Saturday, August 25, 2007

Here I Am! Again!

Well, I spent a week up in the country and fortunately it seemed too hot to get out and rake up pine needles and leaves for fire suppression. Besides, they would just be in a big pile until I can burn them once the rains start.

So, what is a person to do? I just curled up and read two and a half books. Just before leaving I had finished "The Memory Keepers Daughter" by Kim Edwards, a fascinating, well written book.

While in the cabin I read " No Ordinary Heroes" by Demaree Inglese, MD, his accounting of Hurricane Katrina while the medical director at the jail in New Orleans with 7,000 prisoners in several different buildings. What a story!

And then I read "The Kite Runner" by Khaled Hosseini. What a heart wrenching, wonderful book that sheds light of the customs and history of Afghanistan.

And I followed that up with " A Thousand Suns" also by Khaled Hosseini. Again, heart wrenching, thought provoking and a terrifically written story.

I recommend all four books!

So, I have finished up the collages I shared with you before and have been working on my war/lies piece. I took some pictures of it so far but you will have to wait.

Each of these 8 x 10" collages are mixed media on paper. They are ready to be matted and framed and are $50 each plus $5.00 shipping. Just in case anyone is interested.

Simply titled X



Old Door

Purple Moon

Red Door

Birds Eye SOLD

Crow 1

Dear Mrs


Now Charlotte is on 1 1/2 deep stretched canvas, ready to hang. The sides are painted like the front. There are several photo transfers, antique lace and old mother-of-pearl buttons. I love this is so soft and aged looking. It sells for $90 if anyone is interested.

I will try to post some more new work tomorrow. And also a picture of my war/lies piece in the making.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Oh Liz....Where Are You?

Gee, I wish I knew....someone mentioned the time when we are not busy making art as fallow time but I really believe it is a time of contemplation and, if willing, a time of openness to all the visuals and emotions around us.

I have been playing with collages still, doing gel transfers, aging wallpaper samples, pulling apart textile sample books from the local design store, and thinking about ways to incorporate all this texture.

I have also been playing with my images on the computer, working on various textures...oh, how I love that stuff! The fun is that I can turn them into silk screens and make magic fabric with multiple screens and colors...then the question is, what to do with the new fabric. However, like Rayna Gillman, if I throw it up on the wall and look at it, something will stir in my brain and lead me on.

Speaking of Rayna, she was out here last week on business and I got to take her out to dinner Thursday night. Oh what fun that is! Rayna had the hardest time getting her martini just right but since I don't drink martinis I didn't have a clue what she was talking about. Not shaken, rocks on the side, olives, etc...took a couple of trys but they finally managed. We shared a tremendous artichoke and king crab hot dip with wonderful frocacci (? I'm not Italian so I don't know how this is spelling), followed by wonderful salads with grilled steak, Maytag blue cheese, caramelized onions and all sorts of wonderful things. And, being gluttons, we topped it off with a piece of Key lime pie...each...when we really should have shared it. But most wonderful of all was the chance to just sit and chat for a while...we always get together between classes or something or other but this was nice.

Nothing to show anyone yet... but should have some stuff next week, after a week in the Sierra at our little cabin, with grandson, daughter and her husband. We will stay several extra days as they can only come up for the weekend but it will be nice to relax. I am taking my mother's scrapbooks from when she took my son to Austria and England many years ago and putting them together in a more archival manner, without all the extra stuff, and will give them to my son. This will be a good time to do this as it gets pretty warm during the afternoon. I am trying to decide if I want to take more stuff or just a couple of books to sit down and, but that sounds like summer time! Just what I will do.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

IQF, blog responses and art

On Monday, I came home from babysitting by grandson. I had taken him out to Target so I could pick up a couple of things that I was sure had seen in their ad...wrong ad but we did find a delightful children's bible with very simple stories and lots of pictures...all for children under 6. We started reading at the beginning (I thought that was as good a place as any) and when we got to the stories of Isaac and his sons Jacob and Esau, my Jacob was just fascinated that there was a story about a Jacob. We followed Jacob through his life through his son, Joseph, with the coat of many colors.

So, back to coming home, I found a very slim business size envelope from IQA. I have never been judged into the regular show. I also found it interesting that they had to narrow it down to about half of the entries...I have gotten into art shows where only 10% made it in....just goes to show that you never know. But wait...I had sent in two entries. The one rejected was in the big art quilt category but no word of my small quilt category. So my mind immediately goes to "they don't like my work, whine, whine" to oh well, I'll probably get my rejection for the other one tomorrow, etc.

Yesterday was another day taking care of Jacob (the regular day care sitter has had several days off and grammie gets to fill in) and this time we went up to Tilden Park to ride the steam engine train...what fun!

Well, when I got home again, there was no business size envelope but a huge one filled with more directions that I have every wanted. Boy, art shows make it so easy. Send your work ready to hang by this date to this place with this label stuck on the back. Send return shipping label and that is that...all usually on the entry form.

Needless to say, I haven't had a chance go sit down and digest all of it yet but I have finally gotten in to IQA with one of my Life Series pieces.

So, responses...I have been very surprised by the responses I received from my last posting. My heart is very full! What has been interesting is that so many responses respond by saying I am brave to put my feelings out there.

I have talked before about sharing our opinions, and the fine art of conversation. What I have found most of all is that I don't get nasty comments when I state what I believe and not what I think others should believe. I can only share my experiences. As a probation officer I spent a lot of time telling others what to do and what would happen if they didn't do what I told them to do. And I also worked at trying to change some people's thought processes. But I had authority behind me, the courts and jail.

Now I am just happier sharing my own responses to life which I find pretty fulfilling. About 12 years ago I had a serious depressive episode which took me off the job for three months. At one point, I could not make any decisions and would sit on the patio overlooking a valley and watch the buzzards soaring on the thermals. I had no thoughts at all...just stared at them. At one point my mind was seriously considering leaving my brain and not know, just go catatonic. But there is too much of an optimist in me and my shrink and my meds kept me going until things leveled out for me. For many years I continued to do fairly well although I would still have depressive periods of time breaking through until three years ago I spoke to my shrink and we added another med. That has made all the difference in the world. I had at one point thought I would work at getting off the meds but with the ongoing episodes I have decided that I will stay on as long as I feel I need to. Of course, people have talked, with a great sense of pride, about getting off their anti depressives but that is not a healthy option for me right now.

Anyway, when I speak to the public, I am very open about this time in my life and I have had many people come up to thank me for publicly talking about something no one really wants to talk about. My message is always, there is hope. Of course, I also point out that I have had to do a lot of reframing of my thoughts and have had to change some behaviors and responses to others. One thing that I have done is to realize that I can not be around negative people. So, I back off from them as quickly as possible. I am vulnerable to them and can let myself go downhill if I stick around them too much.

In 1994 we lost our house to a house fire. Friends from my quilt guild responded immediately. A large group of women came over to what was left of my house and one woman and I handed out stacks of smoky fabric that survived because I had been stored in drawers. It was put into large plastic garbage bags and hauled off where various people spent a lot of time washing my fabric.
At the next guild meeting, I showed up with a little tin box that had a couple of sewing supplies and a little bit of fabric and shared that this was the beginning of my new studio. I also took in a well charred block that I was returning from the block-of-the-month thingie in which we made a block and then put our name in the hat for a drawing to receive the blocks for a quilt. They excused my from putting my piece in the pot!

I guess what I am saying is that I have found a great response from people when I share things from my a positive way and without telling other people what to do. I have had people with depression come up and thank me, people who have gone through house fires wanting ideas for coping, etc.

