Sunday, August 29, 2010

From Farm to Table in 24 Hours

I found this dandelion yesterday, while walking through a field.... this valley, alongside a river that flows from the
Northern Cascades toward the Pacific Ocean.

We were visiting the small organic farm of a young woman who is, perhaps, still in her late twenties.  She wasn't there at the time, since Saturday is her day to sell at the local farmers' market; but she farms a 4-acre parcel, and along with a handful of other growers, shares some of the outbuildings and equipment of the farmer who leases the ground.  The farmers work independently but cooperatively to fill weekly CSA boxes and to get fresh produce to restaurants and farmers' markets from late spring through late fall. 

Seeds are started and bulb crops are dried in the greenhouses.

A single tractor plows the parcels and these large "rakes" are
sometimes used to measure off the locations for transplants.

Crops are planted and weeded on hands and knees.

Once harvested (by hand)...

...they're transported in boxes, via these oversized wheelbarrows... the sorting and washing stations...

....or to one of the long dark barns for drying.

Stakes are pulled and stored for future crops....

....and beautiful, organic produce finds it way to the table within 24 hours.

Like other small-scale growers, this woman is working seven days a week to make a living. And when we saw her at the farmers' market, she was cheerfully selling her produce -- all of it beautifully merchandised, and much of it, by the way,  planted, weeded, watered, harvested and packed by my daughter, who's spent the last two summers working for her while gaining a firsthand understanding of the local and organic food movement in our country.  My hat's off to both of them and to all the small-scale growers who are choosing to make a "go" of it at a time when industrialized farming is gobbling up family farms in the United States at an incredible pace.  

We can help sustain these small farmers and "grow" this movement by choosing to shift our buying habits -- even if only slightly.  We can support them by purchasing a CSA membership, or by buying from them directly at a farmers' market, or by dining at a restaurant that purchases produce from them, or by asking for and buying local produce at the grocery store.  Imagine the impact on the health of our land, our water, our air, and the general population if each of us chose to purchase local, organic produce even just 20% of the time. 

The number of family farms in the US decreased from 5,657,800 in 1950, to 2,204950 in 2007. 

We can reverse this trend.


Friday, August 27, 2010

Out of Africa...And My Imgination


 Acrylic on paper
7" x 11"

Acrylic painted on repurposed chef's coat placket

So, the small painting and the painted fabric are my creations.  And these wonderful vintage wooden  pieces are machine and hand carved --- not by me, of course.  Visit Robyn Gordon's blog, Art Propelled, to see the truly beautiful totems that she carves.

Here comes the weekend! 

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Orange and Black and 1500 Dots

Relief print on cotton
(Yes, the vintage golf tees make me happy.)

Screen print on linen. 
(How about that rock?)

Potato print, gold gouach and ink

And yes, there are 1500 dots there.  I counted them as I did them. Or was it 1200?? (I did this several months ago...) 

Still trying to find my way back to my paintbrushes....Very busy here in Portlandia but managing to find a little time to catch up with what you are doing. :)  Here are a few "goodies;" one of them previously mentioned and the other two new to me:   Avalanche Loomsannekata, The Silly BooDilly.  Good images, good writing, good projects!! 

Hope you're finding time to create!!

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Fabrics "Fotos" and Flickers

Block prints on cotton

Screen print on repurposed fabric; acrylic painting in background;
vessel made by anonymous high schooler; tomatillo on glass trivet

 Screen print on polyester chiffon;
 draped over chairback in front of window (photo rotated)

 Inked printing block from India

Hand printed repurposed fabrics

  Acrylic on paper (cropped)

Hope you're having a great weekend.  I'm trying to find my way back to my paintbrushes.  In the meantime, I pulled lots of pieces of printed fabric out of storage and scattered them about on tables and chairs.  Of course, that created visual chaos.  So I immediately began editing them back out of sight, save for a few of which I might actually attempt to sew into something!!!  While "editing" I took these photos.  Taking photos--and especially "curating" them-- is a great way to train the eye.

This afternoon, I spent awhile reading Cathy Cullis' "Dye Studio" tutorials on her blog.  Her process for dying small pieces of fabric with plants is very similar to making sun tea.  It's all so low-tech and so "Slow-Cloth-like" that it makes me want to order some mordant this minute and get started.  See Cathy's lovely blueberry and onion skin fabrics and her gorgeous hand- and machine-stitched beauties here.  Find out about the Slow Cloth movement here.

A serendipity of sitting at my computer while creating this post was the huge male Flicker that climbed the tree trunk 10 feet beyond my window.  His coloring was as vibrant as the browns and pink/reds in my painting, above.  :)

Thanks for stopping by!

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

The Dancer....A Little Known Fact

As promised... here, in fulfillment of the second "requirement" of the Versatile Blogger Award, are a few things about me.   First, a short story that begins with me and ends with you; and then, seven quick "facts."  But before all of that, if you didn't catch my previous post, be sure to scroll down so that you can link to Mary Zeran 's blog and her other nominees' blogs, as well as to my nominees' blogs.

