Thursday, March 24, 2011

The ups and downs of spring.

I have been doing a lot of wasting time (aka numbing my brain) playing Majong on the computer. When I have to make myself do some felting I know there is something really wrong. Judging from my Visa bill for last month I think I am on the down side of a small mania. I have been trying to get outside and get some exercise to help with the "I just want to go to bed and sleep for forever" feeling. It is odd for me to be so down in the spring but we have not had a lot of sunshine. And my emotional state is very connected with the weather and seasons.
I don't like anything I make when I am like this, so that may be part of the reason that I don't feel like making felt. I was working on a piece for an exhibit titled "Dialogue in Color" but I guess I read that as being a dialogue about color. The piece I had started laying out in my last post was part of the piece which was really about color in the American civil war; black verses white, blue verses gray. The circle I had laid out was a color wheel of skin tones with black and white in the center as stylized hands entwined. I next laid out parts of the American and Rebel flags. I had recently read some novels set during the war and the passages describing how men would put themselves at even greater risk to keep the colors raised during a battle really struck me. This is what it looked like at that point.
I thought that the colors of the flags was too bright so I decided to change them to shades of gray (as in not everything is black and white).
Before I got it wet felted I reread the description of the theme of the show and realized that I was way off base. They were referring to how the use of color can form a dialogue between the artist and his work and the work with the audience. The ways that color can be used to for shading and depth and to render an object in nature. Well, that was more up my alley, so after a little while bemoaning the time and effort I had put into the other piece I decided to do an underwater piece. I was not happy with how it came out so I decided to needle in some changes and then wet felt it a bit more. It was then that I discovered that I was totally confused about what day it was and I would have had to send it by overnight mail to make the deadline. Well, I didn't like the way the piece turned out anyway so it seemed like the whole thing was just a big waste of time. I think it will make a nice background for something someday
 I decided that I would take a break from felting for a while and concentrate on getting outside and spending some time with the chickens. I got a good amount of yard work done but not much else.

Then on Saturday my friend Joei called and asked if I wanted to go with her up to New England Felting Supply because she wanted to get some more colors to make another landscape. I suspected that her impromptu visit was just because she knew I was not doing well, but she denied that. My daughter and I had plans to go up to the spring bulb show at Smith but as that is right near NEFS we decided to go there too. It was a really good thing to do. The sun was shining, it was warm in the greenhouse, and the smells and sights of so many growing things was good medicine for my spirit. I took too many photos to post them all but here are a few.

I took a lot of close up shots for reference photos. I am thinking some Georgia O'Keeffe-esque pictorial felts.

And of course lots of photos for reference to forms, textures, patterns and color combinations.

But the best thing for my spirits was getting to spend such an enjoyable time with Joei. I am so thankful that through felting I have found such wonderful friends. I even convinced her to stay over night and we got to make some felt. I have really admire the work of Renata Felt whom I know of through Facebook. She recently posted photos of a class she taught in Moscow so I had a better idea of how she manipulates the fibers. She may be coming to the US to teach and I would love to take a class with her. Here is what Joei and I came up with.

 I was actually happy enough with my piece that I got back to work on a piece that I had started. It totally changed from what was going to be a wall hanging into a vessel inspired by the trip to the green house.

And I almost forgot to add that I got my copy of Fiberarts Magazine that had a photo of one of my pieces in it. I sure wish that the good things that happen would stick in my mind as good as the bad things do.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Landscape Felt class at West Hartford Art League

I was rather nervous about teaching at the West Hartford Art League since I had never been to there before and I was pretty sure that most of the students had never felted before. It was also going to be the first time that I taught without someone there to call on if there were any problems. I am getting a little better about handling things outside of my comfort zone but I kept thinking of all the things that could go wrong. My friend Joei and I were wanting to get together for one of our usual fun, felting weekends anyway so I asked her could she pretty please come help me with my class...if only for moral support. Thankfully she said yes. I got almost everything packed and ready on Thursday so that we could spend Friday doing some felting, gabbing, and laughing. I have so much fun with her. We actually did only a little felting since we had a lot of things to show each other. We both worked on art cards for the guild swap at the April meeting. I decided to try some new yarns and batting that I recently bought.

I just wanted to play with the materials and not try to make it look like anything. I am going to do more stitching and maybe add some beads.

Thanks to my friend Joei the class on Saturday went fairly well. The classroom was nice, with big windows on three sides, lots of tables, and two sinks.

Unfortunately some of the tables had water soluble paint on them that made a mess when we wet out the fibers. Next time we will have the tables covered. That is my ready assistant Joei on the left, ready to help with those minor? problems. I wish she could always help!
This class was a struggle for me, in part because I was not feeling great. The students were so quiet that I found it hard to gauge whether I was being understood or if they were enjoying themselves. At least one of the women did enjoy it enough to sign up for the class I am teaching there in May. And another student bought enough fibers from me to make another landscape at home. (The last time I went up to New England Felting Supply I was thrilled to see one of my students, photo in hand, buying fibers for a new painting that she was going to do.) Since the women all left at different times I was not able to get a group photo this time, but I did get photos of each piece.

When I was driving home from class on Sunday there was fog rising from the snow, which I was told was sublimation at work. It created some beautiful mysterious scenery. I wanted to capture it in felt since I had been watching others felt for two days. I am not happy with it but it is not fully dry yet, and at least I got my hands in the fibers and soapy water.

In the last two weeks I also finished two pieces that I had been working on. The first is a piece for a guild exhibit on creation myths.

And this piece for the SDA's exhibit titled 'Merge and Flow'
I also purchased a laptop so I have spent quite a bit of time learning how to use the touch pad, which basically means learning how to undo something that I had no clue I was doing, and learning Windows 7. 

And now on the table is the start of a new piece, which I will explain when it is done.