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Holidays

I always wondered why merchants would put up decorations before December. It just seemed way too early for something that is already too commercialized. Now that I have a shop, I think I understand a little of the the reasoning behind this. Once Halloween is behind you, there is this race to get going before January 2012, or whatever the coming year is that you are anticipating. So I have given in, feeling a little embarrassed by this, but also feeling it just might be justified, given the circumstances.

I have tried to be discreet, really I have, but is there any way to put a tree in a room without drawing a little attention? I don’t think so. And yet my shop has gone through so many transformations, a deeper reflection of myself.

Awhile ago, (well maybe two years ago) I purchased this beat-up doll house at an estate sale. I bought it on a whim. It was the dollhouse I never had growing up. I always wanted one like this, and mine was always the metal kind without a lot of charm. When I was little, I did everything I could to make improvements with more plastic furniture and people with moving parts, but it never really satisfied me. So when I saw this, it was an instant and heartfelt moment.

I painted everything inside and out with the Annie Sloan Chalk Paint. I could not believe how it improved the appearance. I put a decorated Christmas tree inside and even some tiny string lights on the outside that can be turned on by a battery. I just want to move into it and set up some cozy rooms. Currently, it is empty, but full of anticipation!

And doesn’t everyone need some tiny red shoes under a tree to complete the mood? I just want a little magic in my life. I think everyone does. More to come.

Fall Light

This is my favorite time of year. I also begin to reflect and feel a need for anchoring my life to some sort of weight. I miss this ritual of thinking and writing in this space. My life these days is bonded to another commitment, a creative and challenging one, but full of inspiration and fun. It consumes any time I have for blogging beyond this focus.

When we light candles in our homes, there is an immediate sense of comfort, of slowing down, and allowing our thoughts to meander and bounce around. Then as if in a kind of meditative state, the candles and the peace of the moment bring us to that stillness and quiet again.

I miss all of you, and think of you and wonder how you are all doing. Sometime, I will get back here and post again on a more regular basis. I understand this place so much better than anywhere else.

In his own words

“Remembering that I’ll be dead soon is the most important tool I’ve ever encountered to help me make the big choices in life. Because almost everything – all external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure – these things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important. Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart.

“Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life Don’t be trapped by dogma – which is living with the result of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.”

“Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish.”

STEVE JOBS

(As a note, my three children gave me this to me when my mother became terminal and was at our home under hospice care. I have had it hanging in my studio since that day.)

Steve Jobs

I feel a deep loss and sadness tonight about the news of Steve Jobs. I had read the NY Times article, listened to some of the news, tried to imagine how we could live without this immensely creative and innovative person in our lives, and then I traveled over to Jude’s blog at spiritcloth to see if she had anything to say. Of course, I was not disappointed. I listened to the video, watched a much-younger Steve talking about the importance of values, how we perceive and represent a brand that carries a certain message and ensuing power, and how we can become stronger, more courageous and innovative. It felt somehow comforting and peaceful to see this and hear his voice. Thank you, Jude for the sharing and the appreciation. And now who do we follow? I simply want to be quiet for awhile and share a gentle and warm remembrance for Steve and his family.

This weekend I took the most incredible workshop on Annie Sloan’s Chalk Paint and its uses. A California stockist, Anne Skougard and the mini stockist, Kari Saupstad led the workshop and inspired us all. The creative possibilities of this paint are vast. It is simply an amazing paint. I arrived home filled with so many ideas and thoughts, I could barely sleep last night. I nearly got up to start a painting project.

The paint colors in this sample that I painted nearly match the vintage toile I used as a backdrop. Many of the colors in the toile match the colors in the sample. I love the idea of the two playing off each other and enhancing the strength of each.

Awhile back I posted some photos of this silk fabric that I stenciled. I loved the process, but not the paint. Now I want to try Annie’s Chalk Paint on some of my collection of textiles. I think it would be the perfect paint for this.

I purchased some really wonderful stencils while I was at the workshop and if anyone is interested, they can be found here.

This week I am going to experiment with the possibilities of this technique. I will be posting some photos here when I finish a few designs.

Friday, the 27th, was my birthday. As I was to spend the day alone, and not looking forward to this, I decided to travel to Seattle to see an exhibit that I had read about and knew was ending soon. So I made the drive on the 26th, spent the night and took in the museum the next day. It was absolutely AMAZING!! And I am so happy that I made the effort to go see it. Sometimes in life, it takes extra effort and inconvenience to do something, but if it is rare and special and promises inspiration, I will often go to the trouble to engage myself.

