Saying Goodbye

I recently wrapped up the piece that I have been working on for quite some time now.  It was one of those ones that I found hard to get into in the beginning, and then kept putting down for other things.  In the end, though, I am really glad that I stuck with it as it turned out just how I had hoped that it would.

This was a pretty emotional piece for me.  It is one that I have had in the back of my mind for a long time, but I just wasn’t ready to tackle it.   It is based on a photo that my husband took of myself and my cat, Mowgli, about six years ago.  A lot of people think that this image is one of contentment and happiness, a shared moment between a person and their pet.  But in reality, this was a sad image because it was taken when I had recently found out that he was dying.

Flash back with me to 1997.  I had moved away from a home a few months before and was living in a bachelor apartment in downtown Ottawa just off of Bronson Avenue (yes, the area was pretty seedy), near Carleton University where I had started my Master’s Degree.  I had just said goodbye to my latest hamster, one in a string of hamsters over the years that I had loved but of course their life span is pretty short and fleeting.   My then boyfriend (now husband) was visiting for the weekend and he suggested that we go and look at cats at the Humane Society.  I had never had a cat before and wasn’t sure that they were for me.  So I said that I would rather go to the university library and do some work.  The library ended up being closed that day and so we headed to the Humane Society.  Seems like fate to me.

I ended up falling in love with a large bundle of orange and white fur.  I brought him home and named him Mowgli.  We sure had some interesting times in that one room apartment.  He used to climb on top of my fridge and sit watching me as I worked.  He loved to curl up in the bathroom sink and sleep.  And he used to attack my feet at night, which was a little creepy.  Several times he ripped through the plastic bag and ate the loaf of bread I had on the counter.  I started putting my bread away after that.

He was with me through the rest of that Master’s Degree, through Law School and the Bar Ad Exams. When, I got married he joined first one other cat and then in a moment of madness, we adopted two more cats.  And then eventually we had a baby.  Through it all, though, I began to notice that he retained a particular affinity to me.  He was definitely “my cat.”  He would follow me from room to room, and sit with me watching tv.  At night he would jump up beside me in bed.  He was loyal to me the same way that a dog would be.  And I loved him best of all of course.

Later in his life he was diagnosed with diabetes.  This brought about twice daily insulin shots and monitoring his blood sugar levels.  Through it all he remained my best bud, despite the frustrations that came along with his disease such as his desire to pee on my daughter’s toys or down the heating vent. 

And then one day we noticed that his blood sugar levels were bouncing all over the place and were no longer easy to manage.  I took him to the vet and after some bloodwork received the devastating news that he probably had lymphoma.  At this point he was about 15 years old so we knew there wasn’t much that we could do.  We were told that as long as he was doing ok we didn’t have to make any hard decisions.  So we decided to let him live as good a life as we could for as long as we could.

This photo was taken that first weekend.  We didn’t know how long we had left with him or if we would suddenly have to take him in to have him put to sleep.  It was all a little overwhelming and sad.  We spent most of that weekend outside in the backyard with him.  He wasn’t an outdoor cat, but he liked fresh air and at that point we knew he wasn’t well enough to run away so there wasn’t much risk involved.  So during the day we let him sleep under the shade of a bush while we sat nearby to make sure that no other animals came and bothered him.  At night we would set up a little bed in our room and I would sleep on the floor beside him.  About a month later he died at home.

When I finished hooking this piece, my son looked at the photo and said “You look sad in the photo, but not in the rug.”  He was right, the facial expression I had captured, whether intentionally or not, looked much more happy and contented.  I told him that maybe I should fix it and he said “No I like it better happy.”  And so do I.  While I know that this is a piece that came from a place of sadness, I like that the image itself is more of a happy celebration of life.  It reflects the happiness that we both felt whenever we were in each other’s company.

This piece is entitled “Saying Goodbye” and it measures 20″ x 17.5″ and was hooked using a variety of yarns on linen.

Karen

Creativity is Everywhere

I’ve been going through a bit of a rough patch recently on the creative front.  I’m not going to lie- recent world events have left me a little dispirited.  I found it really hard to focus on my art and I felt greatly like my work needed more purpose.  It seemed trivial to be working on “pretty pictures” when other artists were tackling some of the bigger issues.

