Monday, December 28, 2009

In the Classroom and in the Pool .... huh?

As you've probably noticed, I haven't been creating too much art lately. Snow days, sick children, errands, and the heyday of the season have kept me busy. But, that sort of thing happens to pretty much everyone. So why haven't I been making any art this month? Believe it or not, every spare moment I've had has been spent studying for my scuba certification; in fact, my husband and children are doing it as well. Because our youngest isn't old enough to do the coursework on line (internet safety laws prohibit anyone under 13 from taking an on-line course), she and I watched four hours of video, read through a 220+ page book, went to six hours of classes, and took multiple quizzes, four exams and a final while the other three cruised through an on-line course in a few hours. Yes, our path took up lots of time.

But it was worth it. We passed the written coursework and yesterday, we all finished up the second part of the certification process by doing the confined water dives. In other words, we spent a few hours at the pool reviewing scuba skills. We looked rather funny in our scuba gear at the local gym's lap pool, but hey, we passed! It was relatively easy since we've been diving before, but still .... yahoo! Now that that's done, I hope I'll have some time to work on the projects that have been buzzing around in my head for weeks: I have one for a Fast Friday challenge on microbiology (last month's challenge, but I like my idea so I still want to do it), one for Textile Abstractions using "walls" as the theme, one that I'd like to try to create soon enough (and well enough) to submit to Quilt Visions and another for a new, special project I'm working on that I'll tell you more about in the new year. All this and oh, the costume adjustments for my daughter's dance company. Rats, those have to get done first.

Anyway, art's hopefully on the way! In the meantime, here's a picture worth a good laugh: that's me in full scuba gear from a dive in April. And while you're chuckling about that, can you let me know if you're planning to set goals for yourself for the new year? I've been thinking about this a lot in the last few days. What should I try to achieve art-wise in 2010? I'll try to post about that next.... and maybe I'll have a glimmer of art to show you, too!

Thursday, December 24, 2009

What's Happening Here..

We started celebrating a few days ago when my parents arrived from Chicago. My mom and I have now baked most of the day and the house smells sweet, sweet, sweet! Presents are under the tree and all seven of us are wondering which gift, as per our tradition, we'll open tonight. Sometimes, it's a little embarrassing to see just how blessed we are.

And now, just in case I don't get a chance to blog over the coming days, I wish you all happiness, love, laughter and health during this festive season and in the new year. Thank you for joining me on my blog.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

An Afternoon of Dance

Yesterday my girls and I went into New York City for an afternoon performance by Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater at the New York City Center. What a treat! There was a feast for the eyes, even before the show started. Look at the fabulous architecture surrounding the stage!

Then the dancing started. If you've never seen the troupe dance before, let me preface it by saying that their repetoire includes some of the most athletic choreography you've ever seen. You can get a sense of this just by looking at the cover of the playbill -- that's a photograph (taken by Andrew Eccles) of Jamar Roberts, one of the men in the company.

Our program for the afternoon was a retrospective of some of the favorite dances performed during the last 20 years, the time of Judith Jamison's tenure as the director of the company. The diversity of the dances made the performance very exciting and made you marvel at the breadth of skill these dancers have. In an excerpt of "North Star" (from 1978), for example, a quartet of dancers dressed in dark blue danced in a close group, weaving in and out of one another. At times, they created an undulating line, perfectly mimicking the motion of the sea and waves. The lights on stage were dark and spotlights were more muted. This number was in stark contrast to the lively large group dance excerpt of "The Winter in Lisbon" in which the performers danced the salsa and other Latin inspired styles to the music of Dizzy Gillespie. Their costumes were flamboyant and the entire stage was alight.

Other favorites of the show included "Following the Subtle Current Upstream" (2000), in which Matthew Rushing performed with flexibility, precision, and incredibly restrained power, to gong and bell music; "Solo" (1997) in which each member of a trio of dancers took turns on stage in a dance that somehow included shrugs and bounces into a masterful, celebratory piece; and "Love Stories" a large group retrospective (it seemed) of dance styles that have more recently evolved, such as hip hop. What amazing diversity in dances!

Bottom line is -- if you get a chance to see the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, GO, GO, GO! They're in New York until January 3rd.

Friday, December 18, 2009


This week I spent a lot of time learning. I learned about pressure tables and decompression sickness for my scuba diving class. I learned about the difficulties people face when they're bipolar through a book I'm reading for book group. And, I learned a lot about my rights as an artist.

