Postcards, stitching and painting

Now that autumn is setting in with cool weather with much-needed rain for my new xeriscaped yard (with native plants that need watering until they’re established), I am finding more time for my various artistic pursuits.

First, the rest of the postcards for the ihanna fall swap, which just began. (Some were previously posted.)

Autumn cat (collage)

I love lilacs (collage with Color Aid paper and washi tape)

Lilacs (collage with Color Aid paper and washi tape)

Clear Springs (collage with washi tape)

Save the Rain Forest (collage with wrapping from Who Gives a Crap? tp)

Scraps and Sunflowers (collage with Color Aid paper)

Scraps: red, yellow, green (collage with Color Aid paper and washi tape)

Scraps with bee (collage)

Now for meditation squares:

(rose petals from the flower arrangement at my late husband’s memorial service)

Finally, a couple of paintings:

“Dumpster Fire” (acrylic), painted on a really bad day.

Untitled, but not a dumpster fire, painted on a better day. (acrylic)

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Still Here

Although I haven’t posted art for quite a while, I am actually making art! I have completed my postcards for the fall iHanna swap, which I will share after they are sent out next month.

In the meantime, my art group keeps me inspired, and I continue to do meditation stitching. My dear friend Helen, who taught me about this practice, coaxed me into going to a retreat where we did a workshop that was well received.

Helen displayed hers on a reversed Japanese screen. I used a piece of burlap attached on a dowel.

This one, done today, is a bit Halloween-ish, using random items from my stash of trinkets and trims.

Craving yellow. I have found some of my decorative items in boxes of my late husband’s stuff. He and one of his friends used to trade dinosaur gifts at Christmas, so I suspect that’s where the stegosaurus pin came from.

I am also cutting up some of his old ties, and I let myself get a little messier than usual on this one.

More items from the boxes found in the garage.

I did this one at the retreat, and the button and silk material were from Helen’s stash.

Nests.

Feathers as especially evocative.

A more raggedy one, with remnants of a scarf that was chewed up by the vacuum cleaner.

Mermaid

I found the star on the ground while walking the dog outside the facility where my art group meets. It was quite hidden in grass and dirt, and the sun caught only a tiny bit of sparkle that was left on it.

Precious items found in the boxes in the garage: Gary’s fraternity pin and badge.

Junior helping me display the squares I’ve done so far. Since the burlap hanging is getting full, I have another idea to display them that should be fun. Stay tuned!

Meditation Stitching

In my last post, I shared meditation cards that help me during a time of sorrow. One of the members of my art group recently taught us about meditation stitching. The idea comes from Liz Kettle (you can see her YouTube demo for the basic techniques).

The only rule of our art group is that there are no rules. Show up when you can, leave when you have to, bring work if you have it, if not just come and chat. Some people stitch, some paint or draw, many of us do collage, but mostly we support each other in our art and in our lives.

My meditation squares are inspired by Liz Kettle. She recommends doing a square daily, spending only about 15 minutes. I have days when I’m not able to get to stitching. When I do, I spend a lot more time on each individual square. One art group member swore she couldn’t sew, and she now does fun, very loose (messy?) squares. I should try getting messy.

I’ve been saving fabric (scraps and yardage), ribbons, trim, buttons and odds and ends for many years, and now I have a use for them! I do still buy material: quilting “fat quarters” are an inexpensive source of small pieces of beautiful fabric.

Stitching is meditative, and I find this more fun and creative than embroidery. I have three or four aging embroidery projects I may never finish.

Wondering what to do with a diverse patchwork that would not work stitched together for a quilt or wall hanging, I plan to get a large piece of stiff fabric–burlap, duck or canvas–put it on a dowel and hang it, pinning the squares so they can be switched around as the collection grows.

Here are the ones I’ve done:

The top one is the first one I did, and I discovered using a blanket stitch around the edge made it very difficult to maintain the square. The dried grass is real; it’s been very dry here so it was easy to find.
Liz Kettle uses 4″x4″ or 4″x5″ pieces. I like to go a little larger sometimes, especially when I have a piece of fabric that works perfectly at 5 inches, like the one on the upper right. That is a real rose petal, dried from flowers sent to me after my husband died. I discovered petals are too fragile to stitch; it had to be glued in place. Some of the trims were given to me by my sister-in-law.
Getting a little wilder as I go, with feathers, ribbon, beads, shells and other odd items. The one with the yellow 45 rpm record hole filler is made from fabric that was a windsock by the pool at our other house that squirrels chewed up. I love using sparkly materials such as the one with the keys and crown and the overlay with the pink ribbon.

