Friday, February 24, 2012

oranges and blues

This week I have been working on my rose star quilt blocks but doing the part that isn't ready to show yet which is selecting fabrics cutting them and basting & wrapping them on the paper pieces to get them ready to hand sew together. I got new fabrics last week and finally a nice selection of oranges to make a real red orange rose-star! That is going to be fun to assemble in the coming week. I was delighted when Keith came home on Tuesday from shopping for his floral creations with a bouquet of real orange parrot tulips from the Whole Food's market. Wow they are so spectacular they really lifted my mood every day since they arrived.  I got right to work sketching them Wednesday morning before my trip to the clinic for my quarterly check up. Good news everything is fine says my groovy guitar playing lesbian doctor and so I was again lifted and with the sun shine and warm weather, I went out on 14th Street and decided to take a look in our favorite second hand store across the street. Miss Pixie's is mostly cool furniture but they have lots of little ceramics and glass things as well as art on the walls. I saw this blue vase first thing in the door. It felt so good when I picked it up and handled the textured surface. The shape is pleasing and unusual and the decoration is a line ornamentation that is much like I used to draw on my journal pages. It totally appealed to me and I thought to myself, "do I have money for this today?" I walked around and continued to look to see what else might catch my eye and eventually pulled out my clip of money and found about $30 in my pocket so I could afford an $8 vase if it still was the best thing in the shop. There was a hand sewn Dresden plate quilt in the back for $85 dollars much like the one at home Mom has from her grandmother. It was in pretty good shape on the front but the back had some strange brown stains on it that were a bit hard like varnish or something that doesn't belong on fine quilts. I decided I wasn't in the market for a quilt like that and then thought about cedar chests which they always have a few of in this shop. I would love to have one to put my fine pieces of quilting and blankets in for storage. I do not have money for one now and there isn't any room for one unless I give up some other furniture in our little apartment so that goes on the someday wish list for now. In the end, I decided the little blue vase would bring me much joy for this week. I celebrated my good news and the good weather with the purchase. Got it home and soon it became part of the daily ikebana project Keith is doing so I know it was a good thing to bring home. Meanwhile the responses to my orange tulips were strong and enthusiastic. Can't beat a good tulip for a winter day's mood lift.  
The other fun thing that I began this week, besides cutting out more rose star blocks, was reading the new Vincent Van Gogh biography. Vincent Van Gogh The Life It is the first ever complete story of his life that fills over 800 pages in a big volume that has one of his self portraits on the cover. I wasn't sure it was going to be a good read but on the first night I began I was hooked wow these guys know how to tell a story. I know Vincent is one of the worlds most favorite artists. I like that he was so productive and drew and wrote tons of letters and sent illustrations he drew of his paintings in the letters. I wonder how excited he would be to live in today's world with the Internet and the quick and easy sharing we get to do with photos and blogs and emails? His story is one I am delighted to get to know better I can relate so well to his love of flowers and landscapes and portraits that look a little funky cause I think mine do too. I just wish I had a orange beard and blue/green eyes like he did otherwise I don't have much envy for Vincent's life of misery he was a real outsider if ever there was one. 

Saturday, February 18, 2012

therapies, talk, quilt, sketch, bake

maiden washing cloth in a creek

red, black and white


pink and chocolate brown
This week was Valentines day and we had a great trip out to Bethesda for a movie a walk and some fine foods. We saw a European film on Carl Jung and his mentor Sigmund Freud and the patient Sabina Spielrein that brought them together. It was a good film and I enjoyed watching the costumes, sets and learning more about Jung who embraced a lot of unusual ideas. I realized many of his ideas are put forward in "the artist's way" a book that helped me and so many artists move towards a better understanding of synchronicity and how it can be embraced to move your creativity forward. The movie is called A Dangerous Method . I really liked looking at the men in this film who were all buttoned up in white tight stiff collars of their 1900 era in addition to the sets and costumes of the ladies. It was a emotional drama taken from a book that was also a play. If you are interested in psychology and talk therapy origins or if you wonder why the therapists of today are so careful not to get personally involved with their patients this movie might help explain why. 
This week I also had the pleasure of visiting my Mom for a few days and my friends Tom and Peter out in Middleburg, Virginia for a rainy afternoon luncheon. I took along my quilts and English paper piecing project to show them. It got rave reviews and Peter says I have more patience than he does. Later with Mom's help I collected a bag full of new fabrics for new rose star blocks! Very exciting to go pick out the new little fat quarters and try to make a palette of colors and patterns that suit my own personal taste and style as the project moves from sample to real quilt size. We had a recipe for Frangelico chocolate cookies left over from the holidays and while I was visiting in Middleburg she mixed up and chilled the dough. Then when I got home, on that rainy Thursday afternoon, we got right to work baking up the whole batch. Wow they are like chocolate truffles with hazelnut and sweet powdered sugar on top. Yummy and just right with a cup of red hibiscus tea. Red and brown? Maybe that is a color theme I should try for a rose star block? Inspiration comes from so many sources when you are open to the possibilities. She also had a delicious Lemon Pound Cake sent to her from my sister as a Valentine which she was anxious to share and I ask you: who could say no to a cup of tea and lemon pound cake on a rainy day? This huge special cake was from a place in Warrenton, Virginia that has a red truck in their logo. We are planning a visit to the bakery in person one day soon! Thanks Jenny. 

