Sunday, November 30, 2008

Block Party!

As we've not gone anywhere or had any company this long holiday weekend, we have just kept working away at projects that need doing. I finished the "All Passion Spent" small tapestry, so spread out my blocking boards the other day and blocked it and some grandchildren sweater parts. Then, when they had all had a good chance to dry, I blocked MORE grandchildren sweater parts! I have three sweaters-worth of pieces blocked to put together, and hope to finish knitting the fourth this week. May as well keep the blocking stuff out, I guess! (My tapestry blocking process can be seen here.)

And speaking of Block Parties... Our neighborhood has been decking the outside 'halls' this weekend, so, grumbling as he went, my husband decided to put our lights up too. He is not fond of the job, as we have a pretty high 2-story old house, and he admits that it can be scary up there. I always say I wouldn't mind not having the house lit up, but he does it anyway. So up he went, and put them all on a timer to come on at 5:00. At about 5:15, I went out to take a look. No shiny lights. I did notice how tall our Blue Spruce has gotten though!

Told dear husband that there are no lights. He grumbled and mumbled some more, and went back out. A few minutes later, the lights came on... except for a string over the sleeping porch (above the car port). Time to listen to Serious Grumbling... but we decided that night time is not a good time to go up and replace a string of lights, so he'll have to replace them next weekend. Ah the trials of keeping up with the neighbors!

Friday, November 28, 2008

Illustration Friday: Balloon

As I didn't make myself a pumpkin pie this holiday, and was feeling deprived, I had determined that, whatever the topic, I would take a bit of time out today to do an Illustration Friday sketch. The topic is "balloon," which really didn't inspire me too much. But I MUST have my dessert, so I did take enough time to do a small 20 minute oil sketch of my grand-daughter when she was just learning to walk on her own. Not great art, but a low calorie treat for myself, at any rate!

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Plenty To Be Thankful For...

Kinda sad, him sitting there by himself with that big turkey. That's kind of how I feel, as the two of us will be all on our lonesome tomorrow, too. But I DO have plenty to be thankful for:
My top-of-the-line husband... my two sons and their wonderful wives ... my parents and my father-in-law ... both of our siblings and all the rest of our families... A new president... only 55 days left of George Bush!... a warm home and precious pets... the luxury of being able to work at something I love... and more and more and more. Even in these 'hard times,' aren't we blessed?! And, of course I did NOT forget to leave the best until last; my precious four grandchildren!

(And isn't the movie clip a blast from the past! "Holiday Inn" used to be one of my favorite movies, and I still watch both it and "White Christmas" at least once between Thanksgiving and Christmas. It is quite old-timey, and not terribly PC, as this clip shows, but it still has Bing crooning in it, which is something else to be thankful for.)

Monday, November 24, 2008

What's been going on... two, or too?

Annnywaay... Here is where I am starting today with the small 'Passion' tapestry. I hope to weave another inch or two up the warp today, but I also hope to ship holiday gifts overseas (not yet wrapped), go to the grocery store (no turkey, or even milk in the fridge), and sweep up 'dust doggies' that are "everywhere, they're everywhere!" So we'll see how much weaving gets done. This piece must be done before Thanksgiving though, and someone told me that it's this Thursday! Isn't that, like, three days from now?

And yes, for those who noticed and are wondering, those kitty print legs under the loom are my pajama pants. I often get quite a bit done in my jammies in the mornings, before stopping to work out and clean up. Ah, the perks of working at home!

And speaking of working at home; here's what my computer desk looks like anymore. This cat sticks to me like glue. I have found that sometimes it is smart to stop and play his frantic games with him for 10 or 15 minutes, then he will, exhausted, take a catnap for a few hours and leave me to get something done. His favorite places are where I am, though. When I'm at the computer, this is his spot. When I'm at the loom, he is under my chair.

Well, quite enough procrastinating for this busy day. I'm off and running! (Guess that means the jammies must go...)

Friday, November 21, 2008

Opinion: Illustration Friday

The opinions of others picked at her like a crow pecking along the roadside; everything examined, picked apart, and most of her life discarded as useless or tasteless.

The Illustration topic today is Opinion. I sometimes pay too much attention to the opinions of others, especially those that are different from my own. I find it distressing that not everyone is as reasonable in their opinions as I am! I am sometimes guilty, I confess, of picking apart the opinions of others, as if they are of no value.

