Friday, October 31, 2014

A wonderful use for drones

The band OK Go never fails to disappoint with their music videos. They develop elaborate (and often unrelated to the lyrics) scenarios and visual effects which are well-rehearsed and often filmed in one take. I like the combination of humour and precision inherent in all of the productions. Their latest release is wonderful.

This article explains more about how the video was conceived and filmed. In case you were wondering the musicians are riding equipment called Uni-Cubs, made by Honda.

Wouldn't it be fun to be part of the band's creative team? It seems like the four musicians are willing to embrace just about any idea and work hard to bring the original vision to life.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Time and aging

Ever since my cancer diagnosis I have been much more aware of the value of time and the need to use what is available to me. Yesterday I was offered a senior discount in a store where I occasionally shop. I confess that my first reaction was not to say "Thank you." but to wonder if I now looked much older than I did two months ago. Then today I was part of a conversation about the various seniors' discounts available in my community.

I'm glad to have stumbled on this article from the New York Times as an antidote to the sudden focus on aging.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

This and that

Life continues to return to normal. I am trying to fit in more exercise all the time - walking, riding my trainer and this week I will go to body rolling, Pilates and yoga classes.

Recipe review: Our CSA box last week had lots of leeks in it and I wanted to use them up before the new box came today. I was tired of the same old uses for leeks so I Googled and found a sauce for fish made from sauteed and pureed leeks (with a little cream). We tried it tonight and it was really good. It is so simple I wonder why I didn't think of it myself. I will now try the same thing with other veggies.

I had to go out to get embroidery floss for the Fog is Lifting piece. I also picked up a heat gun because there will be a lot of melted plastic in the "crevices". Here is a sneak peak that doesn't actually give you any idea how it will turn out. I can tell you this - it will consist of repeated elements, it will be large and it is derived from my personal experience. I have those three criteria taped to the top of my design wall. It helps to keep me moving forward.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Pretty, but ....

About a year ago I stumbled on the work of Janet Edelman. I watched her TED talk and was impressed by the innovation and imagination that it takes to create and mount her sculptures. But, beyond the first impression made by the photos and videos, her work left me cold. I don't know why. It seems like it is something that I would like - she works on a very large scale, there are repeated forms and it would be fair to consider her creations as fabric.

I think it is because the images that I see on my computer screen seem superficial and devoid of meaning. Echelman's artist statement says this: "By combining meaning with physical form, it strives to create a visceral experience in diverse city environments, .....". She references 'meaning' but my research only found a reference to substance beyond form in her piece entitled 1.26 which is derived from the behaviour of a tsunami which originated in Chile.

In the last six weeks several friends have sent me links to her website. Her work is featured in the November 2014 issue of Smithsonian magazine. I  read the article and re-visited her website and was interested to note that her most recent work is certainly based in ideas and meaning. Yet I look at the images and don't see or feel it. I guess I will have to visit a city where she has installed a sculpture to experience it in person.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

More pages from the FAB book

Here are four more pages from the FAB book. I will post the remaining two tomorrow.

Lois Bowden

Kate Madeloso

Susan Lilley

Penny Berens

In other news, I have been sewing - both by machine and by hand. The piece made from the monoprints isn't great art but it honours my 'why' and takes good advantage of the fabric I made.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Gift from my FAB friends

When I was in hospital Kate, a member of my FAB group, visited to bring me a very special gift. All of the group had conspired and cooperated to create a fabric book. Each member made a page to encourage and entertain me. Kate then assembled the pieces into the book. This gift meant everything to me. I was stunned by the time and effort that everyone put into the project and by the thought that went into making the artwork relate to what they know of me.

I will share all of the pieces with you over the next few days. My apologies for the photography. It does not do justice to the artwork but I wanted to get it done and did not have time to set up my lights and tripod.

Book constructed by Kate Madeloso
Dawna DeAdder

Karen Henry

Regina Marzlin

Susan Tilsley Manley

Friday, October 24, 2014


As soon as the creative brain fog began to dissipate I played with my fabric and paint. I used a Gelli plate, Pebeo Setacolor paint (both opaque and transparent) and four kinds of fabric. I selected three ugly fabrics from my stash and also used white PFD. In all, I made about thirty pieces. Some I only printed once but others were composed of four and five layers.

Here are a few of my favorites.

I brought them as my contribution to show and tell at yesterday's FAB meeting. Someone suggested that I should make a small piece out of them. That was already on my mind and by this morning my ideas had gelled. I have laid out something I call 'The Fog is Lifting' and sampled my construction techniques. I hope to get it put together this weekend.

This is a fast turnaround for me. I don't know whether cancer has changed my world view (especially the value I place on time) or whether the idea is just so right that it had to be done. Perhaps I am just bored. The good news is that the piece I have designed is derived from my 'why', not just the 'what' that I happen to have a pile of monoprinted fabric on hand.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Which comes first - What or Why?

I first watched Simon Sinek's TED talk in 2010, not long after it was released. I think there is real merit in his message, although I am skeptical about his references to biology and anatomy.

Recently someone with whom I work asked me to watch the video. She is using it to revamp her approach to her business and marketing plans. I think she is on the right track in her adoption of his ideas.

But it also caused me to think about how I make art. I think I start with the 'why' but I stray from that approach every time I get lured into trying a new technique or consider entering another themed show. I need to find a way to preserve the emphasis on 'why'. For the time being, I have put up a sign on my design wall to remind me of the hierarchy. I may also start to journal more about each piece. I did that in one of Lisa Call's classes and found it helpful but have gotten out of the habit.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

I'm back .....

..... or rather, it's back. The "it" in question is my brain. I was discharged from hospital a month ago, on September 22. My body was weak but I began to recover strength and stamina after the first few days at home. Of more concern to me was the brain fog that I experienced. It is a normal side effect of anaesthesia and I was told to expect to feel the effects for up to 6 months (one month for every hour of surgery time). In many ways, I was far ahead of schedule. My memory returned, I could do the Saturday crossword puzzle and I lost the feeling that my brain was too small for my skull. But I couldn't seem to tap into my creative abilities. I set up to play with paint and fabric and couldn't walk into the room to do it, I sat down to write blog entries and couldn't reach for the keyboard, I thought about writing new indoor cycling classes but couldn't begin to think about what they would be like.

All of that changed on Monday. I was working on a draft of an article I wrote prior to my hospitalization. I thought that might be feasible given that the creative work was already done. Within the first few minutes I had thought up an entirely new twist on the subject which improved everything. Yesterday morning I designed two new classes, from topic to music. And this morning I finally applied paint to fabric and am now writing a blog post.

I have much to share over the next week or two but I will start with this. 

Last Sunday, exactly 44 days after my surgery, I rode my bike for the first time. I did a 44 kilometre round trip from my home to the city. I attribute the sudden recovery of the creative part of my brain to that ride. I don't know the mechanism - improved blood flow, perhaps - but I don't think it is a coincidence that there was such a sudden improvement less than 24 hours later.