Category Archives: The Artist’s Life

IMG_4234Spring has arrived. I feel like a weary soldier who made it out of the fray but still not sure when I’ll get home, or even where that might be. We’ll still get several inches of snow this weekend but the light is very welcome.

I’m in transition on the art front. I’ve gone to my studio several times this week and have not been able to work much, or very well, because the impending move back to working out of my apartment feels very unsettled and not quite right. It is what it is. I’m trying not to see it as a setback, although six months ago I thought things would be much more expansive instead of this new contraction.

So I’ve just been doing the most straightforward and immediate thing, which is to keep making abstract landscapes that are about materials and action and the connection of eye, hand, paint, paper and horizon line. These, below, are each about 9.5″ x 12.5″.

In Like a Lion

March rolled in cold and snowy and not too friendly; we usually have real signs of spring by now but it’s slow in coming this year. I have zero interest in winter sports or cold weather, so I sort of survive the winters waiting for the light to return and some warmth and color to appear.

Sadly, I have to give up my outside painting studio after this month. It’ll be all right; the light is actually better in my home, and I can rearrange the space to work. It’s just nice to have a dedicated place (and a real utility sink). I hope the outcome will be more work, since it’ll be right there waiting for me on insomniac nights.

A couple of odds and ends:

Pure color

IMG_4138 resizedLast summer I saw a wonderful exhibition of Japanese kites, some quite old. There was one with a sort of turnip pattern that I loved. I’ve been trying that pattern in some small watercolors:

 

Turnip Kite

 

 

Slow Cloth and Red Thread Studio Archives

I blogged for quite a few years at Red Thread Studio, where I began to develop and write about my concept of Slow Cloth in 2007.  I’m not adding new posts there right now but the archive remains and I invite you to browse. I gave a talk to the Textile Society of America at their 2012 symposium on Slow Cloth – downloadable in PDF form here. I also maintain a Slow Cloth community page on Facebook where I share many links on global textile art, craft, and culture. I’ve also written extensively on sustainable and organic apparel and textiles.

Slow Cloth

Slow Cloth

My experience with the concept of Slow Cloth in the textile community has been and continues to be an interesting one. My aim in 2007 was to outline a set of characteristics that I hoped would inspire and foster a way of thinking and a rich, inclusive, and sustainable textile culture. I gave it a name that seemed appropriate at the time to both honor and acknowledge what had been done in the food community and to distinguish it from what I saw as the trendy but unsustainable commercial craft world. And in the seven years since then, I don’t know if I’ve ever felt more misunderstood about a well-intentioned project. People either didn’t get it or thought it was so obvious that I had no right to it. So I put some of my larger vision for Slow Cloth (organization, membership, magazine) on hold.

For the record, I have nothing to do with any “Slow Cloth” boards on Pinterest, or any blogs or articles — other than those written by me — that talk about Slow Cloth. I developed my original concept of Slow Cloth long before many of the other “slow” brands, and was careful to give it a context and substance that would make it more than a buzzword. Unfortunately, the slow concept has lost most of its more nuanced meaning and it may not be very useful any longer as a defining adjective.

Many good things have happened in textile art and craft in this technology-driven century. More people than ever before are learning or re-learning how to make things for themselves with fiber and fabric. Sewing, knitting, quilting, weaving, embroidery, dyeing – especially working with natural dyes – it’s just an incredible renaissance, and there is a wealth of talent, creativity, skill, and resourcefulness in the textile community. More people are seeking textiles and garments made in their own countries, and more people are creating businesses to revive the textile industry. A new consciousness around the idea of “fibersheds” – local systems to grow, process, design, dye, finish, and produce textiles – is deservedly generating a lot of interest and excitement. It’s all very exciting, and with 50 years of making things with fabric and fiber under my belt, there’s a lot to celebrate. I have my own list of concerns, too, but will save those for another time.

I still own a Slow Cloth URL and still ponder whether there’s something more to be done with it. In the meantime, please do enjoy the Red Thread Studio blog archives and like the Facebook page.

In the Shape of a Heart

The winter blues keep catching up with me this week, with a long stretch of cold, icy, grey days and a barren landscape and a lot of insomnia and anxiety about work and income. Color to the rescue.

Valentines:

Lipson, Copper Heart, 2014, acrylic on paper, 5" x 5"

Copper Heart

Lipson, 2014, Postcard hearts

Postcard Hearts

The finished lotus:

Lipson, 2014, Lotus 1, 24" x 24", acrylic on canvas

Lotus 1

Some stitching picked up after a long dormancy (I beaded the center medallion years ago, added the shisha mirrors, and will add more embroidery and silk panels for a finished wall hanging):

IMG_4119

Persistence

Someone called me persistent today and the truth is that I’m really not. My marshmallow insides curdle and flee at rejection. But artist Gideon Amichay is truly persistent. Read this sweet and wonderful story on DesignObserver.com, excerpted from his book No, No, No, No, No, Yes: Insights from a Creative Journey. Amichay also has a TED talk that I’m just listening to now.