Saturday, September 30, 2006

Steal this image

I know there are people who think we are nuts to display our artwork on the internet. After all, it is just so easy to steal, when it is out there like that—that's the way the argument goes. I do think about that, but really, I can't get too worked up about it. It's not that I don't care about someone stealing my work, it's just that I'm not sure it is really that easy to do, or that profitable. And what do we mean by "stealing" the work—using the same idea or methods?—downloading the photo for some kind of use?—making a literal copy of the work?

Ed Maskevitch wrote a blog entry called "Only I can be me" which talks about how openly he shares his painting techniques and methods with students and others. He says, "As they tried to use my tools I could see their creativity begin to slowly open up. Each person was creating a variation on the methods. This was not because they were trying to vary it but because they were bringing who and what they were to the methods." It's not so easy to copy someone else's work or way of working.

Earlier this week someone named Virginia took me to task, in a blog comment, about the photo I took at the Allied Arts gallery. After I took the picture I saw a sign that requested no photos. I didn't take any more photos, but I did post the one I took on the blog. Virginia wrote, "why is this photo still here (with no artist credited), ready to be stolen by anyone who looks at your blog?" She has a point, in that I knowingly posted a photo that I was specifically directed not to take. Maybe I will remove the photo. I suppose this ethical lapse didn't really register with me because I find it so unlikely that anyone could "steal" this image and find a way to benefit from it. Could they, with the assistance of this photo, somehow duplicate that charming mug, reproduce it by the thousands and somehow make a pile of money from it? Pretty unlikely—and illegal (copyright, you know). They could steal the idea of a face on a mug, but that is not exactly an original idea to begin with.

Ironically, the same day I got Virginia's comment, I made an interesting discovery about some of my own work. Deborah mentioned Susan Carlson on her blog and provided a link to her web site. I have always loved Susan Carlson's work, so I clicked on the link and was both fascinated and a little horrified to find a series of pieces featuring beetles on her site. I was horrified because they were so similar to a series of beetles that I did several months ago. My anxiety came, not from any suspicion that she copied my work—I'm pretty sure she is not even aware of me or my work, nor does she need to troll the internet for ideas—but that other people would see both and assume that I had copied her. I didn't know about her beetles when I made mine. I have calmed down. Ideas are out there in the ether and there are very few truly original ideas left. But we are each original and the way we execute our ideas is what makes our work unique and hard for anyone else to duplicate.

Yes, I'm sure many of you can cite instances of image theft that constituted real or perceived harm. I know it could happen and I know my casual attitude could come back to bite me. I just don't think I can work up the paranoia to worry about it in the meantime.

Friday, September 29, 2006

Cristóbal González Guzmán

Last night we went to the opening of an exhibit of work by Cristóbal González Guzmán at the Onda Gallery here in Portland. (that is my handsome son-in-law, Carlos, on the sidewalk) Cristóbal is a friend of my daughter, Emily, who lives in Quito, Ecuador. He owned a gallery there for a number of years and is a well-known painter in Ecuador. He also teaches at Colegio Americano, the American School in Quito, where Emily taught for 4 years. Last January we visited him in Quito. It was a memorable evening, which I wrote about on our Ecuador blog here.

Cristóbal's work looked wonderful and was really nicely displayed. There seemed to be a lot of interest and positive comments.

When we arrived, Onda owner, Allan Oliver, was talking to a fellow who was from Ecuador, who had seen the show advertised and come specifically to see work by a fellow Ecuadorean.

Here are more of Cristobal's paintings. That's my daughter, Emily, in the red shirt.

Here is Emily talking with Allan Oliver about the show. If you are in the Portland vicinity, I urge you to see the show. My photos don't do the paintings justice. It will be at Onda through October 24. Onda is located at 2215 NE Alberta St.

Thursday, September 28, 2006

This is what I did with the paisley fabric

I tried out all kinds of backgrounds for this crazy hat lady. Nothing worked until I tried the paisley. Yes, it's a little, um, busy. But I just went crazy with the prints and I do love the richness of all that pattern. I think pattern is where my head is these days.

