Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

License to Lift

Thursday, July 31st, 2014
Jon taking a picture of an old barn on the way home from Albany today.

Jon taking a picture of an old barn on the way home from Albany today. A beautiful thing to see.

Ever since Jon started taking pictures (way before we were married)  he has tried several times in several different ways to get me to assist him by carrying his lenses and tripods etc.  Although before we were together I did many different paying jobs for Jon from researching the history of Old Bedlam Farm to driving him around on book tour to repairing slate roofs at the farm.  But I always had a visceral reaction to carrying his camera equiptment around for him.  It was just something I wouldn’t do.

Until a few weeks ago when he came out of the hospital and not only couldn’t he carry his camera, (he couldn’t lift anything over 5lbs.)  he wasn’t allowed to even lift it to take a picture.  So he finally got what he wanted, not, I’m sure,  that he would say it was worth it.   So for three weeks I’ve been hauler and at time a human tripod.  And I was happy to do it, most of the time anyway.  I tried to be patient and open minded about it, after all, I know it was just as or more frustrating for Jon not to be able to take pictures,  but there were times when it got to me.  And as much as I tried to hide my  irritation, well, Jon just knows me too well for that.

But now, that’s all over.  Today we met with Jon’s  Heart Surgeon  Dr. Akujuo (who he still has a crush on and I don’t blame him, she’s deserving of it)  and she gave him the OK to take pictures again.  So on the way home it was like old times stopping on the side of the road for the old barn or landscape.

I have  a feeling with Jon’s refurbished heart and license to lift, we’re going to be stopping on the side of the road more than ever.  And nothing could make me happier, this weekend I’ll get a new sketch pad and we’ll be ready for every old barn and landscape we can find  in Washington County.

Shawna Makes It Glow

Wednesday, July 30th, 2014

ShawnaLast night I had a dream of a woman in a Native American bird mask and wings. The wings, were filled with drawings of everyday things, like lamps and dishes and furniture.  The mask and wings glowed yellow.   Another woman who was  standing next to the masked woman said “Shawna makes it glow”.

When I woke up I looked up the name Shawna, a name that has no meaning to me.  The Wikipedia definition is “God is Gracious”.  The Urban Dictionary meaning is “a sexy woman”.  It made me think of the  Divine Feminine and the idea that pleasure connects us to divinity.

When I looked for images of the mask and wings I saw in my dream, I found it was similar to the Native American Thunderbird.  Traditionally the Thunderbird is said to make wind and thunder when it flaps it’s wings and lightening comes from its eyes.  It’s a symbol of strength and power.

I’m still sorting this out and I want to research it some more.  But I have no doubt it will make its way further into my work.

Buying My Art

Tuesday, July 29th, 2014
"In My Tree"

“In My Tree”

So yesterday I wrote a big long post about how I finally feel free from the pressure of having to make and sell my art every day. And today I spent the day updating my Buy My Art page on my blog. ( A different kind of creative).

Obviously it’s  has been on my mind so I decided to take a look my Buy My Art page, something I haven’t done for a while.  And I saw that it was quite out of date.  It was interesting to me how much I’ve changed since making that page.  At the time, I was so hesitant and ambiguous about selling my work.  I had this whole page dedicated to selling my art but didn’t have much of anything to buy on it, just a lot of “maybe this and maybe that”.

So I’ve revamped my Buy My Art page.  And now it actually has something on it to buy. (It seems I always had some things stashed away that I was saving for I don’t know what, so I figure, why not put them up on my Buy My Art page)   And I hope it’s a bit more clear and direct in how to go about doing that.  I also have some of Jon’s work for sale on the page and I hope to always have a line or two of notecards for sale.

This page will continue to change as I sell what’s on  it and put up new work.  So check it out and let me know what you think.  There’s some new stuff (from both me and Jon) on it that I’ve never put up  for sale before.   Just click here or on the words Buy My Art at the top of my blog.  And let me know what you think.

Jon Katz 5x7 signed photos.

A bunch of Jon’s 5×7 signed photos

Freedom To Be Creative

Monday, July 28th, 2014
New Normal

Tacking my quilt “New Normal”

One of the  things that happened when Jon was in the hospital and even after he came home was that I wasn’t working.  And before he went into the hospital I hadn’t been in my studio because I was preparing for the Open House.  So all totaled, I didn’t work in my studio for about four weeks.  This is the longest amount of time I’ve ever spent not working in my studio.  I’ve taken vacations of 4 or 5 days, but would never have imagined not being in my studio for so long.

