Thursday, December 31, 2009

2009 Highlights - I Have Been to the Mountaintop...

I spent the early part of the year 2009 renewing work on a writing project that has been in my spirit since about 2000.  I think the highlight of my year was a week I spent completely alone at a cabin in the woods.  It was extremely remote, reached only by a very quirky 4x4 Suburban.  The place had propane lights, range and fridge, an outhouse that I shared with a spider (often more than one) and a gas powered generator that I used to charge the batteries on my laptop.  It was by far the best thing I’ve ever done for myself and I loved being there.  It was remote, very wild and very beautiful.  I felt absolutely no fear, slept with the doors and windows wide open and LOVED it!

I spent most of my time writing, I worked on the porches mostly depending on where I could get the most natural light.  If it was raining I would move to the covered porch, it it got too bad I'd work inside but that meant either turning on the generator, using candles or lanterns.  I often played guitar out on the porch and sang in solidarity with the trees and wildlife.  I curled up on the porch at night with a blanket to consider the many vivid stars and even saw a shooting star.  I used the antique propane range to cook my meals, I had produce from the farmer's market mostly, fruit, veggies, eggs and a loaf of hearty bread, some butter and olive oil.  I worked until I'd finish a chapter then take a break and make something to eat.  It seemed that the food all tasted far better than usual.  The whole experience was heavenly.  I was awakened at 3 am one morning by a bird flying around the cabin, I opened the screen doors and let the poor little thing out, what a lovely adventure!  Since I was up anyway, I went back to work on the book for a while then took a hike up the mountain to see the sunrise from the top.

There was also a considerable storm one afternoon and I couldn't even work on the covered porch anymore and it got very dark so I took a break to watch the storm.  When the rain stopped and the sun came out I was treated to the full court press of after storm misty beauty, it's a memory I'll always treasure.  It was such an amazing time for me, the storm, dawn on the mountain top...  I felt free and alive in a way that touched me deeply.  It's hard to put into words, even now all these months later.

I came home with a rough draft of my book and a great deal of excitement at this milestone in my life.  Since then I’ve set the project on a back burner again, feeling that there are a few chapters that are yet to come, or perhaps I’m just not ready to release it.  Either way, those days of being completely alone in the wilderness left me feeling free and more in touch with my spirituality and the wilderness than ever.  I loved it so much!

I saw rainbows after that storm, a number of them in the same day, mostly little bitty snatches of one here and there since my location was very tree sheltered.  As a matter of fact, the day I drove back into civilization I kept seeing rainbows along the drive home.  And once I was home there I saw a huge rainbow there, they sure are difficult to capture in a photograph, best stored up in one's heart!  It gave me hope that better things were coming my way.

Coming home was difficult, facing my world of external demands, commitments and material overload.  As I drove back into civilization my cell phone went off and I listened to a long list of phone messages, some of which were very demanding, followed by a stack of email when I got home and noise and commotion and a big mess in my kitchen.  It was an overwhelming and I felt the bliss slipping away.  Now I know that how you come back from the wild is as important as how you get there, lesson learned.  Next time I'll be more careful about the way I come home.  I loved it, I want to go back.  Soon I hope.  Maybe I’ll go back in 2010 to finish up that project or work on another.  I'm in no rush, some projects are made for years rather than months.  All in all, I think my week alone in the wild was one of the highlights of 2009 and I am very grateful that I had that opportunity!

(Outhouse with a view!  LOL!) 

Sometimes I think we are reluctant to do what we need to do for ourselves in order to live the best version of our lives.  It's so easy to get caught up in the sensory overload of pop culture and making a living and meeting external demands when sometimes... more than anything what we really need is absolute silence, a Bible, some thoughtful introspection, a journal, a guitar and time...  Give yourself a gift in 2010, take some time away for silence, contemplation and solitude.  It may turn out to be the highlight of your year.

-Carmen Rose


Hubby captured photos of the sunrise this morning. 
I was up late last night so I missed it,
but I love it when the morning sky is full of color!

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Last One of the Year?

I've been up to my neck in kitchen renovation, a painting project seemingly without an end.  So this evening I spent a little time in the quilt studio just to get away from it all.  I started with a piece of hand dyed fabric that came from my last round of dying, the rest is hand dyed except for one dark purple commercial batik.  Here is the little resulting little quilt I started.  Last one of 2009?  Perhaps, better wait and see I suppose.  The night is still young.
Happy creating and thanks for dropping by my blog!
-Carmen Rose

2009 introspection - Theater

The life of a studio artist is a solitary one so to come up for air; I took a role in a locally written musical in February ‘09.  Little did I know it would hold some unexpected challenges.  I turned 40 in February and I had a 15 year acquaintance with infertility… and I was playing an 18 year old pregnant girl.  I had not seen the script other than at auditions; I had no idea what I was saying “yes” to when I accepted the role.

Each night I went from the announcement of the pregnancy, through the scenes wearing the pillow, on to holding the plastic baby in my arms.  The character and I did not get along.  There were times when the interaction between myself and “Molly” nearly flattened me.  I don’t know why I stuck it out, I suppose I have more determination than wisdom.  It was well beyond brutal.

