This was what I worked on All Day today. Except for the part where I did a ton of laundry, packed for Family Camp, fetched and carried Aeirn and visited my dad, and finally realized it wouldn't get done in time and took the others to the Grow Gallery in Shelburne Falls.
OK, just reciting all that makes me tired.
So I have no circle, but I do have a nearly done spring pond piece. And I have four works hanging in a real live gallery, which is doing better business than the owner expected. Which is awesome in all kinds of ways.
I love the texture of ginkgo leaves – the way the veins are long and hardly branch, the way it looks very basic and very old. I emulated the texture entirely with thread, using very long stitches. While I am delighted with this side, I think I like the back even better. Which tells me that I shouldn't have used the variegated thread when I wanted the thread texture to carry the piece.
Here's the back:
You can see how the energy of the thread is more visible without the varied color to distract the eye.
I also had a minor epiphany this morning. I wanted different greens than I had in either of a pair of variegated green threads. One was too dark, with black that I didn't need. The other had a grass green in it that was not at all what I had in mind for pine trees. Alice was home today, keeping me company, sorting the markers into rainbow order when I borrowed two dark greens and started coloring the spool of thread. It worked beautifully!! The marker subdued the bright green and gave more depth and texture to the middle colors. It only soaked into the top layer on the spool, so once I've used that up I have the original color back.
It makes me wonder if I should just start with white thread and color it as I go… Except I like all the threads I have. So probably not.
Moving out from my back yard, but only one house down the street, my neighbor has a lovely deep red Japanese maple in her front yard. It shades the corner of her house, and sometimes the corner of my house too. It is not exactly climable, and she'd be unahppy if anyone tried, but it is very beautiful and the color and intricacy of the leaves pelases me every time I go past it.
Three leaves from a copper beech tree outside the place my dad is being taken care of.
As we went north, we traveled backwards through spring. The leaves shrunk and shrivelled, and collapsed into buds, the blooms turned from aged and browning to tiny and brilliant in golds and greens and pinks. The beech tree was perfct for climbing. Alice had limited tolerance for sitting beside a bed, so she'd go out and climb and read, and come back and check on us.
I love the squiggly center line of the leaves at the top; that will straighten out as the leaves age and harden.
These are real leaves, held in place with silk organza and fusible web. I think part of the piece is about aging and change, as much as the leaf itself, and the circle. I'll keep this one pinned to the wall and watch it change.
Happy Cinco de Mayo!! I have to admit I always mistranslate that as five times the mayonaise.
Alice and I are still in Maine. Today's circle is handstitched. The leaf image was copied onto fabric using the inkjet printer, then layered with dark green silk onto a white silk background. I brought the pieces with me to work on today, but finished it just now at the hotel.
We got in several short visits with my dad, and explored around town as well, in between. Alice had two doses of ice cream, two playgrounds, one round of mini-golf (a first for both of us) and a hamburger.
The May 3 circle is in honor of Sol Lewitt whose work we saw at MAss MoCA yesterday. I was chaperone for Alice's class. It was fun watching the kids encounter enormous weird art in the various MoCA galleries. The tour guides were good too. This circle resembles Lewitt's middle years, full of repeated lines and overlapping primary colors to give a little sublety. His later works are not subtle at all – just huge.
This is the third tree in my backyard. Aerin and I planted it our second summer in the hosue, and she could jump over it when it was first in. The first winter the wild rabbits nibbled all the buds off it, and I didn't think it would make it. But it has thrived, and is much too big for Aerin to jump over now. We live in fertile territory!
I'm writing from Sanford, Maine, where my dad went from hospital into rehab. He's pretty miserable, but improving steadily. I've brought him a way to have music, and all the treasured CDs he was traveling with in his car, in hopes he might find it reassuring and soothing.
I hadn't realized I was so insistent about planting trees at my house.
Yesterday's birch tree was the first thing into the ground when we moved in, along with a lilac bush and 200 daffodil bulbs. When we planted it it came up to my forehead. Now it towers over the house and thinks about visiting Aerin's room. And it pisses off my neighbor, but that is a different problem.
Today's tree came with the house. It is a sugar maple centered in the back yard where it doesn't aggravate anyone. Half of it died two years ago, suddenly and mysteriously. I was waiting for the other half to go so I could call the tree guys to take it down, but against my expectations it has been fine so I called the tree guys to come and trim back the dead stuff instead.
I made a rubbing of the leaf with Pentel dye sticks onto silk organza. The Pentel dye sticks feel like Cray-Pas – a kind of waxy pastel crayon in deep colors. Then it looked like the dye stick was holding onto the leaf so I added some more and ironed it off onto the base circle where it made a faint leaf impression.
And a very happy first of May to you!
I morris danced at various times in my life, and today I was grateful I was not dancing in the May at dawn because it was raining and cold and miserable. But I still sang some maying songs, and I admired my work that is hanging at the Cup and Top Cafe for the next two months (yesterday was very busy).
Circles for the month of May will be individual leaves. I've looked at landscapes, and trees and forests, and I'd like to look smaller. I think I can recognize 31 different plants and make something from a leaf of each. I'd like to focus on trees, but I might run out.
This leave was coated with paint from an oil paint stick (think oil paint in fat crayon form) and then ironed onto silk. The heat of the iron melts the paint onto the fabric and dries it, and cooks the leaf too. The whole process smells lovely. There are other ways to get details of an individual leaf onto fabric: crayon rubbings, printing them with paint or ink, using them as a stencil so the outline is visible but no interior features. I plan to try then all.
This amazing tree on the way to school has dark red and brown leaves, like a red Japanese Maple, but it has pink blossoms like a magnolia tree. It seemed a fitting end to April's blooming things.
My father is still in the hospital, doped to the gills on various pain meds. When he's comfortable, he's entertaining the staff with scraps of Gilbert and Sullivan. Which is an improvement over fainting from pain. Which is what landed him in the hospital this second time around. He'll be better soon, but this part is hard on everyone.
I spent the morning wrestling with dressage tests, calculators, scrap paper and pens. It was a desperate fight to keep everything on the table with me, where it belonged, and not flying off downwind towards Holyoke and the river. On the whole, I won. All the tests that arrived at my table were scored, and checked, and the scores entered in three different places. And all the tests that came to me, went to the riders at the end of the day and not the river or Holyoke. But it took a lot of rocks on the table, and a lot of holding things down, and a borrowed coat and gloves to keep from freezing.
The show was at the fairgrounds, so I walked to work, and walked home again. On the way over this morning, I stood with the sun behind me and looked over a field that was still full of the winter crops – slightly green and some tan, and the trees edging it.