drawing costumed kids

{Lizzy dressed as a character she’s calling “Hindabella.”}

My friend Lisa has been taking a “Costumed Figure” class at the Hyde Park Art Center. When she told me about drawing her own kids in costume, I got very excited: What a great idea! and Why didn’t I think of that?

Over at their house for a play date, a few days later, the girls came out in costume and hollered, “We’re ready for you to draw us! Draw our pictures, Mama!”

What followed was a quick and hilarious drawing session. Kids perched on each mama’s shoulder, commenting on the works in progress. And yet the kids were such patient models, choosing difficult wavy-arms poses.

Drawing them made me really look at them, these cherished kids, the shapes of them, and the ways their expressions are so unique. What a gift to have this special time to really see them and try to recreate their vivid little selves on paper.Wonderful!

Maybe we can fit another costumed figure “class” in soon —  they say they want to draw me next! More soon…

Catherine dressed as a queen.

Cinder Zoe.

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Outings :: Magical Miniatures and Chagall

Recently we went to Chicago’s Art Institute as a family. It’s just a short electric train ride from our house, but it had been a while. We felt ready to go again. The Thorne Miniature Rooms have been decorated this year for the holidays for the first time, so we loved that! If you haven’t seen these rooms and you live in the Chicago area, you really should take a look. The workmanship is incredible! As a knitter, I was delighted to see how many rooms featured teeny, tiny knitting baskets. Unfortunately, my no-flash pictures of those baskets did not come out — you’ll have to imagine them (or visit!). You peek through little framed windows to see inside the miniature decorated rooms. It’s quite magical.

And we did all our other favorite things…. rubbings from medieval carvings….

Looking at picture books in the children’s book illustrators gallery….

But the other lovely surprise was that the Chagall’s America windows were back on display after a long-time renovation…

We spent a long time looking at them….

And then in the Children’s area, there was an art activity to make your own “stained glass” using vellum sandwiched between sheets of black paper. Such a simple project, but they came out beautifully.

A lovely way to bring memories of the Art Institute and all its miraculous artwork home with us.

New artwork for the walls

In the last few weeks and months, I’ve gotten a few new things for the little corners of our home. So happy to brighten them with arwork.

This print of a knitting girl by Linnea for Binth. It’s actually hanging in our bedroom, but to get a glare-free picture, I had to put it temporarily in the hallway this afternoon. The girls think it looks like “Mommy knitting” and so they want it in their room. We’re still negotiating that one, but why not?

This gorgeous, tiny, snowy diptych by my friend Kelly. I fell in love with these paintings the first time I saw them, so when I heard they were in an exhibit here, the now sadly-closed Vespine Gallery, in Chicago, I leaped at the chance. Hanging in the (um, currently-too-messy-for-a-wide-angle-photograph) craft room.

And further in the tree theme, this little letterpress tree card by Saturn Press, purchased locally at 57th Street Books. Can you tell I miss my trees and leafy views from the old Shoreland? I have so many schemes about how to introduce foliage, lush, leafy, green greenness into our decor. More on that soon.

filling empty bowls

My friend Bonnie and I had a lovely mamas-only outing to the long-awaited Empty Bowls event at Lill Street art center. It was the best sort of affordable fundraiser, to benefit the hungry in Chicago. Amazing handmade bowls are donated by ceramic artists. Neighborhood folks come choose their favorite bowl (from an amazing number and variety) and buy it for $20. Volunteers fill your bowl with yummy soup from Lill Street’s First Slice cafe and then down you sit, to enjoy your soup with all kinds of new friends and their new bowls.

Afterwards Bonnie and I needed a bit more time for chatting and catching up, so we went around the corner to Spacca Napoli, for a plate of antipasti and a small glass of prosecco to celebrate a bit of together time.

There’s no limit to the number of bowls you can purchase at the Empty Bowls event (as many as your charitable pocketbook can stand). Here are the bowls that came home with me….although some will be going out again to friends and family….

making milkweed

I love the connecting power of the Internet!

Recently, I was so delighted to hear about and participate in The Milkweed Project, Shan Bryan-Hanson’s collaborative fiber art project. Shan is creating a giant milkweed pod from white knitted and crocheted pieces from hundreds, maybe thousands of different fiber folk from all over the world. Here are some pictures of the piece I made.

I cast on and just started knitting, each stitch leading to the next. It was the most organic, original and delightful bit of knitting I’ve ever done. It felt so liberating to be knitting with no end result in mind, except to create something that was white and resembled a milkweed seed in some way. I think it will really change the way I knit. I’ve started thinking of so many non-traditional projects since I sent my “milkweed seed” off in the mail.

Progress on the project can be found on their Web site. Although the deadline for contributions has passed, I think Shan is still looking for venues for the finished art work. You’ve got to check out some of the other knitted pieces. They are so inspiring! Thank you, Shan, for this wonderful chance to create art with you and so many talented other fiber artists!

moving chronicles :: studio story

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So it started like this…I couldn’t see the forest for the trees (or the studio for the boxes of crafting supplies and yarn and fabric). Yikes! But after a month of puttering and pottering, it looks more like this, in my trademark messy-but-functional style:

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and this:

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and this:

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Pretty great! A room of my own, for crafting — incredible!

And this is where little girls hang out while Mama’s in her studio, in their book nook in the studio’s doorway:

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Tomorrow I’ll show off some good things that can happen when you’ve got a place all set up for creating things…

drawing a day :: 13 – 17

Today I had two wonderful hours to myself in the morning, so I did four drawings. I haven’t quite made up for all the time I’ve missed, but I’m on my way. There was something very relaxing and meditative about doing four in a row. I want to try to draw this way more often. I definitely progressed over the two hours, from being a little awkward and indecisive (1st drawing) to working much faster and being more relaxed with my mark-making (4th drawing). 

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