Tuesday, May 7, 2019

Butterflies in my art studio!

I just never know when ideas for compositions are going to come to me.  My last inspiration grew out of a wonderful conversation about monarch butterflies with one of the Sounds of South parents.  It turns out she’s a biology teacher interested in monarch migrations.  She raises monarchs and commented on my In Transit piece currently hanging at the BPP that features monarchs.  It turns out that Bloomington is on a flight path on their migration to Mexico, and we both wanted to see the monarchs in their overwintering grounds.  I played out the conversation several times in my head, which got me thinking about how much effort we humans invest in our travels.  
We depend on technologies, knowledge from past travels and histories passed down, and we expect our creature comforts along the way.  We have many modes of ground transportation, but butterflies just float above everything we do on a predetermined flight every year without external help or directions. 

I decided to celebrate the migration of the monarchs by creating a weaving - because that’s what I do.  I finished weaving the background canvas and I began to incorporate all of those little markers of human travel into the background.  I included a compass, motel keys, aviator sunglasses, watches, suitcases, luggage locks and of course a little travel cash.  I needed some travel direction, so I decoupaged pieces of maps of the states over which the monarchs fly on their flight path onto used cut up CDs.  I wove those directly into the weaving.  I’m currently creating the six butterflies that will be in the foreground but flying over the human travel necessities.  I’m hoping this will all come together in the next couple of days.  I’ll post a finished image on Facebook. 

If you know anything about me, you know that I love pies.  My wonderful husband is the official pie chef laureate in our house, which works out well.  We’re in a tough season for pie bakers as we transition from ‘no fresh fruit’ winter to a few months of great bounty.  The stepping stone pie is the traditional strawberry rhubarb pie, which marries the tart rhubarb base with the sweet and flavorful strawberries.  That’s the traditional Mother’s Day pie and since Mother’s Day is Sunday, I’m very hopeful this will appear after a long, pie-free week.  After that we’ll be close to the first blueberries, raspberries and tart cherries—I can’t wait!

Of course thinking about anything usually translates into a weaving, so I decided I needed to create a piece called Pie Tools.  Of course our house is well equipped with these objects.  A piece like Pie Tools needs some fresh fruit, so I’ve felting the little pops of color in the form of cherries, blueberries, raspberries and apples that I’m so looking forward to finding in pies this summer.  
In the meantime Jim has been scavenging the best available fruit from the grocery store and surprised me with a blueberry lemon pie last week.  It was wonderful!  The crust was baked to a golden-ey perfection.  The tartness of the lemon juice and zest with the blueberries was just delightful.  Of course it’s gone.  Soooo sad.  Time for Mother’s Day!

Until next week,

Martina Celerin

Sunday, April 28, 2019

Full speed ahead on art ideas!

It’s been a wonderful week to be home working in my studio.  The weather cooperated by not being too nice, so I was ready to get busy and begin a bunch of new pieces.  I love carrying ideas for weaving compositions around in my head.  There I can modify my designs as I think through technical aspects about which materials might work best and how to achieve the end product.  At some point I’m ready and eager to launch on creating the weaving, and that was certainly true of my piece called Barbershop Quartet. I dug out my big container of barbershop related paraphernalia and began laying out the composition I imagined. When I was happy with the layer of tools and barber supplies I pulled out all of my barbicide blue yarns and started the background weaving.  
Completing the background brought me to a resting point where I now need to needle felt the four goldfinches.  I can do that task on the move, so I’ll probably save the felting aspect until we’re driving somewhere.  I was still in full design layout and background mode, so I plowed ahead on completing the backdrop for my piece called Charging Station.  Just like the missing goldfinches on my Barbershop Quartet, I’ll adorn the piece with three fireflies with glow-in-the-dark bottoms.  I can work on them as I travel too, but I’m finding much less time than I used to for felting projects now that Jacob can drive himself to his activities.  For the background on this piece I had a lot of fun creating and gussying up the electrical outlet covers.  I also incorporated all kinds of jewelry bits, drywall tape, beaded pull chains for lights and other odds and ends in the background.  I find it amazing what paint can do to transform an object from something you recognize instantly into a component that blends well into a textured surface. 

I still had another piece in my mind ready to launch, and that was a composition called Changing Gears.  It will have a steampunk feel to it with lots of metal gears and gear-like objects that I’ve been harvesting by tearing apart blenders and mixers and pulling brass gears from old clocks.  Thursday I spent a little quality time arranging the composition and I’m pretty excited about putting it all together.  I’m contrasting the hard metal gears with a helpful grackle in the foreground that will present an alan key in its beak.  The timing for this piece and the grackle was perfect because I went to the Fleece Fair last week on Friday and picked up some iridescent green-purple Angelina fibers.  I plan to blend them in to the black wool to create that sheen that grackles around their heads.  I know that most people are not grackle fans because they steal bird seed and grain in the fields, but I see them as resourceful individuals and kindred spirits in some ways.  I’ll certainly post pictures as I make progress on each of these pieces. 

