Friday, September 25, 2009

Join the Fun!

I started the HOT FLASH book in 2004 and was interrupted by my big mid-life change: moving to the West Coast and living as a single woman again.

Finally I am ready to complete this very important task and am looking for additional contributors of of images and thoughts. The following questionnaire may help to direct your thinking. Feel Free to share this with others. I am interested in hearing from all kinds of people, about all kinds of experiences. I am hoping that this book will be beautiful and inspiring...the kind of book I would like to find and buy.

Above, BRING IT ON: Anne Marie Koval

HOT FLASH: Pamela Hastings


Sunday, September 20, 2009


I promised occasional recipes and free patterns, so since I just did the tamale recipe, here's a pattern, which will be published with All the directions and step-by-step drawings in Soft Dolls and Animals at some point in the future.

Print the pattern up to fill an 8.5" x 10" sheet. There are two sizes, and she can be done up in All Kinds of different color and embellishment combinations. Except for the head, which is a two-piece pattern with a back gusset, she's all the simplest kind of two-piece pattern...the effect is all in the way you put her together. You can add needle-modelled features and yarn hair, or leave the head plain. It's AMAZING how much variation you can get out of one simple pattern....just try it with your doll group and see!


A Good Day

A Gorgeous fall Sunday on the Peninsula. Recent rain, but none today--sunny and bright and 70's, a day in which I managed to combine Art and Food and Exercise and Friends...being outside along with making something, several things that never existed before.

I got inspired by a class with LK Ludwig at Art Fest in 2002 to start taking pictures of myself. Some of them are quite frightening. Being an indifferent wielder of technology, I haven't taken the time to figure out how to do a delayed shot with my camera, so have been taking pictures at arm's length for years. These are merciless in showing up every wrinkle and blemish, but I recently discovered that if I take pictures in my bathroom mirror, they come out halfway decent....Do I look 62? Decrepit or Juicy? (appropos of a conversation today with DC about what makes a person be able to be "Juicy"

Thinking of ones self as an artist doesn't come easily for some...the more you do it, the more you become it, I believe. However, I've always known I was an artist. I can remember as a child, trying to figure out how to paint light on water...still don't have it down the way some do, but a curious mind is a valuable thing to own. Does inheriting one depend on enlightened parents, good genes, luck? Can we give ourselves curious minds, baby step at a time?

Back last winter...or was it the one before? I wanted to set myself the task of making a collage/painting a day. I only finished a small handful, which you can see in my book, A MOMENT OF PURE JOY ON AN ORDINARY DAY. Today...I don't know why today instead of many earlier days...I started up the habit again, finishing two! These are about 10" x 12", but I envision bigger ones...on a pile of 10 sheets of watercolor paper I've been saving. Giving myself assignments in order to do the work that I want to do anyway??? Well, why not. Somehow it becomes difficult to force myself to do the very things I want to do...why is that? Am I afraid of failure? I KNOW that the more I do, the more ideas I generate, the more skill I develop...HELP ME TO OVERCOME THE INERTIA TO SIMPLY GET GOING!

So today's Monday, and I'm taking advantage of an afternoon off to catch up with the things I didn't finish on the weekend.

I was SO Excited to finish two drawing/painting/collages yesterday, and today I'm able to post them for you to see. I'm reading: AN ILLUSTRATED LIFE by Danny Gregory, which shows sketchbooks from artists, illustrators, and designers, and after I got over feeling intimidated by all the great work people are doing every day, I re-Remembered how Important drawing and looking are to every kind of artist and writer.

Of course, a book to read and a book to draw and write in travel with me everywhere I go. I showed you a page from the med-sized book I took with me to Portland, and
when I know I'll have some time and opportunity for collage, I take that 8" x 6" size. My purse book is 3.5 x 4.75" and I may only take that one when I go to Iowa for a few days to see Mom...There won't be too much time alone on that trip...and I'd like to finish out the current book, that I started in 2006.

This is my purse-sized sketchbook, with a page from Portland. I used the bigger sketchbook back in my hotel room, and the small one when I went into the city via pubic transportation at night after classes. I did this at the South Park Seafood wine bar, just east of the Portland Art Museum...I'm so East Coast Centric, I keep thinking the ocean is on the other side, so I had to think about that for a moment.

