Thursday, January 31, 2013

On Trees and Other Growing Things

 I am seeing trees everywhere these days, which is no surprise, when you live on Vancouver Island. But I'm seeing them in a new way. I'm paying attention to them. I'm finding they have things to say to me. So I try to make sure my camera is with me at all times, and I have return visits planned to Cathedral Grove and Tofino, and a first time visit to Heritage Park in Qualicum Beach where a forest of old growth trees has been preserved, and I dream about a summer trip to Carmanah and to Meares Island. In the meantime, I'm trying to travel slowly enough through my life to have time to stop off at places like Goldstream Park, just outside Victoria. That's where I took the first two photos. Lots of inspiration in the first one for my most recent workshop assignment, which challenges me to change my perspective. Although I ended up doing something else entirely, which I'll show you when it's further along. And the mossy green covering the bark in the second photo - how do I convey that in a quilt? The third photo is of a tree Nora showed me at a park near her house
in Victoria. We looked up and up and there its branches were dancing in the cold winter air. But as much as Nora likes trees, and birds too, the part she enjoyed most was playing on the swings and slides. Again and again and again, until we were all a little chilly, and bundled her up in a blanket in her wagon, to take her home again. Lessons learned? 1. Never go anywhere without a camera. 2. Nothing beats travelling on foot, for giving you eyes to see the world around you. 3. Don't be so busy looking at the trees, that you miss the birds. 4. No matter how wonderful this creative journey is, a grandchild is the best growing thing of all. 

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Where Has She Gone? What Is She Up To?

This morning my dear friend Lyn, from Walnut Creek, California, phoned to make sure I was OK. She'd emailed me a week or so ago but hadn't heard back. And there'd been no new posts on my blog or on Facebook. Which reminded me that once you begin a correspondence with your friends and family in cyberspace, you'd better keep it up, or they start wondering where you've gone or what you're up to. So this is the story. On January 6th, I began a 10-week online course with Lisa Call, called Working in a Series. It's pretty intense and pretty wonderful. Also demanding, but in the best possible way. So that's where I am right now - living in the land of creating work that will hopefully be part of a cohesive whole, and which will help me develop my own voice in my work. First we generated an "Idea Warehouse" - possibilities for our series. Then we narrowed it down to one idea, and further restricted it by adding the parameters for the series. And then we got to work. No messing around. My original idea was for bare 
branch trees, but now it's limited to Vancouver Island Douglas fir trees. I've taken all sorts of photos over the years, and chose just one of these as my starting point. After abstracting it, I made my first piece, which I called "Old Friends". Then I critiqued it, using Lisa's guidelines. The next assignment asked me to choose a colour exercise from several options, and to make the next piece. And I just finished the top today (quilting will be done at some later date). This one's called "Of Those Remaining". Again, it had to be critiqued. And that will be the rhythm for the course - new course material, including a lecture and being introduced to three artists each week, and discussions on mindsets and studio practice, and a new piece of work created each week. I am so, so thankful to have this opportunity, but it has meant closing doors on a lot of other good things (that's part of the learning experience), and truth be told, I feel like I'm flying right now, and don't have the time to deal very well with anything else. So there you are. I am still alive and well, but you probably won't hear from me as often as usual for the next few
weeks. I will, however, report on my progress from time to time, and give you a peek into this terrific experience. Thanks for your patience, and much happiness to each of you as you follow your own creative paths.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

A New Beginning

Well, I may be late to the party, but Happy New Year to everyone! This is what my backyard looked like on Jan. 1st (this photo is taken in colour, not B & W, as you might think), which only encouraged me to snuggle up with a good book and a mug of hot chocolate and to take a good long nap. This didn't improve much when one after another winter rain storms slammed into our little peninsula. The wind blows up Georgia Strait and can be quite impressive by the time it reaches us. When it didn't show much sign of improving, I ran away to my cabin on Hornby Island, with my daughter Jess, and holed up there for

a few blissful days. The other thing I did - a much more positive reaction, you might think - was to complete this quilt top. It's called A New Beginning, and measure 37" X 37". There's nothing like rich, saturated colour as a remedy for dark and grey. And when I finished that, I still had some scraps left over, so I made the 12" X 12" piece below. I've read all sorts of posts about peoples' goals for the coming year, and words for the year, and I have decided on one and one alone for myself - that I will do the work and make the quilts that are in me to make. I have spent a lot of time over the last 6 years making quilts that are for patterns or for class samples, even for specific shows. But this year I am going to make quilts that have been crying out to be made. I'm going to listen to those small voices that come from
deep within me, and sing the song they've given me to sing. In that vein, and to give me a jump-start, I have signed up for a 10-week online course with Lisa Call - Working in a Series. The topic for this series is being narrowed down from a "Warehouse of Ideas", and I'm truly excited to see what it will be. Any of the 4 top picks I've selected appeal to me for different reasons. I"ll let you know how things develop in future posts. In the meantime, may each of you have a wonderful year to come, and may creativity abound no matter what your undertakings.