Posted in Jewelry, Photography

Trying to Stay Sane

This inauguration has caused me serious misery. I went to the Women’s March in Las Cruces, but details and photos from that event will be in another post. I need to put some space between me and what’s happening in Washington.  I’m having stress pains. Pain in a perfectly healthy tooth. Pain in a perfectly healthy chest. I’ve been to dentists and cardiologists. They can’t find anything wrong. I’m taking my anti anxiety med regularly as prescribed. I had been taking it only as I needed it. I’m worried about becoming addicted to my anti anxiety med and it’s easy to build up a tolerance to this med. I’m now taking the full dose of my antidepressant. I had been taking only half. When I’m able to go back down to the half dose – and that’s what I’ve been taking successfully for two years – I’m going to have to cut pills into small pieces to avoid as much of the withdrawal as possible.

Art helps. A lot. I’ve been working with beads.

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A friend kindly gave me a gray scale to use for a background when I photograph my art. I’m so thankful for her gift. I belong to the Digital Photography School Facebook page and I’ve been getting wonderful advice. I need to retake the above photos, set my ISO for 100, turn off the image stabilizer because I’ll be using a tripod, and try again.

I took the Canon to school with me and looked around for different kinds of subject matter for shots.

I looked around for anything that looked interesting or that I thought I could play with.

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That was so much fun that I decided to play with the jewelry.

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I’d love to figure out how to make my jewelry look so swirly. Guess I’ll just have to spend more time playing with beads.

I’m linking with NinaMarie. To see her blog and links to other fantastic blogs, click here.

Posted in words

The Power of One

One.

I am a multi-media artist – both visual and written media. Today’s post doesn’t have photos. It’s not about fabric or beads or ceramics. It’s about words. It’s about life. It’s about One.

The Talmud tells us: Whoever saves a life, it is as if he saved the entire world. Whoever takes a life, it is as if he took the entire world.

One.

I am sad today. I am angry. I am frustrated. I am reminded of so many things. I am not going to be quiet.

One.

Yesterday, I listened to Michael Moore as he spoke at a rally in New York City. He said that if American Muslims are required to be registered, Michael Moore will sign his name on that registry. So will I. I will sign my name in English and in Hebrew. I will sign my name so that no one will think I agree to allow a narcissistic bully to turn my country into Nazi Germany. When I’m frustrated, I will remind myself of those who saved a life during a hideously dark time when saving a life meant risking one’s own life. They saved a life by not asking too many questions about the person sleeping in the barn. By not asking too many questions about the person gathering the crops. By sharing a bit of food. By offering a lie to give a Jew time to hide. All small acts. All having profound results.

One.

I am bipolar. I will not be quiet. I will lead this parade of One when I’m encouraged and when I’m frustrated. I will not allow anyone to think that I will stand quiet while people with mental illnesses are castigated, hounded, shunned, discriminated against, or shoved into a closet. When I’m frustrated, I’ll remind myself of the look in a client’s eyes when I told him I’m bipolar and still achieved my goals and dreams. I’ll remind myself of the look in a client’s eyes when I told her that looking at the ugly memory, acknowledging it was an ugly event helped ease my PTSD. I will remind myself of the friend who told me that because I spoke out, she now had the courage to seek help.  I will remind myself that if I want mental illness viewed without any stigma, without any shame, that attitude has to start with me.

One.

I will not buy any product that puts money in Donald Trump’s pocket. Maybe that means not buying one bracelet. Just one. We are all one. Just one. We each make a difference. The tiniest difference, made thousands of times, is powerful.

One.

