Sunday, March 17, 2019

Spring flowers are blooming!

At least they are blooming in my art studio, along with butterflies fluttering.  In my mind, spring is in full swing!  I’m steaming up on a real deadline with an exhibit scheduled to hang on March 26th at the BPP.  This will be the first showing of my migration series called “Migration:  where have you been and what have you seen?”  I’m currently finishing pieces that have been in progress for some time.  The latest example is my ‘Monarchs in Transit’ piece.  I actually started the weaving four or five months ago and I’ve been slowly accumulating components since then.  Last week I assembled the first of the flower heads, and yesterday it all came together.  I’m quite fond of the monarch heads with embellished guitar strings for antennae.  I put a tiny drop of hot glue on each antenna tip and painted them matte black to create the effect I wanted.  I first bent the strings into a ‘V’ shape to embedded the structure in the head to anchor it.  I especially like the magical monarch that’s flying above the flowers looking for a place to land. 

I kept art progress moving forward this past week when we visited Grandma in the cold of Michigan for spring break.  The weather really wasn’t that bad and we did a lot of hanging out as a family.  We had an unexpected visit from Kathy Rulli, Jim’s cousin —it was great to catch up with her.  I spent a lot of time stretching out weavings into frames for the BPP show, although I’m also trying to finish a few other pieces before I head down to Mississippi to do the Ridgeland Arts Festival in early April.  I’m excited because this is a new venue for me and I get to visit with more cousins - Marth and Dave in Madison.  With two shows on the horizon I won’t be able to get to the garden for a while, because as soon as I return from the Mississippi show I’ll travel to Chicago for a long weekend with the Sounds of South group.  After that I’m definitely going to stick my fingers in the dirt!

As soon as we got back from Michigan I went full force in the art studio.  After completing the monarch piece I’m hurrying to complete a piece called ‘Thinking about Fishing’.  Jim is a wreck over the winter when he can’t get out fishing, so he spends a lot of time thinking and planning for the time he can get back on the water.  January and February are the hardest months for him, and this cold, wet March set back his mental calendar.  I can tell he’s ready to go when he drives out to the lake to check out the water color and level.  On Friday he saw a great blue heron waiting for spring fishing too, which matches the bird I’m creating for my piece.  My heron will be examining the water and deciding which fish or amphibian would make the nicest lunch. 

My family timeline is heating up too, which includes a drive planned for Friday to Oberlin to pick up Tommie for his spring break.  It was a little sad not to have my little pumpkin along for our spring break for the first time.  I miss him, but it sounds like he’s doing well and having a wonderful time—he’s right where he needs to be.  Cubba just gets twice as many hugs and kisses and it doesn’t seem to bother him.  And Grandma baked me a pie!  I didn’t get a picture, but it was a mixed berry peach pie, and it was tasty!  I had a slice each day I was in Michigan.  Now the countdown begins in Bloomington!

Until next week,

Martina Celerin

Saturday, March 9, 2019

Is there snow in the forecast?

It’s always hard to know when the last snow of the season falls, except in my art studio.  I decided to celebrate the last snows of the year by completing a piece I’m calling Glistening Snow.  This is another composition sparked by my trip to the Museum of Modern Art in Chicago where I passed through a dense curtain of cascading pearls to enter an exhibit.  I was thinking about the pearls and how striking they look accented with black and red.  I wanted to create a weaving where the snow is gently falling on barren tree branches that look strikingly black against a pale winter sky.  
Adding a pop of red is something I like to do—it just brings some joy and life to a winter landscape.  A bright red cardinal fit perfectly over my snow-pearl background amid the stark black oak branches, and Glistening Snow is complete. 

Of course I rarely focus on just one piece, and I certainly need more color in my life.  I have spring on my mind as it wanders to thinking about spring planting in the garden.  Last year Jim tried very hard to establish a patch of Mexican sunflowers, but the darned deer kept mowing down the tops of the plants when they began to bud.  Optimistically we would think that it would just make a bushier plant, especially if we sprayed with deer repellent.  
In the end, though, the deer won and we just ended up with plant stumps in the ground and very happy deer.  To fill the void I’ve been working on a weaving that will feature Mexican sunflowers and monarchs feeding on them.  I’ve been slowly making the individual flower petals and I finally accumulated enough to assemble the flower heads.  I did the background weaving a couple of months ago, and I’ve even created the leaves with detailed veins.  Hopefully by the end of the week I’ll be able to assemble all the pieces.  Watch this space. 