Healing Art

As I navigate the new life without my husband (and deal with bureaucracy and paperwork), I am still drawn to making art, even if it’s only a little each day. My Thursday art group keeps me inspired. Meditation cards have morphed into memory cards, reminding me of happy times.

Memory of the Klimt Immersive exhibit we saw in Paris in 2018. (collage)
Empty Chairs, reminders of a cottage on a bay in Rockport, Texas, where we often stayed. We liked to sit on the porch, watching seabirds, palms waving in the breeze and, sometimes, sunrise.) (collage)
The first memory card I made, when I was trying to nap one day and realized I needed to make some art. This includes memories of our Seine River cruise in 2018: Paris, Giverny and Les Andelys (collage)
This photo was taken in Silver Falls State Park, Oregon, in 2019. I never showed it or printed it, but kept it knowing some day it would be a poignant memory. (manipulated photo)

I have also made a couple of postcards for the fall iHanna swap. Can you tell I like images of Adirondack chairs? They are so uncomfortable but they look so good!

Map of the World (collage with Monet’s painting boat)
Go Swim (collage with washi tape and stickers)

I’m also doing meditative stitching, making small hand-stitched squares, finally finding a use for years of saved-up scraps of fabric, ribbons, trim, buttons, feathers and who knows what else. I’ll share pictures next time.

Some Art is Better than No Art

Primarily because of my precious Thursday morning art group, I am still making art despite the challenges I’m facing right now.

Latest output isn’t a whole lot, but as my Zumba teacher used to say, “Some Zumba is always better than no Zumba.” (Sadly, because of spinal stenosis and hip problems, I am no longer able to do Zumba, even the geezer version, Zumba Gold. I hope to return to it at some point when I can fit hip replacement and spine surgery into my life.)

Lost Feather (collage postcard with real feather and tissue paper overlay). This has already been sent to someone in England.
Love Letter to Vincent (5×7 postcard collage with map, stamps and tissue paper)
Purple Exuberance (5×7 meditation collage with crumpled tissue paper and confetti)

Spring Swap + A Meditation Card

As difficult as this spring has been, I still find solace in art. (For the full story, see my other blog.)

I have received nine cards for the Spring 2022 iHanna swap; if there is a number 10, I assume it’s coming from Australia, Fiji or some other distant realm.

Here are the nine cards:

L-r: A cyanotype from Connecticut, collages from California, Washington, D.C., and unkown
Mixed media and collages from Nebraska, New Jersey and New York state
Mixed media from England and Ohio

As mentioned above, in this sad and stressful time, I continue to make meditation cards. This is the most recent. The window makes me want to climb into it, and have you noticed I love wisteria?

Making Art/Spring Swap

Despite the insanity of my life (see my other blog if you’re curious), I have squeezed in some art this spring. One reason is that I have a fabulous group of women who get together every Thursday morning and work on our art, talk and generally have a great time. One of those women got me started on meditation cards, and I showed the first ones in a recent post. Here are a few more:

Nevermore (Collage with handmade paper)
Beads, Mums and Cork (Collage with cork)
Marooned (Collage)

This is also the time of the iHanna spring postcard swap. I’ve shown some of the cards I did earlier in the year. Here are the rest:

Spring ’22 (Collage)

Lost Luggage (Collage)

Beckoning Clouds (Watercolor and Prismacolor pencils)

I’ve received a couple of cards in the swap, so I’ll be posting those when I get all of them.

Many Ways To Be Creative

When we moved to our small town in the Texas Hill Country in 2017, I already knew it had a good arts scene: theater, music and visual arts. We have the Hill Country Arts Foundation, the Kerr Arts and Cultural Center, the Museum of Western Art, the Kerrvillel Folk Festival, and many other sites such as galleries and theater venues.

I moved here already knowing several artists, and in the next four-and-a-half years I’ve gained a group of creative friends that I have brought together to share ideas, support each other and make art. This was especially helpful during the lockdown days of the pandemic, when we had driveway coffees and front-yard happy hours.

