A Color Workshop

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My art voice has been very quiet here lately. As I have become increasingly focused on fixing up my new home and moving in, I know that I have been neglecting the playful, art side of myself in a big way. Now, feeling totally overwhelmed, I’m quickly learning how very important it is for me to set time aside and regularly nurture that side of myself to maintain balance in my life. I think that when that feeling of overwhelm creeps into our lives, it is because something important is being neglected. All that said, I embraced my art self once again when I attended Lindly Haunani’s color workshop called Dancing with the Rainbow.

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With her soft voice and gentle manner, Lindly patiently brought us to a greater understanding of the world of color and, most appealingly to my inner “Color Kitten” (my favorite childhood book by Margaret Wise Brown), how to mix colors (oh joy!) to achieve a color palette that is a true expression of your artistic voice.

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Our homework before the workshop was to gather pure color images clipped from magazines. As described on pages 44-47 in Lindly’s book (written with Maggie Maggio), Polymer Clay Color Inspirations, our first task was to sort these images into subsets of color families, those colors that “went together”. We then chose the subset that resonated most strongly with our inner spirit. As we went through this process, Lindly spoke with each participant one by one and carefully observed their body language and listened to their voice very closely for clues to individual palette preferences.

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Once we chose our subset, we created a collage with the images. Out came the scissors and glue sticks and I felt like a little kid again, joyfully arranging my images onto a sheet of Bristol board.

Fall was definitely in the air that day as quite a number of us chose a similar autumn color palette.

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Once our collages were complete, we brought them together and carefully studied each one, choosing the polymer clay primary colors that best represented our collage colors. Zinc or cadmium yellow? Fuschia or cadmium red? Ultramarine or cobalt blue?  We used the Premo brand of clay but you can use any brand as long as you have a “cool” and “warm” version of each primary.

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One of the most amazing teachings of this workshop was about “mud”, the color you get when you mix all 3 primaries together in equal proportions. We all think of mud as being, well, mud brown. Well, the “mud” mixed from my set of primaries was actually dark green. And the neatest part was when we took small pieces of mud and mixed them into our primary and secondary colors to achieve the most gorgeous earthy shades. Wow!

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With a range of colors mixed from our primaries, we then began to cover a wood framed mirror that Lindly had brought for each person. Just when I got into the groove of covering mine, it was time to go home! Isn’t that always the way of it?

Here are some closeups of the beautiful collages and frames started.

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I passionately encourage you to run, not walk, to your nearest bookstore and pick up a copy of Lindly’s book. If you have the wonderful opportunity to take one of her workshops, even better. It will change the way you view color forever. It has with me and I am looking forward to studying again with this marvelously talented artist.

Lindly, you are truly my color hero and I thank you from the bottom of my heart for your inspiration.

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Saturday Morning Tea

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This morning I am up before dawn to step out into the crisp autumn air and go on an art adventure, a journey that will lead me down to Connecticut to go “Dancing with the Rainbow”, a color workshop given by one of my color heroes, Lindly Haunani. When I first found out that I would have the opportunity and pleasure to attend, I wrote about it here.

While I am unable to share a cup of tea with you this morning (mine was quickly made and poured into a travel mug), I’ve included a peek at next week’s tea. I don’t usually choose my teas a week ahead but this one is very special and I am so excited to be able to share it with you.

A small hint…..the fragrance of lilacs…

“Life is pure adventure, and the sooner we realize that, the quicker we will be able to treat life as art.”

~Maya Angelou

Taos Journey – Last Day

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The last day. So final.

This is the day that you find yourself trying to fit in everything that you wanted to do but didn’t get a chance to on all of the other days. So, it turned into a “bits” day – a little bit of this and a little bit of that.

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A little bit of knitting.

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A little bit of walking around the grounds, poking in and out of all of the wonderful nooks and crannies of Mabel’s house.

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Here’s the door to that fabulous doorway.