Earlier in the week I got some very exciting news: a NYC gallery wanted to include some of my photos in an on-line exhibit. Sounds like time for a happy dance, right? Wrong! As is appropriate, the gallery sent me a contract to authorize them to include my photos in the exhibition. Unfortunately, the contract asked for the following rights to the artwork:

"The artist agrees to grant the Gallery a perpetual, irrevocable, non-exclusive, worldwide, royalty-free, sub-licensable license to exercise copyright, publicity, and database rights the Artist has in the information that the Artist has provided to the Gallery, in any media now known (or not currently known or later developed), including, without limitation, any images of the artworks submitted to ________."


Agreeing to this contract meant that I would be allowing the Gallery the right to sell images of my work to whatever commercial venture they'd like without any obligation of compensation to me. In addition, even if I found the use offensive, I would have no recourse whatsoever. That's what sub-licensable license means, coupled with an irrevocable, open-ended time frame. No exhibit is worth that.

No organization should present this type of contract as the start of a negotiation and/or the initiation of a relationship with an artist. Under no circumstances should any gallery be asking for such far-reaching control of an artist's work. Artists with far more experience than I cautioned me against signing the contract. This gallery is now on my "proceed with caution" list.

It's always our obligation to strike out any objectionable sections, date the changes, and send it back. Clearly, no one is going to look out for us but ourselves. So, I decided to tell the gallery that the contract language was ambiguous, that I had attached an amended contract, and I hoped they would sign it and send it back to me. I figured that I had nothing to lose.

Not surprisingly, I haven't received any response from the Gallery.

I guess I'm not in the on-line exhibit.

Oh well.

I'm not feeling a great loss with this one. However, I will say that because of this experience, I now have a boilerplate one-page contract that I'm pretty comfortable with. So, all the nonsense leading up to this has left me in a good spot and I'm ready for the next time I might be asked.

Now, you might be asking why, if you're still reading through all this drivel, why there's a picture of a white rose at the top of the post. What in the world does a white rose have to do with contracts? As a matter of fact, nothing. I posted the picture of the white rose because my husband sent me a dozen roses yesterday. In the almost 20 years we've been married, this is the 5th time he's bought me flowers. Since it happens so infrequently, I took a picture. I figured that it was worth some heralding, don't you think?

Saturday, December 12, 2009

A Date in the City

Today, my husband and I went on a date. We haven't been alone together (and awake!) for more than two hours in years. So this afternoon, when all our children managed to be off doing things, we went into New York City for some wanderings and an early dinner. It was great to hang out, just the two of us. Even battling the ridiculous crush of people didn't dampen our spirits. I took a few not- so- traditional pictures of the midtown at the holidays... but, I'll throw in one of the Rockefeller Christmas tree for good measure (which wasn't easy to get through the throng of people all packed together, let me tell you) . I hope you had a good day, too!

The tree in all its glory (a bit fuzzy because of all the jostling for position that was going on):

The snowball-like lights along the promenade at Rockefeller Center:

The very cool wall art / sculpture inside 45 Rockefeller Plaza:

A view of St. Pat's through the arms of Atlas:

What just happened to be left on the plate after we shared our appetizer:

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Being In a Permanent Exhibit ...

... is a dream come true for many an artist. And that goal was achieved by my youngest daughter! Last winter, my daughter's art teacher asked us for permission to submit my daughter's artwork for exhibit consideration. In the spring, we were told it was chosen for temporary exhibit. Now it's been selected to be permanently exhibited in a local hospital's Child Advocacy Center. Woo Hoo! We're going to try to go to the exhibit some time soon; I've never even seen the piece. I'm very excited for my daughter and she's doing her own version of a happy dance.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Ice Keeps Plopping on my Head

It was cold enough today to keep the snow crispy on the ground, but the sun shone brightly enough to make the ice slide off the upper boughs of some trees. I was so bombarded with ice balls this morning as I packed up my car that I thought for sure there were pranksters somewhere up in the trees, laughing their heads off at me and catching it all on tape. I decided to give chase to the warming rays of the sun and managed to catch a few pictures of the ice separating from its resting spot. Isn't it cool how the ice took on the shape of the holly leaf?

Sunday, December 6, 2009


It was in the 60s on Thursday; today we're enjoying the beauty of our first snowfall. I went out earlier the morning to revel in the scenery and to try to capture the snow sparkling in the sun. It's one of those crisp, clear mornings when the sky seems an unrealistically glorious color of blue and everything is glistening. I took fifty-six pictures but unfortunately, most of them were duds. It's clear I need to reacquaint myself with the ins and outs of winter photography. Here are a few pictures that seem post-worthy. I'm so excited that winter's finally arrived!

