Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Achieving Balance

For the past ten years (at least), we have been inundated with books, magazine articles and TV shows dedicated to the subject of achieving balance in our lives. A Google search for "achieving life balance" yielded 5,960,000 results. A search on Amazon yielded 697 results. And I have to admit, I have wholeheartedly joined in the balance doctrine.   Ironically, we might be able to have more balance if we didn't spend so much time trying to figure out how to do it!

I had a flash of insight this morning.  (Don't you just love when that happens?!)  I realized that maybe rather than focusing on balance, we should be striving for integration.  So what does that mean?  And what exactly are we integrating? I can't say I have all the answers, since my "flash" just happened 15 minutes ago.  But it is something I plan to ponder a bit.

I suppose it will be different for everyone, just as "balance" is different for each of us. There is work, family, spirituality, health, community, friends, hobbies/interests.  For me,  integration means that my day is seamless. Each component is not discrete. For example, my work and my community often overlap, as does work and spirituality.  Health seems to find its way into all areas of my life in one way or another - whether in the ergonomics of surface design and computer time or a lack of fitness that makes some physical activities uncomfortable.  I am fortunate to have a "job" that is very flexible.  When I am not teaching classes, I can set my own schedule at home and in the studio. That goes a long way to make my life integrated.

I plan to spend some more time thinking about this and how I can continue to make all the pieces into a cohesive whole.  Oh, by the way, I also did a Google search on "achieving life integration" and came up with 36,000,000 results.  I guess my idea is not so new and innovative after all!

 How is your life integrated?  Or how can you make it more so? I'd love to hear your thoughts.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Four Days in Albuquerque

We had a great time on our trip to Albuquerque last week.  No, we didn't make it to Santa Fe.  The trip was a nice blend of city time and nature time.  We shopped the unique stores of old town, and got all the Christmas shopping done.  Then we visited two art museums and an anthropology museum.  Since we only had a rental car one day, we did a lot of walking.  I enjoyed walking through the residential areas - that is not something most tourists get to see.

On the nature side, we went to the Rio Grande nature center one day.  Only saw the sandhill cranes flying overhead, but it was a lovely area and we sat on the banks of the river for awhile. We rented a car our last day there and drove to the Petroglyph National Monument.  It was much different than I expected.  Most pictures of petroglyphs are on red rocks.  This part of albuquerque was formed by volcanoes, so the large rocks are black. It is amazing to think of those rock drawings still there after hundreds of years.

As we walked in the nature center, I took a few photos that have design potential.

We saw this cutie on our walk to the nature center.  No - it wasn't a rural area.  The center is located right in the midst of a residential area.   They must allow agricultural zoning, because this property had several animals in the fenced yard.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

XXI: An exhibit of cloth by Carla Veliz

Artcloth is not only that which we make "pretty".  Sometimes we use destructive processes to make a statement or create meaning on the cloth.  A powerful example of this is an installation by artist Carla Veliz, titled XXI: Who We Are and Who We Could Become.  The exhibit was shown at Gallery Nord in San Antonio this past September. In an effort to represent the abuse humans have inflicted on the planet, each other and themselves over the past 21 centuries, Veliz spent 21 days ripping, burning, burying, cutting and destroying a 16-foot long piece of silk. Then she spent 21 days repairing the damage.

She documented this process in a 21 minute video.  Watching the video is an emotional experience - seeing the cloth tattered and damaged and then lovingly cared for and mended. The exhibit included still photos from the video and several assemblages created from the tools she used on her journey with the cloth. 

Read more about Veliz on her website.

View the following links to read more about the exhibit:




Saturday, November 19, 2011

Soy Wax Batik on Paper

I've been playing around with using the techniques from Vibrant Color (mixing soy wax with dyes) on paper instead of fabric.  The look on paper is different than on fabric because the paper is not as absorbent.  I used acid-free, 50# sketch paper for these pieces. The dye and wax mixture was applied to the paper in a variety of ways, then steamed just as you would for fabric. After steaming, the paper is rinsed, dried and ironed.  Each piece is then brushed with several coats of water-soluble varnish.

I used the paper batiks to create a number of miniatures on canvas.  Some of the canvas edges have the added texture of screenprinting, metal leaf and sand. Below are some detail shots of the paper batiks.  You can view the finished miniatures on my website.

