Thursday, July 31, 2008

Part Two ...A Visit with Tracy Helgeson .... ....

Three days into our trip we discovered the Lincklaen House as it was suggested by one of my classmates Maria. After we enjoyed a lovely dinner in the courtyard we asked to see one of there rooms. Not only was it perfect but it was half the price of the Brewster Inn. The next morning we switched locations.

Back in the classroom I was surprised to find out fellow Canadian and textile artist Kit Vincent was sitting just across the way from me. She and I are both on the OCC's website and I have long admired her work. Kit and I got dubbed the "Canadian Girls" by our four classmates whom we called the "New York Girls". That's Kit Vincent sitting in the back corner working away.

Susan, Maria, Linda and Suzanne were the best you could hope for in fellow classmates. They never failed to crack me up and they always knew how to have a good time. Maria started bringing me these highly addictive dark chocolate M&M's which I munched on during class. I also loved Joan. She sat beside me and we spent a lot of time laughing and talking. She was such a warm person and made me feel so very comfortable. I'll really miss them all.

When Thursday rolled around I left class a bit early as we had an hour long drive up to Tracy & Doug Helgeson's home. Everyone who reads my blog regularly knows what a fan I am of her work (I know I have said that 100 times and this will be 101). On the way up in the car my oldest daughter said,

"So we are going to visit someone you have never met in person only through your blog?".

I said, "right".

She said, "How do you know they are not psychopaths?"

I knew there had to be at least one skeptic in the bunch.

When we arrived a very happy and friendly Penny ran out to greet us.

Then out came Tracy with Mr. Wilson. The minute my girls got a glimpse of Mr. Wilson I just knew their constant request for a dog would go up a notch or two in the coming days. Once again I'll admit to being a bit nervous (oh dear it sounds like I spent every waking moment in a state of the jitters) you never really know how things will go when you meet new people but I did have a really good vibe. So after all the intros we headed inside and got a tour of their beautiful home and of Tracy's art. When you see her work online it is great but seeing it live and in person delivers a whole other impact that just makes you say "wow". You'll notice I really like that word.

Tracy's husband Doug and John hit it off almost immediately as there was much talk of fishing.

We headed upstairs to see Tracy's new studio which made me want to weep. John knew he was in trouble when we reached the top of the stairs and got a chance to take it all in. What an amazing spot to work in. Another time in which "wow" seems to be the only adequate word. At this point I believe John was trying very hard to not make eye contact with me.

I really appreciated Doug and Tracy's son for all his tour guiding activities. He took the girls around to check things out so they didn't have to stand around with their parents. I know they appreciated that so very much and he was such a sweetie.

Ok, here's the part where I begin feeling inadequate. They have this gorgeous flower garden at the front of their home that Tracy tends to, I'm sure daily. I've got some wildflowers and daisies that have become overgrown with weeds.

We head out to check out the vegetable garden which is blooming and lush. I think of my spindly little carrots that have been pretty much pushed out by my wilting rhubarb. So at this point I'm thinking

1. Amazing artist..........check

2. Great gardener...........check

3. Talented cook..........check ( I checked this one after dinner)

I made a note to myself that when I got home I'd tackle the of yet I haven't.

At dinner we sat around enjoying a simply delicious dinner. The pesto potato salad was there and it was yummy. There was interesting conversation and in some ways it felt like we already knew each other. My oldest daughter was quite in awe of Doug. She has always had an interest in archeology and fossils and he had so much knowledge to share. Afterwards she said he was the "coolest" adult she had ever met. High praise coming from a fifteen year old.

After dinner Tracy and I went back up to her studio. She had asked me to bring along some of my work so she could see it in person. As we all know jpegs on the internet just don't quite cut it. We did an art exchange and now her work hangs proudly in my livingroom.

Now you may be thinking this all sounds a bit too perfect and magical of an evening and was it really like that or am I exaggerating just a bit? I can't speak for Tracy or Doug but from my was just like that.

On the way back to town John mentioned how enjoyable of an evening it was and how everything just seemed to flow so very easily. From the back seat my daughter piped up......... "and they weren't psychopaths at all".

I told her I would pass that comforting news along to Tracy.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Starting Out

We headed out early Sunday morning in what appeared to be a torrential downpour. I am a nervous driver at the best of times so I was glad John decided to drive. Destinatination: The Brewster Inn in Cazenovia, New York. About three hours into our trip the right windshield washer almost flew right off the car........don't know the technical term for what it is attached to but let's just say it was hanging on by a very thin thread. Luckily we pulled off the 401 highway safely but this continued to happen every hour or so before we reached New York. Welcome to a Roadtrip!

