Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Bury My....

A thousand words
A thousand eyes
-October Project

It's been a busy couple of days. Company and work are the reasons. Still I worked on some art. The above is a part of some sketches I am doing as an exercise. A friend who I am sharing artistic ideas with challenged me to put it out and not bury it. So here it is...

October Project, 'Bury My Lovely':

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Late Night Girl Talk

We discussed it one-on-one--girl talk.
-Tanya Kach

What do you get when you combine iced Thai coffee, a friend, artistic ideas and relationships? An up late gabfest, full of laughter and spiciness. Not to mention some talk about men (that was our spiciness).Oh and a little needlework thrown in for good measure. Got some projects done. Who needs sleep anyway?

Another girl who knows about talk and spiciness-

Sylvia Robinson, 'Pillow Talk':

Friday, June 26, 2015

Needles and Threads

Stitch your stress away.

A Friday off. Cleaning, drawing, stitching and getting ready for a friend coming to stay. She loves vintage and is an avid crocheter. We will be hitting the farmers market to meet up with another friend and his daughters. Then the vintage shops and yarn shop here in town. For some not the most exciting, but for us perfect. We may not get many more as she is attempting to start a family. That's okay though, it will be great to be an honorary auntie.

Some asked me how they could learn to embroider online. Sublime Stitching is one place, but just about my favorite is Mary Corbet ' s Needle 'N Thread. She has a wealth of knowledge and is generous about sharing it. 

Hope your Friday is a good one.

Linda Ronstadt: Silver Threads and Golden Needles':

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Day 7: Breaking Free

Feet, what do I need you for when I have wings to fly?
-Frida Kahlo

Sometimes everything comes together and you break free of your self imposed limitations.  About two months ago I created this piece as I have long admired Frida Kahlo 's determination to live her life as an artist. It has been sitting on my desk to remind me to break free and fly. Last night all of the bits and pieces I have been exploring came together and provided a revelation. When you know what you will do to create a series of art pieces, it's a great day. I'm not going to share yet, but it will reflect many themes that my blog touches on. I started sketching last night and doing an inventory of what I have to produce the pieces.

It's wonderful to feel as if a crystalline knowledge has emerged, and I am journeying to where I need to be.

Buckingham Nicks, 'Crystal':

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Language, Language

Under certain circumstances, profanity provides a relief denied even to prayer.
-Mark Twain 

Profanity is an interesting thing. Especially if it's from another English speaking country. Say England. Growing up my maternal grandfather loved PBS, so I was exposed to programs full of BBC material. In high school I had an enlightened English teacher who delighted in helping us figure out that Shakespeare was full of profanity and challenged us if we were determined to swear, not to be lazy in our language, and to find creative ways to express ourselves. Over the years I have made several trips to England and have adopted certain phrases into my repertoire. At work, our administrative coordinator  recently lived and worked in England so she has her own set of phrases she brought back with her that she uses. Early this week we had shared the meaning of those phrases to a co-worker who heard us using one.

There is a trend with embroidery artists to incorporate words into their work. Some are quite in your face, some are more subtle and descriptive. One artist who uses the latter is Joetta  Maue. Last night I was as usual these days,doing the embroidery thing when a good friend called. She is a former English major, working in project management for one of the biggest telecommunications company in this country. Like most large corporate entities, management is bureaucratic heavy and when she telecommutes from home, she finds herself utilizing  phrases like above mentally to deal with insane managers. I decided I need to make her a repurposed vintage linen hoop art with the phrase. The above was a quick prototype. Fun and satisfying. I may have to do a series.

Talk Talk, 'It's My Life':

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Unexpected Gifts

There is no such thing as a problem without a gift for you in its hands. You seek problems because you need their gifts.
Richard Bach

Perspective is everything in life. Most people tend to have glass half empty or a glass half full mentality. I've been blessed with a glass half full mentality, and I have been trying to push it to a glass full and brimming with life outlook. I've been looking to find that gratitude for every thing that comes my way, because I've found that eventually even in problems there are unexpected gifts. Don't get me wrong, when the problems occur I go through the negative emotions etc. that most of us feel. Down the road though I can look back and see what I've learned and gained.

Yesterday I was given two gifts. Despite the drought, backyard trees here in Cali are brimming with fruit. I was brought a basket of dripping with sweetness apricots. Last night while looking at some rock and roll history for inspiration for an embroidery project I discovered Sister Rosetta Tharpe, 'The godmother of rock and roll'. How I had never heard of her I cannot say, but what a gift to make her acquaintance.