Yesterday, I wrote a story for my writing class. For me, this story was risky. I am trusting that my reader will see what my reader needs to see in this story. It’s a story about my great-great-grandparents, along with my 10-month-old great-grandmother boarded a ship, spent 8 days in the belly of the ship, paid roughly 3 months’ wages for their passage, to escape to religious freedom. It’s about how two words allowed me to see that my grandmother’s horrible German was really Yiddish and we were really Jewish. It’s about my doing things my great-great-grandparents hardly dared to dream were possible. Thirteen people will read that story. Perhaps each will see something different in the story. When I wrote about the study quilt for a Tree of Life quilt, I asked readers what they saw in the study quilt. I got all sorts of answers. Each was different from what I wanted to say. I was frustrated until I realized that each interpretation was valid. Each was meaningful to the viewer. Writing my assigned story taught me that it doesn’t matter what insight the viewer/reader has. Each insight is valid. Each insight has value. Perhaps the entire purpose of art, both verbal and visual, is for each person to glean something of value to herself.

One. One. One. One. One. One. One. One. One. One. One. One. One. One. One. One. One. One. One. One. One. One. One. One. One. One. One. One. One. One. One. One. One. One. One. One. One. One. One. One. One. One. One. One. One. One. One. One. One. One. One. One. One. One. One. One. One. One. One. One. One. One. One. One. One. One. One. One. One. One. One. One. One. One. One. One. One. One. One. One.

One. The most powerful number of all.

I’m linking with Nina Marie. Click here to see what some great artists have been making this week.

 

 

Posted in Uncategorized

Of Quilts and Art and Freedom

Assorted Parts of a Non-Integrated Whole.

That’s what I’ve named this quilt. That’s also what bipolar disorder feels like at times. At least it feels that way for me. Bipolar disorder, like an mental illness, is not the same for each person.

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It’s been ages since I hand quilted, but this quilt wouldn’t look good with free-motion quilting. I used a variegated metallic thread for quilting the little shodow leaves. and a thick variegated purple thread for around the big leaves.

I grabbed a piece of fabric that fit for the back and never realized that when I hang the quilt on the clothesline, the light makes the backing shine through. Inside the house, the quilt doesn’t look as if it were suffering from a bad dye job.

All I have left to do with this quilt is to attach a sleeve and a label.

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I wanted different embellishments for each leaf. For this one, I unthreaded sequins from a string of sequins and attached them with beads.

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I wanted a leaf to show depression. At first, I thought that I had picked the wrong fabric. Then I thought about how I feel when I’m depressed. There’s darkness and dullness but there’s also goofiness.

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When I’m  above center – what a psychologist would call manic – the excess energy sometimes spills over into places it shouldn’t

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Full blown, get out of my way, a hurricane is roaring through, manic event. Everything is out of control although there can be a few quiet spots. Medicated, my manic events usually involve cooking. When I did a ride along with a police officer a couple years ago, I was having a manic event. I handed the officer 6 dozen home made cookies and said, “This is for you.”  During another manic event, I had to buy yarn – at least it was on sale – to make a crocheted bedspread. I’m still working on the bedspread. TV writers like to portray bipolar people as spendthrifts. Some are. I’m extremely careful and the credit card bill is paid in full each month.

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This is the dangerous one. I withdraw, and put up barriers – some physical, some emotional – to keep people away. I know it’s harmful for me to isolate, but many times, I just don’t want to be around anyone. Introverted below center, extroverted to the power of 5  when I’m above center.

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For the quilted leaves, I hand drew each one. All of the leaves are a bit different because in nature, all of the leaves are a bit different. I used a variegated metallic thread. I like what I got, but metallic thread is a pain in the tush to use for hand quilting. Tangles. Snarls. Metallic stripping off from the thread. Breakage. Tying several knots in the end of the thread so when I pull it through the backing of the quilt, it doesn’t come out the front of the quilt.

I chose to use gingko leaves because gingko is an ancient tree. It’s in the same phylum as pine trees and it’s the only tree in that phylum that has leaves. The gingko doesn’t really fit in, but there is a place for it. I don’t really fit in, but there is a place for me.

