Sunday, October 21, 2018

Books Reviewed!!!!

“Let us read, and let us dance; these two amusements will never do any harm to the world.” 
― Voltaire

    A few weeks ago, PBS advertised the beginning of  "The Great American Read".  So I looked up and printed off the hundred books on the current list. (Go to link to see list.) Out of the 100, there are 36 I have not read, so being the devoted reader that I am, I decided to make a point of reading those, either manually or audibly.  I am still working on the list but have either read or dismissed the following reviews so far.  As I either began reading or listening, I did  begin to realize why I had not read some of them...and dismissed them; not compelled to finish them! So those I will list first... now keep in mind this is just my opinion!  You may feel completely different from my decision.

  My Dismissed List (so far):

     1. Fifty Shades of Gray by E. L. James-I never did have an interest in this series so didn't even attempt to read this one.
     2. Foundation by Issac Asimov- I did try this book from Asimov's series and, although I do like SciFi, this one was a little too far out for me.
     3. Gilead by Marilynne Robinson- and after the first 50 or so pages, I knew this was going to be 'way too preachy for me.
     4. The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams - again, 50 or so pages in, a bit too much SciFy!
     5. The Pilgrim's Progress by John Bunyan- This is the book that the gals in "Little Women" turned to for solace!  Not my speed, thank you, but I did try!
     6. Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe- started out pretty interestingly, a village in deepest Africa, probably late 1800's but not sure; didn't finish...'way too much violence towards children and women!
     7. White Teeth by Zadie Smith- Again this had a good start; but the characters just became too annoying for me to want to continue with them!

The Books I Did Finish..(one to three stars)

     8. Tales of the City by Armistead Maupin -*** Delightful!  I had seen the TV series several years ago, but had not read any of the books..I will continue with the series.
     9. A Separate Peace by John Knowles***-just one of those I had not gotten around to reading; very readable coming of age story set in  early 40's; privileged white boys' private school; early WWII.
    10. Left Behind by Tim LaHaye and Jerry Jenkins-***A tale about the Rapture, which is a fairy tale as far as my belief system I read it like SciFi and  could then enjoy the intrigue developed....I will probably not continue with the series.
    11. Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad ***-written in 1898; well written tale of Marlowe, a seaman stranded deep in the Congo.  Because of the time it was written, the book seemed a bit stiff to read compared to our more fluid writing style of today.
    12. Hatchett by Gary Paulson***- Young boy must fend for himself after the plane he is in with only the pilot, who does not survive, goes down in the Alaskan wilds. Very readable; is a series...probably more YT in subject matter.
    13. The Shack by William P. Young *- a cloying tale of loss and coming to faith while bonding in the wilderness with the Trinity; I continued with it because I was waiting to see how god (who was a large black woman) explained why he/she would allow these tragedies to occur...never did get an answer.
Books with four-five stars on my scale

    14. Ready, Player One by Ernest Cline **** A very good read, especially if you are a 15 year old nerd, really into virtual reality! This was a SciFi book I could enjoy...from the narrator's standpoint  of life in the future and how good conquers evil in the virtual gaming world!
    15. Ghost by Jason Reynolds **** Not a "scary" ghost story...but another coming of age story from the opposite end of the scale...poor black boy with a talent for track...discovered by his coach who befriends him in the worst of times.
   16. The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime by Mark Haddon**** A story of an autistic boy, mid teens; his dealings with change, trust issues, imagination...very well done by Haddon who has written many books for teen boys; one has to feel he must have had experience with autism to write so authentically!
    17. Their Eyes Are Watching God  by Zora Neale Hurston***** I really recommend the audio version of this book if you can get the one with Ruby Dee reading!  She really makes the characters come to life!!

     And that concludes the Great American Read Books I have read...or not!  I will continue to read the rest of my list (or not) and will report back!  In the meantime, I have also read or listened to several books not on the list which I would like to review now.

