Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Long Distance Bead Pals Get to Play!!!

Do you like this combination of beading and thread knotting???

beaded brooch by Elaine Hartley
It's a pin (brooch) made by Elaine Hartley, who lives in Ohio and loves to visit the Pacific Northwest. We met about 15 years ago when she came to buy beads from me... back when I lived in Seattle and had a little shop called Beads Indeed. After that, Elaine and I connected three more times when she took workshops from me at various places. We share a love for the itty-bitty beads, working from intuition and beading with texture.

Planning a trip to the NW, Elaine contacted me and we arranged to spend a couple of days together on San Juan Island, WA where I live. Here we are on day-one at Lime Kiln Lighthouse.

Elaine Hartley and Robin Atkins, Lime Kiln Lighthouse
Day-two, we decided to spend the morning playing in the tide pools at Deadman's Bay on the West side of the island. Later in the day, we would spend a few hours beading together. I'll show you some pictures from both...

Elaine Hartley photographing tide pools
At the beach, while Elaine went straight to the tide pools, I started by arranging small pebbles on a piece of driftwood. Temporary art...

rock and driftwood art by Robin Atkins
rock and driftwood art by Robin Atkins, detail
Driftwood tied with seaweed... more temporary art... this one by an unknown artist...

driftwood and seaweed, temporary art, photo by Robin Atkins
Then I moved down the beach toward the tide pools where I found kelp and seaweed.

kelp, photo by Robin Atkins
snail on kelp, photo by Robin Atkins
kelp, photo by Robin Atkins
kelp, photo by Robin Atkins
Finally I reached the pools themselves, where I found these acorn barnacles! They remind me of miniature cabbages... Let's try making some with beads!

acorn barnacles, photo by Robin Atkins
All the while, Elaine was photographing a porcelain face in the tide pools. Elaine named the face Isis. Soon I too got hooked on her idea and borrowed Isis for a few shots. From then on both of us, captivated by the possibilities of photographing Isis in different places, spent another hour sharing her. Isn't digital photography just the MOST wonderful thing??? OMG! We probably took over 1,000 pictures between us. No waiting and no cost for developing and printing!!! I don't have any of Elaine's photographs to show you... but here are a few of my Isis pictures...

porcelain face,photo by Robin Atkins
porcelain face,photo by Robin Atkins
porcelain face,photo by Robin Atkins
porcelain face,photo by Robin Atkins
porcelain face,photo by Robin Atkins
porcelain face,photo by Robin Atkins
Between beach and beading, Elaine and I stopped for a brief visit with Mona... one of our island's more unusal residents! Elaine was smitten by Mona's soft muzzle...

Elaine and Mona
And Mona seemed to like Elaine pretty well too...

Elaine and Mona
After that, we got out our beads for a while. Elaine brought a few of her things to show me...

Tide Pool, beaded brooch by Elaine Hartley
The pin/brooch, pictured above, is her beaded version of a tide pool. Isn't it grand?! Elaine likes to add textural knotting (half-hitches) done with embroidery floss. She likes the contrast of the beads with the thread. Me too!

bead embroidery on felt by Elaine Hartley
Elaine often beads on a double layer of wool felt held together with dense zig-zag machine stitching, which is firm enough to bead without using any other stabilizer. This is the start of a piece about her home in Ohio. Two streams converge on her 2-acre property... She's going to bead her love for this place! When she finishes this piece, she'll insert it into the cover of a journal, similar to the one below, which is her current journal.

beaded journal cover by Elaine Hartley
Elaine plans to sign up for the 2010 Bead Journal Project, so we'll all be seeing more of her lovely work soon! Yay!!!!

Bead pals are just the best!!! I am so blessed to have made a personal connection with Elaine and with other wonderful beaders around the world. Can't get any better than that!

* * * * * *
Heart update...

Thanks to everyone who wished me well and gave me optimistic reports regarding my heart issues. Tomorrow will be the last day that I must wear the EKG monitor.. thank goodness!

After I return from teaching in Phoenix, I'll have an appointment with my cardiologist and we'll decide what to do. I'll keep you posted. I really appreciate your concern and support!

Camera Information...

Jo, in New Zealand, wrote to ask me about the camera I used to take these pictures. I'm a Sony girl... the mechanics and operation of Sony cameras just makes intuitive sense to me, so I stick with it.

The camera I used for these pictures is old and many updated models by Sony have taken its place. However, I bet the newer ones work just as well. Mine is a Sony Cybershot, model DSC-F717. My brother Thom got one like it, reconditioned but in good working order, on eBay about a year ago. He too is satisfied with it.

However, I must add that for me, it's more about Photoshop than the camera. I spend many hours adjusting my pictures to get the color, exposure and contrast right. Most of the pictures in this post are full frame (not cropped). However, I had to adjust color on most of them. I took a class at our community college a long time ago, when Photoshop first hit the streets. That was enough to make me brave about experimenting with it. I've also learned a lot of helpful Photoshop techniques from books by Scott Kelby. Over the years, we've bought the Photoshop updates to CS2, although I most frequently use the older version, Photoshop CS.

