A Saturday Suddenly Free…Sort of…

Well, I was supposed to be leaving for a soccer tournament any minute now, but girlchild is too sick to play, or even to get out of bed, so I guess I am the lucky one who gets to stay home with her. She’s asleep still, so it’s pretty easy, but last night’s whining and nose-blowing drove me out of the living room, so then she started texting me things like “MOOOMMMYYY.” Yup. She’s 17. Anyway, I was planning on getting a bunch of grading done on the soccer field, so I will probably still try to do some of that, and certainly I was going to stitch on birds, but I think I’d rather do some yardwork (seriously, it’s getting that bad), since it’s currently kind of cool in temperature out there. Yes, I realize there’s still snow everywhere else, as boychild reminded me, but we’ve been in the 80s on and off all week, so it is Spring and the plants are going bonkers. But it’s like I suddenly got a free day, a Saturday without any preplanned stuff, except that I am so capable of filling it almost immediately.

Yes, I will do art as well. Don’t panic. In fact, I finished the bathtub drawing last night…

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This one’s all about menopause.

Here’s the first one I did, which still needs a head (ran out of paper)…

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Perhaps it needs two heads. I kinda like no head on the one in the water…It’s a little disturbing.

Then I did this one…which honestly is the one I think for sure needs to become a quilt…

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Wait. Except that’s not done. Turns out about 6 weeks later, I added stuff…

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Because it’s not just about what’s in the bathtub…it’s about what surrounds the bathtub too. I still have ideas for this. I like the parts that are submerged and slightly showing, like the fingers and toes. And not knowing what’s under the water. And I just thought of something to add to the one I finished last night too! Anyway. It’s all distracting me from what I really need to be working on (but that’s not a bad thing…a little distraction like this is beneficial to the artmaking process).

Last night, I sorted the browns for the recycled quilt…

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There’s a lot of them, which is good. Funny…Mariah tends towards mostly browns and blues, like my daughter. We’ll have to see if the quilt tends that way too. It might have to.

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I also sorted the grays, which took like 13 seconds and I didn’t even photograph, because she only had like 5 of them. I have yellows and blacks and a pile of owl fabrics that don’t fit in any specific colorway. So I could stop procrastinating and pick those fabrics for that quilt today. It’s small. It won’t take long. (trying to persuade myself…it’s gonna be a challenge to only be able to use what’s in the box.)

And then I spent over two hours cutting tiny pieces out…

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At some point, I had to stop and do arm and finger exercises, because they were cramping, and the muscles in my forearm were definitely sore after Thursday night’s cutting session. I’ve actually woken up with a swollen hand before. It feels OK today though, probably because of the exercises. We did figure out that the elbow pain from the Fall is not from weightlifting…it’s from moving the quilt under the sewing machine. So I have to wear an elbow brace while sewing. It’s an extreme sport, people. An extreme sport. The pile on the left is cut out. Trash is in the middle. So colorful. Still to be cut out is on the right. I’m over 4 hours in…still thinking 12 hours total, but maybe not? I don’t know. I get distracted and have to take a technology break, check Instagram to let my brain recover from staring at pencil lines on Wonder Under. That’s part of the task time too…persuading the brain not to give up.

OK. Girlchild is awake. Not happy about it, but being upright when you can’t breathe due to snottiness is better than lying down. Gonna get some work done, whatever that consists of…garden, house, school, art. Hoping for some recharging time later…

Artistic Meditation

I realize photo-wise this and the next stage are remarkably boring. Miles and miles of Wonder Under…although hey! I bought a new bolt of WU yesterday and it feels really different. You have to realize I’ve been using Wonder Under to make quilts since 1999. Or maybe 2001. Had to go look at the quilt list…I did start making art quilts in 1999, but I wasn’t a Wonder Under user until 2001. Most of my earliest quilts, I cut out the fabric and just lay it down on the background and pinned the fuck out of it. Stabbed myself a million times too, which is pretty damn stupid. But that’s how Joan Colvin showed me how to do it (and that’s how she did it too, and her quilts are beautiful).