It has been an interesting point of conversation with various groups at my church that many people don't want to share with others the fact that they are Christian. For this, I can only blame those who have taken the name of God to pronounce judgement on others. My God is not judgemental but loving. My God does not call up children to heaven. My God has put the forces of life in to action and is there to be with us as we live our lives. It is so sad when the word Christian has come to mean someone who is anti-homosexual, anti free choice, anti other beliefs, anti everything. But those are the ones who speak up the loudest and are heard the most because they make the news.

Oh, and what does all this have to do with art? By living our lives to the fullest, and being open to a full range of emotions, we are able to bring much to our does not have to be spoken, it does not have to be spelled out, but it is there. Keep on making art.

I was going to keep on but now I sound like I am pontificating so I will stop there. I have to get a couple of show entries in and then go down to the studio this afternoon. Also, Rayna Gillman is in town and I have to call her so we can set up a time for dinner! What fun that will be!

No pictures...maybe tomorrow!

Saturday, August 04, 2007

SAQA Auction and more than you want to know about me

Tomorrow my piece in the SAQA auction drops down to $350. No body likes my work enough to donate more to SAQA and get my little piece in return. the pieces that sell at $50 on the last day go to someone who just donates money so it looks good? This is when my anxiety and self-depreciating begin.

I am going public...I will get two show proposals/submissions sent out this week to two different galleries/museums/universities and I will get two entries sent in for art shows/art quilt shows. Now, I have made a public commitment...I must follow through or my name will be muddddd.

I am mentoring another SAQA member...I am very touched that she wanted me to do this. Also, in September I will be flying up to Canada to work with another lady who wants my one-on-one help in understanding design and color and wants to move in to making art quilts. This is so much fun! And just think, five years ago I was seeking a mentor.

This past year has been difficult for me. Due to all of the things that were happening last year, I did not enter very many shows in the past year. Now I am almost out of practice and my discipline is lacking. Earlier this year I committed to making a new body of work which I did, along with completely a huge commission which has been very well received. They said they would get a professional photo of it in site once it is installed. I can hardly wait but that is several months away, still.

So, I am doing some various types of work, painting pages in my journal so they are ready for writing, working on another big quilt (California Dreams 3) but I am not seriously engaged in it. I have found that I can make art but not be really engaged by it and still produce some decent work. Not great, but decent. it is only when I am able to "get into the zone" that I really produce something special. And this comes about when I intentionally open myself to the spirit of God and let myself respond.

Now I am going to get a little religious...not about what you should do, but about the process I have been going through. So now is the time to leave if you don't want to read this "religious stuff"

I grew up in a home where I was sent to Sunday School but my parents very rarely went to church. I can remember when I was 12 and we lived in Norfolk, VA, walking down the street to church with my dime tightly twisted in my hankie so I wouldn't lose it. But we never talked about God or spirituality or what we was just understood that you believed in God but I didn't know much else. When we lived directly across the street from the base chapel when I lived in Japan, I went often, my parents sometimes went and I began teaching Sunday school to the young (little)children. You know, we read the Bible stories in the handouts and sang songs...really heavy theology.

I remember when I went to visit during Easter with another student from college that I refused to go to church on Easter Sunday because I thought that I would be hypocritical...if I didn't go normally, why should I just show up on Easter? For many years I didn't go to church or give God much thought.

Then came the children. My husband and I did not talk about religion and God but I knew he had been very involved in a youth group at one of the big churches. We both felt that church was missing from our lives and we had a sense of obligation to bring up our children within a church. We attended for a number of years, really didn't make any friends at church, I participated in a women's Bible study group but found myself at odds with their interpretation of the Bible. I taught Sunday School and everyone thought I was just peachy-keen. But inside, I didn't feel that way.

The church began a big push to raise large sums of money for the family center and the day care program they were starting. We were relatively young, had two children, not much disposable income and felt really pressured. However, we were going to try.

And then, one Sunday, the minister began talking about how people had been talking to him about their friends who didn't believe in Jesus but were really good people and they were sure they would go to heaven. We were told emphatically that unless on believed in Jesus that there was no after life.