The other big news is that I finished and shipped my commissioned felted tiles to their forever home, and the owner seems very happy with them.  
I really enjoyed the process of working on the small scale format, and I think that once I have all of the pieces finished for my next two exhibits I will create some individual tiles for the summer fairs.  Those exhibits will be good places to see my recent collections.  One show is local (Migrations:  where have you been and what have you seen) at the Bloomington Playwright’s Project (BPP) going up on March 26th.  I’ll also be at the Ridgeland Mississippi Fine Arts Festival on April 6 and 7.  I’m hoping there will be some spring flowers on display by then.

I can honestly say I don’t have any pie right now.  I did have a slice of a delightful tart cherry pie for breakfast each day this week, which was wonderful.  This morning I had *sigh* toast.  It was homemade bread that made really nice toast (thanks Jim), but it wasn’t pie.  Between the time I launched this blog and now, a tart lemon pie has appeared, but I think it’s intended for the Second Saturday Soup event tonight rather than just for me.  Maybe there will be some left over and I can have a slice for breakfast tomorrow morning?

Until next week,

Martina Celerin

Sunday, March 3, 2019

Winter’s not over yet!

As the snow storm approaches I find myself working on another winter scene.  The story behind the piece is a little complicated, but I wanted to extend my series featuring migrating animals.  The champion travelers are arctic terns, which have the longest path known for any animal.  Each year they loop from Greenland in the North Atlantic to the shores of Antarctica, or about 43,000 miles!  I decided my composition would feature a lone arctic tern perched on a weathered wooden post surrounded by ice-covered snow on a beautiful cold day with a crystal blue sky. 

Before I launch on a piece I need a good idea about the color story and the materials I’ll use.  I started collecting ice and snow for this piece many years ago, even though I didn’t know it at the time.  The boys and I rented kayaks on Lake Monroe and paddled around to various landing sites to scavenge the beaches, play in the water and enjoy the sun.  On one of our stops we discovered giant piles of beach glass that we collected in a back-up t-shirt that doubled as a collecting bag.  I brought back the pieces and soaked them in peroxide and later detergents to get them as clean and clear as possible.  I’ve used those bottle fragments, collected around eight years ago, to create the sheet of ice layered over snow.

I still needed a color story, and a memory clicked into place as I considered this piece.  For years I have driven past a billboard on the way to the airport that always caught my eye.  The featured lawyer wasn’t memorable, but the color story featured shades of grey and orange that I’ve always wanted to interpret.  Although the warm color component in my piece is a deeper red to connect the tern to the background, the overall color story feels the same.  It’s weird how objects and ideas get linked together in my brain, which often happens based on colors and color stories.  So I have a beautiful arctic tern with beach glass ice from lake Monroe connected by the colors on a billboard on the road out of town!

This past weekend I did the Garage Sale Art Fair in Kalamazoo Michigan with my friend Dawn Adams.  We loaded up the van with both of our art displays and headed north.  We had a delightful stop in Angola Indiana for panini at the Caleo CafĂ©.  We then strolled through a couple of antique malls where I found some interesting vintage treasures.  The one that really sparked my interest was a pie crust crimper.  The shape was interesting, and I thought it would make a great present for Jim—and that sparked a great new idea for a weaving. The art piece will feature all things associated with making a pie—the tools and the ingredients.  
When I got home I dug through all of my vintage-ey cooking tools and started building a mental composition.  I’m seeing a slice of pie on a lifter, three forks with fruit, a pie crimper and a vintage dough slicer.  I’ll probably put blueberries, cherries and an apple slice on the forks.  I don’t have the full color story yet—I guess I have to keep an eye on the local billboards, but you never know where the spark for a color story might be hiding.

This week I also finished up the last of my felted tile pieces that will make up a six-panel commission.  I was down to the last details of the animals, and I had to create a baby painted turtle climbing up onto a lily pad.  
I also made a green frog crawling along a fern branch to see if it can get a better peek at a nearby bug.  The challenge for both animals was getting their mottled skin textures right.  As I was looking for just the right material to convey that texture, I opened one of my green bins to find some fleece I that I picked up years ago at the Fleece Fair, before it was called the Fiber event.  The dappled olive, forest and lime greens in the fleece was just perfect for my project—what luck!

My weekly report wouldn’t be complete without a pie update, and yesterday I hit the jackpot.  Jim made a tart cherry pie, my absolute favorite, with an amazing crust.  The cherries were from a June farmer’s market trip, and yes, he used the vintage crimper to get a nice look around the edges.  I guess I need to find another crimper to encourage more pies. 

Until next week,

Martina Celerin