An Artist's Quest

joy

New Year – A New Spin

12-15-19 Gingko TreeSM

Ginkgo Tree in Late Afternoon Mid-Winter Sunlight 12/15/19

In 2019 I started playing with the time stamp idea of combining technology, textiles and mindfulness. I know this doesn’t seem like a natural fit but I want to embrace the convenience of marking a moment, catching beautiful colors, or an capturing an interesting pattern in the moment with the amazing art tool in my pocket – my phone. When I’m hiking or in the case of this glowing ginkgo tree, while I’m driving (don’t worry I stopped and parked), I can snap a few picture drop a pin on a map to mark my location and hold the experience in my phone. Later I edit and decide what needs to be moved forward into art. But the practice of stopping and marking the moment with a photo is valuable to me.

In the past I created what I called “Time stamp” fabric collage pieces experimenting with this idea of capturing a moment with tech then translating to textile. See Time Stamp #1, Time Stamp#2 and Time Stamp #3 & #4  . Those pieces where my first dip into the idea. This year I want to draw out my practice of observing more and put my inspiration in a sketch book, to better define and document the creative process from inspiration to art for myself and perhaps for others as well. This is my first in depth into this process – embracing both the accessibility of technology to capture inspiration and the more introspective process of breaking that inspiration into it’s communal parts of color, form, pattern and composition.

Notebook page GingkoSM

My sketch book pages focused on the golden Ginkgo

I hope you enjoy the process and perhaps find a way to mark the things in your daily life that take your breath away or draw you in to look close or even the transient moments of delight – what ever tools or practices help you be in those places more often are worth embracing.

 


Robins: the bird box series

Robin 1

Robin 1 (Perching and Ground Bird) 11×14″ fabric and paper collage

For my long-time followers, you know birds pop up in my work often. They are most definitely my muses. I love to observe them, to witness each species characteristics and culture, their distinct forms, figure, flight pattern and personality traits. A Scrub Jay is different in personality and energy than a Blue Bird. Chickadees run together in a tight flock, and Ravens pair off with a partner for life. Each one unique and wonderous. Here I have been charmed by the most common of birds, the American Robins. I always admire their upright stature, sleek feathers and of course their red russet chest that seems to say “here I am, look at me”. They spend time both on the ground hopping and browsing and in the trees chatting and communing (here is a link to hear their song and calls).

Robin2

Robin 2 (Hark to the Hour) 11×14″ fabric and paper collage

The thing is, for me to observe their busy-ness, I have to stop and be still. To hear their call and song I have to be quiet. To create these little odes to the American Robin I have to stop and consider them carefully to be quiet with them, to spend time creating this space for them in the form of a fabric collage. So, thank you robin, wren and bluebird; thank you raven, flicker and sparrow, you remind me to be still to be in your time not my time and you animate my creative verve.

 

Robin3

Robin 3 (Song and flight) 11×14″ fabric and paper collage

I have developed this into a mixed media retreat so you fabric artist and quilters out there please invite me to your quilt guild to lead a workshop on making your own bird box fabric collage contact me through my website at lisathorpe.com

 

To see more in the Bird Box series see past post about Wrens.

 


Time Stamp #3 & #4 a series continued….

I’ve posted a couple of these little exercises in the last six months and I’m here to share two more. My goal in creating these is to mark a moment; they are little meditations or, maybe more accurately, an ode to a fleeting experience. When I’m on a walk or hike I’ll stop and take a photo of something interesting, maybe take a few note in a note book about the colors, scents and sounds. I also mark a google map with a pin to find the GPS location and with the date I try to incorporate this into the small, 11×14” fabric piece. I have an aspiration to create on each week but that hasn’t been happening… perhaps I’ll get there and you’ll be the first to see it if I do. But now with no further ado…

#3: 9/11/19 8:24am GPS 38.5388525, -122.8744546 stand at 13ft above sea level. My notes remind me it was a sunny, bright dry morning. the trail is lined with remarkably tall and fanciful thistles dry and beautiful. The California Towhee we out in abundance calling out a tic of a warning to let there family know I was walking through.

9-11-19 thistle

 

#4: 10/12/19 11:36 a hike in the Santa Cruz Mountains near Ridge Road (somehow my map pin drop failed me and I didn’t get my GPS). Hot dry day, first walking through cool redwoods then rising out on a ridge where a fire had been some years ago. This bare tree towered over the terrain, dead but teaming with life as bird fly in and out and as the wind caressed it’s smooth branches Oct 12,2019I off to NYC this week so I hope to get some Time Stamp inspiration to share with you soon.


The Wheel Turns

Turn Turn Turn

Turn, Turn, Turn – hand dyed fabric, stamped and stitched 24×30″

This life is a wheel, I think, ever turning, sometimes it seems to slow but never stops. Recently there have been friends who have died in their elder stages of life, the wheel turns. Today photos of a new baby arrived in my inbox, smiling tired parents and sleeping baby, I knew this woman when she was just a girl and now she’s a mom…the wheel turns again. We received a wedding announcement for a young couple who found each other at the camp where we work what wonder this turning wheel brings. Is it the wheel of a traveling carriage on a long journey? Or perhaps the spinning wheel, turning fibers into threads to weave into the tapestry of life. I think that might be it, threads sturdy and strong, threads thin and tenuous. All to be dyed and woven into to the cloth of their purpose. A garment, a blanket, a shelter. Worn to tatters as is the way of the turning wheel never stopping, only slowing now and again for us to notice if we happen to be paying attention.

