Friday, September 30, 2016

Quilt Judging: One Aspect Explained

While I don't usually post on a Friday evening, tonight I decided to do so.  First because I have missed so many entries lately, and second because yesterday I learned something that I want to share with other quilters and their audience.

Yesterday I was fortunate enough to be able to assist at the judging of the quilts for a local quilt show.  I have done this before and have found that I learn so much from partaking in this activity that it is well worth any inconvenience.  In order to make what I learned comprehensible (and therefore useful, I hope, for others), at the risk of boring my followers, I must explain the background of my "Another Chapter for the Girl with the Pearl Earring" again.

Last year I created a quilt in response to a challenge I posed to a different guild.  The challenge was to make a quilt that represented the Renaissance.  I chose to portray perspective by depicting a window with an open shutter.  In the open window, I placed Vermeer's painting "Girl with a Pearl Earring".  

Bear with me while I explain the story behind my quilt.  In my version, this portrait was created after the final chapter of the popular novel and movie.  In my quilt, the girl has returned home but receives a letter and a pearl necklace.  What will she do?

Okay, in my description written for the Vermont Quilt Festival, I explained that.  My quilt did not do well at all, and the judge's comments were that my embellishments and shutter detracted from the girl's face which should be the focal point of the quilt.  It was clear to me that the judge didn't "get it", didn't understand the story behind the quilt.

Fast forward to the lesson learned while helping the judging of quilts yesterday.  My job was to read the information given by each quilter to the judge.  Two years ago when I had the same job I read everything the quilter had written which included their personal explanation of the quilt.  This time, the judge with whom I worked told me very specifically to read only the technical description.  She explained she did not want to hear any of the more subjective back story which might influence her unduly.

Ta-dah!  Light bulb time.  Now I realize that is probably precisely what the VQF judge did when looking at my quilt if she had a rating sheet like the one developed by our guild.  And if that is the case, that is what she had to do.  

This experience has gone a long way to relieve my sense of sorrow and resentment over having my quilt's story so misunderstood.  That story was probably never told, and the judge had to use her knowledge of Vermeer's painting in evaluating the quilt.

Now that leaves me with the question:  What should be done for quilters like me for whom the back story of our quilts is so important?  Yesterday were there quilts that were misunderstood because the background was shrouded?  In a picture book, the illustrations help move and illuminate the story.  The emotional and/or informational background of those illustrations are taken into consideration in awarding the coveted Caldecott Award.  Should art quilts be considered like illustrations, and if so how would that be done?  What would the rating sheet look like?

I don't think it can be done nor am I sure it should be done.  Quilts are not usually thought of as having the same qualities as illustrations and rarely as art works with a message.  It would be very difficult to develop an objective way to evaluate them.

However, part of me wishes that there were such an instrument for my story quilts!

What do you think?

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Make-up Photos

All right, hold on to your hats because today, now that the quilts are in for the show and I've done my quilt show job, I've been able to focus on how to upload my photographs.  Taking the time before I was halfway into writing the blog made all the difference.  So today you have nine photographs to scroll through.

To make it easier, I will keep the editorializing to a minimum.  My helpful friends and family have told me that this is an iguana.  But oh, what an iguana!

We admired several raked gardens such as this one where I fell in love with the shadows.

Naturally, I had to include flowers, but what I like in this photo is the leaf with the withered petals.

Then the traditional Hoi Toi, a laughing Buddha, reclining beneath a tree.

A serene view of a tree leaning over water as though admiring its reflection.

Maybe a little odd, but here's another favorite.  Layers of red leaf, turtles, school of fish, and then - an alligator biding his time.

 Then waterfalls.  I took many photos at this site in the garden.  Made up of several smallish falls, the whole was very lovely.

Another waterfall.  This one has a longer drop for the water and some great shrubs.

Followed by  serene landscape with a focal-point tree, clear reflection, and interesting foreground.  Can everyone say "Painting!"???

Whew!  Finally I was able to share part of our trip with you.  There will be more in the days to come.

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Hooray, Snafu Un-Snaffed!

And what that title means is that I found out how to sync phone to computer so I can upload and share photos far more easily than ever before.

So here are some pictures from our time in Florida.  On our first full day the two young women in our family chose to take us to the Morikami Garden, a very beautiful garden in the Japanese style.  They chose that because we all are interested in gardens in one way or another, it would give us an excellent opportunity to be outside as well as together, and it would be good for all five children (ranging in age from 9 months to 8 years).  There are two photos of this particular spot near the beginning of the trail.

