You see, when I make Double Reversible Bracelets, I finish the first pass all the way down the bracelet, to set its size and overall structure, by making the equivalent of an 8-strand bracelet. The size sometimes can't be controlled on the first draft of a bracelet. Each one I make is different, and when I start creating repeats, the whole thing needs to end at a pattern break, so that the pattern repeats are whole. I can stop after any pattern sequence I want, so if I don't feel that the bracelet will be quite long enough, I need to add a whole additional pattern, or "medallion", as I sometimes call it. Now, when I have to attempt a custom-sized bracelet to fulfill a request, based on one I already made, I can plan in a tiny sequence between each repeated design (if the bracelet needs to be larger), or remove some element in each pattern (if the new bracelet is going to be smaller). But it's not always the easiest thing to do, sizing something with accuracy. That's why I really like to make bracelets that don't have to be any particular size. I usually shoot for something that would fit my own wrist, in the event that I decide to keep it, or if it doesn't ultimately sell. But it's a good idea to have extra large or extra small ones for those occasional hard-to-fit customers. So here are the four bracelets where I left off, in their half-finished state.
Friday, February 12, 2021
Monday, February 1, 2021
It's been awhile since I've done beadwork. After recently moving to another state, I hadn't yet unpacked some of my tools and parts. More accurately, I don't even know which box is which (I was WAY too lax on labeling!), so I've been somewhat hindered. But I got a request for a custom pair of earrings, so I gathered as much as I could find, and was able to make them. I've showed some of my beadwork previously on this blog, but out of the dozens of bracelets created in the last couple of years, here are just a few of the newer ones. In order, these photos show two 8-Strand bracelets, two 12-Strand bracelets, and two 4-in-1 bracelets.
Monday, January 25, 2021
In my last post, I said I'd report back soon, didn't I?
I've said that a lot of times, and I meant it every single time, even though it often didn't play out that way. But here I am a MERE DAY LATER with something to show you. Bear in mind that a lot that happened last year runs together in the memory pool, but this piece clearly stands out in my mind, because it's my only drawing work from 2020. I made it before COVID-19, or at least before we started taking it seriously. I'd intended to generate one drawing after another, but after the pandemic situation set in, I seemed to lose all patience for pencil work. This piece is titled, 'What Pronoun Did I Use?'
This drawing is considered mixed media, a combination of watercolor, acrylic and graphite. I call works such as this 'drawings' because of the proportion of time spent using each of the media. It may take me just a few minutes to slap on a bit of watercolor here and there, and maybe a couple hours to apply the acrylic, usually in the background areas, but the time spent on the graphite often takes dozens of hours. (Larger work might be in the hundreds!)
The skull is something I've recently started rendering. This would be my second drawing with a skull as the subject. I don't see such an iconic image as creepy, but rather something commonplace that we all possess just under the surface. I've used it as a continuation of a person, who ponders ideas, questions outcomes, and isn't meant to be a symbol of death. Here, our skull is looking in the mirror, contemplating his or her gender. At a glance, it isn't apparent.
Hidden in the dark background is a textured pattern that looks like a slightly tangled beaded doorway. These strands are actually lines of Morse Code, written in dots and dashes. If anyone cares to decipher these phrases, more power to them. It just takes a quarter turn of the artwork, but deciding whether it's clockwise, or counter-clockwise, is part of the challenge. Some lines refer more to the point of the artwork, such as "Politics and the public bathroom", and others have no relation, as in "Be sure to drink your Ovaltine".
You may recall seeing my other skull drawing entitled, 'Enduring the Countdown', which won a prize at the Texas & Neighbors Annual Juried Art Exhibit a few years ago.
I'd been thinking about skulls just prior to that, and I was marveling at how I hadn't given much thought to the one right behind my own face. I was sitting at the table, tracing the 'rim' around each eye with my finger, through my skin, and my husband couldn't help but ask what I was doing. I explained my new fascination with the skull, and how I would be interested in drawing it, if I had one to look at. He immediately ordered a true-to-life skull model used for teaching. I mean, what husband wouldn't jump at the chance to order something so weird, when his wife all but gave him permission?
Both of these pieces of artwork are available for purchase from Graphite Gallery in New Orleans. Their website is https://graphitenola.com/. While these pieces aren't pictured on their site yet, a simple phone call should be enough to accomplish a purchase.
To see these and more of my artwork (mostly unavailable, but fun to peruse), please visit my own website at http://renatekasper.com/.
