Creating: Spring Color Meditations

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Happy Spring. Acrylic on Canvas. ALK 03-2013.

Happy Spring. Acrylic on Canvas. ALK 03-2013.

As the local fruit trees fill with delicate pink blossoms and bulbs burst out in yellow blooms, I breath in the bright fresh colors and sweet scents, ahhhh. In celebration of Spring renewal, I share these snippets of my creative energy from the past month.

pjs - ALK 04-2013

Pajamas – ALK 04-2013

As I discussed in my last Creating post, I find great enjoyment in choosing and putting together colors and fabrics. In these flannel pajamas I made for a young friend, the lack of enough of one fabric for both pieces resulted in an even cuter combination than I had originally planned. The graphic diamond and circle pattern of the pant brings a vintage aspect to the modern animals print. I love happy accidents!

"On Parade" Embroidery detail. ALK 03-2013.

“On Parade” Embroidery detail. ALK 03-2013.

In this delicate embroidery pattern by Sarah Jane Studios, I deliberately chose a bright palette including lime green, lilac, sunset orange, turquoise blue, peony pink. There is such youthful energy in these clear hues.  The slow repetitive hand-stitching process, watching a picture come to life, is like painting in thread. A creative meditation.

"On Parade" Embroidery. ALK 03-2013.

“On Parade” Embroidery. ALK 03-2013.

In my own twist on traditional embroidery I used a vintage damask tablecloth as the base cloth: I like to play with the layering of textures and patterns to add dimension to the complete picture. I mounted the finished piece on stretched canvas for a clean finished look while keeping the raised texture and organic variation in the lines and curves of the hand embroidery visible.

What are you being inspired to this Spring?

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Creating: Handmade Bedroom Linens

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Bed Suite 1 - ALK 3-2013

I am pleased to finally share a project that I worked on for the first few months of the year. Even if you are not a sewer or interested in decorating, I encourage you to scan through the photos and read to the end of the post because this is about more than fabric and color.

My husband and I collaborated with my Aunt and Uncle on creating a new look for their master bedroom, including a suite of bedroom linens that I sewed. We gave color direction overall and helped my Aunt pick out the color palette, wall paint, and fabrics for the bed linens. I sewed the Cal-King sized duvet as well as the European pillow shams and the hand-embroidered decorative pillows. All fabrics were purchased at the fabulous independent fabric store, Hart’s Fabric in Santa Cruz.

I did not realize what a challenge the Cal-King duvet would be to cut, piece, and sew in my little sewing room; It took a while but I did it:
Bed Suite 2  - ALK 3-2013

To add a personal heirloom quality, I embroidered a monogram on the center decorative pillow:
Bed Suite 3  - ALK 3-2013

I adapted the decorative elements of the monogram design to create this floral and trailing vine motif:
Bed Suite 4  - ALK 3-2013

This photo showcases the dance between the wall hue and the linen colors. Can you see the same blue in the duvet as on the wall?
Bedroom Suite 6 - ALK 3-2013

While the sewing involved in this project was not difficult technically, the amount of fabric and the multiple pieces inflated the amount of work and time I imagined would be involved. I am not sure I would enjoy doing many projects this big; However, for myself and my family, I value the quality and personalization of the things I invest my own work in.

There is something so special about looking at and using goods that your own hand literally made. Whether it was myself, or a relative whose hand was involved, heirloom pieces evoke a deep appreciation for and connection to the materials used, the skills practiced, and the time spent in creative creation. Surely this speaks to the growing revival of the craft, DIY, handmade, and even homesteading movements.

A closer look at the gorgeous 100% linen duvet fabric that was the jumping off point for all of the fabrics in the suite:
Bed Suite 5  - ALK 3-2013

In our modern culture, an antidote for the disposable, transparent, emptiness of the every day is so necessary. Running my fingers over the soft, strong linen fibers of a duvet, tracing the imperfect embroidered curves with my eyes, and wrapping a warm knitted scarf around my neck on a cool spring morning are the things that ground, calm, and connect me to each moment, in real human time. The power of the hand-made is not only seen. It is felt.

Do you find that heirloom quality hand-made goods, whether bed linens, carpets, clothing or otherwise are worth more than simply their utility?

lotus peach

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this moment: a bird in the bush

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Inspired by SouleMama Blog: {this moment} – A Friday ritual. A single photo – no words – capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember.

If you’re inspired to do the same, leave a link to your ‘moment’ in the comments for all to find and see.

P.S. The hot water that spilled on our computer this week appears to have done no damage. Hallelujah!

– lotus peach

Looking Back, Seeking Light

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There was a mishap with the dog, some hot water, and the computer this week. I do not know yet whether the computer will recover. Since I cannot upload new photos from my camera to the iPad for my blog, lets take a look back.

Breathe deeply in the fresh sea air and let the brisk breeze tousle your hair while you gaze upon some photos of one of most inspiring places on earth, Point Reyes National Seashore. The barn buildings are at Pierce Point Ranch, a National Historic Landmark. Although the skies may appear more grey than blue I assure you it was mid-summer when I took these shots. This area of the coast is cool and foggy most of the year. When the sun bursts through it only makes it more magical. I have been fortunate, as a native Californian, to return to this inspiring area many times over the years. I feel like a super insider tour guide as I have introduced special friends to my favorite beaches, trails, and hidden-gem eateries.

What are the natural spots in the world where you seek light? Have you had the pleasure of returning again and again? Or has a single experience stayed with you so that you dream of returning?