I took two photos because I was curious about which would make the better one.  But it turned out that they weren't that different even though the angles were slightly different.  So I cropped the second to highlight the flowering bush.

Then there is this one with a clearly Asian inspired garden piece and rock - but still essentially the same view.

This is just a tantalizing beginning to our tour of this garden.  It's short because I'm still struggling with the uploads which I thought I had made easier (hah!) and because it's time to hustle off to a quilt guild meeting (quilts for this weekend's show have to be turned in tonight).

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Florida Reunion Photo Snafu

I'd planned to show some of the photographs from our trip to Florida, but I spent most of the day making sure three of my quilts are ready for an upcoming quilt show.  That meant that I had to prepare labels and then cover them (I know it sounds very odd, but it's to ensure anonymity if a quilt is to be judged).  And of course, there were chores to be done and errands to be run.

But the real reason is that I forgot to take my real camera (as opposed to my phone camera) with me so had to take all photos with my camera.  Now my phone has a great camera so I wasn't too concerned.  However, as good as it is, it appears I am not as good as I should be at uploading gazillion photographs.

I have spent the last hour trying to find a quick way to upload at least one day's worth of pictures and had no luck.  So it appears that today's entry is more an explanation and description of my own ineptitude followed by the hope that by next weekend there will be pictures to share.

Monday, September 19, 2016

Excuses or "Going Dark"

I have to apologize for not writing as often as I should.  We are still in a state of moderate chaos (the "moderate" is new and better), we have an exciting family reunion pending, and I have three quilts to  ready for submission at the end of this month for a quilt show.

Here is the "Improvisation" about midway through the creative process - in other words, while I was trying to figure out if it were finished.

And here it is with the front finished.  I have yet to stitch the hanging sleeve and the label on the back.

For those reasons, I am "going dark" (which makes all of this sound far more intriguing than it really is) probably until after the submission of the three quilts (if adequately finished).

Thursday, September 15, 2016

This Will Pass, I Think

Another day with workmen in the house.  Today the floor in the family room was fixed.  Of course, fixing the floor required us to move a lot of furniture, take desk drawers out (so it could be moved), and chairs relocated.  Don't even ask about the rug pad (for the rug which is still out of stock!), the bins full of framed art not yet unpacked (haven't decided what to put up and what to store), and the floor scale (used for weighing animals in my father-in-law's vet practice) which is smack in the middle of the floor.  The mess is waiting for the workman to come back tomorrow to make sure the floor is well and truly fixed before he replaces the molding.

At which time the mess can be return to something approaching order.  Again.

A second workman arrived who, in a very different way, added to the chaos.  The upholsterer brought back the Morris chair, my Salem rocker, and the window seat cushions.  The reupholstered Morris chair now has new cushions that are much more comfortable than the original (horsehair and cotton), and the seat cushion is thicker which makes it fit us better.  As for my rocker which never had cushions, oh my, what a dream!  If I were a person who falls asleep in my chair at night (I'm not), I could fall asleep in this chair now.  The window cushions are new for us, but they are something I always wanted for the window seats.  Now people can actually sit on them comfortably.  At least for a while (they're not very thick).

So today was two steps forward, but three steps back.  I haven't mentioned having to water the hydro seeded areas two times a day.  One only has to water for about 10 minutes, but the moving of the sprinklers to ensure coverage of the seeded area turns it into almost an hour each time.  

This too will pass, and we will look at each other and smile with contentment.  Maybe later rather than sooner, but it will happen.

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Food for Thought

The Fenimore Art Museum has some of the most interesting lectures, and today D and I went to hear the one on James Abbot McNeill Whistler (1834 - 1903).  On display in the museum are primarily his early lithographs, etchings, and drypoint in an exhibit called "The Perfection of Harmony".  If you are interested in art, I encourage you to see this exhibit.  Even more than that, I encourage everyone to become a member so you can enjoy the "Food for Thought" luncheons, lectures, and tours of a specific exhibit.

However, D and I had a discussion on our way home that dealt with our dissatisfaction with our own ability to absorb both the spoken words of the lecture and the visual art that was the basis of the lecture.  Here's the usual schedule for these experiences: luncheon, lecture (frequently in the auditorium), gallery talk (details in the art covered in the lecture).  So what was our problem?  We found that in the gallery portion with 20 - 25 other people (plus others who happen to be visiting the gallery also), we couldn't get close enough to the art to appreciate the topic under discussion.  We also felt that because our attention was fractured by that, we weren't able to focus on the guide's discussion.  