Wonder what gifts I'll find today?

Sister Rosetta Tharpe, 'Didn't It Rain':

Monday, June 22, 2015

Practice Gets You Closer to.....

I believe we learn by practice. Practice is a means of inviting the perfection desired.
-Martha Graham

Learning to become something new requires more than then just passion. It requires  inspiration, ideas, techniques, and most of all practical practice. So while it is thrilling to spend a few hours on Pinterest, and the Internet looking up links to embroidery, it is the actual practice of doing that helps you with bringing your artistic vision to life. I spent the week-end taking a vintage scarf of roses and giving it a whimsical bite so I could convert it to a bench covering. I chose a couple of designs, combined them and printed them out on a water soluble stabilizer. It worked great except for where the ink stained light areas of the thread. Lesson learned. 

Barry White, 'Practice What You Preach':

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Bittersweet Memories

Memories, even bittersweet ones, are better than nothing.
Jennifer Armentrout 

Fathers's Day and Mother's Day are often a difficult time. Several years ago I lost my daughter, Ami Rose in the last months of my pregnancy. It was devastating for my partner Brandon and myself. We have gone our separate ways, but we remain in touch. He checked in with me today. As we talked there was laughter and tears. Life has gone on for us both, but we will always have a bond from our time together when I was living out on the East Coast. And our bittersweet memories.

Pure Prarie League, 'Amie':

Great Big Sea, 'Boston and St. John's:

Friday, June 19, 2015

Drawing Conclusions

For the artist, drawing is discovery. And that is not just a slick phrase; it is quite literally true.
John Berger

I mentioned in an earlier blog entry that I am taking a class online on drawing. It's been a revelation. I started with the intention of learning to draw for embroidery and to keep a sketchbook. Now it is taking a life of it's own. Every night I find myself ftaking a simple object and drawing it. Nothing fancy, just me, an object, a pencil and piece of paper. The process is what is amazing. I have always read about flow or entering "the zone". I've had moments of it, but between the drawing and how it is helping my embroidery, now I know it as a regular experience. I find myself working several hours after I come home in the evening. I go into my studio area, turn on rock and roll, start the process and suddenly Bella is nudging at me it's bed time. I hadn't realized that 3-5 hours have gone by.

The only down side...I'm supposed to be studying for state exams.  Although I hold licensure in other states, I cannot just transfer them, so I've had to dance to Cali's tune. And I  have no passion for it, I'm doing it pro forma for supporting new career opportunities .I'm not burnt out. I still enjoy people, but I'm finding that new things are opening my mind to what might be possible in the future. For instance today I took my guitar and dulcimer and played for our patients as one had requested I do it. Playing old familiar standards from different eras I had staff/patients singing. I actually had a few patients play the dulcimer. They didn't think they could, but it is reportedly the simplest instrument to learn to play and today was proof. The looks on their face when they completed a simple song was inspiring It was also joyful and satisfying in a way that I haven't experienced in a long time. So the conclusion I'm beginning to think of is that perhaps I need to find a way to use my skills to help people discover their inner creativity.

We'll see though.  It's a bit like being between a rock and a hard place....

Rolling Stones, 'Rock and A Hard Place':

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Standing Firm

Be sure you put your feet in the right place, then stand firm.
Abraham Lincoln

Just some quick thoughts. Sometimes you will arrive at a place you know in life you are meant to be. That change and the creativity bring about a blooming. Others may not appreciate this place and move on. As the quote above says, stand firm. It can only get better and more beautiful.

With the above being said and getting ready for Father's Day, I know my elderly father has rarely understood his children, especially my brother, We have not had a easy relationship throughout our life with him. Unfortunately, my father has hurt many people in his life and turned away from us due to this. Things did begin to change this past winter. All of us reached out to him to try and heal our relationships as he is reaching his twilight in life. As a result he is realizing that we all have our feet in the right place, and are strong, caring, passionate individuals.We continue to try and improve his quality of life and have decided we would continue our care for him in the coming months as we can. This year has been our gift to him for Father's Day whether he knows it or not. I cannot think of one that would be better.

