Friday, December 31, 2010

Happy New Year

The end of 2010 has come upon us. There are so many things I wish for, not for me personally but for the entire world.

I wish that everyone who could would give something to end world hunger.

I wish that everyone who could would give something to bring infrastructure to third world countries so they could have fresh, clean water and sanitation disposal.

I wish that we would all learn to appreciate and respect our differences and live together in peace.

I wish that we would all do what we can to help take care of our environment.

I wish that countries could be at peace.

I wish that children were never killed in violent acts.

I wish that we could all see beauty in our lives and take time to appreciate it.

May you have a happy new year and may 2011 be a happier year for everyone on this earth.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Another Day in the studio

Some time ago, Virginia Spiegel asked me if I would like to participate in a one day auction of collages to again raise money for the fight against cancer. I have joined her campaigns many times either by creating postcards or collages (last year) so of course, I said count me in.
So today I finished them up and now will be sending the photos off. Save this date and information:

One Cause, One Wednesday, One Hundred Collages
One Cause – The Fight Against Cancer.

One Wednesday – February 16, 2011.

One Hundred Collages – Created for this event by an all-star team of artists: Natalya Aikens, Pamela Allen, Laura Ann Beehler, Liz Berg, Pokey Bolton, Laura Cater-Woods, Jette Clover, Jane Davila, Jamie Fingal, Gloria Hansen, Leslie Tucker Jenison, Lyric Kinard, Jeanelle McCall, Linda Teddlie Minton, Karen Stiehl Osborn, BJ Parady, Judy Perez, Cynthia St. Charles, Virginia A. Spiegel
The goal – Raise $8,000 for the American Cancer Society in just one day. More details and a preview of artwork:

I thought I would show you one of the five collages that I have completed for this event. The series is called "Yellow Circles". It is approximated 7" x 5" and is mounted on 10" x 8".

This is Yellow Circles 4

During this past summer, after my return from Switzerland, I began working with commercial felt. It has been very rewarding for me as I have done a number of different things with it. Some I have shown on Face book as they were done. I purchased industrial felt in a couple of different thicknesses and also had some circles punched for me and bought grey waste felt, that left over after punching out gaskets and things. This image is one which is a piece of commercial felt with some of the circles I had cut which have been needle felted onto the background felt. Then I took a piece of the grey waste, cut it to the shape I wanted and couched it down. It is far too dense to needle felt. I am now working on a very large piece that has this same waste and is being stitched by hand onto a large piece of 1/4" felt that is about 70" by 36"....this will take some time! I am glad I am working on this in the winter since it sit under the heavy felt blanket while I stitch!

This piece is not very large and will be mounted on mat board suitable for framing. It should be placed behind glass to protect it from dust. Since it is felt, it has an affinity for any stray pieces of almost anything.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

where you have been, Liz?

It has been six months since I posted.  I have been doing art work but not a lot.

During the past year and a half I have served as Rector's Warden at All Saints Episcopal church in San Leandro, which I have attended for the past almost nine years. I stepped in to fill in for someone else. I have done this job before and it hasn't been too bad....regular visits with the priest to discuss the parish, plan making, etc....leading the vestry...all that kind of stuff. Well, six months ago, after a lot of on again-off again decisions, my priest decided that he was indeed going to take a three month sabbatical after a month of vacation, meaning he would be gone for four months.  The planning before hand took a lot of work and dealing with everyone's anxiety about his being gone was hard. But, here we are, just a little over a week before he returns to the church and less than two weeks when I will be relieved of my job completely as I will be going off of vestry. While he has been gone, I have been in charge of things...of course we have had an interim priest with us but she has only been handling Sunday services and any emergencies. I have gotten all the rest.

As I realized that my time was coming to an end, I started to relax and it wasn't until that started that I realized that I have been somewhat tense and stressed during some of this time. Nothing serious but enough that it was interfering with other parts of my life...mainly my art. So I did a little bit here and there, made some baby quilts that still aren't finished and just fussed around.

