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!
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