The little crow sketch is in oil on canvas.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

What's been going on...

(Which, by the way, is the name of a wonderful Amos Lee song, which I'm listening to as I type.)
I have been busy with lots of this and that. I am working on my small Mirrix loom, on a piece based on an abstract painting I did last spring, in a fit of needing to do something red. Here is the beginning of the tapestry, which will be called "All Passion Spent."
The photo at the top of the post shows my loom, which I bungee to a travel easel so I can work on it at a slant, putting the working area basically in my lap at a very nice working angle.

I am also working on the ATA Small Tapestry exhibit. If you are still planning on entering, there's a link to the prospectus at the right, but Get Busy, Folks! The entry due date is VERY soon!

Yesterday I spent an hour between home and ATA related errands to go paint with an Alzheimer's "Memories in the Making" group. I look forward to doing this on a regular basis, as my schedule opens up.

And finally, I am knitting the grandkid sweaters in the evenings. The evening is my sit-and-relax time, so it is a great time to think of these precious four, and knit prayers into their annual winter sweaters. Of course, I am never able to find a sweater pattern that suits the vision I have for each child's sweater, plus the available yarn I want to use. So I end up custom designing each one - which is a fun challenge, but it slows the process down quite a bit. I have three of the four knit, but not put together yet (I procrastinate on that, as it is my least favorite part.)

So that, plus the house and yard stuff, and working on holiday music with the women's acapella group I lead, and miscellaneous coffee meetings with friends, etc... is pretty much what's been going on here. What's going on with you?

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Waxing & Waning...

I took these two photos of the full moon up at our cabin last night. I love how the moon looks like an ornament in the tree. As I shot the photos, cool and crisp fall night air surrounded me, and I thought of my new projects, and of several other projects I am at work on. All are related, as is always the case. But some of them have more of my attention than others do. Some are demanding my attention simply because the time is ripe for them to be done... They are at full moon stage, I guess. Others demand my attention because I have a passion for them.

Passion... that is the subject of my newest tapestry project. I am fascinated by it, by how it waxes and wanes, comes in and out of season. What I once did with a passion that kept me motivated, I now often discover I have little passion for. I began allowing these thoughts to come to the front of my mind (though they have been in the middle or back already for some time) after I watched a production of Vita Sackville-West's "All Passion Spent" recently. A lovely production! It 'gave me permission' to admit that the things I once did so passionately, I really no longer feel passionate about. For instance, I was once a PTA secretary, and I did that job with passion; I was once a guild president, and I also gave my all to the tasks the job required, with enthusiasm. But I have no passion to do either of those things again.

Right now, perhaps because I have so many other irons in the fire, my passion is begging me to pick up the pen and write again. My head is filled with dialogue! But it must wait a bit. The time is not quite yet right to write. (Ha! See how clever I could be with words, given the chance?) I have miles yet to go before I can lay several of my other tasks to bed and call them done.

In the future, I must pay a bit more attention to my passion. It sends me fairly clear messages, and as I mature (at this late date), the messages are brighter. In fact, right now they are coming at me in shades of red and I am weaving them into a tapestry.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

High desert walk with my honey...

In addition to going for a walk in the high desert west of town yesterday (can't call it a hike, because we were going at our old dog's pace - more of a mosey, really), I had a creative brain attack which resulted in a tapestry design (which I will share with you later if it works out), picked up about four billion fallen crab apples (about a fifth of what need picking up.... truly no exaggeration), picked out a song that I couldn't find music for on the keyboard and wrote it up in two-parts for my womens singing group, did some work on the ATA exhibit I'm working on, and invented a pretty good meatloaf recipe.

And this morning, I just wrote the longest run-on-sentence ever posted by a literate blogger! Truly, it is so awful, I must just leave it for you to admire.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Wooster painting

I started this oil painting back in August sometime. It is pretty large (16x20") and all that green stuff got the best of me and I put it aside shortly after I began it. So the past few days, I pulled it out again and decided to finish it. I'm not too excited about it even yet, but I'm happy to have finished it, at any rate. Still too much green, but that's what the lake in summer time is... green!
Now I can happily move on to something else...

p.s. I still can't seem to get good digital photos of wet oil paintings! The color is much richer than this shows... still green, though.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Wise... Illustration Friday

The IF topic this week is "Wise." Although an owl is pretty obvious, I am working on some illustrations for a book I have written for my grandchildren for Christmas, and one of the pages needs to be an owl outside of a window. So I went ahead and did it, in the style I'm doing for the book. The illustrations will all be done digitally, in Painter and Photo Shop, as this one was done, and will have a stylized surround. I wrote the book about a year ago, and just haven't illustrated it yet. I hope to get it done and printed and bound before Christmas, so the IF topic was a good prompt to get me moving!

