Monday, January 30, 2012

Flowers on my brain…

It has been a busy week of art creation this week, but not much on project completion. I took a few big steps forward on my ‘Hilly Hundred’ piece—I wove the entire green background. I wasn’t sure about the color palette that I wanted to develop for the bicycles, but while I was reading art magazines at bedtime I came across an image that solved my problem. It features a clock tower and a green pathway. I want to emulate the feel of the color combinations by featuring the green hills of southern Indiana and splashing on the colorful bicycle bodies. To create the bicycle wheels I’ve been collecting a bunch of old bangles from various garage sales and places such as Opportunity House. I’ll wrap these with silver yarn and wrap a black shoelace on the outside of the ring to create the bike tires. I like making bikes – it reminds me that spring is approaching!

On another front, I’m now fully committed to creating my ‘brain’ piece as part of the ‘brain art’ installment series around Bloomington. The project is being organized by Jill Bolte-Taylor and will feature embellished six-foot wide fiberglass brains at selected sites. I’ve been felting soft flowers for one side of the brain, and now I have four trays ready to attach. They’re all made out of scraps of wool and commercial felt bits that I’ve been collecting. I’m quite partial to a series of marigolds I’ve been creating and having fun with. I made a few of them at my art-associated meetings where my colleagues are used to watching my ‘voodoo’ art. That’s how they often describe my intense and incessant poking of small objects with felting needles. More recently I’ve been cutting fringes into strips of felt about a foot long. Then I roll them up to create the yellow marigolds. I always seem to learn something new when I start down a new road in art, and the marigolds are a fun offshoot of my ‘brain flowers’, and they blossomed from my holiday ‘Sweater Petals project.

The third piece that’s almost done now is my poppy weaving. I have been featuring the flower parts over the past few weeks (scroll down to see them) and I had hoped to complete it this week. My busy meeting schedule got in the way, however, so this week’s the charm for bringing the elements together.

In family news, my crew went to see Stomp! at the IU auditorium on Friday evening. It was wonderful to watch the boy’s reaction to the production. Tommie especially was engrossed by the percussion dance performance. He was bopping and tapping in his seat right beside me. And last night I was off to the ‘Art of Chocolate’ exhibit at the IU art museum. I juried two pieces into the show, so I got a free ticket to sample the special chocolate goodies they’ll have. I did manage to snag a few treats to bring home for the boys – Ooo, were they pleased !

Until next week…

Martina Celerin

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Hard to believe, but…

It was ten years ago and I was pregnant with my second son, Jacob. I had just received permanent residency status and I was ready to concede that I might be living in Indiana for a while. Now it’s hard to imagine living anywhere besides Bloomington. So last week I filled out the forms and mailed my application for US citizenship! I’m excited to move through the process, and I’m imagining a big party at the end of the process to celebrate. The food will be catered and Jim will be in charge of organizing it! I’ll let him in on the details when we get a little closer to party time.

I’m on full art creation mode these days, trying to re-stock my studio for summer art fair adventures. The outline of my poppy piece appeared in the blog last week, and more recently I created the leaflets and forty stamens per flower that I needed for accuracy. Each stamen is an individually wrapped copper wire, so they’re pretty energy intensive. I’m really pleased with how the flowers and the elegant seed pods they leave behind have turned out. I also finished my daffodil and the leaves that go with it. To finish them I pressed the leaves in my big steamer. I’m so enjoying using it—it’s such a useful tool, saving me hours of tedious ironing. Soon I’ll start on my next weaving, and I’m channeling the Hilly Hundred bike race. I’m imagining hordes of colorful bicycles rolling through the Indiana countryside. That should be a fun piece to create.

In town, I dropped off two art pieces to Options for Better Living. Next week begins the Art of Chocolate fundraiser for them, which also features a juried art exhibition. Two of my pieces were accepted for display: Six Salamander Salsa and a peacock lattice scarf. I’m looking forward to seeing them at the reception on Sunday the 29th.

And last, on Friday night my boys tested for their brown belt with a white stripe in Taekwondo at Monroe County Martial arts. They’re moving along! After the test we headed for Mother Bears. They were pretty busy, but they found us a table and we had some great pizza. When we came out the rain was just starting to fall and freeze, which produced a slick Saturday and a lot of ice scraping before the boys could get out to Taekwondo for their classes. Sorry honey, but only one car fits in the carport at a time!

Until next week…

Martina Celerin

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Summer in January…

The weather turned really cold last week, so it was time to think about summer. That means flowers, travel to art fairs and fruit pies. For the flowers I started working on some daffodils for my latest weaving. It’s another piece that features rusty objects in the dirt. This time a daffodil will shine above the cluttered soil. I’ve also been working on a piece I’m calling ‘May’s Poppies’. This brings to mind a spring ritual where we buy red poppy rosettes at May’s Greenhouse in the spring. The plants that establish usually give us several years of grand red displays in the late spring. We’re due for some vibrant color in the garden.

I’ve been working on a big bunch of poppy leaflets and last week I sprinkled them into my new steam presser (it’s used, but it’s new to me). Instead of spending hours ironing individual leaves, I finished the whole job in two pressings. I love it! I combined the leaflets into leaves, which showed me that I was about ten leaflets short. I have a little more work on that project but it’s coming along nicely.