This past week I finally managed to move out of that funk.  I picked up my hook again and got back to work on the piece that I am almost finished.  It isn’t a piece that has a huge message behind it.  It doesn’t make a statement.  It’s just a story about the love between a person and their pet.  But maybe that’s enough.  Maybe I don’t have to delve into the deeper issues; or at least not yet.  Maybe it is ok for me to take the time that I need to figure out my message and how I want to approach it.   These are the things that I continue to mull as I push myself to just keep making art.   Eventually I will figure out my voice.

So for about a four week period I was unable to hook.   I definitely started to feel that lack of creativity in my life.  But as I started to look around, I began to realize that I was surrounded by creativity.  We are a very creative family, and seeing what the people around me are doing to express themselves- really seeing it- has helped me get back on my own path and I think will help me in the search that I think all artists go through to find their own voice.

Both kids love to draw.  I try to always make sure that they have a wide range of good quality art materials around so that anytime the mood hits they can make as much art as they want.  They draw just about every single day.  My daughter has this display of some of her drawings up in her room, but I also have their artwork all over the house including framed pieces and canvases that they have painted.  I love incorporating their art into our décor.

Lego is definitely a favourite at our house. They will play for hours together, making up their own lego world and incorporating it with the wooden train set. We have always kept screen time to a minimum and I love that it leads to them engaging in so much creative play.


My boy and I are taking a pottery hand-building class together.  My daughter and I did the same class together twice, and I have been really excited for him to be old enough so that we could do it together too.  I love his enthusiasm and the way that he thinks of little ways to make his pieces even more creative.  I’m really interested to see what he comes up with as the weeks go on.

I love being surrounded by these creative little people.  So inspiring and uplifting. 

Karen

Week in Review

I’m always excited to see my work in print, and this week the latest issue of Canadian fibre and textile magazine ‘A Needle Pulling Thread’ came out.  In it is the third of four Artist Profiles featuring one of my pieces.  This time it is my “Beyond Swallowtail” piece.  I am always so grateful to the magazine for giving me this fantastic opportunity.

Last weekend we took a spontaneous trip to the National Gallery of Canada to see the Alex Janvier exhibit.  This was my second time seeing it (my sister and I went to see it over the Christmas holidays).  I really enjoy his use of colour, the issues he addresses in his work and I am really intrigued by his collection of circular pieces.  I have done a handful of circular pieces and would love to try to incorporate this format a bit more into my approach.  While I was there I picked up a couple of creative books.  I am excited to see how they get the creative juices flowing.

I’m always looking to incorporate avenues for creativity into the life of my kids.   I talked before a bit about some of the craft activities we got up to over the Christmas break.  This week we played around a bit with science and art.  We got my daughter a microscope for her last Birthday, and every so often we like to look at things under it and see if we find them inspiring for art projects.  This one was a look at onion skin.  I really like the lines in this.  Striped without appearing “stripey”.

This was some fish scales from an Arctic Char that my sister brought us at Christmas (it was delicious!).

I thought it was pretty cool how there were almost little flowery, star patterns in it.   Was really fun zooming in and out on this one.

Just goes to show you that art is everywhere if you take the time to look for it.

Karen

Garden Series

In 2016, I also completed a series of garden inspired pieces.  I find myself very drawn to macro explorations of nature.  Getting up close to something often provides a whole new way of looking at something, and can create a whole new avenue for creativity and inspiration.
 
I showed all five of them at the Baz’Art show at the Shenkman Arts Centre in late November.  Two of the pieces have since sold, and two of them have made their way to Newfoundland where they will be on exhibit and available for purchase in the near future.


I can definitely see myself expanding on this series.  Perhaps even on a larger scale. I was really pleased with how they turned out and how much detail I could fit into such a small space (each measures 5″ x 7″).

So now that I have completed these two series, what do I plan to work on this year?  I’m wrapping up work on a piece right now and when that is done I am going to give myself permission to do a bit of experimentation.  I am brimming with ideas.  2016 was finally the year when I started to keep a pretty detailed journal/sketchbook of my ideas and I am excited to get going on a number of them to see if they will work out. 