This is a fabric collage piece I just completed inspired by this moment of noticing the wheel. Thank you to Joan and Ralph who have recently died, thank you for showing me a bit of the tapestry of your life sharing your shelter, wisdom and comfort. Thank you baby Solomon and his parents Calen and Myron for reminding me that the wheel that turns to death also turns to life, and thank you Colby and Noelle for inviting us to witness the turning of the wheel once more, the twining of your lives from two threads to one that will be long, beautiful and sturdy.


Time Stamp

Yesterday I went for a hike here at The Bishop’s Ranch as I often do. Usually my main goal is to exercise and I move with a pace. This time, however, I wanted to soak it in, take the earbuds out, listen to the breeze and birds, feel the morning mist, take note of the colors – in short be more present. It was a glorious morning full of greens and blues with a splash of yellow in the buttercups and rusty brown in the decaying tall grasses at the lake edge.  The tsicka-dee-dee of a Oak Titmouse told me I wasn’t the only one enjoying the sunny morning. Walking back I carefully plucked a fist full of Buttercups and Maidenhair Fern to using to print in printing on fabric. I had the idea to make a “Time Stamp” of this place and time. Not a literal representation but an impression, a feeling, a response. So here it is…

TIME STAMP: 3/29/19 8:47am facing 247° W facing the lower lake at The Bishop’s Ranch

3-29-19 lake hike

Time Stamp #1 (11×14″ paint, stamp and stitch)


The Art of the Problem

smallfile_full quilt

I’m a problem solver. That’s who I am. If someone asks me if I can do something I usually say yes even if I don’t know how – yet…figuring it out is half the fun. For me art is like that. That’s why I’m forever trying out new mediums and materials, I want to figure it out and make it my own. When I have an idea to convey or a feeling to share I have to find a way to create it in physical, visual form. After my series of bird collages (see my last post), I was invigorated to set a new challenge.  I have decided to do a series of 24×36” fabric collages depicting endangered species of Sonoma County.  FUN! I have a new problem to solve. First, I had to do my research, make a list of endangered species in my area, then decide which to start with.  I chose the diminutive Mrytle’s Silverspot Butterfly found only on the Sonoma/Marin coast. I wanted my work to be informative but not completely literal and of course it has to be visually pleasing.  I also decided I only wanted to use fabrics that I have dyed, printed or stamped myself.  My butterfly subject helped me choose the color scheme.  Orange, rust and black from the butterfly and tans, and lavender and blue for the coastal bluff where they make their home.  I got to work marbling, stamping a dying fabric. For the butterfly images I used my iPad to create a digital watercolor that I printed out on cotton from my home printer. Once I had all my fabric, I began to lay out my composition. This is what I came up with.

I had so much fun with myself imposed problem I have started on my next subject – the very charming Salt Marsh Harvest Mouse – now I’m thinking green, grey, brown and blue thoughts while I puzzle over this next riddle. I promise to show you when I’m done.

I’m teaching several surface design and mixed media workshops in the coming weeks, check out my website to see if you can join it the fun! Upcoming creative workshops


This is Now

This is Now 2 panels 48x48"

This is Now – 48×48″ paint on wood panel

It is Tuesday morning and I’m enjoying the rain that continues to fall outside my window. I donned by rubber-boots, raincoat and rain-pants and went for my first rubber-boot walk of what I hope will be a nice wet rainy season here in parched Sonoma County, California. Fully protected from the downpour, I could rejoice in the sound, smell, touch and even taste of the rain. I found myself fully in the moment, relishing the plopping sound of the fat raindrops as they accumulated on the bay laurel and released to the leafy forest floor below. Oh and the smell, the smell is divine, a mixture of the spicy smell of the bay trees and the licorice smell of the wild fennel tall and dry along the road as well as a smell that is all its own – the smell of fresh rain on dry ground – to be more precise petrichor. I didn’t know this word until my friend Jennifer shared it with me. Petrichor means “the earthy scent produced when rain falls on dry grounds”. A pair of Australian scientists coined the word in 1964 and I found a surprisingly beautiful video that shows how this aroma is released into the air here is the link.

So I am blessed this day to have experienced this feast of the senses this morning and to be reminded once again to observe this brilliant moment. That phrase has become a bit of a mantra from me and I hope it will remind you to seek wonder every day.

The painting above is a new one. It is titled This is Now. I finished  the painting last week and hung at Gallery 300 in Sebastopol CA, yesterday. The inspiration for this piece came from an entry in my sketchbook from some time ago that said only this: This is Now, this is Today – Yesterday is gone – Tomorrow is not yet here – What shall I do? – Who shall I be?