Garden

Nothin' But Rain

McKendree University moved their Get Out! Paint Out! plein air painting event back to the beginning of September this year. Which is wonderful because August was such a blur I would not have made it anyways.

But the rain.

It rained so much that Saturday, Lebanon became an island. They wouldn’t let anyone leave town. Luckily rain doesn’t mess up threads too much and I found a nice spot under my friend Amy’s porch. Her back yard is always full of magical plants and sculptures to embroider. This year I was particularly attracted to a grouping of terra cotta statues.

 Garden Nymphs in the Rain

Garden Nymphs in the Rain

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The light moves so fast! I wanted to work with the stitches as if they were large blobs of paint. I wasn’t so concerned with covering the fabric completely. It is nice seeing the purple peek through here and there.

I pulled out one of my new tricks for this piece. The rain drops in the back ground are iridescent thread. Depending on how it is lit, it shines. I was inspired by Van Gogh’s rain paintings. They are so masterful, it is breathe taking.

This Paint Out I decided to stay really small. Both pieces are only three inches by three inches. Sunday I went out for round two down on the main drag of Lebanon, IL. There wasn’t any rain but I still tucked myself under an awning just in case.

 I’d Rather Be Painting

I’d Rather Be Painting

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I chose a lighter linen with grey marbling to represent the cloudiness of the sky. Buildings are hard! It’s difficult to get the fine details and keep everything in perspective. I also think that the weave of my linen was a little too loose to allow me to be accurate.

As you can see, I was fighting cars and trucks all day to see the bottom half of the buildings. I made up my friend Amy sitting in the glow of the gallery doing office work when she would “Rather Be Painting”. No regrets embroidering here. Wouldn’t we all just rather be making art?

Look for me next @ Vulpus Bastille in Kansas City the First Friday in October. I’ll have some collages there with Justin Border and Jen Appel. We’ll be exploring Signal to Noise.

Farm Report

We’ve had a bumper crop of Thai chilies this year and I can’t wait to make Sriracha. I’m slowly drawing down the garden which means some epic fried green tomatoes and egg plant parmesan. It is apple season! I’m canning apple sauce and apple butter pretty much every day. Apple crisp has become my new breakfast of choice. Gotta use up those apples somehow.

Dimensional Cloth

I'm in a book! Dimension Cloth came out at the end of June and you can now order it on Amazon. How cool is that?

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The book is gorgeous and is a compendium of extremely talented artists taking fabric into the third dimension. I am really honored to be included among people I have been following on Pinterest and Instagram for years. There are also several artists' works I haven't seen before which, I might add, are stunning. All the creativity featured in this book has given me so many more ideas for my work. 

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It's definitely no coincidence that a piece of my work is featured in the table of contents under space. In one way or another, all of my works are about space from carving out space or enclosing it. Moral, the piece here in the table of contents, was the piece I showed at the Missouri State Fair last year. The curator of the Springfield Art Museum saw it, contacted me for a studio visit, and now I'm going to be showing in the 4 x 4 show at the museum later next month. It's beautiful the way things intersect.

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It is just so neat thinking of myself in a book that you could find in a library on a rainy day somewhere far away. This whole process was started a couple of years ago. Part of me wishes that my current work was in the book, but that's learning and growing as an artist. The work you are doing now is the most interesting or innovative.

Upcoming Dates:

I'll be an Artist in Resident at the Missouri State Fair August 9-13th. I'll be installing a huge fabric installation from the ceiling on the second floor of the fine arts building.

Weaving the River will be at InterUrban ArtHouse in Overland Park from August to September for their big artist symposium on diversity. The opening reception will be August 17th from 5-8pm.

Opening reception for 4x4 at the Springfield Art Museum on August 24th, 5:30-7pm.

Farm Report:

We are in full tilt here. Chinese long beans, cucumbers and tomatoes coming off the vine in bushels. Blackberry jam has been canned and we are just about to can peaches this weekend. I'm thinking of both peach chutney and peach butter to fill the pantry this year.

How a Fiber Artist Packs for Plein Air

The words "Plein Air" are usually accompanied by the word "Painting", but who follows tradition. Last summer, I embarked on an artistic adventure at McKendree University to create Plein Air Embroidery. Embroidery can be called painting with thread, after all. My professor, Amy MacLennan, invited me knowing I don't paint;  I didn't disappoint in bringing the fiber or the crazy. 

We are going again this year but we are going to be a little crunched for time. I get one whole day of embroidering/painting in the ridiculous Illinois heat while the mister and kiddo go sight seeing in St. Louis. I've decided to approach this a little differently this year and just do straight stitching and I might even try to do a little watercolor. 

So what does a fiber artist bring for plein air embroidery?

