Sunday, November 28, 2010

AEDM November 21-28

Wow, that, uh, wasn't meant to be a whole week's worth post, but oh well. I have been doing plenty of stuff, still. So here we go:

First I did another of the square quilts blocks, in the light green stripe. I only made one, as a test, and I'm not sure it's going to hold its own with the stronger colors of the other blocks. Here it is with one sherbet and one chocolate block:

But mostly what I worked on, quiltwise, was these totally addictive four by four squares:

I made a few more of these, but they had either too much contrast or not enough, so they got weeded out.

I also did this little mandala sort of doodle, which I found very weirdly difficult to do. I thought I'd just let the colors come to me but it was really awful. I don't think I'm over that block yet. Or, maybe, I just don't work that way? Whenever I do something like this, with no plan, it always comes out looking the same, just sort of random rainbowy colors and I always hate it. Hmmm.

And last, I spent most of the time working on these little Etruscan Sims ladies:

The dresses (and heads) still need a little tweaking, but they're pretty good so far.

Oh, and yeah, I made three freakin' pies and some banana bread Wednesday night, as well as a complete turkey dinner &c on Thursday. Whew!

Saturday, November 20, 2010

AEDM November 19th & 20th

Yesterday on my various errands I acquired some more stripey cloth, which I washed and dried. Today I ironed it, cut the pieces out and assembled them, giving me another five of the consquaric blocks in ice cream and sherbet shades. I would have gotten six out of them, but I cut one single triangle off by a quarter inch, and it would not line up. Holy cow though it's tricky fussy cutting those out and keeping track of them, especially when the repeat of the stripes is just a little smaller than the height of the triangle you are cutting. ('Fussy cutting,' I should explain, is when you cut out a piece of cloth following the pattern on it.) Somewhere in there I just started whining, Fussy cutting is fussy, waaaah! but I soldiered on through.

I tried a single square out of a red yellow and black much smaller stripe; I'm not sure it's going to work (it's at the middle bottom, though you can't really make out the black of it). I think I want all the stripes to be kind of on the large side. Here's a picture of the new ones, posed with the ones I did a little while ago in chocolate shades:

The smaller one on the extreme left is the first one I tried, to see if I liked the idea in the first place. I intend to make some larger ones out of that cloth, which is a bright red and orange. I'm not so keen on the sherbet and ice cream color scheme, though it works well enough on that cloth, and I like the effect in the squares, and how each one is very different; I'm going to throw some bright reds and yellows in there so the finished quilt won't look so 'trendy' to me. (Don't get me going on that fad that just won't die of brown paired with aqua.)

I also got a chunk of striped cloth in shades of green, which should go nicely, though I didn't get as far as playing with it.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

AEDM November 16th, 17th, & 18th

Catching up a little here; I've been making plenty of things but fell off track a little with the posting part. So here's what I've done in the last few days.

I made a single square (the one in the upper right) on this Trip Around The World quilt. It's meant to be a doll quilt, and the squares when done are two inches across. Yes, it's stupidly tiny. Yes, it takes forty-five minutes to hand-sew a single block. Yes, it's kind of wonky since it's teeny and hand-sewn. Yes, it needs to be ironed. And yes, I love how it's coming out so far. I am tempted to make it a full-sized quilt, except I don't expect to be alive for the required thousand years.

I also put together another row on the orange-yellow-and-black quilt, which means I have more than half of the nine-patches done:

I did a little block, just to see if I liked it. I had in mind some very colorful high-key exuberant quilts I had seen. I think the contrast is a little too pronounced in it, and that it would work better with a lighter blue, so hmmm.

I also cut out the remaining pieces and assembled this square, adapted from a mandala doodle I did. Maude is, alas, not impressed, to judge by her yawn.

Monday, November 15, 2010


This is the sort of thing I would usually talk about on my other blog, the one dealing with my father's hoarding and its aftermath. But of course one can't really separate one's life so neatly, and it is all related and intersecting. So I will make this observation here: what we are doing is in large part a spell.

I suppose I should give a bit of rough background. My father was a compulsive hoarder and a mechanic. Have you seen those TV shows? I haven't, actually, because I know I would find them triggering and enraging; but from what I have heard he may very likely be worse than the people on them. Because, no matter how bad they are, the very fact that they have agreed to be on those shows mean they recognize something is wrong with them. For my father? Not so much, no.

