Sunday, October 30, 2011

It's Snowtober

Sometimes life forces you to rethink your normal patterns, in case you haven't noticed. Now usually I don't use much white in my work. Not sure why. Don't really like that stark contrast of color and white. For whatever reason.  But maybe I should. After all, the snow against the colors of the leaves is just magnificent. Yes, as you may know--it is Snowtober.  24 inches of snow. In October!!! Yes, you heard me right. 24 inches of snow in October. It is still too early to even get the studded snow tires on my van. Ugh!!! I am stuck at home on the mountain.

We were lucky--our snow was fairly light and fluffy--there are advantages to living on top of a mountain even though it was a challenge getting up here yesterday afternoon. We have a wood stove, lots of dry wood and a delicious pot of chili in the frig. Yes, I feel sorry for those without power--ugh--some may not get it back for days. But still--time to go for a snow shoe.

How gorgeous to see the colors of the leaves through the trees.

And up closer it gets even better.

What an assortment of colors. Look how intense the reds of the oak are against the snow.

 Aren't they fantastic? And the beech beckoning us down the driveway. A light of sunshine isn't it?

So much to see and absorb. How to use white and grey without it seeming forced. How to make it seem universal--after Snowtober is the most snow ever in October. Or maybe the most snow since 1804 in October.

Something to think about as I ponder the storm--maybe even go outside and think more about the colors. And you--how are you surviving Snowtober? How do you use whites and greys in your work? What do you think?

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

musings on what is modern?

This week-end a couple of ladies came in to my studio. One loved my work. The other said she "loved" my work--maybe she was just trying to be polite because she then added that famous word but..alas..her house was "Modern".  Oh I am sure you have heard this conversation before.

Now obviously this woman was not going to purchase. She was just coming up with one of those excuses. Understandable--don't we all do it every day. But it did get me to thinking--what is modern? Why are my quilts considered not good in modern locations? Yes, I've heard this conversation before.  But after all, my quilts are contemporary abstract landscapes and even a Modern home does require an attention to detail, style and color no matter how much metal and stone you use, doesn't it?

I mean just look at this wall hanging--first light--in its very simple setting. Doesn't it make the room?

Or consider colors of my garden in a very modern office building--drawing you down the corridor and echoing the colors of the steel.

Or light on the ocean in the same building?

Isn't even this version of dawn on the hill modern even if it is set in a more "country" style room?

So what is modern? Recently there was a fascinating discussion on Interior Designer Chat as to what is "modern". Obviously the meaning can vary with when you are asking the question. For instance, at one time the style of Louis Quattorze was considered modern if you know what I mean. So was the Victorian style, Art Deco--I could go on. Remember "everything's up to date in Kansas City". But modern can also refer to a specific design period--mid to late 20th century. Lots of metal and steel. Glass. Simplicity in design. Not cluttered. You know the look.

So wouldn't quilts work in a modern home--especially my quilts? I got to thinking. Certainly modern can include works with patterns and textures--just think of Jackson Pollock. Can't really get more patterned than that can you?  Quilts can be considered modern--think of the traditional Amish quilts--don't they look great in a modern setting? What about the quilts of Gee's Bend? The wonderful complex patterns and designs are modern, aren't they?

Maybe the issue is that I love to use commercially available quilting fabrics with all the associations they include. Is that the reason? But the quilts of Gee's Bend also can include fabric with design. Andy Warhol's Campbell soup cans include references to commercial patterns. Maybe they don't stop and think of the references to traditional fabric in my quilts.

Certainly I have had designers say that my work is "too busy" for them. Now up close there is a business to it--but not from a distance.  Maybe the issue is presentation. Maybe it is just a matter of taste. Or what is considered stylish by others? Maybe I should write something profound about the associations that my quilts have to the quilts of tradition. Or maybe it doesn't even matter--just something to muse about in the slack hours of the day? After all I really don't want to sell my quilts to those who don't truly love them.

What do you think? How do you define modern? Does it even matter?

Or maybe the issue is that woman really just did not like my work

Monday, October 17, 2011

enough already

No wonder I haven't posted for a while This morning I read this notice at my local post office.

Yes, that is a lot of rain. More than a yard of water. Almost an entire year's worth of rain. Oh, don't I wish I could send some of it down to Texas--at least five or ten inches. After all, Texas does not need to become a desert. And quite frankly we have had enough rain for a while. As a friend says, I have earned my right to complain about the weather even if I can't do anything about it.

