Sunday, September 23, 2012

Running to Keep Up

Plans were made. They had been in the works forever, an "epic" trip overseas, (only my second, ever) was finally coming to fruition. The trip was starting on labor day weekend, marking the divide between the seasons of play and responsibility. I had already signed in to two new classes which would begin while I was on the road. The responsibilities would start to pile up, I would be "behind" from the start. I am perpetually over-committed and behind schedule. I cannot bear to miss out on opportunities that excite my creativity, that feel like something brand new.

I had planned to write a new blog post before leaving home, I had begun planning and writing, in fact. It was to be titled "Summer Steps Up". It swirled and whirled in my brain during those last two crazy-busy weeks of shopping and organizing piles, dreaming of the grand experience ahead. And then there was no more time and I was leaving for the airport.

While I was gone, my life back home was in suspended animation behind closed doors. I was fully where I was: no Internet, no TV, no smart phone, simply no checking in. In fact, the trip was so intensely planned and layered, I was running to keep up. My camera's memory card became a substitute for my own at times, as places, colors, and textures so intense whirled by in a blur, and I couldn't believe there was so little time allotted to just stop and be with them. I could have spent hours, days, just staring, photographing details, and drawing if I were able. But on a guided trip you look, snap and move on. You keep your camera at the ready and don't ever think you will have a second opportunity to return to a scene. And yet, on our own, the sights would never have been seen and the 2000 photos not taken, the new circle of friends not encountered and enjoyed. I can complain, but I won't. It was all a glorious privilege.

But being a methodical person, I need to find closure on my summer before I take time to savor and share the trip. So I will give you the condensed and amended version of my August, just because it now feels orphaned, unfinished, abandoned. In truth, it was a wonderful time of its own.

Two new friends joined me in August: "Flash" the hippo, and ActiveLink, my constant companion, recording every move I make, reminding me to burn, burn, burn those calories.
(Summer Steps Up, an excerpt)

August has become that golden fruit I wait patiently for every year. The air is soft and sweet again and I am in heaven, sitting and gazing out from the gazebo in my wildly matured garden. During the long days of heat and humidity, of storms and the chaos of wind, I remained true to my summer goals of health and stitching. I am happy to see that my diligence has paid off. My slimmer profile welcomes the new garments and I eagerly look forward to enjoying their sass and comfort.

I think about sharing the riches, inviting friends to sit with me, but I have the need to breath and stitch in perfect quiet meditation. Instead I am listening to the chatter of crows and jays, the splash of the fountain, the muffled distant mechanical tunes of trucks and blowers and human productivity about the community. There are planes flying overhead to distant adventures and I will be on one soon. But for now, I sit and stitch, no talk, (selfishly maybe), my mind all to itself, all connecting to my here and now.

Especially when life is crazy busy, it is necessary to take time to be zany... let the wind blow in your hair... walk on the sand, to become part of the bigger picture of life.

In mid August, I took time to join in to a bit of "summer camp" with one of my favorite drawing teachers, Carla Sonheim. She was offering two new classes: "Watercolor Transfer Painting," and "Cereal Box Paper Dolls." I did most of my lessons for the first intensive session, but barely began the second. I will return to both as soon as possible, but have a number of interesting things to share from the first week.

I have taken a number of classes now in which Carla has taught her own techniques for the use of watercolor, often with gesso, and other simple media such as vine charcoal and graphite pencil. This time she has developed ways of working them on t-shirt transfer papers, so that the impermanent or easily smeared media can be made stable, trapped in a layer of plastic film.
three quick, impressionistic landscapes in watercolor and pastel 

This five minute beach scape was ironed to an old t-shirt to create a completely personalized update.

This mixed media "landscape" was basically doodled as a first step for later collage work.

A half of the sheet was cut to bits with no purposeful intention, then used to create three different collaged beings, two sea creatures and "Some Guy Who Stopped By". All three could be used "as is" but will probably benefit from some additional media development.

In this technique we did a sort of faux encaustic, by creating layers of an image independently, then ironing them over each other to create a thicker, complex, waxy image.

The initial three layers of ink, watercolor and pastel, ironed to watercolor paper...

...then color enhanced with a fourth layer of watercolors.

And, of course, it wouldn't be a Carla class without something just for fun. Here we find the story in the photo of a sidewalk crack. She flirts with him: "I Like Your Boot!"
My monthly play date with "Designing Women" involved trying out a simple(ish) technique for making batik-like designs on fabric using flour and water to make a paste, coating the fabric and scratching or pressing in designs. Once dry, the top surface is painted to allow the color to adhere to the fabric where the marks were cut through the paste. After a period of curing the paint, the whole piece is soaked and washed to leave behind organic markings. Enjoyable but messy, and requiring a bit of practice to achieve specific results.

My pile of fabric chips, curing. At this point they were very interesting to look at, but quite useless.

After processing, subtle and pleasant, but not nearly as exciting.
My first set of Alabama Chanin designed projects were successfully completed in time for my vacation trip. New colors of the organic cotton jersey have been purchased and many stencils made, so that fall and winter will see further wardrobe additions.
This is the tie wrap, a simple rectangle of fabric that ties behind the back, to hang on the shoulders more like a loose jacket.

The reverse applique swing skirt and fitted top were a huge success, shown here at El Castell de Cuitat, La Seu d'Urgell, Spain.

My final Starbucks Saturday doodle before heading off to take my coffee breaks at sidewalk cafes and hotel lounges of Northern Spain and Western Portugal. Can't wait to share the excitement!