Thursday, December 3, 2009


I was really excited yesterday to get back to art class and again try the super, hyper macro approach to drawing. Alas, the model had ants in his pants; he just could not lie still. Ah well, I really shouldn't complain. I can't imagine sitting perfectly still for 25 minutes and then recreating my pose for five more 25 minute segments. With that in mind, here's my end drawing, based partly on what I saw and partly on what I remembered.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

A Miraculous Finish

All hail Catherine Kessel of American Quilt Works! Do you remember how I got my quilt off to FedEx just this past Tuesday? Well, Catherine managed to quilt my quilt beautifully and get it back to me by Saturday (yesterday) morning. That's a three day turn around with Thanksgiving in between! All I had left to do yesterday afternoon was bind the quilt, then give it to my girlfriend that night. Success!

Friday, November 27, 2009

Serving 250+ for Dinner

Yesterday, we went to help prepare Thanksgiving for the needy and homeless. We've been doing this for a few years now and each year we set the tables for more people. This year, the tables were set for close to 300.

I spent over an hour and a half just cutting bread. We put lots out on the tables, then cut pieces and stashed them in 25 gallon bins as refills.

Making mashed potatoes for that many took lots of muscle:

Rows and rows of dessert were waiting for everyone to arrive.

Because we work during the day, we have a more low-key Thanksgiving at home. We don't spend much time cooking, but we do spend time baking! Apple cranberry cake is one item on the top of our list.

I hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving and can continue to spend time with friends and family.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Logo for Textile Abstractions

Look at this very cool logo Marlis Egger created for our new challenge group. Wow, huh? I'm posting it on my sidebar with a link to our blog so you can all keep up with what's going on. Our first challenge will be announced after the Thanksgiving weekend. Exciting!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

A Race to the Finish Line

If this were a Star Trek episode, we'd be hoping the engineer Scotty would perform a miracle to enable us to accomplish our mission. Because right now, despite my best efforts, my friend's birthday quilt and I watched the Fed Ex doors close before we could make it inside. Now I'm hoping a quilter out in Washington will be able to save the day with warp speed quilting .... the party's on Saturday! But, if that doesn't work out, I'll get the quilt back next week and all will still be well. I know my girlfriend will understand and be thrilled nonetheless.

Here's a sneak peek at the quilt. Yep, I pieced it. YIKES! Haven't done that in a while.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Textile Abstractions

I've got some news! I am thrilled to report that I am a member of a new art quilt challenge group called Textile Abstractions. We're an international group with members hailing from Europe, Canada, and the United States. The twelve of us will each make a 16 x 20 quilt once every two months, based on a theme one of us has selected (we're going to take turns doing that). When it's our turn, we'll post the specifics to our blog, Textile Abstractions. Throughout the work period, we may post about our progress or problems. At the end of each two month challenge, we'll post pictures of our completed art. I hope you'll stop by our blog often to see what's going on.

The other members of the group are
Bea Bernasconi
Phyllis Cullen
Marlis Egger
Barb Gardner
Gwen Goepel
Kathy Keating
Karen Loprete
Susie Monday
Dale Ann Potter
Betty Warner
Linda Zimmerman

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

The Foreshortened Arm

In art class today we all formed a semi-circle around the model. She was seated in a chair close to the wall with the light shining brightly from the side in order to create a fabulous shadow along the wall. Our task today was to draw the figure and shadow.

It was a three hour draw and I managed to take more than two hours to draw just a single hand and its foreshortened arm. It was so challenging! I'm amazed that her hand cast such an elongated shadow, but it really did with the angle of the light. It just goes to show that you really do have to draw what you see, not what you think you know. If I'd have drawn from what I thought should have been there, I would have gotten it completely wrong.

Monday, November 16, 2009

A Fresh Start

Well, I worked feverishly on my friend's quilt these last few days but I don't like it at all. So, I'm tossing that one and starting over. I'll post pictures when I can, though it's a mad dash to finish before the Thanksgiving weekend (that's when the party's planned). Until then, here's a picture I took of the frost as it melted this morning. I think it's interesting that only one droplet is reflecting the sun. And yes, a neighbor drove by and had himself a good chuckle when he saw me sprawled on the ground to get a picture. Ah, what we do to follow our muse!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Heading for Take Out

Well, my heart was bigger than my head today, as far as studio time was concerned -- rather like my eyes are always bigger than my stomach! Translation: I haven't had as much time as I'd hoped to create, but I did get things done and I'm going to try to keep some momentum by getting some BBQ take out for dinner tonight.

