Tag Archives: history

New project

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The Orphan Train 2013 011

Putting together a new project!  A handmade artist’s book called “Placing Out in America.”  I’m using collage, gelatin monoprint, paste paper, old photographs, gel image transfers, and found objects – oil pastels, acrylic, watercolor.

This is about the seventy-five year history of the largest migration of minor children in the history of the world, and its popularly known as the Orphan Trains.  The history is astounding in our modern age of child protection laws, privacy, and legal adoption.  Children were placed out by the Children’s Aid Society of New York City, and The Foundling Asylum later called the Foundling Hospital of the Sisters of Charity in New York.  There was no legal adoption; anyone who wanted to take a child into their home was interviewed and the child was signed over for a period of a 90 day trial, after 90-days if there were no complaints, the child became their legal property.  Most children were placed hundreds or even thousands of miles away from their New York City homes into the farm country of rural America.

The Orphan Train 2013 001

I am having trouble with the gel image transfers coming away cleanly.  I’ve used this technique before with good results, but this time I am not getting such good results – however, I’ve decided to use them as it seems to work okay with this project.

The Orphan Train 2013 002

Many of the children were immigrants and had survived the trip to America only to have their parents unable to care for them once they arrived.  Poverty, destitution and death left many of the children orphaned.  The Children’s Aid Society rounded up children from the streets of New York City from 1853 through 1929 and placed them out to the rural farmlands in America by train.

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Happy New Year!

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For last year’s words belong to last year’s language
And next year’s words await another voice.
And to make an end is to make a beginning.
~T.S. Eliot, “Little Gidding” ~

I recently came upon an expression called “Oblique Motion.”   “Oblique Motion” occurs when one voice (or more) in written music, remains on the same pitch while the other ascends or descends.   This seemed to me as if it could be applied to art as well.  We have our consistent or usual voice in each piece that we produce, but there is also another voice, one just emerging… new and unknown, or sometimes one that is finished but still resonating… and they each have their own harmony to follow.  This may be far too vague a definition for music majors, but please allow me my simple and poetic viewpoint, and my apologies to written music! 

My 2012 art journal(s) will be called “Imaginary Conversations ~ Oblique Motion”

The new year arrives and my door is open and waiting for whatever the future may bring.  It looks dark inside my open door – but that’s because this is only a cookie house – and I didn’t think to put a tea light inside before I snapped the photo.  

I have lots of plans for art projects in this new year ahead  – I always have lots of plans for the new year, but I don’t make resolutions.    Resolutions seem too rigid, especially for artists – we need to be able to change course in a split second; ever aware of the serendipitous moment, free of spirit, and forever reverent.

Happy New Year to each of you!

I’ve been thinking a lot about horizon lines – the line that divides

the earth and the sky, that magic place only the birds really know…

It Doesn’t Matter…

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Have you ever told yourself, it doesn’t matter,  even though it matters terribly?  I’m saying that now, and beginning to actually believe it…one can only go on so long making excuses for another person’s behavior before you just throw your hands up and say, oh well, we’re at it again, I see.

I know a woman I’ve been making excuses for, and looking the other way about it, for years.  She has said and done the most disappointing things, and has been doing this for most of her adult life.  It began in 1991, well long before that really, but I became aware of it then.  I just couldn’t figure out why some people I knew very well began acting so strangely.  Now she is doing it again, but because the internet is readily available, she is using it like a butcher knife and ripping through lives (mine and a few others) having a nasty little tantrum — but sharing it with the world.  What this sad person doesn’t understand is that the reflection of her deeds only brings shadows and darkness directly against her own soul.

Why does she do this?  I don’t really know, and although I know her better than anyone, I have never figured this, twist to her personality, out.  She has done it to others, and to me repeatedly.  There is a nastiness in her core that she has allowed to grow, has used against others – but what she gains by this is so small, and that is where I lose comprehension of the sense of it.

Now I am going to go make some art, and in the making of that art I will completely forget about everything else, and life will go on, as it always does.

I will remember that I have a joy that runs through my life, like a river, powerful and true.   I have other gifts and other loves that inspire and enrich, and protect me.

1888, Daisy Winchester

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1888, Daisy Winchester

18×24 inches, acrylic, charcoal, collage on canvas. 

