Friday, May 18, 2012

Maura Graduates

 We arrived at the venue and Debbie took this picture of the whole gang.
 Of course I missed taking a picture of the moment, but here she is in her row.
 It's fun to have all three kids in one place where they have to look like they get along.... sort of.
The Grad and her Dad. (I like the rhyme!)
So, the past few weeks have been so emotional for us. The excitement of all the press about Maura's dresses and then awards where time after time she missed out on scholarships that she really needs to attend college in the Fall. It's just so nerve wracking.
  I know Maura is smart, but I never wanted to push her to be perfect. There's always going to be people who are smarter than you, prettier than you, richer than you and poorer than you as well. I wanted her to figure out who she was and light her own fire rather than do things just to please me. I really see myself as my kids' supporter. They figure out what they want to do/ be and I figure out how I can help support them. So, I volunteered at church, school, DI, 4-H, band boosters, etc... to support their activities. I really did want them to 1) decide what they wanted to do and 2) do it to their BEST ability. If I was disappointed, it was only in how much they were dedicated to a project. The dresses, more than showing an interest in fashion, prove that Maura can be dedicated to an idea, if she really wants to- she just has to want to. What her scholarship quest showed was she's extremely
  As we wind up this chapter in her life, my role in her life is winding down. She's 18 and about to head off into the world. I've done my job of teaching her right from wrong, presented religion to her, taught her how to interact with the world and have been her most steadfast promoter.  I am unsure how I feel about about her leaving. In some ways, it's going to be a much calmer household without her random projects all the time. I'm not sure how I feel about that. But, we still have Delaney and 3 more years of HS before she makes these kinds of decisions. It will be very different to only deal with one child's activities instead of two.

Monday, May 14, 2012


   The art quilt list that I've been a part of for over 15 years has been having a discussion about quilt judges and their comments of stitching mitered corners down as a crtiticism to the quilt. It seems as good a time as any to write some of my thoughts.
   I made art quilts for a couple reasons. I really loved making art with fabric. Earlier in my life, I discovered that I liked making pattern on my clay creations and I liked giving dimentions to my paintings. Fabric seemed to be the perfect medium to go either way (2-D or 3-D) Once I discovered art quilting, it seemed to be the perfect term for me. My definition was using the principles of art to create and I really liked that art quilting allowed more freedom than traditional quilting. I wasn't bothered overly by what people called "the quilt police" because I thought art quilting ignored all of it anyway. Surely there would come a time when art quilting would be prominent enough in the quilting world that the rules would dissapear. Apparently, that's not the case. After 15 years of fussing over bindings and miters it goes on...
  But worse, the art quilters have come up with their own. I was recently told that art quilters don't buy fabric, they dye their own. I have seen where the definition of an art quilt is based on the materials and if it has no fabric in it, the better. I see more and more art quilters write books and teach classes based on techniques (like snow dyeing was a rage) and more and more I see people equate art quilts with abstract/ non-representational art, but without training- so it's not always good.
  The problem is that we have a lot of traditional quilters who decided to "be more creative" and started dabbling in art quilts (without formal art training) and then they arbitrarily have these rules (like a composition of only three items) which is just the barest babystep into artdom. Throw in all the books/ materials and people selling them saying "you can be an art quilter- it's easy! Just use this product or just do what I did and you too can be making art today!" Anyway, I digress.

    I live in a small town and was limited in how I could interact with other art quilters. I found the quilt list to be my connection to the world I wanted to be part of. At one point, I realized I needed to get my work out in the world to see where I stood. I had no local shows- I went for the national ones. I thought I did rather well. I got into shows. I didn't rack up the ribbons, but that was ok- I was working towards a goal. But my comments were always about bindings. Nit picking the details and missing the giant neon sign of ART.  Ok, I'll work on my bindings.(sigh) but it won't be enough that my bindings are full- they will not like how I stich down my bindings (see above comments about stiching mitered corners) and really- aren't they losing sight that the binding is just to cover up raw edges?
  Enter the Modern Quilt Movement. Ah! Mostly younger women who have embraced quilting as a part of their search for the home arts. Of course, it's a welcoming group, so there will be several others who will be outliers to that. What defines them at the moment is that they connect via the internet (like I did 15 years ago with quilt artists) and their love of fabric designers (eh, no connection there) and wanting to live a more authentic, domestic life. (hmmm- food for thought) But then, thinking that everything they do is important and must be shared with everyone ( a sign of the times).
    The food for thought section- So, thinking of the modern quilters and how they are trying to do versions of whatever their grandmother did, but easier. Makes me ponder how I'm spending my time and what I really want to enjoy.
  I've spent the last 15 years raising my kids. (still not done) and working, volunteering and squeezing in time to make art quilts- mainly for shows. That's mostly all I had time for and sometimes, it wasn't even a lot of time. I found I pretty much had to start with the contest rules otherwise, my size would be wrong or it wouldn't fit into a theme. So, the quilts were always prompted by contests, not my vision. Chasing shows meant I would always fail my end goal if I didn't know the binding rules, or quilting rules, and remember, I was getting all my information from an art quilting group who ignored those "rules".
  So my wake up call is basically being told my view of art quilting isn't what art quilting is (see above dyeing comment) so I'm jumping off the ride for awhile and see what happens.
  Maybe I got things backwards, so I'm starting again, a different way. I'm slowing down on the shows- I'm connecting locally- I'm opening myself up to other forms of art again. I'm going to do things around my home that will make me happy, like the stepping stones for my garden and a house number project and so on. I'm finishing UFO's and having them quilted for me because they are not show worthy- but perfectly fine for a nap. I am painting with a friend. I'm remembering things, other art things, I want to do. I'm taking a step back into myself and what will give me joy.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Finished Painting

