Friday, March 24, 2023

Action on All Fronts!

 Here we are with only a week left in March!  

I know spring is supposed to be here but it's taking its time arriving in central Alberta.  There's still lots of hard-crust snow, melting only around the edges, and there's lots of ice on sidewalks in areas that don't get enough sun.

While there are buds on my lilacs (well, at least on the one I can see without clambering through snow pack), there are certainly no other flora attempting to peek out of the ground!  There are, however, more birds around too -- cedar wax-wings, pileated woodpeckers, a crow or two and maybe even some nuthatches have been spotted.  I'm not a birder, so except for the obvious calls (magpie, crow, chickadee), I really can't tell who's who -- but I love to listen to them call to each other and carry on their conversations:  "Hey! Hi!  Howarya?  How was your trip back?  Interested in shacking up this year?"  You know; that sort of thing! 😉

I've even managed to sit outside in the sunshine for 1/2 to 3/4 of an hour on a couple of afternoons this past week -- with knitting in hand -- just to enjoy the sunny atmosphere.

Given that the Art in the Park 2022 exhibit launched in Revelstoke a couple of weeks ago, I've turned my attention to preparint for the Encore! Lacombe Art Show and Sale, which takes place April 14-15.  I've given an interview to the Lacombe Express (though I've yet to see it in print) and I'm meeting with the current coordinator of the show on Tuesday for a video taping that will be published on Facebook etc.  Ack!  I've never done that before, but will try my best to appear confident and interesting.  I'll be taking some small pieces with me as illustrations of my work.

I've also managed to take one last small piece to my framer, and she is working hard to frame it and to mount two other rather 'experimental' pieces in time for the show.  I'll go back in early April to pick them up, plus others from the Gallery that I'll exhibit (and hope to sell!) there. 

Speaking of the Gallery, d'you see that rather large QR code in the left margin?  If you have some sort of gizmo that can scan it or whatever, I'm told it takes you to my artist's page at Curiosity Art & Framing.  I posted it on my 3F page on FB and a friend said it worked, so if you try it from this blog, please let me know if it worked for you or not.  

Most of the new work I've been doing is "soft", meaning it's not mounted on canvas and framed.  This past week I struggled to give birth to a new piece that I'd been carrying in my heart and mind for several months.  Here's the story:

I love to walk on the roads around the hamlet in which I live.  For decades, there was a large field at the edge of town -- only a couple of blocks north of me -- owned by a farmer named Jim.  On the southwest edge of the field, bordering 50th Avenue (the main street, paved) was a laneway.  Part-way north, it curved west, but there was also a path that continued north a bit farther before it turned west into a small wood -- trees on either side, wildflowers, and the occasional critter could be seen wandering about (skunk, deer, birds nesting).  It was pleasant to walk through, but only from spring through snowfall.  This made it a particular treat, because you could only enjoy it for a few months at a time.

Well, Jim's gotten older, like the rest of us, and has no children -- so in the last year or so he sold the field.  I didn't realize this until my first walk in the spring of 2022.  I walked up the laneway and kept going up the path to where it was supposed to turn into the woods. 

Instead of this: 

April 2021

I saw this...

May 2022

I started to cry.  Inquiries confirmed my suspicions: Jim had sold his field to a big crop producer who didn't want the north bank of trees to interfere with its ability to grow as much crop as possible.

That said, over last summer, the jumble of ploughed-over trees remained (they're there to this day), and I don't know what was planted -- maybe green manure.  It certainly wasn't canola, but it was cut down in late summer.  Heaven knows what will appear this year.  

But it lead me to make a piece.  

I've not made a 'proper' landscape since before Covid.  I really can't do it any more -- but I wanted to honour the death of this small, beloved wood.  So I tried.  I made this:

Background sandwiched for quilting

Quilting completed; thread painting of "ghost trees"

Close-up of trees

But it didn't look right. On waking one morning a few days ago, I knew what I had to do.

I did this:

Requiem for a Small Wood: A Diptych
(c) 2023
Commercial and hand-dyed fabrics.
Fused applique, collage. 
Machine quilted, thread painted;
 accented by Sharpie marker.