Last Sunday Jim and I went to Lake Monroe to try our hand at crappie fishing.  We caught enough fish to enjoy the fruits of our labors as fish tacos on Tuesday.  It was a wonderful adventure, made challenging by the lake being so high that we needed to paddle the canoe out to a dock that we would normally walk out to.  We spent a few hours finding small flocks of fish and getting a mild sunburn in the middle of April.  I made charred corn salsa and chili lime aeoli, which combined with fresh fish and arugula on white corn torillas made for a delightful dinner.  Oooh, yum!  Speaking of food, it was a pie day, but it was a pizza pie on Friday.  Jim has perfected the thin crust, whole wheat pizza which he generously covered with vegetables and cheese mixtures.  It was really good, but I now have a hankering for something sweet and fruity.  Maybe a …   pie?  Hoo boy—I can’t leave the kitchen for a minute!  I went on an afternoon visit with Dawn and Cinny to Indianapolis and I came back to find a blueberry pie!  Perfect!

Until next week,

Martina Celerin

Monday, April 22, 2019

The best fork for pie!

We are finally deep into spring and looking towards summer.  The trees are leafing out into soft greens, the redbuds are on full display and the dogwoods are just about to burst.  The farmer’s market is underway, and I’m looking forward to one of my favorite things about summer:  the fresh fruits and vegetables!  I’m sure that people all over the world feel the same way after eating winter fruits that were picked early and lack the rich flavors of summer.  To celebrate that approaching yumminess just around the corner I just finished a weaving called "Twelve Forks of Summer."  
I had a lot of fun collecting the forks themselves.  Some are silver and others regular flatware that I painted and patinaed to enhance the unique features of each pattern.  I intentionally painted them all gold to elevate the perception of the object.  Traditionally, objects placed in and around gold are elevated in value.  A perfect piece of watermelon deserves to be on a regal gold fork. 

I also started work on a fun piece that came to me while I was in Michigan staying with Dawn’s friends Angela and Rick.  Angela shared with me her vintage salesman’s display box of shaving tools that she inherited from her mother, which is an image that stayed in my head.  That sparked a memory of a scrounging adventure with Nancy last summer at the Westbury Antique Market’s yard sale, where I found a fascinating old gold razor.  
That had me thinking about musicals like Music Man and costumes, and all together you might understand how I came up with one the next pieces I’ll make called "Barbershop Quartet."  It will feature vintage shaving devices embedded in a barbicide-blue background.  On the foreground will be attached four goldfinches singing in unison.  I warped the loom with silver because many of the barber tools will be silver.  I have already collected many of the things that will go into the weaving and I’ve started to work on the goldfinches with different vocal ranges.  I’m excited because it’s going to be a fun piece, but it also reminds me about all the places I’ve been and the friends I was with when I collected the objects.  Thanks Dawn, Nancy, Charlotte, Angela, Grandma, and Jacob—and Jim for your patience while I scrounge through the oddest places! 
I apologize for missing a couple of weeks of blogging, but I’ve been on the road.  In early April I participated at the Ridgeland Fine Art Festival in Mississippi.  It was a wonderful success—I’m tickled that three of my pieces found new homes.  The people responded warmly to my art and I’m excited to put it on my list of shows to apply for next year.  
We stayed with cousins Martha and Dave, and they took such good care of us.  We finally got to meet Amy and Harold, whom we’ve heard about for years.  Amy Head is a make-up icon in the south and has the eye of a visual artist.  We had wonderful conversations about the impacts of color and layering colors.  I wished we lived closer.  As we drove south we left the earliest beginnings of Spring in Indiana and gradually watched as we drove through the blossoming forsythia, redbuds, dogwoods and into the flowering wisteria in Mississippi, where everything was fully leafed out. 

My next weekend involved a drive north to Chicago with the Sounds of South, which was the reverse weather experience.  
We left the beginnings of spring to remember the cold and snow of winter.  The trip was warmed by the people and the performances we saw, including seeing Hamilton and A Chorus Line.  The Chicago performance of Hamilton was spectacular, like nothing I’ve ever seen before.  The staging was crisp, unexpected and engaging.  Combined with outstanding performances the effect was spellbinding.  This was the first musical I emerged ready to take in again.  It was just an extravagant visual display.  Walking around Chicago and eating foods we don’t find in Bloomington was a fabulous experience in and of itself.  
The Sounds of South kids sang in a church, and the performance was a feast for the ears because the acoustics in the church was amazing.  The right setting always brings a new dimension to choral singing.  The faces on the kids truly were engaged in what they were doing, making the performance powerful and the memory one of those bubbles in your brain that you tap into when you need to conjure a feeling of joy. 

The best part of traveling is returning home. I was delighted to return from Chicago to discover a warm, blackberry pie.  Jim was experimenting and did something magical.  The fruits were intact and the flavors were bright, so it was unexpectedly delicious.  He’s a pie magician. 

Until next week,

Martina Celerin