monday, August 16, 2010

On the boat

Whidbey Island in the background
Sea Change, a 32' Pearson Vanguard (sailboat),  has been a part of my life for several years now. I sold out my partnership in her last year, and never thought I would cruise on her again--but here I am! Due to an emergency surgery, my old partners are not able to bring her back from Anacortes, so my son James and I are bringing her home.

It's about a 4 day trip if the weather holds.

I do have good posts scheduled, so stay tuned! I just may not be able to publish your comments until I get back, probably Saturday.

Friday, August 13, 2010

raw silk vrs silk charmeuse final

Fancilful Flower on raw silk
Fanciful Flower on charmeuse
Fabric pens applied, silk steamed and ironed. The one on the left is on raw silk, the one below is on charmeuse. The raw silk, surprisingly, ironed out better; the charmeuse gets wrinkles steamed in that nothing will get out. I need to make a steamer that allows me to roll the silk for steaming, avoiding folds and wrinkles.

Which do you like better?

My conclusion: Good images can be done on raw silk, but they will look different, more "homey".  I plan to do more images on the raw silk. Some images may need to be done on silk charmouse--"cooked cocoons". Working on raw silk seems like working with nature; working on silk from cooked cocoons seems like exploiting nature--except that the cooked silk worms provide food for the growers!

Thursday, August 12, 2010

raw silk vrs charmeuse

Fanciful Flower on raw silk
Here is the same design done at the same time with the same dyes, one on raw silk, and one on silk charmeuse (made with cooked cocoons). You can see that the dyes blended softly on the charmeuse, and the resist lines held well, while on the raw silk, the resist lines did not hold well, and the brush strokes are still clearly visible.

At this stage, the detail on the charmeuse is much sharper.

Fanciful Flower on silk Charmeuse
The next step is add detail with a fabric pen and to steam the pieces.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Art Retreat at Anita Halstead's

After days and days of cloudy weather, the sun came out at last on August 4. I joined 20 or so other artists from all over the Puget Sound region to paint in Anita Halstead's garden in Docton, on Vashon/Maury  Island. What a treat! There were beginners and professional artists and everything in between. I dream of a garden like hers!

I met an artist whose industrial watercolor paintings I was familiar with, Suze Woolf. She does incredible watercolors landscapes!. I wonder if she teaches?

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Impossible garden--taming the wild lawn mower

I am terrified of lawn mowers. They are heavy noisy monsters that might not even start. Used to be my sons would mow the lawn, or my husband, or some available man. Men LIKE noise! Right?

Well, the sons grew up. The husband died, and so did the lawn mower. Substitute sons want to be paid a minimum of 3 hours work on a lawn that takes an hour!  The lawn mowing service wants $50 an hour--twice a month!

Well, a week before the wedding here, the grass was nearly waist high, and I had to do something.

So I bit the bullet and bought a lawn mower.

An electric lawn mower.

And still I was scared to touch it.

Thankfully. two guys with weed eaters tamed the lawn enough for a neighbor to mow it for the wedding--with his gas powered monster.

 But the grass kept growing! Only a week and half later, the part in the shade was several inches high already! Unless I wanted to shell out another $100 for the  weed eater guys or risk losing my grand daughter in the tall grass, I had to figure out the lawn mower.

I approached it carefully and pressed the lever. Nothing. OH! plug it in! In fact, plug it to the SAME cord that is plugged into the outdoor plug in.

This time it started. And did not run away from me! Waited tamely for me to push it across the lawn.

And I did! For any one else who has a fear of gas powered lawn mowers, I do recommend an electric one. The cord takes a little getting used to, but the machine is not as noisy as the gas powered and is lighter and easier to manage.

Slowly, the impossible garden is taking shape

Monday, August 9, 2010

raw silk vrs silk charmeuse experiment step 2

I'm using Jaquard silk dyes from Dharma Trading for this experiment.

The resist doesn't hold on the raw silk, and the brush strokes don't blend and soften the way they do on the Charmeuse (from the "cooked" cocoons). I can't get the detail on the Raw silk in the same way as on the Charmeuse.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

The Impossible Garden--Why bother?

One day last month,  I bought tall green chard, tender sweet pea pods, and broccoli like I have never been able to grow, from the local farmers at the Market. For about $3.00 I bought 3 or 4 times the scant handful of tough pea pods I was able to glean from the tangle of pea plants in my own garden. The chard I bought was three times as tall and full as the little leaves of my chard, which is embraced on every side by the pea plants.