A couple of weeks ago I traded some rubber stamps (well, a lot of rubber stamps) to a friend for her 48"x18"x72" shelving unit. My husband gave me a hand putting it together and the next day we were back at Costco to get four more. By the time we had finished putting the last one together, we had it down and worked as a team. Then came all the rearranging which meant that heavy bins had to be moved around and we decided to change the layout of the wooden shelving units that my husband had made for the studio some time ago. Two of them came up front and make a nice display shelf for art work as well as a good place for me radio and ipod player.  The other four were stacked one on top of the other and then put together to make another 4'x8' work table with shelves underneath. They also hold bins of fabric. Now the new shelving is holding tons of frames, finished art work on stretcher bars, paints, silk screens, rolls of fabric, batting and tons of other stuff. There is still some space but for once I have my special papers laying flat on a shelf under the work table. One of my 6' tables is just folded up and the other one still have piles of stuff on it that I need to get sorted out. It is the place that I can sit down and work on collages and mixed media stuff. Another 6' table is still piled high with stuff...fabric to be ironed, work that needs to be finished, etc.

But today, I spent five relaxing hours back in the studio. I am back on track and ready to go full speed ahead.  Some of that time was spent cleaning up for then several hours were spent on collages.

I have a lot to share but don't want to spend all night doing it so this is just to help bring everyone up to date.

My Better Art by Design class will go on line again, starting the first of February. I will start taking sign ups later this week.

thank you all for your patience as I frittered is now time to get back to the business of making and selling art....what a concept!

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Back in the Studio

Well, today I finally made it back in to the studio.

It is a fascinating process...coming back after being gone for quite some time.

My mind is overflowing with so many thoughts and ideas that I sit and wonder what to do...should I start painting with the colors of Lyon? Should I work out the shapes of the buildings in Lyon and turn those in to abstract? Should I start doing some brush painting? Should I start doing some collages? Should I paint fabric? Should I work on my felt?

Just what should I do? It is really hard to come back after being gone...

I had left a rather large piece of felt partly stitched (about a 30" x 30" piece) so I decided to try out my new eyes with George and see how that went. It went fine once I tuned him up and cleaned him out and gave him some new juice (as in oil) and the we were ready to do...but just what did I want to do with this piece?

After some thought I just started stitching. The flow of the machine and the color being laid down by the thread was mesmerizing.  It felt good. It felt like what I should be doing. It was right. And I did a lot of problem solving during the process of finishing this piece.

So, now I am back in the least a little. I did some brush work on old maps and also on a piece of canvas I have painting. I have gotten my juices going again and now I can fall back in to the routine of making art....

Wednesday, July 07, 2010

Slow right now

I have spent about 4 hours in the studio during the past four weeks....not much time at all.

But, art has constantly been on my mind!  I have spent time looking over the pictures I have taken and have thought a lot about how I could represent what I have seen.

I have been drawn to the colors of white, dirty white, creamy yellow, ocher, and pink.  Many of the buildings are built with natural stone which happens to be pink or ocher. And then there are the colors of the shutters: green, blues, browns, peeling white paint, green metal, gray, all sorts of colors. And the beautiful greens of the trees! What a delight!

There was a lot of art everywhere! Art on almost all of the buildings of some sort...either in the gargoyles, or in the faces in the wall, or the coloration used, or the placement of things, or the graffiti or the public art, both very old and very new.

This trip was very special as I traveled by myself in a country where I did not speak the language. I found most people to be very nice and helpful. I was fascinated by the neighborhood of my hotel which had a tiny collection (or maybe it was really pretty big, I couldn't tell) of many different peoples from many different countries...or at least, home countries.

World Cup games were on the the streets were filled with honking car horns when a team one, and the national flag of that country was waved proudly.

I was able to go at my own pace and take time to view what I really wanted to take time to do.

