Thursday, December 26, 2013

Holiday Colors, 2

Back in prehistoric times, when I was a kid, Santa put oranges in my family's stockings. A friend mentioned that Santa did the same for her, too. Santa must have some kind of tradition. We kids were puzzled--what good were oranges when candy would have been so much better? You certainly couldn't play with an orange. It just made a big round lump in the toe of the stocking...every Christmas.

Fast forward to centuries later: now I can understand the miracle of oranges because I have been picking them for the last month or so in my orchard.

Lush, sweet, juicy fruit that starts green and slowly turns to a deep red-orange as the
temperatures go down. A cheerful color against green leaves in the middle of the gray of winter. A feast for the eyes, not to mention the healthy aspect of all that natural vitamin C.

Right in season, a bowl of oranges served as a subject for the Sketch Club last week. A blind sketch first.

Then a "half" blind sketch (one eye peeking) with colored pencils added.

The lovely colors tempted me to turn to my textile sketchbook. I took out my handy glue stick and attached 
a floral cotton print from a flea market blouse to a notebook page, then sewed it down. 

I cut directly into the fabrics (very liberating, I felt like a kindergartner) and laid down the shapes, which I glued and stitched by machine. 

I added the text, "Holiday Colors in my Garden,"
and some machine embroidery, scribbling with the machine.
Santa is right; every stocking should have a beautiful orange in the toe.

Linked to Nina Marie's "Off the Wall Friday" and Leah's "Free Motion Quilting Project."

Monday, December 16, 2013

Holiday Colors, 1

My garden has the holiday spirit with its show of those wonderful complements, red and green. As temperatures drop certain succulents become tinged in red, such as my "green roses,"

this rather wide, flat succulent,

and the jade plants.

The prize-winner for holiday decor, however, is this beauty that tries to imitate leafy plants.
What color!
And wishing you a Bear-y Colorful and Happy Holiday Season 
with your loved ones!

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

When Sketch Club Meets Textile Sketchbook

Proof that I'm behind on everything: I finally finished my September sketchbook/journal page about the fruits from my garden. 

It started with fabric stitched to a page of drawing paper in the looseleaf notebook that serves as my textile sketchbook.

The idea for this page came from the Sketch Club. A friend and I (and any grandchildren who might be around) get together to draw and paint about 
once a week. I recycled an 11" x 7 1/2" planner for a sketchbook, gluing in plain paper on some of the pages. 

Fruit always makes a good subject--easy shapes, interesting colors. We began with a couple of blind sketches--notice my first one is done on top of math problems done with my granddaughter on skype....math at midnight (ha! an alliteration--literary terms are invading my brain; residual effects of teaching literature).

Next, a sketch with watercolors.
Putting aside my planner/sketchbook, I sketched on the backside of my fabric page

and outlined it with machine stitching when I got home.

I pinned fabrics to the right side of the fabric page, using the watercolor as a color reference and sewed everything down by machine. 

First time around, sewing on the backside sketch with navy blue thread, instead of black. 

On the fabric side, I added machine embroidery, thread painting. Thinking about a light source I tiled in the background.
Text added and finally finished. 
Cross-hatching with a permanent felt pen helped create the shadowed area.
The presence of a full spectrum of color pleases me and suggests the warmth of early Fall in Tunisia. Green in the stems, yellow to orange in the background, pink to maroon in the grapes, purple figs, and a touch of blue in the shadows. 

That is what life should be: a full spectrum of color with delicious, ripe fruit to eat...

Linked to Nina Marie's "Off the Wall Friday."

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Fall Garden 2013

My wool coat came out only three days ago. Autumn is one of my favorite seasons in Tunisia because the weather remains pleasant and the garden has a last burst of growth before the cold sets in.

 Like me, the entrance alley has aged. I remember when it was smooth and flat. These days, I find wrinkles appealing.

The smallish pomegranate trees' leaves are turning yellow as the temperatures drop into the fifties and high forties. Storms are on the horizon.

My kitchen door and patio viewed from the outside. A friend gave me a tall stack of plastic pots, which I put to good use, given the explosive reproduction rate of plant life this Fall.
I bought a couple of cement artichokes and painted them a soft green. They make up for the lion statues that I really want. New plants, including a small cypress tree (quite a number of those have appeared out of nowhere as well), and some rock stacks now keep the big green pot the place of the lion statue that I really want (!).

More new additions: Spiky succulents fill in the spaces between the white planters.

A piece of leftover wrought iron fence forms the base of a plant shelf, supported by rocks. An oven rack, painted black, sits on top to hold plants.

The plants make good subject matter for drawing...Lots of possibilities.

New additions grace the Roman Rock Table, including a shelf on the lower left..

Rocks support this particular shelf, which is another oven rack. I drilled a hole in the bottom of an old blue enamel pot in order to plant interesting thematic grouping.

Because of my new teaching job, I have been unable to work on mosaic pots (heartbreak), however, recycling remains high on my list. An old hibachi, painted black, contains plants and rocks,
while the hibachi racks make mini-shelves to hold cacti planted in plastic soda bottles.

And my favorite new additions are these little tin men (about 2" high), which are souvenirs from South Africa. One plays a drum while the other reads a book. Their little black "table" is made of stacked (gas) stove burners. 

 Recycling at its best.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Holiday Announcement: Egyptian Quilts

For all those in the Knoxville, TN area, a friend will be selling Egyptian Quilts at the "Shopping With Santa" event at the Knoxville Expo Center from November 22-24. A new shipment from Egypt contains some amazing pieces to see (I saw them via skype). Here's the info site: 

My daughter will be helping out on Friday and Saturday and she will have her iphone to skype with me so feel free to introduce yourself (tell her Nadia sent you) and maybe we can chat!