I take all of my bead pictures with this camera. Whenever possible, I shoot pictures of my beadwork outside in natural light under overcast skies or high clouds, which provides lots of light but minimal shadows. No doubt about it, beadwork is difficult to photograph, mainly because of the shiny, reflective surface of the beads. With any direct light, the reflection will blow out all of the detail and you'll have white spots. Sadly, no camera or Photoshop program can fix a total blow out.

Hope this answers your question, Jo!

leaf on beach, photo by Robin Atkins
One last beach picture... Fall is definitely here.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Ten Great Colors for Fall!

handmade books by Robin Atkins
One of my lesser known passions is making books by hand. The pages in these two books are all hand-painted papers. I painted the papers and constructed the book in a 2-day (whirlwind) class taught by Albie Smith at Art & Soul in Portland, OR a few years ago.

I'm showing the books because of the fall color palette I used.

I'm a great fan of Margie Deeb! I love her books about how to find and use many wonderful color combinations, especially her most recent book, shown below.

Margie Deeb, Beaders Color Palette, book cover
Forget the color wheel! Margie gives fun and easy to follow color palettes ~ everything from predictable to waaaay out of the box ~ and examples of beadwork (some of which I contributed to this book) showing how specific palettes might be interpreted with beads .

Margie asked me to review her latest Color Report, which explores the possibilities for the ten Pantone colors predicted (check out this fun Pantone link) to be popular this fall and winter, a forecast formulated long ago and used by clothing and assessory designers for fashions released now and into the late fall. You can explore the beady possibilities for this palette of ten great colors with the help of Margie Deeb's latest color report: Fall/Winter 2009 Color Report for Bead & Jewelry Designers, which is available to purchase on line here.

Below are the ten colors. (Color on the internet is always variable depending on your monitor and computer settings. These are approximations of the exact Pantone colors, which are specified by the numbers shown.)

American Beauty, #19-1759, a feel-good color

Pantone color, American Beauty
Purple Heart, #18-3520, refinement and sensuality

Pantone color, Purple Heart
Honey Yellow, #16-1143, classic color of autumn

Pantone color, Honney Yellow
Iron, #18-1306, a grounding color

Pantone color, Iron
Burnt Sienna, #17-1544, earth and sunsets

Pantone color, Burnt Sienna
Nomad, #16-1212, bridge between grey and beige

Pantone color, Nomad
Rapture Rose, #17-1929, vibrant yet soft

Pantone color, Rapture Rose
Warm Olive, #15-0646, touch of sophistication

Pantone color, Warm Olive
Majolica Blue, #19-4125, exotic flair

Pantone color, Majolica Blue
Crème Brûlée, #13-1106, timeless neutral color

Pantone color, Creme Brulee

The names of the colors are by Pantone, but in her report, Margie supplies the numbers for matching Delica beads, gemstone names, etc. She invited seven guest artists to work with her, creating jewelry where the color choices are based on various combinations of these ten colors. There's something here for everyone.

Even me! I'm not much of a fall colors person (except in nature and books). I rarely wear fall colors. However, as I read through the report and looked at all the gorgeous examples, I couldn't help getting really excited about playing with some of these colors. Inspired by Margie's color report, I made my own palette as shown below.

fall colors palette using some of Panetone forecast colors for fall-winter 2009
I wouldn't bead this exact design, but will probably stick to the proportions of color. OK! Now I have to go check my beads and fabrics to see what I have in these colors for my next bead embroidery project. Whooohooo, this will be a blast! I'm on my way to my stash right now!

Oh, and YES, I give an A++ to Margie's report. If you want to play with color, it's a grand place to start. Not only for beaders, it will also work well for quilters, painters and anybody using color in their art!

Monday, September 14, 2009

BJP Finished for Year!

bead journal project, robin atkins, bead embroidery, heat gone haywire
Heart Gone Haywire is the title for my August BJP piece.

Starting in July, I began having episodes where my heart beat rapidly, sometimes very rapidly and sometimes quite irregularly. When it kept happening, I finally went to our clinic and did the EKG thing. It looked normal, so they put me on a Holter Monitor (EKG you wear for a day). On that particular day, I only had two very brief episodes.

So, long story short, I'm now wearing a King of Hearts Monitor for 4-6 weeks. It looks like a pager, clipped on my jean's pocket and it's wired to my chest with snap-on adhesive pads (nasty). Whenever I have an episode, I push a button to record a minute of EKG. It's a smart monitor, because it can also auto-detect and record episodes (when I'm sleeping or not noticing). Once a day, I telephone an 800 number to send the recordings.

