Sunday, October 16, 2016

Inching Along

My days follow a simple routine so somehow I manage to make progress on complex work, if only at a snail's pace.

This piece has me reflecting on aging, retirement, and how life wears thin and develops holes and tears here and there. And on the increased effort required to maintain good health. 
And how life transforms into something different, something that has its own beauty. My process and my thoughts intermingle as I stitch. 

I feel like this is the hardest piece I've ever done on a technical level, but then again, maybe not...And I feel like this is the hardest part of my life, but then again, maybe not...

Once in awhile the routine gets broken by a drive into Tunis. Last Thursday, I sketched people walking, a baby in the waiting room of a medical lab, a Sultan and clients in the restaurant "Sultan Ahmet." 

<--The Sultan and I. 

The page was "pre-painted," meaning I was going to do something else and changed my mind. All in all, an enjoyable and creative autumn day. 

Linked to Nina Marie's "Off the Wall Friday."

Sunday, September 25, 2016

Feeling Peppy!

The drop in temperatures plus a couple of good storms to clear the air makes me feel peppy! 

So I have attempted to be mindful of my rule for 2016 to finish my work. 
Yesterday, I finished the journal page of the day Mr. M. left the hospital in Paris. I remembered how slowly he moved and the difficulty he had to eat. I am thankful for the progress he has made. 

I have limited my sketching practice to errand days once or twice a week. He drives and I draw. 

The small size of my sketchbook allows me to go from page to page without getting bogged down, gathering material for...well, I don't know, just gathering for the time being until I finish the Pomegranate Tree Quilt (PTQ).

This week, I stared at PTQ hanging in my living room--I had to get it vertical. I took photos. I reconsidered. I fiddled and fidgeted with it. Then I added a few more leaves.

PTQ has been around for 5 years as of November. It's time to finish. "Just 
a bit longer, just a bit longer," it whispers, "I need this and I need that." 

We are old friends. Ok, a few more leaves. But then I'm squaring you up and you better hang straight!

In the meantime, I worked on "He Went to Work Everyday, Then He Retired." 
Or maybe I should just shorten the title to "Retiring"? In any case, I will soon be adding the third of five shirts, and what a tangle it will be.

Just trying to stayed focused and get back on track with my artwork in 2016.

Saturday, September 10, 2016

Heat and Buses

Public transportation in Paris is wonderful. Efficient and reasonably priced, it can take you just about anywhere in the region. When public transportation employees go on strike, traffic becomes so snarled that is nearly impossible to go anyplace.

The French recently sold some of their used buses, without air conditioning, to Tunisia. Now in France they probably don't need A/C, but, in Tunisia, temperatures are usually over 90°F for most of the summer, and into autumn as well. How do we solve this problem? Simple solution: Open the windows and doors and drive faster.

That's exactly what I noticed when I took the bus a few weeks ago. Certain employees of the bus company get the choice spot of standing by the open doors. Never mind if the driver should hit the breaks suddenly--heat trumps safety.
Fortunately, it rained last Wednesday; it was a glorious thunderstorm that washed away months of dust. The temperature dropped below 90°F. Autumn in Tunisia is a pleasant time of year. Hot weather will continue, but, it will be less extreme. They may even close the doors on the buses... 

Saturday, September 3, 2016

Sea, Sand, & Sun, 4

 A final summer memory as the weather begins to move towards autumn. A high point of our beach vacation was the parachute ride that I went on with one of my granddaughters. In case you've never witnessed this, a motor boat pulls a parachute behind it and there you are strapped to the parachute and floating way above the sea, hanging in the middle of the air (and hanging on for dear life). I can now check that one off my bucket list.

So, this was rather irresistible. These tourists sat almost in front of me during my stay at the beach hotel in July.

Ok, I admit that I made up the conversation. Couldn't help myself...

Monday, August 22, 2016

Waking Up

I finally woke up last week. At first I thought I had been in a coma for the past eight months, however, nobody noticed my absence, and it seemed to be a rather dramatic diagnosis. Other possibilities: hibernation, suspended animation, or sleep walking. As my family appears to think that I have been present, I'll have to go with the sleep walking diagnosis as I do have a history of promenading at night. 

True story: when we lived in a ground floor apartment (centuries ago), my husband woke up one night, saw I wasn't there and then found the front door open. He caught up with me half way down the street. "Where are you going, Honey?" "Gotta go to the park, gotta go to the park." "Well, why don't you come back to bed now?" "Oh, okay."
Mr. M. is still traumatized... 

Anyway, last year, I signed up for online classes that were interesting and cheerful, and that would take me by the hand and tell me what to do. I put myself on automatic pilot. I got through the last 8 months of Mr. M's life-threatening illness and surgery, stitching away...
...and nobody knew I was sleep walking. 