What I have accomplished today thus far:
- created my drawing for my Fast Friday Fiber Challenge (FFFC) piece and chose and ironed all the fabrics (I'm going to be making a dog -- we'll see how this works out!) :

- finalized the pattern for my friend's birthday quilt and selected most of the fabric from my stash. I need to go out tomorrow and buy some additional fabric; I just don't have pieces that have the length for some border work.

Now, off to the car to speed there and back again for food, then back to the studio to cut squares! I imagine this traditional work will take a bit of time; I'm rather out of practice!

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

AEDM: What Day Are We On?

Though I've lost count, I'm still trying to be creative every day this month. I've tried hard all day to clear my desk of tasks so that tomorrow I can get lost in my studio -- with a little time to blog, of course. We're picking out a new couch and one of my tasks today was to finalize our fabric selection. A very creative endeavor, I'd say, since it also involved creatively describing why my choice was better than my husband's. HA! (That's not really fair; he actually has very good taste.)

As soon as I'm done here, I'm heading upstairs. I want to get to sleep so I can get an early start in the morning. I really should do yard work -- my plants look very forlorn -- and clean up the Halloween decorations but NO! I'm heading to the studio and (hopefully) no one can stop me! :)

Monday, November 9, 2009

AEDM: Catching Up

I didn't actually create anything this weekend, but I sure did think about it a lot. I just had the "brilliant" idea that I should make a quilt as a present for my girlfriend's 50th birthday -- alas, the party is in two and a half weeks. I pored over some of my traditional quilt pattern books, trying to find the "just right" thing to make. I don't have time to be elaborate, but I know my girlfriend will love whatever I create. I think I finally settled on something and hope to make a dent in it this week.

Today, I went into New York City to visit my quilt, "Departure", that's hanging in the Made in New York exhibit at the Williams Club. My quilt is hanging in the main hallway, right next to a piece by Ludmila Aristova! Holy Smokes!. Her piece is absolutely incredible. It's a cityscape that's absolutely breathtaking and luminous. I can't believe I'm in such amazing company. Here I am with my piece; the lighting wasn't great at the time, but it's totally cool to be hanging in a NYC exhibit!

After a tour of the remaining quilts, many of them exhibiting incredible handwork, Natalya and I went for a quick bite to eat. On the way we marveled at the art deco ornamentation on the surrounding buildings. These little guys gave us quite a chuckle. I have to remember to look up when I'm walking around; there's so much to see above eye level!

Friday, November 6, 2009

AEDM: Days Five and Six

Well, I'm a bit behind schedule in blogging, but yesterday was a crazy day that left little time for art. I had hoped for some nice scenery pictures from my walk, but that didn't happen. Instead, I got this photo. The dog's name is Maverick and I think he reflected my feelings at the time perfectly.

For my AEDM today, I decided to revisit one of my drawings from art class. I had about 20 minutes left at the end of class on Wednesday, so I decided to focus in on one of the model's ears. When class was over, we all thought the ear was fine, but something was off with the eye; I believe there was consensus that I had drawn it in too high. Here it is:

Today, I went back in, erased the eye and tried to put it in again at a better height and better angle. (I also filled out the hair a bit.) What do you think?

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

AEDM: Day Four

In drawing class today I, once again, I drew my figure too big, without room for the hands, feet or head. My lack of perspective is getting a bit tiresome, so my teacher suggested I exaggerate this propensity a bit more and EUREKA! I think we've found a way to transform my inability to draw small into a more artistic style. Instead of trying to cram everything onto the page, I'm going to try to focus on some part of the model and draw it gigantic and -- here's the kicker -- deliberately leave some areas to the imagination. What do you think?

I'm pretty pleased with this first effort. Can you tell it's the knee and the hint of an elbow? I think this counts as my art for the day. Tomorrow, I'll post a picture of my quickie fifteen minute drawing done at the end of class (focusing on an ear of all things). You'll get a chuckle out of it. This style still needs some work. At any rate, I didn't download the picture before my daughter took my camera off with her to the World Series game tonight! Wow! She's in for a lifetime memory!