I keep getting inspiration and giving myself directives about what to work on and how to do it...Sometimes I do go back and follow my suggestions...If I don't write it down I Know I won't have a prayer of doing it.

I have lots of small sketch book work while waiting for the ferry... a way of life out here on the Peninsula. I like drawing with ball point pen, because I can go back over. Now that I'm noodling ideas for a graphic novel, starring ART WOMAN, I'll probably take one or two extra fine point Sharpies with me, too, to play with large and simple patterns. Ever since I can remember, I've had a box/bag of project with me while traveling...and now that my memory is fading, it's good to look back and see where I've been and what I've been thinking about.


Monday, September 14, 2009

Labor Day Weekend

Oh My Goodness! This is out of order, but here we journey back in time to last weekend...Hugh and Connie came up, or over, to the country, and like many of my visitors this summer, started off resting. Time out from the weight of our daily burdens is good for all of us. I'm happy to be able to provide such a relaxing environment for others.

Labor Day weekend was one of the first rainy ones of the summer, so our planned hiking, was fairly easily diverted into cooking, eating, and watching movies.

I had picked blackberries the night before, so of course Connie, the Queen of Pies, made a wonderful (large) blackberry pie, while Hugh and I made second try, and I promise I'll publish the recipe, because most of the recipes online would have made hundreds of them.

Food Art: Tamale on a plate...what cute packages!

Sunday was raining, too, so we ate our way to Port Townsend, stopping to see the Trolls north of Wild Birds Unlimited.

Very Picturesque!

I showed you a picture of this Port Townsend Victorian in a previous post, but Connie pointed out that it is another HASTINGS house...must have been a different branch of the family from the one that settled in New England during Revolutionary times.

We saw two movies at the ROSE Theater (best
popcorn anywhere), Seraphina, about a French
naive artist...I could relate to her obsession
with making pictures, no matter what the physical/emotional price, and a British comedy about US political corruption--probably more true than I'd like.

Ate at a hotel overlooking the water: crab wrapped in sole for me. Bell St. Bakery in Sequim on the way over. We reluctantly resisted was a good thing Connie made a Large Pie, so we had some more pie with pumpkin ginger bread ice cream when we got home.

I'm pretty sure I did work on art projects on Monday. The Big Doll is ready for breasts...maybe after work tomorrow.
Deadlines keep me pushing along, so I want to have her significantly progressed when Tom is back from London. It sounds as if more wall art is needed for the Fiber Arts Festival in is never boring when one is making ART!

Tamale Recipe, as promised, with my changes: This made enough for three of us, plus three more bags of tamales for the freezer. They can be taken out and steamed for more delicious dinners later.
Ingredients: 4 cups Instant Corn Masa Mix (comes in a 5-pound bag like flour)
3tsp salt, 1tsp garlic powder, 2 tsp cumin
2 tablespoons chicken broth powder (from the health food store)
1 cup fresh corn oil or 1 cup lard
2.5 cups warm water
1 package dried corn husks
1/2 teaspoon baking powder at the end.

Combine the dry ingredients in a large bowl. If using lard, cut in with a pastry cutter, if oil, mix that in.
Add the warm water and keep mixing/kneading. The dough should be the consistency of cookie dough. I was told to knead the dough a LONG time, then drop a small ball of dough (the size of a pony bead) into a glass of water and it will rise to the top of the glass when it's mixed enough.
Then add the baking powder and mix it again.

In the mean time, soak the corn husks in a pan of warm water to get pliable. Use some of the longest ones to tear lengthwise strips for the ties.

Take a corn husk, a tablespoon of masa mixture and smear the massa on the husk toward the curved part of the husk. put a tablespoon of filling in the middle of the masa, and wrap the husk tightly, folding both ends toward the center and tying a strip of corn husk around them to make a tight package. It is good to have help with this operation.

Pile the tamales in your biggest kettle with a steamer in the bottom and get the water boiling. Put a folded dishtowel over the top of the tamales and the cover of the pan. Keep the water boiling at a low pace, adding more water periodically. I just poured the hot water down the sides of the pan. Check one of the top tamales after two hours, and it may be done. I'm not sure if the weather or the size of your pan will affect the outcome.

