Thursday, December 28, 2017

Triangular Notebooks

We can’t script every detail of our lives. But we can solve the riddle of fulfillment when we plan ahead while simultaneously embracing the surprises of each moment. 
― Gina GreenleePostcards and Pearls: Life Lessons from Solo Moments on the Road

Christmas evening had me anxious to create something and too tired to do something that took a lot of thought. Now don't laugh, okay you can laugh, I was thinking about Valentine's Day and what I could make as gifts when I remembered a triangle book I had seen on Pinterest. However, Pinterest didn't have a how-to so I did a Google search and turned up a nice post by Making Lovely. The instructions were clear and easy, except I could not get my stapler to work and my notebook would not close. Instead of continuing to be frustrated, I sewed the pages into the books and I added a button and fiber closure. I am so happy! I think this will make nice gifts and I used supplies I had on hand (one of my goals for 2018). It also helped me feel creative again. I went to bed feeling really good. Are you planning ahead? What goals are you making?

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

When Life Gives You Lemons, Make Plans!

One of the happiest moments in life is when you find the courage to let go of what you can't change. - Unknown

A few months ago I developed a lump about the size of a pea on my right side. When I went for my mammogram, I was told it was a cyst and not to worry about it. I had it checked out during my physical on November 30. My doctor said that he could easily remove it, but recommended that I wait. At the time, I thought, "why not remove it," but trusted my doctor. Well just 12 days later, I started to have problems. Went back to the doctor, got antibiotics and told to apply moist heat. To make a long story short, the antibiotics did not work so the infection got much worse. New antibiotics and lancing had to be done. Needless to say, I could not use my right arm much. I could not sleep well. This has been a long two weeks. I could not do much so I decided to plan out 2018.  I put together lots of lists. Things I want to explore. Things I need to do to prepare for my artist residency. It has kept me hopeful and surprisingly happy. I am so thankful that I was ahead of the game this year or it might have been a different story. I do hope that your holiday was wonderful and that you too are looking forward to 2018. I cannot wait to share it with you. 

Thursday, December 14, 2017

Putting Stretch Marks on My Comfort Zone!

Life begins at the end of your comfort zone. - Neale Donald Walsch

Yesterday as I removed the cover on my yogurt the message was "Think big. Dream big." It made me smile. Last month I decided it was once again time to do something that scared me so I applied for an artist residency with A.I.R. Studio in Paducah, Kentucky. It was my understanding that acceptance was heavily placed on artwork and project. Only four people knew that I had applied (three were my references and Cathy Neri, who had pushed me to apply). I spent a lot of time telling myself that it would not be the end of the world if I did not get accepted. When the email arrived, it took me an hour to get the courage to open it. The message started out by thanking me for applying and ended with my acceptance! While I did not get my first choice for time (May), I did get my second choice (September 2 - 15). I will have lots of time to put together a plan to maximize my time in Paducah. The mission is to add to and fully complete a body of work that explores loss, memory and the things we leave behind when we die. While I always begin each year optimistic, 2018 is already looking pretty good to me. It is my hope that it will be the same for you. 

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

More 8 x 8 in 8

To get through the hardest journey we need only take one step at a time, but we must keep stepping.  -Chinese Proverb

I am surprised at how many people said to me that they could not do artwork in 8 minutes. My response is, "Have you tried?" Don't think of it as making great art. Think of it as play. Teaching in places like Georgia (country not state) and Kyrgyzstan, taught me that having limited resources is actually a good thing. I limited my resources so I had fewer choices which helped me create quickly.  I kept things simple. I decided it was fun. I also allowed myself, if the spirit moved me to create in a series, which also made things easier. I am sharing part of a series that occurred about nine days into the month

I think it is important, no vital, for me to do things that put me outside of my comfort zone. Each time I do that I learn more about myself and what I am capable. I think we are all happier if we know ourselves.  And one closing thought, just because you make something does not mean you have to share it. I will tell you that there were days after I finished my collage that the trash can was the best place for it. I am glad that I resisted this urge and let the work rest because pieces that I thought deserved the trash actually have provided me with the need for further exploration. So be kind to yourself and just create. 

