Mid April is a busy season for me. April brings taxes and the major review of all the slides from almost 400 applicants to the Fourth Street Festival of Art. I also serve as a reviewer for the Bloomington Arts Commission grants and this year, a juror for the NanoArt exhibit sponsored by Wonderlab. The latter was something fun and new because I had to look through over 50 beautiful images from microscopes, usually from living things. When I wasn’t poring over grants, taxes, and images of wee art, I kept my large format commission piece moving forward. I finished weaving the background while my frame-maker, Tom Bertolacini, came through with the giant frame. I’ve had some past experiences with the landscape format oak frames bowing from the stretching of the piece.
That meant a quick trip out to Kleindorfer’s hardware and some expert advice. After some conversations with the fellows there, I picked up two slats of steel, six feet long by an inch wide and an eighth of an inch thick. I cut them to size to reinforce the back of the frame and I drilled holes every six inches to merge steel and wood. When the rains finally subside and the weather warms up I’ll get outside and paint the frame. That will allow me to stretch out the background in the frame and move on with completing the piece. I’ll know when the rains let up because the artesian spring in my art studio will stop flowing so robustly. I capture most of the water with towels (the rug is rolled back) that I spin out and dry.
I decided that while I had a little ‘free’ time I should clean out the veranda. It becomes a bit of a dumping ground over the fall and winter, and I'm just as guilty as the boys when it comes to stashing stuff out there. My first big project was dealing with the mountain of fleece I inherited over the past year or so. The first step is skirting the fleece. That might sound elegant, but what it really means is that I trim out the sheep poo. People who think art is full of all glamorous activities have no idea! After I washed the trimmed fleece I leave it sitting outside in mesh trays. I systematically pull apart clumps of the fleece to untangle it. Normally that would be pretty tedious, but the last couple of days have been in the upper seventies with a slight breeze and birds singing. Playing with the fleece and straightening things up is just a wonderful excuse to sit outside.
The first fleece that I washed a couple of weeks ago was the darkest fleece. I used that to create the foreground tree in the commission piece. I needle felted that tree structure and found dark brown yarns in my collection that I'll use to create the branches for the tree. I also did all of the crocheting to make the leaf clumps so I feel like pieces of the work are coming together.
As I’ve described before, I create the inside of trees I’ve been making from Grandpa’s old army blankets. Sadly, when I began this piece I cut into the last of the supply. That's a problem because the flagstones that make up the path are also made from old army blankets. Not to worry though—Karma has been looking out for me. I have to tell a story to have this make sense, so indulge me for a moment. A couple of months ago I took some of my pieces to the fifth grade class at Binford Elementary School to show the kids because one of the pieces was inspired by a drawing sketched by one of the kids (Tethered Memories). During my conversation with them I mentioned that I had one last army blanket for my artwork. One insightful student asked what I would do for tree trunks when that was gone. I told her that something would appear—it always seems to. Fast forward to this week. I visited the Recycle Center and—lo and behold—what should I find but an army blanket! I had to complete the circle so I told the teacher when I saw her at the Carnival last Friday. She is looking forward to telling the students.
I do have a few other events to report on from the past few weeks. I have an exhibit up at the Meadowood retirement community that will be up until the end of April. They invited me to a nice reception where I got to meet a large number of the residents who came to see my art. I had some delightful conversations as they passed through the gallery and shared their reactions to the art. That was followed by a lovely dinner on site, hosted by Jeune Baker and attended by some of her friends and my husband Jim. It was a nice little date with the boys off watching the black belt test of a friend at Monroe County Martial Arts. Their time to test is coming soon, likely over the summer. I know life is good because I got another pie—this time it was blackberry from the summer farmer’s market. The berries froze well and I enjoyed pie and espresso for breakfast for a whole week. The sad news is that we only have apple pie filling in the freezer now, and I’m more of a ‘berry’ kind of person. I guess I’ll settle for apple next, although I did see some rhubarb in the grocery story recently. Maybe there will be some early rhubarb at the Farmer’s market! A girl can dream.
Until next week,