Sunday, October 31, 2010

Life and Art

When I started this blog more than a year ago, I made a vow to myself that I would try to keep my personal life out of it as much as possible. No one wants to read about my aging cat's drooling problem, or how many times I saw my favorite Star Trek movie last year, or whether I think oranges are superior to grapes (I don't.) Boring, boring, boring.

I vowed instead to start a conversation with fellow artists about process, color, technique, tools, expression, and design. I want very much to spend time with others who understand my passion for- and almost constant state of surprise and delight with- art and artistic endeavors. I feel utterly fortunate to have achieved that goal, and I look forward to many more years of dialogue and friendship.

However, I'm about to break my, "Only art; no personal stories," vow and tell you a little bit about what's been happening lately because I feel like it will have a direct impact on my art. In fact, I can't see how it won't. (If this personal stuff does bore you to tears, no worries, I'm not insulted... just scroll to the bottom half of this post to see artsy eye candy!)

During our vacation last month to visit our parents in the NE part of the country, it became obvious that my Dad's memory is failing badly. Doctors and lawyers need to be seen and hard decisions will have to be made. To begin that process, I made another trip up there in the middle of last week which I just returned home from yesterday.  I feel like I've been living on planes for the last three months!

My life can sometimes be an odd mixture of Really Bad meets Really Good and this short but intense visit with my father was an excellent example. While my reasons for visiting were sad and serious and stressful, Dad and I faced those challenges together... and then went and had fun. Fun for us means getting out into the Pennsylvania hillsides and just driving. We talk, we laugh, we ooh and ahh over the stunning natural beauty, I take tons of photos, and when the day is over, we feel a lot closer to one another. Valuable stuff, especially now.

As an added bonus, the fall color was just past its peak and the leaves gave me ample opportunities for photographs. 

The tiny little coal town I grew up in, Tamaqua, was once dirty, run down and depressing. Most of the businesses were struggling, and unemployment was staggeringly high. Today, the town is fighting to come back, and is wisely using its picturesque roots as a jumping off point.

The real jewel of this region, though, lies in its rolling farmlands and forest-covered mountains.

(The graves of two beloved pets, maybe? These were next to a lovely white farmhouse.)

And like the typical up and down swings of Really Bad meets Really Good, the trip came to a stunning conclusion yesterday when, while waiting in the Philadelphia airport to board my flight home, I witnessed Air Force One land right in front of me.

I was sitting in front of a wall of floor-to-ceiling windows that looked out over the tarmac when I heard a tremendous roar. I looked up from my Kindle and saw this magnificent beauty touch down not a hundred feet in front of me and then taxi out of sight. 

Only myself and one other person seemed to notice and he got as excited as me. About two minutes later, the plane taxied back into view, moved around the terminal building I was sitting in, and into a small commercial field, where it parked and presumably waited for President Obama- who was evidently speaking at Temple University- to board. I got the above photo of it as it was pulling into that somewhat distant tarmac. I'm still over the moon with excitement!

I'm sure it's pretty obvious by now that my studio time has been sparse, but I am still faithfully plugging away at my assignments for Jane's class as well as getting a little surface design time sandwiched in between everything else.

This bizarre, circus-colored thing, a 36" x 45" piece of cotton Pimatex, was the canvas for some deconstructed screen printing.

Taken as a whole, it's pretty scary; it's a prime candidate for using bits and pieces of it in fabric collages. 

This piece, a 36" x 62" length of cotton broadcloth, also got the deconstructed screen printing treatment but so far it isn't thrilling me. 

The colors are weak and paste-ly, but it may be an excellent launching pad for more detailed surface design later with colored pencils, pastels and paint. 

I did something quite fun with it, though, and wound up having a bunch of interesting color palettes to aim for in the future: I ran the photograph of the full piece through some of the filters in Photoshop Elements and came up with these interesting variations.

They can be used for all kinds of things, including being printed onto paper and then worked into collaged art. One of them might even end up as my next blog banner, who knows?

Happy Halloween and happy creating!


Anonymous said...

I'm glad to hear that you were able to get in some fun with your dad - those are some gorgeous photos Judi.

I have to say, that I really like that piece with the blue filter and that last one too. Great color scheme. Both of those would be cool printed on fabric.

Robbie said...

Guess personal and art work on blogs don't bother me..if folks don't want to read 'a' post, they don't have to. My blog is for my friends and family and for anyone else who might want to stop by to see my art work or learn more about me. I am my art and my art is me! I can appreciate where you are with your father and hope all goes well for you all. It can be such a hard time especially being far away. I loved seeing the pics from your visit! So homey and comforting! Of course your art work always inspires me!!! Beautiful pieces!!

Fibra Artysta said...

I like to keep my personal life off my blog too but you know, sometimes the events are so big that it can't be helped.

I'm sending you hugs about your dad. {{hugs}}

The printing looks awesome - as usual! :)

Vicki W said...

So glad you are able to spend this time with your Dad and you seem to be making the most of it! I love what you did with the Photoshop filters. Very cool!

Deb Lacativa said...

If your life does not inform your art you are kidding yourself and keeping your readers in the dark.

This was one of the most interesting posts, either personal or art related that I've read in a long while.

Eva said...

Getting familiar with someone's art also means getting familiar with the artist. And as I'm following, the process of creating, even without mentioning a personal issue, says so much about the artist. It may even be helpful to get some explanation by knowing about your personal experience and to integrate it into the self-portrait.
Short and blunt: I am interested in the personal life of those I follow, too.
I'm curious to see what becomes of the print.
If a posting is followed by a number of comments, it doesn't seem to be boring, does it? And the pictures are gorgeous. Can't get enough of landscapes.

elle said...

My dear friend, art does not happen in a vacuum. Art that appeals to me is relational. I don't see sky and plane. I see my friend looking out wondering; the past, the present and a futuring rushing in all too quickly. (hugs) You continue to raise the bar. thanks!

Glen QuiltSwissy said...

I understand. My time for quilting has been very limited because of my committment ot Capitol Area Animal Welfare Society and my Alzheimer Mom. Both demand a lot of my time, but right now, time is what is important to both......

You are doing good work. Know that above all.

glen in Louisiana

Bev said...

As usual, your photos and commentary blow me away. You have no idea how proud I am of the woman you've become.

I love you.........Mom

Jan said...

I found your whole post interesting. I'm glad you were able to spend some quality time with your dad.

I love your digitally altered pieces.

Gina said...

We may start our blogs with the intent of simply sharing our common passions but we develop friendships along the way, so in comes the personal. It's wonderful that you have such a special relationship with your parents and that you are able to spend quality time with your Dad even though you are so far away. Art wise - amazing how you can turn any trip into a beautiful visual of photos. And of course more gorgeous fabrics - the photo-shopped versions are beautiful. Sending best wishes for your Dad and hugs for you.

Nina Lise@Mrs Moen said...

Well, I like when blogs are personal, our lives are such a big part of our art after all. I'm sorry you hear that your father isn't doing so well; I do know how it feels. I'm happy for you that you get to spend valuable time with him
You're quite the photographer, Judi; I love your picture of the deadish pumkin field; all those greys and the bright orange.

Terry Jarrard-Dimond said...

Hii Judi, I took a similiar oat when I began my blog but I am happy you broke yours to share your family experience. My best to you and your family.