I missed a bus to go out of town and ended up waiting 2 and a half hours for the next one but just sat at the river Rhone and watched life going by. A group of some African people gathered across the river and some were on stilts, all brightly dressed, and I could hear their drum music across the reminded me of Uganda but I know that wasn't where they were from.

There were times when I wished I had someone to share a thought with but I was quite a peace with myself.

This trip provided a lot of reflection time and a lot of visual ideas that are still sorting their way through my head.

I returned and it took about five days for me to finally get back on US time...waking up at 2 am is not so good when the whole day stretches out ahead of you!  To have a nap or not...would I be able to go ahead and sleep later or not or would I be up way too early?

We then took four days and went up to our cabin in the mountains where it was the absolute other end of the scale...very quiet, earth colors everywhere, greens, browns, and blue skies, and quiet except for a few birds.

For the first time I saw a number of crows up at our place...they caws filled the air with a screeching sound and disturbed the peace of the area...but then I guess they might have been warning everyone about our dogs where were with us!

So tomorrow I go in for cataract surgery on one eye (the other eye is fine and just has the very beginnings of a cataract) so one eye is it. I have made the decision to have my left eye vision corrected to a mid range so that I can machine quilt without glasses....I will need new glasses for reading (although my arms are still long enough to read if I hold something out far enough) and also for distance. I anticipate smooth surgery by a doctor who did both of my father's eyes and I have complete faith in him...not withstanding the notification of the dire consequences that could possibly least they were given with the percentage of possibility which made it somewhat better...a 1% change of something isn't too bad...

I am looking forward to next week, as I play some more with my felt and start painting with the colors of Lyon...and then we will see where that all goes!

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Still in Switzerland

Once in a while, I was able to see the Alps outside my hotel room...

Because of the weather, many people who had come to hike the Alps were not able to....

My students worked very hard and I am quite happy to show a few of the more finished pieces.

These are just a few of the pieces that were was finished, one was fused and ready to quilt and the other was partially quitled.

The greatest part about being a teacher is when the students make a gigantic, or sometimes small, breakthrough in their point of view. For many of the students, they had done none or little free form work. This opened up new horizons and helped them take those first steps in to creating their own works.

I love this! I love to see people "get it" and really get excited about making their own work rather than just doing things like someone else's.

It is so gratifing to do this....many years ago while in college I turned my nose up at teaching but then, what did I know at the ripe old age of 21? What a snob I was! I do have to keep teaching in balance because it is so easy to get caught up in teaching and not spend enough time in my studio which is most important to me. It is where I keep fresh, try new ideas, follow my ideas to where ever they go, and just absolutely be myself. I am in solitude there with few distractions.
I am truly blessed to be able to live this life both teaching and working in the studio.

I stayed with Patrica after the workshop;

Her home is out in the country in a little village and is absolutely delightful. It is very modern and comfortable with a beautiful garden. Her home is filled with art she and her husband have collected from all over the world. As her husband travels for business frequently, this collection has become quite large and very interesting.

The garden is in a Japanese style as you can see from the Bhudda sitting outside the window.

As it was late spring, everything was blooming and the iris were most impressive. I took many pictures of the koi pond, and other flowers and various decorations.

Marianne Bender was also at the seminar taking a workshop with Dijanne Cevaal's workshop.  Sophie had taken my on line classes and it was great fun to see what she was doing. She had worked with some photographs in one of my classes before and was continuing to do so in Dijanne's class.

This is one of the two pieces she was working on in the class.

Marianne Bender was also taking Dijanne's class and  is the one who was responsibile for getting my name to Christian Sauder who put on the seminar.

Later, we went to Marianne's winery and had a delightful time eating little bites of cheese, bread, meats and tasting five different wines they make. Absolutely delightful as Particia Sylvia, Marianne and Margo, all from my on line classes got together with their husbands for this fun time. What a wonderful experience to be able to visiti someone's winery and share with them in their home.
this is inside the outside of their home and tasting room and the other picture is from inside with Marianne. I neglected to get a photo of her husband who was watching the weather constantly while we were there.