Cat Stevens, "Father and Son":

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

In Thanksgiving...Onto Year 4

The only thing that can save you is you:
That was to be the thing that informed the rest of my life.
-Sheryl Crow, Breast Cancer Survivor

I feel as powerful as a wave and am continuing to dance with NED (no evidence of disease). Watch out year four....here I come.

To all of my sisters who are not as fortunate...my thoughts and hopes are with you. May tomorrow be the day that you dance or find peace.

Two songs tonight. The first was written for George Harrison who didn't survive his cancer. The second was a concert by his friends to celebrate his life. May we remember every day to celebrate ours

Sheryl Crow, "Light In Your Eyes":

Concert for George, "My Sweet Lord":

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

How Possible


Nothing is impossible, the word itself says 'I'm possible'!
Audrey Hepburn

What is amazing about human beings is how quickly we can say 'I can't' or 'It's impossible', before we've even tried. Today I had my embroidery with me at an early appointment and started doing it. Within minutes I had inquiries to what I was doing. I explained I was working on a portrait and without fail each one remarked that they wished they could do it. My reply is you can. Heads shook in disbelief  and the shutters came down. Later at lunch in our break room, I pulled out my tablet and started working on a drawing class I am taking on Creativebug.com. Again same curiosity and response. This time I was ready. I had extra drawing paper and pencils. I went back to the beginning of the short lesson and had four of us drawing an apple and a spool of thread. At the end of the segment everyone looked down and were pretty stunned. Minds opened and you could see enlightenment come in. It went from impossible  to how possible. Not a bad day at all.

Florence + The Machine, 'How Big, How Blue, How Beautiful':

Monday, June 15, 2015


persevere:  to persist in anything undertaken; maintain a purpose in spite of difficulty , obstacles or discouragement; continue steadfastly.

Three years ago today I began my journey in breast cancer country.  The proposed itinerary had been surgery, radiation, chemo and medication. I took two detours and skipped chemo city and tried to do an extended stay in medication land, but ultimately left it in favor of new climes.

So today I persevere in this undiscovered country. In two days I will have a check- up. I have a feeling it will be okay. Dr. M.will shake his head yet again in disbelief that I am doing so well. I will say good-bye for another four months and continue steadfastly, celebrating this journey of life.

These two songs have been my themes the last three years and I will share them again in jubilation.

Madonna, 'Die Another Day':

Nickelback, 'If Today Was Your Last Day':

Sunday, June 14, 2015

Here and Gone

brief moment of love
experienced fully in bloom
then it is done, gone

Alice Cooper, 'I Am Made Of You':

Saturday, June 13, 2015

The Zen of Seeing

I think that's why artists make art - it is difficult to put into words unless you are a poet. What it takes is being open to the flow of universal creativity. The Zen artists knew this.
-Alex Grey

My brain is truly a monkey brain. It chatters, pokes into new things, and jumps around like a drop of water on hot cast iron. As part of my self designed artist retreat this summer, I take it out to my small potager garden.  There I am resuming my practice of meditation. And I am seeing the world with still eyes.  An extension of that seeing is to attempt to photograph that which is my immediate environment. It was an exercise done and prescribed by my favorite female photographer, the late great Ruth Bernhard. There are wonderful results emerging from it. In the stillness of these quiet moments, the world reveals itself in new ways, suggests directions for art and becomes a stairway to the heaven of Zen seeing.

Heart, 'Stairway to Heaven (Live at Kennedy Center Honors)':

Friday, June 12, 2015

Vintage Vibes

I love history...everything is inspired by history, so that's why I love vintage and antiques.
-Kelly Wearstler 

Anyone who knows me will tell you I love anything with an antique and/or vintage pedigree.  Want to entertain me when I'm visiting, find me an flea market  or antique store. Any time I travel I will look for local places. Some of my favorites have been in Brussels, London and Paris. One of the regular things I do once a month is go to the Alameda Antique Fair. Incredible finds, people and food. 

In the last few months I have been consumed by vintage embroidery hoops and  Princess Sewing Baskets or sometimes they are called Harvey Sewing Baskets, after the company that made them. I'm using them to store vintage linens, threads and notions that I have and am using in art projects. 

I don't have a rhythm or reason for what I buy and put together, it's  instinctual. I will see things and somehow know they will fit. I find its the same for others who share my love (although a few have called it a disease). I can and do spend hours pouring over magazines, books, media sources on anything vintage.  And where this love comes from?  I have to agree with today's quote. I have always loved history so falling into vintage was a natural segue.