Anyway, so here’s the miles…

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I’m on the 4th yard, but had to start a 5th one because one of the pieces was too big to fit on the 4th piece…so probably around 5 yards of pieces. I was trying to keep the detail to a minimum (ha!) so I would be able to finish it in time, so there are some honking big pieces. I think, “oh cool, I’m gonna use up some of my stash!” but I know that it really doesn’t. I rarely run out of a fabric…I might get down to the tiny pieces that can really only be used for little things, but if you think about how much fabric I have (well, you probably don’t think about that, but I do), it’s really just a drop in the bucket. Kathy York was making a stashbuster quilt here, and made some comment about how it barely used any of her stash up, and it was only one color, and it was a huge quilt, and I’m like…YEAH! But we have to use it to justify buying more, right? York buys fabric for specific projects, too, so she is a much better person than I am. I buy fabric because I need it in my palette. I really do think of the stash as this huge palette from which to paint my quilts. And you always need more colors.

Anyway, my special fabric psychosis aside, there are some stash-busting pieces in this drawing, where I’ll need huge chunks of gray or white, and then blue, and some foxy red, which doesn’t mean a red that makes you look foxy, but a red that’s the color of a fox.

I traced about 200 pieces last night before I stopped. I really wanted to just keep going, but that would have been close to an allnighter, I think, another 2 1/2 hours and it was already midnight. I do still have to get healthy and teach and function like a semi-normal human being. Apparently.

And then the NEXT step will be cutting all those pieces out, which is another batch of boring pictures. The fabric-choosing…now there’s the pictures y’all will enjoy, because you get to see my stash and what I’m currently watching on Netflix. Always exciting.

But the thing is, even though the pictures are boring, this is sometimes one of my favorite parts of making the quilt. Tracing all those pieces out, standing at my light table, it’s really meditative. I have the TV on and I’m half-listening and maybe a quarter-watching, and I’m looking for each piece (sometimes it takes me a while to find them if I didn’t number particularly logically), and then I’m evaluating each piece for whether it needs an overlap to go under the pieces next to it, and then I’m looking to see if it continues underneath to another section at all, and it’s this place in my brain that’s like a big soft pillow. All the other shit just wanders off, looking for a bar where it can start a fight, and my brain just settles down, takes a deep breath, and does its work. Analyzing, drawing, going on to the next piece. And the next one. And the next one. And really nothing gets in the way of that, except when the tea gets cold (take break to walk to the microwave…should take regular breaks anyway), or when I need to pee (see breaks), or when the show ends and I have to pick the next one or fastforward through commercials. It’s peaceful. It’s relaxing. It’s a weird-ass form of meditation. The Wonder Under Meditation.

I always feel so much better after tracing. Fabric-choosing is kind of the same way. They use a part of my brain that pushes everything else out, which is why I lose track of time when I’m doing it. When I finally thought to look at the task-measuring app I was using last night, I had been working for over 2 hours. Just working. Just tracing. No way I could do that with grading without getting all antsy and irritated. Even quilting irritates me (mostly because thread is breaking or because it’s so much more physical).

Anyway, I had another idea for a bathtub drawing (a series!)…I think I’ve done two drawings so far, but only one really deserves to be a quilt, and now I have a third one in my head, and it’s really not pretty, but whatever…

This was the first one, and she’s still headless…

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I actually like it now that I’m looking at it, but I would finish it much differently now than when I first drew it. Which is fine, because I’d enlarge it and THEN add the head. Only the top head. The bottom head is supposed to be gone. These are of course inspired by Kahlo’s bathtub painting…which I know I posted on here, but now cannot find. What the Water Gave Me, 1938…

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And then the one I really want to do…

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It’s next on the list…some day. But now there’s another one. In my head. And you aren’t going to like it. But it needs to get out.

But drawing is another form of meditation, one I hope to rediscover someday soon…really. It’s been long enough.