Tuesday, March 23, 2010

The Promised Land Chronicles, Part II


Graffiti from a wall in Winston-Salem, NC

After ruling out Wyoming and Montana for a possible retirement area after last summer’s cross-country adventure, Bob and I headed south this past week for a tour of Virginia and North Carolina. We checked out  western Virginia’s Blue Ridge Mountain cities, Roanoke and Lynchburg, then drove into North Carolina to visit Winston-Salem, Chapel Hill, Raleigh and Wilmington. We had planned to visit Durham but ran out of time.


My favorite spot was Winston-Salem, where there’s an expanding downtown area that offers interesting shops and galleries. The city seems to have an active downtown association and a growing number of special events, like an international film festival, wine festival and a farmer’s market. With lots of old industrial buildings under renovation to become high-end residential and artist loft spaces, I can see this could be an enjoyable area to keep on our short list of possibilities.


Here is the year round gallery space on North Trade Street for Piedmont Craftsmen. Once a year they hold a huge member art sale in the town’s convention center.


It is getting harder and harder to find these small restaurant gems, but we seek them out diligently wherever we go. We had a lovely lunch here at 6th and Wine  in downtown Winston-Salem and afterwards I stopped in at Studio 2. DSCN5248

Almost every city we visited has been overrun by unattractive strip malls, chains and big box stores. The face of America may offer consumer convenience, but charm and individuality have disappeared, so enjoying a lively, expanding downtown arts district like Winston-Salem’s is refreshing and offers hope.

I’m not sure it’s the “promised land” I dream of finding in this country, but we definitely enjoyed sunshine, mild weather and beautiful scenery all along the way.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Uh-Oh/Ah-Hah/Mmm-mmmm Good

The Mmmmm-mmmmm goods FIRST. This short video is slightly over 20 minutes long. If you’re rushed and multi-tasking, do return at a quieter time; there’s a lot of food for thought in it for us creatives.  Consider Elizabeth Gilbert’s monumental success as a writer as if it were your own and then listen to her speak. It is insightful and entertaining.

Another mmm-mmmmm good moment, I have returned to my sketchbook practice this past week and am starting my days with a page or two of images, ideas and sketches. The larger book is mainly references from other artists’ works and my responses to them; the smaller one is my studio/idea/application journal. I am jumpin’ up and down happy to be able to quiet down inside enough to work in them again. Does this signal a quieter, calmer creative time ahead?


For the past few months I’ve scribbled and scrawled furiously in one of my old black and white composition notebooks, the ones I journaled in for years. They capture the ideas but aesthetically they’re lacking!


The Uh-Oh. On the home front, the stitching on the second new Pages construction is complete (nothing to see yet, it’s still in its water soluble cocoon and will stay there for a while) and I’m working on two new ones. But the graphite pencil I used to mark the water soluble fabric has left the threads gray (it washed out just fine in the sample, evidently more manipulating and handling led to smudging on the larger piece) and will require stain remover to wash out.  So brainstorming began again to find products that will make a mark on the water soluble and NOT stain the threads that I stitch over the surface.

The Ah-Hahs. Various fabric marking pencils have foiled my attempts to get them to mark the surface, but then – an ah-hah! – I flipped the water soluble fabric over from the smooth side to the toothy one and voila, THAT surface takes the pencil marks just fine (this is the moment where I said “Duh how come you didn’t try this sooner” out loud but honestly isn’t it always the simplest solutions that are the most elusive?!?!)          

So big thumbs up to EZ washout marking pencils (they do wash out of the thread, I did another small sample yesterday just to make SURE) for saving the day. PLUS another option emerged from my storage area – Saral transfer paper in blue and yellow (the blue is easier to see than the yellow), although you really can’t see through it when you lay it down to mark on a surface, so the pencils go back to the top of the list.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Seeing Rightly

“It is only with the heart that one can see rightly. What is essential is invisible to the eye."

(The fox to the little prince)
--Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, 'The Little Prince.'

Cutting, marking and stitching continue as the second piece in the Pages triptych takes form. Using the water soluble fabric does require the use of imagination to fully visualize the results once washed away.


Dyeing varying values of new grays has also been also part of this week’s studio agenda, which you can see below next to the finished piece, as well as painting and cutting gold/ochre colored letters in varying sizes. The floor scene below is where I’m auditioning the addition of ochre/golds against grayscale values in numerous variations.

DSCN5204 Seeing with the heart truly comes into play when exploring ideas and variations because the process is far more about feeling for the right progression rather than intellectualizing.


The gold/ochre/burnt sienna variations are the fruits of a studio afternoon spent playing with numerous painting and printing options.

DSCN5222These are samples from practicing hand painting each letter individually: the pieces feel more three-dimensional and I will continue to practice direct painting them to get smoother value transitions.

It has been a full and interesting week, with a snowstorm AND a full moon.


Beautiful view from my front door on Saturday morning – what a paradise – but also, what an inducement to snuggle in and keep working.


Best of all, thank you to this rising full moon –  bella luna - on Sunday evening for firing up my creative burners and providing mega-energy to keep going.