When we were an hour from Cazenovia we found this great rock station out of Syracuse. I knew it was great because every song they played, I knew. Unlike most of the music my kids listen to.......oh no, I do sound like my mother. When ELO started singing "Blinded By The Light" I just had to chime in as did John. The horrified looks on our kids faces said it all. They were cringing and begging us to stop what our oldest called "cruel and unusual punishment in a confined space". That in turn encouraged John and I to sing louder and longer.

We arrived at the Brewster around 4:00 pm and it was just lovely. After all the driving we didn't feel like heading out to eat so we ended up having dinner there.

The next day I headed off to class which I will openly admit I was a touch nervous about. Seeing the campus reminded me of high school which was not one of the most memorable times in my life. I found it all to be extremley clicky and exclusive. I spent much of my time drawing, listening to music and feeling the angst of being a teenager. Perhaps somebody should have told me to snap out of it....oh wait, I think my parents did but at the time I just didn't think they knew anything about being me. How very self indulgent!

In a nutshell, Carol Shinn was a fabulous teacher. Her work when you see it live and in person is not only inspiring but so very complex. Due to copyright laws I can't post any of her work here o but you can catch it on her website. The piece "The Blue Bench" is mind boogling to take in. You would never know that the entire canvas is covered in thread. You would think it was a painting until upon closer examination you saw the teeny tiny stitches. Much of her technique relies on layers and layers of thread. We used to joke in class after we finished two layers..." only 15 more to go and were done". On Thursday the class attended a lecture she gave in the auditorium and someone from the audience asked her how long it took to complete one of her pieces. She replied that an average piece of about 20"x18" would be 1-2 weeks working 8-10 hours a day. Now that is true commitment to your craft.

To be continued tomorrow...................I feel I've been droning on far too long.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

In A New York State of Mind

Arrived home last night from our "fabulous" trip to Upstate New York. One of the best trips we've ever taken. The workshop was wonderful, inspiring and I'm full of new ideas for upcoming work. Our visit with Tracy Helgeson was even more than I thought it would be if that is at all possible........ but I'm getting ahead of myself. I will be blogging this coming week on the trip, my class with Carol Shinn and our visit with Tracy but for now there is no food in the fridge so I've got to head into town to shop.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

New York Bound

Work in Paint & Thread
Well I'm off! The trip I've been enthusiastically planning for the past eight months is about ready to roll. I can't tell you how excited I am. I will take plenty of pictures to share with you when I get much so that after a while you'll be thinking "This trip feels like it went on forever, will she ever shut up?".
Hope all is well in your part of the world............see ya

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Copper Road
Work in Thread, Silks, Metallics and Wools

The Kettlebell

I was visiting Kelly a few weeks ago and couldn't help but notice how great she looked. Her arms were especially toned and overall there was some sort of change. She told me her secret was "the kettlebell". I in turn, with a dumbfounded look on my face said, "what?". As I understand it the kettlebell is a traditional Russian weight looking somewhat like a cannonball with a handle. The kettlebell has become a popular exercise tool in the United States due largely to the efforts of strength, cardio and flexibility. So Kelly took me downstairs to the basement and showed me exactly what it was as well as how to use it. The swinging it around part made me a bit nervous (she uses 18 pounds) as I could see myself dropping it on my head or my feet. Anyway, Kelly sent me some video links as well as this cool blog on Gabi from Hungary who apparently used to weight 240 pounds and is now some expert on the kettlebell.

So last week I picked one up and started very slowly working out with it. Now a few years ago Kelly and I were working out with traditional weights on a regular basis but I never found my heartrate really getting up there enough to do anything for my cardio. The beauty of the kettlebell is that not only do you gain strength and overall tone but you are also accomplishing your cardio goal as well. Cardio and strength training all in can't beat that. Unfortunately I'm not going to be able to workout with this thing on a regular basis right now as I'm leaving for New York on Sunday, back for a week and then gone again. But I'll do what I can in the mean time. Now don't look for my arms to rival Gabi's or Kelly's anytime soon as I can't see that ever happening. I think I have genetically inherited underarm sagginess from my grandmother, you know when you wave goodbye to someone and so do your arms?.......but who knows maybe by Thanksgiving I'll be giving them a run for their money. Ok, for sure not Gabi as I'll bet she doesn't eat chocolate.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Whirlwind of Summer Plans

Just arrived back from Muskoka this afternoon where we were pampered to the hilt for the past three days. John had his regional conference there and since they love to include the whole family we were invited also. My oldest daughter was off at camp so my youngest was a touch apprehensive about going it alone without her sister who all of a sudden she started missing. Can't remember when that happened last. Within hours I was the one on my own as she found a whole gaggle ( what do they call a group of 13 year olds?) of kids to hang out with. John atttended meetings in the morning was was off for the afternoon so we got to spend some time just taking in the beauty of that part of Ontario.

