All Process, Not Much Product… Yet

Dear Liza,

It has been a fun, happy, busy weekend! I made a stencil I really like to use in my Art Journal. So far I haven’t finished with it yet, but it is showing promise.

Fun with stencils

I also started whacking away at the two dozen or so blogs I have written about our wonderful, historic Lone Fir Cemetery. I started simply copying them, then realized that with just a little tweaking, there is a story there about Portland’s history that could be worth telling. I am currently paddling in some very deep water, and enjoying it very much.

Little Ada Smith

There was also a delightful surprise purchase from Jehnee Rains, who runs Suzette, our nearby Creperie. Since she has has greatly reduced business for the ten months of quarantine, she is selling a lot of her catering supplies to raise a bit of cash and simplify her life. Auntie Bridgett saw some ‘bee’ themed bottles she wanted, and I saw cookie cutters, so we threw on clothes some and walked over.

I now have these great beauties to play with, and the cookie dough mixed for delivery to Auntie Katie and the cousins.

Score!

I also found a map of Portland I was sewing on last winter and ran out of inspiration for, which is looking more promising now.

Downtown, the Willamette, and our Sunnyside neighborhood

I feel like I’m gunning my engine at the starting line, and can’t decide which race track to run first. I need to take a breath and focus…. or not. I’m sure it will all work out.

Having fun, thinking stuff!

Love,

Grandma Judy

The Politics of Textile Art Month

Dear Liza,

Apparently, October was Portland Textile Art Month! Textile means fabric, so this month celebrates quilting, weaving, embroidery, and all those wonderful things. I learned about it late, but better late than never.

A promise on a hanky

With crowds being a real concern because of the Covid virus, the artists are having to find new ways to display their art. One of the places to see it is a store front at SE 28th and Ankeny, just up the street from Auntie Bridgett’s SideStreet Arts Gallery.

Actual cute baby

At first glance, the style and materials looked very traditional, even antique, on embroidered hand towels, bibs, pillow tops, and Samplers. The handwork had the imperfections usually found in amateur work… the lines were a little wonky, the letters sometimes a bit crooked.

Oven mitt proclaims its masculinity

It was only when I lifted my phone to take a picture that I actually read the words, and I “got” it. All these folksy, sweet pieces featured the idiotic quotes of none other than Donald J. Trump. I was delighted!

well, yeah…..

Ridiculous quotes from speeches and misspelled tweets were there on oven mitts and baby onesies, and the contrast of Mr. Trump’s self-centered and misinformed words and his ‘gold plated’ image, contrasted with the old fashioned textiles, just tickled me. I stood on the corner in the fall sunshine and laughed out loud in public for the first time in months.

Sometimes he accidentally tells the truth!

Election Day is TODAY, and this was written before we knew the results. Nerves are a little frayed, and Trump supporters have been using more thug tactics to intimidate voters. It is nice to take comfort, knowing that artists are just as frustrated as I am with what has been our government for the past four years. I hope we all have reason to celebrate when all the votes are counted.

Love,

Grandma Judy

Treasure Island Evolution

Dear Liza,

I wanted to update you about a project I have been working on for a month now. It is my painted and embroidered version of Robert Louis Stevenson’s Treasure Island.

RLS’s Treasure Island, my watercolor interpretation

It started out more like RLS’s desert island, but since I knew I was going to spend a lot of mental time there, I wanted it to be greener and prettier. Billy Bones went mad for a reason, you know, and I don’t need more crazy-making. I need less. So I added rivers, some real mountains, and a nice lush rain forest.

My first layer, paint on fabric

Having painted it “as a first layer”, I needed to figure out the next layer. Lay in the outlines, then stitch some mountains, then… maybe some rapids? Yes, this was coming along.

Basics, and a few mistakes

There were mistakes, of course. I put in what I thought was very cool texture that Bridgett said looked like obstacles the Germans put on the Normandy beaches on D Day, so they had to go. This led me to more organic lines, which I really like. More texture, more naturalistic colors, a weird marriage of map and landscape.

More naturalistic lines feel better

This project is giving me so much pleasure. Something to do with my hands, to work off the fidgety Evans energy during these shut-in days. A place to create and visit that is green and lush, far away from political and environmental ugliness. And the freedom to make a piece of my world, just as I like it.

Every stitch makes it better!

Art may save me yet.

Love,

Grandma Judy

Alberta in the Autumn Sunshine

Dear Liza,

More businesses are figuring out, after many long months, how to open up and still keep folks safe from the corona virus. And I am glad, because I am starting to run out of things.

A close-up of my latest weirdness…

My new projects take both paint and embroidery floss, since I am painting maps on fabric and then sewing over them.

Last week we walked the mile to Collage in Division Street. It is a small and nicely stocked shop, using very strict hygiene and social distancing rules. I got basic colors of acrylic paint so I can mix whatever I need.

Not even close…

But I also needed thread, and their selection leaned toward the neon. Not what I needed. Well, the good news is, there is another Collage! The only wrinkle is that it is four miles away, too far for a comfortable walk.

Can’t miss it!

So Auntie Bridgett and I got the car out and drove to Alberta, a funky, artsy neighborhood north of us. We found the Collage Annex, with its 95% off sale, and then the shop itself. Auntie Bridgett was in her happy place, visiting all the paints, pens, and markers.

I am more goal oriented, and found my floss quickly. But it was fun wandering around, anyway. We each chose a few things, paid the happy, helpful fellow, and headed down the street. Alberta is always a lively neighborhood, with lots of street art, music, and folks out and about.

Ever a dull wall in Alberta

We drove up Alberta Street, happy to see that so many of the shops and cafes we like are still open. We headed for groceries and then home, so I could start using my new toys!

Now, that’s better!

I don’t know where this painting and sewing thing will lead next. The time I spend sewing (and it is a slow process) lets my mind wander. But I will keep you posted.

Love,

Grandma Judy

Islands in Stitches

Dear Liza,

The funny thing about making art is that you never know exactly what a piece is going to be before you finish it, and you don’t know when it will be done until it suddenly is. The artistic process, if you let it, causes you to make choices about ‘what comes next’ that are surprising.

Splodges to paintings….

My ‘ Islands’ are a case in point. They started with watercolor splodges, and evolved into painted, intentional pieces. “Tim’s Island” , for my fishing-loving brother, was one of these.

Paintings to embroidery…

Then, because of a misunderstood suggestion from Elaine, I painted Hawaii’s Big Island on fabric. I liked it, but needed a little something more, so I embroidered a bit. I liked it even more.

Tom Sawyer’s Island in topo form

My next island, Tom Sawyer’s, also got painted on fabric, but in a more abstract, topographical style. Besides the stitches to show trees and peaks, it also needed something extra, so I added waves.

When will it stop?

I think my next island will be bigger, so I can show more detail. I am hoping to paint Robert Louis Stevenson’s Treasure Island, complete with Billy Bones’s hideout.

The next project….

Stay tuned to see what madness comes next!

Love,

Grandma Judy