Friday, December 31, 2010

The Last of 2010


The end of  the year is upon us.  In the latest e-newsletter Robert Genn writes about things we may not see anymore, such as newspapers, and things, such as electronic books, that may become more a part of our lives.  I know there are differing opinions about that subject, but my main focus from the article is that art making is also growing...  Genn writes "art fills a vital human need for life enhancement. Art reboots the cerebral cortex, teaches new skills to underutilized hands, arouses dormant sensitivities and promotes latent passions. If need be, art gives us something to talk about besides the kids, grandkids and celebrities, hence making us more interesting people."  There is something about the connection of working with our hands...the link of hand to eye that people find fulfilling, especially in today's fast paced high tech times.  So I will continue to celebrate art, and the inward journey of discovery that it inspires! 
...And you may have noticed a change in the look of my blog.  I have redesigned it with a lighter feel for the new year.  The process was fun and easy with Blogger.  I do appreciate the technology we have, but for me it will never take the place of simple hand work.
Happy New Year to you all!

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Family Tradition

I was reminded of  a holiday tradition in our family, which my Mother started some 20 years ago.  Each year we write or draw on the tablecloth after the meal is over, something the kids have enthusiastically enjoyed doing.   We continue this process even though I host the holiday meals now...the tablecloth is brought along. 
Throughout the year between the holidays, Mom embroiders over the writing and images.  It has become a history of our family as my nephews were growing up.  There were Lego, Star Wars, Lord of the Rings theme years.  There were reminders of special visitors. 















It is a beautiful hierloom thanks to Mom's fine needlework skills.  My own journey and love for the hand arts began as a young person due to my Mother's influence.  It is undoubtedly in our family genes.  What family traditions do you continue? 

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Blossoming Evolves


One of the benefits of not overdoing with holiday preparations is that I have had time to watch and document the evolving blossoms of a Christmas Cactus.  This plant did not bloom last year, so I repotted it in the spring.  Obviously very happy, it has now gone wild with blossoming.  It was calling to me to be painted.   The first of the series is on my last post.  Here are three more, done in a variety of styles.  Hope you enjoy seeing the flowers as much as I have enjoyed painting them (while appreciating amazing nature).  May your holidays be wonderful!



Saturday, December 18, 2010

Joy in Blossoming


"That sense of wonder and delight is present in every moment, every breath, every step, every movement of our own ordinary everyday lives, if we can connect with it."
-Pema Chodron

Friday, December 17, 2010

Holiday Baking

For a change thought I would turn this into a food blog entry.... One of the holiday traditions we had growing up was cookie baking.  Oh, did the house smell great!  These cookies, consisting of 5 or 6 varieties from our Swiss and German heritage, were only made at the holidays.  We enjoyed them ourselves and gave as gifts.  First Mom handled the baking, of course, then as I grew older I began to take on more of the responsibility for the family cookies while my folks still lived nearby.  Mom still bakes her batches.  I have carried on baking, something I love to do, in my own home.  One year I gave the recipes with the cookies, so others could make them as well.  With reducing activities this season, I am sticking with two big batches of my favorites: Chocolate Drops and Hazelnuss Makronen (Hazelnut Meringues).   Thought I would share them with all of you - visually that is, and with recipes...

CHOCOLATE DROP COOKIES

8 oz semi sweet chocolate
1 tbl butter
2 eggs
¾ C walnuts, finely chopped
½ tsp vanilla
⅛ tsp salt
¼ tsp baking powder
¼ C flour
¾ C sugar
Melt chocolate & butter together, stir until cool. Beat eggs until foamy, add sugar 2 tbl at a time, beating 5 minutes more after all sugar has been added. Blend in chocolate mix, then add rest of ingredients.
Bake 350º, 8 -10 minutes on greased or parchment lined sheet. Makes 3 dozen.

HAZELNÜSS MAKRONEN

¾ lbs powdered sugar (about 3 C)
6-7 egg whites
4 ½ C ground filberts (1lb shelled nuts)
whole or half filberts, as topping
Beat egg whites until form stiff peaks, fold in sugar followed by the nuts.
Drop by teaspoonful on to parchment lined baking sheet. Top each cookie with one nut.
Bake 350º, 15 - 20 minutes or until dry.

What traditions did you grow up with?   If you try these, I hope you will enjoy them as much as we do!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Comings, Goings, & Doings

Some updates - "Flowing On" (photos on June 10th post) has gone to Road to California for the January show, while "Flowing Through" is returning from the Fiberarts V exhibit in Sebastopol. 
 
Flowing On  -  22.5" x 17"  © 2010 Linda A. Miller
Flowing On  -  22.5" x 17" 
© 2010 Linda A. Miller


"Landscape" has sold and found a new home!  This sun imagery from 2008 includes hand dyed painted cotton, fusible applique and threadwork.


Meanwhile, work continues with texture experiments....or will resume again after the holidays.  I was inspired by Karen Rips and C. June Barnes.  Playing with wool batting and wool felt that creates shrinkage and distortion when washed.  The possibilities...ooo!

In progress - Detail



Friday, December 10, 2010

Softer Season


I am taking the season in measured steps this year. As the marketplace pushes shop-buy-spend, I am keeping it simple and honoring a more reflective state.  Around this time each year my natural inclination moves in a quiet inner direction, undoubtedly following the waning of the days. Then the holidays hit in a big city way, and it becomes a push to do everything with me crashing after it is all over. I am saying, not this year! My family has decided to simplify with the gift giving. I am postponing non-essential projects. And I am doing what I love, such as going to hear music, visiting with friends and family. What better gift can there be than that?

Last weekend was another superb concert by the Orange County Women’s Chorus.  I have seen the chorus grow in presence and ability over the years of attending these musical events, which started because a good friend is one of the singers. Their artistic director, Eliza Rubenstein, always seems to find unique pieces to present.  This program, “Ice Age - Come into the Cold”, was no exception. One selection was based on a collection of Japanese Haiku poems…when sung by female voices was so fine! One of the poems below:

“The winter’s fitful gusts, as they expire,
Bring enough fallen leaves to build a fire.” 
-Ryokon

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

The Value of Art Groups

Yesterday was the meeting and lunch for my monthly art group, Fiber Fanatics.  What fun we had!  A member of this wonderful group for several years now, I have found our gatherings to be a source of  friendship, inspiration, information, laughter, food, and support.  The smaller informal size allows everyone to actively participate.  We share our work, life and processes... learn and grow from each other.  Each of the seven of us has a unique creative voice, and that mix brings a rich range of experience to the collective whole.  Fiber Fanatics consists of Carole Gentile, Nancy King, Sherry Kleinman, Sandra Lauterbach, Roberta Walley, and Sally Wright.  Thank you Ladies, you have enriched my life, artistic and otherwise.  And for those of you out there considering it, I highly recommend finding such a group!

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