Thursday, September 30, 2010

Someone Else's Art

While I had my mat cutter out getting my pieces framed, I also finally got around to cutting some mats for several pieces of art that I had purchase, but had yet to frame.  I like to make art and I also like to buy art.  I can't afford expensive pieces, so most of what I purchase are smaller pieces.  Some have a similar aesthetic to my work, but most do not.  I have quite an eclectic collection.  Most of the art hanging in my house is done by other artists (not my own work).  A few pieces are from local artists, some are from other places around the country and I even have some work by someone living in Europe.  That's what the internet can do for you.  And I feel good about supporting other artists.

My latest acquisition is a piece made by Lisa Hochstein.  She lives in California and I found her art through The Textile Blog.  Click on her link to see more of her works.  I like many of her pieces, but felt I could only afford a small one.  I would love to have several of her pieces, but I will enjoy the one I have now.

 Lisa Hochstein
Intermezzo 42
(photo reproduced with permission of artist)

Monday, September 27, 2010

Yellowstone Impression III

Yellowstone Impression III
hand dyed fabrics,
machine pieced and machine quilted
33-3/4" x 20-3/4"
© 2010 Lisa Flowers Ross
I have had this piece finished for a little while and now can finally show you.  It will be one of the pieces I'll have in the temporary gallery downtown for the month of October.  Yellowstone was so inspiring that it is starting to become a series.

Friday, September 24, 2010


The Twelve by Twelve group's current color challenge is a palette of rust colors with blue patina-like colors.  I've been thinking about what to do to "play-along" and I think the obvious thought is to try to "rust" some fabric. I'm sure some of the twelves might try that.  I've been wanting to try it for a while now.  But when I read some info. about the process on the internet, there was one place that said the fabric would keep rusting even after you had neutralized it.  You would need to neutralize again every so often (maybe in a year?). 

I still want to try it, but it doesn't seem very archival.  Maybe if it was coated with acrylic medium afterward, it would be sealed enough so that oxygen wouldn't get to it and continue that rusting process.  Any thoughts on that?

I will look through my fabrics and see what I already have that is rusty colored.  I may have to do some painting or rubbing or something.  Inspiration for this challenge could come from looking at rusty objects.  But I have some inspiration from our trip to Yellowstone last year.

What other things in nature can you think of that have rusty and blue colors?  I would like to read your ideas.

Thursday, September 23, 2010


I know it has been a little quiet here for a few days.  That usually means I'm so busy living life that I don't have time to write about it, or there is just nothing that exciting to share with you.  This time it is the former.  Scattered is my brain and the stuff all over the house that I haven't gotten around to cleaning up (usually cleaning is low on the priority list, but since it is starting to look like my teenager's bedroom, I need to get to some semblance of order soon.) 

I do have exciting news to share with you.  For the next three months (the last quarter of the year), I have an opportunity to be part of a co-op art gallery in downtown Boise.  It is only temporary, as it isn't planned to run past the end of the year.  I'm pretty excited and am trying to get some things ready for the space.  Most of my work is still up in Meridian until Oct. 8.  But I have other pieces that should work.

So yesterday I spent some time trying to get a few smaller pieces framed (you've seen them before).

Sorry the pictures aren't so great, I took them early this morning.  These are part of what I like to call the Mini Garden series.  Above are Winter Tree and Spring Tree.
Spring Tree, Summer Tree and Autumn Tree
And here are all the seasons together.  I have always intended to frame these and, now, have the incentive to do it.  I've had the frames and mats waiting around.  Just had to get out the mat cutter.

I'm embarrassed to say that the first one took me about two and a half hours to frame.  Why?  Well, maybe you can see from the pictures that the pieces are floating on the mats and set back like in a shadow box.  I sewed each piece to the mat and then cut matching mat pieces to go on the inside edges of the frame to hold the piece away from the plexi-glass.  This is a time when it does have to be perfect, for me.  So it took me a lot of fiddling to make sure there were no cracks on the edges where all the pieces met.

After finishing the first one, and going back to the store to get another mat, I figured out an easier way to do it.  The next three all together took less time than the first.  I still have to put hangers on the back, but I think they look pretty nice, if I do say so myself.