The email distribution list now numbers 16, although we have never had a gathering with everyone present, and there are one or two who rarely attend our events. But we’ve had some wonderful get-togethers to share food, coffee, wine, books, our lives in general (including hardships, illness, loss and sorrow) and especially art in some form. The group covers the gamut of creativity: weaving, sewing, stitchery, jewelry, sculpture, painting, collage, writing, video, knitting and probably things I’m forgetting.

I’ve never had a group like this in my adult life. Living in big urban areas (San Diego, suburban Cleveland, suburban Washington, D.C., Austin) my friends tended to be scattered geographically, and I was busy with family and work during most of those years as well.

I am still busy with family–disabled husband and challenging teenage granddaughter–but art has become my solace and my support. I love these ladies like I’ve never before loved friends. (Outside the art circle, I am also grateful for church friends, who are also caring and supportive.)

After eight years of focusing on postcards, I have moved up just a little to something my artist friend Helen introduced me to: “meditation” or “soul” cards. They are a little bigger and heavier than my postcards and obviously are not intended for mailing. The process alone is meditative.

After four-plus years the group has settled on a set time and space: Thursday mornings in a beautiful studio in the one of our community centers. Even if I don’t get much art done it feeds my artist soul to share with others, receiving and providing support. We still need to come up with a name, although I’ve called it the CAW group–Creative Amazing Women. Any suggestions for a better name are welcome.

These are my first three meditation cards:

Serenity, More Precious than Jewels (collage with real German stamp)
For Ukraine (collage)

See my essay about Ukraine at my other blog, wigginswordsandimages.

Angel in the Garden of Chaos (collage) This is a statement about my life right now. I need that angel.

I notice I use a lot of yellow, gold and orange in my work. It’s strange, because these are colors I never wear or use in decor. But they are so warming and somehow hopeful.

Short Attention Span Benefit

Whether it’s from being a mother, or having worked at a job with lots of interruptions, I find I do better working on several different things at once, going back and forth. This works especially well with postcards. I pull out various papers, stock, media, scraps and clippings and begin playing with combinations of arrangements and color schemes that I like. I lay them out on the drawing board, and whenever I go by it I tinker with the layouts, moving, swapping, adding or taking away. When I see something that might work, I take a picture with my phone to use as a reference when making (and gluing) the final version.

The final product is rarely identical to the photo, so I’ll show both the phone shot and the final version of several cards to give you an idea of the process.

Fresh Start, New Year’s 2022 (Collage)
Shuffle #14, Baroque Puzzle Map (Collage and Color Aid paper)
La Vie En Rose Gold (collage)
Patisserie et Fleur (Collage)
Patisserie et Fleur Deux (collage)
Floral Celebration (Collage)
Draft Layout of Floral Celebration (the finished version is very close to this arrangement)
Always a Bridesmaid (Mixed media–collage, Color Aid paper, washi tape)
Always a Bridesmaid draft layout–quite different from the final product
Random Items Find Each Other (Mixed Media–collage, Color Aid paper, washi tape)
Pretty similar. The glare is from a piece of Plexiglas with a 4×6 rectangle drawn on it to help me crop and visualize an arrangement.

This is so much fun I wish I could spend more time just making art, but given my insane life (see my other blog) I’m grateful I get to do this at all.

Now you know something about how I work in a crazy household, and how this helps keep me sane. I think it’s time for a change from collage. I’m thinking of switching media, either painting or markers.

New Year, Back to Art!

After weeks of holidays, a bit of travel, still settling into our house (hey, it’s only been seven months and I’ve been busy), with granddaughter back in school (ninth grade–oh, dear, a high-schooler), today I not only hung some art, I made some! It’s one of those pieces that arranged itself while I wasn’t looking. I pulled a stack of papers out of the art closet and they were almost like the finished product.

It’s a start, anyway.

Lovely Leaves, collage

I’m having trouble deciding where to put art in the public parts of the house, so I’m standing things against the wall for now. But in my room I decided I’d like these three paintings over the bed, because each one has special meaning to me. I painted them in late 2007 and early 2008.

Left, “Wild and Precious, center, “Rising,” right, “Star Spirits.” All 16×20, acrylic.