  First a list of just three star books:
     1. All the Missing Girls by Megan Miranda *** A mystery of a young woman coming home to help care for a sick father; there is a new case of a missing girl, resembling a case that took place when she lived there several years ago.
    2. Commonwealth by Ann Patchett *** Tale of dysfunctional families, divorce, stepchildren etc.  Just OK...tended to be a bit annoying at times.
    3. Being Closed Doors by B.A. Paris *** The "perfect" marriage!  Or is it??? How to deal with being married to a maniac!  I needed to find out how she finally copes with her less than ideal marriage, but I just wanted to slap her silly for being such an idiot at times!

     And now my four and five star books!

     1. I Was Anastasia by Ariel Lawhon **** This was a bit of different twist on the age old tale of the Romanovs.  It is narrated by Anna Anderson, the lady who claimed to be Anastasia...I had not ever read anything from her point of view...and also narrated by Anastasia Romanov. Interesting approach!  And now with all the  scientific means to dispel the myths surrounding the Family,  the novel sheds a whole new way of looking at the probable fraud.

     2. The Good House by Ann Leary **** A very entertaining story of a middle aged lady who happens to be a realtor in a small New England town and an alcoholic!  The various characters and her dealings with family and customers creates some interesting situations for her...although there are many humorous incidents, the topic of alcoholism is handled very seriously and adds to  the development of the theme.

     4. Before We Were Yours by Lisa Wingate ***** A heartbreaker!  A historical fiction based on the stealing of poor children by a state run orphanage in Tennessee from 1939 until  just recently. Then the children are adopted out to wealthy families unable to have children of their own.

     5. The Women in the Castle by Jessica Shattuck ***** One of my favorites!  And a bookclub pick.  What I found particularly interesting in this book was the description of how some good Germans got taken in by Hitler and the whole Nazi mentality.  Although the characters are fictitious, the plot to kill Hitler was real...this just takes us to the end of WWII and how hard life was for those who had tried to do the right thing.....Strong women, for the most part, making difficult decisions for survival.

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

NTAQ October Meeting

The best time to make friends is before you need them. (Ethel Barrymore)
     The above quote surely meaningful for the eight of us who gather to do, explore, and admire art together....oh, and eat together! Most of us have been together over ten years!

Here are five of us...two absent and I am taking the the gallery.
      Yesterday, we met at the FWCAC (Fort Worth Community Arts Center) to view the newest works of art on display there. The title of the show is HOMEFIRES: A special presentation by seven homegrown artists. (Go to this link for more information about the show and the artists' themselves.)  One of our own NTAQ members, Wendy Hook, is one of the featured artists.  I have shown Wendy's work often here on my blog...she is so fabulous!
Wendy with one of her many quilts on display!                                                                                   
Wendy, pointing out a design feature to us
One of Wendy's and a couple works by others
     After we enjoyed the show, we met at Wendy's for our monthly "show" of what we had been doing.  I had missed the September meeting as had a couple of others, so we also brought our challenges for that month.  Before that we had visited the  Takashi Murakami exhibit at the Modern of FW so we were to do something reflecting on that exhibit, "The  Octopus Eats Its Own Leg".
Our Murakami Challenge
Andrea...lots of octopi legs!
Kay..a shibori Octopus leg!

Mine...I used "cheater cloth" I had purchased a long time ago and
finally found a use for it! creative with paint!
All of our Murakami's together
     Then we also showed our challenges for October... A Picasso.."The Birdcage".

October Challenge
All the "Birdcage" Challenges together
     Only five had their challenges ready for show...Heather has been traveling quite a bit but did show what she had done at a class with Maria Shell, a fiber artist and friend, in British Columbia.

Heather with work from class
Heather with another quilt from class
    I had not done the challenge either as I had been busy working on a  lectern hanging for my church for fall....
Fall lectern hanging
And I really want to get back to a couple of large things I have been working on for a long time!!! One is my quilt I started at Alegre last spring when Andrea and I went to Katie Pasquini Masopust's class "Fractured Landscapes Quilts".  It is pretty much as it was when I came home with it and I am determined to spend some quality time finishing it!!! Notice, I did not set a specific deadline! Here is where I am with it!
The picture I am using for my landscape...a natural ampitheater  near
Abiqui, New Mexico...Georgia O'Keeffee area!
I call these guys "The Sentinels!"
My fractured landscape
Katie's book and my working copy of my landscape
Finally unpacked the fabric I had taken with me...ready to have at it again!!