I bought about ten of these frames thinking that I was going to do more in this series.  But my attention on other things has taken me away from the excitement of doing more of these, at the moment.  I have one more I might frame while I have all the stuff out.  A couple of the other frames will be used for some artwork I own that has been sitting around waiting for the mat cutter to make it's appearance.  And I might use some of the others for some smaller pieces of mine not related to the series.  But framing these this way is not my favorite thing to do.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Quote of the Day

"The only way to deal with the future
is to function efficiently in the now."
-Gita Bellin

To bring you this quote, I just opened one of my quotation books randomly to a page and this was on it.  It is quite appropriate for me right now.  Having completed the installation of my artwork and artist reception, it's now time for me to regroup and figure out what to concentrate on next.  I have been thinking about this current installation since last November.
I am feeling a bit overwhelmed by all the things to do and directions I could go.  I am not dealing with the "now" very efficiently.  Now I am just dealing with the immediate day-to-day things.  I need to take some time to breathe and prioritize what I will be focusing on next, and in the coming months.  Something has, unexpectedly, popped up that may decide that for me.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Plum Crazy

Do you remember me talking about our overloaded plum tree?  I had made plum crisp and was planning on making some jam.  I have since made two batches of Plum Vanilla jam. 
It is very good, but it looks like nothing has been picked off the tree.  There are still a million more.  I could have a whole pantry (if I had a pantry) of plum jam.  I tried a pork recipe with the plums.  The flavor was good but it was a "high maintenance" recipe.  I'm not into "high maintenance" cooking.

Next, I'm going to try to make plum chutney.  But I will never get around to using all the plums off the tree.  If you are a local and would like some, let me know.  They aren't very good for just eating plain (unless you like sour things), but are good for cooking.

And speaking of recipes, I made a very good dip for the artist reception.  It is from an old Cooking Light magazine.  Here it is:

Roasted Red Pepper and Cannellini Bean Dip
1/4 c. chopped fresh basil
1 tsp. balsamic vinegar
1 (16 oz.) can cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
1 (7 oz.) bottle roasted red bell peppers, rinsed and drained
1 large garlic clove
2 Tbsp. extravirgin olive oil
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. freshly ground pepper

Place first 5 ingredients in a food processor; process until smooth.  With processor on, slowly add oil through food chute.  Stir in salt and pepper.  Yield: 8 servings (1/4 cup each)

I used more red peppers because my jar was bigger and used the fresh basil from my yard.  It's suggested to serve with pita wedges, but we served it with crackers.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Sketchbook Project - Page 3

Well I finally got around to doing a drawing in my Sketchbook Project sketchbook.  It may look familiar as it is similar to what I did for the chalk art event in July. It was very different to do it in a small version and with colored pencils instead of chalk.

Reminder: For those who live nearby, I will be at our artist reception tomorrow at the Meridian City Hall from 11 a.m. - 2 p.m. (third floor).  And I just made a yummy dip to take!

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Art in the Park

Art in the Park was held this weekend here in Boise.  It is put on by the museum and I helped set up on Tuesday and Wednesday, but, fortunately, did not have to work the weekend.  The weather was very nice, sunny and warm.  I felt it was a little more "crafty" than "arty" this year.  But there was still plenty to see.

I thought these were nice yard decorations.

This was a fountain that had moving parts by a different person doing yard art.
 There was some music going on at the band shell.  This was a kid band, probably from the Boise School of Rock.

This is the work of Brett Varney.  His originals are pastel.  I have an original piece of his that I bought four or five years ago.  I splurged on it but I think the prints just don't have the same sensibility as his originals.  I think its because you lose the texture and richness of the pastels when it becomes a print.  I can't really afford an original now.

We gave Anna an Art in the Park "allowance".  She managed to spend all of it.  After looking at most of the booths, spending all her money and having lunch, Frank and Anna headed home on the bikes.  I said I was going to stay and look around again.  I found these cute things and took a picture so Anna could see them.  Steampunk has become a bit of an artistic style, I think.  
The artist I was most excited about this year was Eileen Sorg of Two Dog Studio. Walking by her booth you might think she was a photographer, but she is not.  She uses colored pencils to create her photo-realistic drawings.  The first time we walked by, she was working on that piece that is resting right next to her.  She was using a super long pencil and I asked what kind of pencils she uses.  She said Prismacolor, which is what I have as well.  But they were so long and she told me when one pencil gets really small, she glues a new one right onto the end of the old one and can sharpen right through it and keep going.  What a great idea!  Unfortunately I forgot about my camera when she was working on her piece and when I came back later, it must have been too crowded for her to work.  I couldn't really afford to splurge on her originals either.  She did have some prints but I did not buy one.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Exhibition Contemplations

I wrote so much yesterday, I thought I would save my thoughts about what I learned, for today.  The biggest thing I noticed yesterday was how different it was to see a large group of my artworks laid out in one space.  This is the first exhibition where I have had this opportunity.  It was easy to see that green was a predominate color that I use (I already knew that, but the extent to which it is so was more evident when the pieces are laid out next to each other).  Also, my pieces are visually strong graphically with lots of lines going vertically and horizontally.  Some were "busy" and others more "calm".  I tried to separate the "busy" ones so that they were not right next to each other.