For forty years he filled this yard (and the garage, attic, breezeway, and two outbuildings) with junk like whole rusty cars, car parts, engines, tires, scrap metal, galvanized heater ducts, pipes, lumber, boards, milk crates of cedar shingles, cans and jars filled with nails and bolts and screws, refrigerator drawers, wooden drawers salvaged from old bureaus, broken furniture, and on and on and on. At one point there were seventy-eight cars on this acre and a half lot. I wonder, quite seriously, if we have actually had a million bolts, screws, and nails here. I am in no way kidding. How many nails fit in a gallon tin can? And how many of those have we found, and gotten rid of?

So, anyway. What my sibling and I have been doing in whatever time we can spare is to clean this up. (This is only possible, I should say, because my father is now in a nursing home and no longer lives here.) We have already taken a huge amount of stuff off the property. We have made (according to the receipts) twenty-six trips to the scrap yard to get rid of iron, so far (that number is probably a little low, actually, since I don't think we have all the receipts), and taken more than eleven tons.

Yes. Eleven tons. And it has barely made a dent, honestly. It doesn't look very much different.

So back to the Witchy aspect of all of this. Besides the obvious ways in which this clean-up is honoring the Earth (or really, just being decent to the Earth), and the ways in which it is making this bit of land more hospitable to faeries (what are faeries famous for hating? Iron) or the way in which it is more personally connected to my own growth and feeling of freedom, not to mention the whole working out of issues thing, it is also in some very real ways a magical process.

Because it is alchemy. We have been gathering up base metal, copper, brass, iron, and yes, literally lead, and transforming it into gold, or rather, cash. And that is a magical process.

And so I recently took some of that money and bought myself something which really seems quite appropriate, given the author's interest in alchemy and transformation. Can you guess what it is?

Here's the package which arrived today. It was quite large, and very heavy.

Yes. It's a book. Can you guess what color?

Why yes. Red.

O happy happy. I have only had time so far to page through the illuminated part and read most of the introduction (I had to put it down to help take several stacks of tires to the tire place), but I can already tell it is going to change the way I make art.


AEDM November 15th

I know y'all believe me; still, I like having pictures. I'm very visual, and if I can't see it I forget it exists (which is one reason I tend to live out of laundry baskets, because if I put my clothes away in the drawers that means OMG I have no clothes!)

So I got another two rows done on my Hallowe'en/Samhain/November yellow-orange-and-black quilt, bringing it up to seven of the fifteen rows of twelve, nearly half (as far as the nine patches are concerned). It's starting to take over my floor, hmmm. Given the layout of my studio room (which is an attic room), my project wall (a hunk of batting hung up that you can pin pieces to, then step back from, so you can get a look at it, and rearrange) is actually my floor and the rug, since with the tilty ceiling, built-in bookcases, doors, chairrails, the futon, &c there is no blank piece of real estate on the wall. Except this quilt is probably going to end up about the size of the entire rug. Hmmmm.

I rearranged it by color, so it would be easier to keep track of how I'd already combined the colors. I'm shooting for no repeats. Looks pretty good so far!

Sunday, November 14, 2010

AEDM November 14th

And again with no pictures of what I did. Oh well. I cut out more (and more, and more) of the squares for my orange-yellow-black-and-grey quilt; I've finally gotten enough now to start up sewing together another batch. I've got sixty nine-patches done already, and I think the finished size is going to be twelve by fifteen squares, so I'll need one hundred eighty altogether. So that's one third down, with one hundred twenty to go. I still need to find probably about four yards of ash grey cotton for the plain squares in between.

I also sat down and listed a bunch of unfinished object projects, and then laid out the next series of steps to do for each, which is very helpful. Because I'd like to use November also to help me learn to finish things (I am notorious for the amount of UFOs I've got kicking around. How many quilts have I started now?)

Earlier today (well the 13th, I guess) I went scouting around for lumber on the property. I may have found a good hunk of something to use as the two inch thick piece for the top of the bookcase I designed last week. Except, looking at it, all I could think of was Gandalf's remark about Barliman Butterbur's mind: it was 'like a lumber room: things wanted, always buried.'


AEDM November 13th

I did a couple little watercolors (and when I say little, I mean like one and a half by not quite three inches) to scan in for little Etruscan Sim wallpapers. Again, though, I don't have a scanner just now (the sibling was supposed to bring it over for me to borrow it today, but forgot), so I don't have anything to show.

I'm making stuff, honest!