Finally, last week I woke up early in the morning and felt like myself. I mean, I really felt like myself. I went through a list in my head of the day's activities and felt some degree of pleasure and a reason to get out of bed. 

I pulled out the Pomegranate Tree Quilt, on which I have been mindlessly stitching French knot leaves in the evening. I spread it out on the bed and examined it, wide awake. Oh my, a whole section of weeds hadn't been finished. I attacked the weeds with determination.
I am now eating healthy (no white sugar or flour), doing a yoga routine every morning, and feeling wide awake and alert. I'm thinking about my artwork again as a body of work. 

Indeed, I made myself a journal to finish up all the lettering begun in online classes, so I can get back to fabric and thread. I have a lot of subject matter in my sketchbooks to digest and interpret into fabric.

My new journal begins with a quote by Joshua W. Shank: "Creative people depend on flexibility to an unusual degree, and their personalities show tendencies of thought and action that in most people are segregated. Creative people simply embrace contradictory extremes whereas everyone else learns to develop one or the other."
I'm so glad that I woke up to be able to embrace my contradictory extremes!
May you be wide awake as well.

Sunday, August 14, 2016

Sea, Sand, and Sun, 3

It's no secret, I'm not  in my best element at the beach. I tomato (yes, "tomato" is a verb in my world). No chance of a tan.
However, Mr. M. spent his youth on the beach as soon as the weather allowed, since he grew up very close to the Mediterranean. He LUVs the beach, so I agreed to go with him for a day at Korba (beach town an hour and a half South of us).
I did thumbnail sketches on the way down with a ballpoint pen and colored pencils.

True, there was a pleasant sea breeze keeping the temperature down and I did enjoy one 15 minute dip, more or less.

Most of the time, I sat in my folding chair under the parasol and sketched people as discreetly as possible. Why this man was trying to fix his bait and fish on a crowded beach beats me. Seemed dangerous to me...

Then there was the sleeping baby with his mother...full sun...seemed unreasonable to me as well...

Hmmmm...people watching.

Eventually, I got fed up and switched to stitching. I think I am becoming the Reluctant Sketcher again.

Instant calm as I worked on a red on black piece in the Book of Etudes. The lobster red was a fairly accurate description of my skin when I ran out of sun screen...sigh.

Here's the problem: I have accumulated a good deal of material in my sketchbooks and I'm beginning to itch to express that into something larger (maybe life-size?) in fabric. I need to digest and then reflect on it all and interpret it into my own visual vocabulary.

Paper is beginning to annoy me. 
I think I lost Nadia someplace over the last couple of years. 
Anyone seen her around?

Linked to Nina Marie's "Off the Wall Friday."

Monday, August 8, 2016

Memories of Parisian Museums

Although, I didn't get around much while I was in the Paris region in April and May, I did manage a few museum visits. And what spectacular exhibits I saw! First, I visited the National Picasso Museum, which is housed in the "Hôtel Salé", a city mansion. There was the sculpture exhibition, and the permanent collection was equally impressive. Limited on time, I tried to do just a small sketch at each museum--to remember...
What intrigued me and sort of tickled my fancy was the juxtaposition of the stately mansion sculptures hanging off the top of the wall at the edge of the ceiling in a corridor where Picasso's "Buste d'une femme" (1931) sat tranquilly. Nobody seemed to notice the dialogue going on between the man with curls, flowers and flowing drapery staring down at the woman stripped to her stark essence. She seemed oblivious to it all. 

Another day, I visited the Orangerie, after walking through the Tuileries. It is well-known for the series of wall-size "Nymphéas" paintings. 

I did a humble sketch of just one little corner to try to understand movement, color, and technique. I could have done that for a week and learned so much! And, of course, the permanent collection downstairs was exceptional. 

The Musée d'Art Moderne de la ville de Paris featured an exhibit of Albert Marquet (1875-1947), who was a member of the Fauves.  

There I saw a number of the paintings that I had studied in textbooks. Quite lovely.

My favorite exhibit of all was also at the Ville de Paris Museum. Paula Modersohn-Becker (1876-1907), a German artist who visited Paris when she could, had wonderful portraits of children that were solemn, yet gentle. Her almost tender treatment of nudes, which included a mother and child series, is such a contrast to the male painters of her generation, such as Marquet, who did his share of the erotic. I did a quick sketch of her daring self-portrait in the nude and pregnant (when she really wouldn't be pregnant until the following year). Exquisitely lovely.

And, of course I did get to the Paul Klee exhibit at the Georges Pompidou Center, since Klee had spent time in Tunisia. Another breath-taking and thorough exhibit with lots of historical information.

Ok, ok, I never got to the Louvre because there is so much to see in Paris. Next time, and hopefully under much better circumstances...