So beware if you're bit by the vintage bug. To my knowledge there is no cure.

Something from one of my favorite "vintage groups":

The Who, 'Eminence Front':

Thursday, June 11, 2015

These Moments....

hand cupping my softness
fingers pluck and vibrate my strings
my song surrenders to you

George Harrison, 'This Is Love':

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Payin' The Cost

Blame it on my gypsy soul.

One thing moving deeper into creativity is teaching me, is that you have to stand for your vision. This can be true of how you live every day life also. I was brought up to face things head on, to be honest and authentic, even though it may be difficult. These days more and more I find when you are trying to work out issues with people, taking care of a problem on the phone with a business etc., that people are working from a script. And it can be difficult to impossible to have them move from it. It's too bad when they don't.  It's the process of give and take dialogue that helps create solutions and possibilities.

Health care today and mental health is being done more and more by the aforementioned script, although we call it patient-centered  or client centered (I always thought that that is what I was doing all these years). Again that is the difficulty. I am more attuned to an open process.  If people are afraid of saying  or doing the wrong thing and hold back, then they become like stunted logs with no growth. This seems to be the case where I work.  So more and more my ability to effect change ends up feeling soulless. And thus my searching for what is next.

I have a gypsy soul. It's passionate and wants to learn, feel and grow with every encounter in life. It wants to live large and in charge. And to move onto new ways of achieving this. That being said, I know I may have to pay the cost to be the boss, but it will be worth it.

Pat Benetar, 'Payin' The Cost To Be the Boss':

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Missing the Shore

We are tied to the ocean. And when we go back to the sea, whether it is to sail or to watch- we are going back to whence we came.
-John F. Kennedy

It's hot here in California. Fry an egg on the sidewalk even at midnight hot. Add the drought to it and I find myself longing to visit my friend Gail at the Jersey Shore. Not the MTV Jersey Shore side, but a more genteel, great food, interesting people side. I was there just after Labor Day last fall, but the urge to walk on the boardwalk under a summer full moon, breathing in the tang of salt is upon me.

Wonder if the airlines are having a last minute sale?

Who else but Bruce for my song selection today, and a couple of my favorites.

Bruce Springsteen, 'Atlantic City' and 'The River':

Monday, June 8, 2015

Highlights, Shadows and Contrasts

She comprehended the perversity of life, that in the struggle lies the joy.
Maya Angelo

In some earlier posts I spoke of Santos Cage Dolls. They were begun primarily in Spain by priests in the 17th century as carved copies of saints. They spread and became common. In recent years they became popular with all sorts of interpretations coming forth. I found the one above at a local shop. They were practically giving it away due to some peeling paper on the base. So brought it home touched it up, added something I had to the cage and put it out. Surreal in some aspects,  but I've also had a fascination with art of that nature so it fit in.

Most of my photography at home these days is done with my Galaxy Note 4. I still take my old (and getting older) Olympus and Pentax DSLRs out on trips. The Galaxy can handle the street type of shooting and with apps available....well you get the idea. Again a reoccurring theme I look at is light/dark. If you take any photography courses you soon learn the back bone of what comes into play to make a photo: highlights, shadows and the contrast between these. It's a good metaphor for life. It is the degree between these that sets the picture of a given moment, day and so on. This is the allure for me both in working with people and in taking photographs. The photo I caught this am is a small slice illustrating both worlds.

This weekend while looking around for music, I discovered 'The Art of McCartney'. It was released last November. Not sure how I missed it, but it was an interesting listen. So in the spirit of  contrast, I'll share an artist doing a song I didn't expect him to do nor the way he did it.

Alice Cooper, 'Eleanor Rigby':

Sunday, June 7, 2015

Insipid Twisted

In any work you do, you can be profound one minute, and you can be superficial in the next, and you can be smart and insightful and then insipid. There is room for all of that.
-Maira Kalman

The second toile scene was completed. Toile fabric has pastoral scenes that can be interesting or somewhat insipid. This one was so insipid it just screamed to be twisted. And I had the inspiration (for both pieces). I have never understood the 'Fifty Shades of Gray' phenomena. I tried out the book and found it to be the most insipid drivel, I had ever read. And I am sure many who read it considered it edgy. Ah no, vanilla. Let's just say I have learned a good deal in my years of working with peoples behaviors that I never expected to. When the movie came out I avoided it. Finally a friend cornered me into watching the DVD with her. Well the actors tried... we ended making fun of it through the rest of the DVD. 