Sunday, January 24, 2021
See you soon? What?? Yeah, that was the final sentence I typed in my last blog post. Nothing unusual about it. Well, that was over
For those of you that understand procrastination as well as I do, you know it can be comforting as well as annoying. It causes your conscience to gnaw at you, but then proceeds to soothe the situation with its own salve of acceptance. It's really an emotional Push-Me-Pull-You! At first, I thought about the blog every once in awhile, intending to roll up my sleeves, make a bunch of excuses, and get back into the rhythm of it. But that didn't happen. (Oh, don't worry. I HAVE excuses. Read on.) But after awhile, I thought it would be easier to stop blogging, than to feel bad about ignoring it. But really, I don't like to give up on anything. And then... well... LIFE.
Most people want to forget all about 2020, and move ahead with a brand new, potentially better year. Well, I'll also throw in 2019 as a year I'd just as soon forget. July 31, 2018 was the last time I posted a blog entry. I don't remember what was going on the second half of 2018 that caused me to be absent, but skipping a few months was quite normal for me. And then came 2019.....
My husband had a stroke on the evening of March 12th, 2019. He'd started using weird words that evening. When he tried to tell me about a "flonk", I had to remind him, "Sweetie, I don't speak Klingon!" But that was our clue that he needed help. A hurried drive to the nearest hospital was followed by a seriously expensive helicopter flight to a serious medical facility! It was an intracranial hemorrhage (ICH), and resulted in several weeks' hospitalization at a combination of facilities in Austin, Texas. On the night it happened, Bill's blood pressure was 250/? (I don't recall the bottom number.) His brain had no choice but to spring a leak!
Thanks to the expertise and care of many greatly skilled people, Bill survived, and returned home by May. He had no outwardly physical signs of having had a stroke, like speech impediment, no limp or facial droop. He just had severe short-term memory loss. And now, just under two years later, his memory still suffers quite a bit. But, by golly, if you were to ask him a question about early Star Trek trivia, he'll produce the correct answer in a heartbeat! Just don't ask him what he did yesterday. He won't remember.
During the grueling daily grind of driving back and forth to the hospitals all those weeks, I was encouraged by the gradual progression of things in the positive direction. I also know that the prayers of a lot of people were at work. A few small milestones come to mind, as my favorite parts. Hubby had been non-responsive for a few days, early in the ordeal. I felt lucky if I could get him to open his eyes. But when he finally came out of this state, the nurses told me to only ask him 'yes' or 'no' questions for awhile. They said he may give me a nod or shake of the head at first, but he'd eventually get to the point of one-word answers. One day I was flipping through the television channels and came across a sci-fi channel that I thought he might like. I asked him if that was something he'd care to watch. As I waited for a nod of his head, or possibly a murmured response of "yeah" or "uh-huh", I was overjoyed to hear him clearly say, "Indubitably!"
On another occasion, Bill was asking for a drink of water. Since he was a choke risk, the nurses told me he couldn't have any. He kept asking though, and I repeatedly told him I couldn't give him any. "Yes you can!", he exclaimed. I was thrilled that we'd moved on to two and three word phrases by now. But I couldn't oblige him. "No, I can't", I replied. "Yes you CAN!"..."No, I can't"... etc. Finally, unsatisfied with my answers, Bill frowned and very slowly (with great enunciation) said, "Then kindly fetch me a medical attendant."
So, that momentous and traumatic life occurrence resulted in my husband and provider no longer being able to provide. I went back to work at Art Connections Gallery where I'd worked previously, only it had moved to a town farther away. Still, it was a pleasure to be back there, working in such a beautiful space. It only started with four hours a week (that's all there was to offer me), but before long, I was working two days a week, and then three. It was only part time, but somehow, we managed. We learned to sacrifice and become more frugal. Although life got much harder, I was just happy not to be a widow!
To supplement my small paychecks, I spent most of my free time generating beadwork to sell through the gallery and other venues. I made several new Boot Halters, a new style of necklace with macrame links, and I added earrings to my repertoire.
I turned out one new piece of artwork in 2020. And then COVID hit, and everyone's lives became more challenging. Honestly, I don't think it affected me as much as most people. For one thing, I love staying home, and I've never had a shortage of things to work on. My husband is also very content to spend the day at home. We're both 'only children', so we've always known how to entertain ourselves.
My phone rang this past May 3rd, a Sunday. By the caller ID, I could see it was my Dad. He often called, or he was always the one to answer the phone when I'd call their house. But this time, when I answered, my mom was on the line, and I immediately knew there was a reason to be concerned. She said my Dad had collapsed, and he was in the hospital. His heart had stopped. I won't go into all the details, but in a nutshell, his problem stemmed from a severe allergic reaction, and he had accidentally eaten something the night before that caused his heart to race, beat irregularly, and ultimately skip such a long beat that it was like it had stopped. (He's had these food allergies for years, and he suffers from these episodes once in awhile, but they'd always been mild enough to tolerate, until now.) This time, it was severe, and resulted in a total collapse. They called it a combination of anaphylaxis, arrythmia, and atrial fibrillation. It could've killed him. He blacked out and hit the floor, causing two bad breaks in his ankle. He couldn't move when he regained consciousness. He thought his neck was broken, as well as his back. So, paramedics came, stabilized him, and took him to the hospital. I drove all night (a 12-hour trip) to be there with my mom as soon as possible. She has been more or less confined to a wheelchair for a couple of years now, so she couldn't be left alone. Dad spent several days in the hospital, then was in a wheelchair awhile, got a cast on his leg, then it came off, and he continued to get stronger. (It turned out that he didn't have a broken neck or back. Just his ankle was mangled.) But now he's doing very well, he's been on meds, and as long as he watches much more closely what he eats, he should be good. But it became obvious, through this whole ordeal, that it was time I stepped in to help.
So a couple months ago, my husband and I moved to Missouri to take care of them. We don't exactly fit into my parents' house, with our belongings, but somehow we're making it work. With both of them in their 90's, they felt like I might as well get settled in this house, as I'll be inheriting it one of these days. We have some remodeling projects planned, so I get to weigh in on the improvements. I love that kind of thing!
Obviously, this blog post hasn't been my normal display of creativity. (It isn't even creatively written.) But these times are anything but normal. Just when I had all the time in the world, I couldn't clear my head enough to create any artwork. Finessing a pencil was a little too delicate. I could do beadwork, but only in short spurts. It didn't seem fair to basque in my own solitude and creative joy when I knew someone out there was fighting for life, or taking their last breath. (My Multiple Creativity Disorder was definitely in remission, which isn't the positive prognosis it sounds.) But what IS positive is the future! I continue to have a lot of time at home, while assisting my parents, and all this free time is about to turn into creations which I'll report on soon.
And this time, I mean SOON!
Tuesday, July 31, 2018
I have often wanted to make something on the order of a cole slaw, but didn't have any cabbage. I used to think cole slaw had to be the light green and white stuff, dotted with carrot shreds, coated in a slick white dressing. Once in awhile, a poppy seed would make its way into the mix, but that's about as creative as it got. Then I discovered what an improvement it was to add a few sunflower seeds! Whoa.... game changer!
So now, when I have a hankerin' for cole slaw, I have ventured so far outside of the boundaries of the traditional cole slaw recipe, that it doesn't really matter what I put in it, as long as the dressing is right. Today's version started with a little bit of purple cabbage, just because I had some on hand, mostly to add a touch of color to salads or tacos. I also had half a head of cauliflower. (Broccoli would've worked well too.) I love minced onion in my slaw, so in it goes! Shreds of carrot, yep! And then I pulled out whatever else I had in the crisper..... parsley, cilantro, and..... (drum roll, please!)..... NECTARINES! Many fruits will work well in a slaw. I've often included diced apple or pear, but crushed pineapple is also really nice. Even blueberries or raisins make a great addition. The point is, something sweet should be considered. Now, if you added celery and nuts, you're getting dangerously close to a Waldorf salad. (I remember my grandmother adding chopped marshmallows to her Waldorf salad, although I don't believe the Waldorf-Astoria would approve.)
So, go ahead and chop yourself a big bowl of random produce like this:
Now let's discuss the dressing. Even THAT has gotten a makeover. Remember when it was mostly mayo, with a little vinegar and maybe some sugar or agave? Well, try a splash of pure sesame oil! And maybe use honey instead of sugar, and... WHOA.... what have we here?
Tuesday, July 17, 2018
But it was a pleasure to conclude this honorable follow-up to the RCAS annual exhibit, a show where only artists residing in Texas are eligible. I look forward to entering next year!
I've been asked several times to explain the meaning of the title, 'Exaggeration'. I purposely used subtly contrasted paint values to include a shadow in the lower part of the art. If the hand, wasps' nest, and wasp were to cast a shadow, sometimes those shapes are abstracted in unnatural ways. In this case, I further changed it so that the wasp created the shadow of a fire-breathing dragon.
Saturday, May 26, 2018
Let's talk about Irving! On May 20th, we attended the reception and awards ceremony for the 'Texas & Neighbors" 33rd Annual Region Art Exhibit. We had time to kill before the event started, but it was just long enough for us to make a circle around the Las Colinas Mustang sculptures, which were only a mile or two away.
The Irving Art Center is a lovely venue, and as always, this harpist made the affair so much more beautiful with his playing.