Getting Ready to Go

Spring is popping out here in Western North Carolina. I am trying not to succumb to its fever as I tie up all loose ends to leave Tuesday for a month in Australia. My mind bounces from one thing to another and then back again. Tomorrow is the art group meeting. I need to pick up the studio. My small piece of checked luggage has everything I need for students and then some….but no clothes yet. Monday is time enough for that.

The artwork for an exhibition has been delivered to Asheville to be taken on from there with other artists works using paper.

All those who are helping to keep an eye on Lee have been documented and scheduled. Whatever they need is somewhere in the house and directions for how to find it, how to use it and how important it is to keep things running smoothly. Photographed instructions on how to use the DVD player, the washing machine and pictures inside of cupboards on where things go….even how to fold Lee’s underwear so it fits in the drawer and will be where he looks for it.

But I did get to watch the Olympic curling match this morning after taking photographs outside of a few things the deer are not chewing on….like these small bushes with blooms in white and pink.

They are not eating the forsythia and jonquils….not yet anyway. Saving their appetite for the first sprout of hostas I imagine.

The fish pond with budding Japanese maples along its edges.

And Jay, an elderly goldfish that we named after an elderly friend who passed away many years ago. Our Jay gets lighter and lighter each year as his color falls away. I am always happy to see him wake up from the winter sleep they all go into just below the surface of ice.

The river birch’s skin is very pink this morning as its bark falls away.

Just outside the front door the creeping jenny is thriving.

One of those “know it all” acquaintances that we all have said we would be very sorry that we ever planted it. We are not. I fills in with all the other ground covers and the color is always so fresh….and so welcome after a dreary winter.

One other thing I did this morning was get out my small cans of wall and trim paints. I take a small brush and starting with the walls and corners, I cover up all the dark marks from cat rubbings and chips on the outside corners of drywalled archways. Next the oil based trim paint catches all the dirty fingerprints and scrapes from moving things about.

Now when I get back from Australia and check on Lee, unpack and do laundry I won’t have to look at those marks and wonder when I will get the time to do what I just did this morning. Instead I have just a few days before teaching a five day class titled, Prints, Pigments, and Pages – A Collaboration with Nature. Earlier this week I wrote the syllabus and checked to make sure I have all the materials and equipment needed to keep eight students satisfied.

It will be a fun class. They always are. This time I get to add marbling papers with earth pigments. The walnuts students will be using have rotted to perfection. We will make small gelatin plates in class for printing bits of Nature. All equipment for contact printing leaves from around the site is ready to go. Feathers are coming soon to make our paint brushes. I think I am ready and just hoping a friend comes along to look in on Lee while I am busy in class.

The other thing all set to go are those infernal taxes. This was always something Lee did. I really hate numbers and kept myself to just balancing the checkbook each month. Now it is this plethora of papers that need to be collected and delivered so that our tax lady can get started long before our appointment mid April. Why people actually choose this as a profession is as beyond me as those who make a living by looking deep into our other private areas.

Last night was lovely wine, scotch and company on the porch. I am sure there will be more bits of nasty weather before Spring is officially here, but it is so nice right now.

In one week I will be finishing up my two day white line printmaking class in Hobart, Tasmania. I will do a blog then.

Now I am off to pick up the studio and do my physical therapy exercises before having a bit of Stone’s Ginger Wine and thinking about dinner.

Til next week.

Thinking About Clearing Space in the Studio

Sunset. Another day goes by and I have done little to get rid of things. A gallery is closing and I will get the works back that did not sell. More things piling up. I need to make some decisions here.  One of the problems is when you work in “mixed media” everything has potential.

This is the latest of the boats done for an exhibition in March.

It is bigger than the last one. And instead of having a bell that rings in a memory carried in the anchor, this one has several jingling bells in the hold. Just rock back and forth and you can hear them. The passenger is safely tucked inside wondering what to recall next.

His attic is full of stories….his and others. The rocks are the important thing here. Images of them on the boat as well as the house’s footings. And those that create a path along the deck of the boat. Here is where they came from.

It is an old cigar box with stones that I collected from a dear friend’s driveway in a town where we raised our children. Pacia lived to be almost 100 years old and I would stay in her house ( a converted train station) every time I went back “home”. One day I simply had a need to take a bit of the place with me. I have dipped into this box often.

Also in there are scraps of sandpaper the men taking wood working classes would give me when I was teaching at Arrowmont. I like those bits of used sandpaper. I like the sound of them. I like how they are supposed to smooth things over while irritating the heck out of it


Here are some of the stones as well as the sand papers in my tai chi figures. There are fourteen of them that take their poses as their burdens get less and less in each one. Here is the first one of the series in an earlier work. Now they just march along a wall in the studio reminding me to take the “focus breath”. I should pay attention.

The shot into the shoulder has helped and I will be able to get back to doing my tai chi and yoga stretches. I do them here in the studio and not in a class setting. That was only to learn the moves and the breathing.

All the works for the other exhibition are packed with their artist statement. Someone will get them to Chattanooga for me.

I am enjoying looking at just the sixteen nails on the wall. How long I can not hang something there is a good question. Someone I admire in the art group showed very large mulberry paper works. I loved the paper and assumed I needed some….just five pages that are 55″ x 27″. Those and a detail brush that “can paint cat whiskers” made from rat hairs. It was only five dollars and seemed like a good idea to have one. Besides it was a supplier I had never ordered from before that carries mostly Asian arts materials.

I am not being very successful at ridding myself of things. But I will get there. I just need to figure out how. I do know one thing. Once it is out of the studio, I don’t miss it.

