web site

I now have a web site---www.bjparady.com. I haven't figured out how to put a link on this blog yet (any body reading know how?), but wanted to share the site with you.

Learning how to write html and actually doing all the detailed writing has taken all my brain cells for the past couple of weeks. I'm glad it's behind me, at least the first iteration of the site. Maybe now I can get back to actually making art...


May buckeye

May is the glorious month for the red buckeye in our yard. It is in full bloom, spectacular colors that pull off the red/green thing without looking the least bit Christmas-y. There are blooms on the end of every branch, big panicles of deep red tubular flowers. At the same time, the five lobed leaves have gotten almost full size, draping the branches and hiding the irregular shape of the tree.

At the same time the hummingbirds have returned, and the red buckeye is perfectly tailored to attract them. I frequently see one feeding on one of the flowers--always too far away and too skittish to photograph, of course.

This piece started with a close up of one of the flower clusters. I fiddled with it in photoshop to abstract it, but capture the essence of looking at it--the red/green vibrations, the touches of other colors. The ripple effect proved best, maybe hinting at the blossom from the bird's point of view as he zeroes in on his target. The touch of yellow on the rim serves as a good highlight.

The bird is stenciled (hand cut stencil out of freezer paper) using shiva paintsticks, including some irridescent ones. The stitching mimics the feel of the long flower stalks, the freeness with which they sway in the May breezes.

Both the background and the printed piece are silk, which adds to the luster of the piece. Side by side with previous pieces, this one is noticably cheerier, brighter, greener. But so is the yard--gone are the neutrals of winter and early spring, the dominant color is now green, lush green, life reestablishing itself. May, one of the best months in the midwest.


the year of the robin

Robins have been in my life in a big way this year...lots of them around all winter, encounters with them in the snow, and now a nest with four little ones on my patio. It seems appropriate to mark 2006 (even though we are only 1/3 of the way through it) as the Year of the Robin. And to commemorate it with art.

The problem, as usual, is how to achieve that. The idea has been rolling around in my brain for weeks, encounters lodging themselves in my memory. My work in general has been getting more abstract lately, but most of the visions I see for this piece take a step backwards from that.

This quick sketch was done with shiva paintsticks on a suede-like polyester fabric. I drew directly on the fabric, and then softened it with mineral spirits (the only solvent I had in the house that would work). Then I stitched some on it with varigated thread. It's a start.

I keep thinking of some pieces of western art I saw on Antiques Roadshow. I think they were done by a native American artist, and were kind of petroglyph-like. Just outlines mostly, with some color filled in here and there. A kind of narrative moving across the piece.

So I could start in a corner of a piece of fabric and add things as they happen this year--but I'm torn between just drawing them with paintsticks or ink, and stitching them...

Which brings up yet another dilemna working away in my brain. Lately I've just been backing my pieces with acrylic felt, so they are only two layers. Less finishing to deal with, flatter, less heavy. So they are no longer really 'quilts'. Do I care? Not much, but it makes the piece harder to define on a show submission...maybe I just don't have enough real life problems to worry about, huh?

The year of the robin will probably end up being a personal enough piece that it will never be for sale anyway. So what do I have to lose, right?