Monday, November 4, 2013

When Two Worlds Meet

Lately, I've been playing around with the small sketchbook that I carry in my purse. Black and white sketches cover the pages to the end. Nothing spectacular, no expectations, just scratching around. However, the combination of black and white pleases me much more when associated with color. So out came the watercolors and colored pencils. A few minutes here, a few minutes there... 

Working back over the pages, I realized that I had a small record of some events in Tunisia over the past year and a half. Because I occasionally attend academic conferences at an American research center in Tunis (CEMAT), I scribble notes and information in my sketchbook--and doodle around. In January 2012, everyone seemed optimistic (except me), citing Tunisia as a model for revolution and political change. Skeptical then, I'm really laughing my head off now.

January's page shows a beautiful old hand embroidered women's cape that was framed and hanging on the wall of the conference room. I added the watercolors recently.

In May 2012, researchers called Tunisia a model for transition. A backpack and chair occupied me at first, 

then, I remember thinking "Hmmmfff!" as I doodled around on a zentangle. I must have been really annoyed because I don't usually do zentangles as they bore me silly. Coming back and adding a colored pencil spectrum to frame it made the design more appealing to me.

By December 2012, foreign researchers were beginning to get it. A conference about opinion polls and the accompanying methodology showed more realistic results. Briefly put, the ruling religious party was losing voters, but maintaining a majority at that time.
December's sketch is a typical brick and cement construction seen along the way; it houses electrical I-don't-know-what.

I've given up on academic conferences for the moment. Unchartered waters are difficult to analyze, and research requires some distance. In the meantime, I'm beginning to see intersections of my work thanks to blog posts--points at which my different worlds cross, overlap, and integrate into a whole. 

Nevertheless, I remain the Reluctant Sketcher....

Monday, October 28, 2013

A Gift

Thanks to a beautiful, warm Indian summer, garage cleanup/clean-out continues to occupy me as I attempt to find uses for everything and downsize. 

The underlying idea, of course, is to not accumulate anything new, either. However, a horse's head in an antique store caught my eye. It originated in Germany and was made around a hundred years ago.

When a friend wanted to present me with a gift, she knew what I liked. I thought a spot outside in the garden would show off the horse's head, so I let it sit in the sun for a few days to see how it held up. Bad place; it seemed more fragile than I realized at first because of the repairs that had been done on it. Having a healthy respect for finely crafted, old things (including my husband), I added it to my copper collection, where it is in good company.

Since the walls are cement, my husband kindly drilled two holes to screw it onto the wall.

The artisan in me wants to paint it black to return it to it's original glory, however, the patina of age seems lovely as well.
And so the collection grows. I admire it every day...

Sunday, October 20, 2013

The Pen Revisited

When one feels the noose of repression tightening, one must not remain silent, and so I bring back The Pen (previously here and here) because it continues to be pertinent and actual.

The problem: Journalists are under attack as Freedom of Expression and Freedom of the Press--the only good that resulted from the Revolution in my opinion--slip away. Examples are numerous--a small sampling follows.

1. The well-known owner of a TV news station was summoned to appear before an attorney general (juge d'instruction), was then arrested and only released because of the large crowd waiting for him in the street. Several serious accusations have been leveled at this daring journalist/station owner, including betrayal of national security--which carries a death penalty. Although released, the lawsuits against him continue.
2. A militant journalist, who did prison time during the dictatorship, was summoned, arrested and spent two days in prison before he paid bail, which is unheard of because the bail system does not exist in Tunisia. Lawsuits against him continue.

3. A blogger who did some investigative reporting and revealed the "Sheraton-gate" scandal concerning large sums of money diverted by the former Minister of Foreign Affairs (son-in-law of the religious party's leader) had her passport confiscated and cannot leave the country.

4. Fortunately, "le ridicule ne tue pas" ("the ridiculous does not kill"). The government threw a lawsuit against a journalist with a radio program. His program was live and a caller criticized the government. That lawsuit is ongoing as well. 

And so, I salute the courageous journalists, writers, and media professionals who continue to risk their lives in order to maintain Freedom of Expression. 

In the meantime, after two years of the ruling religious party's government, whose mandate ended October 23, 2012, Tunisia is on the edge of bankruptcy. Persistent rumors whisper that currency is evaporating rapidly and that there may be nothing left in a couple of months to pay salaries and pensions. The ruling religious party has begun negotiations with the major trade union and opposition parties to create a transitional government, now that they have bled the country dry and international banks refuse to consider dealing with the ruling party. However, skepticism reigns--will they leave or will they hang on until nothing is left to pick over but dry bones? Ah, yes, this is all about money....

Saturday, October 12, 2013

A Sea Monster in My Pocket

Clothing has required more attention since I returned to teaching after a long hiatus. At the same time, I remain committed to recycling and upcycling. Sooooo...
One white shirt 
with a hole in a strategic place

and a pretty fabric

inspired an appliqué design that looked like a sea monster at first.

As they say, the proof is in the pudding--it's meant to be worn.

The owner of the shirt in front of a pomegranate tree.

Maybe it's a multi-headed sea monster or a plant from another planet? In any case, I'm certain there will be more appliqués added on because white is so treacherous.

I'm not sure this is the "Professional Look" students are expecting....ahhhhh, but now that I am old I can wear purple with a red hat.....

Linked to Nina Marie's "Off the Wall Friday".