Monday, March 23, 2009


I was listening to a report on NPR last week about an American family who moved to Fair Isle, (way northern Scotland), and while a friend and I were indulging our so-not-gonna-happen-fantasies they talked about how Fair Isle has no trees. I keep thinking about that. Wondering about that. At first I wondered what that would look like, but then I started to realize that I would miss the trees! I actually would feel uncomfortable without them.

This is a revelation to me: I am sooo not the outdoorsy type. But I do love my trees. I love them when they sway and dance when the summer so'westers come in. I am held and wrapped in their beauty when their leaves come out. I am even captivated by their length and strength all throughout our enormous grey and white winters.

Yesterday was Maple Syrup Sunday in Maine. An article in the paper said that the trees aren't harmed if tapped properly, among other things not until they are about 40 years old. And then the article went on to say that there is a tree nearby which has been tapped for over 100 years. Now that is a friendship. Someone has been taking good care of that tree. Several someones.

And my other tree thought for this early morning is that I finished my "Cousin Tree" for all of my cousins - a new rendering of about 400 years of family history that blossomed from the Huguenot very great grandparents who left France and travelled across an ocean to see if they could figure out a way to live within their spiritual truths.

I am reading a novel about the languages of human, animal, plant and element. That sometimes we understand each other, even across the species, but always that the languages are here.

I believe that. I love knowing that the language of trees is being spoken nearby.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Art At The Library

Well, Molly is the best Librarian any town could want: Iris and I moved books, book racks, and furniture this way and that at the Library yesterday, and while I was laying plastic on the floor, tables and along a line of shelves I mentioned my admiration for Molly's sense of adventure letting a bunch of artists with paint into her space: and she had nothing but encouragement for us all.

Yesterday we had our first segment of the Artist Journals workshop. I am going to sit here and wax poetic about the way we grow 'em artistic in these parts. Wow! Not only was our class full - it was over-bursting! (There is a waiting list that I think is still growing and we are promising a second or even third workshop later this spring and summer. Let the Library know if you want to join us.) We had several decades between the oldest and the youngest of our group, we had professional artists, professional elementary school students, and a couple of other employment groups represented as well. And we had lots of fun art supplies thanks to our wonderful grant.

Next, I have to tell you that even the socially shy amongst us were gleefully pushing the edges of that Art Envelope. Everyone came along on the ride as we tested out several techniques of getting color and texture onto pages for our journals. We all came up with excellent versions of laying paint on, and lifting paint off, our pages that will make for some fascinating backgrounds upon which to later collage, draw and write.
Here are a couple of photos of what I did, and please check out Iris's blog and our page at the Library's site for more photos. Above is color spritzed with water and then pulled off with scrunched up paper towel, then more color applied with scrunched up newspaper dipped in a small amount of blue: "dry scrunched". There is a little dry brushing over there on the right.

The photo below looks like writing, doesn't it? It isn't, quite. I painted my gessoed 70# paper yellow and then tried to thrill that up with blue, or turn it turquoise or something. That didn't really work and so I sprayed it with water and ended up letting it sit for a minute or so longer than I had intended. I finally decided to get newspaper flyer (the coated, shiny paper), twisted it up and when I started daubing it into the watered paint it made these great marks that you see. Another woman found that regular newpaper paper, just the black and white stuff, worked best for her. We just kept trying everything!
So as well as my appreciation to all the participants, and to Molly, our Director, I just want you to know what a fabulous crafting-librarian we have in Iris. She makes these classes I dream up over-the-top-wonderful. Iris culled a georgous series of diaries and journals from the Library's collection - for both adult and young readers. Many of us took some out to read over the next couple of weeks while we let our further painting at home dry. Iris remembers everyone's name and everyone's best loved books, works indefatigably to help me get everything in order, and is a happy, talented artist herself who continues to inspire the rest of us. Her enthusiasm for art at the Library, at home, on her blog and at school events makes us all the richer. Thank you, Iris!
A couple more pictures here. I had to make some papers for examples for the class and then I had to start doing something with them!! As well as making pages for my journal (below) I started making small collages, here. (As I finish them they'll be available at my etsy site.)

And here is part of one of the actual journal pages that I am working on. You can see over there on the left that there are holes punched - we are going to keep our pages in three ring binders. Oh! Good work all of you! What fun it is to work ... I mean play with you!

