Monthly Archives: September 2012

Of Hops and Hummingbirds

I spent my weekend alternating between sketching and organizing in the not-quite-so-new studio… satisfying yet exhausting.

If you click to enlarge the thumbnails (I haven’t quite gotten the hang of re-sizing galleries) you’ll see much better detail, although the fact that these were photographed rather than scanned does cut down on the crispness of the image I’m afraid.  (Note to self – get a new scanner.)  The hops I planted this spring are evidently ripening, although if my neighbor hadn’t mentioned it I wouldn’t have known.  In spite of having a family connection to hops (see the hand-written text), this is a new “crop” for me.  Funny how you’ve never paid much attention to something, and then suddenly one day everyone you know seems to be discussing it.  I recently learned along those lines that when making beer, you just toss in a bunch of hops with the mashed up grains and let them stew for a bit… and here I thought maybe you had to wait for berries to appear, or make slits in the bark for the beer juice to drip out like with a maple tree, or something quite complicated!  And I have also learned that when you lift up the flaps of the cone, there are tiny yellow ovary-looking spots that are filled with powder (think the cheezy powder on cheetos) which smells very strongly like – beer!  Duh.  Or rather, the beer smells like the hops, given that hops came first.  Another mystery unraveled.

The second sketch is the view from my studio work table.  (Note to self – don’t try to capture eyelet lace curtains again – too fussy.)  When I was about two-thirds finished, a hummingbird buzzed up to the geraniums in the window box, a chartreuse gem of a creature that made me catch my breath.  This doesn’t do justice to the bird or the exuberant jungle of the cottage garden, or the wild aspect of the neighbor’s garden beyond the fence, but I’m determined to keep at this sequence until I get it right.

And in the meantime, I have also vowed to put in at least one hour every day in the studio going through the papers that have resulted from a lifetime of writing and journaling and sketching, taking up literally half the available studio space.  There is also a huge stack of art pieces that need to be sold, kidnapped, loaned out, given away, or otherwise jettisoned…  I mean seriously, what does one do with these things?  How does one sort through the flotsam and jetsam of one’s life?  Fascinating reminiscences for me, of passing interest to a few other people in my world maybe, but, essenetially a waste of space.  Who in this world will ever have time to look at them, much less read all that has been recorded, just here, just in this one little building that is now my studio?  Just one life among the billions…  Of course,  there is no more time for digesting a blog than for shelves of sketchbooks and journals, but at least a blog is just a bit of charged ions, not tons of paper taking up square footage and it doesn’t have to be recycled.  All of which begs the question of why continue to write and journal and sketch… because.  Because I love to do it.  With or without audiences, it is intensely satisfying.

When I finish a sketch, I prop the sketchbook on the piano music stand.  I walk by it several times a day, before it is eventually replaced by another, and each time I see something new.  With each glance, I feel a small thrill of, “I made that!  What fun!” or “What a wonderful shade of red!”, or sometimes, “WHAT was I thinking?!”  It is a constant feeback loop of learning, questioning, intensifying.  So yeah.  Because.

New Studio!

sketch of garden gate

"Shawna's Garden Gate", mixed media by Kerry McFall

Labor Day Weekend was labor-intensive as we moved into our new studio/office space.  What a find!  Just blocks from home, it’s a tiny cottage in the garden of another artist’s home.  She must surely hold the patent for “shabby chic”, the whole property is what my son described as “SO perfect for you, so Artsy-Quiltsy!”  The garden itself is “perma-culture”, overflowing with vegetables and herbs and the occasional nosegay of artificial flowers… rescued architectural bits turn up here and there, mirrors make everything seem bigger and brighter, fountains burble, grapes drape, and birds chirp.  I did a hurry-up sketch this afternoon in between spurts of organizing inside.  It will take me weeks to capture just the garden in my sketchbook – and I’m very much looking forward to it!  The interior is going to be a nice change from my prior spot, with plenty of natural light and wall display space and shelves – although at the moment it is hopelessly cluttered.  Even after purging 20 to 30% of my fabric “stash”, and with 6 boxes of art and craft supplies  in the back of the car (look out, here we come MECCA in Eugene (a crafts recycler)), it’s still overflowing.  Clearly another purge is in order… I found a tiny white box filled with mini-cones that I collected when I was still living in Klamath Falls, so at least 48 years ago.  That’s the one that made me wonder, “Am I a hoarder?”  No, I think not.  But I am looking forward to being able to walk through my new studio soon!

Avalanche of Apples

bag of apples spilling

"A Is For Avalanche", mixed media by Kerry McFall

“Too much cinnamon,” was the verdict when I made applesauce from Wendy’s first bag of apples, so I asked for another bag.   A few days later, after work in the parking lot we transferred a brown paper bag filled with heavy, ripe Gravenstiens (we think that’s what they are) from her car to mine.  My baking Smartcar was infused with the sweet rich scent of warm apples, and suddenly applesauce seemed like too much effort on a lovely August afternoon.  Once home, I hauled them inside and set the bag on the kitchen table…r-r-r-rip…. Avalanche!  Clearly they were begging to be painted.  Sometimes you just need to succumb to the powers of nature!

I used my brush pen a bit to capture the outlines, then layers and layers of pencil and watercolor.  I played with a bit of text, and decided that either I need to lay out the text in pencil first, or just go all scribbly, because the combination doesn’t turn out quite as I had hoped.  Maybe a larger “illuminated” A next time?