I spent yesterday afternoon at Carol Law Conklin’s house and studio. They’re really the same thing, her house and studio. Her work is everywhere you look, some hanging on walls, some piled up in corners, ready to go to the next gallery or exhibit. And her studio takes up space not just inside her house, but outside as well. (she keeps her dye baths in her yard)
Carol’s started making her batiks in the 1970’s. She stopped for many years while she and her husband Dick dedicated their lives to their Dairy Farm. But her love of nature and animals, especially horses and cows (although now she has a llama who prances around her yard) can be seen in her batiks. She’s also drawn the the mythical side of animals and the earth and that informs her work also.
I took four videos of Carol demonstrating her batik process. I’ll be posting them over the next few days. I was enthralled watching Carol work, I hope you enjoy it as much as I did. The video above is the first in the series.
Carol also has a blog and reproduces much of her work as functional art on scarves, trivets, notecards and in a bunch of other forms. This makes her art more accessible to more of us. Her website is Amity Farm Batik and you can see it and more of her work here.
Oh Carol I said, as she stood in front of her Batiks, you look just like your work. She did not make the shirt she was wearing to her Opening Reception at the Valley Artisian’s Market, but she could have.
Carol and her husband Dick were dairy farmers until they sold the farm about 8 years ago. They still have one of their cows named Steppin and a llama named Vanilla. Sometimes they show up in her work.
Carol told me all the years she spent farming she was saving up images for the work she’s doing now. Some of it based on myths and others showing the stories the earth tells from what goes on under the ground to what’s happening in the sky above. Plants, animals, earth, water, sky, Phoenix’s and Unicorns.
Carol’s work is labor intensive often taking months to complete one piece. From creating the drawings with hot wax to mixing the dyes and waiting for it all to set. To make her work more accessible she sells inexpensive reproductions on a number of items, including fabric and paper prints, trivets, cuttingboards, and notecards. (you can see them here)
Here’ s a short video of some of Carol’s work and her talking about her work yesterday during opening reception at the Valley Artisian’s Market in Cambridge NY. Her work will be on display there through May 3rd.
Carol and her husband Dick were dairy farmers for many years. When they sold the farm a few years ago, Carol picked up where she left off as an artist and started creating her batiks again. A lover of farm animals, nature and horses, she said she was storing up images during all her years of farming.
And I believe it, because Carol doesn’t seem to be short of ideas. Her images deal with farm life, plants and animals and are also based in mythology. She’s as interested in what’s going on below the ground as on the earth and in the sky.
In her batik, “Caught in the Thunderstorm” Carol draws from her own experience of having her farm house struck by lightening. She uses horses to depict the turmoil and power of the storm. The dark horses darting the thunder and lightening in the sky, while the red horse below waits for the storm to pass. When I read on Carol’s blog about the experience that inspired this piece, I could see how it captured the fear and awe Carol was feeling as she lay in bed with her husband and the storm raged around them.
Caught in the Thunderstorm is one of the many pieces Carol will be showing and selling at the Bedlam Farm Open House, which is just about two short weeks away. She will have her original batiks and prints on fabric, note cards, trivets and cutting boards. She’ll also be selling her batik scarves.
As dedicated to her work as she is, Carol still has the farm in her heart. Not long after selling her farm Carol bought back one of her favorite cows, Steppin. Carol has her work in many galleries around the country including in the Valley Artisian’s Market in Cambridge NY. She was just admitted into The Batik Guild, an international organization. You can also see more of her work and get to know Carol a little better on her blog Amity Farm Batik.
I walked from room to room in Carol’s old farm house as she showed me her work. Her art was everywhere, hanging on walls, stored in boxes, framed and unframed, upstairs and down, in her car and on her porch. She has large original batiks that she sells for $1000 and small prints that she sells for $30. She has scarves and trivets and cards and mouse pads and pillows. Some of her work is framed and some of it hangs loosely from decorative wooded dowels. Carol is going to be in three different exhibits before she shows her work in the June Bedlam Farm Open House. I was fortunate enough to get to see it all before the other shows began.
It was the first time I met Carol, we had only “talked” on facebook. But I had seen pictures of her work and from the way she presented it and wrote about it, I knew she was a professional. And then I found out she lived only a few towns away from me and I knew having her art in the Open House was going to work out.
Carol and her husband Dick have been Dairy Farmers most of their lives. When they sold the farm a few years ago, Carol went back to doing what she went to school for, Art. And specifically, batik. That was in the 1970’s and she told me that all the time she was farming, she was gathering the images that she now uses in her art. That might be one reason she’s so prolific, she has a head and heart full of creative ideas that are finally being released into the world. Lucky for us.
Carol’s Batiks are paintings really. She paints with wax and pigment. From what she told me, the process is a constant flow. She only has so much control over the hot wax that she drips and brushes on the fabric. I didn’t get to see her work, but from how she described it, it seemed like a dance. She starts with an idea, maybe just one image that she sketch’s on a piece of paper, but works free hand on the fabric. Then she lets the piece evolve as she works on it. So it’s a somewhat spontaneous process. You can see the motion in her images, they are full of life.
We also talked about patterns in nature and her desire to depict what goes on under the ground, as well as on the earth and in the sky. Based in nature, her work has a mystical quality to it. It’s filled with her love of the natural world and animals.
