I am happy that I was able to finish the landscape that I was doing for the Granby Land Trust art show. This is the third year I have submitted a piece of felt. I got juried in both years. I am hoping this will be the third. Here is the photo I was using for inspiration.
This was the start of the piece just before I did the wet felting.
Below is what it looked like a few days ago after a lot of needle felting.
The piece finished...
There are still things I would change but I am not unhappy with it and having it be done is wonderful.
Such a fight it has been the last week or so, and I am tired of fighting. It has been a very difficult day; following on the heels of several other difficult days. It happens every fall but I never know how bad things will be. I have been trying to 'think positive' and use the skills I have learned after 30+ years of fighting the enemy within. I walked this afternoon to try to get some exercise and boost my spirits. I also wanted to get a photo of a pair of barn doors at the nearby farm. The colors when the sun hits them is gorgeous and I knew the light was going to be wonderful today. The weather outside was such a reflection of what I was feeling inside; clouds, sun, wind, and rain all within hours and sometimes occurring together. The shots came out wonderful (I made them smaller than I usually post so they will not be appropriated without permission). I often feel that I am at my most creative when I have tipped to one side or the other of center.
I had written a poem many years ago during another depression in which I spoke about understanding that without pain we do not fully appreciate pleasure, just as we can not have a rainbow without the rain. I can not remember the exact words right now but I thought how fitting it was to see this rainbow on my walk.
My spirits were lifted,at least for a while, as I listened to the sounds of the resident hawks and eagles crying as they soared in the sky. It seemed as though all the birds were rejoicing that the storm had passed.
I savored the changing light as the sun slid lower in the sky...
...giving way to the night.
The rise of the moon reminded me of how much things can seem to change depending on your perspective.
I will continue to try to keep things in perspective and look for the beauty of life.
I started this blog to help me remember things that I have been doing. Apparently I am not posting often enough since I am having trouble remembering what has happened since I wrote about my landscape class and Felt United. I know that there was some extra stuff thrown at me. My son needed help with moving and while moving is always difficult it was made more so by the fact that his dog Brandy had been hit and killed by a car the day before. They were out in the yard at the time and while accidents happen and dogs should not go in the road, I think it is awful that the driver did not even stop to say "I am sorry".
But then again we just had an accident in our state where a woman hit and killed two men who were changing a tire and even though her airbag went off she kept driving. It is a crazy world out there so it is no wonder I want to hide here in my own crazy world...at least that world I understand.
I also spent some time the last two weeks doing fall chores like cleaning up the garden and helping Dad to wash windows. And since I have been starting to feel the grip of that black beast known as depression I have been trying to be sure to go outside in the sun and get some exercise as much as possible. It is a fight and all I want to do is go to bed and hibernate like a bear, till spring comes again.
I have also been trying to do some business type work; submitting photos to Felt United, filling out inventory sheets for the Wesleyan Potters Annual Exhibit and Sale, and making arrangements for another landscape class. I did start another head that I don't like because it reminds me of my grandfather Wilcox.
There were many good things that happened that I am trying to keep in the fore front of my mind. I have been wanting a felt coat since I started felting four years ago. I attempted one last year which came out pretty well. I made yardage and got the coat all sewn. I don't remember why but I did a bit more felting after the sewing was done. When I put it in the washing machine to spin out the water I accidentally put the machine on agitate. The result was a coat that no longer fit me. I have more confidence in my ability to felt a large piece after doing the large piece for Felt United so I again made yardage.
I really liked the yardage but thought that it would be a bit much for my conservative nature to wear. I decided to over-dye it with a pale grey to minimise the color change from top to bottom. I dyed some silk for the sleeves at the same time since there was not enough of the patterned fabric.
Here is the finished coat.
I was happy to have finished it in time to wear it to the New York Sheep & Wool Festival in Rhinebeck on Saturday. I went with my friend Joei and we had lots of fun and I bought (what for me is a lot of) wool. We also bought a small Icelandic lamb's fleece that went home with Joei. I am hoping we can do the processing together....or maybe I will just try felting it 'in the grease'.
