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Archive for the ‘Daylight is Increasing’ Category

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Scarves and shawls, plus capes and sweaters, fulfill as much of my creative energy as do paints.

Above are samples of pure silk blanks (available online via Dharma Co., CA) painted with Sharpies fine (brush tip are great) permanent markers (not the oil base ones).  This is too much fun.  Just color/color/color the scarf to your heart’s content, and when satisfied spray (saturate) with rubbing alcohol.  Allow to dry, then press with a hot steam iron.

These recently sold well at a pre-holiday fair.  Everyone loves them.  The selection of blanks is great—Dharma even has dancing veils.

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Here Pinkie is happily modeling the world famous Potato Chip Scarf–so named 1) because it curls and 2) because you can’t just make one.  They are as addictive as the edible, salty variety.

And below we have Pinkie again, cowling it up.

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Knitted, of course.  I go on yarn surges.  A few years ago, it was Debbie Bliss’s Baby Cashmerino.  Then Cascade 220.  Then Cascade Sunseeker.  Now it is Malabrigo Silky Merino:  49% silk and 51% merino wool.  All are wonderful.  All are unabashedly overflowing and falling out of countless baskets, many of which I have made in former years of “also passions”.

And shawls.  I make long shawls—prayer shawls, gift shawls, and some for myself.  A long shawl is the perfect wrap for our autumn and spring weather, either layered over a blazer and sweater or by itself.  And I love these little guys:

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(The borders are crocheted.)  No, I didn’t make the penny quilt.  For me, knitting needles are relaxing—but sewing needles and machines are nerve wracking.  This quilt is a beauty.  It was some unknown artist’s masterpiece, possibly during the Great Depression, as the fabrics are apparently used clothing.  The quilt is huge, even on our queen bed.  We won it at a local auction years ago.  It’s been moved two times, stored on a high closet shelf, and now we are featuring it on our bed.  Things are to be used and enjoyed, especially with a good number of years behind us and not quite so many years left.  Why not?  🙂

spinning in the summer

Finally, spinning.  The basket filled with color contains wool roving, and the white fiber in the pink basket is silk.  Two excellent Jensen wheels, Wisconsin made, grace our living room and in this case one of them is (characteristically in seasonable weeks) working on our patio.  What a joy to make yarn, and knit it.  I still have a lot of gorgeous deep brown Shetland from my last two silly sheep, in the late 1990s.

But the patio leads out to even one more of many passions:

Faithful Bleeding Heart

Coming SOON!  I can hardly wait.  How about you?

Margaret L. Been — February 28th, 2016

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Traces 1

What a glorious time of year!  For a glimpse into how I experience our Northern springtime, you can access my Northern Reflections Blog.

Every vernal equinox floods my being with a freshly renewed appetite for poetry, and now for art as well.  I want to view art, immerse myself in art, and make art—so decidedly that I’d much rather make than bake!  (That is a good thing, as my husband is diabetic!)

At the moment I’m painting between intervals of getting acquainted with my new laptop.  It’s kind of like moving into a new-to-me house.  Now you may say, “Yes, but blogging on the internet is the same no matter which computer you use.”  That is partially true.  In fact, last week while I was computer-less I produced a blog entry on my I-Pad.  That was hilarious!

But blogging is becoming a challenge, rather than a relaxing piece of cake.  The WordPress geniuses (bless their hearts) have come up with what they think is an easier and more efficient format.  Quite frankly, it is HORRIBLE!  (Please, if any of you techies are reading this, consider keeping your original layout for bloggers!)

Today the original layout is available, but there are times when only the “new and approved” work page comes up.  Sitting at a computer for three hours when I’d rather be painting or sitting outdoors in the sun is simply the limit—not to mention (although I am mentioning) a dickey spine and other orthopedic issues which demand frequent variety of body motion.

But enough of computer talk, which to me is the epitome of boring conversation.  Let’s talk about the sounds, sights, and colors of Spring.  After producing a plethora of paintings throughout January and February, it dawned on me that my palette was getting darker and darker.  Like winter in my soul—which I never desire to have!

So I cleaned out the remnants of dark, and created a palette of light:  the colors of Spring.  Leaving segments of white paper as I paint assures me of a bright outlook.  But where darkness threatens to take over, there is always gouache.  Gouache is the watercolorist’s “911”—ever handy in most any art emergency.

What an apt metaphor—the 911 of gouache.  As you will see when you read my Northern Reflections Blog, poetry prevails in Spring.  Forever as I wrote poems over the years, I endeavored to make them “painterly” with colorful visuals via words.  Now I’m striving to make my paintings poetic, encouraging ideas and figurative language to leap out from the colors on my palette.