After he reviews the recordings next month, I'll meet with my cardiologist and we'll decide what to do about this. In the meantime, it's disturbing and a bit worrisome. Although I understand that modern medicine does heart fixes really well, my remote island location contributes to my concerns. Don't know if it's the heart or the worry (or both), but I'm feeling slow and tired most of the time now.

bead journal project, robin atkins, bead embroidery, heat gone haywire, totem animals detail
So this piece is all about my heart, showing its electrical system misfiring and my two totem animals (rabbit and tiger) who are there to comfort and guide me through this process. The white eye-lash trim around my heart is protective and healing (I hope).

Please note: I wrote three short posts today! Scroll down to see the other two or click here (teaching - last chance) and here (BJP presentation - Portland, OR).

Teaching Bead Embroidery

Just a reminder that I'm teaching a two-day Improvisational Bead Embroidery workshop and a half-day Beaded Button class in Phoenix, AZ - Oct. 2-4... Specifics are here.

I'm winding down my teaching career now, so this may be the final opportunity to take my two-day bead embroidery workshop.

After teaching beading (especially my favorite subject - bead embroidery) for 20 years, I still love to teach... still love to turn the creativity up a notch for both beginning and experienced beaders. However, the travel and prep are now highly dreaded and stressful for me. It feels like the time has come to let go of the teaching part of my beading career.

BJP - Portland Bead Society Meeting - Sept. 16

If you're in the vicinity of Portland, Oregon, you're invited to the Bead Society Meeting - Wed, Spet. 16th - 7 PM, in the Portland General Electric (PGE) Building - 3700 SE 17th, Portland (between Holgate and Powell on SE 17th).

I will be showing pictures of 200 Bead Journal Project pieces from the first year created by 42 of our members!!! Also, I will have all of my pieces for both years and the work of 3 other members on display!

If you are or were a BJP member and will be attending the meeting, PLEASE bring your BJP pieces for show'n'tell.

Hope to see you there!

Saturday, September 05, 2009

Work of the Artist ~ The Space Between

Pacific Madrone, madrona trees in our yard
These Madrona (aka Pacific Madrone, aka Arbutus) trees like our 5-acre, ridge-top property and we are quite happy to have them, even though they shed piles and piles of leaves every year - woody leaves that can take many years to decompose.

We are especially fascinated with their bark and the way it changes throughout the year. We love the way its colors are highlighted by the warm light of afternoon sunshine or glisten and become saturated after a rain shower.

Pacific Madrone, madrona trees red orange bark
Here is how the bark looks in the spring... red-orange, really quite a deep color. Then in the late summer, the bark fractures and peels, revealing a new, yellow-green bark color.

Pacific Madrone, madrona trees yellow green bark
Above is how it looks after the peeling is complete and before it begins to turn red again.

Pacific Madrone, madrona trees, shade side bark on trunk
Even the more dense bark on the north (or shaded) side of the trunk fractures a little in the heat of summer.

Last evening Robert and I were headed to town to hear a lecture at the community theatre. On the trail to our garage, we simultaneously stopped in our tracks to investigate and admire three small fractures that were highlighted in the glow of sunset. I didn't have my camera with me then, but this is how the spot looks today at noon.

Pacific Madrone, madrona, fracturing bark
The PowerPoint presentation we attended after our Madrona moment was by James Hubbell, a visionary artist and architect. We had also attended a "conversation" (Q & A) session with him the previous day. I was struck by his wisdom, especially regarding the work of the artist.

In several different ways, he explored his belief that
the space between the edges of two different things is where beauty, understanding and energy resides. The work of the artist is to create a bridge between these edges - between dissimilar and/or opposing elements... sad and happy, love and hate, east and west, Russia and USA, poor and wealthy, red and green, Venus and Mars, soft and harsh - and to examine the space between them.*
Like the Madrona bark!

His words make me think about my beading and how/if/where I might have created a bridge or studied the space between. The best example is probably my BJP piece from last spring showing the part of my husband's personality that is deeply affected by his parents' alcoholism and the part of him that is clean, sober and public. You can read/see more about it here.

improvisational bead embroidery by Robin Atkins, bead journal project, the wall
I guess in this case, the space between is a narrow, wiggly wall with small holes in it where light enters dark and dark enters light. I recall feeling really good about this piece... it was compelling and important from start to finish.

Maybe Mr. Hubbell is onto something significant about art, worthy of consideration. In the future, as I contemplate a new piece and a tickle of an idea comes forward, I will think about the edges of the idea, where it meets something else. Will I find more energy there? I think so!

Pacific Madrone, madrona, fracturing bark
Is the photo above (the one that most clearly explores the edges and space between old and new bark) the most interesting of the Madrona pictures on this post? What do you think? What space between have you explored recently?
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* The statement above is my interpretation of Mr. Hubbell's words, not a direct quote.

PS ~ Sept 6th ~ The comments on this post add several intriguing threads to the topic... Please take the time to read them!