Monday, February 22, 2016


A collaged piece, painted papers, painted cheesecloth and acrylics.
It started out as a mere study in neutrals and values and took on a life of its own.  I don't know what influenced me more while I was in the zone, the Lenten season, my recreational reading of the Native Indians of Alaska and the influence of the Russian Orthodox Church on their culture or what.  

I am intrigued by it.

This is a Study piece I was working on using shapes. I painted the background fabric with dye (Procion MX) ink, I made. After setting the dye and letting it dry, I stamped it with my own foam stamps with acrylic ink and then heat set that. All good so far.
I added some marks with a pastel then set about cutting out fabrics in my personal mark shapes in different sizes. My aim was to include not only three different sizes in each shape but to differ the values. All still good.

As I arranged the shapes I got carried away with the thought that they looked like kites. So I added kite tails and then some stitching where I felt there wasn't enough contrast. I was totally involved in the process.

And, this is where I should have taken a tea break.  I got it into my head that I should make some cloud stamps. I created some cool foam cloud stamps, then sealed them with gesso and once again, probably should have gone back to the house.

This is where it begins to go pear shaped. 
I tested the stamps after the gesso was dry and I was so-so happy with the printing results. Sometimes I don't even listen to myself
and so, even though I wasn't particularly happy with the stamping results I plunged ahead and stamped my paint mixture on the stamps and then on my study piece.

That is why it is a study piece.  I'm not happy with the results.
I tried to do a quick save but was unsuccessful.  

It will sit quietly in the Studio while I think about how I can save the piece. I still like the kites. Just not happy with the cloud at all.
Somehow I think this should be a Joan Mitchel song,


Sunday, January 24, 2016

OH, IF I HAD WORDS............

Do me a BIG FAVOR and click the link above, then turn up the volume and sit back and enjoy farmer Hogget sing to Babe, If I Had Words. Wait, don't turn it off until the end and turn up your sound.

Trust me I wouldn't ask you if it wasn't important.

Did you see him jump in the air and throw his arms up high?  Did you see him toe tapping and jumping around?  Ok, imagine that you have been sitting in my studio all afternoon.  I mean ALL AFTERNOON, watching me struggle to remember how to sew pockets into a seam.

First of all, I know how to sew.  I made all my maternity clothes, I sewed clothing for my children
but the last time I actually made an outfit for anybody was when my now 33-year-old daughter was five and went to her first day of kindergarten.

But, although I made french seams, pj's and smocked dresses I never put a pocket in a seam.
One would think that if you make quilts that you can sew. I create art quilts. It's been 28 years since I worked at the CRAFT of clothing construction.  It is not like getting back up on the bike after a big spill, or the horse for that matter. It requires a switch to go on in the brain. 

I was and still am determined to make a dress for Riley. I found a pattern in my pattern file for a simple A-line sundress. It had multiple sizes so I thought I was good to go. When you flip that switch in your brain to do a skill that you learned years and years ago, you also switch on voices of the people that taught you, corrected you, advised you in your craft.
I could hear my home ec teacher telling me to measure, measure, measure. "Get the measurements first and check them against the pattern measurements." 

Of course I didn't listen, I laid the pattern out on the beautiful batik fabric I had, pinned and cut away. I was in the zone. I held up the front piece and thought, geez that looks big.  I held it lower as if Riley were standing next to me and boy did it look big. My frustration vocabulary is pretty limited so I used one of my choice words a number of times.

Thankfully, we did not get the blizzard that hit the East coast on Friday. Our temps were in the 20s so I marched back to the house with my notebook and tape measure and got Riley's measurements and marched back to the studio.

Well, almost an inch had to be cut off of the sides and an adjustment and trim was needed for the underarms. I cut and trimmed.  I reread the pattern directions for inserting a hidden pocket in the seams.
I examined the pictures, it made no sense. I marched back to the house and got my laptop and marched back to the studio.

After two cups of tea later and no Internet service out in the studio, I again marched back to the house to watch some Youtube shows on sewing pockets.
And, do you think I could retain the information long enough to get from my desk back out to the studio?
It is really sad how short my short term memory is.