Saturday, November 13, 2010

AEDM November 11th & 12th

Yesterday I did some journal-type writing; I guess that counts as art, but again, I've got nothing to show (or nothing that I'm willing to show, anyway). Today I played around with little texture maps for Sims stuff (it's a hobby), in the hopes of making a little Etruscan woman (my goal is to make an entirely old Pagan Sim-world). It looks a little odd, since it's a texture map, and stretches to fit around the 3D mesh, which in this case, has two braids in the front, and several more hanging down the back. I had thought that given the shape it would work well with an Etruscan-style hat; but when I tested it in the game it turned out that whoever did the texture mapping had gotten the color for the braids from the top of the head, so they were showing up the same color as the hat. So I think that I'll have to ditch the hat, alas.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

AEDM November 10th

Well it's another day where I don't have a whole lot to show. I decided that even if I didn't know what I was going to do with the grey parts of that Hallowe'enish quilt I started, that didn't mean I had to stop working on the orange and black nine patches. So I cut out a bunch of black squares. I didn't get as far as cutting more of the yellow and orange ones though, so I don't have anything to assemble together yet (since I used up all the ones I'd already cut).

I'm counting it, even though part of me things that's really pathetic. But then I have this habit of discounting what I do. The year before last (I think?) I also participated in the year-long (and rather more laid-back) version of Creative Every Day, also hosted by Leah. Part of that was keeping a creativity journal. I was really surprised to find what I counted and didn't count as being creative.

Because when I wrote down every little creative thing I did in a day, I had this huge list. Every day. Things like blog posts, cooking stew, sewing, knitting, twiddling about on the guitar, things I discounted as not Art, capital A.

And I'm realizing that not counting prep work, which is what cutting out fabric for a quilt is, is a way of disappearing the energy put into it, which is not good for the soul. Because you end up at the end of the day tired and thinking you did nothing. Which is not true at all.

So. It counts.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

AEDM November 9th

Well it was another one of those days (well, okay, I'm talking about Monday the 8th here, properly) where the sibling and I spent several hours cleaning up junk and sorting stuff to go to the scrapyard. However, I did manage to squeeze a little bit of art in there.

Namely a little bit of dyeing. Last month I did a batch of yarn in black walnut; today I strained out some pokeberry dye, tied some of the black walnut yarn off tie-dye fashion, and plunked it into the pokeberry solution. This is real low-tech dyeing, I suppose I should mention; I'm just going to let it sit there for I don't know a week or two maybe and see what I get.

The black walnut dye, made from crushing and soaking the hulls, makes a really marvelous rich brown. If you dip it a few times in indigo you can actually get close to black, too. Pokeberries of course make a bright magenta, though the color isn't that fast. Though I have heard if you get the dyebath acidic enough, the color is permanent and won't yellow (which in this case means it goes to a dark red, or at least the batch I made last year has gone from purple to rich deep red. Not a bad color itself).

So we'll see how that goes. I didn't get any pictures, though it's not much to look at, honestly. Just a bunch of bright magenta stuff in a five-gallon bucket.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

AEDM November 7th

Another confession. I fucking hate the artistic process. I really, really, really do. The phrase I always, always come up with is that it is like pulling my own teeth. For all that I don't want to know what I'm doing, well, maybe that has nothing to do with it after all, I don't know. But I only do it for the results, honestly. I hate the process. I really do.

Painting doesn't send me to some lovely zen-state where time no longer exists; always it is simply a chance for the monkey mind to rant (and rant) about awful things while the rest of my brain is occupied, and every millisecond is filled with rants and the petty stupidity of thought, even as whatever it is I'm making is being made (or making itself, maybe. I don't know).

And I get frustrated so easily. I mean, it's ridiculous, and has been proved over and over again, but when drawing, like, say, trying to get that hand right, I always, always despair that it will never work. Every single time. It always does, but that knowledge, that experience, never seems to take.

It's the same old block, I suppose, one that I've been trying to get around for several years now. One that I have in general left off fighting, because fighting it, rebelling against it, has not only proved to be useless but I swear only makes it stronger. So maybe this making art every day thing, on schedule, and with the intent to check in daily and show others, is just not a good idea for me. I can never tell. I'm not the type to force myself through something; I have found that it inevitably harms me in the process.

So, this is what I tried to paint today. I went at it not knowing what it was going to be, and not caring, either, or so I thought. But it got to a point where trying to decide what to do with it, or trying to judge what was the appropriate next step just met with all this, not resistance, I don't quite think, but all this stupid other stuff coming up, to the point where I was nearly in tears and just said fuck it. Fuck all of this. Now.

So I left off.

I swear, the only reason I paint is for the end result. Now, it's true, I don't really want to know everything about what it will be, and I want it to be its own thing—like a spell, where you say, I want this result, or better. It's that or better part that seems to fill itself in. Divinely? Maybe. Probably. And that's good.