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Whoooopee! We - I - we are in the newspaper! CHECK IT OUT!!: (It is an article about our Art At The Library program in general and the Artist Journal classes in particular.)
How fabulous is that?

Thank you Dagney!!

And just because 'what is an art-blog without photography?' here is a little eye candy for you:

And another:

These are all 11" square and on display in an office in nearby Rockland.

The beads and medallions in these pieces are blends of polymer clay. The tiny beads are 14K goldfill.

And the one here: Hope Bird has hand drawn #6 (shrinky dink) plastic medallions. Let me go get the Bird ..

The sewing on these three is all by hand.

So listen: if you are anywhere near Rockport, and any sort of an interested paper artist or diarist (is that a word?) you gotta come to our, now well publicised, Artist Journal Classes at the Library. Call them, 236-3642, and sign up. If we hit our max, I have promised Molly that I will teach the class again this summer. Yum.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

I have been having such challenges lately: my computer is about as full as it can stand, I am a pack rat and have such a process to get rid of anything, and am trying to choose the most financially appropriate remedy. One of the things that this means is that I have to be really stingy with downloading photos from camera chips into our photo program until I fix the memory problem.

But all that said: here is a low-rez pic of some leaves I sewed for the International Fiber Collaborative. They are making a tree covered with leaves made by people from all over the world. The link that I made for you above will take you to page one of some of the leaves that they have received.
Some leaves are fabric, some are made from shopping bags fused together, painted and stitched, others are crocheted, knit, woven from wire ... oh! the list goes on. Lots of inspiration there!

I have sewn tiny polymer beads, candy wrappers, puzzle pieces and smaller felt leaves onto larger felt leaves. I sent them off today with an ATC of needlefelted wool to the artist friend who gave some brightly colored wool roving to our Library ATC group last month. Also in that mail were some ATCs for "my soldier". (I write letters for Soldiers Angels.) ArtMail. Thank God.

My studio has been getting a workout lately: I have been planning and prepping for our Art at the Library mini-course in Artist Journals this spring. Of course that means I have to make samples to show everyone! Wanna see?

There we go: the page on the left is on drawing paper.
1. Gesso
2. Very cheap yellow acrylic paint.
3. 2 different colors of green acrylic smushed and scrunched onto (and off of) the paper with crumpled paper towel.
4. Some vellum envelopes with tiny notes, and pictures, and items of interest.

The middle page is:
1. Gesso on drawing paper.
2. Yellow acrylic as a base with orange and then red paint swooshed on (that's a technical term, isn't it??)
3. Water spritzed then the droplets (and a layer of paint) dabbed off with paper towel leaving curious, unpredictable, roundish yellow marks.

And the page on the right, also on drawing paper, has:
1. Gesso.
2. Yellow.
3. Green swooshes.
4. Gold, hand-carved rubber stampings.
5. A jewel and two rubber stamp impressed craft foam medallions.
6. I think that there was some water spritzing going on there too.

Oh I am having soooo much fun. And I'm only in prep so far. E Gad. The class list is filling up and space is limited in our little (but fab) Library. Get in touch with the Library if you would like to join in. So far we have some completely fearless and remarkable young artists (I have seen them work: I am so not kidding about the remarkable part) (shows you what that Waldorf education can do to a kid) and some glad and skillful adults that I am excited to work with. Here is what Iris wrote for our press release:
Continuing with the Art at the Library 2009 program, the Rockport Public Library is offering four classes in a mini-course on Artist Journals, beginning on March 21. Artist journals can be created around any theme or just as a place to try new ideas, using many techniques from various media with as much or as little text as the artist so chooses; the class will explore our own definitions of a journal, through visual media, daily record keeping, and written/visual thoughts. The four classes (March 21, April 18, May 16, June 20) will build upon techniques you may have encountered in your explorations with ATCs (Artist Trading Cards). Additional inspiration may be derived from the many journals, diaries, and narratives in the Rockport Public Library's collection. Children younger than 5th grade should be accompanied by an adult partner/buddy. Space is limited to 12 participants. Call the library with questions or to sign up at 236-3642. The Rockport Public Library is located at One Limerock Street in Rockport, and is open Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday, and Saturday 9:00 to 5:30, and Wednesday from 11:00 to 8:00.
Well, I'm off. I have some journaling to do...