three of four completed this week 

the collection pined on my felt wall in no particular order 

My sketches this week all felt a little hurried and didn't get very much of my attention but the practice goes on as a daily routine. I hope to print out some of the best to show this year in spring and summer shows as I move forward with my new drawing and painting practice. I also plan to begin making new pocket books for anyone who is interested in a hand bound sketch book for your pocket! I was given some new Japanese papers and satin book cloth from my Valentine Tuesday! Warmer weather means it is easy to go out on our glassed in porch to work on those types of projects.

metro reader in fuschia down coat 2-14

Metro riders 

Sunday, February 12, 2012

this week

together three new rose stars 


pink and brown with some of my family fabrics Dad's striped shirt and grandmother's scraps of pink

Green for Jeanne Grossman in CA :-)

Wow the weather in Washington DC went from mild spring like crocus and narcissus blooming to wintry winds and snow in a matter of hours yesterday. I was lucky to get home from my afternoon walk just before the blustering snow storm swept over the neighborhood. But the cold air makes me even more productive in short bursts. I have had a very productive week of English paper piecing my rose star blocks together and posting them on the Flickr. Rose Star Block party page and if you follow that link you can see hundreds of other rose star blocks by others in our group! I completed three new blocks this week and cut out a few more. I kept to my routine of writing in the mornings drawing a single sketch of something and water colored then photographed and edited and published on the web. I was invited to do an art show in Middleburg, Virginia late April and visited National Gallery of Art to see the new hanging of the French 19th Century collections as well as a great Early drawings of Picasso exhibition! That was very satisfying because a lot of Picasso seems scary to me. These early works were intimate and bold and very accomplished in a way I can relate to "reality". I also was lucky and got to go see a new film with Glenn Close  and Janet Mcteer Albert Nobbs a story of a woman who lived her life as a man in Dublin Ireland circa 1866 which was a short story that Close worked for 17 years to bring to the screen. I loved it and wish it were playing in more theaters so everyone had a chance to see.
This week the flower sketches are pink, magenta and purple, chilly colors for spring to winter.
new magenta tulips stand up straight and tall

second day there were tulips that snaked left and right and straight down towards the artist

magenta tulips turned purple and red and have fat yellow centers open wide bending all they way down to the shelf

Buddha kept an eye on the flowers on the book shelf

flowering quince blooming everywhere early now and hellebore

tulip magnolias burst out yesterday after cutting for ikebana in Manassas last week! 
Below individual photos of my earlier blocks for the Rose Star Block Party: 

white rose

black and white 

red and white


orange purple blue garden photo inspired

Thursday, February 9, 2012

car fever

Dan Murray showing me his new toy Feb. 8th 2012

My artist buddy Dan Murray has over the last few years become a total devotee to collecting vintage cars. Each year he takes a few months off from his insanely demanding labor as a garden designer and rests during winter by shopping and often buying new vintage cars to repair and enjoy as an investment. His latest car is a 1965 Buick Riviera and he took a minute to pull it out of the garage and show me yesterday before we went on a lunch date to National Gallery of Art. So here it is without it's DC tags which are being held up by a maddening detail of title. I look forward to taking a ride once the tags and seat-belts are secured!

not the double barreled exhaust pipes, oh my what a lot of gas it burns

front grill looks very shark-like. I have a vague memory of the Green Lantern driving some car like this in a different color

Dan jumps out to show off the red beauty

I asked where the headlights were,under the grill revealed like the mouth of a shark opening for a bite...

has some fancy carburetors that makes it go very fast from stop lights to 60 mph and 8 cylinders naturally. 

detail of the brand logo 

trunk has a key latch cover 

START AIDS Study video

Yesterday, I watched a new AIDS research video. I am a member of a community advisory board since 1990 at the Washington Veterans Hospital research site and late last year they asked me to give them a little of my background for this new video to try to help get more patients into the study. It was a real honor to be asked in as a veteran of the battle to find an effective AIDS treatment. In 1989-1993 I was a treatment activist as member of ACTUP ( activist group: AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power) and one of the ways I survived my battle with the infection was to be very involved in the back room work to support and advise doctors in their search for treatments that really worked. I survived what seemed a certain death sentence many of my friends succumbed to over the 1980's and early 1990's. Now researchers are working on an international study of when is the best time to start using the many effective treatments that are now available. Is it better to start early or wait until you reach a lower immune system marker and show progression towards real dangerous HIV related infections? The only way to find the answer is to try both options and follow real results to see what is the best outcome over a number of years in a research study setting.
The START study is trying to find healthy HIV positive individuals who have not had any treatment are willing to toss the dice  for the choice of using drugs now or waiting until they get to the lower level T-cells. This video explains many of these details and asks us to share it with anyone who might be interested learning more about this study's objectives.
Here is the link to my minute of fame for a very good cause. The START
1982 NYC about the time we learned of the new disease that has shaped my life ever since.  

Saturday, February 4, 2012


Two blocks completed this past four days while visiting Manassas

While visiting Mom in Manassas this past week with Keith we enjoyed some good food and thrift shopping, running a few errands and warm winter weather. We stuck to our routines as best we can, when away from home. For Keith we hunted interesting vases to use in his ikebana arrangements and he cut fresh home grown branches of flowering quince and budding tulip magnolias. I sat and hand stitched my rose star English paper pieced quilt blocks. I also did a sketch or two of the flowers on hand. It was a nice visit and good company.  I also got a puzzle framed and hung for Mom that was completed on our trip to Colonial Williamsburg last October where Mildred Cunningham was the main puzzle worker!
Quince blossoms with Magnolia branches in a new bowl 

local grown red tulips

home to the red and green mouse ear anthurium

pink rose center block with red

Yellow rose block