This was a little hard to swallow. I had lived in Japan for four years among Buddhists and Hindus and they all prayed and seems heaven bound. I also felt that God loved everyone and that just because one might not have heard about Jesus that one was condemned. I started really questioning who Jesus was and, obviously, left that church, never to return. Of course, I didn't discuss religion with my children because I didn't really have the knowledge except for the stuff one learned in Sunday School.

So, church was out of my life for about 20 years. Then, one day, a friend asked if I would be the godmother to her daughter. My husband and I went for the baptism at the Episcopal Church in the neighboring town. They had a new priest. What he said first of all to the congregation, moved me back to church. He said, "where ever you are in your spiritual journey, you are welcome here at All Saints." And then, before communion, he said that the table was open and anyone who wanted to be closer to God was welcomed at the table of Jesus.

Well, that was something new to think about. I called and made an appointment to talk to him the following week to find out if he really meant what he had said. And he did. And I am still going to All Saints.

During this past year in my EFM class (education for ministry) we did a lot of work on determining what our personal theology was. Now that is heady stuff for someone who didn't know much at all. During the past three years with this small group, I have gone through the old testament, but not learning versus but looking at how the Bible came to be written down, where the stories and myths came from and what they meant at the time they were told. And then the next years into the new testament, and doing the same thing there...what was said,who said it, to whom was it said and why was it said. Lots of new things came into my view. I could now stand up against the biggest religious spouter of what I felt were untruths about God and Jesus and hold my own.

However, during all of this time I have been really struggling to figure out just who this Jesus guy was. I had a pretty clear grasp of who I felt God was and I had put the Holy Spirit into my life (well, not really but I did learn that the spirit was with me and that I could learn to tape in to it if I paid attention) but Jesus was something else. I heard people talking about their personal relationship with Jesus and just had a hard time buying the stuff.

Two things have recently happened that have changed my point of view and have made things very clear for me. And that is really what I want to share but had to go through all the past history first.

Two weeks ago, we had a Mary Magdalen service. This was a service where we read and talked about Mary Magdalen..who she was and what role she had played in the lives of Jesus and the disciples. Of course, the fictional writing of the DaVinci Code was discussed and the question as to whether Mary and Jesus had an intimate knowledge of each other or may have been married was brought up. And the writings of Mary was also discussed. All of a sudden, I was very clear that it did not matter to me if they had or had not been married, had or had not had a child but what was very clear that I hoped that he had as that would have given him a chance to know the fullness of live with another individual on earth and to have that intimate relationship that a marriage brings about. Suddenly, Jesus started looking like a real person.

And then,the following weekend we took my grandson, Jacob for the night while his parents went out to a movie and dinner. He spent the night but is now too big for his porta crib. So, since the other two beds in the house are covered with quilts and magazines, he slept in our king size crib with my husband and I. During the night I would move him over, turn him around so his feet weren't in my back, turn him around so his head wasn't in my back, move him over so his knees weren't in his back etc. I did not sleep well. He woke up a little before I did. When I did open my eyes, he threw his little arms around my neck and said with lots of feeling "I love you Gammy"

When I looked into his eyes as he pulled away, after I had assured him that I loved him also, I realized that this was the Christ I was looking for. Not my grandson...but the complete, unconditional love that Christ gives us.

I have been higher than a kite...not born again, nothing like that. But feeling secure and happy inside. I believe that there are many ways to God and that no one way is the only nor the right way. I do, however, as a Christian, believe that Jesus is the part of God that came to earth to live the life of a human and to teach us to love one another, to care for those in needs and to work toward righting the injustices of this world. And that is my way to God.

I am not going to get in to the rest of my theology especially since it is still developing. I am very fortunate to belong to a church that does not judge me on my beliefs or lack of beliefs, that has stood with me as I acknowledge that I am not sure who this "Jesus guy" is and they aren't shocked by me...

so, there you have it...strong feelings that have been in need of a voice.

If you have stayed with me this fare, bless you...I need all the accompaniment that I can get!