Where did she come from? I thought I was embarked on a series of architectural images, but after I finished the domes I just kept seeing this crazy hat in my mind. (it actually looks a little like a paisley shape in itself, doesn't it? Do you call just one a "paisl"?) Now I am envisioning different kinds of hats. Maybe "hats" is my new thing. Ironic, because I look stupid in hats. My head is way too big. Maybe this is my way of dealing with hats.

Who says my art doesn't express deep emotions?

Wednesday, September 27, 2006


I love, love, love paisley prints. Always have. I can't even count how many paisley dresses and shirts I have owned over the years. Last week I found these great paisley paper napkins.

Did you know that the teardrop design that came to be known as paisley originated in India more than 2000 years ago? It got the name "paisley" in the early 1800's when Scottish soldiers serving in India brought back shawls in that design. The design was copied by weavers in the Scottish town of Paisley and they made the shawls quite popular.

Last week I showed you this pillow I made from a placemat. I think this paisley is quite fresh and modern looking.
I have to say I am especially fond of red paisley. These cushions are on my diningroom chairs.
About 14 years ago I bought a couple yards of this Liberty paisley print. It has been in my stash all these years waiting for just the right project. Today I cut into it for the first time. It is exactly the right thing for something I am working on. One of these days (soon) I will show you.

John Lennon owned a Rolls Royce that was painted with a paisley motif.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Allied Arts in Richland

Another impressive thing we saw in Richland last weekend was Allied Arts, which is a community arts organization and gallery in Richland. They have a nice building near the beautiful park that runs along the Columbia River. I loved the mosaiced pot with the brushes that stands out in front. The steps up to the door have similar mosaic work on them.

Inside there is a sales area with a lot of wonderful craft and art work for sale, and a separate gallery room that had an exhibit of Hispanic art. They also sponsor classes and an outdoor art festival in the summer.

I think this is such a great thing to have in a community. Wouldn't it be wonderful if every community had a place for artists to display their work and for classes and events? Richland is not a big city.

I took this picture of some of the work that was for sale, then I saw the sign that asked that no pictures be taken. Oops. I loved that mug with the face on it, though, and just had to share it.

Monday, September 25, 2006

Tri-cities, wine and more

It was a great weekend for a road trip. The weather was glorious and the Columbia Gorge, always breathtaking, was beginning to show some fall color. It's about a three and a half hour drive to the tri-cities of Richland, Pasco and Kennewick, Washington where we were meeting 3 of Ray's fraternity brothers and their wives for a long overdue reunion.

Friday night consisted of a lot of catching up around a bottle of good bourbon. The "Idaho" boys have a lot of yarns to spin when they get together.

The next day we headed out into the countryside to taste wine. It was the weekend of the "crush" with lots of local wineries participating. Wine-making is a fairly recent innovation in the tri-cities area, but there are dozens of wineries around. We tasted some good and some pretty ordinary wines and saw very fancy wineries built to look like French Chateaus and Italian monasteries as well as wineries that were more along the lines of metal farm buildings. It was a fun day, the sky was incredibly blue and a good day to take pictures.

At one of the wineries they had an exibit by the artist who designed the wine label. It turned out she was a fiber artist. She shall remain nameless because I thought her work was, ummmm, shall we say "disappointing".

All in all, it was a lovely day.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006


I decided I wanted to finish the edges of the Domes quilt with piping. I took the piece, along with a sample of the piping I made, to my small group last week to get their opinion. They liked the piping, but someone said, "how about the corners?" I assured them that I thought it would turn the corners just fine. I sewed the piping on and, guess what? It really didn't turn those corners fine. It really rounded them off and I didn't like that so much.

Boy, I hate taking things apart, especially when I am in the home stretch and so close to being finished. I let it hang on the the wall for a couple of days and tried to talk myself into liking those rounded off corners. No go.

So I picked the old piping off, I went to the fabric store and bought some narrower cord and came back and made narrow piping. Much better. Now it is finished, though I may come up with some interesting hanging rod for it.

Yeah, yeah—there's a lesson here. It goes something like, "if you don't fix the thing that just isn't quite right, you are never going to like the piece." Or maybe it's "when someone asks about the corners, they might be onto something."

Monday, September 18, 2006

Monday footnote

I frittered away most of the day right here at the computer. My seat here affords me a view out the back door and this is what I saw earlier. This little guy found the stacked blocks Ray is using to redo part of the patio just the right vantage point from which to check things out.