  • Table cloth or plastic sheet - you've got to sit on something. I'd really love a collapsible stool but I don't have the room in the car this year. 
  • Water bottle - It's gonna be the surface of the sun out there. Stay Hydrated!
  • Floppy hat 
  • Good pair of thread scissors - I have mine on a string around my neck. 
  • Hoop - Stretches and frames the work instantly. 
  • All the threads - You never know what color you will need
  • Small fabric selection 
  • Palette - Because I might actually watercolor
  • Small selection of brushes
  • Watercolors
  • Water Container! 
  • Paper - To stretch or not to stretch?
  • Rag?
  • Pastels - Because... why not?
  • Travel case

I'm pretty excited. Maybe I'll go down town and and sit in a shady spot and work on some perspective. There's all kinds of crazy things I could try:  incorporating found textiles or thread into my embroidery, stitching into the watercolors. The ideas are flying!

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Work continues on the mural. It's beginning to look a little bit more polished with those brush strokes disappearing. My theory is to start in the upper left corner and work my way down and to the right. No palms smearing paint. 

Farm Report: Yet another batch of dill pickles canned and we have decided to experiment with left over brine and make refrigerator pickles. We'll see how they taste in four days. I'm really looking forward to the baby eggplant. 

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The Days are Jammed

It feels like the surface of the sun here in Kansas City, which is the perfect time for an urban garden tour. Thursday I went out with a few ladies from the garden club to look at 18th Broadway rain garden.  According to our guide, the city block was bought just before the recession to build condos. Since that idea didn't pan out they created an urban garden to prevent the site from eroding into nothing. What's amazing about the space is that it is almost entirely run on rainwater and solar power. The structures built to retain run off from the surrounding area and to filter the water was particularly fascinating but not terribly photogenic. 

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I just love the green things growing in the middle of a thriving city. It's pretty amazing the variety and shear tonnage of produce that is grown here for local food banks. Plus it's all organic, which is quite the feat with fruit trees. They grow peaches, apples and cherries. The wheel is turning in a few of our heads on how to bring a community garden to Knob Noster. Maybe not something as large and grand but a community growing place for people who live on base would be nice. 

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I've been working on putting together some bags from vintage kimono for the Creative Hand Show & Sale coming up in November. I designed this and despite my lack of knowledge about sewing in the round it came out really well. It's a project bag fro a larger knit or crochet project. I saw something like it in a knitting shop once and it's been on my mind ever since. 

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It's even fully lined. I like what the pattern of the contrasting kimono does when it's closed at the top. I know I need to sell it but part of me wants to keep it.  The curse of making things you enjoy.

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Cool Stuff: I'm going to be plein air embroidering again this year at McKendree University in Lebanon, IL. I'm getting all prepped and might even try watercolor this year. Gasp. Two weeks before epic road trip and stretching my art chops in the murderously hot sun. 

Farm Report: My tomatoes are finally ripening!

I've been jamming up a storm. My first attempt with pectin this year was peach jam and I made the mistake of following the pectin instructions. Way too much sugar! Not only is it almost too sweet to eat but it set so hard that it's almost unpleasant. I looked for a low sugar recipe for my seedless blackberry jam and found the perfect ratio for sweetness. 1/2 c sugar for every cup of fruit. Then you can add 1 1/2 TBS of pectin for every cup of fruit. It set up just fine and it's edible. What's with American's and over sweetening things anyways? 

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Playing: Lovers in a Dangerous Spacetime - The mister begged, I'm giving it a try and we haven't died horribly just yet. 

A Mighty Wind

This week we experienced this micro-storm which completely knocked over all my potted tomato plants. There were branches snapped off and fruit down everywhere. I think part of it is my fault for the way I crowded the plants in the pots and they grew off balance. Maybe I'll begin to invest in clay pots when things go on sale after the season is over. 

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This week I experimented with refrigerator pickles, another recipe from Preserving Everything by Leda Meredith. I'm estimating we are picking roughly two lbs of cucumbers off our vines each week. My cucumbers are definitely the happiest part of our garden by far. Let's not talk about the tomatoes.

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This week in food: quiche! This is another great garden recipe. I used up the little veggies from snapped branches. We've got jalapeños, Pablano peppers, green tomatoes, sun-dried tomatoes, onion and kielbasa in there. I tried something a little different and added blue cheese which gave the quiche a saltiness and depth of flavor. It's especially good as cold leftovers.

The base for a great quiche is 7 eggs, 1 1/2 cups of milk, and two cups of shredded cheese. I usually wait for eggs to go on sale at the grocery store and then snatch up a bunch of half priced cartons. The more fat you have in your milk the better the texture the quiche will turn out. If you want to be authentic use a Gruyere for the cheese but I use whatever I have lying around. Usually the cheddar special but sometimes a mozzarella. A cheese that melts readily will give your quiche a better consistency.

Saute up the veggies and let them cool. You want them to be limp and your onion caramelized. Whisk up milk, egg, and cheese, add the veggies and then pour into the pie crust. Pop in a 400 degree oven for around 50 minutes. You want the center to just barely be firm. Don't over cook is the secret to a good egg or egg dish.

Reading: 101 Quantum Questions by Kenneth W. Ford. I'm researching ideas for new art stuff.

Listening to: Pokemon Go music - I'm hopelessly lost now.