Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Auction Wins and Losses

Astonishingly, my sickly, blight-stricken tomato plants are continuing to produce beautiful fruit.  I've been canning more sauce for the winter, while gazing out at a goldenrod, Joe-Pye-Weed and ironweed filled meadow that will have to wait for another year to be simmered with silk and wool to create lovely colors.


I slipped out to the local junk auction last night, and came home with some more vintage damask linens to dye.  I was outbid on a handful of lovely doilies and a generous fat quarter of vintage bark cloth.  I have my limits on bidding, and even though I really wanted the doilies and bark cloth more than anything else on my list last night, I did not want to pay much.  I keep getting outbid or just making dumb decisions on bark cloth and vintage printed feed sack cloth.  Twice in the last three years, I have found a large box of uncut feed sacks, only to leave each auction before they even started because I didn't want to sit through half a day for one box of stuff.  Of course, the boxes might have gone for far more then I could have paid, I don't know.

So here are five things I really want to find in the waning auction season this year:

1. Bark cloth
2. Feed sacks
3. Wooden ironing boards
4. Elna model 50 sewing machine (the "Grasshopper")
5. A really good deal!

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

One More on the Meaning of Abstract Art

I've been simmering about the disconnect between abstract art and ascribed meanings for a while now.  So, at work today, I was stunned to discover a wonderful new children's book on that very topic: Niko Draws a Feeling by Bob Raczka, illustrated by Simone Shin (Carolrhoda Books / Lerner Publishing, Minneapolis, MN, 2017).  The book is about a creative boy who makes many drawings of concepts, emotions and sounds, but no one sees in his drawings what he feels, until one day, he meets a girl who understands his drawings.

The tale still acknowledges a chasm between (collectively) Art and People.  I absolutely agree that no one has to like everything they see as a viewer and no artist will ever make a piece that everyone loves.  That is fine.  What I wish we would all work on is being more nurturing of creativity within ourselves, along with realizing that good art is a lot closer to our everyday lives than we realize, and that it does not have to be about anything.  My own fabric collages are a fine example of this; I do not ascribe any meaning to them, they are simply a product of my desire to make something and to have something lovely within my walls.

Image and design copyright 2017, RPS
Please do not copy or repost elsewhere

Friday, September 1, 2017

The Gap Between Art and the Viewer

I'm not intentionally trying to stir up trouble here, but this is something that needs to be addressed by the art world.  There is a huge gap between the fine art world and the general public.  I have never been comfortable with art that has to be explained to the viewer, but in many examples, there has to be some sort of explanation given for the artwork.  As I have experienced not only at the most recent Quilt National and in numerous art galleries and museums, I often still fail to see what I am supposed to see.  Especially with contemporary art.

What am I missing? Is it just me that has this problem?

Is this art or just a busted-up piano?

Yes, it is just a busted-up piano, but I like the shapes that the parts create, and it could be an interesting abstract composition in an art quilt (or some other media).  However, if I translate this image into my own art, should I try to assign more meaning to the finished work?  Would the average person catch that it is a reference to a line in a Tom Waits song*?  Probably not.

What are your criteria for "good" art?  Why do you make art?  Is art a valid form of communication?  Should it be a form of communication?  What would it take to get more people into art museums, and to local art fairs to buy art?

*If you are curious, the song is Cold, Cold Ground ("The piano is firewood, Times Square is a dream /
I find we'll lay down together in the cold cold ground").  Then there is the quandary of figuring out what the song means...

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Quilt National 2017

As I mentioned earlier, I visited the biennial Quilt National show earlier this summer.  This was the third trip to QN for me.  The first show I attended in 2013 was incredibly inspiring for me, and I was astounded by the variety of techniques and pleased with the blend of representational images and abstract constructions.  The next QN that I went to in 2015 fell short of that excitement and energy that I felt from 2013, but I still think the variety was there (a crucial element to me for an art quilt show).
The Dairy Barn, Athens, OH, home of Quilt National

This year, I left feeling rather confused.  I didn't feel that there was much variety in overall techniques.  After viewing the quilts and studying the catalog for a few days after, my confusion only worsened.  There were many quilts in this year's show in which I am struggling to see what the artists want me to see.  What am I missing?

More on Friday...

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Latest Adventures

August is almost over, another month of neglecting this blog.  I have had success in other areas, take a look at the most recent batch of fabric I have dyed:


The bottom image is a mass of varied fabrics in a discontinued Procion color called Tea Leaves.  I really wish that it was still available.  It is a rather unstable color, prone to separation and inconsistent color across different fabrics, but that is exactly why I love it!  I don't have to tinker with it so much to get the variety that I desire.

The Coshocton Canal Quilters' show was a modest success for me as a vendor.  They have a nice new venue for the show, I will definitely be back there next year.


As always, thank you to those of you who made purchases, and I appreciate all the input on my fabric, quilts and ideas.  I am always looking to add things and improve.  I am delighted at the demand for vintage things... I'm searching for wooden ironing boards to have at the last two shows for the year!

In an attempt to get back to posting here regularly, I am trying something new: posting again two days a week, but I am only going to give myself fifteen minutes on each post day to get this out.  If carving out creative time each day is a challenge for you, I'm right there with you!  There is so much demanding our attention, and we must make time for things.  It is not easy!  I consider this blog to be a part of my creative efforts, and I have been getting overwhelmed by dreaming up posts that are far too heavy for all that I need to do in a reasonable amount of time.  I must remind myself to keep this as a light journal of my creative adventures, not a chapter in an art history book!

Thursday, July 27, 2017

What Happened to July?

Once again, how did time slip by me again?  It has been a busy and mostly fun month, I’m back and full of rambling things to ponder here.  I am probably going to post only once a week, as I need to focus more on making things and other business concerns.  A quilt show deadline looms near, this is what my entry looks like so far:


A long way to go!  That is all my own hand dyed fabric.  Need a fix of luscious fabric like that?  I will be a vendor at the Coshocton Canal Quilters' show, August 11-13.  It is held at the Coshocton (Ohio) County Career Center, 23640 Airport Road.


I made it to the Boston Mills Artfest back in early July, and thoroughly enjoyed my return to the annual event, after missing it for about 17 years.  According to my mother, I had attended the Festival since I was a baby, and I think that the early exposure to the fine arts certainly shaped the course of my life and led to where I am now, trying to make this fabric venture work.  Thank you, Mom!  I may not be secure financially, but art does matter to the spirit and soul.  I am wealthy in creative ideas and in, as Steinbeck so eloquently wrote, “the indescribable joy of creation.”  I take delight in not only my own creations, but those of many others as well.

I cannot decide if my next post will be about Quilt National, (I am hope to view it this weekend), or a ramble about art work versus collectibles.  It will all come out in time...


Thursday, June 29, 2017

Art Journaling

I am pleased to report that I have started a monthly journaling workshop through the library where I work.  This past Monday was the first session, and I think it went very well.  I am hoping to appeal to both writers and would-be artists, and I don't expect everyone to have to do all that I offer in each session.  That said, everyone tried the painting technique that I demonstrated, and some even started helping themselves to other supplies that I had for the class... fantastic!  My biggest challenge is to come up with prompts and techniques to hold the group's interest and keep everyone coming back.

Here is a view of my art journaling table. or maybe more accurately, creative chaos!

Next week, I will have some thoughts from a visit to a major juried art fair, and maybe, getting back to sewing at long last.