Fallen leaves on the patio. Fall is here.

Monday, Monday

It has been a lazy morning. I am recovering from some kind of brief flu-ish sort of thing. Feeling much better this morning, but lacking energy and ambition. Ibuprofen and comfy clothes are the order of the day.

I've been thinking about how you quit seeing things that are right in front of you when you look at them long enough. I have had these little pillows for years. I made the two bargello ones probably 25 years ago in a fit of needlepointing. I made the other from a Ginny Beyer fabric that I liked at least 15 years ago. They are all small and relatively hard and the needlepoint is getting quite threadbare and you can see the canvas through it at this point. The photo is flattering. They are actually rattier in person.

My sweet sister-in-law, Brenda, may have noticed the tired condition of my pillows because she brought me this beautiful pillow when they came to visit this summer. It was designed by a designer named Janie Gross who has a line of pillows based on dried flowers. It looks so good (see how cleverly it relates to the lamp?) that I decided the old, tired pillows had to go.

Here is another new pillow, with a larger, squishier size and a brighter look. I made this one from a placemat that I bought at CostPlus. I just love the paisley pattern. I opened the seam on one end and stuffed fiberfil between the front and the back, then sewed it closed again.

I know, changing pillows in the living room is not a big deal, but it reminds me that change is good for the creative spirit. That little shock of seeing things for what they have become and not what you remember them to be reminds me to actually see what I'm looking at.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

This has got to be a little disappointing

One of the neat things about the site meter that is at the bottom of this page, is that it will tell you, among other things, on what site visitors to my blog, found the link to my blog. If a search engine, like Google, brought them to me, I can see what they were searching for that brought up the link to me.

The most common search that brings up my blog is for "Reiko Yamaguchi". You may remember that a neighbor gave me a book by Japanese Quiltmaker Reiko Yamaguchi.

Well, it turns out there is also a Japanese porn star by the same name and there are many, many links to sites featuring that Reiko Yamaguchi. I imagine my site about quilting is not exactly what most of the folks Googling Reiko are looking for.

Probably the second most common search, and this is just plain peculiar BTW, is for "clog wearer". Last spring I showed pictures taken at the Garden Show where we sold garden art. Included was this photo of footwear seen at the garden show.

The red clogs in the lower right corner are mine and those are my feet. This entry got me listed as a "clog wearer" on a site that is all about, well, clogs. See my name at the very bottom of the list? Who knew?

P.S. OK, this is pretty funny. (Or sad) Three hours after posting the above, I just checked the site meter page again. Someone just found my blog by Googling "Japanese Porn." Google sure works fast doesn't it? I'm amazed.

Sunday, September 10, 2006

This little light of mine . . .

And sew it goes, and goes and goes . . .

Today marks one year of writing this blog. This is entry # 182. I have managed to average an entry almost exactly every other day. So, I would have to say it has become a big part of my routine.

At a recent family gathering the subject of my blog came up. I don't know how many of my relatives and in-laws actually read it regularly, but it seems they had all, at least, seen it. One of the group commented that it must take a lot of time. Then he wondered how hard it was to think of subjects to write about. Then his true feelings emerged.

"It seems like a person would have to have a pretty high opinion of herself to write about herself on the internet every day."

This was said with a smile and a chuckle to signal, I'm sure, that he was just yanking my chain, but my history with this family has taught me that having a "high opinion" of oneself is not a compliment, and I felt a little put down—and a little defensive.

Is blogging just self-indulgence? Before I started this blog I thought so. And it probably is. And, is there anything wrong with self-indulgence? Well, nobody's forcing you to read. But I have been thinking about why I continue to do this and I have some ideas about that.

  • I enjoy writing. I never could keep up a journal or diary. Too solitary, too introspective. Writing here feels like a conversation. I like that.
  • Pictures. I love seeing your pictures and I can share mine. That's why I'm really here. Visual stimulation is sustenance. It's the greatest thing about the internet in my humble opinion.
  • I take time out of my day to think about where I have been, what I have seen, what might be worth sharing. I can't overemphasize the importance that has taken on in my everyday life. I feel more aware, more present when I take the time to do that.
  • Community. A new kind of community. The blogs I read and the people who read and comment on mine form a loose community that is unique. It doesn't take the place of face to face friends, but sometimes the communities overlap. When Gerrie Congdon moved to Portland earlier this year we already "knew" each other from our blogs and mutual interests. And because of that, I now have a valued friend that I might never have known. The world has become smaller.