I'm beginning to see it a bit now I think, this block, and what it is constructed out of. It all comes back to the hoarding, my father's hoarding, and the resulting neglect that was all a piece of it, and of being told, and shown, that my needs (really, anyone's needs but my father's) were not just unimportant but completely and quite impartially irrelevant. Personality disorder on my father's part, you see. I don't really want to get into any of it here, and I certainly hadn't planned to (that is what the hoarding blog is for), but, it is kind of the big issue I'm dealing with right now. And if there's one thing I've learned about myself is that things that are important to me permeate my entire life. I don't see how they can't, really.

So I think really this comes down to some part of me having been taught that I am simply not allowed to do what I want, to have what I desire, to behave as I like. And when I try to do any of those things, I am still coming up against the idea that I shouldn't, and I am bad. I know, that is the language of a child there, isn't it. Well yeah.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

AEDM November 6th

So I designed that bookcase which will hold the fat quarters and which will go under my Muse pictures. Now, I'm not really much of a woodworker, not yet, anyway, though I'm a little further along than being confined to building birdhouses; but I'm no cabinet-maker, certainly. So I kept it simple. Simple, but with some design to it; and I figured I could probably make something simple but with a bit of an Arts and Crafts sensibility in the proportions. That I can do.

So here's the sketch. I should probably redraw it on graph paper, since the proportions of the thickness of the wood are a little off (since 1" wood is actually 3/4"), and I want to make sure it won't look anemic; still, I'm pretty happy with it.

Again, I don't have a scanner right now so I had to take a photo, which I played around with to get some kind of readable contrast. I like the effect, though; it makes it look like one of Leonardo's sketches, don't you think?

Although, really, for the full Leonardo effect it should look like this:

I don't know yet quite how I'm going to do that thick top, or the moulding on the thick top, but I'll figure it out.

And oh yes, that's a sketch of Sir Isaac Mewton's head over there on the side. He moved, of course.

Friday, November 5, 2010

AEDM November 5th

Art Every Day Month is always (well, okay, this is only my second time at it) kind of a mindfuck, honestly. Or at least it is given the way my mind works. I am a recovering insomniac and my productivity generally takes place in the wee hours. Which means I'm usually one of the last ones checking in at Leah's site and I feel like I've missed out on the discussion, or that I'm hopelessly behind and a disorganized loser or something.

I know. I'm just stating it. I do recognize that that's pretty silly. Also, dammit, I'm just not good with the pressure. Not, mind you, that I'm giving up on this already or anything; just that, as usual, I have to adapt the 'normal' way of doing things to my own deeply, deeply idiosyncratic brain.

I am finding the same thing happening that I did with the Goddess of the Week posts; that having an audience means I censor myself and am unwilling to, well, even start. I suspect I will just have to ignore that. I'm not sure what to do about it but the word 'freestyle' is coming to mind.

So with at least the scheduling issues in mind, I'm going to try something. It is ridiculously early by my usual schedule (it's not even 10pm here!), and I've already made something, which I will post below. I will try, also, however, to do something else, and post that tonight as well. But it will be after midnight and so will actually be tomorrow's entry. So that will put me a day ahead, which sounds (from here) to be lovely and relaxing, and should help relieve that feeling of pressure which is making me crazy. (Well, marginally more so than usual, ha.)

So. This is what I did today, for Art Every Day Month:

I still don't really have a lot to show. But I cut out some more grey squares for my Hallowe'enish nine patch quilt. Then I laid them down, and put my glasses on (that last part is important). Because once I could see them I was no longer so sure about the colors. So I cut out some of the plain grey cloth I had, and laid them down too. I think they are too dark. The effect is not what I want, really. Here's a look:

I corrected for color in Photoshop, but it's still a little on the magenta side, especially on the left.

The thing with grey, I am finding out, is that it has to be dead-on neutral (or ever-so slightly brownish warm) to read as grey. Even a little bit of blue in that grey means it's reading just as blue, especially in contrast to the orange, which is complementary and so tends to push it over. So I think I am going to have to just go with a solid ash grey, and one that is lighter than the solid I already have. Probably; this project is now in a stage where some mulling needs to be given space to happen.

You know, once in a while when I tell an artist acquaintance that I make quilts, I get a mocking response (honestly, usually from a dude artist). So I tell them what I have found to be absolutely true—that I used to think I knew a thing or two about color, and then I tried to make a quilt.

Because you are not only using other people's color choices and are not mixing any colors yourself, but you are also using patterns, which 1) do incredibly unpredictable things when placed next to each other, and 2) look entirely different whether viewed up close or from a distance. It is baffling and marvelous both.