So the pieces are done tongue in cheek and provide me with a laugh any time I glance at them. What makes you laugh?

Heart, 'Letting Go':

Saturday, June 6, 2015

Mountain Dulcimer #2

I saw a Berkeley woman
Sitting in her rocking chair
A dulcimer on her lap
A feather in her hair.
John Denver

The above two dulcimers are the other two that Jack made for me. He is in Virginia. The Appalachian Mountains is where the dulcimer was born, but it had an interesting journey to other regions and one of them is California. Recently two dulcimer players decided to make a documentary on that journey and the result is the "Hearts of the Dulcimer". I'll share their explanation:

Hearts of the Dulcimer is a feature-length film about the counterculture and a passion for an often-misunderstood instrument.

The mountain dulcimer often conjures up rustic mountain life and simple traditional music from the American South in a bygone era. But that’s not the whole story. From a group of countercultural youth living in the Santa Cruz Mountains in the late ‘60s to Joni Mitchell's influential Blue album in the early ‘70s, the mountain dulcimer found a new voice in a "new land": California.

I've included the trailer and something from Bing Futch, an artist who is taking the dulcimer to new heights.

Hearts of the Dulcimer Trailer:

Bing Futch, 'Electric Mountain Dulcimer':

Friday, June 5, 2015

Mountain Dulcimer #1

Experience, like a pale musician, holds a dulcimer of patience in his hand.
Elizabeth Barrett Browning

My new mountain dulcimer arrived today. It was built for me by Jack Ferguson of Appalachian Flutes and Dulcimers. This is the third dulcimer he has built for me and it may become my favorite. It is made of dogwood and walnut. It is electric and it has a built in tuner. Jack uses wood that he finds that was used before and turns it into these incredible instruments. He respects tradition, but is open to innovation. And it is incredible the difference in sound  each wood can make. This is why I have had some different ones made. In fact we have plans to do a 6 string dulcimer before the summer is over.

Many people don't know about the dulcimer. I played it in the clinic today for a couple of patients and they loved it. It's also dynamic in the range and type of music it will do. Cyndi Lauper plays it and has composed on it. So tonight I'll share a couple of videos. One from her and one from her late teacher David Schnaufer.

Cyndi Lauper, 'True  Colors:

David Schnaufer, 'Here Comes the Sun':

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Toile Away

My style has always been to choose the charming and the quirky.
Suzy Mendes

When I decided to begin doing embroidery as art instead of just as a decorative pursuit,  I went looking for inspiration. One of the artists I found was Richard Saja. He takes French linen toile fabric and embroiders bright, quirky scenarios on it. I loved it and thought it would be a great exercise to do as I am trying to gain skills. When I came across a couple of cotton toile remnants, in a vintage store I knew it was time to try it. Where Richard uses a variety of threads, I decided to do mine with a one or two strands of embroidery floss. Voila! I was very satisfied with what I learned from doing this. What and how I decided to do as far as the subject matter, well let's just say my favorite  descriptor whimsy with a bite came into play.

This project was a good antidote to an not great work day. I started some major changes today. We'll see where they go. Just in a Cyndi groove this week. I need to remember to keep having fun.

Cyndi Lauper, 'Girls Just Want to Have Fun':

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Free Spirit

I have fallen in love with the imagination. And if you fall in love with the, imagination, you understand that it is a free spirit. It will go anywhere, and it can do anything.
Alice Walker

One of the danger zones when you begin to take flight in creative skies is the feeling of being shackled to the earth by your current job. I have worked  for a company for many years that was fluid in its approach and allowed some creativity in how it let employees define their jobs, but that is changing....

Ironically after I began this post there was a work issue that happened. Without going into a good deal of detail I realized that I would have to take steps to simplify as much of work as I can and to follow what my spirit says I need to do to be more free. That is instead of the insane extra work and responsibilities I've taken on, to reduce to a sane level. It won't be a popular decision. I know once I unlock the shackles and take them off, there will be those trying to slip them on and lock them back up.

I see my sisters also trying to keep their free spirits and pursue their growth and dreams. So this is dedicated to them also, forever may our spirits be free.

Cyndi Lauper, 'Sisters of Avalon':

Beauty Is...

  "Everything has beauty, but not everyone sees it." -Anonymous  I went outside tonight and found the waning moon in a glow surrou...