My finished painting of the plainair painting I started. I added the color with thin washes of oil paint. I am particularly happy with the rocks and the smaller rocks as they transition into the water.
  Nice to have that off the table and I'm able to move on to another project.

Sad news from the Ozarks

 Scene of the accident
Closer view of the car

Yesterday, both Delaney and Maura said the school was eerily quiet. No talking between classes for several hours. The reason for this unorthodox behavior from several hundred teenagers was the above pictures.
   We live in a rural area where a main road (for example, hwy 13) has secondary roads that branch off to the left and right (DD, OO, Joe Bald) to get to the various penisulas of land that end, eventually, at the lake. All roads lead to the lake here.The roads are not easy to drive because there are hills and curves... a lot of them. Many of the roads have no guard rails or maybe one or two, certainly not enough for all the dangerous places along the way.
   A young man , 17 years old, made a mistake about 5 miles down one of these roads. By all accounts, he was a cheerful student, was active in sports, worked at the Park, and had solid grades. He was not drinking or doing drugs. He was a young driver and he made a mistake. We'll probably never know exactly what kind. His car left the road, slammed into trees and caught fire. The firemen on the scene said the fire was secondary.
  His death shocked all the kids at school. It reminded them that each and every one of them drive on these same kind of roads every day. One small mistake can be deadly and  it  was in his case.

Monday, May 07, 2012

My New Camera

 View of the concert from bleachers

Close up across the gym

Some people have asked about my new camera (which I LOVE) so, here's the scoop.
 It's a Cannon sx40Powershot. Here's why I love it.
  Well, first I'll back up. I loved photography from the time I was in college. I adopted my husband's camera when we married and I loved having a great zoom lens so I could compose in the camera. What I didn't like was how big and bulky it got (especially after we had kids and were carrying around all their stuff too) so, we were early adopters to the small, easy shot digital cameras. (pre megapixel) Over the years, we upgraded our cameras, but still kept in the rhelm of easy shot ones. I  found that I missed the zoom feature so much. I was frustrated that I couldn't get great pictures of Maura on the field playing in the pit, or at concerts (percussion is always in the back!) and I certainly couldn't take pictures of Delaney at track meets.  So, it was time to get a camera with a good zoom again.
  Interestingly, not only does this camera have a great zoom, but it has some interesting photo effects built right in. Those I've been playing with before they become second nature to use, but I enjoy the antique  effect that darkens all the corners of the image and the super vivid, which really made the pink dogwoods (in the earlier post) pop.  I haven't even mentioned that it take great movies too.
  I still love the camera for the ability I now have to compose in the camera once again they way I could with hubby's 35 mm. I think this camera is a great art tool.


Plainair painting revisited

What I saw...
What I painted today

Ah! A few days off from work and I finally got around to addressing the first plainair painting I tried. I really tried to paint (the way I was supposed to) right then and there from life, but I seriously underestimated how long a largish canvas would take and barely got a start. It was also difficult to take the whole panaramic view of the lake and mountains and so on and focus down on the thing that really interested me- the tree, roots and rocks... so my day wasn't very successful, but I didn't want to give up on the canvas either.
 The solution was to work from a photo I took that day. Since I wasn't working plainair any longer, I decided to go all out and try for an old masters technique. (at least this was a technique I was told old masters used in Still life painting)
  They used to paint first in tempera, creating all the VALUES for the painting using just black and white. (since we now have acrylics, I used those) Later, I will do a glaze of oils in the correct colors and (hopefully) it will look fabulous.
Comparing the two images now, I see I have some more work to do before the glaze. (sigh!)
   I'll post later how it turns out.