-lotus peach

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Treasuring Friends Near and Far

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New Papercut complete. © Suzy Taylor
This gorgeous paper cut by Suzy Taylor stands out to me with both artistry and language.

This week I had the delight of speaking to one of my dearest Ukrainian friends by phone in two extended conversations. These conversations refreshed and energized me beyond words. To me, friendship is a priceless treasure that I value deeply across countless miles and many many years.
bridgeatVasona
I snapped this photo of my best husband and dog this past weekend while we were on a walk in a nearby park. These two love me and ground me each and every single day, rain or shine. I love them so!

Thank you to all my dear friends whether we saw one another yesterday or fifteen years ago. You are always with me in my heart.

– lotus peach

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lotus peach: the first in a series

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lotus peach, Acrylic on Canvas, ALK 2-2013.

lotus peach motif painting 1, Acrylic on Canvas, ALK 2-2013

You saw my photographs from the Artists & Writers Retreat in my last post.  But this lotus peach motif in paint was my primary interest for the weekend.  I had played with sketching the motif since I started my blog in January but it was not until this last weekend in February that I was able to play with my ideas in paint.  I have to thank Artist, Mati Rose McDonough for writing her fantastic book Daring Adventures in Paint. It has been a continuous instigator, education, and inspiration for my painting.

In this painting, the peach can be either meditating on or blooming out of the lotus flower which floats on the sea under a sunset.  I am happy with this painting: the colors, textures, simplicity, and energy. It feels very happy and Springy!

For those who have not read my About page, the name of my blog comes from my middle name which is two words that mean Lotus and Peach.  For me, the meaning of the Lotus flower that resonates most closely is transformation.  As for Peach, well it is simply the delicious juicy fruit that is always in season at my birthday.  Thus the tag line of my blog “sweet transformation” speaks both of and to me.

An idea came to me as I was painting my lotus peach painting a few weeks ago:  Since I want to use this motif as my blog banner, I will create new versions, using the variety of mediums I enjoy, from time to time.  So this will officially be my first in a series of lotus peach motifs. I hope you enjoy it as much as I do!

Do you have a special meaning or story behind any part of your name? Do you have certain books or materials you come back to for creative instigation?

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the edge of spring: a slideshow

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This past weekend my husband and I were at a semi-annual Artists & Writers Weekend at the lovely St. Dorothy’s Rest in Sonoma County. This weekend is always magical for us: we connect with creative friends, breathe crisp foresty air, rest, work, eat, ahhh….

I will be sharing a special painting from the weekend soon but first I wanted to share a slide show that was spontaneously inspired. The title, The Edge of Spring, came to me early on as I hiked up and around the steep hills and stairs of St. Dorothy’s, capturing with my camera the first signs of Spring.

Now is a time of bright contrasts and deep renewal for me. January through March is nearly always a trying time of year, with the end of February the darkest. Thus I look to the first signs of warmth, beauty, and growth in nature to cheer and carry me forward into my favorite season of all — Spring. In this slide show I studied through my lens, the sharp and rough edges in wood and metal juxtaposed with the flexible newly forming plants and flowers.

The music is “Am I Song” from Matt Deighton‘s album titled Wake Up the Moths. When I heard the lyrics singing with the slide show they added another layer of contrast and depth that felt right.

Note: Unfortunately with YouTube a lot of the original photo quality is diminished so for best viewing please use the full-screen or the larger-screen option.

Creating Space: Part I

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Warning! This post contains some scary before photographs of our house.

But seriously, Creating Space is another one of my acts of daring greatly.  I am giving my creative process a specially designed and intentioned place to live, to develop, to thrive.  A space where I can close the door and cut myself off from the rest of the house renovation, cleaning, and stress. I need to Create Space for the process which connects, nourishes, and delights me. I guess I could alternatively call it self-care central…but I have wanted a Studio for a long time so I will stick with that. Without further ado, here are the scary before photographs I promised:

creativespacebefore
creativespacebefore1
creativespacebefore2

The room is such a wreck because we had just removed two twin beds from the room as well as a bit more furniture then piled everything on top of the remaining surfaces.  Yes, it had been that crowded. There had been no room to move, let alone create.

It will be another week or so before the Studio is complete but we have made good progress so far. The furniture and layout shown below will work so much better than before. See all the open Space!
creative space layout

Clean walls:
clean walls

Finishing the Studio means paint, furniture, curtains, and storage. The ceiling is finished and the walls will be done tomorrow. The non-furniture storage will be wall-mounted shelves.  I have the curtain fabric which I will sew up after some overdue projects are completed.

Ceiling Paint and Primer in Progress:
Creating Space paint
Creating Space ceiling in progress

I have been wanting to finish this room ever since we moved in to our house and picked out the colors about 16 months ago. One of the best things about having an extra bedroom was this opportunity to Create Space, to prioritize creative creation in our home!

I am struck by how the roller marks in this unfinished ceiling corner look like paint on a canvas:

Creating Space ceiling

I am getting excited! Stay tuned for Part II coming soon…

-lotus peach

laundry

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laundry breeze

laundry breeze. ALK 2-2013.

laundryshadows

laundry shadows. ALK 2-2013.

laundryabove

laundry above. ALK 2-2013.

laundrysun

laundry sun. ALK 2-2013.

laundrypins

laundry pins. ALK 2-2013.

Often in the course of everyday life, I am suddenly captured by the unexpected beauty of simple common objects. Today it was the light, shadows, and dancing of several pairs of vintage-watercolor pajamas drying on the laundry line.

What things do you often notice that others tend to overlook?

 -lotus peach