I remember last year, when Jon had Lyme Disease and was so sick he couldn’t get out of bed, wondering what would happen if I couldn’t get into my studio to do my work.  I worried about it not so much creatively as financially.  Because I had gotten in the habit of making something in a day or two (or longer for a quilt) and selling it right away.  I got good at making things people wanted to buy.  Which, of course, is a good thing because it allows me to do what I love and make a living at it.

But lately, the pressure was starting to get to me.  I felt that if I made something and it didn’t sell right away (meaning within a few hours or a day at the latest) that I was over.  People had gotten tired of my work and didn’t want it anymore.  Knowing if my work was good was becoming dependent on whether or not someone wanted to buy it or how many comments I got about it on facebook or my blog.  I was looking too much outside of myself for validation.

But then it happened.  Jon was in the hospital and I wasn’t making art to sell for four whole weeks.  And suddenly my great fear of not making art and selling it every day vanished. I realized that I could survive without spending every Monday through Friday doing my work.  And with this realization came a sense of freedom.  Freedom in knowing that I could spend time in my studio and make something without knowing if it will sell or not.  Freedom to be creative in a new way, to explore what I might do if I didn’t have to think about selling it.

The anxiety of having to sell everything I make, that I’ve had for the past six years since I started my business, has dissipated.  That’s why I was able to make my Linen Napkin Notebook pieces and “Boot” which I made yesterday. This doesn’t mean I don’t want to sell my art anymore, or that I don’t need to.  I do.  It just takes some of the pressure off and allows me to be more creative and try different things.

I would never have imagined that Jon having open heart surgery could relieve stress for me in some way.  I would have imagined it could only do the opposite.  I hope not to squander this gift, to be able to remember it and incorporate it into my life permanently.  It was too hard to come by to just give away.


Sunday, July 27th, 2014
Close up of "Boot"

Close up of “Boot”

It’s like I went to sleep a few weeks ago and woke up in another world where everything is a little off. It’s those familiar things that keep me grounded and feeling safe in all the unknown. Walking is a touchstone and my work helps me make sense of it all.

I don’t know why I got the urge to hand stitch a tiny boot, with a needle and thread on a doily this morning.  I haven’t had a desire to hand stitch anything in years.  I do know there’s something cathartic about sewing by hand for me, so I imagine that has something to do with it.   An unconscious reaction, a form of healing.  It was also probably inspired by the 18th century samples I saw yesterday at the Williams College Museum.  One from 1799 perfectly preserved, perfectly stitched.  I thought of the girl who made it when I was haphazardly stitching my boot, free of someone’s elses idea of perfection.

And when I got to the laces, they didn’t want to fly, bows up and ends out, like usual.  They wanted to hang.  Anchored and weighed down at the same time,  by safety and the unknown.

Boot is about movement, being grounded and safe, and the unknown.

This is all very small.  The doily is 5″x5″ from edge to edge and the interior space that the boot is stitched on is 2″x 2″.  The boot itself is 1″x 1″.   From the top of the doily to the bottom of the safety pin it’s 10″ total.  I attached the doily to the wall with six straight pins.

Boot is for sale.  It’s $45 + $7 shipping.  If you’re interested in it, you can email me here or at




“Boot” from top to bottom

Key and safety pin

Key and safety pin




“New Normal” Front and Back

Friday, July 25th, 2014

Normal front and back

I am so tired, physically and emotionally today, I could hardly get myself to lift a piece of fabric.   But,  I did manage to pieced together the back to my “New Normal” quilt.   It surprises me how high energy it looks compared to how I feel.  I guess it’s inside of me somewhere, all that energy, just hiding out for a day or so.  Don’t know how much further I’ll get today, I just may take the rest of  the afternoon off.

Chicks Discover Garbage, Out My Window

Thursday, July 24th, 2014

chick on garbageI heard all this noise like someone was banging around the garbage pails and when I looked out my window there was one of the chicks on top of the pail.  All the hens were hanging around like they just discovered garbage.  They’re all getting used to being together even thought the hens still chase the chicks away from any food I give them. They’re definitely not into sharing.

Linen Napkin Notebook 3: “Normally Normal”

Thursday, July 24th, 2014
Normally normal

Normally normal

I found a scrap of paper in a pile of scraps of paper,  with a red pen drawing of a girl over squiggly pencil lines.  The words: written in marker stitched over image, next to it.  Good idea I thought, guess that’s why I made a note of it.