The fillings I like:
Green chicken: poached organic chicken, onion, garlic, roasted tomatillas and poblano and ancho peppers, lots of cillantro, some salt and pepper.
Mole pork: cheap cut of pork, cooked a long time, add a mole sauce with all the different seeds and chocolate, rich dried Mexican peppers, garlic, onion, celery, some tomato sauce, slivered almonds, Spanish olives, raisins.


Art Away from Home

I was lucky to spend last weekend in Portland, OR, for a class for work, but every spare moment was spent reading Rice Freeman Zachery's new book: CREATIVE TIME AND SPACE, exploring, journalling, and eating really good food. (sorry, no food pictures this time, but I ate round smoked salmon raviolli in a light lemon cream with greens and short cake with lemon curd, berries and chantilly cream for dessert (notice the theme) at Veritable Quandry).

In fact, I didn't even take many pictures, looking, drawing, writing instead. Sometimes recording seems to get in the way of experiencing the experience.

Saturday night was a wonderful Thai restaurant on the other end of Park.

Hours in the Portland Art Museum made me hyper-aware of line, shape, color, repeating form.
Verticals and horizontals, rich colors in the background, cafe tables and chairs and the leafy boulevard. I am learning to appreciate traveling solo for the opportunity it affords me to go in any direction.

After the museum, I had crab cakes and an amazing chocolate pastry here at South Park Seafood and talked with sister nurses, who had just been to see the last day of the Escher show.

Try going to a museum...or a movie and see if it doesn't make you see life outside in much sharper ways...
I took a self-portrait class from LK Ludwig, and hate the pictures I shoot holding the camera at arms length. I've found that using a big mirror gives a less microscopic (wrinkly) view, and the empty bathroom in the museum had all kinds of repetition and clean form, reminding me of a movie, or several...too bad I didn't have more time to make more pictures, but it might have made some people uncomfortable to see me taking photos in the ladies room.

A spread from my journal, combining words and images...I don't know which is more important to me. I pack a glue stick, a variety of markers, and try to keep it simple. Sometimes the ideas flow without stopping, and it's important for me to catch them and keep them for later inspiration.

I was SO HAPPY immersing my self and my life in ART with all its possibilities...Today, back at home, all the other necessities of bills and cleaning and cooking interfere, but the TANGIBLE evidence that I have those visual/verbal/intellectual priorities, is even more important when the mundane threatens to make me forget who I am.


Saturday, September 05, 2009

More Art

Surprise! My niece, Jen, from my long relationship in Upstate NY came to visit over night. Families are getting much more complicated these days! She's traveling the country in her truck, learning about alternative building techniques, working on a farm on Whidby Island, heading to the Olympic National Forest to camp, to Olympia, and then to an alternative building conference in OR, someplace warm for the winter, maybe eventually back to Asheville, NC, if nothing else strikes her fancy along the way.

She is strong and can do construction...or make an Art quilt. From my ripe old age of 62, the world seems like a daunting and scary place for those between 20 and thirty, but there seems to be a movement, much like ours in the Sixties, to find and build on the things that are good and hopeful about this beleaguered world, and I applaud them!

I love my house on the hill and am doing my exploring here for now. I did my share of traveling and camping out back when I couldn't afford a hotel. I'm happy to have all those memories (luckily I've been keeping a journal since I was 22, so I still can look back and see what I did and what I thought about it all.)

I think of myself as having taken my retirement in my youth, when I could enjoy the benefits of freedom/poverty, which seem to go together in this culture. I didn't mind so much the sink traps in the schoolhouse in northern VT freezing in the winter, since I had a 24'x 36' studio and all the time in the world in which to create, cross-country skiing forever on any sunny day, riding a camel in Egypt, enjoying museums and cafes in Paris, snorkeling in the only underwater state park.

Now I get to travel through teaching. Also through exploring materials and inventing new combinations. The blue wall hanging was made for Anna Wianko Chassman's Sixtieth birthday...we all had to bring limericks, and read them before we got to share the carrot cake. She has a lot of very creative friends!

I keep looping back to all the media I've tried and loved, each time with a slightly different approach. The double-sided iron-on stickum, like Steam a Seam, makes assembling a small wall hanging very quick and easy. I wrote the limerick on paper and put it under translucent fabric on which I drew some of the black birds that Anna loves, along with fabrics and colors representing earth, sea, mountains of our Olympic Peninsula....any occasion is an opportunity for ART-making!