I had problems embellishing this quilt because my beads kept hiding. I’d know that I had gotten out a container of a particular, special bead, but the container would disappear. I’ve been considering getting a tackle box to hold all the beads. This one is a dandy. Now, I can have all of my beads together. I’ve still got a small, shoebox size box full of watch maker tins for seed beads.

Now for the freedom part. I watched the Youtube video of Meryl Streep’s speech at the Golden Globe awards and thought about progress. Woody Guthrie and Pete Seeger sang about unions, the dust bowl, war and other social issues. Both were blacklisted in the 1950’s. They were considered Communists because of their views. If you sang from your heart, you didn’t work.

The Smother’s Brothers had a comedy variety show in the 1960’s. They had an anti war routine, and the show was cancelled. If you spoke from your heart, you didn’t work. Many years later, the brothers received an award for speaking out.

The Dixie Chicks spoke out agains war in Iraq and Afghanistan. They got hate mail. They refused to back down. They got larger audiences and wrote a song about what they call The Controversy – Not Ready To Make Nice. I’m not ready to make nice. I’m not ready to back down.

I wrote a blog post about the anger and disbelief after a misogynous, arrogant, bigoted narcissist won – sort of, the people voted for Hillary – the presidential election. Almost as soon as I published that blog post, I got an e-mail from a former friend saying that my political views are a function of bipolar disorder. Imagine holding so tightly to a point of view that any dissenting voice can only come from mental illness.

Continuing the tradition, Meryl Streep spoke out so clearly no one could misinterpret her words. She spoke out against mocking people who have disabilities. She spoke out against hypocrisy in government. Her courage is remarkable and inspiring.

I speak out with my art. If I want my work juried into a show, I can’t submit the emotional art. Shows are for pretty. I know this because I have submitted some of my emotional art – and it got turned down. All of my pretty work was accepted.

I remember a poster from the 1960’s: You have not converted a man just because you have silenced him.

I am not silent. I don’t care if I’m the only one speaking. I’m out of the closet and I’m staying out of the closet.

I’m linking with Nina Marie. You can check out her blog and the blogs of some incredibly talented artists here.

 

Posted in Photography, Quilts

The cure for boredom? Be a multi-media artist.

I find that the more art toys I play with, the more ideas I have. At the moment, I’m working on photography and a quilt. They seem to feed into each other. This morning, I spent quality time taking one photograph…..

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and seeing the different ways I could play with it using special effects.

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Light leaks.

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Playing with texture and color. I think there’s a quilt in here somewhere.

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An effect called tiny planet. There might be a jewelry design in there.

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Just for fun. The bottom one reminds me of the traditional quilt pattern Tumbling Blocks. The others make me think about what I could do with fabric and shape.

I’ve been working on the bipolar quilt, and I came up with an idea for a series of self portraits. I’m not finished with the bipolar quilt, but I did get the quilt sandwich put together and started doing hand quilting.

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I haven’t quite decided how to quilt the spaces between the leaves, but I’m toying with the notion of quilting leaf outlines using a metallic thread.

Some of the leaves I’ve finished embellishing since I last posted. img_5757img_5755img_5753

The tentative working title is: Assorted Parts of an Unintegrated Whole. Like so much of my work, this quilt is autobiographical.

Last week while we were in Albuquerque, NM, Jim and I met up with Rachael and Amir Roggel. Rachael is part of the International Jewish Quilters list. We had lunch, good conversation and showed each other our latest work. Afterward, Jim and I went to Quilts Ole in Corrales, NM. They had fat quarters on sale. It would have been rude not to buy fat quarters on sale. So I bought some. I was picking out colors for the sky and soil for the for real version of Tree of Life. I’ve been looking at landscape photos on the Digital Photography School Facebook page and paying particular attention to the sky in those photographs. I’m now having ideas for how to do the sky and soil and thinking about changing how I usually put things together.

Once again, I have a surplus of ideas and not enough time to work on all of them.

I’m linking with Nina Marie. Click here to see her work and the work of other terrific artists.