And it is not just the rain. It is the endless potholders and eyeglass cases. So marketable. But do I ever have enough? Can I catch up? Isn't there more to life than this?

The clueless comments of the relatives. Trying so hard to be kind but just not understanding how huge the loss of my studio is. Why do we always expect more of them? Isn't that the problem?

Today the sun actually shone. I worked in my garden before work cutting back plants for the winter. Load after load of leaves onto the compost pile. Take that and that--incessant rainfall. Take that oh thoughtless relative.  I think of the words of a new friend who lost her home to a fire a few years ago. I think I remember reading about it. Gave me great advice. Don't do everything at once Ann,  she said. One day at a time. Surround yourself with those who do understand you. Your friends, your community, the unbelievable generosity of quiltmakers and artists, craftspeople and customers. These are the people to relate to. Their kindness keeps me on track.

And I tell myself I must make quilts. Not just the potholders and placemats, the table runners and eyeglass cases that sell out of my studio. But also the wall hangings and art quilts that enchant me. The ones I have to make. And so I start a new quilt. One based on the colors of autumn I can see on the Bridge of Flowers. Celebrating the blue sky and glorious colors. The greens and the rusts. The browns and even the blues. Don't you just love this picture? It has been haunting me even before I took it. This is not a quilt I need to make for an order but one I want to make. You must know the difference?

Slowly at first I start. One row like this:

Then another. Sketching out the next row. The rusts. So slowly it goes. Despite all the generosity my fabric stash is slim. I must search for that one piece that will hold it together.

But I can feel it coming together. I can see the outline in my mind's eye. And on Wednesday I can add more to it until it creates the quilt that I know it wants to become. This is why I do it.  And you, what motivates you? What keeps you going? How do you squeeze in the art you want to do?

Monday, October 3, 2011

the quilts of Ann Brauer--still standing edition

What a whirlwind of activity the last month has been.  As you may remember my beloved studio at 2 Conway Street floated down the Deerfield River while I was doing the American Craft Exposition in Evanston, IL at the end of August. Fortunately I had my best quilts and my craft fair display with me. The building floated and then got held up by two maple trees just before it would have gone into the River--my DH managed to rescue my sewing machine, the two quilts my grandmother made and some items stored up high. Most of the quilts in the building, much of the stash and supplies and many of the furnishings were lost--sigh--but it could have been worse.

No,  I did not have flood insurance--why should I?--the home nearest my studio had been standing for over 160 years. Unfortunately the water pressure at the Harriman Reservoir built up to the point where the utility company had to release water from the flood gates or risk having the entire reservoir go. Certainly if they had not had to do this release my lovely building would still be standing. Could they have drawn down the water level more before Irene? Could they have provided sufficient notice that this was even a possibility so more could have been save? Questions that haunt me in the wee hours of the morning. And no, FEMA does not help small businesses.

Meanwhile so many people and organizations have been so kind. I can't thank them enough--although I try.  CERF+ has been truly outstanding. I must also give shout outs to the Mary Lyon Foundation, the Shelburne Falls Area Business Association and A Notion to Quilt. There have been donations of time and money from friends and even strangers--all much appreciated, quiltmakers who managed to give me priced donations of stash--usually managing to choose just the right fabric I needed for the particular project, customers who made purchases to help me, suppliers who waced fees and of course my wonderful DH who has born more than his fair share of helping me deal with these events. Oh so many people--I appreciate each and every thing that has been done. I could go on--but if you want to follow my progress more--I usually post about it on my Facebook Page--

My studio is now usually open at 6 Bridge Street in Shelburne Falls--just across the river from where the darling pink building was. This week-end I will be at the Paradise City Arts Festival in Northampton, MA. I love this show--there is so much wonderful work there, as well as great food and music as well as plenty of free parking. Have you ever visited it? Definitely worth a trip or a visit while you look at the leaves changing into their autumn splendor. I am Booth 837. Do stop by. For further information or discounted tickets--their web site is Note--when I do a craft show, the studio is closed.

Meanwhile I still cannot do a quilt of the month--I hope you will understand--but I did want to share an image of a new quilt I just finished that does show reflections of Irene. I call it "above the river".  What do you think?