Sunday, September 16, 2018

NTSAQA September Meeting

“You can't use up creativity. The more you use, the more you have.” 
― Maya Angelou

      North Texas SAQA met Saturday at our usual place, Must Love Fabrics in Grapevine.   The owner of the fabric shop is so nice to work with; there is a large room where we can spread out and do messy stuff like painting!  The workshop that I presented to our members started a couple months ago when I showed this wall hanging.

Sunset on water
      I had created this several years ago in a class I took at Arrowmont, an arts and crafts school in Gatlinburg, Tennessee...painting on canvas, using duct tape to mask off areas, cutting up and reconstructing.  After explaining the process, several asked if I would do a workshop on the technique. We had a great turnout!  Here are the gals all working away!
Jackie and Jennie busy painting
Deborah and Earamichia talking it over
Robin and Jaye
Sherry, Mary Ellen, Carolyn and Diane
Denny with her two visiting exchange students
     We had a couple of visitors....Denny is host to a couple of exchange students from Japan; she had called me last week to see if it would be ok to bring them to the meeting. to which I responded of course...if we had room for them....which we did!  They were so eager to paint with us, a real pleasure to see their enthusiasm!  

Deborah Beschert showing a copy of QA
      At our meeting, we always have a show 'n tell...things we had been working on, activities of interest, announcements, etc. The above picture shows Deborah Boschert showing her article in the latest Quilting Arts magazine.  In this same issue, there is an article written by another of our members, Heather Pregger.  Heather is also in my other local group, NTAQ,  and her article was about some of our challenges.  

Heather's article in the most recent Quilting Arts
     The two quilts on the lower picture are Andrea's and my quilts...we were inspired by Degas'
"Dancer at the Barre".

     At the next NTSAQA meeting, everyone is supposed to make something out of the fabric they painted this month.  It will be fun to see what everyone comes up with!

Thursday, August 23, 2018

NTAQ Meeting for August

“Great things are done by a series of small things brought together.” ~Vincent Van Gogh

     Last Monday, my friends/artists of NTAQ met at my condo for our August meeting.  This time I had put forth the challenge of "Art Nouveau".  Many, including myself, found this to be a bit of a tough challenge to depict!  I had given a list of Art Nouveau artists to choose from (or they could go out on their own).  I chose for my artist Mary Fraser Tytler Watts, a woman who, with her artist husband, worked in various styles...Art Nouveau, Celtic art, architecture, but what interested me about Mary was her activity as an early suffragette in England. I kind of strayed from the Art Nouveau theme and picked up on her Celtic designs instead.  She was the architect and artist for her husband's family mortuary.  I chose one of the columns which I found appealing.

The Columns I chose and some of the fabric I used to create my challenge.
The portion of the column I emphasized
I actually graphed out my design instead of just stitching improvisationally.
It ended up larger than I usually do 30" x 42"
To create the look of the vines, I am doing a lot of chain stitch by hand.
(Not finished yet)

At our meeting we all shared our challenges.

Wendy took her design from a stained glass window.

Kay liked the trees on a book cover and was also influenced by the color of a particular type of Aspen.

Heather was inspired by a rose in a stained glass window.

Bethany said hers was a bit generic, not influenced by anything in particular.

Andrea's was taken from the curlycue pattern seen in many Art Nouveau works.

A fun meeting as usual...after sharing all our stuff, we went to a new restarurant in the Shops of Clearfork which is very near many new places to eat!!!  We chose "Fix", a very nice lunch had by all.  (And I want to apologize for my dreadful form on this blog.  I am having trouble with making paragraphing and captions with pictures to work so bear with me! I also do not know why some of my lines are highlighted!! I need a good tutorial!!!)