And speaking of wise... in these post election, post cat-loss and cat-adoption days, I am now settling back into my work in the studio. I worked at both the loom and the easel yesterday, and intend to both weave and paint again today. I am sometimes very wise! (not often, but sometimes...)

(Added later) I decided I don't like the border stuff, so the Owl page will look like this:

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

When Nature speaks...

When we were in the car with our grandchildren last weekend, driving along getting closer to the mountains, our 2 year old grandson said quietly behind me, "I love the mountains! They say,'hi, Milo' to me." It reminded me of his father when he was about the same age, telling us the 'mushcrashes' (muskrats) were singing to him as they swam by in a mountain lake.

What sweet simple declarations of a love for and relationship with Nature. I hope the mountains will always 'say hi' to Milo. They have always said hi to me, too. And especially when I've been away from them awhile and then return, they loudly proclaim, 'welcome home!' when I first see them on the horizon.

Trees also speak to me, telling me that all is really alright with the world... not just any tree, but several very specific trees. There is a tree as we turn into the canyon to climb up the Mesa, and there is the stand of aspens at our cabin. As long as they are doing what aspens and cottonwoods should be doing - whispering softly in the summer breeze, glowing golden in the autumn, or pointing their bare fingers up into the bright blue winter heavens - I know all will be well, and all will be very well.

How lovely it is when we allow ourselves to hear the voice of nature! For some, I know it is the sea that says 'hi' and 'welcome home' to them.

This morning, in my post-election bliss, I did the above small 20-minute oil sketch of rocks in water. It feels good to not have the weight of the election on us. Free to do what I should be doing, even if I am out of practice and the result is less than spectacular (to say the least.)

Here is a short video I had my husband take (as his camera has sound) when we were in Washington last fall. Turn the volume up and listen to the lovely, powerful voice of God!

"One of the most important - and the most neglected - elements in the beginnings of the interior life is the ability to respond to reality, to see the value and the beauty in ordinary things, to come alive to the splendor that is all around us in the creatures of God." Thomas Merton

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Woo-hoo, woo-hoo-hoo!

I am happier and more hopeful than I have been in eight loooong years!!!

Let there be peace on earth... Please!

I did not ever really intend to use this blog to become a political campaign blog. But this morning, I feel compelled to plead with you: if you have not yet voted and are going out to vote today, please keep in mind that in the world as it is today, America needs a peace-loving president. The world needs America to have a president that will fight for peace. We cannot continue to bluster about with belligerence; there is too much at stake. Please vote, and please vote for someone who will make peace a priority. Have a good day, and may God truly bless America today.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Vacant: Illustration Friday topic

She could not seem to leave a day vacant in her calendar to just do nothing!

I did this little sketch for IF in my sketchbook as I also was filling my calendar for the week ahead. How do days, weeks, months, years, and all possible moments get sooooo full?

My week ahead includes housewife-y things (the cupboards are empty, for instance); garden-y things (must clean out the garden and rake leaves before fall pick up on Wednesday); artist-y things (I intend to weave four linear inches, among other things in the studio this week); art organizational things (am in charge of a tapestry exhibit that is getting closer and closer); neighborly things (have a neighbor I can help a bit this week); church things (the women's singing group I lead will begin holiday music this week); and community things (will make calls Tuesday for the Obama headquarters to see if voters who have signed up for it need rides to the polls). And I don't think my calendar is any fuller than anybody else's that I know of.

What are we thinking of, people? We need to schedule time to sit and contemplate the leaves falling... we need to schedule a moment to sip tea and listen to Mozart with our eyes closed... we need to schedule a few moments to laugh with a loved one or a friend... we need to schedule time to walk through the windy fall day and take note of all the scents and sounds around us. We need to stare vacantly ahead of us and get lost in the loveliness of doing nothing ... not just once or twice a year, but once or twice a day. We would be better for it. Of that I am convinced.