Monday, March 19, 2012

Just Shoot Me!

(LMAO Disclaimer: I wrote the blog post title this morning before finding out that today's photo class assignment is a self portrait. I swear I didn't know! )

It's funny how the drama of sunrise is so etherial. Five minutes and gone. A reminder to do something wonderful today.

Summer has turned my brain to mush. I want to be free of my obligations (as much as I love them all) and just work in the (literally) blooming garden. "But wait," you say, "it's just now Spring!" Well tell that to this crazy record breaking climate. The birds are going totally nuts around here vying for territory and mates and building nests like their eggs are ready to drop at any second. The poor kitty who lives here has had several breakdowns over the commotion. The first day the wild noise began outside he ran about from window to door, howling all day.  I was ready to call the vet for a tranquilizer (for one or both of us). By day three, he'd setting to just excited watchfulness, and my nerves could settle too. But this last Saturday, when the whole world exploded into summer weather, the "air traffic" was out of control with dive bombing cardinals at the front door and my poor baby moaning and backing up the stairs like it was a Hitchcock movie and he was the blond heroine under attack.

A woodpile, underexposed, speaks of decay
 and the lost promise of time wasted.

Just one week ago, there was just barely a hint of spring in this overexposed shot of my back yard. Today the green is bursting out.

Because I was already enrolled in or completing projects for at least four online activities, plus a wagon load of things to prep for for my quilt guild show in two weeks, I decided it was necessary to enroll in yet another class. Photography is becoming an essential tool in my art arsenal of mediums, and for both practical and pleasurable purposes I am determined to learn some skills with my camera. I am again taking a two week intensive session with Steve Sonheim, Photo Silly Advanced. We are at the halfway point, and I can say I am once again making discoveries of what can be done that I would never have thought to try without a good "silly" lesson.

A naturally backlit still life in the sewing room.

Late afternoon sun and a kitty chasing shadows and reflections.

Husband on a mission and captured in the light of sunset.

One thing I learned last week is that a husband who works an 80 hour week must be caught on "film" to prove he really exists. But like Peter Pan, he was more elusive than his shadow. Our only date of the week was a quick trip to Home Depot for wooden dowels, and plywood for an upcoming drawing class (more about that another day, except meanwhile you may want to check out Carla Sonheim's new class offering in April.) The best discovery was how much I like black and white photography, and that, yes, a digital camera can be set to shoot in b&w rather than removing the color in editing. Who knew? Steve's assignments usually include doing something scary, like photographing strangers. I got to do a portrait series with a workout friend I barely knew previously, and found the experience to be tough, but exhilarating and liberating for both of us.

A portrait is a moment captured that reminds you who you were just then.

Hippos gather for "Bedtime Stories."

Charm and imagination lost in the color and light.

The scene of the crime showing alternate light sources I tried: holiday lights, candles, cell phone and the small flashlight in the middle that was used.

I've been doing quite a bit of stitching lately, some creative, some routine, but all quite satisfying. No matter what, needle and thread will always be my natural choice of writing medium. Probably because it has been with me since childhood, and has become so natural a part of my everyday life. Drawing will take a lot more time, but my ease with it grows every week. The shrine book from Arlee Barr's class is in its final stages of construction (mostly waiting for the Man to cut the dowels). The TAST challenge continues weekly with worldwide inspiration and friendship from fellow stitchers. And that quilt show. It's a rather big affair for a small local guild, and I find it's the perfect way to force myself to complete whatever is on the back burner from the previous couple (or more) years.

Horizontal sashing complete, vertical choices await cutting.

My biggest challenge has been turning a mixed media piece (my first ever) from a class last year into something more polished and connected to my recent artistic mission. I have begun to let my creativity flow in all directions as it will, and be more accepting of what emerges. Having spent quite a bit of time writing this blog the last year and a half, that direction is starting to be more verbal. The theme of the unfinished quilt, "The Time Machine," was based only on the visual impression of the paths and pendulum-like arm that appeared in my freely drawn quilting design. For over a year  I have stared at it and tried to find a way to complete the thought. One night last week as I was waiting for sleep, a small simple poem came to me and I knew it was the answer:

If you will only listen carefully
the universe will show you the way...
Follow the Time Machine
back down the path to lost hopes and dreams.
Rediscover Yourself.

Adding the embroidered borders.

It is the truth of my life and it summed up my recent artistic journey as a time travel to reclaim something I left behind. Additionally, with the usual synchronicity of such moments, a perfect piece of fabric had been plucked that week from the stash of a dear friend who purchased it with good intention, but died last year without giving it purpose. Her contribution now rings the quilt with a freely lettered and stitched piece of the poem. If you will only listen carefully...


  1. Hi Cheryl, Your work is so interesting. Your photography is wonderful and your shrine from Arlee's class looks great. I was wondering if you could direct me to online classes in beginning drawing? I took a week course in Washington state and really enjoyed myself. It included drawing, colored pencils and water colors. I would like to take some basic sketching online classes. I am familiar with
    Carla's "silly" series and I am starting one of those. Thanks for your help. It sounds like you are incredibly busy! Enjoy!

  2. As always I love sharing your journey and seeing your work. Beautiful poem, too!

  3. Great quilts! Congratulations. Enjoyed reading about all the things you have been working on lately.