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 Textile Evolution

Liz Kettle Artist, Author and Creator of the Stitch Meditation process

Stitch Journeys

Exploring life with needle and thread.

Practicing Imperfection

afternoon shadowsThis time of year I try to look back at what I have accomplished the previous year. Today I am celebrating my progress toward embracing imperfection. My hard practice is paying off! I won’t get cocky though and give up my daily practice…one must be dedicated to that which they want to achieve after all. For starters, the photos in this post have nothing to do with our holiday celebration because I didn't take any...totally forgot! I could skip the post because I don't have the perfect photos but that would be giving in to perfection.

I know, it sounds silly to have to practice imperfection but I have to practice every day! I am a Perfectionist; a type A, workaholic, first born, product of 16 years of Catholic school kinda girl. Perfectionism is part of my core identity.  It has taken me years of battle with this cunning demon and I have made a lot of progress keeping it at bay. However, my perfection demon always likes to tempt me during the holidays demanding that I put on the best Christmas ever.

vintage christmas ornamentThis year, I set my Christmas Eve family table with a fine linen tablecloth that I hand dyed in shades of green and blue...a little unusual but fun. My napkins were dyed to match but perfection ended there! (Actually my dyeing is sort of random so the didn't match perfectly anyway.) I didn’t iron one bit of it…it adorned my table in all its wrinkled glory. This is a BIG DEAL! At one point in my life I ironed my boy’s tee shirts. Yes…their little tiny tee shirts, jeans and even pjs. Looking back I know my life was more than a little insane at that point and my obsessive ironing was probably an attempt to bring order to the chaos but still…little boys tee shirts???

Our Christmas dinner was a delicious gluten free lasagna. Woot! Win over perfection #2: I didn’t make it! We bought it…pre-made/homemade Taste of Life GF meals to go. A few of my loyal readers know that I have a lot of dietary restrictions including almost all the ingredients of lasagna. However, my son has been asking for lasagna for ages so Christmas seemed a perfect time to grant his request. I did feel guilty about not making it myself…yes, even though I couldn’t eat any of it my perfectionist demon suggested that I was less than a good mother for purchasing a frozen lasagna for Christmas! But, I overcame my demon with the help of my good husband and some will power. I didn’t give in to the guilt of being imperfect.

I have been pleasantly surprised by a side effect of my imperfection practice: calmness and a sense of peace. Yup, this girl is learning to let go of the stress of leading a perfect life and finding joy in just letting things be what they are. Not saying it is easy but it is good.

I am ready to let go of something else in my life this next year. I am not sure exactly what yet. Maybe it will be banishing self-doubt or guilt…ok, so given my background getting rid of guilt probably would be the equivalent of climbing Mt. Everest. Maybe I will save that for another year.

Is there something that you want to give up this year? Something that will bring you closer to the life you want to have?
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Walk With Me ~ Sand Dunes

Over Thanksgiving I was in Alamogordo New Mexico to visit family. It was a great gathering of family and friends. Every trip there finds us visiting White Sands National Monument. White Sands is 275 square miles of gypsum sand dunes. It is an amazing place and it always captivates us. Our trips usually entail hauling kids up to the top of the dunes and watching them sled down however on this trip, the 'kids' had left early and we were left with some sturdy hikers and a couple of dogs that needed to run so we took one of the 'trail' hikes.

I use the term 'trail' loosely here. The trail is marked by posts sticking up along the path and one is warned that if they can't see the next post turn back because you will become hopelessly lost. The few stalwart plants cast beautiful shadows in the winter afternoon sun. You have to wonder how they survive in this seemingly barren land.

After a few minutes of trudging up and down dunes under incredible blue skies one may think 'well that is enough of that...let's go home'. But, like most desert landscapes one must persevere, slow down and take a closer look at what is around you. I find that a lot of life is like that too...sometimes you just have to slow down and examine things a bit closer to see what is really going on. You would not believe the many different types of lines the wind carves in the sand. Some are straight, some are more organic, some start and leave off with out a plan that I can discern. Some lines form patterns that are familiar and comfortable while others look like they must be from a different world. Lots of art inspiration to be found in all those lines.

This was the only eroded 'structure' that we saw that wasn't caused by a plant. Makes one wonder what is different about this spot of sand. Mostly the sand just blows where it wants, moving those giant dunes one grain at a time. One trail marker was almost totally buried, another was laying on the ground because the sand had blown away from the base.

It would be easy to become philosophical when walking the dunes...the silence and ripple lines of sand lend themselves to meditation and introspection...well that is if you didn't have 2 dogs dashing about hither and yon and the wind howling in your ears it would be serene.  I was simply happy to have the warm sun on my face and just 'be' in the moment. A gift found amidst the chaos of the holiday that I can pull out when I need a few moments of virtual quiet and warm sun.
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Walk with Me ~ Breckenridge

Ready to head up the hill...come on...let's go!

