Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Black Bean Dyeing

Welcome to my latest obsession. You'll have to come back toward the weekend for the results but at this point I'm off and running. Went to the store last night and bought 2 pounds of black beans and alum. I already had the cream of tarter. Covered the black beans with warm water and read a ton of online recipes. John said it would be a waste to use the black beans from the garden. We don't intend to eat these beans (although if I weren't using a compost bucket we technically could). These are art supply beans.

This is the silk shirt I'm going to dye. It was all the way into the bag for Goodwill before it hit me that I'd love it if it only weren't so bright white. It has silk covered buttons too so it should dye up nicely. It's really cute cinched in with a little belt.

 So this morning I put the shirt into a stainless steel pot with 1 tablespoon alum and 1 teaspoon cream of tarter and brought it to a gentle simmer, then turned off the heat and sat the pot next to the dye bucket on the clothes dryer to cool. Now I have to wait another 36 hours for the next step.

Being naturally curious I dipped the end of a paper towel into the bean juice to test the color. This is what came out. A fairly gray sage green. (I wrote "fairy" by mistake but I like the term for this color of green). Anyhoo, 10 minutes later the color had changed!!

It turned into this color. Definitely green. Now I've read that I can change the ph to make it lean more toward lavender but do I want to do that? (soda or vinegar to change the ph).

I loved stirring the simmering mordant pot with my big, wooden spoon, feeling like a good witch, connected to all the other dyers who've experimented farted around with natural materials in the past to get color.

Come back on the weekend and I'll show you the outcome. I'm bound to learn something.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Sere Beauty

You could say January is why I love June.

Except that yes, it has its moments.

Cozy indoor activities.

Occasional forays out into nature.

Warm slippers, hot tea, quiet hours for meditation and poetic musings.

A time for filling the well.

New things being imagined.

Old things over wintering.

Hope in all her colors.

Shelter and patience.

Being satisfied with what is.


Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Down Under

Long time readers will remember when I had to cancel a trip to Australia several years ago to have a serious operation. That happened right after 2 other operations on a detached retina. What a fun time that was. I was set to teach 3 filled classes in Melbourne and had to turn those duties over to another teacher (thank you dear Jan) and go to the hospital instead. Since then there's been a big hole in my life where Australia was supposed to be. A big regret.

No longer. Tracy Verdugo has graciously offered to sponsor me at her location on the gorgeous eastern coast in the town of Huskisson. This is bucket list stuff. I've been staring at maps. Researching history, birdlife, wildlife, flora and weather patterns. I'm in love with the dream I have about being down under. Practicing the accent I hope I'll pick up in 2 weeks. Only I sound more like a pirate.

I'm not a "cool" person who takes travel for granted. I get all sweaty and excited.

Anyway, before I get too silly, here is the page with all the information. I hope my artist friends in Australia will be interested in learning how to paint with cold wax. It is incredibly versatile. I'll teach you everything I know including how to make your own cold wax medium.

Come and see me while I'm there. Oh, please do. I've met so many of you online. I'd love to see you in person. One love.

Friday, January 04, 2013

Roots and Wings

Thank you for not abandoning me. Really, I think of you all the time. It's just that I've been doing interior work, cave painting so to speak and am in a deep place of learning and change.

Well, aren't we all. I'm back in the studio after wrapping up all the videos and lessons for the Cold Wax Online class. Now I have a few weeks to rest, paint, write and reflect before another travel time. We're having a mild winter in the Pacific Northwest; John cut a rose two nights ago to put in a vase in the window over the sink; that night we got our first killing frost. Peaceful weather soothes my nerves.

I've been doing charcoal drawings. Have started back up on the 100 paintings challenge. I'm only up to #29. I don't count anything in cold wax because it's a different process for me and not nearly as difficult as picking up a brush. My current weakness is making the values work, making the composition as I want it to be.

Working with line and personal marks, symbols, shapes that express my experience of being alive. Up until now I've used subject matter to do that but this is a leap in a different direction. I probably don't need to tell you how hard it is to get it right. This is a language that is challenging to learn (or I should say invent) - like Spanish for me. Some people pick up languages easily; I read about spies who learn Arabic in 6 weeks and I feel very stupid.

This is my 29th painting. 40x48" on canvas. Not as free as the drawings. I'm working on that. 

The title is "Roots and Wings" and comes from this quotation:  

My heart wants roots. My mind wants wings. I cannot bear their bickerings.— E. Y. Harburg 

So that's what I'm up to. Making each day fulfilling with lots of studio time, reading, eating good food (chard from the garden! it gets sweeter in the cold weather and makes the best smoothies!) and loving my good man who has also gotten sweeter in the winter of our lives. 

Words to myself: relax. Let it be easy, it isn't a race. Work each day. Make each day about getting pleasure out of the routine. Eat something good. Hug somebody. Go outside. Be part of a community. Whew. Okay, I think I've got it. Ciao for now.