Today I'm back at home and for once we left the house in perfectly tidy condition......yes, all that decluttering last week really did work. John is in town at a garden center picking up some mulch, the girls are playing basketball so hopefully I can manage to sneak in a few minutes in the studio. My work has just been so sadly neglected this last little while. Tomorrow is a write off as I am busy all day and Wednesday John's brother and sister in law arrive from Iqaluit, Nunavut for a two day visit. Sunday we leave for New York so I can attended my workshop with Carol Shinn and a much anticipated visit with Tracy Helgeson. She has been blogging lately about her gorgeous new studio which I am, I will admit, a tiny bit jealous of. If you saw the space I worked in you would understand. But I am so very happy for her she sure deserves it. Can't wait to see it live.

Here is a link to one of my favourite galleries The Bau-xi Gallery in Toronto They also have a sister gallery in Vancouver. They represent the best of the best. Drew Burnham is represented by them and his work is just stunning.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

On A Roll

Thread on Cotton

Yesterday went better than anticipated so today I'm on a roll. I've decided to tackle our overgrown gardens. Now John was always "the guy" when it came to taking care of all that but he's been unbelievably busy at work these days so the task has fallen upon me. If you saw the backyard you would know it has fallen on me. So this morning I went out and pulled some weeds and did some snipping of deadheads (I think that's a gardening term). There is still a lot to be done but today is a rather wet one and the mosquitoes are out in packs. I feel bad for our rhubarb though as it doesn't always get eaten. Our friend Jennifer who owns "Apple of My Pie" has a booth at the farmers market in Orillia and she sometimes raids the patch so at least in that way someone is enjoying it.

On the art front I've got a couple new galleries I am interested in but the application may have to wait until the end of summer as this one is just filling up too quickly. Check out OENO as it is one of the galleries I'm interested in.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008 much of my life do I spend on this?

Purple Fields
Work in Paint & Thread
I will spend today doing one of my least favourite things and that is decluttering. It seems like I spend a lot of time on this task only to find out within a week or so that the entire house looks like it did before I started. How can that possibly be? It makes me wonder how many hours of my life I've spent on this. Today I've decided I will tackle John's workshop which is in the basement. I don't know why we call it his workshop as he never does anything in there. Oh, the odd time he goes in there to get a nail or a drill but mostly it just seems to be the room that collects a whole lot of junk. If the girls don't know where something goes they just leave it in there. So the most dreaded room in the house is finally going to get a much needed make over. But I can promise you there will be no before and after pictures. I'll have two bags on the go. One for garbage and the other for Goodwill. I think it's going to be a long day.
Most summers are unbelievably laid back for us which suits our lifestyle just fine but this year seems to be the exception. I don't know why we jam packed so much into a couple of short months but I'm feeling really tight on time these days. Surprisingly enough I did finish "Copper Road" and am extremely pleased at how it all turned out. The wools and silks I used just shimmer in the piece. Can't wait to see what it looks like once it's framed.
Hope these summer days are treating you well,

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

I Love A Parade

Yesterday being Canada Day and all, the village held it's annual Canada Day Parade. I've been attending the festivities for the past 10 years now but have never seen as many people as I did yesterday. The very first parade started out with one float and a fire truck. We had just sat down in our lawn chairs to watch and within 5 minutes we were folding them up again and heading home. But the village really outdid itself yesterday as the entire thing from beginning to end must have been at least half a good half hour. Whoo Hoo!

My friend Joe led the parade with his bagpipes.......

Here are some of the sights from yesterday.

This sweet little girl was standing right beside us and couldn't resist heading out to dance with the local dance troupe.

What's a parade without the local beauty queen?

It can't be a true rural parade without some Johne Deere tractors.

You gotta have a smart car................

When the parade ended everyone walked on over to the community hall where we were treated to some great local entertainment, strawberry cake and ice cream. Here are my friends Andy and Charlie singing "Bring Down The Government" just as Garfield Dunlop our local MPP for Simcoe North walked in the door. They did warn us it was an anarchy song. I say perfect timing.

Fields of Red

Fields of Red
Work in Paint & Thread

Off to the Silverbridge Gallery to drop off some work. Will post this afternoon.