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morning

(c) Lindsay Obermeyer green sunshine
"In the garden my soul is sunshine." -- Anonymous

I know it is May, but I still find it incredible to wake every morning to so much green after a winter of gray, gray, and more gray.  I love to putter in my backyard garden during the early morning hours while still in my pajamas.  Yes, it's slightly weird, but there is something immensely decadent about slowly soaking in the morning sunshine. 

(c) Lindsay Obermeyer pinks  

dye garden

 (c) Lindsay Obermeyer allotment
"Little by little, even with other cares, the slowly but surely working poison of the garden-mania begins to stir in my long-sluggish veins."  -- Henry James

Life on an urban farm is eventful.  You must contend with soccer balls skyrocketing over the fence, trains screeching overhead, and a few slithering critters underfoot.
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My sad little patch survived the winter under water, so I spent the better part of 3 1/2 hours hauling compost and manure to dig under and aerate the soil.  Northern Illinois has rich, lovely clay which if you don't amend will soon become terra ceramic under the summer sun.  As I hauled each shovelful, I cursed my laziness for not staying in shape.  
(c) Lindsay Obermeyer robin
One of the many lovely aspects of gardening are the friends you make.  It's a club. "How did you get the peas to germinate so quickly?"  "Have you tried growing asparagus?"  Everyone shares information, veggies, and the occasional worm.  Monsieur Robin is my latest bosom buddy.  He followed me around the allotment as I worked.  The compost was full of red wigglers.  He was much obliged as he didn't need to lift a wing for a tasty noon day snack. 

All this activity was for a certain goal - to have a thriving natural dye garden.   I started my plot last year and hope to double its production this summer.
  (c) Lindsay Obermeyer bulls blood beet
Our resident green goddess, Kirsten, surprised me with several flats of seedlings!  Into the ground went bull's blood beets, bronze fennel, yellow cosmos, and double face marigolds.  The tansy and yarrow are perennials and were looking great.  Still to be added are hopi red dye amaranth, black eyed susans, and zinnias.  I need some woad and madder to round out my palette.  I may have just enough room for the woad, but madder is a climber and may need to stay at home in my backyard. 

waltz of butterflies

(c) Lindsay Obermeyer butterfly 1
"Happiness is a butterfly, which when pursued, is always just beyond your grasp, but which, if you will sit down quietly, may alight upon you."  -- Nathaniel Hawthorne

The opening of Lawn Nation was much bigger than I had anticipated.  Well, actually, I didn't know what to anticipate, but I guess it wasn't the crowds of people who attended.

The primary exhibit at The Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum, other than of course the fabulous Lawn Nation, is their butterfly room.   Hundreds of butterflies flitted from flower to flower.  Pure magic.  I took a few minutes reprieve from the opening to visit the room and play with my camera. 

Here are two of my favorite pictures:
(c) Lindsay Obermeyer butterfly 5
(c) Lindsay Obermeyer butterfly 6

As I sat watching the waltz of butterflies, I understood the meaning to Hawthorne's words as one large black and blue butterfly landed on my shoulder.  I've been rushing from job to job, art show to art show.  I enjoy the craziness, but resting and looking are equally and perhaps even more satisfying.   

inspiration

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"Artistic inspiration ignores the law of supply and demand."  --  Mason Cooley

How do you find inspiration?  Does it come by dream, muse, or lightening bolt? 

Last summer the works of Niki de Saint Phalle (see her work above) were on exhibit at the Garfield Park Conservatory.  I had seen her work in Paris outside the Pompidou Center, but never so many works in one place.  I was dazzled!  Intense rich colors reflecting the afternoon sun. If you've read the previous entry, then you can see the effect her work has had on mine.    

I'm currently reading Susan Vreeland's book Luncheon of the Boating Party.   The storyline is tailor made for me.  It is a fictional account of how Auguste Renoir risks everything to follow his dream, to make this one painting.  The painting. 

I am at that juncture.  I need to follow me heart.  Today I said no to steady income.  I won't be teaching much this fall.  It's so strange as I closely identify with my role as an educator.  I've been teaching in some capacity for over 20 years.  Half my life.  (Half my life?!)  I'm excited, but it certainly feels like free falling. 

So these days, when I think about what inspires me, it's people who have followed their dreams.  Niki.  Renoir. And all the others.  They have soared among the clouds, maybe to crash, but with a smile on their lips. 

ta da!

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"You are a king by your own fireside, as much as any monarch in his throne."  -- Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra

A throne built for any lord or lady of the garden with a seat of red creeping thyme and a back of trumpet vine.