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A little bit more shopping. There’s Dad relaxing while we buy more yarn at Weaving Southwest.

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A nice scenic drive for a little bit of picture taking.

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Relaxing in the living room.

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And the sitting room.

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I sure will miss this wild, beautiful land.

You might have noticed that I haven’t posted any photos of my shrug yet. Weeeelllll…it is almost done with just the sleeve seams to be sewn and the little yarn ends to be woven.

Stay tuned for the “ta-da” moment of my Taos Shrug!

It is not a country of light on things.

It is a country of things in light.

~Georgia O’Keeffe (on New Mexico)


Dancing with the Rainbow

Perhaps the rainbow that guided us out of Albuquerque and along the road to Taos was more than just a good omen for our stay there. I believe my future was being revealed to me.

I just found out recently that one of my color heroes, Lindly Haunani, will be giving a workshop in CT, facilitated by the Southern Connecticut Polymer Clay Guild.

It’s called…………….. “Dancing with the Rainbow”.

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Lindly has recently co-authored a book with Maggie Maggio, another one of my color heroes. Dripping with page upon page of color eye candy, it is also filled with color exercises designed to help you find your own color voice. I devoured its pages as I winged my way to New Mexico, determined to start the exercises upon my return. Now I find myself looking forward to studying with the master herself and I will savor every moment.

Taos Journey – Day 2

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Every morning we carefully stepped our way across the cobblestones to the workroom where we  settled down in our own individual cozy spot, picked up our pointy sticks and let the yarn flow from them in colors that spoke to us of the gorgeous Taos landscape.

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Jane showed us various stitches that would aid us in manifesting our impressions and made suggestions on what would work well with the different yarns that each of us had chosen for our project.

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Many of the participants chose to create a Feather and Fan wrap which starts at the bottom and blossoms open across circular needles to the top. I chose to create a shrug which is worked side to side, from one wrist to the other, increasing to the center and then decreasing down the other side.

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Perhaps you might have noticed the smiling man in the upper left hand corner of the workroom? A few of the ladies smuggled him in one evening. He is a cardboard man. They named him “Ford”, perhaps because it rhymes with “board”? Anyway, he looked pretty good modeling Jane’s shrug.

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After lunch on our second day, we were invited to go see a recently constructed straw bale home. I know, I know. I was scratching my head at first, too. Wha?? The concept is really neat though. The Taos climate is arid enough to allow for straw bales to be used inside the walls of the constructed home. It’s a superior insulation material. The walls are plastered over the bales in an adobe style and a window is placed along an inner wall showing the straw inside. You can read more about this kind of home construction here. Fascinating.

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One of the houses was located on a windswept plain, literally in the middle of nowhere and completely “off the grid”. This is their front yard. How amazing is that?!! I was simply mesmerized in learning about this way of living, so much the opposite of  my own suburban environment back home.

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A secret garden.

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On the way out to the house, we passed the Earthship community of sustainable and unique biotecture housing and drove across the Rio Grande Gorge Bridge, spanning the 650 feet deep gorge. Sweaty palms on that bridge, I’ll tell you.

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We finished the day with a sumptuous feast at a fabulous restaurant called Lamberts. If you only had one eating place to choose in Taos, it has to be this one. The food was beyond delicious and the service was impeccable. I had the potato leek soup with crème fraiche and chives, served hot, and the marinated roasted beet salad on greens with goat cheese and pumpkin seeds. The meat eaters of our group enjoyed the grilled Filet Mignon with horseradish crème, steak fries and grilled asparagus. I had to try their dessert, too, oh twist my arm – a warm apple & almond crisp with white chocolate ice cream. I wish that I had taken pictures of the feast but I was just so enthralled by my food that I completely forgot.

If you’re ever in Taos, it’s simple – treat yourself and go to Lamberts.