Patrica, Sophia, and Patricia's oldest daughter, Enodie, went to see a wonderful retrospective exhibit of Nicolas de Stael...he committed suicide at a young age (45) but went through cubism to his own work and it was great to see the transformation of his work over his short lifetime. His color work and composition are truly outstanding and I was so happy to be able to see this artist's work and to add another artist to my library.

At the museum there was a wonderful sculpture garden which we enjoyed walking through.  While there we saw this woman sitting and joined her for a conversation.


Great artwork, including one of Rodin's five, The Kiss, a Henri Moore piece, a large, three sided mosaic by Chagall and many others.  A delightful day which was finished up by searching for appropriate tee shirts for my grandsons.

Friday, June 25, 2010

I did it again! My students' work

I actually got on blogger again! I found the right button, found the place to put it in Anglais rather than French and off I go! Now I will see if I can upload any pictures!

 One of the students, Anne, brought in a lot of fabric swatches which greatly improved our ability to find the right color for our exercises...I just thought they made beautiful pictures by themselves!
 so now we start with my students! Some are Swiss, some are German and some are French...but all spoke French except for me...

Anne-Marie (above)

Anne (above)

Catherine (above)

Caty (above)

 Christiane (above)

 Marie Elisabeth (above)

 Marianne (above)

Marie France (above)

Martine (above) who was also my translator

The other Martine (above)

Nadia (above)

Suzanne (above)

These pictures were all taken on the last day and also show the quilts they started. We had a lively discussion about art quilts and traditional quilts and how difficult it is to be accepted in a club when you do art quilts. (sound familiar) Also a lot of discussion on when is a quilt least Europe has a strong respect for craft which made it a little easier!

This was an outstanding class and it was wonderful as we got to know each other, even with the language difficulties.

More to come...

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

My apologies to the Pointless Sisters of Sonoma County

From across the world from home, I took a few minutes to try to bring everyone up to date with what had happened to me in just a few weeks.

Working from my poor memory I mistakenly called the Pointless Sisters by another name. Some one wrote to me about it but everytime I went to pull up my blog, everything showed up in French and I could not figure out to to do a new post.

Finally, I have. So I am sorry, Pointless Sisters, you are not twisted, and you are of Sonoma County and not Rohnert Park.

so that is all for now until I get home to the States and can work more comfortably and I won't post anything with out checking the facts...

Friday, June 18, 2010

and so much more

I have continued to be very busy.

My son got married on May 22 in Michigan so we were all there for the wedding...there went a week away from home.

I returned home and got ready to teach with the  Twisted Sisters group at Rohnert Park We had three days of hard work creating new fabrics with various surface design techniques. They certainly made of a lot of new fabric! What fun it was!

And before I knew it, I was packing for Switzerland.  I have much to write about but not tonight as my time is very limited here.

This is outside the hotel where we are having our seminar. We are up in the mountains at about 4200 feet and it is a steep climb to get up here. I arrived via a cog train which brought me to my final point for five days. It was a long flight from SFO to Heathrow, and nice flight to Geneva but we could not fly directly for some reason and were 30 minutes late in arriving so I missed my train to Leysin. I caught the next one but this put poor Chritiane Studer (the very nice woman who has put the seminar together) in to almost heart failure as she had gone to the train station to pick me up and I wasn't there.  She was so happy when I arrived by taxi!

Meals are huge! Breakfast has many choices, including various cheeses and bread which are to die for, cereals if you want, hard boiled eggs, and lots of other goodies including Norwegian smoked salmon.

and then we break for coffee after working 1.5 hours. Which includes coffee, tea, hot chocolate, etc and some kind of coffee cake along with more fruit.

and in another hour and a half we stop for lunch which is really dinner. The Swiss do not eat like this at home but this is at a plush resort hotel. He have had duck with a wonderful sauce one day, today we had sole, also in a delicious sauce, always with a salad before hand from a salad bar with wonderful goodies, the least of which is lettuce. Dinners are similar but we are served a first course...two days ago it was a plate filled with smoked salmon. And then on to dinner which has been lanb, or roast beef  along with scallops in another wonderful sauce, beef,  and already I have lost track of everything we have been having. And the desserts show up....four little scoops of special differenct sorbets in a chocolate line waffle bowl and other drizzles of some sort of sauce and other little special things. I have now learned to leave lunch before dessert comes as two a day is a little too much.

