Monday, March 30, 2015

It's in the Bag

Spring vacation has been productive. I finally finished my Jeans Bag, which has been under the needle for nearly a year. The main materials came from the rather tall stack of old jeans sitting on a shelf in my workroom.

 I sketched the pocket into my daily journal.

I love the soft blues and whites. The plaid fabric creates the illusion of colors fading in and out.

It slowly progressed down 

and around. 

I love all the pockets--four on the outside (plus the mini-pocket) and four back pockets sewn to the lining, which is a flea market fabric. 

Except for two brass rings and a zipper, the bag is entirely made of recycled materials.
The strap is long enough to go over the chest. I took a black nylon strap recycled from another worn bag and covered it in denim.
Hand stitching on denim may seem daunting, however, I sewed from the top and only caught top threads, so it was not any more difficult than working on other fabrics.

A few recycled beads and buttons attached to the zipper pull make it easier for me to find the zipper quickly. 

And most important of all, it holds everything
I will no longer envy other people's jeans bags.

Friday, March 20, 2015

Tragedy at the Bardo Museum

First of all, I would like to thank all the friends who have sent messages of concern. We are safe and life continues as usual. 

Ironically, my previous post does not contain "a last thought" about the Bardo Museum--there is more to say. I have babbled on and on about its wonders for awhile, thinking that few people knew of it. And now the entire world has probably heard about it due to the tragic events on Wednesday, March 18. 

According to witnesses, three men with backpacks had coffee in the café across the street from the Bardo entrance gates. When they saw a couple of tourist buses arrive, they walked into the Bardo parking lot, pulled out Kalashnikovs and opened fire on the buses. Around twenty people were killed and forty people injured, mostly women. The men then ran into the museum and took hostages. It is Spring Vacation, a time when excursions for students take place...a lot of kids were around. 

The BAT (Brigade Anti-Terroriste) quickly arrived and had the situation under control within two hours with no further loss of life--except for two of the three terrorists.

This is a wakeup call for the newly-elected government. Terrorists have taken advantage of the continued "transition" periods that have dragged on for four years and that undermine government authority. Tunisians are not only upset and shocked, but truly angry. Nothing like this has ever happened before. The weapons flowing in from Libya on black markets have strengthened criminal groups, especially those that have a "political" agenda.

My sketchbook page today contains a distressed and perplexed Poseidon, which is based on a Roman mosaic in the Bardo. He is faced with a Kalashnikov and grenades.
Unfortunately, this attack can be interpreted as an attack on Culture as well as on foreigners, tourists, tourism, and the government.  It is a tragic event that parallels the attack on "Charlie Hebdo." So many Tunisians proclaimed their solidarity with the French in their hour of need with "Je suis Charlie" ("I am Charlie"). We hope the French will reciprocate. "Je suis Bardo."

Monday, March 16, 2015

An Exhibit

A last thought about the Bardo Museum, which has inspired drawings in my sketchbooks. Last December, the Bardo held an exhibit of the artwork from Paul Klee, and Ausguste Macke, and Louis Moilliet's 1914 trip to Tunisia.  

Because cameras were not allowed, I sketched. I was surprised at the poor quality of paper they used when sketching. It looked like newsprint and was yellowed and very fragile.
This exercise helped me to closely examine the styles of Macke and Moilliet. Macke structured his sketches more carefully, while Moilliet had a freer hand.
And why was this trip so important? For Klee, this trip changed his entire way of seeing; it was a breakthrough. The white buildings and especially the bright light forced him to re-evaluate color and form.

Besides the fact that Klee visited Tunisia and experienced the bright light that has affected my work as well, he interests me because of his use of color and his geometric shapes that vaguely resemble patchwork. So I did a layout of his work (blatant copying).
Klee, Macke, and Moilliet visited Kairouan, which is famous for its rugs. Klee's drawing in the upper left was inspired by the designs of those rugs, however, it is actually an abstracted house with a window and steps to the roof. The watercolor is from his study of Kairouan. 

