distance, not speed

I have always joked that I'm built for comfort not speed. The bikes I ride, the boats I prefer, the horses I like best, all better over the long haul than the short sprint. Imagine my pleasure at discovering that I have precedent in the art world: this article by Malcolm Gladwell points out what I knew in a dim kind of fashion, but maybe hadn't quite been able to articulate.

To wit – Some start fast, some start slow. Lack of skill at the beginning does not preclude acquiring the skill through practice. It takes patience on the part of the practitioner, and a good deal more patience on the part of her supporters, and frequently a steady allowance or other form of patronage. I have to say I am delighted to read this. I always swore I wouldn't be the person who peaked in high school, and I was frankly aiming for improvement every year. This says I have a shot at that – it isn't posturing on my part.

Go, read. Be encouraged.

penny, ruby, boo


penny, ruby, boo
Originally uploaded by Dancing Crow.

Horses I ride: Penny on the left, the tiny Belinda is hiding behind her shoulder (I don’t ride her, but sometimes Alice does) Ruby with her nose in the hay, and Kaboose, who is Penny’s mom. Check out the dapples on Kaboose. They are starting to get fuzzy for the winter. Their winter coats are good for northern Quebec, when they come in all the way. Pelham is a cakewalk, winter-weatherly speaking.

cut everything


cut everything
Originally uploaded by Dancing Crow.

Still sorting and filing.

I finally cleared off the top of the chest, and found many treasures. Part way through I realized I had a huge collection of cutting tools. They made a nice pattern, and nice shadows.

I have a lot of x-acto knives. The scissors with black are only for cloth. Two pairs of pinking shears is two more than I ever use, but one is from my grandmother’s sewing collection and it makes me think of her. I have more rotary cutters downstairs so I can cut at a comfortable height on the counter. The knife at the top is from when my family spent 6 months running a charter boat in the West Indies in 1968-69. I was awarded a knife for seamanship, and because my brother got a bigger one for his birthday and every sailor needs a knife. I still love it, and it is still sharp. Although I haven’t cut open many coconuts lately…

circus thoughts

Well, that was …. uninspiring. Surprisingly so. We went to see
Ringling Bro.s & Barnun & Bailey Greatest Show On Earth at the
Boston Garden (I don't care who paid for it is remains the Garden, only
slightly removed from the manky glory I remember from my youth) and,
wow. Not much there there.

Aerin said it best, when she
pointed out that they clearly have pots of money and spend it freely,
but make inadequate use of the extensive talents of the people they
have hired. Every act stopped before it got interesting. No individual
was allowed complexity, ambiguity, uncertainty. The simple fact that
there was always one more thing to look at than I had attention to
apply meant that I felt I might be missing something, yet once I turned
my eyes to a new point, there was still nothing much going on. The
aerial stuff could be accomplished by anyone at Circus Smirkus (plus
they didn't let the girls do anything interesting on trapeze –
something I pay attention to.) There were too many clowns and no one
got any personality except Bello and I was pretty darn sick of him by
the end. Plus it was painfully loud. Really, really, really loud.

Having complained at length, there were some things I
liked a lot. I liked that there were a lot of animals. I liked the
horses (although the above applies here as well – they had some ponies
in the opening parade we never saw again, and two Freisians who were
gorgeous and should have had a bigger part in something, anything….)
There were liberty zebras who did a little act. They were not as
comfortable as the horses, but seemed in good spirits (the last one was
bucking at the whip, which made me laugh each time). I loved that the
dogs looked like they were in some kind of dog heaven – their tails
were going, their eyes were bright, they were having a great time. For
all that there were protesters outside complaining about the elephants,
they didn't look unhappy. They looked like it was work, but not bad
work, simply something that was not recess. I felt worse for the big
cats – mostly tigers I think – who seemed really out of place. I think,
in retrospect, they were encouraged to look fierce, but they looked mad
and miserable to me. Not abused. Not starved. Just in the wrong place.

We
were told to see the circus by our teachers, to see where we fit in the
circus continuum (to be fair, it was aimed at the pro track kids, and
Aerin's class of advanced teens, not the fat and lumpy middle-aged  performer wanna-be that I am). I can see now why Cirque was so
astonishing when it appeared for the first time almost 20 years ago –
it is a really different aesthetic.

It is only a little sobering to realize that I am a circus snob.

small deities

Alice and I were going from one place to another in Brattleboro when we were captivated by something visually and aromatically spicy. The shop on Flat Street selling things from India sucked us right in. We wandered for a moment, caught by different things. Alice fingered all the tiny interesting objects – there were puppets combining men and women into one two headed flip/flop creature though only one was visible at a time, and boxes of tiny skinny bangles, some too small to fit over Alice's hands. I found an astounding array of textiles, embroidered, dyed, appliqued and stitched together. And we wound up together looking at a shelf of tiny gods. Alice wanted to know who they represented, and I had no clue. The only individual I knew, even glancingly, is Ganesh. Others I have only heard of, and could not match names with the images in front of me.

Alice picked up one in particular and was ready to bring her home when I stopped her. I found myself saying "We can't invite her into the house if we don't know what she stands for." Which has made me think of all the things that do come into the house, when I don't know what they stand for. Food, clothing, random stuff migrates into the house, invited in on the spur of the moment yet without a clear statement of intent.

Aside from a new metric to think about, I have to do some research on the panoply of Indian deities and see who caught Alice's eye.

sinuous.jpg


sinuous.jpg
Originally uploaded by Dancing Crow.

I caught sight of a poster advertising a movie about Andy Goldsworthy's work, (Rivers and Tides) and it has this amazing sinuous rivery looking line through white white sand on a black background. The sand is bunched up in the corners, and looser away from the line. I was gobsmacked, and came home to make it.

This is a test piece, 5×7" – the final will be closer to 12×24"

beanstalk


beanstalk
Originally uploaded by Dancing Crow.

Regular readers may be asking if I have actually accomplished any sewing lately? And the answer is yes, thank you, but only in spurts.

I finished this after lunch – the white side has bobbin-worked curliques in white on white, and the green side seems to be covered in leaves. The whole winding center looked like a beanstalk to me – sprouting and keeping one side from the other, Mostly it was a series of experiments in filling areas with bobbin work, but I am quite pleased with the over all feel.

I tried using it as a rubbing plate for paint sticks, and the results were mixed. Plus the colors came through the fabric onto the very tips of the white work. So I may wind up rubbing color across the top of the whitework, making it more green. But I thought I’d test that idea on a smaller piece first. As well as the next piece which has a much more riverine feel to it.