We realized that the best way to deal with this problem was either A to stay after the gallery tour and re-visit or B to visit the gallery before the luncheon.  With option A there were more problems than benefits.  By the end of the gallery tour, our brains are pretty well fried, and even if they weren't, we'd have to rely on recall of our guide's discussion - not our strongest point.  If we chose option A we'd have to arrive earlier, and we'd have to study the art without benefit of knowing what the lecture and tour would stress.  

The decision was a no brainer.  Option B makes more sense for us.  By having the opportunity to appreciate the art first when we are fresh, we will get the most out of both lecture and tour no matter what the subject turns out to be.

Too bad it was the last "Food for Thought" on our dance card.  Oh well, we'll have to check out what's coming in October and maybe sign up for another.

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Many Workmen for Many Tasks

What a day! We had four separate workmen doing four different tasks today - starting earlier than I feel is civilized, but, hey, at least I was awake and dressed (just coffee-less!).  The first ones to show up were the men who were going to hydro-seed the lawn, or rather, the place where the lawn was before the Garden Room was built as well as the front where both the dry winter and equally dry spring had had their evil way with what passed as grass.  Now those places are a rather unusual bluish-green, but I look forward to the sprouts that will come.

Next to arrive were the plumbers.  They were here to inspect the point in our well which didn't seem to be working very well.  Turns out it was clogged with the minerals in the water - most notably iron.  The work they did filled the house with that lovely rotten egg smell.  It's a good thing it was a cool, breezy day so I could keep the windows open.

Third on the scene was the man who will irrigate the front and side lawn.  The area had already been measured out by one of his men last week, but he is the one who designs the placement of the sprinkler heads.  Unfortunately, the area I would most like to irrigate is the berm with my white flower garden, but it can't be done.  The well water isn't available on the other side of the driveway, and we aren't going to drill under that!

D had to leave to work the polls before any of the above was finished, but at least he was around when they arrived so he could make sure things were headed in the right direction.  What he was not here for was to put in the new microwave.  That didn't occur until after 5 this evening.  It wasn't a difficult job and nothing got in the way of its smooth installation.  Hallelujah for that!  It's one of those "you-never-know-how-much-you-use-it-until-it's-gone" appliances, and we certainly have been aware of that for the last couple of weeks.

The only thing that did not occur was the arrival of the construction guy who is going to fix the wooden floor in the family room.  With the very hot and humid weather we had last week, two of the strips of wood have lifted a bit meaning that not enough expansion ease was incorporated when it was laid down.  What needs to be done is find out if it's in the width or in the length.  We just want to get it finished.

Busy day all around, so I missed painting, but I was able to do a bit of sewing and plan to do more this week whenever I can.  

Sunday, September 11, 2016

Family Weekend

We spent this past weekend visiting our daughter and grandson.  Wonderful time, really wonderful.  Our activities were nothing extraordinary, but just being with them made the weekend special.

We left here at 6:00 a.m. (I know, that wasn't easy!) in order to arrive early enough to go with them to Grandson's ballgame.  Since none of us knew where the field was, we left in plenty of time and wound up being really early.  It gave us time to pick up coffee (sorely needed) and wander around while G (for Grandson) palled around with another very early friend.  

Finally the game got underway.  These photos are of G during the at bat during which he hit a sacrifice fly for a RBI.

It was fun watching him - especially in the field.  He played third (his favorite position), shortstop (second favorite), and center field (not even on the "like it" list).  

And, of course, a photo of Daughter (after giving their dog a drink of water - between innings) with D (in his baseball shirt that I made for him several years ago).  A warning for anyone who wears the type of hat D has on.  See the open-weave pattern (upper right-hand corner of the photo)?  We were in the blistering heat for some time (hence the protective hat).  Later, in the evening, I noticed D had a waffle-weave sunburn on his forehead.  Neither of had considered the problems with the open-weave.  Be careful with choice of hat if anyone you know has a sun sensitivity issue.

We ended the day with Chinese food and multiple games of Uno (G the winner!).  Today we got up and had a quick of Uno (don't even ask!) and then hit the road.

Great family weekend.