Spring in Wisconsin!  For this passionately headlong, invigorating, and mindlessly blithery moment I ask to be absolved of having to make sense!  🙂

Margaret L. Been, Spring 2015

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And as the world spins, “Cats” will flourish in our beautiful Wisconsin swamps. ↓

The Cats Are Out!

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NIght Blooming 2

. . . is SPRING!  That is enough to spring most anyone out of bed in the morning!!!  When daylight saving starts in a few days, I’ll think I am home free—bounding into my favorite half of our Wisconsin year. 

I have a goal in mind.  I love to walk; my desire is to carry a sketch book, and sketch along the way.  Also, I want to take more photos in my gardens—catching new spring buds, mature flowers, and later in the season those beautiful seedpods.

Suddenly flowers are dominating the art corner in our bedroom.  I’m extra-inspired to do flowers thanks to Ann Blockley’s exciting book, EXPERIMENTAL FLOWERS IN WATERCOLOUR.  For breathtaking views of Ann Blockley’s art, you can GOOGLE “UK Artist Ann Blockley”.  Her blog can be accessed through the website, as well—and it’s delightful to read. 

Along with a focus on flowers, Ann has inspired me to sketch and photograph subjects for painting—landscapes as well as close-ups.  I’ve read the same protocol from other artists, but finally the idea is beginning to make sense to me.  I’m also beginning to keep a log with each painting, listing the colors I use plus additional mediums such as acrylic ink, acrylic paints, water-soluble colored pencils, etc.  You can detect a desire for more discipline in my approach to painting.  Access to galleries has motivated me to make more art more efficiently, while growing and learning.

As for the sketching, I know that I can’t get any worse than I am now at it—so some improvement is bound to follow.  The strolling will be a joy in itself.  And I already have a lot of garden shots to pore over for inspiration.

Below is a favorite one, and someday I hope to be able to paint this little fellow:

Little Treasure

He must have been just out of the nest, with absolutely no fears in his head.  I stroked his back; his fur was like silk.  He sat docilely, as if he enjoyed the stroking.  Then I ran indoors to fetch my camera.  When I returned to the garden he was still there waiting to be stroked again.

Our neighborhood prairie preserve:

My Prairie

And a character who came calling one Sunday afternoon when we lived up north:

DIGITAL CAMERA

I didn’t try to pet that guy.  I took his picture while sheltered by our living room window.

Anyway, if I choose to render any of the above on my Arches or Saunders Waterford paper, the subjects won’t look anything like they did to begin with!  🙂  So why not just dive in?!

Margaret L. Been, March 2015

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March Swamp I

It is no secret that our soul climate on any given day can be reflected in the expressions of our soul—be they in the form of a poem, a song, or a painting.  For this reason, counsellors who work with children will pay considerable attention to the “climate” of a child’s art.

I normally spend from 20 to 30 hours a week at my palette.  A few days ago I realized that my work was becoming “dark”—not in subject matter, but in actual hue and tone.  Skies were murky.  Water was muddy, and mountains were drab rather than sparkling.  There has been a distinct absence of sunlight, moonlight, and fleecy clouds in recent renderings.  I didn’t need to look far afield for the answer to this puzzle; in fact it really wasn’t a puzzle at all.  Two weeks ago a family member was diagnosed with cancer.  Hence my paintings have darkened. 

So three days ago I decided, this will never do.  I am not a “dark” person—although I love dark skin, and “work hard” to obtain it in the summer!  I have passion for light, and so does my loved one who has cancer.  There is no way I can help her (or myself) through the days and weeks ahead by “painting dark”!

Now things are looking up in every way.  The cancer is Stage II, and it is believed that chemo will not be needed after surgery.  And I’ve pivoted my palette, paper, and paints back to the light.  The above print depicts a subject I love—a swamp, in this case a “March Swamp” with the sap of life rising above melting snow.

And below you will see another subject of love and light—one that may be wearing you viewers out because I feature it so often:

 Living on the Patio with Iced Tea

“Living on the Patio with Iced Tea”

SOON!!!  🙂

Margaret L. Been, 2013

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Winter has finally arrived in Wisconsin.  The Northern counties were buried in snow a few days ago, and now we “Southerners” (just north of the Illinois border) are suddenly remembering what winter is all about.  Beautiful!  Pristine!  Cold!

The wind travels and moans through our lane, which is actually a wind tunnel between condo buildings.  I love the wind, so universal and all encompassing.  I could be on the Yorkshire Moors or Scottish Highlands, or at our home in Northern Wisconsin where the furies of winter rampage, and the wind would sound exactly the same.  For me, the music of wind is a lullaby at night and an invigorating motivator in the daytime.  

Winter wind means business.  It’s cold, brutal, unfeeling, and unforgiving.  Yet as I hunker down and enjoy the peace and respite of winter weeks indoors, I can dream of those winds to come—always howling through our wind tunnel, always sounding like wind, but heralding new seasons:  the March wind—boisterous, vandalizing, arrogant, and presumptuous; the April wind—capricious as an April Fool’s joke, yet whispering change; and the winds of May—melodious, enticing, redolant with lilacs.

