Saturday, September 28, 2013

Linoleum Block Cutting

I've begun a linoleum block printing project which will result in a quilt, but there will be some off shoots of smaller projects along the way.  This is my first ever block of linoleum.  Before, I used the easy cut stuff which is buttery smooth to cut, but fails the endurance test.  They crack and crumble easily after repeated use.  I'm hoping this will be successful. . .

Monday, September 23, 2013

Marth and David Portrait

I have enjoyed thinking of Martha and David surrounded by trees, owls, and ferns on their property and of their wisdom and creativity.  They are so wonderful to share their quiet space and lend me their photo to paint.  They will hang in OPAL's gallery in October! 

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Hot off the press!

New printing press addition (edition, Ha)  to Nido Art Studio!  Let the revolution begin!

Hand Printed Block Print Row House Quilt

Before my kitchen began construction, I was able to finish piecing and basting my house quilt.  For a few weeks I was plucking away at printing, ironing, making patterns, cutting, piecing etc.  It was a long and drawn out process because of life always interrupting.  On Monday, I began quilting and the workers began tearing up my kitchen.   This step of the game went surprisingly fast even with hand quilting!   While I'm happy with the role the stitching played, the colors of the quilt weren't my first choice or what I had envisioned.  They were a mere result of what was available at the local fabric store.  I would like to make more versions of this quilt in different colors that may or may not emphasize the negative spaces around the houses.  For me, this is what the Row House pattern is all about--the negative space that creates a letter Y shape.  The concept of this quilt is the magnification of the block print through the quilt piecing.  The bottom checker board area offers contrast to the house patterns but also compliments and anchors the whole piece visually.  I like to think of it as undeveloped land. Overall, I'm happy with this quilt but am regarding it as take one.  There is more I can develop here visually and conceptually. 

Just a thought regarding design:
Recently I toured the Frank Lloyd Wright home and studio in Oak Park.  He is famous for designing everything in a home right down to the napkins and dishes leaving no room for surprises that may clash with his vision.  A control freak? Probably. But isn't that the essence of design?  I am always aware of the rules that I draw for  a painting or quilt.  Be it a color scheme or a pattern structure, there is always some designing happening; yet, I try to allow for surprises and improvisations to find their way in.  Allowing these blessings to happen and knowing when and how to keep them can be hugely rewarding.  I tried to strive for a balance in this quilt by creating rules and then, constantly breaking them.  I don't know if it is brilliant or lazy or just a means of shifting the onus of the outcome onto fate.   I wonder what Wright would think.  Did he ever improvise? 

A thought on the Y shape:
I mentioned above my recent obsession with the Y shape. Not only does it appear in this block print design, but in the veins of leaves I paint, the branching of trees, etc.  It is actually the symbol for Chicago if you examine the manhole covers; it represents the split of the Chicago river.  I'm not sure what I think all this means if it means anything.  I'm just noticing that it is appearing and reappearing in my work without me being aware, and that I respond to it.   Anyone else noticing Y's in nature or elsewhere?


Flips side color blocked

detail of stitching

on the lawn

Back to Art in the Classroom

Sign for our open house this past week --- 10 signatures!
 Faith and I have been drumming up parental interest in our PTO committee, Art in the Classroom.  We aim to further develop and perhaps expand our programming.  Having a creative first grader flinch at the realization of the rigidity of academia makes me be even more invested in developing new approaches to creative learning in the classroom.  Very thankful that Lincoln Elementary is so welcoming and supportive of us!
Art Cart for Art in the classroom

Lion Magnet activity from Open House night

Monday, September 2, 2013

Peg People and Alley Art Festival

Work by me, Karen, and Lisa
This past weekend was Alley Art Festival on Water Street in Aurora.  I have to confess that I didn't have any great plans to make my fortunes at this event.  About the week before I got the idea to paint peg people in a decided moment to embrace my love of toy making.  My sister Lisa and friend Brittany Tripp painted some of these little guys, too.  (You'll see pics towards the bottom)  In addition to our work, we had felted dolls and accessories by Karen Heikkila Nicholas who teaches workshops at Lisa's studio if you want to learn needle felting.   Also some crocheted flowers by Laura Steibel O'Brien who leads a knitting circle at Lisa's studio.  It was wonderful as always to spend the day brainstorming and solving the worlds' problems with these creative women.

So, the lesson I learned from this show and from making peg people is that it is OK to want to make original and inspiring toys for kids and/or for ourselves.  I'm happy that there are others around me who enjoy the playfulness of life, too.  

PS  This was the first even where I experienced horrible downpours of rain.  I had some merchandise get wet, but I was able to sun them all morning yesterday.  It made for lots of laughs!

PPS  Lisa and Brittany are beginning an art and nature themed pre-school at Lisa's studio.  Click here to find more information as well as lots of new programming and events coming up!  Stay Tuned!!
Lisa's magnets
Lisa's ceramics
A tree between two tents
Brittany's felted dolls
Karen, Laura, Lisa, Me
Brittany and Lisa
Lisa, Britt, and Me

Nude Pegs

Chicago Homicides Related to Gun Violence in August

Name Unknown, Name Unknown, Rico Lawrence, Anthony Dickerson, Dwan Long, Andre Bradford, Pierce Curry, Lakeisha Tate, Lavender Hearnes,Telkia Burns, Omar Castel, Ronald Henry, Lenardo Allison,Darius Oliver,Jerrell Brooks, Bearling Robinson, Jeremy McGrone,Antione Green, Willie Bush, Daquan Boyd,Jose Delafuenti, Kyle Hogan, Name Unknown, Dequantay Bingmon, Eric Chism, Kelly Coca, Karla Eguez, Antonio Alves, Ralph McNeal, Jacoby Herron, Kenneth Barbour, Jason Scott, Demetrius Cooper, LeAndre Cooper, Jonathan Murray, Clifton Balentine, Francisco Chairez-Munoz, Willie Clark, Kevin Williams,

 Note:  I began listing the names of those who died from gun violence in Chicago out of frustration and disgust of mass shootings in elementary schools, of those babies and toddlers killed in crossfire, and the prospect that we are losing our young people at time when they are most needed to be leaders of our communities.  I wanted to develop this project into something more artful but have not had any productive ideas. 

When I read the list of homicides I only paste the names of those listing gunshot in the final column.  I skip the assaults, stabbings, and child abuse in order to show the destructive power of these firearms, but I can't help and feel that those killed by any other means are no less tragic and horrible.  Yes, perhaps that five-year-old caught in crossfire might still be alive had a gun not been used, but would another violent act have taken its place?  In the end, it's the feeling that great risks have to be taken in order to make a life worth living.  In fact taking others lives to secure your own life--to save your own life is the only way out of your otherwise limited, impoverished life.  In fact how can life be worth living if there are systematic barriers preventing you from having meaningful, well-paid work which allows you to take care of your family---meeting all their needs of nourishment, housing, education, and healthcare?

For more information regarding these homicides: