Tag Archives: creativity

The seeds sprout and the sun rises

Planting seeds… Every Spring as Nature awakens and comes back to life, seedlings are planted and seeds are sowed. Cause that’s how it goes. Cause that’s the way it is – standstill taking over the movement, and solution and breakthrough coming forward after the deadlock…

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Since we settled at #szaryganek a few years ago, I started another dyer’s garden right away. I planted several varieties of smoke bush, couple of catalpas, tamarisk, liquid amber, and two types of sumac in addition to what was already growing there. (Some of the new plants were presented by a friend visiting at that time. Evgenia, remember?) I also arranged madder root corner in the rear end of the garden. Needless to say, rubia tinctoria is a very important dye plant, although a young plant is not so good for dye extraction, you’ve got to wait 3 years until you harvest the first batch. This Spring I have been able to draw out a few root shoots to expand my madder plantation.

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Madder is one of the oldest dyestuffs. According to J.N. Liles, it extends back at least to 2000 b.c. In his book The Art and Craft of Natural Dyeing, 1990, you can find at least 10 recipes with madder root for color red. Wow, I’ve been always fascinated with madder dyeing potential, and also with its medicinal properties. At the same time, have to admit that traditional dyeing with madder has never become my thing. Maybe I am not ambitious enough…

However, enhancing the effects from leaf printing in contact dyeing with madder extract, on the contrary, has been serving me at its best from the very start. Back in those days, when an absolute newbie in botanical printing struggling to get leaf prints of decent visibility on fabric or paper, at the same time craving for eucalyptus foliage to appropriate for my studio experiments, (and eucalyptus itself had been a complete alien at the local florists) half in despair, I resolved to giving a break to squishing out wishful color from the foliage that had already proven void, and to taking an opposite approach of saturating a weak leaf with stronger potion.

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The thing is that in days of the past newborn babies were traditionally bathed in herba bidentis extract bath-water in view of its antibacterial etc. properties, clothes were also treated with the extract. I did bathe my child that way too. The extract should’ve been cooked every time fresh through a time consuming process, and no steps to be skipped whatsoever. And the results were magical… So, in my studio I gave the old method a go and treated those weak leaves to the dye stuff extract. And, yes, the leaves impregnated with stronger dye print immediately even before the heat is applied. This is a pic back from that time:

What a relief it was after so many failures! And throughout the years of my exploring botanical dyeing this method never stopped surprising.

But it’s Spring time, remember? Conditioning the stage for madder root expansion in the garden was not a big deal, in fact. However, my recent urge for setting a vegetable garden (the lockdown sequela) required way more engineering intense arrangements. First came five plastic boxes for vegetable beds – yes, yes, I know, plastic… But, hey, sometimes you just have to to make do with what you got. I didn’t like the idea of poking holes in the bottoms, I wanted to keep the boxes intact. So, I thought I would make a raised mesh bottom supported with fixed wire. Water is supposed to go underneath, and I added a tube for ventilation and also for watering:

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Next, I spreaded agrotextile to separate soil from the plastic walls, added some potting grit and soil.

It took me several hours to finish the construction stage. Planting and sowing took the next couple of days. However, after a period of nice weather we got the temperature dropping from +26C to +8C. Which now makes me really wonder if my efforts prove fruitful.

 

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P.S. Oh, did I mention that seeds were germinated in a plastic bottle? It is a very effective and low maintenance sprouting method. XOXO

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Creative Exchange

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Since I started one more line of activity in June 2017 which grew naturally out of my general focus, conducting and organizing versatile art workshops and events became one of the main doings. And I have been putting much thinking into where exactly I want to take enthusiasts attending my classes during the creative journey in arts and crafts, how I can help to unravel their creative self, what results I would like to see in their works…

Sure enough the last thing I would want to see, as a teacher, is a copy-paste of my work. And yet,  how often all we can see in many art workshop reports is just an array of multiple works looking exactly the same as a sample work presented by the teacher at the class, copyist painting classes excluded.

Of course, newcomers to Arts and Crafts stand on the shoulders of the teachers and instructors, so to say. In learning process imitation plays an important role. And by imitation I mean not just simply copying. Imitation happens when someone sees something that inspires them, inspires them enough to want to do something just as great. 

However, quite often even with the passage of time, some people just establish imitativeness as a basis for self-expression, keeping repeating the same patterns,color schemes and ideas once learnt at a class. And this deja vu has been manifesting itself so often lately, making it hard to tell whether it is the teacher’s work, or students overuse ideas from a recently taken workshop…

As a teacher, I’d rather see ideas shared at the classes being transferred onto a new level, revised and reworked, rather than seeing plain replicas of my own works, no matter how flattering imitation can feel at times…

I also believe the more you see, the more you get exposed to versatile creative approaches, the more unusual creative ideas you come up with in your own works. So, for the program of creative classes at my gallery I invite artists from whom I get inspiration myself, who masterfully demonstrate versatile approaches in their work. And I keep the work on the conditions for creative exchange.

This coming July I am expecting my friend artist Natalia Logachova to come visit and introduce local enthusiasts to several techniques she is using in her art work.

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These are impressions from my last visit to Natalia’s studio. So I caught her working and took some photos on her permission. Sketches:

I so enjoy visiting art studios! This is one of my favourite works by Natalia…

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So many things that I love are there in this studio!

I was lucky to catch Natalia painting on silk. She will demonstrate her virtuosic silk-painting technique at one of her master-shows at the gallery at the end of July.

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She will also make a demonstration in palette knife painting, as well as dry pastel.

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Natalia’s series of demonstrations will be followed by workshops series in all three  techniques. Please, stay tuned for more news to come and follow us on FB!

 


Flourishing butterbur Beavers woke up Full moon in three days

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In this magical time of the year when Nature unveils itself, the most conspicuous recent traces of change around my usual routes just turned into a Haiku style blank verse and appeared as a title of this post.

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Everything in nature resting during the winter, got charged up to come out as the earth is waking up in spring. Flowering Butterbur stock (Petasites vulgaris) gives the river bank a bit of a look of a Martian landscape. Butterbur extract may prevent migraine headaches, they say. Doctors do not know exactly how butterbur prevents migraines, they say. And this, in addition to many medicinal properties of this plant. 

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Spring is all about light. Everything around is opening up and shaking free from winter dormancy. Especially beavers! Beavers do not hibernate, but are less active during winter.

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Obviously beavers are embracing the freedom of spring after a long winter. On my spring exploratory excursion, I encountered a well-built beaver lodge, one I hadn’t known about before.

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Beavers’ ability to change the landscape is second only to humans. their favorite foods include water lily tubers, apples and the leaves and green bark (cambium) from aspen and other fast-growing trees. Tree cutting is part of nature’s cycle, and beaver pruning stimulates willows, cottonwood and aspen to regrow bushier than ever the next spring. 

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Again  we become part of the process of re-creation that is occurring during the season of Springtime! And speaking of being a part of creative process, I just happened to meet these amazing people deeply fascinated by poetry in Haiku style. Haiku poetry was originally developed by Japanese poets. I have been always admiring brevity and imagistic language in haiku which makes you feel connected to nature. Haikus are often inspired by nature, a moment of beauty, or poignant experience… And on the other hand, writing haiku provides a new way to look at the world… 

I am so proud that the first issue of Haiku Port Quarterly 1/2018  was published with my participation.  And on the other hand, writing haiku provides a new way to look at the world… 

 

Flourishing butterbur

Beavers woke up

Full moon in three days

 

 

 


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