Tuesday, June 29, 2010

What If...

This week, I've been listening to legal education lectures to complete the continuing legal education credits I need annually to keep up my bar association membership.  Today I was listening to a really good program on intellectual property law for non-specialists while I was on a longish drive.  And while I was driving and listening, I was struck by how we lawyers have it deeply ingrained in us from the first day of law school to try to anticipate everything that might go wrong, and then work on planning how to avoid that.

It's that sort of cheerfully pessimistic thinking ("But what if the sellers try to back out of the deal? What if the product is defective? What if the person you hire absconds without doing the work?") that makes us lawyers so fun to be around.  We've gotten a lot of education and experience at imagining the bad side of "What if?"  And it's our professional obligation to anticipate those "what if's" and figure out how to avoid them. 

But it struck me today that the "what if" aspect of anticipating all of the things that could go wrong is not very far from the "what if I try X" creativity that so many quilt artists explore.  For a long time I have loved and followed Jude Hill's "What If" blog, where she explores some question with a bit of stitchy exploration.  It's probably the seed of creativity for a lot of ideas, wondering what would happen if we mixed those paints or combined those fabrics or tried to depict that image in fabric.

It is a more positive approach than the "what if the worst happens" that we lawyers go to automatically -- but I like to think that my "what if" training is helping me on the creative side, too.

* Photo: Neighbor cat bravely illustrating "What if I stick my paw into this hole?"

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Self-portrait, with nap

Today was my Practical Design workshop, a monthly workshop that never fails to teach and inspire me.  Today, we showed the work we'd done on our year-long series, and then for the second half, we played with making quick collages.

We were told to do a 15-minute self-portrait -- or really, a portrait of us at the moment somehow -- and this is what resulted.  Go figure.  But it was fun.

On a totally unrelated note, I read this quote recently from Annie Lamott (said when giving a graduation speech): ""On my  last day on earth, I want to have taken a short nap and had dessert.  Since I don't know which day is my last, I can't take any chances."

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Dad and the '49 Mercury

We're back from our various family adventures (Miss C at camp, R and me in SF) and we all had fun and are dragging ourselves around here with contented exhaustion.  It was good to get away and have some fun, and now it's good to be home.  I'll post on what we did later.

BUT... seeing as how quilt-related posts have been few and far between here lately, I thought I'd show you something I made a while back and gave to my dad last week for father's day.

I've been wanting to experiment some with different photo transfer methods.  And when I came across a great photo of my dad sitting on a beloved car (his 1949 Mercury, which he lovingly customized), I knew it'd be fun to play with.  When I asked my dad about what the car was -- because, to my dad, what the car IS is a vital piece of information -- he replied with the details about the car, and then went on to say that after my mom gave birth to my sister, he had to sell the car to get her out of the hospital and pay the bill!

So that was the seed of this little collage.  The picture below shows my mom holding up my sister Laura, who has a very funny tongue-sticking-out look on her face.  The text says "He traded the '49 Mercury Custom for the baby ... and never looked back."   My dad tells me he was wearing actual blue suede shoes, with a matching blue suede jacket.  Pretty cute guy, huh?  Not to mention a WONderful dad. 

This was a big hit for father's day and I was delighted.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

It's a backpack, baby

Fourteen years ago, when Roger and I were preparing to travel to China to bring our baby daughter home, I looked far and wide for some practical travel diaper bag.  I finally settled on a wonderful black backpack from Eddie Bauer, with zillions of pockets, and it was perfect.  It looked like a backpack, so I didn't have to haul around a cutsie blue and pink bag with ducks and bunnies, and it held all of the requisite baby supplies PLUS all of the gear I'd have had in a purse.  It really was the ideal traveling bag.  (Eddie Bauer doesn't make it any more, and the one above is the closest picture I could find to what I carried.)

In the years since I carried that bag around China, it's doubled as the vacation bag to hold books and magazines and sketchbook on vacations.  It sits with me at the beach at Tahoe every summer.  And the dang things shows virtually no wear.  It's amazing.

I pulled it out of the closet today because Caroline has been packing for her first overnight summer camp, this coming week.  (She's headed off to a week-long camp to learn all about 3-D modeling for computer animation.)  She needed a pack she could carry around to hold her journal and her cell phone and her sketchbook and maybe a beach towel if they're going swimming.  She didn't want to bring a school backpack, and it occurred to me that "the China pack" is the ideal solution.  We've loaded it with her necessities, and it will be ideal.