I also want to work towards another exhibit of my work.  I have a couple of possible opportunities for this that I need to fully figure out and which have me pretty pumped.

This year I also plan to take on teaching a lot less adult beginner classes, and instead put my mind to developing an advanced adult beginner class.  I have been asked a lot about this and now that I know demand is there, it is time to sit down and work it out.  I hope to have that up and running by the Fall.  I hope to continue teaching some classes for kids, though, in the meantime.  Kids are a lot of fun to teach and really do have a great appreciation for fibre art.

I also have a few magazine and publication goals that I want to attain in 2017.  Will keep you posted if those come into fruition.

And travel.  I am hoping to plan lots and lots more fun travel with my three favourite people this year.  So much happiness and inspiration comes out of those times.

Thanks for following along on this ride with me!  Time to take on 2017!

Karen

Panel #7

I just realized that I hadn’t posted this when I finished it a couple of months ago.  There wasn’t supposed to be a seventh panel- but there was something about this photo that I took at the playground this past summer that really drew me in and I knew I had to hook it.  I love the way that they are holding onto each other; she holding him in a protective hold as they come down slide, and he holding her in order to be protected and also as a reflex because he was feeling so much joy and wanted to share it with her.

Like the other six panels, this one measures 11″ x 14″ and was hooked using a variety of yarns.  The slide was done with a great skein of hand-dyed yarn that I picked up in Newfoundland last year.  It was the perfect colour, and I was able to find all of the values that I wanted just by picking through that one skein.

Just before the holidays, my husband got them all framed for me.  I love that this framing is not “stuffy” but rather gives it a very contemporary look.  Each piece stands on its own yet also works well with all of the others.  It now dominates our living room wall and it makes me happy every time I see it because there are so many memories wrapped up in each of these pieces.

Karen

Adult Hooking with Yarn Class for Beginners

I will be teaching an Adult Hooking with Yarn class for beginners at my home studio in Ottawa, Ontario on Saturday, December 3rd, 2016 from 6-9 pm.  The cost of the class is $50.00 which includes all materials, as well as the use of a hook and hoop for the duration of the class.

I am not going to be offering as many adult beginner classes in 2017, so if this is something that interests you, this may be your last chance for awhile!  For more information or to register, email me at:  marzipanroad@bell.net.

 

Karen

Fall Classes for Kids!

I’m pleased to announce my new list of classes for kids in Fall 2016!

All classes will be held at my home studio in the east end of Ottawa.   The first two classes on the list are great for both kids who have done hooking before, and those who haven’t.

For those who have taken a class with me before, the third class, “Mastering Realism” is a great way to take their hooking to a new level.  This two session class will introduce elements of design and colour, as well as realistic shading.

To register or for more information, you can email me at:  marzipanroad@bell.net.

My classes tend to fill fast so let me know if you want to reserve a spot!  We are going to have fun this Fall!  🙂

Karen

Artist Profile!

What a thrill this month!  I have an Artist Profile in the current issue of the Canadian fibre magazine “A Needle Pulling Thread”!   I really like the layout of the page and am very thankful to the magazine for their interest in my work.

This Profile is the first of four so be sure to keep an eye out for the next one in the Fall Issue!

 

Karen

Upcoming Hooking with Yarn Class!

Just wanted to let you know that I am holding another beginner class in hooking with yarn for adults on Saturday, August 27th from 6-9pm.  It will be held at my home studio in Ottawa, Ontario.  The cost is $50.00 which covers all required materials, including the use of a hook and hoop for the duration of the class.  There are more details on my website under Classes & Workshops.

If you are interested in this class you can email me at marzipanroad@bell.net. Just a heads up that I keep the class size small and they fill quickly!

I am hoping to announce some more classes for kids shortly so stay tuned!  🙂

 

Karen

 

 

Kids and Hooking in Rug Hooking Magazine!

I’m so thrilled to be a part of the current issue of Rug Hooking Magazine.  The theme is kids and hooking and I have an article in it called “From Little Hands”.  The article is all about my kids and their hooking as well as the activity that I did with my daughter’s class last year.

So many talented kids in this issue!  Blows my mind.  So inspiring for other kids to see what people their age are accomplishing.

Karen