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Music on my Mind

First, my index cards from week five, prompts were citrus, arcade, font, earrings, periwinkle, board game and lantern:

Music is a powerful force on our minds.  How many times have you sung along at the top of your lungs to a favorite tune on the radio as you drive around, or jumped up and danced around uninhibited while no one was looking.  How many more times have you wanted to sing out and dance like crazy?  A song can bring back very specific memories.  What do you define as music?  To me, music is not just the recordings or performances of human voice and sounds resonating out of instruments being played.  This time I hear the songs of birds and insects when I step outside.  Every once in a while, my brain dredges up the clatter of the vintage candy factory line that I used to run.  The fondant cutter had an especially interesting series of repeated clicks and cranks.  Somehow, these sounds come out in some of my collages.

Composers have many variables to utilize in the creation of a piece of music, just like visual artists have their own “language” of design elements.  With these close similarities in the creative process, it is not surprising that one often influences the other.   Jiri Anderle often textured his prints with mark making techniques carries over from his stints as a drummer in a band.  The Russian composer Mussorgsky was inspired to write “Pictures at an Exhibition” from viewing paintings by Viktor Hartmann.  In turn, the music came back out in the visual art through a stage setting by Kandinsky.

I don’t believe that you have to know much about music to enjoy it or be inspired by it.  Listen closely, pay attention to the instruments, the patterns and repetitions, the variances in notes and chords, the time that notes are held, the spaces of pauses in between notes.  How can you transform what you hear into visual shapes, lines, marks, color and texture?  Try listening to a piece of music that you are not familiar with, and make some marks with pencil and paper while you listen.  I plan on trying this myself over the weekend, check back next week to see my efforts.

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Inspiration and Influences, Part One

I’m certain that I have a series about the people, places and things that influence and inspire my artwork on my old Blogspot blog, but I need to begin again here.  I’ve hinted here earlier at one thing that inspired me to start making boxes, but there is more to my boxes than a Steinbeck quote.

While traveling two-lane by-ways and backroads, I have cultivated a fascination with run-down, abandoned buildings.  There are so many untold stories hidden in the crumbling walls, fallen fences, twisted signs and rusted metal.

Ice cream shop, Belle Valley, OH


Drive-in movie ruins, near Barnesville, OH


Over the years, I have collected many photographs from my travels of all sorts of weathered and forgotten structures, from the farm lanes of Southeast Ohio to the windswept deserts along Route 66.

Root cellar, Quaker City, OH


Broken windows, crumbling brick, gaps in wood planks, precarious listing to one side, patched holes, bent framing… the wear and tear of old buildings is visual poetry to me.  It wasn’t until I had completed several of my small fabric boxes that I realized I was subconsciously capturing architectural decay in them.

The boxes began where other projects ended.  The first boxes that I made used scraps from other fabric collages, and my decision to embellish each side independent of the others further conveys the spirit of dilapidated structures.  The process of pulling the box sides up and hand stitching them creates subtle warping, twisting and bending, completing my interpretation of things that are run down.  I love making them, and I like to think of them as little shrines to the past.


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Stitching Summer Days

Each season out here has its own particular charms that intrigue me.  Right now, it is being able to see the gentle rolling of the land without piles of wild brush and lushly leafed trees hiding the topographical details.  The branches of the same trees are wrapped with feathery blue-gray lichens, unnoticed in the spring and summer months.  When the cold winds whip through the valleys, I stay in and stitch the summer flowers to keep warm thoughts of the growing season in my mind.

There are certain points along the property where I live that I visit frequently to note changes as the season roll through the year.  At the end of my long driveway is one of those points.  Across the road is a neglected cow pasture that fills out in summer with a riot of wildflowers: soft purple chicory, Queen Anne’s Lace, blaze orange butterfly weed, mullein reaching to the sky, jewelweed, and sometimes a bright red Canadian Lily.


Later in the season, iron weed, Joe Pye weed, goldenrods and asters take over with a different palette of colors and textures.  I have already made several felted and stitched portraits of the fence row, and more are in the works.

I don’t know if I will ever tire of stitching these roadside meadows.  So many people speed past them, in a hurry to get somewhere, and they never notice the flower show to the side.  It doesn’t show up on their GPS.

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Listening To the Leaves

When was the last time that you were in a place so quiet and serene that you could hear a leaf fall?  I have that opportunity this time of year, if there is no wind, and the cattle are quiet, to listen for the barely perceptible swish of a spent leaf coming to rest among its companions now carpeting the ground.

Being creative is not only about observing things around us that often go unnoticed – this demands a high degree of awareness of the many things in our day to day lives.  Creativity is also being able to zone in on one of those little details, and for a moment, focusing on that one thing, shutting out all the other chatter and clutter.  Then, we must find our own way to capture that moment, that detail, in a way to share with others.  Listen for that one little leaf, and tell someone about it.

Check back next week, I’ll share some more of my little creative moments from the weekend – more ICAD adventures and moments of stitching.

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Autumn Postcard from My Corner of the World

I meant to get a post out on Tuesday.  I also had intentions of working on a promotional letter for a trunk show, or one of several ideas for classes.  In a corner rests a pile of things I wanted to take pictures to put on my forthcoming online store.  None of that happened.

I took what was to be a short walk to clear my head, and I stopped halfway up the hill to admire some fallen sassafras leaves.

While wandering in the woods, I gathered a bucket of sticks for kindling in the wood burner, and found a few twigs with lichen encrusting them, and I studied the ruffles wrapping around the sticks a bit too long.  At the top of the hill, I watched a couple of deer munching on acorns for a while, and then turned back to the west and watched the sunset in horizontal ribbons of blue-gray, peach and orange, striated vertically by the dark outlines of the trees.

After dark, I lit a candle in a pumpkin that volunteered in my garden this year and I carved a couple days ago, watching the flickering light while sipping on some hot cider.

I don’t feel that I wasted any time.