I occasionally like to challenge you all to take a walk with an eye to art and see what wonderful inspiration you can find in your own neighborhood. So often we think that we need to travel to some exotic local to find art fodder but in visual art, like writing, it is often best to do what you know. You should be able to click on the photos for a larger image.

My friends hiking and chatting.

This weekend I was in Breckenridge CO...yes, many of you will consider that a pretty exotic local but for me it is close to home and I am there often enough that I can easily look right past the beauty as I go about my work. So, my friends and I took advantage of a fabulous spring day to go on a wonderful hike...come walk along with us~!

Spring run off in the ditch.

I wish we could have audio and scentio for this 'walk' There was water everywhere as the spring snow melt was in full force. The wonderful sounds of the rushing water, birds chattering to compete with our own chattering and the heady scent of pine and moist earth so strong that it took your breath away...hard to convey that in photos.

A bit of adventure climbing on our walk...

pine needles in the snow

I love the play of light and shadow on the snow...don't the pine needles look like stitches scattered across a white velvet fabric?

Water really was everywhere and we had to forge many little streams and trudge through slushy snow...what intrepid hikers! LOL!

Spring run off!

Entrance to a mine shaft.

This interesting old mine shaft is just a few feet off the path as we head toward our destination...the Sally Barber mine.

Sally Barber Mine

Ooooohhhh the much wonderful rusty equipment laying around. Wonder if they would mind if we draped it all in fabric to gather some of that wonderful rust.

I will limit myself to just 3 rusty junk photos...I don't want you to get bored...but I have many more!

The view from the mine.

I love the rough texture of this rotting tree stump surrounded by icy snow...

...and the amazing intertwined branches of this tree...

...and don't forget the wonderful variety of texture found in lichen...I don't know if this photo even comes close to capturing the incredible light...the lichen was lit by light bouncing off of the snow drift directly in front of it. It was amazing.

A glimpse of the mountains through the trees

down hill and almost home

Grab your camera...and some friends...go to the beach or the park or just around the block...take them on an art walk to see what inspires them. Show us what inspiration you find on your walk by leaving a comment and your blog link.

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Walk With Me

Red White and Blue
Red, White and Blue Colorado Style

It seems we were about 15 minutes too late to see the bear. Not that I am complaining but it would have been fun to share a photo of a bear with you all! A couple of times a year I take my camera along on my walk and take photos of whatever catches my fancy. These photos become inspiration for art either as images, texture or line. I thought I would share my walk with you so you can see what inspires me and get a feeling for the area I am lucky to live in. Coloradois incredibly beautiful although sometimes you have to look a little more closely to see the beauty…we are a high plains desert after all. Generally our wildflowers are not showy. If you look carefully at the photo above you can see a tiny bit of red wildflower peeking around the penstemon. I thought this was a cheerful July 4th arrangement by mother nature. However, the wind was blowing so it was difficult to get the red flowers. I put the images in the order that I took them so you would feel like you were on my walk with me!

Barbed wire coiled around a fence post.

Wild Geraniums.

Just one of the views on my walk.

Rocky Mountain Penstemon

Scrub Oak skeleton branches. The past couple of winters have been hard on the scrub oak.

Wild sunflowers

Our destination-The Rock.

Wonder what this bush is.

Duke cools down in the pond--this is where the bear was about 15 minutes before we got there.

A closer view of the is big!

Looking up from the base

Mariposa Lily. What a great structure

Interesting for use in collages and journals.

More coiled barbed wire. This is surrounding the Hot Shots Helipad.

Helicopter at the Hot Shots Helipad

tree bark what great texture and lines

Tree rows. This area was once used by the CCC as a tree farm so we have a lot of pines growing in rows. I love the lines.

I have tons of grass photos because I love them. I can be mesmerized watching them blow in the wind. These are about 3' high.

I have a lot of lichen and moss photos also. I love the different colors and textures.

A poppy on the way out...literally on the way out of the trail and almost done with its life. Still beautiful though. I love the seed pods.

Wild Rose in the parking lot.

I started thinking about all the different areas of the world people live in. Sometimes we neglect our immediate surroundings for inspiration and think things like: If only I lived in France or could visit India, then I would have lots of inspiration. Or, If only I lived in the city/country then I would have an inspiring environment. I am sure people in France or who have visited India fill in the sentence with their own versions. It is easy to think that inspiration comes only with exotic locals. Truth is that inspiration surrounds us wherever we live.

All this got me thinking about a cooperative inspiration exercise! Take your camera on a walk and snap photos of anything that catches your fancy. Post them on your blog or flicker acct. Then, e-mail me the link This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. and I will post the links so we can all be inspired.

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