(Me and Richard Adams, the composer of the music in the show.)

I’ve written and directed, and been on the stage as a musician and done some public speaking, but I hadn’t acted on stage beyond high school. I gained some excellent experiences, and met some fascinating people, some of whom are good friends to this day.  It was a time of convergences though, some health issues came to the surface, a relationship with a close friend hit the rocks, the character was breaking my heart a little more with each performance, plus I hosted a large reception the same day as one of the performances. All of that hit at once and as a result I was nauseous for the entire Feb-April production. The doctor called it a virus, I dubbed it “the Molly virus.” About 6500 people came to see the show, there was a lot of press, and each night there was a standing ovation.

(These are all my favorites: The guy at my knee played my husband, the ultra talented guy in the plaid was my father-in-law, the guy in the suspenders had some of the best lines in the show and was hilarious, and the other guy is the one who brought me to the auditions in the first place.  What a great bunch!)

The last curtain fell and I felt a great relief that it was over, I survived a little ragged around the edges, but I’d made it by leaning on a few close friends in the cast.  I’ll hold that experience and the people I learned to know and love there close to my heart.  I drew strength from my cast mates, whether or not they knew it.  What a gift they were to me!  I guess that’s what makes it such a bittersweet part of my year.  I played a personally difficult role, but I loved the people I was working with!

During production I managed to land a role in a summer musical with an amazing cast but opted instead to be behind the scenes as hair and makeup artist.  That was such a lovely experience that I continued to do hair and makeup for a variety of local community theater productions.

I was makeup artist for The Pajama Game with Oak Grove, Annie with ShenanArts and Tuesday Mourning with Waynesboro Players.  I got to see my talented friends perform in shows including Sweeny Todd, Ordinary People, Beauty and the Beast and others.  Plus, some of us would go and see shows together, that's always fun!  I saw a lot of shows this year!  Seeing a performance is always more fun when you know some of the individuals in the cast and there is some amazing talent in this area!

(Doing the bald cap for Daddy Warbucks was fun, and we had a lot of fun back stage at that show, I even tried on the bald cap myself one evening after the show was over.  Warbucks had melted by that point but I thought a bald me was very funny!)

2009 was my year to explore Community Theater, what a wild ride that was!  I discovered that I really enjoy being a makeup artist, and that was a new art media to add to the list this year… and a welcome addition.  Acting is not on that list!  Mercy no!

Taking a look back at 2009... Textiles!

I spent a while the other evening looking back at the year, giving some thought to the water under the bridge. Some of my favorite moments along the way include the winter months at the beginning of 2009, I was buried in my textile studio exploring the world of art quilting in a whole new way. I remember a visit to a local quilt shop where I saw a calendar on their wall, I snatched it right off its hook because I’d never seen such quilts before. I was completely taken with a quilt by Kathy York and I came home and googled her name and found her blog, which led me to a world of blogging quilters that I never knew existed. I fell in love with the aesthetic of Simply Robin, her art quilts are rich in color and design excellence.  I also discovered the amazing Melody Johnson, who has become a real source of inspiration on many fronts! I love her work, and I ever bought a painting from her this year.  I drooled over one and a friend of mine wondered aloud how a piece of my soul ended up on her canvas!  That painting is now one of my treasures in my home!  With inspiration from Melody, I began to dye my own cottons, linens and silks and that’s addictive! I’d dyed fabrics before but never with Procion dyes, and that opened up a brave new world! (Add dying textiles to my list of art media that I work in! Score!) I also learned to make a kind of bread that takes 18 hours to raise and is baked in an oven with steam - Yum! I even tried knitting a sock, inspired by Melody, but that’s rather dismal since I never finished and it’s a little wretched looking, but it was fun! Te he! I’d fused fabric for banners for years, but I’d always preferred piecing when working with quilts, but my latest quilt was entirely fused! I'm tellin ya, I could get used to that! I have learned SO much from this amazing group of phenomenal artists (too many to mention, just check out the blogs I follow!) and they are among the best treasures of my year! Oh, and in there somewhere a representative of Hoffman saw my blog and sent me a couple yards of some DELICIOUS batik! That was fun! I have created more quilts in 2009 than ever before, and even between all the other production work and the other media that I work in, working with fabric was a personal favorite. And when (if) I get my kitchen makeover complete, I hope to spend some quality time in my quilt studio again, the ideas are brewing and it's that time of year again. Plus the wood stove is going full tilt, and I love being in the toasty studio with my fabrics!  Here are some photos from my latest batch of hand dyed fabrics. I was going for the most difficult color to dye of them all: PURPLE!

I like dying white on white commercial fabrics, the white printing on the fabric takes the dye differently than the body of the fabric, creating any number of cool effects. 

A little more white on white.

These are all squares of gradient tones, and each was folded in half when I dyed it creating roughly 20 x 42 inch pieces of fabric that are like photo copies or mirror images... that was a fun experiment!

