Monday, March 29, 2010

Saint Patrick's Day performance photos

These photos just in from our Irish music concert at the St. Patrick's Day dinner benefiting our local library.

This little guitar is a full-size electric classical minus the body. I tuned it to Open F (not a usual tuning) so Farmer Rick could sing Arthur McBride and still hit the high notes. If you google Paul Brady in the 1970's doing this song you will hear what we played. (Only he does it in Open G tuning).

Irish music is usually about lost love, or drinking. I like the slow, serious ones.

Farmer Rick likes the fast, silly ones.

But most of all, we love harmonizing and making music together for a good cause.

Macro Monday: Turtle

In the decade of living here, we have never before seen a turtle on the property. Living near the river it is not an unlikely inhabitant, but unexpected all the same. (Maybe it came over from our neighbor's pond, as all their ducks seem to have taken up residence in my front yard.) Cody--who made the discovery yesterday afternoon--was very wary of this unusual being. I'm not sure why the turtle was against the fence, but obviously that was not a good decision.

I will have to look it up for identification, as I'm not familiar with native turtle species. It could very well be someone's released exotic pet, too. The chickens were certainly keeping a wide berth!

Enlarged, I could see myself reflected in the turtle's very blue eye!

After a few photos, I relocated it farther away from the backyard, down in the creek. It would be nice to have a resident turtle.

For more macro images, visit Macro Monday!

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Sunday Stills: A Day in the Life...

This week our host Ed has asked us to choose just four images from a typical day in our lives. Once every 3 weeks I must make the trek into the big city for everything we might need (and then some).

I am one of those people who has an SUV because I need it. Just to get out of my place I have to drive through the river which (at least in years not following a severe drought) usually flows across the low water crossing about 4 inches deep. I cross my river again (on a bridge), and then another river six times (the highway department is replacing those one car wide crossings with two lane bridges now). I can pack every inch, and my kayak racks allow me to tie larger stuff on top. I love my car.

Going to town often means more than a dozen stops, but Friday I only squeezed in eleven. Texaco (gasoline, coffee, giving directions to a visitor), cafe (veggie sandwich for lunch), thrift store (work shirts for both of us), birding store (oriole feeder), ranch store (chicken feed, scratch, hay, and bedding), garden center (potting soil, strawberry plants and petunias), book store (art magazines), beverage store (vodka, spicy bloody mary mix sans anchovies), pet store (dog food, cat toys), pharmacy, and grocery store. All the frozen and cold food is bagged in freezer bags to keep them from spoiling on the long drive home.

If I had only been more expedient, there might have been hardware or lumber tied on top and my toenails might have been sporting a spring color (to hide the gardening dirt). I took this at my last stop, as I would not be getting home until well after dark.

The road is long and winding through the hills, much of it directly into the Western sun. The radio is too fuzzy to listen to anything and there is no cell phone service. I might not pass another vehicle in over an hour. The windshield is splattered with unfortunate insects, and pocked by rocks.

The sun goes down and I'm still driving. At home we pop a frozen pizza in the oven and Farmer Rick helps me unload. I am exhausted, but at least I don't have to do it again for a while!

For more days of other lives, visit Sunday Stills!

Monday, March 22, 2010

Macro Monday: Paved with gold

When I returned home from my quilting adventure, the short grass prairie was awash in the yellow of Englemann's Bladderpod, Lesquerella engelmannii. After two drought-stricken years it was nice to see the wildflowers making a recovery. Intending to take a macro, I captured the sunrise first.

Each year one species outshines the others in sheer quantity. This seems to be the Year of the Bladderpod (so far). There are still about seventy species yet to come! Better hurry up and order my bees!

Even the mowed paths around the wildflower meadow and through the Juniper and Oak savanna seem to be paved with gold where this flower has taken up residence. That's part of the magic of this place.

For more up close shots visit Macro Monday!

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Sunday Stills: The Color Orange

Friday afternoon I had the pleasure of showing my fiber art instructor for the week, Jeannette DiNicolis Meyer, around San Antonio. She was going to have an awfully long wait at the airport and it seemed only right she experience the lovely Riverwalk and visit the Alamo before flying back to Oregon.

Kudos to her patience; I'm afraid she had to experience my asymptotical* way of finding things while driving--by using the direction of the sun and general orientation to the plaza tower rather than a map. Then there was finding parking during the congested spring break (and, of course, remembering where we left the car) and navigating the paths and bridges below street level along the river. We did pretty well.

* approaching ever nearer but  never quite arriving at the destination. New word courtesy Jeannette's husband.

Oddly, we saw a front end loader hauling structural debris out of this building with the bright orange dumpster. It was nice to see so many downtown buildings being remodeled.

This cafe on the river had their orange umbrellas up.

Some orange-ish stone steps across the river. Artistic detail abounds on the Riverwalk.

Someone was wearing orange, perhaps unknowingly complementing the sky. Jeannette is in the foreground. The Alamo is always smaller than one thinks it might be, perhaps because its legend is larger than life. Many do not realize the majority of the men who died here were mercenaries from other states and countries. I always wonder--once they knew they were so greatly outnumbered and no back up troops would arrive--why they did not leave when given the opportunity. It must have been a guy thing. Farmer Rick's burning question about the Alamo? What was the last tune Davy Crockett played on his fiddle before the siege.