Lilacs!  Yes, I can dream!  🙂

Margaret L. Been, ©2012

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Yesterday was the first day out of seven, that I didn’t have a fever which reached over 100 even though I kept beefing up with aspirin.  After lugging a cement sinus head around and feeling like something a cat might have barfed up, you can imagine the thrill of an outing!

We went for breakfast at a local restaurant—one of those owned by Greeks who know how to serve huge platters of food for a good price.  Joe and I always split a meal at these places.  Otherwise we’d leave feeling like we were going to blow up and we just might!

Then we went to THERAPYVILLE—that’s what I call one of my favorite stores:  the BEN FRANKLIN store in Oconomowoc.  This place is incredible for craft supplies, decorating stuff, creative gifts for all ages, you name it.  There I found:  YES! paste for all those collages I want to create; a set of goauche paints—new to me and wonderfully creamy to use; a funky mop brush for applying a wash on paper (the brush has a clear plastic handle with a pretty pink stripe); an angle shader—3/4″; and a set of wooden puzzles for our great-granddaughter, Brynn, who will be three years old in a few weeks.  (Brynn is passionate about puzzles.)

What a joy it was to get out!  Looking back, I recall many happy outings in the wake of sick spells.  One memory especially surfaces:  a 1962 recollection of going downtown in Milwaukee to the Shrine Circus with our first five children, after being incarcerated for ten days with what was then called the “Asian flu”.  I can close my eyes, and hear/see/smell that circus!  (And I can still taste the pop corn, even though we always brought our own to the circus.)

There are branches of THERAPYVILLE all around our home:  colorful coffee bistros, resale shops, used book stores, STEIN’S GARDEN CENTER—and charming antique shops in our villages and up our country lanes.  How delightful to come home with bounty.  The therapy lasts and serves me well, even when stuck indoors with a fever!

Margaret L. Been—All Rights Reserved

NOTE:  See that green stuff outside the window on the above photo?  It’s GRASS!  Coming soon!  🙂

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We have huge mountains of snow piled all around our building, created by the ever faithful plowers and their machinery.  The gentle hill leading to the park outside our front door is heaped high, and it looms like a wall of white in our patio door view.  Joe calls the hill “The Matterhorn”.  Dylan loves to run up The Matterhorn on his long retractable leash.  Then he lies down and rolls his cylindrical little body back down.  He does this several times each day, with a look of sheer euphoria on his face.

Dylan’s currently favorite pastime notwithstanding, I am thinking “enough’s enough”!  I’m ready to move on to the next items on the agenda–thawing winds and mucky March, eventually leading to warm breezes and vistas of GREEN!

Except for the pretty Valentines I received, all decorative vestiges of winter have been packed away.  Most of my red glassware has been stowed in a china cabinet–having been supplanted on tables and open shelves by Vasoline glass, clear crystal, pressed glass, and Depression era glassware in delicate shades of aqua, lemon yellow, and pink. 

I’m buying a live house plant every time we shop.  Even WALMART (called “WALLY WORLD” by our son, Eric) has live house plants.  Joe thinks we don’t have room for more plants, but I keep finding extra space by stacking the pots on footstools and extra tables in our windows, and hanging them from cute little wrought iron hangers–courtesy of HOME DEPOT. 

Then there are fake flowers–actually quite lovely.  Yellow “tulips” grace a wall planter fashioned by a friend who is a potter.  The phony posies have even made it outdoors to our garden.  A farmer’s antique milk can filled with pink “roses” hangs on a trellis, along with a garland of “forsythia”.  The riot of pink and yellow warms our view, otherwise dominated by the snowy Matterhorn!

My choice of apparel goes into a state of denial this time each year.  When I was little (a few centuries ago) I tried to quit wearing long cotton stockings in February–while begging my mother to let me wear knee socks or ankle socks instead.  I can recall Mother folding her arms and staunchly refusing my requests.  She always said, “You are rushing the season“!

Now I can wear whatever I want, and I’m still rushing the season–albeit with caution.  I refuse to wear brown, grey, or black skirts again until next fall.  But it’s easy to pull a poufy, flamboyant gypsy skirt over my WINTER SILK long johns.  Sheer, romantic style blouses can be draped over a cashmere sweater in a springy hue.  Strands of colored beads never fail to complete the picture of a funky woman who refuses to brook any more winter in her life–at least for a few months!

Meanwhile, I keep checking online for our zip code’s 10 day forecast.  It’s WINTER TIMES 10!  Oh well, I’m having a lot of fun–in my deluded state of DENIAL!

Margaret L. Been–All Rights Reserved

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