I know, you are probably chanting it along with me, she marched back to the house to print out directions. And, by the way, I am marching because the path is ice and snow and if I'm not careful I'm going to land on my butt one of these trips.

So, somewhere maybe from all the trips back and forth my head cleared, or my brain checked in and I thought, "Here's a thought, let's make a sample dress from muslin and work out any kinks on that."
Oh, Mrs. Broadmere would be so proud of me. That is if she hasn't already turned over and over in her grave with frustration at my past two hours."

Like "playing" in art, when you don't have an investment, in the end result from you allow yourself to make mistakes without having to throw a hissy fit.

The mock up dress with pockets sewn into the side seams went beautifully. Except for the part where I stared at blotches of red on the unbleached muslin and wondered when I had gotten red magic marker on it.  Then it occurred to me that I had stuck my finger with a pin without paying attention and it had bled off and on over the mock up. 

Are you ready to jump up and do the Farmer Hogget dance with me?  While the thrill of perfect pockets in the seam was still with me, I put them in the beautiful batik sundress. I finished, looked around the studio and let out a YELP!  I did my own version of Hogget's dance around the tables, whooohoooing.

His song was If I had Words..... well, I have words, lots of them and dagnabit I'm proud that I stuck with it and learned how to do it. Let's just say that the enthusiasm and excitement was nowhere near mine when I showed them to Riley and John. 

That's ok, I know and I danced and I whooped. 

:)Bea, who really did dance like farmer Hogget in the Studio, this 24th day of January.

Monday, January 11, 2016


It was ZERO degrees when Riley and I went out for a Sunday morning photo shoot.  This is her third one with me.  We take it slowly, traveling the back roads and talk about the composition of a photo and whether or not we will see any deer.  When I stop and tell her what I see and want to take a picture of it we talk about why it is of interest to me.  Sometimes she shares that same interest and sometimes she surprises me and see something else in the scene that she wants to shoot.

At the end of the shoot when we stop for breakfast we like to scroll back and look at what we have taken and see what "theme" really caught our attention that day.  
We talk about composition and I tell her how I want her to take her time and frame the picture so she doesn't have to even do any cropping or editing on it later.

We stopped in Mt. Horeb at this wonderful little old dairy fountain restaurant.  We sat at the low counter on metal stools that swiveled.  The manager, Jerry, a grandpa remember Riley from when she was in before Christmas with John and they bought my Christmas present, a beautiful hand carved walking stick made by a local artist.

He helped her pick out fresh doughnut holes from the bakery counter and when she asked him if the chest against the wall with small doors that opened up toward the ceiling was really an old time ice cream chest, he surprised her by giving her a little dish of vanilla ice cream with chocolate sauce.  If you are six, having ice cream with your pancakes apparently is a dream come true.

Since our palette was limited with neutrals we talked about value.  Finding something in the scene that we wanted to take that would have an interesting contrast.
Sometimes that was pretty easy so then we talked about movement and directions of things and their placement in the shot.\

Sometimes she is the one that shouts out to me to find a place to pull over. 

I love our photo shoots.



Friday, January 08, 2016

Once upon a time there was an atist named Bea........

I take a LOT of photos of buildings. Most of those photos you would have a hard time even recognizing what kind of building it was. I tend to take shots of parts of buildings. I do it without even thinking about it.  I see an arrangement of windows or architecture and that's the only thing that is calling out to me to be recorded.

So what do you do with folders full of bits and pieces of buildings? 

I go back to them now and then and see if I still like the shot that I have taken. Then I play with them.  I crop, I explore all those editing tools in my program. I know that anything I have done can be undone.  I know that even if I want to keep something I can save the original.

Last night I was thinking that some of them would make interesting abstract paintings if I used them as inspiration.  I also thought that some of the details would make interesting stamps or stencils.  


It is what it is all about.  If you are working on an art piece or a craft piece and there is no joy in what you are doing then why are you doing it?  If it makes you feel noble to finish a project after your heart has left it then there is a reason. Not a good one in my book.  I will guarantee that when you finish that project the energy around it will not be good. It won't be something that draws people to it. You might even find that now that it is finished you prefer to have it out of your studio and your life.  You aren't even drawn to it anymore.