That morning (a few days ago) the words, When things started to get back to normal, kept running through my head. So in my studio I pulled out one of  my white linen napkins from my massive pile and a marker and started to write.   The words poured out and I put the piece aside.

Yesterday when was looking for a picture for my blog,  I came across one of the drawings I did while Jon was in the hospital.  It had a girl standing upside down on a book.  It seemed just right for the words.  So this morning when I got in my studio, I had an idea of what I wanted to do.  My first version got messed up when I stitched the girls eye over a tiny fray in the napkin and the thread wouldn’t hold.  So it was either start again or have a one eyed girl.  On the second version (this one) I changed the words a bit and got the girl right.  For me the tree was grounding and “normal”.   I saw it as a part of the piece even before I knew there would be a  girl.  Then some of those hearts that hung off the IV lines in the Hospital Drawings.  A heart tree.

My decisions about what to stitch and what to draw with marker are completely intuitive.  I stared at the linen napkin until I saw what it was supposed to look like.

I’ll probably sell this piece eventually.  I have to find a way to finish the edge.  But I have found that I like looking at the three of these Linen Napkin Notebook pieces together.   I feel like they’re forming a story.  Or maybe each one is its own story. I’m not sure what it is, but something makes me want to hang onto them for a little while.

It was when things started to get back to normal
that she realized that normal
isn’t static. It undulates like
the Battenkill  where she normally
would be spending these  Summer
Hot July  afternoons (floating down it with her lover) if
things were normal.

Listening To Fanny

Wednesday, July 23rd, 2014
Lulu and Fanny

Lulu and Fanny

It’s one of those really hot, muggy July days where it feels like at any moment a thunderstorm can come through and cool things off for a while, but it never does.  Jon and I spent most of the day driving back and forth to Albany where he had a doctor’s appointment.   We also squeezed in a sushi lunch and got home just in time to feed the animals.

This afternoon, the sheep were all crowded in the pole barn, catching the cool air that streams in through the spaces in the wood from the big barn the pole barn is attached to.  The donkeys followed me out to the gate hoping for some treats, which I didn’t have, but promised them some corn husks and cobs after dinner.  “It’s hot” I thought watching the sheep pant in their wool coats.  Then I placed my hand on Fanny’s back and this time I said the obvious out loud, “It’s hot Fanny”.  And as I stood there with Fanny, my hand on her back, I heard a voice in my head say, “It feels good if you just stand still”.   And I knew the voice wasn’t mine,  I knew it was Fanny talking to me, because it wasn’t just the voice that made me understand what she was saying.  At the same time  I heard the voice, I  saw and felt what was being communicated to me.  It was like I was seeing through Fanny down to her bones and could feel that the heat felt good on her bones.  Then I got that soft dreamy sensation of being in a hot tub.  Of course, I thought, if you don’t have to move, the heat feels really good.

In the past I might have wondered where that voice came from, thinking it was maybe mine, but now I have no doubt it was Fanny communicating with me.  Because it wasn’t just the voice, it was the whole experience.  I felt it heard it and saw it all at once.

And I don’t doubt it because I feel like I’ve gotten closer to the donkeys.  More and more,  I spend my time with them listening.  And that kind of listening isn’t about hearing with my ears, its hearing with my whole body and opening my heart.  I keep thinking of the story  I heard about Mother Theresa.  When asked what she said to God when she prayed, she replied ” I listen”  and when  asked what God said to her she said, ” He listens”.   I’m not saying the donkeys are God and I’m Mother Theresa, but it’s the same idea about listening.  It’s what I feel is happening between me and the donkeys.   I actually think of that story and that kind of listening when I’m with the donkeys.  It’s giving and receiving at the same time equally and it seems, from that, comes a true understanding between us.

For years Jon has been saying that I communicate with the donkeys.  I never believed him, but eventually I could see it in the pictures he took of me and them together. For some reason, although I liked the idea of it, I didn’t want to believe it was true.  But now, I don’t want to pretend anymore that it isn’t true.  I think something special is happening between me and the donkeys and I don’t want to let it slip away.  I guess I’m a little nervous about seeming like some kind of crazy donkey lady.  But then I guess there are worse things to be known for than that.  And donkeys can live to be 40 years old, so we’re going to be spending a long time together.  We may as well get to know each other in what ever ways we can.


My Favorite Part of “New Normal”

Tuesday, July 22nd, 2014
New Normal Detail

New Normal Detail

This is a detail from my new quilt New Normal.  I think it’s my favorite part of the quilt.