Someone told me that she got rid of 100 things per week. I think it was each week. But she counted scraps of paper in that one hundred things. It might be a place to start.

Til next week.


Moving Right Along

I reworked this boat about memory loss and the drifting in circles. Now it is mounted on a nice river. Still only has one oar, probably to keep it off the rocks. Still has its memory bundle and not so many fish following along. I like it.

Then I took a good look at the River Lethe Boat full of passengers and decided to give them a bit of a break. I remounted the boat on the plinth and tied a rope up to a dock of sorts. Now titled, Waiting for the Ferryman. Maybe they will get some different water to drink while they wait and their memories will return.

And then on to making new boats with the same theme of memory. I revisited the boats done for an exhibit about remains and especially loved this one housing an old friend.

The house part was to hold small bits of memorabilia about the person whose ashes are in the hold.

But on my new ones that I am making for the exhibit, probably just four total, the house holds the passenger. Here are some views of the first one.

The anchor attached to a piece of written on shifu thread holds the small jingling bell that jogs our memory. It can be moved to the front of the boat or put in the “water”. By moving it about you hear the bell.

The mica window on the house part obscures the passenger inside. He/she is going it alone in this series.

And in the hold are the fragments of the passengers life or they could be ferrying other peoples’ stories along with their own.

All in all it was fun to put the papers made in Claudia Lee’s class to some good use. Making something that did not look like Claudia’s work. I also used some of my own chemically rusted papers. It will be interesting making three more of these that have the same theme, similar papers and good stories.

I am still thinking about how to rid myself of so much stuff in the studio. When I return from Australia I think I will be ready to throw out not only earlier work but a good part of what I used to call “inspirational parts”.

Part of my tidying up this week was “unfollowing” some people on social media. I am seldom interested in reading their self promotions that read like marketing themselves, or their workshops, or their books, or, or, or…..

Of course, that said, I actually was tempted by India Flint’s new venture about making bags. I think it is because I have so much respect for her, number one, and her integrity is pretty hard to beat. Plus I was thinking how nice to belong to a group of women who stitch bits together and chat about it when they feel like it.

Then I had another thought….what if I am expected to perform something in order and on time and answer questions!

So I am not doing it. I am not purchasing her lovely new workbook. I am just going to have to realize that I am beyond paying attention to anything other than what I think needs doing at the moment. My moments are getting pretty precious.

Not only that, but I am well stuck into the fourth of six Karin Fossum books on the kindle. They are like an Australian licorice to me. But I am pretty sure that the Darryl Lea brand no longer is in business down under. Last year I ordered a box of bags for my husband from Amazon and was told that they could no longer get it. And Karin Fossum really needs to stop writing such good Inspecter Seger novels.

Reading this blog over, it seems a bit scattered, a bit out of control. Well that’s the week. Next week I will do better. Art Group tomorrow, (they will set me straight) and a cortisone shot in the shoulder later in the week.

For now I will tidy the studio, AGAIN, and go back to my kindle with wine.

Til next week.


Getting Some Control – Some

These are my new tools, compliments of the physical therapist who is trying to get rid of a bad shoulder/muscle ache. About three months ago I noticed the pain, stopped boxing the bag at the gym, then stopped doing upper body work…..hoping it would just disappear. That is not the way things go any more.

Losing myself in Karin Fossum crime novels, I found this bit of dialogue between a young policeman and an older woman. He referred to her as being in her mid-seventies. That is close to my age. He must have asked her about getting older and she said, in part, the following:

“It is a gradual decline. An insidious, almost unnoticeable process that you only discover at sudden, shocking moments.”

That is a very accurate observation for Ms Fossum to make via her “older woman.” Finding passages like this make me sorry I have her books on Kindle. She has some good bits in the novels that could use a mark in the margins.

I think the shoulder is getting better and have been told that my patience could use some work. Do all the exercises and do them with patience. Focus on healing. Fine.

Aside from that I have dug out some of my favorite tools in the studio. Both are helping me do the finishing touches on work I plan on entering for juried exhibitions far away.

First off is the Harbor Freight belt sander.

When I saw this at a friends studio out near Seattle, and realized it only cost $49, it seemed a must for my own studio. It grinds away things I don’t want on the surface and helps to shape soft foredges of books, etc.

And then that wonderful burning tool I bought after a weekend class on finishes at Arrowmont a couple of years ago.

With the different tips and the speed with which it gets the job done, I am glad to be working with it again.

My new work in collage is all finished and framed for the exhibit the River Gallery in Chattanooga later this spring. And just the other day I received a request to be part of another one toward the middle of the state. They wanted my sculpture works. This will give me a chance to return to boats.

It feels appropriate to go back to boats. They fit me right now. Drifting. Floating. Waiting to get somewhere. Anyway I like the boats of my past.


Even this sorry little linen one with bits and sticks tied or stitched on.

I will rework the River Lethe one below. I might build a water line between the boat and those forgetful passengers below decks and loose the monument part they sit on. Sort of make them a river to float through. This one is definitely a reference to dementia. The passengers share fragments of what might or might not have been while other fragments float away. They have stored their “baggage” in the hold overhead before taking their seats below.

In the same vein of “drifting” I think I will put in the piece I made this summer with sticks and papers made in Claudia Lee’s class. The Lethe boat just floats back and forth. This boat turns in circles. In it I carry a bundle of memories wrapped tightly, am given one oar and a rock to remind me to get there quickly. The fish tag along in anticipation. All that and it still makes me smile.

I will definitely make some Sanctuary House Boats. Safe little floating spaces that can only hold one. A place to meditate and tune out distractions. Places to get away from that woman’s “sudden, shocking moments.”

I will be back next week with news on how that is going.