Saturday, December 9, 2017

8 x 8 in 8

Art replaces the light that is lost when the day fades, the moment passes, the evanescent extraordinary makes it quick silver. Art tries to capture that which we know leaves us, as we move in out of each other's loves, as we all must eventually leave this earth. Great artists know that shadow, work against the dying light, but always knowing that the day brings new light and that the ocean which washes away all traces on the sand leaves us a new canvas with each wave.  -Elizabeth Alexander, The light of the World, a memoir

When my friend Barbara suggested that we do an quick art project a day and then share it, I was all in. I loved when I made my 8-minute collages (the time it took my oatmeal to cook). After some back and forth, we decided to create 8-minute collages that were 8" x 8." And so each morning for a month, we created. Some days were easy and others I struggled. I really believed since I had done this before, I would not have any problems.  Wrong! I limited mine to whatever was on my work space plus one box of scrap paper. I loved playing with used tea bags and using my stencils. The days that I struggled had to do with overthinking. I also noticed as time moved on my collages got simpler. I highly recommend projects of this kind. If you can find someone to do it with you, it keeps you honest and it helps create a habit. I will share a few more of my collages next week. Enjoy! 

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Swedish Death Cleaning and More

It's your road, and yours alone. Others my walk it with you, but no one can walk it for you. - Rumi

A few months ago, I read an article about Swedish death cleaning, dostadning. Move over Marie Kondo! I do think this will be the next big thing. Margarta Manusso, the author of "The Gentle Art of Swedish Death Cleaning" will not be available in the U.S. until January, but it has already had a huge impact on my life. Margareta suggests that people focus on simplifying their lives beginning at 65 until you are living with just a few items upon your death thus freeing your children. I am not 65, but I think the time is now for me. My friend Barbara has also been caught up in getting rid of things that no longer are useful or bring joy. 

Margareta feels we should not leave our children to deal with our stuff. My dad made that promise after dealing his guardian's estate. Alas, he did not and I spent hours shredding years and years of old, really old bills. For me, getting rid of things has been a process that has been occurring for years. As an artist, I think it is even tougher, especially now that I am taking things my mom and dad saved and turning it into art. However, I do want to live more simply. I want to have as much joy as I can and so I know this is a process that has a destination.

I am also reading "The Light of the World: a memoir" by Elizabeth Alexander. It is beautifully written prose about the unexpected death of her husband. It is making me cry--a lot. And yet, it is also helping move beyond my losses. She pays her husband's cell phone bill for 18 months because she does not want to loose the text messages. I have not deleted dead friends numbers from my phone even though many are disconnected. And as I write all of this, I realize I am ready to move on.

I want to thank the Northwest Suburban Quilters Guild. They are one of the most caring, wonderful group of quilters I have ever encountered. They helped me renew my love of teaching. I cannot wait to see what the group creates. You have my deepest gratitude.

I want to close with my thoughts on the term one-size-fits-all when it comes to life, art. It plants the idea of "one way-ness," when for most things in life there are many, many ways to achieve, measure and value the things we do. My way might be a good fit for some people, but how can just one size really be considered a viable for all? Your thoughts?

Monday, December 4, 2017

Living, Grieving and Creating

"Hope After Sorrow"
We are going to suffer. 
Ant it is going to shape us
We will become bitter or better,
closed or open,
more ignorant or more aware,
more or less tuned in to the thousands of 
gifts we are surrounded with 
every single moment
of every single day. --Rob Bell

I have not posted for a long time and yet, I cannot remember a time when I have been more creative. The ideas just keep flowing out of me as if I am possessed. If you have read my blog, you know that in 2013, I had nine friends and my mother-in-law die. My dad died the following spring. The death of family and friends has continued. This year my friend of more than 20 years died unexpectedly and my cousin Sandy died from cancer. Sandy was convinced until the end that she could beat it. I suspect that Marti might have given up. I have inherited her UFOs and slowly finishing them and finding places to donate them. I do not think I will ever stop grieving, but I also know that if not now, when? 

And so I have given myself permission to explore whatever I my heart desires whether it is assemblage, printing, collage, quilting, etc. I continue to explore "why do we keep the things that we do?" My mother sent me my great aunt's nursing school apron from the late 1930s. I have been turning it into a piece of art. I have also been entering and getting into gallery shows and admit that every success is a surprise and also encouraging.  For months, I have been exploring eco dyeing and pretend I am a mad scientist. I have made more than 50 napkins because they are fun and my grandchildren adore them. I say, "I love you" often and with meaning. I hope you do too. I spend Fridays once a month creating with my friend, Barbara Wester, and feel truly blessed that she is in my life. Art heals. Art has saved me.  I thought I could walk away from this blog and just concentrate on creating, but alas, it is important to me even if no one reads it.