I have said this before in this blog and it always needs repeating, your energy when you are working IS TRANSMITTED INTO YOUR ART.  It IS WHAT DRAWS THE RIGHT PERSON TO YOUR ART.  There will be a connection.  

I remember once picking up a painted canvas in the charity store.  I held it, closed my eyes, I felt nothing.  I stared at the painting and tried to see what the artist wanted me to see, still nothing. I did buy the canvas but not because of the art work but because the price was really good for a canvas that size.  Before I spray painted white over it I said a blessing that it would know that I knew what was the foundation of my piece and I knew it had value and that because of its workmanship it was an excellent first layer to build on.

Probably not what the original artist had intended but it works for me.

So, if you are staring at that pile of UFOs whether they are fiber pieces or paint, move them out of your studio.  Send them on for someone else to love and finish or change. Free yourself from the mentality that you have to finish everything you start.

Think of these projects as sand castles that you played with in the sand but the tide has come in and it is time to start new.


You don't have to finish your plate.  Honest.  Mother is not going to mail your leftovers to India.


Thursday, January 07, 2016

Bring a little balance into your life today.

I am most likely giving free advertising to the store that has posted this sign out on the sidewalk.   I like the sign, a lot. I've never been to the store. The sign is a reminder to me that unless I am in BALANCE not much is going to get done in the creativity department.

When I am out of balance a "story line" develops. I resist dealing with the issue.  When I am actively practicing MINDFULNESS, when I give my full attention to whatever it is that is pulling me off balance things change.  I don't mean partial attention.  I need to stop everything and take a moment to be in that moment with the "storytelling", the pushing, pulling, judgments and bring my attention, my sometimes very scattered attention to the present moment.

That is not always easy, my friends as you well know.  We humans have a tendency to resist doing this.  In fact, it has been said that "the tendency to resist is automatic, reflex, and perhaps compulsive" not to mention relentless.

There are many, many times when we are in a situation and it will take only a simple act to change something. Probably, for many of us that simple act isn't feasible or possible because of our mind set, our judgments, our beliefs and our love of complaining (creating the story) about something. That's when we resist.  

Oh, the resisting.  It sets up this nice boundary between the experience you are having at that moment.  This all takes a LOT OF ENERGY, folks.  The little me whines, "I don't want this", "this isn't fair", or the tragic, "why me?"  So much energy. 

This is life. 

I really couldn't understand when someone would smugly say to me, "Hey, don't take it personally."  Of course, this pain in my knee is personal or what do you mean when my boss is shouting at me about something that I screwed up?"  

And, this is what I didn't understand for a long time and I'm just getting the true glimmers of it now.  What ever is happening in that moment, I can observe.  I can even observe it with interest but I don't have to create a storyline around it. And, by that I mean once I start to react to it, fret about it, worry about it, it isn't going to help the situation, it reinforces the "poor me" and there is the beginning of the story.

The knee will get fixed or not, the boss will always choose yelling as a way of communicating,   If I don't choose acceptance of the moment then I create a false reality.
I spend the next moments of my life wishing it was different, creating thought about the future, the past and elaborations about the present. 

Take a breath in that moment. Keep you attention on your breath.  I bet you think I'm throwing in the towel with this attitude, right?  Nope, try being present in the moment.
Try to reign in those thoughts and stay present.  It isn't easy.  We are so used to starting our own tape in our mind when something jars our reality.  You might be surprised at what your subconscious mind will bring to the surface to help you with your problem. If you can quite all that chatter in your mind and be in the moment and breathe and observe what is happening in that moment instead of REACTING we find a new healthier way to deal with reality.  Reality is what it is.

Things happen.  Lots of stuff happens that we would never want to happen, sickness, losses, death, setback, disappointments, things that we all would rather avoid. But that is part of life and it is our fear of failure, our meeting with something that we do not want in our life that feeds our storytelling impulse and stops us from the reality of the moment.