Oh yes, after lunch the class resumes at 2pm because it takes 1.5 hours to eat lunch. Then we stop for tea and some other goodie an hour and a half later. We stop the class at 5:30 pm and then have dinner at 7pm which will also last 1.5-2 hours...very leasurily and beautifully presented.
this is the smoked salmon before dinner

In between eating my students have been working exceptionally hard. Here is one group working on their color wheel.
And the other group just as busy.

I have 12 studetns who come from France, Switzerland and Germany. Of course, everyone speaks French except me. I am finding that if I really listen closely, sometimes I can tell what they are saying. Christian has supplied with with Martine, who does a wonder job  translating for me. And if she isn't sure there are other people in the classroom who also help.

I have left them finishing their first quilts and staring on the second one. We will put the work up and I will be taking pictures of everyone with their work.

And, very special, three of my former students from my online class are here. It has been wonderful to meet them in person and there are giving me a bad time about why I haven't done the advanced class so they could take it...well, decision made, it will be offered in January.

So, I must get ready to go for dinner....oh, this is so difficult! And so very much fun. Everyone is absolutely delightful and a joy to be around. They are all very excited about what they have been learning and are looking forward to "new horizons".

Monday, May 10, 2010

So much has been happening

I truly apologize for being gone for so long and neglecting my writing.

For the past two months  have had a lot of ups and downs with my art work. I have been very excited about some things I have been doing and new directions I have been taking and then wondering if it is the right direction. So let me tell you how this has all developed.

Earlier this year I began doing some work that was much simpler, painting on canvas, collaging fabric on to it, stitching and then cutting it to fit prestretched canvas. I did a number of these and was really enjoying it.

My work has started to become much more minimalist. The use of lines and circles has become extremely important.

Then I started doing a bunch of mark making on my IPhone...I love this thing! I have created pages of these on my phone and have printed them out for contemplation and consideration. It has begun to feel like my own alphabet. Again, lines and circles along with other shapes such as triangles and squares.

That got me thinking about mark making, and of course, one of the marks that I create the most is a circle. While I was making the accordion books, I was painting on water color paper with inks and acrylic paints. I also did a lot of linear mark making on them, using my new found favorite painting thingie, a stick off of a vine near my studio. I love the lines I am able to make with this stick.

 These accordion books have had multiple layers applied to them. It is really a lot of fun working with a whole sheet of watercolor paper and then creating the books which become separate compositions. I love the serendipity of this project.

I then started doing thumbnails of pods...from my own creation, but these have come out of a lot of thought about home, safety, nourishment, loving, cocooning, etc and I began making a number of pieces on painted canvas and then sketched in with ink  and then stitched in a free motion style, again creating circle shapes and lines. And again, the lines are all very organic.

Each of these are actual quilts, with a backing and batting. They have been finished on the edges and then mounted on painted stretched canvas. They start at 6 x 6 inches and move up to a canvas size of 18 x 81 inches with a piece of art on them that is about 16 x 16 inches.  These four just represent a few of the pod series and I have many more in me.

So back to the mark making. Since I was painting on unstretched canvas, I slapped some gesso one a large piece of canvas, about 3 x 4 feet in size. I then began making marks on the canvas by dripping it out of a paint bottle and allowing it to dry flat. As a result, the red paint actually stands up and is not flat and has a shin to it which contrasts nicely with the blotchy white. I machine quilted it using a hard sharp line, another contrast.

Boy, now I am really getting minimalist!

