It may sound a bit odd that I need recovery time after a retreat, but I do. I spend a lovely seven days in Portland, Maine. I went a bit early prior to Susan Carlson’s Monday through Friday class teaching her fabric collage technique. I am a bit sleep deprived. I got up early each morning because I did not want to miss a thing, but my hotel room faced a lively bar that had music thumping until 1:30 am every night. Yesterday I spent a really long travel day coming home. I missed and had to reschedule plane connections going to Maine and coming home, but eventually arrived safely each time!
This retreat has been eagerly anticipated. I had spent weeks refining two drawings, then a full day choosing fabrics to take. I was not sure which project option I would choose. I picked the one that I felt would allow me to learn the most: a head and shoulders view of a Toggenburg goat named Cindy.
I had read both of Susan’s books about fabric collage and I had been following her blog for a year, so nothing she presented was a great surprise. It was very useful to practice the technique with input from Susan. She urged me to use colors brighter than I would have otherwise chosen. It took days of practice until I began to select smaller bits of fabric from many sources rather than a larger piece from a single fabric. Generous fellow students helped by donating vivid fabrics that I never would have purchased. Here are photos taken on the first day and fifth day of the retreat. I will have to set the project aside until I finish things that have a June deadline, but I’m keeping this collage project propped up in my studio and will work on it a bit to keep my motivation up.
Cindy on Friday
Cindy on Monday
Teacher Susan Carlson
I am labeling and sorting the photos that I took in the last year. I have a 32GB SD card in my camera, so there are a lot of images to go through before I can clear my card and begin again. Here are some favorites I took last March when I was able to put a big checkmark next to the item on my bucket list: Spend a day at the Berlin Zoo.
I put some big checks on my bucket list in the past week, having just returned from a wonderful international trip. I did typical touristy things, but spent most of my time in huge, wonderful art museums. First on my list was Nymphéas at Musée de l”Orangerie — two oval rooms with eight enormous canvases of waterlilies painted late in Monet’s career. Musée d’Orsay took most of another day. On Friday, one of the days it is open late, I arrived when the doors opened and spent all day at the Louvre. Rembrandts, Da Vincis and lovely Vermeers; there is so much more to enjoy than the Mona Lisa. That should be enough images in my head to hold me for a while!
a lovely Vermeer
I just returned from a vacation to South Dakota and Minnesota, seeing America’s heartland of flat to rolling terrain and thousands of acres of farmland. I was saddened to see the drought evident in whitened cornstalks and grass that crunches underfoot.
But, I was encouraged to see many wind turbines and ethanol manufacturing facilities producing energy alternatives to fossil fuel. I often feel like I am only a small voice crying out for my fellow Americans to be wise enough to use non-polluting, renewable energy sources, and fear my voice is drown out by powerful organizations that profit by use of fossil fuel energy.
I just began a new job teaching at an outdoor school. I’ll be teaching upper elementary and high school age students about biology, ecology, survival skills, history, and the scientific method. This could be a way to amplify and extend the reach of my ecologically conscientious small voice to many people of the upcoming generation.
I look forward to camping all year. For something I love to do, I don’t do enough of it. I’m packing by throwing all possible cargo into a box, then paring down to the essentials.
I’ll camp with my packgoat friends…folks who hike using goats as pack animals. Goats are companionable animals who become bonded to their humans, but do not adore them like dogs will. People who practice this rare sport of packgoating are animal-lovers, outdoorsy, generous, family-oriented, and creative. I am amazed every time at the talents my co-campers display. Several are musicians. The very best part of the weekend will be that I’ll be unplugged from technology and totally free from any obligations.