So anyway, I'm going to put this particular quilt aside for the moment (at least until I can get some of the right color grey cloth). I don't know what I'm working on instead though. I'm sure I'll figure it out, though.

AEDM November 4th

Well I did a fair amount of artsy stuff today but I don't really have much to show. First I went to an off-the-beaten-track fabric store to see about getting more ash grey calico for the orange-black-and-grey quilt I'm working on; I found some there and got it. When I came home I threw it in the washer, then the dryer (since I always pre-wash all my cloth), and—gasp—ironed it. (I never ever iron.)

Then I cut a bunch of squares out of the grey.

So, like I said it was a fair amount of work towards that project, but I don't really have anything finished to show.

However, one of the other bits of cloth I got was this stripey stuff in milk and dark chocolate browns. I'd seen a lovely square quilt on a blog which I would really like to link to but cannot now for the life of me find; it was made by cutting striped cloth and piecing it back together to make concentric (consquaric?) squares. So I took the quarter of a yard of chocolate stripe and made these:

Given how weirdly they're cut, that's all I got out of that quarter yard (though I have a lot of odd-shaped scraps now). They're about seven or eight inches square.

I would like to make this one in warm colors, like the old m&m autumnal color scheme: dark brown, light brown, red, orange, yellow, and that yellowish green. I have a feeling it's going to take a while, since I'm kind of picky about the cloth. But that's okay. Any time I actually find some cloth that will work, I'll make as many of these squares as I can from it, then throw them on the pile.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

AEDM November 3rd

I have a confession to make.

I don't like messy art.

No, that's not true.

I HATE messy art.

Still, when I was lying in bed last night trying to figure out what I wanted to do today for Art Every Day Month, I remembered I had the stuff to make monoprints.

We did them in art school. As you may have guessed by the name, unlike most prints, which are designed to be made in some kind of quantity, you only make one of these. What you do is ink up a sheet of glass with your ink and a roller, then put the paper (rice paper works well) face down on top. Then you draw on the back with a pencil or whatever, or, you can simply trace with a finger or fingernail. You can get some unbelievably black blacks with this, and they can be quite yummy.

So I set it all up, having first set the portable heater in the room to Quite Toasty; and sure enough, the cats could smell it and were soon scratching at the door to come in. They then promptly curled up and went to sleep in the lovely warm room, and I had my models. I am so clever.

I also did some sketches of hands and some drawings after some photos of trees I had.

I took a photo of the ones I liked since they aren't exactly scan-in-able all wet and sticky like that.

They are kind of fun, I guess, though not really my thing, like I said. And I got all paranoid about washing up afterwards, since the ink was oil-based. My studio room is also my sewing room, and black smudgy ink + nice clean cloth is not a happy thing. So, hmmm. Usually I do water-based paintings that have far less potential to get everywhere, but I've been wanting to do some oil painting, too. I don't know if it's going to be able to work in that room after all.

AEDM November 1st and 2nd

Okay, I kind of knew this was going to happen and it's all right. Monday was one of those thirteen hour days spent cleaning and hauling stuff till I pretty much fell into bed, exhausted; and I knew it would be. So the very first day of Art Every Day Month was a miss.

For the second day, though, I found myself up in my new studio room sitting there wanting to make something but not knowing where to start. So, even though I want to be doing more 2D sort of art pieces, I fell back on a quilt I've started. Which is also fine. Quilts are art, and even if it wasn't quite what I wanted to be doing it is a way of priming the pump, you know?

I did a dozen more nine patches on this quilt Tuesday night; I've got sixty so far, and the thing is meant to be twelve by fifteen. They're about five inches across right now, and will end up four and a half(ish). Though the thing with me and quilts is that I know I've got the bar set pretty high: I want them to be functional, which means, I want them to actually go on a bed. My problem? My bed is king-sized, and nobody in my family with smaller beds cares about quilts.

Here's a shot of them laid out five by twelve. They are posed on a pinkish lavender bedsheet of mine.

The squares in between the nine patches are going to be ash grey. Except ash grey calico/quilting fabric is proving very difficult to find. Crappy old Jo-Ann's just doesn't bother with unusual stuff. I'm going to poke around some local quilting stores and see what they've got, but I may end up having to make the grey a solid. I'd rather not, though. For now there are six grey ones posed in there.

Here's another shot of it run through Photoshop with the pink changed to grey (more or less) so you can get a better idea of what I'd like the colors to look like:

Spooky, don't you think?