 I had come across the work of Rebecca Howdershell, who works on industrial felt and paper and stitches them together. These are white on white compositions which are stunning. So back to my sketch book I went and I started drawing lots of thumbnails of various shapes and lines.

This also began the search for industrial felt. I now know more about industrial felt than I ever imagined.
I have spoken with various people trying to speak in a language I am just starting to understand. Having never seen industrial felt before but reading a lot about it on line, I came up with some ideas of what I wanted. I had circles cut out of industrial felt in various thicknesses from 1/4" to 1/2" and the circles themselves range in those sizes. The first company agreed to ship the waste that they throw away to me for the cost of shipping. (little did I know what I was getting in for) And then I contacted some other companies and finally settled on one company and ordered 2 sheets of industrial felt in white in an 1/8" and 1/4" thickness. I also order circles cut out of 1/8" thick felt that are 1.5" in diameter.

And then I waited, and waiting for stuff to come.

1000 circles of cut industial felt...1/2" high by 1/2" wide

First  the box of cut circles that were smaller. They arrived and I had four thousand felt circles of various sizes and thicknesses. But nothing to do with them yet. I had some ideas from a book I had gotten on felt when I was at the Surface Design/SAQA conference and was eager to work with them but did not have a base for them yet.

Then two huge boxes I can not even lift and it sits in our entry way in the way.
I tore open the smaller one and found dark grey industrial felt that was the waste from cutting out gaskets.

So I had to play to see how it worked. First I just needle felted some beautiful turquoise yarn around the shapes to see how it worked.  Then I cut pieces of the yarn in to smaller lengths and used the felting needle to attach it to the industrial grey felt.

I also opened the other big box and found a huge roll of grey industrial felt that is about 24 " wide and rolled into a tight roll about 2.5 feet in diameter, with small circles cut out of it.  I have died and gone to heaven.  My husband said he wished he had had a camera when I opened up that box. Still thinking about ideas.

But then the sheets of felt finally came and then I was off and running. Right away I sat down at the sewing machine and stitched lines in and then took some of the felt circles and needle felted them to the background piece.  Then I added a short piece of red wool yard, which was needle felted down. I am having way too much fun with this now!

this is sidewards but how cool is this!  Too much fun!

OK, so then I go off to the studio with my 72 x 72" inch sheets of white industrial felt.  I am in Seventh Heaven!  Whoa, watch out for me!

I cut pieces and then start playing, first doing a lot of stitching, this time using George which absolutely loves sewing through the felt.

This is just a snapshot taken and unfortunately, it it off white thread on off white felt. But you can kind of get the idea.  And then another
But, what I haven't told you is about another artist whose work I came across. Kazuaki Tanahashi gives workshops and I would love to take one of his. He has been a life long student of Zen and one brush stroke painting.

As a  child and then again as a teenager I lived in Japan. I took sumi-e painting, along with my mother but I really did not enjoy doing the stylized paintings. My  mother continued with lessons from a master sensei and became a certified teacher of sumi-e.  I was drawn to calligraphy even though I could not read the writing. I loved the movement and strength of the brush strokes and while in collage I did a large etching utilized brush strokes to create the etching plate. Very Japanese in character.

I have found myself using that type of writing, although it has not recognizable characters in it, in my surface design when I want ot have a sense of text without having something that is legible. So finding Senei Takahashi's work and information about Zen just drew me in.  Five books later, I am still studying the art of the brush stroke and keep at it.

But this led me to some beautiful black wool roving I purchased at the SD/SAQA symposium....and before I knew it, I was creating my own Zen circle...a very different method than using a brush but I love it.  Without realizing it, I have been making this circle for years and it shows up in my silk screens and painting.  Now I understand why.

Not stopping there, I went on to make a couple of other characters that I had created

and this one
This last character is also in my big red and white piece. Circles and lines.

So I am on a delightful journey, finally feeling like I have truly found my art. Sensei Takahashi speaks about the emptiness of self as being extremely important in bringing the art from within into a form which others can see.  I have so much to learn but it is all coming together.