I just want to say what an awesome teacher Jeannette is, and I hope you will explore her work and her book Speaking in Cloth: 6 Quilters 6 Voices. The above quilt is from her Storylines series, and below from her Self Portrait series. She hand dyes her fabric to produce these gorgeous colors.

I also had the great opportunity to meet many other talented art quilters taking the workshop who gave me additional inspiration and suggestions. To everyone--a great big thanks!!!

For more images of the color Orange, visit Sunday Stills!

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Transformation of an Idea

Last night I stayed very late to finish piecing and sewing the background so that the next layer could be created today. Each piece was seamed to the next, which took lots of easing with the curves. I also learned that you can't cut all the pieces out first because the pieced curves change with the loss of seams. Jeanette told me and demonstrated this but it didn't sink in until I was actually doing it. So there was a little adjusting as I went along and learning through doing.

I started this morning by creating a strip of punchy fabrics to represent the curving plant stem of my original idea. The striped fabric helps define the new element as plant, I think.

My tendency is to make art more complex than it needs to be, and my goal in taking this workshop was to simplify my ideas--to learn how much could be removed without losing the design idea. After laying in the curved strip, I realized I had achieved abstraction, and instead of endeavoring to make the quilt look just like my design, let it take on a life of its own.

Here I've added another branch to what's beginning to look like a desert tree or Saguaro. Since I've traveled the desert Southwest, I feel comfortable with this transformation. My next step will be to hand applique this to the base before quilting and adding decorative hand stitches.

In the morning we will have a critique before we all disband.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Layout and Fabric Selection

Today Jeannette gave a demonstration on piecing curves, which is very applicable to my quilt idea. Her curving strips which she calls 'story lines' flow and intertwine across her quilts. This morning I laid out the basic background shapes on paper and chose my base fabrics.

This afternoon I cut out the base pieces and began sewing them together. Tomorrow I hope to get to the next layer of imagery that will go on top of this. I'm feeling better now about my start.

The First Two Days: Preliminary Exercises

We have spent the first two days going over design principles--I suppose it is good to have a refresher every couple decades! In the exercises we have produced individual black and white fabric studies. I was unhappy with my first set, which were way too predictable and boring. The second set turned out much more pleasing.

While many of the quilters here are retired and have more control of their time, in my daily life I rarely have a 45 minute stretch of time in which I am not interrupted by something or someone. Half of the workshop is over, and we have not yet begun the ideas we were asked to bring. I am feeling a bit frustrated with my time so compressed, just like I do in my daily life. This is teaching me that making time for my art is an issue I really must address.

This morning there are more exercises planned, but I'm going to begin my piece. I need to do this for my own sanity and I will ask Jeannette for some guidance in interpreting my idea in fabric. Abstraction is really new territory for me.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Sunday Stills: Sunrise and a Sneak Preview

Taken this morning, a quilt-batting sky indicating some precipitation is on its way.

Ball Moss backlit by the sunrise.

Sunrise through pomegranate petals.

I'm leaving today for another week-long quilting adventure, this year with Jeannette DeNicolis Meyer in a class called Elements of Style described as Intermediate Adventurous. We were asked to bring an idea or sketch of the quilt on which we'd like to work. Since the instructor's forte is abstract art quilting, I thought I might try to interpret my more realistic style in an abstract way. About the only way I can express abstraction is through my photography. So, I composited my photos of a shadow on the wall, the parasitic plant in the river, the colors in my new bedroom rugs, and a woodcut of plant into my final, abstract idea.

Perhaps some portion of this will emerge into an art quilt wall hanging? I will be blogging daily about the process, so stay tuned!

For more Sunrise/Sunsets, visit Sunday Stills!

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Sunday Stills: Numbers

Some egg customers came today and while we were chatting said they had never seen a baby walking stick before. They were staring right at me, and it seemed non sequitur. I said I had never seen a baby one before either, why do you bring this up? Because there was one walking on me! So I grabbed the camera and took this shot, realizing later it would count as a numbers shot. I think it's cool how you can see my other hand and camera reflected in the watch band.

After the photoshoot, I had her sign a model release form, then released her safely into the flowerbed.

For more numbers shots visit Sunday Stills!

Monday, March 1, 2010

Macro Monday: Dinosaur Kale

There's a light rain this morning forming little ponds in the centers of the dinosaur kale. They are two years old and about to bloom; new ones are being propagated as replacements.

Farmer Rick and I finally planted the grape vine this weekend we've held captive in a pot for four years. We've had a difficult time deciding where to plant it as it will require building an arbor, and those tend to be focal points in any garden. It continues to amaze us with new shoots each year, waiting for us to get it together. So we chose a sunny spot in the short grass prairie, overlooking our sky chairs and pond.

As soon as we got it planted, we came in the house and found out our son and his wife are expecting their first child! So it was a momentous weekend! Happy March everyone!

For more close up images visit Macro Monday!
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