Stay tuned for more Taos adventures…

Taos Journey – Day 1

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Despite getting a late start on the road from Albuquerque to Taos and also leaving during the height of rush hour traffic, we were graced with a very good omen that traveled along with us for quite some time. As I drove along, I just kept thinking how different and, even somewhat alien, the landscape seemed in comparison to my home in New England. But oh, how lovely it was with the shifting patterns of light and the towering mountains shadowing our route. The spirit of this landscape was speaking directly to my soul.

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First rule of thumb when traveling and driving to an unknown destination: plan your arrival during the daylight hours! Our drive to Taos took approximately 2 1/2 hours and, yes, we did arrive just as it was getting dark. Of course, we got a little lost but we finally pulled into the driveway of the Mabel Dodge Luhan House around 8pm, just in time to attend a welcoming gathering in the Main House.

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Mabel was a writer, social activist and patron of the arts. She moved to Taos in 1919 and purchased this 12 acre property. For those who saw the recently debuted Lifetime movie on Georgia O’Keeffe, another famous resident of New Mexico, it was to Mabel’s home that Georgia fled after her husband, Alfred Steiglitz, had an affair with another woman. You can read more about Mabel here. She has written several books on her life in Taos. One in particular, “Winter in Taos”, is at the top of my reading list.

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The next day dawned clear and bright as it always seems to do in Taos. As the day progresses, the clouds roll in and gather over the mountaintops in spectacular sweeps and shapes.

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After a delicious breakfast spread, our morning knitting session commenced. Our teacher and fearless leader, Jane Thornley, shared her philosophy of knitting with us, telling us that it was important to listen to your inner creative voice and let the yarn flow and come together in a free-form, or free range, way. We could choose to make a wrap, a shrug or a scarf, whatever was calling out to us.

You can see Jane’s gorgeous wrap called “The Road to Taos” here. Jane is an avid traveler and the harmonious flow and beautiful color palettes of her creations are inspired by the landscapes and nature she comes across in her travels.

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After lunch, we took a field trip to the yarn shops in downtown Taos, La Lana Wools and Weaving Southwest.

All I can say of that adventure is – oh my!

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It was a feast for the eyes for a color freak like moi.

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We finished our day with a lovely meal at the Dragonfly Cafe, a European cafe and bakery that uses seasonal, locally grown fresh produce, most of it organically produced. We sat in a cozy, cushioned alcove, a comfortable place to end our very busy day.

Stay tuned for my Taos Journey – Day 2…

“Of all the worlds that Mabel tried to create, her dream of turning Taos into a paradise regained speaks to us most clearly today, and not just because it was a modern reincarnation of the oldest American myth.  She addressed the issues that still challenge us; the possibility of our survival in an individualistic world, in a country where community is rarely found, in a land that slowly chokes itself on the effluence of its industrial processes.”

~Lois Palken Rudnick, exerpt from Mabel Dodge Luhan, New Woman, New Worlds

A Trip to New Mexico and a Knitting Retreat

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With each passing day, my anticipation and excitement is growing and expanding as I think about my coming journey to New Mexico. 2 more days!

The first half of my trip will be spent in Albuquerque visiting with my youngest son and his family. And, yes, my precious little granddaughter! So, I will get some “Ella time” which is always welcome with wide open arms. Heaven.

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The second half of my trip will be spent in Taos where I will attend a Jane Thornley free range knitting retreat. We will be creating a garment of our choosing, a wrap or shrug, using the Feather and Fan stitch and an assortment of colorful, textured yarns in colors reflecting the southwest nature palette.

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I was also very excited to be able to complete my “Come Spring” vest so I can wear it on my trip.

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After I finished my vest, I couldn’t resist starting my granny squares. Here’s a peek at what’s done so far.

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I am just loving choosing different color combinations for the squares so that each one is unique. With 16 different colors and 4 rows for each square, the possibilities are many.

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Now that I’m officially a “granny”, how perfect is this?

I will take loads of pictures on my trip and look forward to sharing tales of my adventures upon my return!