So, "Happy Blogiversary to me!" I plan to stick around for awhile. And to my critical relative—you've always known I had a "high opinion" of myself, even before I had a blog. Get over it.

Friday, September 08, 2006

First Day of School

I have been watching the kids go off to school this week and hearing my daughter, the teacher's, stories of the first days of school. This time of year always makes me nostalgic.

Years ago when I went"back to school" one of our assignments in my design class, was to create a postcard-sized image using the theme of "nostalgia." That's my interpretation above.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Another Landmark

Continuing on with my architectural theme, I had an idea of domes. It may have had something to do with the research I have been doing on Paul Klee. I am leading a discussion of Klee on the raggedclothcafe list this month. Klee had a turning point in his art and his use of color when he visited Tunisia in 1914. That is one of his Tunisian paintings at the upper left of this page.

My domes were really not a direct result of the Klee paintings, but they were probably there in the back of my mind when I started sketching. Here's the main part of the piece all fused down. It looks pretty flat. I think the reason so many fabric artists dye their own fabrics is that commercial fabrics do look flat. I like pattern however, so I stick with commercial prints and occasionally create some of my own prints. I like the way the yellow stripes chevron in the bigger dome, but eh, that color really looks dead. So that is when I get out fabric paints and pastels and punch up the color and add dimension.

That cheddar color is on the wall behind the buildings because my plan is to cut a half circle from it to go behind the buildings.

Now I needed to try out some background fabrics. I bought these two beautiful hand-dyes from my sister-in-law's business and thought they might work. Sorry—those colors are too dead for the rest of the piece. But they will be great for something else.

I found two good possibilities in my stash. The stripe is really old, but I have always loved it and knew someday it would be the perfect piece for something. The purple, dotty fabric is newer. I love them!

Sunday, September 03, 2006

Art in the Pearl

For the past 10 years there has been an art festival called "Art in the Pearl" over the Labor Day Weekend in Portland's Pearl District. We usually try to go and have even bought art there at least once. It is held in the Portland North Park Blocks, which is a beautiful, tree filled series of grassy blocks, lined with nice old buildings.

This funky elephant sculpture is near the children's playground area as you enter the blocks. When we first came to Portland, the North Park blocks were full of homeless people, sleeping on park benches and under the trees. As the Pearl District has become more gentrified you see fewer of them occupying the area. On Saturday amid the carnival atmosphere of the art festival, you could still see a few of the transient residents lurking about. This woman seemed to find it no problem to sleep despite the crowds and the bands performing nearby. There was something quite sad about people streaming past her as if she wasn't even there.

Perhaps I am jaded. Perhaps I just wasn't in the right mood, but I found the art mostly uninspiring. So many booths of oh-so-whimsical prints of cats jumping over moons and coyotes howling. Several booths selling wee purses, made from upholstery tapestries with vintage button closures—novel several years ago. And all those scratchy-looking handwoven shawls in earthy colors and too many wispy scarves. Too many salmon and too many booths featuring one idea rendered endlessly in large, small, horizontal, vertical variations.

There were, of course, some art pieces that I liked a lot. I took pictures of a few things that caught my eye.

The crowds were brutal and, as is more and more the case, a number of people brought their dogs. (Because dogs enjoy art so much—?) I saw one poor dog snap at a man who brushed by him. The dog's mortified owner apologized profusely and kept repeating, "he's never done that before." Can't imagine the dogs were enjoying the crowds any more than I was. There are some places dogs don't belong. (Don't get me started about the folks who bring their dogs to Home Depot . . .)

That's Ray wandering among some wonderful kinetic sculptures. The parts turn slowly in the breeze. Across the street is the US Customs House, one of the grand old government buildings up toward the end of the Park Blocks.

We didn't buy any art, but we walked downtown from there, got a cold coffee beverage and managed to find a few things at Meier and Frank's (soon to become Macy's) Labor Day Sale—another Labor Day tradition!