So I’m thrilled, not only be selling and showing Carol’s work in my School House Gallery in June, but I’m also excited that she my neighbor. We’re already finding out that we have a lot in common, a good beginning for a friendship.
Click hereto see more of Carol’s work on her website Amity Farm Batik.
I first saw Carol Law Conklin’s batiks on the Bedlam Farm Creative Group. I was immediately impressed by her use of the medium and the beauty of her imagery and command of color. I also liked how she wrote about her work and the process and often showed photos of her working. This made me understand how serious she is about her work.
I had no idea that she lived so close to me (just a few towns over) until I looked at the blog Amity Farm Batik. Carol studied printmaking in school then got into Batik. For years she and her husband owned a dairy farm and when they sold it, Carol began making her art again.
Carol has shown her work in many galleries and this June she’ll be showing and selling her Batiks at the Bedlam Farm Open House. I’m looking forward to meeting her in person and visiting her studio in the spring. Her themes are just right for my School House Gallery, farms, nature, horses and myths.
So have a look at her work on her blog and see what she has for sale on ETSY. And come to the Open House this June and meet Carol and see her work in person.
I saw the cats as I tossed the fabric in the washing machine. They were unlike the other pieces of fabric that Karen sent to me. Not only was each square the perfect size to make a potholder around, but they had a mystical feeling to me, like tarot cards. Each with their own mysterious message.
I knew right away that they would work best in the same way I made some Dragonfly potholders a couple of years ago.
A part of me thought, they would be too easy, too much fun to make. Like they had to be difficult or labored over to be good. That’s an idea that I rejected long ago, but still haunts me sometimes, as it did today.
But not for long.
Instead, I thought of the idea of taking the path of least resistance. Which always conjures up an image of a flowing stream finding its way around a fallen tree.
There are enough struggles in life without creating unnecessary ones.
The cats were in a grid of nine squares and I quickly got to work cutting them apart and finding the fabric I’d be using with them. Lots of it was fabric that I just received in the past couple of weeks from other people. I don’t know how that works, this coming together of fabric from so many different people and places at just the right time.
But I’ve come to trust it.
So today, after lunch with my friend and batik artist, Carol Conklin I got started making some mystical cat potholders. It was a pure delight and I can’t wait to work on the rest of them.
Pink Moon is the biggest quilt I’ve ever made. I didn’t mean to make it so big, it’s just how it turned out.
I did use the brown fabric I bought on Friday, which was just right. Tomorrow I’ll work on the backing and start putting the quilt together and maybe even get to start tacking it.
Pink Moon is already sold. I had a few people ask about it. Chris was interested in the quilt for her son. She told me he had some of Carol Conklin’s batiks and loved them.
Carol’s moon and tree batik added just the other element that the quilt needed. The colors were just right but also how she represents the earths layering from earth to sky. The same is evident in the “pottery shard” pieces that I made with the woven Guatemalan fabric and the cranes and butterflies I used to frame them.
You can see more of Carol’s batiks on her website Amity Farm Batik. She reproduces her batiks on all kinds of functional art from housewares to clothing. You can see them all and buy them here.
The moon seemed to grow out of the treetops like a flower last night. The pink aura which my camera seemed to create adds to the illusion. I sent my photo of the moon to my friend Suzy. We often trade full moon photos.
Last nights moon was a supermoon, meaning it was closer to the earth because of its elliptical orbit. It was also known as the Pink Moon, because of the pink flowers that grow this time of year.
But the moon in the trees also reminded me of one of Carol Conklin’s batiks that I was thinking of using in my new quilt. I pulled it out yesterday, the colors and subject matter working so well with my “pottery shard” quilt pieces.
First I finished up framing the last two shards, then I tried to figure out how they would all become a whole quilt.
By the end of the day, this is what I came up with. I may keep adding fabric to the individual pieces until they collide and fit together. But I won’t know for sure until I start working on it.
This is a bit of a different way for me to work on a quilt, having the pieces all set within the space of the quilt. It’s sure to change as I continue to work on it. Right now I can’t picture it finished, but I do know it will happen.
Yesterday as I was cleaning my studio, I pulled a few pieces of fabric from my piles and put them aside.
After I was done cleaning, I laid them on my floor. I wasn’t ready to begin working yesterday, but when I got into my studio this morning, I began with the grid of Emily’s painted fabric and the old quilt squares.
Sometime last year, at the beginning of the Pandemic, Emily gave me the painted fabric pieces. We, like so many people, were working on being hopeful. Sometimes it worked, sometimes it didn’t.
I’ve been think of Emily’s “hope” paintings as I’ve come to know them, since then. But it was only this morning that I knew I would be making something with them.
In one of my piles of fabric, I had two birds that I quickly drew on a piece of linen a couple of months ago. The seemed the perfect addition to Emily’s painted pieces.
But I wanted to sew them. So I found a couple of old linen napkins laid a piece of red fabric under one along with batting and backing and drew the first bird using my sewing machine.
Then I cut away the white linen to reveal the red beneath it.
Then I made a green bird…
…and started putting them together…
I wanted to keep the uneven shapes of Emily’s painted pieces, so I’m adding fabric to them….