Bottom line here is that when energy is spent creating the story we aren't doing something creative.  But, you sputter I'm creating a story!  Yes, your ego is creating a story but you aren't dancing with your soul are you?  You haven't lost yourself, escaped from "time" and created.  There is a difference and as artists you know it.  

Decide how you want to spend your energy.  Try being in the moment.  Try practicing awareness as much as possible and take note of what happens to your reality. Let me know, I would love to hear from you.

Breathe, in, out, in out. Now go and create.


Wednesday, January 06, 2016

Some will test you.

My mother is 89.  She will be 90 in June.  She has her health, it isn't great but she is doing.
She certainly has most of her brain cells intact. She had a motorized scooter to get around in her Assisted Living facility.  I say, had because she accidently started it up too quickly, on the elevator, and ran into the back of another resident, causing said resident to be hurt.
The powers that be down there confiscated her scooter and left her with a wheelchair and a bill of $17.00 every time she has to call the nurses station to have someone come and wheel her down to a meal.

PREPARE OH YOU BABY BOOMERS, FOR THE MIGHTY HAND OF GREED WILL BE IN YOUR POCKETS before you know it.  I'm guessing that the drug lords looking at the lay of the land decided that soon drugs will be legal and managed by the state or government, taxed, administered and bottom line, legal.  I would imagine that they have started already to branch out into other more lucrative and legitimate businesses.  What could be better than owning and managing Senior Living complexes? You can nickel and dime an old person to an early death. Hey, with a big bulge of baby boomers approaching assisted living status you are going to make a bundle for your offspring. 

Anywho, as I was saying my mother has for all practical purposes, in her relationship with me, decided to "run away from home".  I put that in quotes because those were the words that my step sister used when she called me to tell me that, while I was on vacation my mother found herself another place to live, cheaper than where she is now and she can live out her days not worried about running out of money.  That is unless she lives as long as the other women in our family have, 94 and 96 and then she is in a spot of trouble.

And, the running away from home refers to me being the adult here.  We had a little tiny spot of trouble back on Thanksgiving Day.  I chalk it up to a misunderstanding that exploded like a six-year-old jumping on a Puffball. A misunderstanding that could not seem to right itself. 

My mother is a very stubborn woman and she raised, amazingly another stubborn woman.
You can probably see where this is headed.
My mother is also used to getting her way using tactics like, GUILT, MANIPULATION and what I refer to as the USE OF SNIDE REMARKS. 
These tactics worked when I was young and remarkably stupid. Over the years, I have honed my tolerance and deflection walls pretty well.  But, even I can be overrun like the siege of Castle Gaillard.

Sensing that our phone calls needed a cooling off period, I told her that while I was on vacation I would write her letters.

While I was on vacation she decided to move and not bother to mention it to me.
And, thus, the running away reference.

Some people crave drama in their lives.  It fills a temporary need or they think that it does.
In my eyes, drama, unless on the stage or theatre drains energy, creates a negative imbalance around people involved and frankly isn't healthy.

During my meditation time this morning I found myself observing the statement, Why is it necessary to be right?  Why is it important to make sure that people know you are right and they are in the wrong? How does one go about letting go of this need to justify our position?
I let these thoughts drift on past and placed another, like a billboard, in my mind. 

"Lama Yeshe, believes four simple words when asked sincerely 
are the fastest path to right action in certain situations, especially
tricky ones.

                   How can I help?"

:)Bea, who will probably be buying a card tomorrow that says, "Found you, you rascally rabbit."

Tuesday, January 05, 2016


I'm trying to establish new patterns on this next stage of my journey.  In my vacation notes, I found a scribbled note about trying new recipes one day a week.  That sounds easy.  I'm determined to work more vegetarian meals into my life. 

I find cooking creative.  If you put a kitchen up in my studio I would probably never come out.  I love the colors of food, the texture, the smells, how things look whole and then chopped.  I love food.  That does not necessarily equate with over eating.  

