Sunday, June 23, 2013

redoing the iris bed

Now readers of my blog know that I LOVE my iris beds. Those sweeps of color that seem to echo the sky. I have beds of the carefully bred Siberians--purples and blues, mauves and pale yellows. So many colors that dance in the late spring days. And in front of the house--like a grand entry way--is a sweep of pure blue. The basic Siberian iris planted in a mass of color accented by red poppies. Oh for a week or so it is spectacular.

But as my DH noted recently this year there were just not as many flowers as before. Indeed brambles and golden rod grew in the middle of the bed. Yes, I agreed. The soil was a bit worn. It needed a good pruning and weeding. Digging and work. I kept meaning to do it. But it has been a busy year. The loss of a parent--my FIL, the illness of a treasured friend--too young, too valued for such things to happen.  It makes my worries seem trivial and silly. And rain. Lots and lots of rain.

Oh the excuses mounted. The brambles grew. Until finally today I decided enough was enough. Time to make a stab at it. Sure it would have been easier earlier. But better late than never as they say. So I put on my leather gloves, work pants, work shirt. And went at it. Cut out the brambles. The weak growth. Dig and pull. Dig and pull. Until finally there was a whole in the center where the weakest growth had been.  Then new soil. Some bark mulch. A bit of lime to sweeten the soil. And now I wait. The irises will fill in. At least that is my hope. New and more beautiful than before.

But as I was doing this I got to thinking--isn't this a parable for my life right now? Yes, doesn't it always return to quilts for me.  Sure I have been working hard making new quilts. Pillows. Purses. Table runners.

And it still feels like I am in a rut.  A bit snappy. After all, sales in the Falls have been slow. Lots of new stores opening attracting different markets. Having a movie filmed in town actually doesn't help business--at least not my business. Or is it that I have been so busy making new work, getting ready for a new studio that I haven't had as much time to explore new markets? Maybe my customers are not here just yet? I am taking a break from one show I usually do. Another got changed by the Boston bombing--how long ago that seems. So many reasons float before me.

I pull the brambles and make the quilts. I explore new markets and realize this is not personal. I must calm down and be steady and sure. Add a bit of new soil. A new look. Keep adding the lime. I must stay sweet. Apologize for those I have snapped at.  I do have lots of shows in just a month or two.  And I will need the purses and pillows, the placemats and table runners. And of course the new quilts. Lots and lots of new quilts.

So do you ever feel like you are in a rut? A bit snappy? What do you do? How do you cope?

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

inhaling blue

OK--it is spring. Today the sun shines. The sky is blue. The irises are out in their intricate outrageous splendor. Such wonderful intense colors. So many complex patterns. Such fleeting beauty.  I rush out and try to examine all the subtle changes. The tiny ruffles and flourishes. Can I store these wonderful colors deep within me? Nourish my soul, so to speak.  I try to capture them in clumps. So much color at once--I breathe deeply and yet my mind sees more than my camera does. I try to remember their names. The changes in the details. And yet that is not their essence--at least not for me

Instead I pause before each one. The new ones that have just opened this morning. The ones that are blooming for the first time ever in my garden. The old favorites. Some in clumps so big they flop over. And in my mind I of course--for you knew this would indeed return to quilts--plan the deep deep blue quilt that I must make. The haunting skies that I must try to capture. The quilt that has been teasing me at just the back of my brain. I see just snippets of it--too uncertain to dare begin--and yet I know that today is the day. Today I must sketch and start. I must try to capture it. For isn't this the essence of the blue--the irises that dance for just such a short time? At least that is what I think today.

Consider the dark intense perfection of teal velvet. So rich I could sink into it.

Or the exuberance of mountain lake. So brilliant that the clump dances in the wind even as I take its image.

mountain lake--Siberian iris--Ann Brauer
mountain lake--Siberian iris--Ann Brauer

The complex colors of Berlin ruby wine.

Berlin ruby wine--siberian iris--Ann Brauer

The delicate clumps of papillon. It takes a year or two to establish and then it just grows and grows.

papillon--Siberian iris--Ann Brauer

One of my newer iris--Miss Apple. Oh I do love the colors. So haunting. So special

The promise of tall, dark and handsome. Yes, it blooms just a little later but it is so present when it arrives.

tall, dark and handsome--Siberian iris--Ann Brauer

The wonderful colors of in full sail.

in full sail--Siberian iris--Ann Brauer
And dare I forget creme caramel. Not blue--but so glorious.

creme caramel--Siberian iris--Ann Brauer

 Oh I could go on and on. But yes, it is time. My "boss" reminds me I have quilts to make. Fabrics to play with. So many things to do. So do you have flowers you look forward to every year? Do you find that the gardens around you inspire your art? What do you think?

Monday, June 3, 2013

the quilts of Ann Brauer--it's June

Finally it is June. The rains here have come, the garden is almost fully planted and the irises have started blooming. How lush and vibrant everything seems. Of course this is indeed New England so one day I had to wear my winter coat and turn the heat on in the studio. A couple days later it was time for the air conditioner. As they say--just wait a minute.

In Shelburne Falls, they are shooting another movie. Sure there is a bit of a hassle--sometimes you have to wait a few minutes before you can cross the street. Parking is easier behind Keystone Market or either of the two lots on Cross Street. But my studio is still open. Who knows--you might just meet a star. The movie is called The Judge and Robert Duvall and Robert Downing Jr are in town. Maybe even Billie Bob Thornton.  I am working hard there most days finishing a quilt for a lovely customer who wants to decorate her living room around the piece and getting ready for two shows in August--the Berkshire Craft Show at Monument Mountain High School in Great Barrington and the American Craft Exposition  in Evanston--but more about those later.  Of course you can see a copy of the site plan for what I hope will be my new studio--fingers crossed.

And I have gotten inspired to make some new pillows. Instead of a quilt of the month this time, I thought you might be interested in seeing just a couple of my new designs. I do love the juxtaposition of the simple cotton fabrics and the modern designs and complex colors and motion I get by piecing using the thin strips, don't you?

pillow--16x16"--red center with grey--Ann Brauer $110

pillow--16x16"-- red stripe with grey--Ann Brauer $110

pillow--16x16"--mauve center--Ann Brauer $110

Anyway, enough for now. I hope your June is also splendid and that I will get a chance to see a few of you in the studio this month. Of course, if you are coming from a distance I suggest calling or e-mailing me just to make sure.