I had more vertical pieces than horizontal, of which I was also cognitive.  I prefer a vertical orientation when working.  But if they aren't all going to be vertical, then I see it would be helpful to have a few more horizontal pieces.

Another thing I learned is that after this show, I will be re-doing all the hanging rods for the pieces.  I created the rods with d-rings specifically to work with their hanging system.  I made sleeves with extra ease in them but because they are on wires and not flat against the wall, there is still a "bump" at the top of each piece where the rod bulges.  Unfortunately, they aren't hanging very flatly, but there is nothing more I can do about it.

After all the artwork was up and I looked at it, I could not really tell if it is a cohesive body of work.  I'm not sure if that's because I'm the artist, or not.  There are definitely similarities with all the pieces, with strong lines and geometric shapes.  All the pieces I've included are abstractions on nature.  If you can tell from the photos, do you think it looks cohesive?  I do want honest opinions.

Lastly, I realize I am an art snob in some, o.k. many, ways.  I am a perfectionist and over the years have been trying not to be.  I'm trying not to let things get to me so much and to "let it go". I have been improving, but I won't "let it go" when it comes to being professional.  It may take me longer to get that work up, but the spacing will be even, the labels hung at the same height and same distance from the piece and everything will have a label that is consistent with all the others.  The typeset on the label will match the typeset on the artist statement (unfortunately, they will be printing out the price list for me, but it should match since I sent them the file).  All the details will be considered.  Call me anal, but sometimes I am.

The show will be up for about a month.  If you cannot make it to the artist reception (Sept. 15, 11a.m - 2p.m.), please try to visit sometime during the month.  The building is open Mon. - Fri. from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Friday, September 10, 2010

It's Show Time

This morning was the time for installation of my work at the Initial Point Gallery in Meridian.  I knew we artists would be in charge of hanging our work with volunteers to help.  This is no problem for me as that is what I have been doing at the art museum for fifteen years.  The gallery is in the city hall building on the third floor, right in the center section.

We were told to be at the gallery at 9 a.m.  The artist from last month would be taking down her work at 8 a.m.  I was on time and was able to carry all my stuff inside in one trip (thanks to my giant yoga bag).  The other artist, Carlos was already there and I think even already had some pieces up when I arrived.

There are two long walls in the space.  One for my work, the other for Carlos'.  Since he was already there, he chose his wall.  That was fine with me. I knew I could go earlier, but wanted the previous artist to have plenty of time to get things down.  However, I also knew I would get the wall that had several "obstacles" (which I had noticed when I had previously visited the space).  On my wall there was one door, a fire extinguisher box, a fire light, and two thermostats (apparently randomly place along the wall). More about these later.  The other wall had nothing.  Since my work is fabric and I did have more variable sizes, it was more accommodating for those things than Carlos' work would be.

There were two ladies there to help me and the guy who was in charge of the space.  I'm afraid I bored the ladies to death because I took my time and really didn't need any help.  I took out all my pieces and started just laying them out on the floor.  I had no preconceived notion of a layout because I was just going to see what worked when I was in the space.  I could tell a couple of pieces weren't going to work with the others right away and set those aside.  I started arranging, trying to spread out like colors and vary sizes and directions. 

There are a lot of things that are considered when hanging a show that the general public probably doesn't notice. And they shouldn't.  If they do, then that means we didn't do our job well.  That's my training and it's what I do, so I went to work.  After I had an arrangement I was happy with, then I started figuring out spacing between the pieces.  I think the ladies wanted me to put more pieces in the show, but I thought it was already going to be more crowded than necessary.  The artwork does need to have space to breathe.  When I was previewing the space, the artworks that were hung, at that time, were so close together that I could not concentrate on one piece because the next one was distracting me.  More is not always better.

