going with it

Texture, detail, flow and mystery. Those are my muses. I work in fabric because of it. Joining pieces of cloth with stitch mimics the way my thoughts labor toward understanding. Each bit brings me a little closer to a dialog, each stitch animates the landscape.

I started this piece a week ago. There was no plan. I chose instead to let the scraps tell me who their neighbors should be.

Steeples and antennas fascinate me. They reach toward space with great force, probing the mysteries.

There was some wonkiness in my piecing, a little wave of impatience showing in the edges.

Adding a horizontal grid of black on black stitching created a subtle atmosphere behind the structures and stabilized the wonkiness.

Stitched details add life to the passive two dimensional surface.

Pieces like this make me smile, they seem to need a soundtrack.

I haven't named it yet. It needs to stay on the board for a little longer.

the buzz

Friday will be a noisy day. I am part of a six woman show at Crosstown Arts called Six Points. It is our first show. We have spent a year together talking about our work and goals. 

Most of the time I seek the quiet. Ever since our vacation last month my ears have been whistling. It's a quiet high pitched whisper that I hear only when I am silent.

Hearing only when it is silent. Like seeing only when I have my eyes closed or tasting without smell. Awareness comes in small doses.

Do we broadcast our thoughts without being aware of it? Do we hear messages without listening? Broadcasting, Paula Kovarik

The buzz isn't exactly annoying. I interpret it as an electrical charge that persists, a twitter of nerves, a reminder of the hear and now. It doesn't promote calm or clear the air waves of those nasty little snatches of tunes that catch me in their whorl. (Lately it's Carl Orff's Carmina Burana, O Fortuna, but last week it was Purple Rain). And it comes when I am not ready—not focused on other things—so it always surprises me when it starts up again.

There's a certain depth to quiet that I seek out each day. It's a space that allows for awareness.

When I am deep within the buzz of awareness I can't speak it out loud. Silent Witnesses panel, Paula Kovarik

Like the day when I was driving and thinking about a good friend and how I needed to call her. It was silent in the car. Later that day she called me.

Or the morning in yoga class when I looked up at the ceiling and thought about how far the galaxy goes and later that day my son posted a shot of the milky way on his facebook feed.

Tapping into the mysterious requires a silent awe, an awareness of the underlying buzz. I am whistling in the dark, reaching for the tactile.

And I do that best in the quiet.

Background noise disturbs the pattern. Silent Witnesses panel, Paula Kovarik

Mine or theirs?

I've been thinking about influences and how they affect my work. I am conscious of noticing. Conscious of storing up details of line and pattern, images and ideas while at the same time forgetting the details of names and dates, locations and authors. My mind seems to be choosing its limits.

Catalysts is a piece devoted to the idea that noticing begets growth. Thank you to Piet, Pablo, William, Paul, Vasily, Theodore, Lee, Alexander, the bees, trees, birds and my grandchildren. Paula Kovarik

So what happens when I unconsciously add an image that another artist originated? How does that borrowing affect the interpretation of the work? My mind is like a bamboo thicket of remembered (and forgotten) detail. How does it all connect to a cohesive whole? Am I mimicking or channeling? Appropriating or hoarding?

And does it matter?

In this age of instants I crave the considered. The slow brewing. An uncrowded clarity of thought. But the slideshow is moving at a pace that keeps me breathless so I am never certain that the idea is original. Never sure if I am just broadcasting pre-processed thoughts.

this memory doesn't fade

Rock star smile.

Rock star smile.

Mom died three years ago today. Her buoyancy, fearlessness and resolve astounded me. She learned new art forms in her eighties and pursued them with vigor. She spread love and acceptance to all around her without judgement. She could bait a hook at the same time as steering the boat. She loved romance novels, bacon-fried potatoes, fabric in all colors and hearing from her sons. She would get in her car and head off without destination just to get a handle on what was out there. She was my mentor and sideline cheerleader.

I miss her every day.

fading shadows.

Memories fade, but not these. She is sharp in my memory. She talks to me in my dreams. I can feel her hands on my shoulders.

I miss her every day.

taming the bulge

It happens every time I leave the studio for a trip. My head gets filled with images, words, doubts, wishes and ideas. Then I get back to the studio. And freeze.


My brain is like a whirlpool.

So it was no surprise yesterday when I decided to pursue one of my ideas....in a rush of optimism.....and the medium was not cooperating. Who knew that not basting a piece of linen to a frothy assortment of batting would result in chaos as I stitched inward on a spiral?

I did. I knew it. I was just too impatient to take the time for prep.

I spent the afternoon hand basting the bulgy layers together resulting in a brain-like texture similar to the confusion in my mind.

Spending the afternoon tucking mass into ripples with a basting needle gave me time to reflect. And that reminded me that I chose this medium because of that meditative quality, that time out of space contemplation, the quiet of one stitch at a time.

Seen at the Frankfurt airport

I'll use this image of a dandelion that I shot in Frankfurt as a reminder. Life is fast and can be full of hard surfaces. Some ideas lead to spent flower heads. Others shine brilliantly in the sun. Both are worthwhile and require wild abandon and dogged pursuit.