I started this painting by gluing down a piece of dressmaking pattern tissue and letting it wrinkle and crease, and then covering it with gesso.  Then I sketched in the head and shoulders and glued down some paper ephemera;  a page from an old school book, a catalog page of old clocks, and a bird.  I wanted to use green in the background because it’s a color I seldom use, and I was thinking of the outdoors in the background.  After I finished this painting I decided to glaze with a light brown to give it a sepia tint.  It didn’t work and she looked like she probably had malaria jaundice when it was finished!  I went back in with titanium white and burnt umber and tried to “fix” it – but it was probably better before I fooled around with the glaze.

 Daisy Winchester was my grandmother.  Of course I only knew her as an older woman, but when I was about fifteen I saw a photo of her taken when she was about nineteen.  I remembering being so amazed that she looked like another person when she was young!  It was a challenge to paint what I remember of the photo – of course I’ll never know if I have come even slightly close to what she looked like – but I like to think I have.  She was born in 1888 in Indian Territory, Oklahoma.  She told me once that her parents rode on one of the last great land runs in Oklahoma and she accompanied them.  She was about twelve at the time.  She told me that she sewed her wedding dress while riding horseback during this long ride, even though she had no idea who she would marry.  She said it was just something girls did in those days.  I am imagining that it might have looked like the dress I’ve painted in the painting.  She told me it had lots of tucks and pleats and was made of white “flannel” (very lightweight wool).  She sewed all her own clothing and taught me to sew on an old treadle sewing machine.  I used to make her an apron for every holiday.  She always wore a clean apron over her dress – it was just part of getting dressed for the day.  She had twelve children, ten survived.  One died after only 24 hours, and one died of a gun related accident at the age of fourteen.  She raised them all during the great depression in the Oklahoma dust bowl.    She was a no-nonsense kind of person and only attended school up to third or fourth grade, which is why I used the old textbook pages in the background, however she was not illiterate, and always read the newspaper every day, and taught me how to spell and write my name when I was about 4 years-old.  She quit school  because she was needed to help her family with the farm.  She spoke with an old-fashioned cadence, using words such as thee, and ye. She loved farming, and the outdoors.  That’s why I chose the color green for the background. 

The sketched in painting.

Button, Button …Buttons on Tuesday

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I have just recently discovered the amount of stuff available on ebay, new to this phenomenon, at first I was overwhelmed, but I am an old hand now.  This prolific amount of stuff is an amazement to me – all I have to do is say, gee I wish I had “some,”  insert whatever desire comes to mind, and I am immediately rewarded with hundreds, or even thousands of choices!  A few days ago while I was stitching on my Tattered Gatsby(s) I wished for buttons and voila!  A big bag of buttons arrived today.  But these are no ordinary buttons! 

Very old mother-of-pearl, still attached to bits of cloth, as if someone just cut the buttons off with a hunk of the garment still attached!  Which, of course, that is just what they did!  I love it when I find buttons with thread still in them, but with a scrap of fabric, oh my, its wonderful!  These do not require “aging,”  they are already quite aged, and actually dirty, which makes them even better to me.

Strung together for safe keeping.  All of these are mother of pearl except the very large white ones.  I love to imagine who strung them together, what garment were they taken from, and how many times were they used since their original removal?

 

Very large (1.5 inch) still attached to their original cards.  These probably aren’t so old, but they are really big and heavy mother of pearl.

They said it was about 500 buttons, but they didn’t say how old and neat they were – and  its way more than 500! Sometimes I am surprised that no one else wants what I want – no one else saw anything special in these!  No rhinestones, no fancy shapes, and it wasn’t mentioned that so many of them were the sought after mop!  A new term I have recently learned in the button world.

The yellowish ones are very old underwear buttons, either bone or “vegetable ivory,” another new term to me, and the little black and white one is a painted china – looks like a zebra, another new term in the button world!  The black faceted ones are glass.  The little greyish two holed one feels like its made out of rubber?

I will be able to fill up my glass bottle-shaped like a hand with tiny pearl buttons now.   Its taken me a long time to collect enough small buttons that will drop through the bottle top, but this found treasure  is filled with tiny pearl buttons!