So everything is perfect, except that Mommy is getting a little teary-eyed at the the thought of my BABY heading off for a week (her first time staying more than a night without mom and dad!), carrying the very bag we hauled around China to hold her diapers and bottles.  She's so grown up.  She'll be there with the other computer graphic obsessed kids, strolling around a university campus and learning new exciting things with other teens and even eating dinner without being burped afterwards.

Roger and I are taking the opportunity to have some kid (oops, I mean TEEN) free fun together with a list of things we've been wanting to do in San Francisco.  But I think the week will be harder on us than on her.  

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

All directions at once

I'm working on a list of things I'd like to get done, and I seem to be scattered in all directions, working on a bunch of different things at once.

But I thought I'd show you a fun project I ticked off the list.  For my City and Guilds course, I was required to make two box forms and decorate them -- one with lines and one with shapes.  I had a good time painting the papers and developing the patterning.  For the linear one, we were required to use wrapped string as the basis for the pattern -- a very interesting way of developing pattern and not one I'd have thought to use on my own.

There is something so pleasing about the chinese take-out carton shape, isn't there?  I love these little boxes so it was easy for me to choose this as the box shape to work on.  When I was creating the template and making these boxes, I was reminded that the very first time I ever took a watercolor painting class, the very first assignment was to draw and paint a chinese take out carton.  It was all about the shading, working with those angles and planes. 

It's still a pleasing form to me and I'm happy with how they turned out.  Gee, another place to store ribbon bits and empty spools and things!

Sunday, June 13, 2010

That sound you don't hear

Shhhh.  Hear that?

That NOTHING sound?  That would be SILENCE.  And I've been basking in it for 24 solid hours.

Roger took Miss C off to the city (as in The City.  San Francisco.) to see Wicked (a second viewing for her, first for him) and to stay overnight.  Ever the thoughtful wife and mother, I encouraged them to stay as long as they wanted.  Another few nights even.  I'd manage here alone..... somehow.

I've been craving solitude.  What with C doing school at home for the last year and a half, and with Roger on school vacation for the summer now, I'm -- shall we say -- crazed.  And that's putting it nicely.  Not getting alone time makes me sort of cranky.

So what have I done?  I've finished THREE City and Guilds activities, which included creating painted papers, creating a box pattern, making two boxes, sketching and coloring an object to give a 3D look, drafting a 3d block design.  I prepared some dye paste base, mixed some dyes, and made a screen in preparation for a screen printing session.  I dyed a graduated batch of fabrics.  I sketched out two quilt designs.  I scanned some old family photos and experimented with inket transfers using inkjet transparencies and gel medium.  I watched a Jane Dunnewold DVD on screen printing.  I sat quietly (uninterrupted!) and leisurely read the newest issues of Studio magazine and Somerset Digital Studio.

And if that mini art-retreat time wasn't enough, I spent an hour sitting on the patio in the early morning with coffee and my current novel (A Tale of Two Sisters by Anna Maxted, quite good).  I blanched asparagus  and made lemon vinaigrette dressing for a fresh salad with field greens and toasted almonds, I made a batch of deviled eggs (Roger's favorite treat), and I did two loads of laundry.

It's amazing what I can do when I'm not interrupted. 

My family is now home, the dog is relaxed now that all of her pack is in sight again, and life is returning to normal.  I love my family -- but a day without them has done me a world of good.

Monday, June 07, 2010

Texture time

I've been working on a module of lessons on texture in my City and Guilds course (in which I make sporadic bursts of progress).  On a City and Guilds board on which I lurk, there has been a discussion about the value of pursuing these C&G courses, which has led to all sorts of people chiming in with the reasons they're doing it.  Me, I find that having assignments to focus on a specific aspect of art composition or fiber art technique does make me pay a bit more attention.  So, while I've been working away on these tasks that involve noticing and creating texture, I'm seeing texture ideas all around me. 

So, one task required me to collect images of interesting textures.  That's been very fun.  I've wandered around with my camera, taking pictures of things just for the texture. I've hunted through texture photos on flickr.com.  So many great textures, which leads to thinking about how to create them on fabric.

Another task involved making rubbings -- and isn't that always fun?  This was the bottom of a plastic strawberry basket.  I see good possibilities for that.

I have this very cool plastic sink protector with a pebble texture, and I used it for a rubbing with paintstiks and then a wash of dilute acrylic paint.  Fun!

But A+ for texture work goes to my friend Terry, who is making her own texture bases for rubbing.  Check out what she's done with lentils and hemp to create gorgeous patterns on fabric!  Makes me want to go dig around my cupboards to see what food I can glue to cardboard to make rubbing plates!