Joei came over on Friday and after dinner we made more more flowers for the guild vine that we volunteered to take charge of.
After Joei left on Sunday my sister Beth came over to help with washing some of the curtains and the inside of the windows. After lunch Dad said it was such a nice day out that we HAD to stop working and go for a walk with him.
I thought I would get right back to writing about my landscape class but it has been almost a week. (I get distracted so easily.) One of the wonderful things about teaching is that I learn so much from my students and I always get inspired and a refreshed excitement about felting. I actually did some needling on my last landscape and was finding it less of a chore. I think I went so overboard needling on the barn painting that I did last year that I kind of burned out on that part of doing my landscapes. Needle felting is not my favorite...but I like what I am able to do with the needle.
There were 7 students and since I would only take a maximum of 8 that was a good sign that folks might want me to teach again. In fact plans are already in the works for a class in NY state for a class in November and another class at NEFS in the new year. One of my students had to drive 7 hours to get to the class. I can't tell you what those things mean to me. How my self esteem has been elevated by doing this class. Not least of all was concurring my own fear of taking the class to this new venue. I knew that the fact that I was so nervous about it meant that I really NEEDED to do it.
The best parts of teaching are when you see a student 'get it'. The moments when you see an expression of confusion change to the light of understanding. Or when you see a student's opinion of their work change because of a suggestion you have made. Since taking the two workshops last year and teaching my classes I realize just how special the sharing of knowledge and excitement that is fueled in a class setting can be. Teaching and taking classes is about so much more than technique and projects. But enough of my musings.
Here are some photos of the students and their work. Many of these photos are taken by the students because my batteries were rendered ineffective by NEFS's resident ghost ;) They worked when I got home:)
Here are the women working on there lay outs.
This is Janet, a very new felter, working hard on her lay out.
This is Lori, well her hands at least, adding some locks to her lay out. Poor Lori. I knew her from the guild an yet somehow I got it in my head that her name was Dawn. I called her that the entire class...except when I called her Dawnlori.
This is Pat's lay out in progress. It turned out that Pat knew my father and mother from church so I felt a special bond with her. She also understood my humor and took my teasing in stride:)
I did manage to get photos of most of the pieces st the end of the day, after they were wet felted.
The next day we did the needle felting.
Pat enjoyed this part so much she planned on working more the following day while on vacation.
Jean was very excited about the way her piece developed with the needling.
Thea had fun adding yarns and though her piece came out more abstract than she originally intended I think she was pleased with the end result.
A tired but happy group.
A closer photo of Janet's piece that is hidden in the group photo.
My interest in landscapes was so renewed that I spent the last few days working on one for Felt United. I was not going to participate this year since I have been so busy but since the theme was the blue to yellow slice of the color wheel which includes my favorite colors I just had to do it. This is the largest landscape? I have done to date. At 37 x 80 inches I had to roll up some of the top to hang it on the trellis that I used to display it out by the road.
Serendipity brought feltmaking into my life at a time when I needed to reconnect with the past and find a way to express my artistic side beyond my rigid dictionary illustration work. The softness of the fibers, the feel of the soapy water, the magic moment when the loose fibers become felt appealed to my unfulfilled need to use my fingers to manipulate the medium. It often feels as though I am just a facilitator for the art, as though the pieces have their own need to be created. There is a kind of conversation that flows from my mind and through my hands into the wool and back again, and during this exchange the questioning mind quiets. My landscapes reflect this sense of peace, creating worlds that invite the viewer to enter and rest in solitude. Through light and shade, the flowing organic lines, and the play of the varying colors the rush and rigidity of daily life falls away. The incredible range of techniques and materials that can be used in felting sustains my enthusiasm and the unpredictability of the way the fibers will blend has encouraged me to let go of the notion that a good artist is one that can render objects that appear realistic. Felting frees my soul.