Tuesday, February 15, 2005

Art as Meditation & Therapy

When I need to "get away," I often make art. All it takes is a few minutes of sketching, carving, knitting or whatever to help me relax or give me time to think things through. Even just looking at a book about art, creative process, or crafting will help me. I'm sure that the act of creating makes our brain waves change so that we feel less anxious and afraid. Art is the best therapy I know. We are all frequently busy, harassed, and overwhelmed. Take a few minutes of your day--even if you think you don't have them--and make art. You will feel better, I guarantee it.

Art Quote of the Week

"When I begin painting, I am in a state of unconsciousness; I suddenly forget that I am holding a brush in my hand."
Wu Chen, 1280-1354

"Don't bother me--I'm in my happy place."
As seen on a child's poster of a cute hedgehog.

Book Review

KnitLit: Sweaters and their stories and other writing about knitting.
Linda Rohaar and Molly Wolf, Editors. 2002, ISBN 0-609-80824-9.
This lovely book presents several dozen short stories about knitters and their creations. Each story is only 2 to 3 pages long, wonderful for short breaks in the day. You will learn about how knitters learned to knit, their favorite (and most hated) projects, their knitting mentors, who not to knit for, and "Never Knit Dog." I was especially touched by the sections about knitting grandmothers and foreign knitters. The stories are a mix of the funny, sad, tragic, thoughtful, and inspiring, but you will love them all. They are the very human stories of crafters, of artists who have made their craft part of life. Heartwarming--don't miss this one.

Mini Project: Painted Fabric Wall Panel

I had to redecorate a basement bathroom that had a strange mix of colors: red flocked wallpaper, pink toilet and sinks, black stone countertop, gray ceramic wall-mounted soap dishes and toothbrush holders, and gray/black/white ceramic tile floor. The sink fixtures were "silver." The wallpaper was removed and my husband painted the walls gloss white. It all "worked" except for the pink. Well, "If you can't fix it, feature it." This wall panel was my way of tying all the colors together. See photo, above.

You will need: 4 canvas stretcher bars to make the frame, fabric (cotton broadcloth or canvas will work), acrylic paints of your choice, hydrophilic sponge (like you use to wash your car) cut into small squares, stencils (I made my own), iron, fusible fabric interfacing, water, foam plates, staple gun, scissors.

Read the "how to" before you begin your project.

How to: Decide on size and colors and collect your supplies. Assemble your frame and set aside. Cut your fabric to size and allow enough extra "margin" so you can stretch the fabric across the frame and staple it to the back. (If you are using canvas, make sure it is primed and/or painted the background color you want.) Iron the cotton fabric and lay it out flat on your work surface. (I placed a plastic tablecloth underneath so that the paint wouldn't stain my table.) Squeeze out paint onto the foam plate. Position your stencil on the fabric and use the sponge to apply the paint. Use a separate sponge for each color. Let paint dry between colors. When your fabric is completely decorated and dry, press it with the iron from the back to heat set the paint. Then fuse the interfacing to the back of the fabric (follow the directions that come with the interfacing). Position the fabric over the stretcher frame and staple it to the frame on the back. Make sure the fabric is stretched tight and that your design is centered. You may need a helper to hold things in place. Once it's stapled, you are done! Hang and enjoy!

Happy ending: I also painted the sink cabinet gloss black and changed all the handles, knobs and switchplates to match the sink fixtures. I added a black rug and towels. The bath now has a nice oriental, retro look.

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