The Imitation of Life Construction Company show in San Diego is Such a great name, that I always use the exhibit as an opportunity to have a deadline prod me into doing new work...I work best under pressure, it seems. No more dithering about the Absolute Perfect way to do something, just DO IT!!! See, sometimes I do take my own advice.

I got the battered (nicely textured) metal box at an estate sale right in my neighborhood. Is it sad...or see a person's lifetime accumulated treasures going for a quarter apiece?

One of the show's themes this year is breast cancer research, so the plastic beads spell out BREASTS across the classically naked women on the back, whose breasts are carefully-concealed.

I used the layered, quilted body technique in the Seventies, and last winter for some of the pieces for the show in San Antonio at Laurie Brainerd's Gallery. This time the body is Facile, the lighter version of Ultra Suede, from the days when I used to do craft shows in Maryland, and go nuts in G Street Fabrics.

Here's another resurrected technique: acrylic paint on 3-D muslin forms. I did a lot of those during the Seventies and Eighties...I'll do flashbacks for you some time, if I run out of new things to talk about...or you can purchase my DESIGNING A DOLL AND MAKING FACES BOOK from the gallery on my website.

The Big Doll project has given me kind of a love/hate relationship with size...but I got a book of Niki de Saint Phalle's sculptures the last time I was at the Seattle Art Museum. There have been SO MANY stitches in the Big Doll, but on the other hand, Size Does Matter!

I think these skaters would look great Big...I need a quicker technique for size...Any ideas?

More small wall pieces in my repertoire recently..for the Fiber Arts Festival in Sequim at the beginning of October.

This one has been simmering in the back of my mind for several seasons. Last fall when I visited my mother in Iowa, she had saved a baggie of carefully-washed peach pits for me. My first instinct was to thank her and then compost them, but since she had saved them so specially for me, they seemed to carry a great baggage or aura--to put it in a more positive way. I instinctively assembled them with a snippet from a twist of her hair that was cut in 1945, as her handwriting on the envelope in the lower right corner records, and some of the rusty metal pieces from my collection.

Figuring out how to attach such disparate and three-dimensional items as peach pits and rusty metal was a challenge. After considering Apoxie Sculpt, glues of various kinds, and threads, I hit on the masterful choice of tulle ( a very fine netting), which is a bit stretchy to go around corners, but does not completely obliterate the item below.

I covered the envelop with my mother's hair and writing with a very fine batiste from Indian fabric samples that Pondicherri sells at the end of each season.

The large running stitch with a combination of red Oliver Twist and copper thread attaches everything under the net of forest green tulle and adds texture and line.

I'm entering Windsor House, a mixed-media sculpture I made last winter and these two wall hangings in the exhibit in Sequim.

This one was inspired by a set of poem fragments I made out of a box of "poetry words," the challenge being to use all the words in however many poetry fragments it took...words, images, colors, textures...a much more crisp use of shapes and color than the Marian's Hair piece.

Last weekend my work was interrupted by these two beasts sucking blackberries off the end of the branches just below my desk. They had undoubtably stopped off at the plum tree, too, on their way down through my yard.

Now, Hugh and Connie have just arrived and we have to decide what to do first, eat or hike...or go see Julie, Julia again.

More Later! Don't forget to sign up for classes at the Fiber Arts Festival in Sequim in Just One Month!

Two more days off now to keep going on projects...MUST start back on the HOT FLASH: A Celebration book again to be finished by spring.

I'm continuing work on the Big Doll, going back and forth between my computer and the doll to save my back, while listening to INEZ OF MY SOUL by Isabel Allende on DVD. The rain and sun come and go. Hugh is off to make a voice-over demo tape, so he can return to the acting he loves on a full time basis. Connie just found out that her job of many decades will be over next week...we never know what is going to happen.

One hopes that each crisis leads to opportunity!

We watched Seraphina, about a French Naive artist in Port Townsend yesterday...I identified so much with Seraphina's willingness to sacrifice Everything for her painting...I'm hoping I can have some minimal comforts as well. FOLLOW YOUR HEART!