Once I had the spacing, I started measuring where I wanted the hangers to be for each piece.  They had wires that were hanging down from a track and hangers that moved up and down the wires.  I had a tape measure out and paper and pencil ready to do that math, calculating the exact location of the hanger based on the center height.  I was told by the helpers that we could eyeball it or adjust as we go along.  I told them I was a perfectionist.  Then I continued to work that way placing tape and marking points where they could align the hangers.  Yes, it was a much slower process.  I think Carlos had his stuff up in an hour.  I did not.

They hung as I continued to mark and yes, they were right about adjusting afterward.  In the end, I saw that I didn't have to be so precise because the hangers and wires were easily moved.  But I still would have done it the same way so I had a starting point.  We got them all up and the helpers left around 11 a.m.  I stayed to do adjusting, put labels up and hang my artist information.  I eventually finished around 12 noon, which was the time I was suppose to be finished by.

I am very happy to have this opportunity to show my work here.  But I can't say I'm 100% happy with the layout.  Part of that is because of the "obstacles".  I had to change the layout a little from what I wanted because when we tried to hang one piece the rod would have been right across the fire light and that would not work.  So I put a smaller piece there so it could hang lower.  The light is right above that piece, but what can you do.  Two pieces are covering the two thermostats and they stick out from the wall farther than the hanging wires.  The fabric is already "wobbly" because of the hanging device, so the pieces are not flat against the wall, but the thermostats make it even more so. Once again, what can you do.

The other thing I would have done differently is change the center height (the point where the center of each piece should be).  They had a certain height that they hang everything at which is much higher than what we use at the museum (it is lower at the museum because of viewing by kids and people in wheel chairs).  Their center height for the piece is about where the top of my head is.  That is really high and I feel like I am looking "up" at my pieces.  But since there was another artist's work in the same space, I used their height.  If I had had the entire space with just my work, I would have used a lower number.

I had not seen any of Carlos' artwork before today. But I was told they elected to put us together because they thought our work "went together."  I cannot say that I agree with that.  Did they think that because ours are both non-realistic that they go together?  Most of my pieces are abstract while his are mostly non-objective.  To me the sensibilities are very different.  Below are some examples of his work.  What do you think?

I think that my half of the installation is as professional as it can be given the circumstances I had to work with. I hope that it is evident when people view it (even if it is an unconscious observation).  I took some pictures after all was done and realized that they had little lights on another track above the hanging one and that mine were not turned on, but Carlos' were.  It is probably better if they aren't on because they were not moved around to be directed to each specific piece.  If that is still the case when we go to the reception next week, I will see what can be done about it.  Might have to get the ladder out again.

Despite all my observations about the installation, I hope many people will come and see my work.  The artist reception is next Wednesday, Sept. 15 from 11 a.m. - 2 p.m.  It's on the third floor of the Meridian City Hall building on Broadway. Hope to see you there.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Yoga Bag for a Giant?

No, this is not a yoga bag for a giant.  I made this bag today to carry my artworks to the gallery where I will be installing them this Friday. (For a sense of scale, if I was standing next to it, it would come almost all the way up to my chest.)  I have three big rolls of art quilts in the bag.  There are several pieces (maybe five to six? I didn't count) on each roll.  This bag will let me carry them all in at one time and will provide a little protection.  I think I will be able to get everything inside in one trip (rods in another plastic bag; tools, labels, etc. in another). 

I did not have a pattern to follow.  I just made it up as I went along.  The fabric is some that I found at a garage sale at one time.  I bought it thinking I would cut out the flowers and use them on something, but haven't yet.  And I kind of like the fabric as it is.  So, now's it a bag that I hope will get more than one use!

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Just in Time

I hope you all are having a more relaxing weekend than I am.  Yesterday was spent running errands and doing some shopping. And knitting as fast as possible. 

One of my husband's co-workers had a baby shower today.  Last week we discussed what to get for the shower.  I went to the Co-op hoping to find an environmentally friendly baby present but, being a grocery store mostly, did not find much there.  So I decided maybe I would try to make something.  A baby quilt would be the obvious choice (and probably should have been) but I didn't have any really appropriate baby fabrics in my stash and didn't want to go buy any.  So, I searched online for some baby knitting patterns and found a couple to try.  I did go out and buy the yarn but I only needed two skeins.  I decided if I bombed on the patterns, Frank could go out and buy something at the last minute. 

With one week to finish, I started a baby hat and baby shrug (it's suppose to be a girl).  I'm not much for girly-girl stuff and did not choose a pink yarn.  Instead I picked a nice multi-color pastel.  I worked on both this past week at volleyball games and while watching tv in the evening (the US Open tennis event is on).