If you have tried this on paper, I would love to hear about your results

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Contemporary Art Exhibit by 16 Women Artists

I went to the opening reception for the "11.11.11" exhibition at Gallery Nord last Friday.  The exhibit features 16 women who represent a diversity of media. The show truly was awesome.  I can't really do it justice in words.  Some of the highlights:  the ethereal paintings of Greta Gundersen, the strong female forms in Marika Bordes' wood sculpture, the exquisite color and pattern in M. Guadalupe Marmolejo's digital prints and the passion in Vernita N'Cognita's paper sculptures.

The exhibition runs through January 12, 2012.  If you live in San Antonio, or will be visiting, I highly recommend it. Below are a few photos from the exhibit.  You can see more photos and learn more about the exhibition on Gallery Nord's website.

Greta Gundersen

Marika Bordes

M. Guadalupe Marmolejo

Vernita N'Cognita

Friday, November 11, 2011

A Little R & R

I'm going to Albuquerque, New Mexico later this month.  This will be my first real vacation in 11 years. ("Real" meaning it does not involve a visit to family.) I wish I could say that this was a destination of choice, but it is more by chance.  After receiving a promotional email from Southwest Airlines about a big sale,  I looked at the destinations in the lowest price range. Albuquerque seemed the most interesting of the bunch.

I received some interesting reactions after telling people of my planned trip.

"Albuquerque?  Hmmm. Well, you can always take the train to Santa Fe."

"Albuquerque? Oh. You're visiting family?  You're not? Why are you going to Albuquerque? You should go to Santa Fe instead."

"Albuquerque? That's really close to Santa Fe.  You should take a trip to Santa Fe."

I was in Santa Fe many years ago and I enjoyed it, but I looked forward to visiting a new place.  After receiving such a lukewarm response to my destination, I almost considered cancelling the hotel in Albuquerque and finding one in Santa Fe instead. But then my penchant for choosing the underdog kicked in.

So, yes, I am going to Albuquerque. And I am very much looking forward to it. I've done some internet research and have found a number of interesting ways to fill our four days.  Here are some of them: the National Petroglyph Monument, watching the sandhill cranes at the Rio Grande Nature Center, the Anthropology Museum, the Museum of Art and visiting the historical Old Town area. Of course, we can always take the train to Santa Fe if we get bored...

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Out With The Old

I left for Quilt Festival with 15 boxes and arrived home with 11. That's the positive side of providing all the class supplies - my load is lighter on the way home!  I know I should just open each box and put the remaining supplies back in their place. But I think that will not happen for at least a week.  My studio is now filled with all the items I am clearing out for the local fiber group's Cobweb Sale on November 14.

A small sampling of what I'll have at the cobweb sale

The Fiber Artists of San Antonio hold the Cobweb Sale each year.  Members empty their studios of the fabric, beads, tools and other fiber art supplies they no longer want.  Many artists also sell their artwork. It is an opportunity to buy some really neat things at great prices! Details and location are on the FASA website

I realized yesterday that I have a lot more stuff than will fit on my sale table. I'll be selling
  • hand-dyed and printed fabric, both yardage and remnants
  • used thermofax screens
  • a rolling art tote
  • silk scarves and vests 
  • artwork miniatures
  • rubber stamps
  • assorted shells and beads
  • white t-shirts, ready for dyeing
  • miscellaneous surface design tools
Plus, half of my table will be devoted to items $1 or less.  It's the fiber art dollar store! I also have some freebies - remnants and samples of commercial and upholstery fabrics.

I'm looking forward to getting rid of items I no longer want or use. My studio will seem so open and spacious, although I know it won't take long before it fills up again.  But that's what next year's cobweb sale is for!

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Vibrant Color Workshop

I've been invited to teach at the Newark Museum next spring.  They are interested in the Vibrant Color workshop on combining soy wax and dye.  I'm really excited about the opportunity to teach there.  They have a good fiber program and feature workshops with Judy Langille and Jan Myers Newbury, among others.

The workshop features three techniques for combining soy wax with MX dyes.  Crayons, which are great for writing, drawing and rubbings; dye paste, which is great for stencils and brush work; and hot printed wax, which works well with sponge stamps, brushes and dipping. What I love about these techniques is that they produce a color, luminescence and line quality that you just can't get any other way.   Below are photos of some cloth created using the techniques. You can find more information about the workshop on my website.

Silk dupioni with multiple layers of crayon rubbings

Silk habotai with crayon rubbings, immersed
Wax paste, applied through a thermofax

Wax paste applied through a stencil over a crayon rubbing background, immersed

Hot wax and dye applied with a brush and sponge, immersed

Hot wax and dye applied with a sponge, background handpainted with dye

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