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Creative Day

For the last week I have been documenting our vacation so other activities have naturally fallen by the wayside.  Since today is my usual painting class day, it's time to turn my attention to that part of my life.  First, the painting I began while on vacation (appropriate way to segue into the new subject, I think), the Chinese one:

Since the last time I posted this painting, I both intensified the sky color at the top of the painting and stretched it all the way over the roof.  Now there is a greater difference between the sky below and above.  The definition of the roof is sharper, also. Then I began working on the chickens.  The positions I had chosen for some of them were iffy at best (have I mentioned I don't have a lot of barnyard knowledge?) so I took time off to do some research.  That I did and then drew more chickens in a sketchbook.  Now I think I understand how they move so maybe, just maybe it's time to finish the fowl.  

Anyway, in class I have kept on working in watercolor.  It's easier to transport and is less toxic for everyone around.  Last week at the very end of class, I began working on this farm - or rather the barn that went with a farm.  If you look back through this year's vacation pictures, you'll see it in several different views.  This photo came from an earlier year, and I thought it would make a good study for a future painting of the same subject.

As I said, it's very early in development, and it will, I hope, change a lot before it's finished.

After painting class I returned home to eat a quick lunch and then set off for Crazy Quilt Class.  There I learned an unexpected lesson.  Again.  When one has been "away" from an activity, the return is not necessarily easy.  I must have spent at least half an hour if not longer dithering about which block I was going to work on, what I would do on whichever block won, what stitch or stitches I would use, and what thread color would be best.  Or should I use ribbon instead of thread?  Maybe I should look through the stitch dictionary I had with me.  A bathroom stop might be a good idea and then a chat with the teacher who - thanks be to all that's good - was going through the same steps I was!  It takes time to switch from painting to stitching especially if one hadn't switched mental gears at all.

All ended well, sort of.  I did get started and even though I didn't have everything I needed, I did complete one element (sadly in a pedestrian manner) and was ready to face my personal fear and stitch the owl's face in my winter block.  I had just the right white thread with me, and the best way to approach the task had risen up unbidden from my subconscious mind.  It was time.  

Except - I couldn't find the thread!  

I was convinced I had it with me, but it simply refused to appear.  Tomorrow, as soon as I have time, I will search for it again.  Could I have left it at home and that location was the picture I had in my mind?  Possibly.  The sad thing it, I can't remember the maker of the thread or its composition.  I only know I've used the only other spool of the same thread (though in orange) and loved it, but I think that spool ran out so I can't refer to it to replace it.

Oh well, it isn't the only white thread I have.

Monday, September 5, 2016

Final Photos from Vacation

Having established a pattern in my photographs from vacation, I am about to ignore them completely.  Here are some lovely horses and a colt/filly (?) with short tails which may mean they are Percherons.  Or not.  More information needed.

Here's a better on of the mom and her young one.

 A long shot of the mountains north/northwest of the lake- unless I was turned around.  Quite possible as I'm not one of those who has an internal compass. Anyway, I liked the look of the grasses up close, the trees in the mid-range, and then those mountains towering above it all from a distance.

Here's Ole Blue Eyes again. A friend confirmed that I was correct in my supposition it's an Appaloosa, but I didn't know that it might be blind. That's still uncertain as we saw nothing that would indicate blindness - or sightedness either for that matter.

And the pigs.  Oh my, these are wonderful pigs, but since they were below the level of the road, it wasn't easy to get a good picture of them, so I'll show several.

And I'll end with a photo of the hay that had been baled the previous day after we had walked by.

Thursday, September 1, 2016

Clockwise Day

After yesterday's blog you should have some expectations for today's entry.  See if you can identify the ways this entry adheres or doesn't to yesterday's entry.  

The first photo was an out building belonging to the first operating farm in this direction.  For me, this is merely a reference photo.  I see this building with its fences and rough landscape in the background of a painting.  It isn't the focal point.  Or at least not now.

Here is a rock outcropping that we discovered this year.  Of course, it's alway been there but somehow we just didn't look in this direction.  It doesn't look like much from this distance, but it's really huge. I wonder if there is a trail to it . . .

This next landscape is one of my favorites.  I am itching to paint something long and thin, and this strikes me as a perfect candidate.  Of course, one of the reasons I like it so much it that D is the person you see walking down the road.

Now look at the same photo after cropping and boosted for a bit more pow it to fit my mental image of it as a painting.  It's possibly a bit too bright - some areas need a little less, some more, but . . . What do you think?

 Back at the lake we were in time to see a sailboat out in the middle of the lake clearly having some trouble.  Fortunately, they were not afraid to ask for help, and as you can see, there's a boat headed their way to help get them to safe harbor.

Not too far away was a kayak with two young boys having a great time paddling and exercizing their water cannon.  They were shooting at imaginary pirates, I think.  At least they didn't need rescuing!

Another lovely day.