A closer look at one of the dyed tonal pieces.  The process is simple.  I put the fabric out on the kitchen counter on a trash bag.  Fill the squeeze bottle with dye solution and squeeze some on the prepared fabric, add a little water or dye and then squeeze out the solution on the next row and continue on like that.  One can make various gradations of the same color, light and dark blue for example, and one can morph from one color to the next like I did above.  My lines show but if you don't want them to it's possible to do it more gradually!  I <3 color!

This large chunk of fabric turned out looking like I tie dyed it, but that design was entirely accidental.  A few shades of purple went into the can along with the fabric, and it was dramatically forgotten for a day or two and then washed.  Don't ask me to repeat that color, it was just the last of all the purple dyes just thrown into one can along with some fabric.

I've got a bunch of these fabric chunks in a wild combination of blue, purple and fuchsia and everything along the way in between. 

Oh, and a few more of these white on white pieces, the more pastel ones to the left and the darker majenta purple ones on the right.

Yay for the color PURPLE!
Happy dying, Happy New Year

"For auld lang syne, my dear,
for auld lang syne,
we'll take a cup of kindness yet,
for auld lang syne."

Sunday, December 27, 2009

It Shines!

The tile is done, it has a lovely shine and we're pleased with it!  Now if we can just get past the dainty stepping stage and get on with the rest of the work...  Monday  morning we start painting kitchen cabinets!  Hubby is going to be thrilled to get back to work, this "vacation" is turning out to be just plain hard work!  However, these projects are not without perks.  The kitchen already looks SO MUCH better!

Happy Transformations,
Let your creative juices flow! 

Saturday, December 26, 2009

The Last Tile is in Place

The last piece of tile is finally in place, it took a long time but I'm pleased with how it looks now. Finally that horrible green and gold vinyl is ancient history!

And right at this very moment the first layer of polish is being applied by hubby.
New floor, new shine... this is a gooooooood thing!

Monday we'll start painting cabinets, can't wait to see how it all comes together!
Patience is a virtue, alas, not one I possess.

Happy Day after Christmas!

Office turned Pantry

I cleaned all of the stuff out of the pantry I was using as a home office.

We added a few shelves to be able to spread out a little more. The pantry is three feet deep, so the side shelves were a better use of space. And you can see that the tiling of the floor has started.

I finished up the tiling this evening and gave the shelves a coat of primer and paint.

After the painted dried, I loaded in some of the pantry stuff. I've moved the microwave into the pantry also, we don't use it much and this will free up counter space.  Ever notice how there is no such thing as a pretty microwave? 

Progress is good.  I have a bunch of freshly dyed fabric that is ready to iron and photograph, can't wait to show you all some of that, some fun pieces in there!  Can't wait to get my hands on it but this kitchen face lift project looks like it will take up my time for a while.  I do love seeing the transformation!  More photos coming.  Stay tuned!

Here's to a fresh coat of paint, nothing is quite like it!  Happy creating! 

Friday, December 25, 2009

Merry Christmas!

Blessed is the season which engages the whole world in a conspiracy of love!  
~Hamilton Wright Mabie

Merry Christmas 
With love from Studio B

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Beginning the Kitchen Tile Install

The work has started!  We've taken up the old flooring, what do you think?  Good choice?  Yeah, it was pretty horrible and there was SO MUCH of it!  (But not anymore!)

The hubby carefully took up the old stuff, it took some doin but it came up.

Then I started in laying a row right down the length of the room. 

Tile in both pantries and more to go...

Lay out a few rows worth of adhesive until it's dry enough, lay the tile... (and repeat.)

Almost all the whole tiles are down, now I'm working on the tiles that fit in around the edges.  Believe it or not they cut relatively easily when heated, which was good news to me!  I've laid plenty of tile, vinyl, ceramic and even some marble over the years but never a room this size and I don't remember ever working with VCT before.

And every time I found the process annoying, I just pictured my kitchen with the new floor complete and I knew it would be worth it!  And a few of my friends are coming Monday to help me paint the cabinets.  Slowly but surely we are saying "Bye Bye" to the old kitchen!  =)  I can hardly wait to see how it all turns out!

Have a project at your house you've been putting off?  Don't be afraid to try something new!  Give it a try and see what happens!  Happy transformations!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Harlequin Tile, coming soon to a floor near me!

There is something about a harlequin floor that I really like! It's graphic and bold without being overwhelming. It's modern and classic at the same time. Plus, I like black and white together... there is no more perfect combination than these complete opposites. Hubby is a teacher on Christmas break, only he generally works harder on break than when he's at work. Today he's worked at removing the vintage 1975 vinyl. Tomorrow I'll start installing the harlequin tile.  

I am really looking forward to seeing how the kitchen looks after a few days, a little work and a bottle of advil. Can't wait to see it!  We've got guests coming for New Years, so that's incentive to see how far we can get before then.  I wonder if I can get a coat of paint on the cabinets as well?  Hmmm...  Maybe TWO bottles of advil!  LOL!
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