While it may not be summery, I want to say that I did a bunch more fabric printing using the blocks I described last time. I cut up some more of Jim’s pants (hee hee) and pressed them with my new steam presser. If I were a fifties housewife I’d feel badly about only pressing his pants after I surreptitiously pulled them out of the laundry basket and cut them up, but hey, I’m a modern woman. I embellished the printed fabric sections with 3D fabric paint to create some representational objects like flowers. Then I went all Jackson Pollocky on them and drizzled paint on top of the prints. I love projects where you get to play with paint.

So summer means art fairs, and it’s time to start applying to art shows. Jim and I went through all the Midwest shows to see which ones might work for us, and I have a list to apply to. I should also mention that the applications for the Fourth Street Festival are available online (though Zapplications), so apply if you’d like to come to Bloomington this Labor day. Or just come anyway and see the great art! Ohh, and I almost forgot—Jim went into a baking frenzy yesterday and surprised me with two loaves of bread, kluski, and a peach pie. It didn’t fit into our dinner plans last night so I had to wait for breakfast to try a slice. It was a little piece of summer heaven in January! Back to last night—we were scurrying to get to the Ruth N. Halls theatre to see the Contemporary Voices modern dance performance last night. We went with Jacob’s friends Claire and Lara (and Claire’s mom Karen) and everyone had a great time. The boys even put on their "tuxes" for the occasion. The range of performances was awesome, from a troupe of pajama-clad college students sleeping on a couch (performed to Mozart’s Eine Kleine Nachtmusik) to a piece performed with only two performers and a mattress.

Next Friday the boys test for their brown belt with a white stripe (the first step on the way to a red belt), and the following week we’ll see Stomp! at the IU Auditorium. I figure if we just keep really busy, summer will be here before we know it!

Until next week…

Martina Celerin

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Another year older…

Birthdays can be a little less exciting for people like me, whose birthday falls in the few days after Christmas. Luckily for me, my family came through. Jim got up early enough to bake me a rhubarb pie for breakfast after my Zumba class Grandma left me an elegantly wrapped box with a nice bottle of malbec and Lindt chocolate. My boys even got me an iphone, soon to be delivered. I’m going to enter the twenty first century! I’ll be connected to the world wherever I go—it’s all very exciting!

Because it’s a new year, I thought I should launch into yet another new project! I made a bunch of block stamps and I’m having a great time trying them out. My plan is to use them on plain fabric (read: salvaged pieces of my husband’s old shirts) to create more striking center panels for my upcycled wearable art clothing. I have some puffy fabric paint that I used on earlier projects, such as making a giant 3D lotus tree on dryer sheets. I created the stamps by cutting out pieces of craft foam in shapes that appeal to me. I’m using wood glue to attach them to wooden blocks I cut out, but I might also bring out my old linoleum carving tools to create more stamps. The exploration phase of any project is pretty exciting, and I never know where the experience will take me next.

In the bigger community art world, brains attacked me again this week. Jill Bolte-Taylor is organizing a project where giant brains will be molded and local artists will bring them to life. I was initially intrigued with the project and the chance to work again with community artist and all around great guy Joe LaMantia in a collaborative effort on a brain. The level of paperwork required to launch on a brain project turned me off, though, and I haven’t thought much about it lately. I got a phone call from Joe late last week inviting me again to participate, and I’m meeting with him shortly to share my ideas for a project. I’m intrigued about exploring bipolarism in a brain design. I would use felted artwork to explore the two extremes of emotion, overlaid on the two hemispheres of a brain. One side would represent euphoria, with felted flowers on a green lawn with butterflies floating overhead. The other side would reflect depression and sadness, expressed on a black felt background with black cables intertwining. One concept that I’m exploring is thinking about ways to connect the sides and capture the idea of rapid cycling between the two states. I’d like to have some vines growing from the green side into the blackness and some black electrical cords growing from the dark side into the green space. Suspended over the black side I would suspend a ball-and-stick structure of lithium citrate, one of the drugs used to mitigate the symptoms of the illness. I’d like to incorporate the color of lithium, which burns as a beautiful red-fuchsia in a flame. Thinking about the colors warmly reminds me of conversations with my father-in-law on Sunday mornings when he would visit. He’d give long, unplanned lectures on whatever topic seemed appropriate to the morning. That somehow seems right to include in a brain art piece.

Finally, as the holiday season fades away, I took a little time to tie up the loose ends from last year. I got out my receipts and entered all the receipts into a spreadsheet. I reclaimed the art studio by putting away all the Christmas present wrapping leftovers (the studio was a disaster zone, but it was worth it). I can see the rug again, so I’m ready to start weaving. I think my first piece will be another memories piece. This is a series I started with rusty metal pieces underground that transition to structures above the ground, such as bikes or flowers. With the first real cold snap this week, I think I might have to make some daffodils. Today the kids went back to school so the house is unusually peaceful. I guess it’s time to start weaving!

Until next week…

Martina Celerin