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Just under the wire

I had a lovely day, with a trip into the city for a lunch date with a dear friend who was in town for business. We've been friends since seventh grade! Isn't that just so cool?

Anyway, between all the mom duties stacked up upon my return and all the hither and yon required in the evenings, I almost missed my chance to create today. But, yawning though I am, I snuck up to my studio at ten for a quick piece of art. Here it is: oil stick on commercial fabric; photo transfer of personal leaf photo; paper; felt; colored pencil text. I'll try to take a better picture tomorrow and replace this one. But for now, off to sleep!

Monday, November 2, 2009

Art Every Day

I'm going to try to participate in a "challenge" called Art Every Day Month. Being creative on a daily basis is a good habit to develop, but, But, BUT it's not supposed to be something that creates anxiety. It's supposed to be fun. Art Every Day Month challenges us to take the "trouble" out of making art regularly and add a good dose of fun for one month. Part of the ease of this is that there is a very loose definition of what constitutes making art. It can be an actual piece, it can be a bit of writing, it can be a photograph.... you name it and it probably qualifies.

So with that light-hearted spirit in mind (and just a few minutes to spare in my day) I played in Photoshop today and altered this photograph of a leaf pile

into a funky picture. I just love the colors here. Wouldn't it be fun to jump into a pile of purple leaves like this?

And yesterday, well, do you think helping a child with a scrapbook project for school counts? I hope so, but I'll try to do two mini-project of my own tomorrow....

P.S. Posted about three hours later -- look at this cool one I just did in the few minutes before I have to pick up my son from basketball practice. I like this one a lot! It looks better if you click on it to view it up close.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

A Bit Obsessed

I came back from a quick 15 minute walk around the block with 42 pictures. How does that happen? All I can think of is that it's evidence I'm obsessed with the colors outdoors and all the rain that's falling. Here's proof:

Below is the result of a three hour draw in yesterday's art class. You'd think I would have gotten more done. And, hmmm.... in my charcoal world, it seems everyone lives without hands, feet, and heads. What does that mean?

And this is my faithful walking companion, Goblin. He just makes me chuckle. He's an incredibly handsome dog, but sooo camera shy. I'm not kidding! Every time I try to take a picture he turns away. Perhaps he's channeling Marlene Dietrich and her hate of the paparazzi. You know, "I want to be alone." Anyway, I think this picture's pretty funny because, given the perspective, he looks like a bobble-headed dog. HA!

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Water on Red Leaves

It's raining outside, so I didn't want to spend too much time running around with the dog (besides, the poor thing has an ear infection!). We did manage, however, to spot this burning bush with water droplets daintily suspended from the tips of the leaves. I shot a few frames quickly because I don't have a lens protector and we were getting wetter by the moment. I do love the color of the leaves in this picture and how the water seems to be defying gravity.

Monday, October 26, 2009

More Glorious Fall Colors

Here's another photo of the amazing colors that emerge during the fall out here on the East Coast. It really is breathtaking.

On the art front, I'm hoping to get a little bit done tomorrow on my Fast Friday challenge piece. The theme this month is animals and I have a photocopy of a great colorful dog a girlfriend's child painted a few years ago at the age of four. The picture has terrific energy and I've always wanted to make a version of it in fabric. I think now's my chance. I'll keep you posted.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Leaves and Roses

A gorgeous, warm fall day... and I've had a bit of time to enjoy it! Yahoo! It's amazing to me to see the incredible fall colors out in full force

along with my roses, still blooming beautifully. How cool is that?

I'm hoping to get back into the swing of things again. I started Tuesday with a "quickie" quilt for the Fast Friday challenge. I joined this group in the hopes that I'd make work more regularly; I've rather failed on my goal of making weekly journal quilts. At any rate, a themed challenged is issued once a month on a Friday and everyone in the group creates something that fits within their interpretation of the theme. If you've been reading my blog, then you know I've been out of the loop for quite a while, so I was a bit intimidated to step back into my studio after such a long absence. But I wanted to get back in the saddle again, so I tasked myself with creating something quickly, something that could be finished in a day. So here's Planet Wihet (Wish I Had Enough Time), stitched while the oil paintstick marks were still wet, turning my free-motion foot purple. Certainly not fabulous, but I've regained a little bit of confidence from making it.

Also, here's a post from this week's art class. Interestingly, my lines have become more delicate. I'm surprised that this is the direction I'm going and I'm curious to know if this is how it will remain. Hmmmm.....

Hopefully, I'll be back with more artwork soon.