Slowing down to think and listen

As I was stitching last night I thought about the documentary Alive Inside, a 2014 Sundance film festival award winner about the effect of music on Alzheimers patients. The film is stunning, heart warming and inspirational. I highly recommend it to all. Order it now. Watch it today. Contribute to their efforts.
Really. Do it now.

We all have a soundtrack in our lives. Music that motivates, energizes and memorializes our lives.

What would my soundtrack include? Led Zeppelin, Mozart, Frank Sinatra, Joni Mitchell, Crosby, Stills Nash and Young, especially Young. And Ray Charles, Erik Satie, Tom Waits, Edith Piaf, Jami Sieber and Jaco Pastorius. Sophie Hunger, Wax Tailer, Beethoven and Florence and the Machine. And how could I omit Cat Stevens, Bob Dylan, Jimi Hendrix and Sweet Honey and the Rock? Miles Davis, Utah Phillips, Leonard Cohen, Nat King Cole, Ana Brun, Ludovico Elnaudi, Gustav Mahler, John Lee Hooker, Al Green and Marvin Gaye. Of course it would also have to include Damien Rice, David Bowie, the Beatles, Phillip Glass, Peter Gabriel, Patsy Cline and Luciano Pavarotti.

Sunstitched, Paula Kovarik, part of a quilt challenge for my local guild.

Sunstitched, Paula Kovarik, part of a quilt challenge for my local guild.

OK, so the list is endless. It's comforting to think that for all the times we struggle with memory, become lost in life's challenges, or just want to find what the next step might be … all we have to do is listen. The inspiration is there. In the music.

What is on your soundtrack?

Earth Stories opening at the University of Central Missouri

The Studio Art Quilt Associates show, Earth Stories, opens today at the University of Central Missouri Gallery of Art and Design, Warrensburg, Missouri, January 19 - February 28, 2015. The invitational show celebrates the stories of people or projects that enhance the planet, make a significant difference in restoring and/or protecting the environment, increase sustainability and otherwise improve the earth we all occupy. My piece, Stream of Consequences, honors the the work done by the Wolf River Conservancy.  There are many stories of hope across the globe. Both individuals and small groups are working on projects that, when added together, make a positive impact on increasing the quality of life on this planet.

Stream of Consequences, Paula Kovarik

Stream of Consequences, detail, Paula Kovarik

Twenty-four artists from around the world were chosen to interpret a story of their choice, in two quilts each (72x72 and 12x14 inches). In addition, the show includes journals written by each artist sharing the story of the creation of the quilt.

If you are anywhere near Warrensburg (east of Kansas City) take a moment to see this wonderful show.

traveling unknown pathways

Tangent Lines, Paula Kovarik, 2015

Tangent Lines, Paula Kovarik, 2015

I was talking to a good friend this weekend about the fact that I can't seem to finish things. I am full of ideas and come into the studio each day with a new direction I want to pursue. Exploration, imitation and experimentation all teach me what to do next time -- perhaps with a clearer eye to finality. But often that next time doesn't arrive because I'm onto a different idea. A perfect example is this tangent lines piece. It started as an extemporaneous exploration of color piecing.
I decided to use saturated colors that interact with each other and shatter across a black and white surface. I used the willy-nilly approach of joining the color pieces from a scrap box instead of pre-planning and cutting to fit.

The composition came together with a strong horizon line and some interaction between the shapes. I thought it was a good start and that I could play with line to exaggerate a wacky perspective. Since the two colorful figures seemed to be communicating I wanted to explore how my line work might emphasize that. I used an acetate overlay and experimented with line patterns. I drew plumes of lines coming from the tips of the forms, antennae, perspective lines and heart beat lines but wasn't happy with any of them.

The piece lingered on the design wall for over a month. Then one day I came up with the idea of adding a line at each seam just to see what would happen -- an experiment in geometry. Would the composition come together or fall apart? Would the lines impede the message? What message?

Tangent Lines, Paula Kovarik

Tangent Lines, Paula Kovarik

There were a whole lot of lines to add. Over 275 if I counted right. The texture of the piece changed drastically. The experiment taught me:

  • lines of sight can be complicated,
  • forms have a trajectory that might not be apparent to the casual observer,
  • interconnectedness can have voids, and
  • I wasn't sure if I really liked it.
vacant doodle

vacant doodle

So ... with nothing to lose I went for more experimentation.

Remember those drawings you did on the back of your math homework or your English class spiral notebook where you scribbled a line and then colored the shapes that were formed? Well, maybe you don't. But I sure do. I still do that in a vacant sort of doodling mood. It occurred to me maybe these lines and forms had even greater secrets to reveal. You know....like a fourth dimension. Perhaps if I colored in areas where the lines formed triangles it would reveal a pattern that connects. Little did I realize that there are over 200 triangles formed by these lines and some of them take a huge hunk of thread to fill in. Tedious. I'm still finding triangles to fill, still seeing triangles in my dreams. Still.

And, from what I can tell. There is no pattern that connects. Just a whole lot of lines and triangles.

I think I'll crop it, block it, and wait for the next inspiration. For now I know it is unfinished, next to three other unfinished pieces on the boards. And that might be a good thing because I learned from it. Or a bad thing because it's still a mystery and I might have to add more. It does give me more ideas to pursue. How do forms inform line work? Where do lines intersect to add more meaning? Why triangles?

Not sure.

Tangent Lines, triangles, Paula Kovarik

Tangent Lines, triangles, Paula Kovarik

over the top and through the woods

I saw these guys on the Rhodes college campus yesterday. Seemed a little over the top for the number of leaves they were corralling. The noise was deafening (witness the worker's ear protection) and the amount of fossil fuel being used would have embarrassed an oil tycoon. I was relieved to see that there were no students on campus witnessing this excess. Hate to think that our future leaders would think this was the right way to handle fallen leaves.

Leaf blowers