It's not my best-ever landscape, to be sure, but it says what I wanted it to say.  I've faced it, attached sleeves, and will hang it in the show -- but I've not put a price on it for sale.  Who can put a price on a destroyed woodland habitat?

I'm supposed to give the City a piece for its permanent collection.  I was going to give this, based on a location driving east from Lacombe to my home:

It's Still About the Sky (2015)

But maybe...just maybe...'Requiem' might be more important.

What do you think?

Meanwhile, I've been getting other 'soft' pieces ready to hang -- sewing on hanging sleeves. I've got 3 left to do.  Then comes "The Cutting of the Dowels" -- cutting dowels to fit, and inserting eye hooks in the ends of the dowels for hanging.  I picked up a good selection of dowels at the hardware store last week, and will ensure that I prepare them in time -- in case I need a couple more!

In the "utilitarian front" -- i.e., comfort quilts, cross stitch and knitting -- I continue to soothe my soul with assorted projects.

My "Triple Treat" units are up to 57 -- with 7 more to go to make 64, all on the 'browns and golds' theme.  It takes 4 units to make a full block, so 64 will make 16 blocks, 12 1/2" square (unfinished).

I've added a few more blocks to my postage stamp quilt block collection, and am working on another crumb block or two.

I've also decided that after a decade (or two!) of waiting, it's time for me to use a glorious piece of yardage for a "One Block Wonder" quilt.  I have the fabric, the instruction book and the 60-degree angle stay tuned!  I'll be using the book by Maxine Rosenthal from 2006.  See?  I told you it was from over a decade ago!

In cross-stitch, I'm focused on three pieces, one of which is a new start.  The "start" is a small piece designed by Jeannette Douglas, which I began on March 21 as an homage to spring:

Design: "Chubby Bird"
Designer: Jeannette Douglas
Fabric: DMC 28-count 'toile a broder' linen,
coffee-dipped to produce a creamy colour
Threads: mix of called-for fancy floss and DMC 
-- all from stash

The other two pieces are on-going -- and one I can't show you because it's a gift for someone who reads this blog.

I have, however, made progress with "Here Be Dragons" -- for my son's June birthday.  I've finished the wide borders on the top half!

Design: "Here Be Dragons"
Designer: Modern Folk Embroidery
Fabric: 28-count white Lugana
Thread: "Gomez" hand-dyed cotton from Roxy Floss Co.

I'm hankering to start the central design, but conscience says I should finish the lower half of the wide border.  Thoughts?

Aside from these three, I've my Sunday Stitch -- "Keziah Campell" and...well...others...but these are the priority for now.

As to knitting, I've finished the first pair commissioned by my friend:

Pattern: "Simplicity"
Designer: Janel Laidman
Yarn: Gathering Yarn One-Shot Wool/Nylon Fingering

And I'm well away on the first sock of the second pair she wants.  I've finished the leg, turned the heel and I'm making my way down the foot:

Pattern: "Simplicity"
Designer: Janel Laidman
Yarn: Patons "Stretch" in the "Licorice" colour-way

And I finished that second dish cloth, and started a third -- in a solid colour, a lovely burgundy.  Soon my linen closet won't know what hit it!

And so it goes. 

These tasks -- plus walks in the sunshine each day -- are what's keeping me sane as I wait for Spring to really arrive.

As usual, I'm going to leave you with a link to Nina-Marie's Off the Wall Friday.  This week she's been Spring Cleaning her studio.  Me?  Not ready yet!  But as the racks that hold the baskets that hold my fabric will have to be available for my booth at the up-coming Lacombe Art Show & Sale...well...Spring Cleaning will happen soon enough!

Take care, gentle readers, and may your spring (or autumn for readers south of the Equator) bring you many blessings!

Till next time...

1 comment:

Bethany G said...

I am entranced by your thoughtful and moving story of your loss of the path into the field you loved to walk, and the piece you have created is so perfectly appropriate and strong! Do get it ready and into the show!!

The QR code worked perfectly on my iPhone. Enjoyed seeing all of your beautiful art at the Gallery!