My repertoire of meals tends to comfort food.  When hungry teenage boys showed up for the evening meal after school, sports and whatever other activity they managed to squeeze into a day, they came to eat.  One was a meat and potatoes kind of guy and the other a fan of chicken or pork.  

When I would bake bread, four loaves would cool on a rack and by the end of the afternoon, I was lucky if one was still left. My rising bowl now sits on top of the refrigerator, a huge bowl that holds bags of chips and pretzels with colorful clamp holders attached to them.

I now cook meals for a six-year-old.  I don't want to go back to making everything from scratch but I do want her to eat in a healthy way.  I've got her started baking things and experimenting with her pancake batter.  I would like her to feel comfortable in the kitchen.
I want her to feel that it is an experimental place where you come to create things that tantalize your senses.

Tuesday..........that's today and I've been working on a lovely Black Bean-Squash Soup.

Isn't that pretty?  Those are the foods I purchased for this week of meals.This is what I will need to complete this Black Bean-Squash Soup recipe.

Christina Pirello says that this kind of soup is great when you need a bit of stamina in your life. Listen up!  "Bean soups are great endurance builders and combined with roasted sweet onions and butternut squash they create tremendous strength in your middle organs and the digestive system".

Ok, let's get started.  

Ingredients:  1 sweet onion, cut into thin half-moon slices
                     1 medium butternut squash, peeled, seeded, cut into 1-inch pieces
                      2 teaspoons soy sauce
                      About 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1.  Preheat your oven to 375 degrees
2. Toss sliced onion and squash pieces with soy sauce and oil and spread out on large baking pan.
3,  Bake, uncovered, about 45 minutes until vegetables are soft and lightly browned.

So far so good.  It smells wonderful cooking. Frankly, I think she gets carried away with the half-moon slices of onion.  You need to cut the thing up so it can soak up the soy and oil and bake.  It is not like you are going to ever, EVER see those half-moon slices again.

4. Transfer vegetables to a soup pot.

      Add: 3 cups plain rice or soy milk
              1/4 cup mirin

And, here folks is the first hurdle for a woman raised and taught to cook by Pennsylvania Dutch women. What the heck is mirin?

Goddess bless the Internet. Google it, double check the pantry, just in case some mysterious cook actually bought some and tucked it away on the shelf. Nope.
So, I grab my errand list, check out the rest of the ingredients, black turtle beans, right, brown rice miso, right, flat-leaf parsley and balsamic vinegar.  The last two are in my kitchen but rice miso has just gone on the WTHeck Is That list.

I stop by Cosco and buy a bag of big beautiful sweet white onions.  I don't think you can ever have too many onions on hand.  Their shiitake mushrooms look nice and so do the button  so I could actually make the Mushroom soup recipe on the opposite page if I got them.  Scallions look nice and oh look, they have big containers of already cut up butternut squash.  I do not need to reinvent the wheel here.  Time's a wasting.

I get out of Cosco and since I am in the same neighborhood I stop in the Coop Store.
It's packed with middle age women pushing little carts piled with clear bags of things, soy milk and what not.  Apparently, I'm in the right place.

Mirin, mirin, that would be in Asian foods....................who knew there were so many different things you could use from the Asian foods section.  I throw my hands in the air and stomp around until I can find someone who works here.  I can not ask one of these women and risk their scorn.  They are power walking up and down the aisles, snatching things off the shelves as if they know what they are doing.  

A nice young man takes pity on me and shows me the bottle of mirin that if it had been a dog would have chomped my hand right off. Then I ask what Turtle Black Beans are.  Such a nice smile, not condensing at all, the giggle I could have done without, though.

He explains how I get a plastic bag, hold it under this thing, pull up that thing and watch mesmerized as tiny little black beans slide down and into the bag.  He asks me how much I needed and I say 4 cups and he suggests that we put back some.  Some which turns out to be 3/4 of the bag.  Apparently, I was in a glazed state as they poured out.

He points me to the soy milk, I can not believe how many kinds and flavors there are.
I put the rest of the ingredients into my cart now starting to feel overwhelmed. Everything about this place is different or seems different from my little Verona market.