"Ballet Dancer"
Edgar Degas


In 1963, when I was nine, I performed with the Stars of the Bolshoi*-- a touring troupe of the world-famous Russian Bolshoi Ballet -- albeit for one night, only. I was not actually taking ballet at the time, having quit to take organ lessons instead. But my ballet teacher, a former ballerina with the Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo--a French troupe originally comprised of dancers who fled Russia after the 1917 revolution-- apparently felt I had a chance of being chosen to perform as part of the small, local cast. And so, she phoned my mother and encouraged her to pursue the opportunity.

This was rather a big deal for me, as I was excused from school for the better part of a day to audition with other dancers from around the state. Then,when selected, there were rehearsals with the Bolshoi ballet master in Portland, a fitting for my first pair of pink satin “point” shoes; photos of the audition in the major newspaper, and a separate photo shoot of me for our small town's local paper.

On the evening of the performance, I donned my simple costume and my mother did my makeup and fixed my hair in the classical tradition; all, in a dressing room right down the hall from the beautiful Russian dancers. How vividly I remember waiting in the wings in darkness a little later with them, and listening to them talking softly to one another in their own language. Finally, it was my turn to take the stage and perform. Our dance was quite short, and believe me, the choreography was very simple. Nevertheless, at the end of the production, which included the Bolshoi’s performance of Swan Lake, we received a rose, presented by one of the Russian dancers; and were granted the opportunity to ask for dancers' autographs, which they obligingly scrawled on beautiful,  multi-paged, full-color programs.

After I collected my belongings, my father made the half-hour drive home in the darkness. And when we arrived, I climbed into my bed and immediately began to cry in an exhausted, emotional meltdown, with my mother and father at my bedside attempting to comfort me.  Because the whole experience had just been so overwhelmingly wonderful for one little nine-year-old girl.   And that experience of the “wonderfulness,” if you will, of shared passion for an artistic pursuit in a a cross-cultural setting, is why I have chosen to recount this story in writing for the first time, at this particular point in my life and in this particular global forum.  Because you and I are presently participating-- in a very small, but big way-- in just such a wonderful cross-cultural, artistic experience.  :)


I have always loved to dance!

I also enjoy playing guitar and piano, primarily by ear with a bit of theory thrown in.
I rappelled once and went scuba diving once. I will do neither again.

I love Santa Fe, New Mexico -- the light, the air, and the surrounding landscape.

I’m nearly a "teetotaler" but I’m definitely a "breadaholic" and also a "chocolaholic."

I have far more artistic interests to pursue than I have time for.

I love discovering, encouraging, and “promoting” other artists.

*p.s. - I couldn't find a link to the exact program of the Portland performance.  The one shown was of the San Francisco performance in '63.

Have a great day!

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Mary Zeran -- Versatile Blogger Awards

"I Felt Almost Ethereal"
by Mary Zeran

Mary Zeran, of Cedar Rapids, Iowa,  recently recieved the Versatile Blogger Award, and with good reason!  She has eagerly jumped into the blogosphere full speed ahead, with frequent posts on any number of subjects.  With an MFA under her belt, Mary is currently pursuing a painting technique that results in lush-but-spare, free-but -controlled acrylic pieces that include peels of the acrylic paint. 

"I Took a Step Towards Simplicity"
by Mary Zeran

I love Mary's use of fresh, saturated color and the varying quality of edge and line that she achieves.  She has generously provided an explanation of her process on her delightful blog Mary Zeran Designs; and her originals, prints and cards can be found at her Etsy shop .

Well, as you may have guessed by now, Mary, in turn, nominated me for the Versatile Blogger Award for which I am both honored and most appreciative!  Of course, as I expressed once before, blogger awards present a bit of a dilemma for me, but I've decided to join in the fun by "accepting" the award, which requires that I do two things: 1) nominate several other bloggers; and 2) tell seven things about myself.  I'll attend to the first, and obviously most important requirement now, and will follow in a day or two with some "stuff" about me.

So here are my nominees for the Versatile Blogger Award: 

Mariann Johansen Ellis, in Singapore and Spain, for her talent in multiple mediums and for her positive attitude and generous sharing of her knowledge and techniques.  (More on Mariann soon.)

Lesley, of Printed Material, in Great Britain - for her talent; and for sharing the “places” that her varied interests and curiosity lead her.

Lotta Helleberg, of Inleaf, and Lotta's Garden, in Virginia, for her sense of design, so evident in her two beautiful blogs and the beautiful textiles she creates; and for introducing me to wonderful artists.

Lily Stockman of Big Bang Studio, and most recently from the California desert, for her wonderful sense of humor, writing style, paintings, styling, and recipes; and for her sense of adventure.

Robyn Gordon, of Art Propelled in South Africa - for her beautiful carved totems and her introductions to a myriad of artists from the world over.

Carloyn Saxby, in Cornwall, and also of Love Stitching Red, for her incredibly lush visuals, her many talents in the textile arts, and her generosity in sharing her knowledge and techniques.

And I would add Sophie Munns, in Australia, author of 3 (4?) blogs, who I have written about multiple times recently, and who was also nominated by Mary Zeran.

If you've not already done so, please take a moment to visit their blogs, shops and websites, and also those of the other bloggers that Mary nominated

And ... I promise I'll deliver on the second requirement of the award!  :)

Savoring the last hours of a beautiful weekend in Portlandia....Cheers!!