I had to throw in Klee's sketch of a man because of its interesting lines and proportions. He seemed to fit right in.

All in all, a most enjoyable artistic and intellectual excursion. 

Saturday, March 7, 2015

Blue & Green

The teaching job cuts seriously into my artistic time. On this 7 1/2" tall standing calendar (from a bank), I planned to create a fabric collage about once a month, however, it's been a year since I created the first page. 

Several colors do not occur often in my work and one of them is that wild yellow-green color that appears almost fluorescent. I don't know if styles have changed, however, I have seen a lot of it in recent years and have always thought "too wild." Then I looked at some surviving childhood artwork (in pastels) and realised that at one time it was one of my favorites. Revelation. When did I lose that affinity? When did I become so rigid?

Last Saturday, I decided to change the calendar, so I cut and glued fabric onto the next page. Rule of thumb: it had to be fast with no stitching.

Maybe this small calendar project will have a blue and green theme, which goes well with the hanging on the wall. On the other hand those childhood colors look tempting--those plums, purples, reds, oranges.....

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Grandma's Bootcamp: The Bardo, 4

A few last thoughts on the campers' visit to the Bardo Museum: the sophisticated portraits must be mentioned and can only be admired.
This famous mosaic of Virgil and his Muses demonstrates the idea of Antiquity that creative inspiration exists outside of oneself as a sort of separate being. A comforting thought. The artist is not then solely responsible for his or her artwork, but connects to something beyond.

Lavish attention was given to the gods...                                  

Especially to Poseidon, god of the seas.

    And this beautiful statue had to be included. 

I would like to go back and sketch in the Bardo because there are so many possibilities. 
However, it is cold and the place is unheated.
I'll go back when the weather warms up...

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Grandma's Bootcamp: The Bardo, 3

Bootcamp now seems a long time ago, however, I hope showing some of the wonders in the Bardo museum will bring back memories of warm days on this cold and rainy day (well, at least we're not blanketed in snow). The mosaic still lifes drew my attention. Stunning.
These bottles are complete with shading and shadows, and note the leaf and rose borders.

The hare eating grapes may not qualify as a still life, but I'm including him anyway...note the gradated borders.

And my favourites: the grapes are perfection.

The artist even got in the reflections and highlights on the cup.

So with such inspiration, we sat down on the floor to sketch.

While GD2 (2nd Granddaughter, 7) tackled a huge carved snake, which looked deceptively simple, GD1 (12) sketched a beautiful lion-goddess statue.

Grandma managed a quick sketch and later added the pretty ticket and a commentary.

Yes, these are warm memories on a cold, wintry day.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

January 14

Today is January 14, which is not just any day. It marks the 4th anniversary of the Tunisian Revolution and the departure of the dictator--who now parties in Saudi Arabia with the millions he stole from the Tunisian people. 

The Sketchbook Skool Bootcamp homework assignment this week coincides well with January 14. The subject is about money as an object, a still life to draw--crumpled, wadded, folded, flattened. So I wadded a 20-dinar bill into as small a ball as I could and sketched it in ballpoint pen in my daily journal. 15 minutes. 40 minutes to add color with pencils.

This wad represents well the mess that Tunisia has been going through for the last four years, with severe economic and financial problems developing due to government mismanagement and increasing corruption.

With the new, democratically-elected parliament and president, things may be straightening themselves out slowly. We await the announcement of the new government in the hopes that electoral promises will be respected to some degree. 

And so, I flattened out the 20-dinar bill, which shows Kheireddine Et-Tounsi (1822-1889) on a magnificent horse. He was a Prime Minister before the French decided to colonise Tunisia. He later went to Istanbul and became a Prime Minister for the Ottoman Empire. He is indeed a historical symbol that Tunisians may remember with pride. Not some dictator.
I drew the bill. However, who could resist such a beautiful Arabian horse? I had to have Kheireddine's horse in my sketchbook. The star and crescent on the  horse's harness makes this a patriotic symbol as well. Tunisia had it's own flag long before the French invaded. 

Another symbol for pride on a day of which we can be proud.