I thought,  Dad always told me gardening was a waste of my time. Is he right? Or is it just that I am a novice and haven't yet learned the fundamentals of creating a healthy garden?

Today I compared photos of the garden a month or two ago with what is blooming now. I'm eating beautiful green kale, and the nasturtiums are so beautiful I decorated a wedding cake with them. I never did stake the scarlet runner beans properly, so their gorgeous red flowers are growing in a tangle all over each other.

Maybe my gardening style is a bit on the wylde side.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Silk Noil vrs Silk Charmeuse experiment

What do do, What to do? Silk Noil or Silk Charmeuse? Raw silk or "cooked" silk?

Using silk produced by boiling the silk worms seems like exploiting nature, while using silk from cocoons left by emerging silk moths seems like working with nature. What would my work look like if I started using more raw silk, less of the other?

Time to experiment.
Using the same design on each so that I could really get a good comparison, first I applied the resist. I'm using Pebeo water-based gutta in tubes from Dharma Trading.

Hm. The Charmeuase puckers more and takes a lot more pins to get the puckers out. However, the resist isn't dry on the raw silk even after 24 hours.

How will it take the dye?

Better wait until the resist is dry before I find out.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Silk Noil?

I thought that silk noil was made from cocoons where the worms are allowed to transform into moths escape. The threads break when the moth emerges, making shorter threads. The resulting cloth has an interesting texture and still has the natural gum on it, making it more difficult to dye or to get the detail I like. Still, Boachu and the Hundred Family Coat, one of my favorites from my last series of paintings, is done on silk noil.

Looking into this a bit more, it seems that there is no guarantee the cocoons used in silk noil were the ones left behind when the moth escaped. They may have been damaged some other way. But they are not boiled, so I think it is safe to assume the silk worms were not killed.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Emerging Dragon

Remember a long time ago I showed you the first steps of a watercolor painting of a dragon? I finally finished the painting.

It was inspired by a Qi Gong move, "Dragon Emerges from the Sea". The concept is that your energy in the form of your fists goes out from the dantienne, the caldron of energy in your belly. I love that symbolism! Asian dragons are wise as well as powerful.

As I drew the image, I thought, the dragon is me, or my work, emerging from the deep energy place inside me, from the depths of my soul, from our shared Soul, from that Holy Spirit within us.

Then the oil well explosion opened another kind of "dragon" emerging from the sea! This dragon is the destructive, polluting dragon of western mythology.

I wonder if my dragon would have looked better as a deep red, maybe an alizeran crimson. What do you think

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Raw silk or cooked silk?

Sunday morning, sitting in Quaker meeting, an uncomfortable awareness came to me about my painting on silk.  The energy in the silk scarf I was wearing, my favorite one that I painted in the greens and golds of spring, seemed somehow hard and cold. Why? 

It occurred to me that the silk I love to paint, with the vibrant colors, the iridescence, was harvested by killing the silk worms that created it. The live worm and cocoon are dipped into boiling water so that the silk can be unrolled from the cocoon in one long thread. The energy of that violence seemed to be in the silk. 

Ach! That's not the energy I want to put into the world! And here I am, about to enter into an intense period of painting to create new work for my show at Vashon Community Care Center in September! And I still have 18 beautifully dyed silk scarves I had planned to put into my etsy shop!  I have probably 9 yards of silk charmeuse left I had planned to paint on! 

What shall I do? I feel strongly encouraged, both by the joy I feel in painting on silk and by the comments of friends who tell me how strong this work is, but how can I continue to work with a material produced by killing even such small creatures as silk worms?

I have begun looking into silk noir, wild silk, and other cloth. Wild silk and possibly silk noir are made with cocoons the worms have finished with, left behind when they were transformed into moths. 

Monday, August 2, 2010

Wedding at my House

My house is filled with flowers, laughter, and love. There was a wedding at my house on July 25th. It takes me a while to process these things, or I would have told you about it sooner.

The wedding took place only a week after Strawberry Festival. As of Wednesday before the wedding, I was still exhausted. The house was still cluttered with preparations for the festival, the yard had been neglected for a month--and I needed to spend Thursday taking my dad to the doctor in Tacoma.

I sent out a call for help and people responded handsomely! Within two days the house sparkled and the yard was usable again.

It was a Quaker style wedding. It took place in the context of a meeting for worship. In Quaker tradition, it is not the Meeting, a minister, or a ceremony that marries a couple. Only God can do that. Our role is only to witness this marriage, and to support the union.

The tenderness and love the couple showed for each other was incredibly touching. My house feels profoundly blessed by their love for each other and by the love we have for them.