Let me tell you about the artist, Nick Cave who is responsible for these creations and this exhibit of “Soundsuits”. He calls himself “trans-artist working between sculpture, installation, performance, video, designed objects and fashion.” Since 1989 he has taught at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and is currently Chairman of the Fashion Department. His vision, talent, deep and ever-evolving insight and self-expression is so impressive and for me, very touching and real and absolutely magical.

Nick has performed around the world in his Soundsuits, and in one room of the museum are three screens showing Nick dancing and performing in his creations. I had a hard time sitting still. I wanted to get up and dance around with him in my common and boring street clothes. If only I could have donned one of his Soundsuits and let go of all inhibitions and just been truly my dancing, hidden vibrant self for one moment in time!

We were not allowed to take photographs, so disappointing as the Soundsuits were beyond anything you could ever imagine, spectacular! But as I sat on a bench in this one room, trying to not get up and join the dance on the screens, I took out my cell phone and clicked a few images of that moment in time……that very, very special moment in time.

Here is what Nick Cave says about the Soundsuits: “What is interesting about wearing these pieces is that your identity is erased. The sense of freedom and independence is so extraordinary – and the sense of allowing yourself to be that much more expressive.”

Of course, I have always known what is wrapped up in the clothes we wear, how we present ourselves to the world, what we convey. Are we sheep? Are we original? Are we in touch with exactly who we are? And if we know who we are, do we know from one day to the next how this idea will or can change? If only I owned a variety of Soundsuits!

But for Nick Cave, the embodiment of a Soundsuit is a magnification of so much more than any transitory experience. He says, “I am interested in working with objects that are taken for granted, laughed at or deemed less precious, yet have a certain insignificance in themselves….I was raised with a single mother and seven brothers; we all had hand-me-downs, there was not a lot in terms of surplus or art supplies.” He goes on to say, “I was always working with found materials….somehow you have to create your own identity through dress—-I might cut off the sleeves of a shirt or make a substitute for a pair of pants. You have to find your own voice in an environment that is limited in terms of resources.”

I spent nearly four hours watching, reflecting, going back viewing, and writing in this notebook thoughts I had, things I was reading, and quotes from Nick Cave. To say I was moved and caught up in the whole stage and theater of it is an understatement. It was, for me, an interactive exhibit. I could not tear myself away. When I went to the gift shop to buy the catalog of the exhibit, I was told that it had already sold out. Later, when I tried to order it from Amazon, I was informed that they were having to do another printing. I am not the only one with strong emotions over this art by Nick Cave. I think we all want to dance in the streets in our own unique Soundsuits, although many, maybe the majority, would never want to admit this fantasy. I think we would all be healthier human beings if we could embrace this individual dance of life.

When I was getting my degree in English, I had to take a literary criticism course and was introduced to the writings of Michel Foucault, the French philosopher. In the exhibit was a quote from him that seems to explain why people are so drawn to the fantastic elements and drama of this exhibit. Foucault says, “I dream of a new age of curiosity. We have the technical means for it; the desire is there; the things to be known are infinite; the people who can employ themselves at this task exist. Why do we suffer? From too little – from channels that are too narrow, skimpy, quasi-monopolistic, insufficient. There is no point in adopting a protectionist attitude, to prevent ‘bad’ information from invading and suffocating the ‘good’. Rather we must multiply the paths and the possibility of comings and goings.”

These Soundsuits are described as “full-body masks that release the wearer (actual or illusory) from his day-to-day reality, allowing him [or her sic] to inhabit another, very different one.”

Essentially Nick Cave “invites us to dance, play, and to dream with the empowerment of expressive transformation.”

Just pondering

I have a thing about the flowering trees and shrubs here in Portland in the spring. I cannot seem to get enough of them. Every one that I see seems to be better than the last or more abundant with blooms or graceful or magical. I am simply looking for an excuse to photograph another one some place in some nondescript location. This morning as I was passing this one in the rain, I started thinking about the very wet spring we have had here. And then, as thinking always leads to another stream of subjects, the tornadoes in the Midwest came to mind. We could conclude that it is aberration, but I think not. It is just the weather taking a turn to convince us that nothing in life is predictable, ever.

Just like the sunrise that I caught as I left Mendocino yesterday morning. It is always different in some way, like a snowflake. The color, the shapes of the cloud formation, the silhouettes, there is something that presents itself as every-changing and evolving.

And why do I find wild lupines growing on a sandy beach on my drive home when I merely stopped to photograph the waves and the rocks in the distance?

And more than anything else, how did I leave this photo in my cell phone for so long and not appreciate its magnificent message…that there is a power in nature that we simply do not understand and probably will never comprehend.

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