Home again I read the rest of the recipe and see that these beans are going to have to be softened.  I don't have a pressure cooker. I hadn't planned on waiting to eat this soup another night and soak these little turtle beans overnight. So, I opt for the boil the heck out of them for an hour and hope they soften.  NOT A WISE CHOICE, I'm just saying.

While the little beans are boiling I transfer the baked vegetables to my soup pot and add:
                                      3 cups plain soy milk
                                       1/4 cup of mirin

They are just going to get to know one another under a lid and brought to a boil over medium heat.  Once that happens turn it down to low and simmer for 15 minutes to develop flavors.  OH BOY, that smells sooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo good!

After the 15 minutes put the soup, in batches, through a food mill to create a smooth bisque texture. hmmmmmmmmm  food mill, food mill..............I think somewhere downstairs in inventory I have a food mill for making applesauce. But, by now, I'm hungry, tired and everything smells good and I haven't had lunch and whine, whine, whine I don't want to go to the basement and crawl around looking for a food mill.  So I pull out my food processor.
It's heavy, it is ordinary but it works. I get a great bowl of  pureed vegetables.

Did I ever tell you the story of when, as a young bride, I got it into my head to make watercress soup?  All I had to puree then was a blender, a wedding present that hadn't been used yet.  I boiled up the watercress and milk and then ladled it into the blender.
I'm sure what happens next must fall under the classification of stupid or physics, one which I was and the other I never took. I put on the lid and pushed the buttons. The lid exploded off, watercress soup shot up in the air, hitting the ceiling and then do to gravity, my exposed shoulder, doesn't everybody cook in a sundress? Third-degree burns on my shoulder and John had to rush me to the emergency room.  The young doctor was cute.  He thought the whole thing was funny.  He wasn't so cute after that.

So, things are putting along nicely in the kitchen.  The butternut squash puree is made, the beans have completed their cooking time. Things are about to come together.

I should just stop here.  It has been a good ride.  You really don't need to know how this all comes out.   Right?

Now, Christina would have tasted a bean.  Or maybe she knows they are soft by pressing her finger into one. But, did she even mention that in the recipe?  I was supposed to know that and remember that and folks, I didn't.  Those of you that have cooked beans know where this is going, right?  I put the four cups of cooked beans in the food processor tried to puree until smooth. I could still be there now, pulsing and pulsing that @#%^& food processor but it wasn't going to help those beans get softer.
And, you would think that someone who KNOWS HOW TO COOK would have just paused and taken a breath and then decided to NOT PUT THE semi pureed beans into that lovely onion, butternut squash mixture.  The puree that could have been served as is without the beans. Yeah, that someone would have done that but I didn't.

It went pear shaped from there.

I remembered my lesson with putting rice down the garbage disposal. Don't do it!!  Even in little bits with lots of water, don't do it.  I thought from the looks of that bean mess that it might do the same thing to the disposal that the rice did and then John was going to be most unhappy.  With me.      So, I put on my boots, trudged out to the woods and dumped my soup pot full of disgusting looking something, in the woods.  

Calling out to all the woodland critters, "SOMETHING YUMMY FOR YOU!"

Then I went back upstairs and chopped up another onion and mixed it with the chopped up butternut squash, soy sauce and oil, because I always buy enough to make something twice  And, this time, I will let the beans soak all afternoon and overnight and then I will only add them to half of the soup mixture because when it comes down to it, I'm not really sure I even want those little Turtle beans in my soup.

Oh, I suppose you want the rest of the recipe?

After you have put your soup in batches through a food mill and created a smooth bisque texture then return the soup to the pot and stir in 3 cups spring or filtered water.

When your beans are smooth and pureed then SWIRL them into the veggie soup mixture. Simmer soup covered for 5 minutes.  Remove a small amount of liquid and use to dissolve
3 teaspoons brown rice miso.  Stir miso mixture back into the soup and simmer UNCOVERED for 3-4 minutes to activate enzymes in miso.  I don't even want to go there.

And, just before serving, sit in 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar.  Garnish with parsley.

:) Bea, who will have Black Bean (or not) Squash Soup for dinner sometime this week.