I completed the installation on Friday.  The throne resides just outside the front entrance to the Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum.  I am pleased with my first large mosaic piece. 
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It has been a learning process, one which I am certain to continue.  The grout is laid thickly, covering much of the glass stones.  Only their tops are now visible.  The grout is close in tone to local soil when dry which works metaphorically with the theme of my piece.  I wanted to illustrate that there are numerous alternatives to lawn which are drought tolerant and require less fertilizer. 


business cards

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"Business is thirty percent patience."  --  Chinese proverb

I'm starting a new category today which I title "business."  This isn't about the marketing forces on Wall Street, though that holds its own interest for me, it's about the business of art.  Students frequently email asking for my opinion and advice.  It's flattering, though a bit misguided.  I don't know everything.  I'm also curious as how they come to think I hold the magic keys to a successful art career, but that's a topic of contemplation for another day.  Boys and girls, today's topic is on the necessity of business cards.

Business cards are an essential way to pass along your contact information.  Imagine that you are at a gallery opening and after an interesting conversation on the theoretical underpinnings of your fabulous art, a collector asks for your card.  What do you do?  Ask for some paper and a pen?  No. You reach into your wallet and hand her one of your business cards. 10 months later this very same collector gives you a call.  It's really that simple. (And yes, this is a real scenario snagged from the life of Lindsay.)

Over the years, I've seen many business card styles.  Students seem to think that making their own from recycled cardboard boxes is the way to go.  It is if the boxes are slim (not corrugated), neatly cut and stylishly printed with the essentials.  One of my favorites was by a fashion design student.  The card was neatly printed in black on white card stock which she hand cut and machine stitched a single line in hot pink thread.   She had given the card a personal touch while simultaneously underscoring her profession.    If the card is clumsy and poorly executed, it screams, "I don't care enough to invest in my career." Business cards need not be expensive to produce.  Vista Print will even print cards for free if you agree to have their website information on the back.

My cards have always been perfunctory - name, phone number, email address.  Nothing fancy, just simple, clean and to the point.  But in preparing for Looptopia I craved a bit more zip.  Zip came in the form of Moo mini cards.  For just $20 you can have 100 different images printed on 100 cards.  I chose only 10 images, but still, the fact that I could have 100 unique images for the same low price was just too cool for this business gal to pass up.


big blue update

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"Art is never finished, only abandoned." -- Leonardo Da Vinci

Knitting while twisted like a pretzel and sitting on a very dusty floor is not ideal.  My fingers are covered in blisters, my back hurts and I still have a few more hours of repair work to complete.  Big Blue is not destined for Washington D.C. as originally planned, she is off to San Francisco in August.  It's Baby Blue (a mini replica) that will be in D.C. at the Kennedy Center.  In the meantime Big Blue will be warehoused in a town about 1 1/2 hours out of Chicago, so I am handling repairs now before she is moved into storage for the rest of spring.
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It was fun to see the globes again, especially with them clustered together in one space.
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Most were scattered across the floor, but a few were on shelves.
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Mind you, each globe weighs approximately 250lbs.  Is it any wonder that the shelving unit is made of steel girders? 

For now, I hanker to knit some of the aplaca / silk blend I bought yesterday.  A teasing relief from nylon parachute cord. 


loathe

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"I loathe narcissism, but I approve of vanity."  -- Diane Vreeland

As I prepared the shipment of my work for the San Jose Museum of Quilts and Textiles, I reflected on those activities I find particularly loathsome.  Packing art ranks high on the list. 

I put off these and similarly detested activities until the very last minute.  Some activities can be dangerous, such as cleaning gutters.  Others are icky.  Picking up dog poop is one that comes to mind especially if left for a day and its gone mushy in the rain. But then there are those activities which don't have the ick or danger factor, they are just tedious.  Packing art, washing windows, and balancing a checkbook  fall into this category.  I'm no Martha Stewart.  I don't revel in organization.  My office is a declared urban excavation site.  Anything requiring the minutiae of details to complete makes me a bit nutty.

I commiserated with a friend today when she wrote she was going crazy putting together a conference.  She's an idea gal.  She dreams and she dreams big.  But those little details that come with big dreams - she'd rather leave them to others. 

This must be why I loathe packing my art.  The art is made.  The fun part is over.  Besides, every time I pack my art I end up with a zillion paper cuts and those horrid Styrofoam peanuts clinging like mad to every surface in my studio.  You'd think they'd come up with a better solution.  Maybe then I would finally like packing.   


green glass

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"What is green? The grass is green,
With small flowers between.
What is violet? Clouds are violet
In the summer twilight.
What is orange? Why, an orange,
Just an orange!"
  -- Christina Georgina Rossetti

Hundreds of glass gems glued in row upon row. C_lindsay_obermeyer_green_baubles_3

It sounds tedious, but I am having fun.  My first large experiment into mosaics is looking good.  I'm pleased with how it sparkles.   I'm reminded of my early work.

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Landscapes done in bead embroidery.  Was that really 20 years ago?

What I'm loving about the mosaic work is the ability to work quickly on a much larger scale.

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singing mona lisa


"Mona lisa, mona lisa, men have named you
You're so like the lady with the mystic smile
Is it only cause you're lonely they have blamed you?
For that mona lisa strangeness in your smile?"
--  Nat King Cole

A friend shared this video with me.  I had to share it with you.  It is just too funny.  The costumes are very clever.  Can't decide which "act" I like best, probably the first.