I managed to finish the shrug last night, but it has lots of mistakes.  I have never knitted a garment. I still consider myself a beginner.  Shaping and picking up stitches were new to me, but I figured I would just learn how to do it as I went along.  Any knitter would be able to tell I did not do a good job.  Hopefully, the non-knitters will not look too closely.

I finished the hat this morning, a couple of hours before the shower.  It turned out better than the shrug but working with double pointed needles on something so small was a little difficult for me.  Below is the result.  I really hope that it's the thought that counts on this one.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Balloons Over Boise

Yesterday, today and tomorrow, there is a little balloon event happening here in town.  After Anna got off to school yesterday, I rode my bike down to the park where the balloons were launching.  I could see some of them in the air already when I left the house.  But there were some still hovering when I got to the park. 

I was amazed at how many people were there.  They had to have gotten up really early.  Most were leaving by the time I was arriving.  I had my pocket camera with me and took lots of pictures.

I love this last one of the balloon reflection after some ducks had swam through it.  There weren't nearly the number of balloons that there use to be at the now defunct River Festival.  But it was still fun to see them.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

D.D. day

Yesterday was the Twelve by Twelve reveal day, but it was also what I consider diet Coke and Dessert day!  Yes, I have made it about three weeks without those two things.  I imagined having a diet Coke with a big bar of chocolate to celebrate.  I did have the diet Coke, but there was no chocolate in the house (it makes it easier to avoid).  Instead, I made a dessert.

In our back yard, we have a plum tree.  When we moved here, I don't think we really paid much attention to it for a couple of years or it wasn't bearing any fruit.  Then when it did, we weren't sure what it was or if it was edible because the fruit was really small.  A few years ago, it had quite a bit of fruit on it and I tried one.  It was edible but not good to eat right off the tree.  I found a recipe online and made Plum Saft.  It's a liquid syrup that you can add to drinks or over sponge cake.  We never really used it.

This year our tree is overloaded.  The main branch is bent over, just about in two, because of all the fruit on the branches.

While looking online for recipes, I discovered what kind of plum it is.  I believe they are Italian Prune Plums.  They are much smaller than regular plums and quite sour when eaten plain, so they need to be cooked.  I found a recipe for plum crisp that specifies it's for these particular plums.  So we tried it last night.

There was still a twinge of sourness, but it was pretty good.  It took a long time to pit enough of the plums for the recipe since they are so small.  My next attempt is to try to make a plum and peach jam recipe that I found. 

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Twelve by Twelve: Lorikeet Challenge

Today the Twelve by Twelve group is revealing another of their color challenges.  The colors this time were based on the Lorikeet bird: parrot green, red-orange, gold yellow and a royal blue.  When I saw the colors, no inspiration came to my mind.  They are strong colors and the red, yellow and blue primary colors together is something I don't usually use. 

Since I have other things going on, I thought maybe I wouldn't play along with this one because I had no ideas.  I thought if I were to do something, there would have to be some small amounts of each color.

Last week as I knew their deadline was drawing closer and having finished a bigger piece (will get that posted soon), I thought I would just look and see if I had all those colors in my fabrics and maybe I could make something.  Well, the green color (or close to it), a yellow and the red-orange color were sitting on my table left over from the Polka Dot Circus piece.  I looked for some of the blue and had some scraps that were close to it.  I added some fusible web to the back of the blue and began to see what I could do.

I started out with a twelve by twelve square to try to fit in the size requirement, but I didn't have quite enough of the fabrics scraps to cover it.  It ended up roughly ten inches square instead.  I fused everything to heavy interfacing, did a few quilt lines with the monofilament thread and satin-stitched around the edges.  I had a perfect thread to stitch around the edges that had the red, yellow and blue colors.  Unfortunately, it also had a lavender purple color, too.  I decided to go ahead and use it anyway.  After the stitching was completed, I took a blue Sharpie and carefully colored over the purple thread sections.

Here is the piece.
Three Square Circus
fused applique, machine quilted
approx. 10"x10"
© 2010 Lisa Flowers Ross

As you can see, it did not end up with just a little bit of each of the colors.  The yellow is a little off, too.  It should have been more gold, but this is what I already had.  I think the primary, intense, bright colors make it seem child-like and definitely circus-like.

It sounds like some of the members of the twelve by twelve group also struggled with the color scheme, but I am amazed at how they solved the challenge of it.  They are all very different and have different sensibilities.  Click on the Twelve by Twelve link above (or on the side bar) to enjoy their solutions.