Monday, January 16, 2017

Today in Art: Kenny's Zebra

 The other day, I added the finishing touches to Kenny's zebra.  Kenny is a client of Hartford's Chrysalis Center, and he's been attending my felting classes on Monday mornings at 11 for over a year now.  He seems to specialize in felted images of animals.  So far, in addition to an image of his pit bull, Tank, he's created a panda

And a cheetah

And now, this zebra.  He did all the felting himself, right down to and including the black and white yarn for the mane.

I think he did a remarkable job, given the number and complexity of the color changes.

He did ask me to add a background, though, which I did.  I also neatened up the stripes a little bit, getting stray bits of black off the white part, and vice versa.  I also added a binding.  Here's what I did:

I'm proud of my work at the Chrysalis Center and gratified that so many of the people with whom I work, like Kenny, love needle felting.

I can't show you Kenny's face, but here are his hands:

Which reminds me, I'll be teaching a one-day workshop, The Felted Landscape, at West Hartford Art League in West Hartford on Sunday, February 2, starting at 10 a.m.:

...and also teaching needle felting for a week as part of Arts Week at Star Island:

Do I know how to have fun or WHAT???

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Today in Art: Six Ways of Looking at the Pattaconk Brook, Revealed

A few days ago I reported that I was working on a piece called Six Ways of Looking at the Pattaconk Brook.  This piece will appear at a show at a gallery, Maple and Main, in the town of Chester, Connecticut.  The show, Imaging Chester,, focuses on impressions of the town.  The Pattaconk Brook, which wends its scenic way all across it from west to east, finally emptying into the Connecticut River, is one of its prominent features.

I've been working on this for last couple of weeks, but finally it's done, so now I can show you my work.

Six Ways of Looking at Pattaconk Brook--the name is a reference to the poem Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird, by Connecticut poet Wallace Stevens--is a quilted and threadpainted fabric collage showing six ways of looking at the brook:  two scenic photos, two satellite photos, and two contour maps.

Above is a full view of the piece.  The central feature is a contour map showing the brook criscrossing Route 148, or vice versa, and emptying into the Connecticut River (via the Pattaconk Yacht Club, as I found).

In the upper right and lower left corner are the two scenic views  of the brook, and the rest are satellite images and contour maps. All are done through a process called photo transfer:  that is, the printing of photographic images on cloth.

Below, here's one of the two scenic landscapes of the brook, this one as it passes through the center of town. After the photo image is printed on cotton, it's threadpainted, quilted, and bound, like a mini-quilt.  This one is superimposed on one of the satellite images, itself also lightly quilted.

Come to the opening reception for this show!  You'll love Chester.

Monday, December 26, 2016

Today in Art: Six Ways of Looking at the Pattaconk Brook

An art gallery in Chester, Connecticut, a scenic little town if there ever was one, ( is going to be showing a piece of my art soon.  The gallery is Maple and Main, the show is Imaging Chester ( and my piece is called...wait for it...

Six Ways of Looking at the Pattaconk Brook.  The title is a bit of sideways homage to the poem, "Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird," by Connecticut poet Wallace Stevens.

I chose to focus on the Pattaconk Brook because it's a watercourse flowing throughout Chester, and because I I liked its name.  According to the town website,, Pattaconk is an American Indian term referring to a round or wigwam-shaped hill, possibly as the town of Chester appeared when viewed from the Connecticut river.

 A few days ago, Joe and I drove down there--Chester is south and east of where we live in West Hartford--to look for scenic Pattaconk shots.

But first, a fun fact:  Having studied Latin for five years, I can tell you that any place in England with Chester in its name derived that name from the Latin word castrum, meaning a camp or settlement...that is, a Roman outpost in the British Isles.  The word castrum developed into the word chester and then was transplanted from England to the new world.  So here we have Chester, Connecticut, which is in no way a former Roman settlement.  Instead, it was an English settlement in the territory of the Wangunks, a river tribe of native Americans.

Joe and I knew that mid-December wasn't going to yield anything like this idyllic view of the Pattaconk Brook shot by Connecticut photographer Kyle Nolin

 . . . but we hoped to find the place on the ground that corresponds to the location of these satellite photos, courtesy of Google Maps:

 Instead, the Pattaconk we saw at ground level was more like this:

Kind of bleak, don't you think?

From the map, it looks as if the Essex Steam Train, a vintage railroad tourist attraction, actually provides the closest ingress to some of those paludal areas.  Take a look at this map and you'll see the railroad route ambling right along the river, close by to where the Pattaconk forms those marshy areas before traversing through the Pattaconk Yacht Club emptying into the Connecticut:

And thanks to Sister Mary Immaculata, M.Z.S.H., my high school Latin teacher, for explaining that the Latin noun palus, (paludis) meaning a swampy area, has a cognate in the English adjective paludal, meaning "of or relating to swampy areas." I've never heard that word uttered outside her class, except by myself.  

Despite the paludal areas, Joe was able to get a couple of good shots of the brook, like this one somewhere along Dock Road in Chester.  Can you believe that this, and the photo above, are as close as we could get to the beguilingly sinuous watercourse in the satellite photos?

Maybe if we had a walking guide to the town, and some good wading boots, we could get closer to the site of the satellite view.

But how about this one, another shot by Joe, where the brook goes through the middle of the town:

Later, after we returned home, I found a contour map of the town:

and another satellite view:

In all, I came up with six different ways of looking at the Pattaconk Brook.  Thanks to the ability to print photos on fabric,'m about to turn them into an art quilt.

I'll show you when  it's ready.

Betcha can't wait!