Marja-Leena Rathje
Home ::: a busy month

a busy month


Like September, April is a busy and transitional month for me.

Instead of going to 'school' aka the print studio, I go through the reverse. Last week I packed up and brought home my completed editions and supplies. To even organize the work to go into the flat files, I had to clean off the table top first, which started the snowball effect. Some prints that had come back from Europe in a mailing tube some months ago had to be laid on top of the grand piano under weights for a week before I could store them.

Then there's the garden with weeds growing even faster than the flowers. Indoors, seeds of tomatoes, peppers and basil are up nicely and needing to be planted into little pots to continue growing in the solarium. The pelargoniums await bigger pots. Houseplants need repotting.

Spring cleaning is having a slow start as we prepare for a visit next week from old friends from Alberta whom we've known since our days in Fort St. John when we were neighbours. It has been many years since we've seen each other so we're looking forward to this!

Some sad news too, with the recent death of a dear aunt at the age of 87. Emails and long phone chats with my amazing cousin who cared for her mother at home the last two or three years. I've sent emails to family in Finland and eastern Canada. Memories are being revisited. We shall have a family gathering in her memory sometime soon.

Yesterday evening's gorgeous sunset brought these words to mind:

Sunrise, sunset
Sunrise, sunset
Swiftly fly the years
One season following another
Laden with happiness and tears

(from Fiddler on the Roof, of course)

Marja-Leena | 15/04/2013 | 11 comments
themes: Being an Artist, Home


Yes, it's a busy time, even for us, although it isn't the change of season so much as my new health problem that is forcing us to re-assess our situation.
I can't work hard any more, and that's that. But that does not mean there isn't plenty to do anyway!

My sympathy on the loss of your aunt. It sounds like she had a good, long life. And at the same time, all this renewal and growth - which is a comfort. My mom died in the spring, so I always think of her with the new buds and first flowers. It's poignant, but also as it should be.

Hattie, health problems do slow one down and it can be frustrating sometimes. I used to be so efficient but now have to accept a less clean house and all that, and just prioritize. Slowing down is what hubby and I are both doing and even enjoying it.

Beth, thank you and yes she had a long life. Thanks for the reminder about renewal and growth at this time of year - poignant indeed.

It's always amazing just how much needs to be done all at once after the long dark months of winter. I'm sure you'll cope with the challenges with your usual grace and thoroughness. In fact, I wish right now I lived close enough to come and help with your gardening.

I too offer my condolences on the loss of your aunt. It can't be easy living with serious health problems or looking after someone with them but we'll always wish for just one more day with someone we love.

Finally, I need to know what that image is. It looks like ocean surf rushing over islands in an alien landscape.

Susan, yes, suddenly there's so much to do in the garden and it needs to be done on nice days. Even my potting table is outdoors. I find I can't always work on week days when the building contractors next door make too much noise for my sensitive ears. Hope they'll be finished soon - it's been going on almost a year and a half.

Thanks for the condolences - we're never ready to say goodbye, are we, but I'm glad hers was peaceful and at home as she had wished. Sadly my last visit with her was two years ago.

Oh, the image is a small section of a print test I did many years ago. It failed but some areas like this still appeal to me so I've hung on to it. It does look rather alien and watery.

Added later: I came across the post about the experiments - this one is #2. The image shown there is from the same piece on freezer paper but the colour is different for some reason, perhaps changed over time.

That print test is my kind of thing. It somehow justifies my interest in pattern, colour, textures and surfaces. Sometimes it is simply the abstract which appeals. Sometimes the recognition of familiar or half familiar images created by chance. Curious that the colour should have changed. Time often has a hand in what starts as art.

Joe, indeed, we have similar tastes, a love of textures and the abstract. As for the colour it might just be the different lighting conditions for I wasn't striving for perfection as I would with a finished work. I should see how it would turn out with the scanner though the whole piece is too big for it. Then again, it could be the effects of time and that it is not printed on archival art paper.

What a time-dominated post... Do you think about the effects of time on your more permanent work? Is there some that will change radically over time? I was thinking about a friend who is a nihongan painter, and wondering how he keeps in his mind what the painting looks like now, plus how it will look after the aging of certain materials...

Sympathy. The departures of course grow more frequent as one grows older. It's a strange thing, being left behind by people we love.

Marly, I'm always aware of time's passing and yes, I do see its effects on some of my art work. For example, I'm sad to discover that the colour red seems to fade more readily than others in my hand-printed works from some years ago. Last summer when organizing work into flat files, I became aware of this when I'd see the unframed pieces in an edition looking much brighter than some framed ones hanging on our walls.

Some artists purposefully take advantage of weathering or other effects on their work. I've sometimes thought of trying that.

You are so right - the older we get the more dear ones we say goodbye to. I just learned last night that one uncle in Finland is not doing well. And I remember feeling like an orphan at the age of 46 when my second parent passed away.

I am lucky to still have one parent--84 and going strong, volunteering at the North Carolina Arboretum in Asheville and going hammer-and-tongs at 4-harness weaving. She's on top of a mountain with hairpin turns, so I doubt she will be able to stay there forever, but for now it's fine.

It is odd when one includes future transformation into a piece of art, isn't it? You see the work, and yet you also have to see it in imagination as something else, and that something else cannot be exact...

Reds have always been the least "fast," but I thought that wasn't an issue in our day. Are there any you like better as a result of fading? I suppose the others need more protective glass when framed, and to be out of the light.

Marly, you have one amazing sounding mother. I remember your mentions of her before. You are indeed lucky.

Work that is intended to transform and change in time, usually when set outside to weather in the elements, intrigues me for one is allowing nature to be the artist. I think it's the surprise of the unknown. Somewhere in blogland a few years ago I read of some artists wrapping layers of cloth strips, paper, string and such around an object and hanging it in a tree for a year before unwrapping. Why haven't I tried it yet?

When creating works on paper, archivalness is an issue, at least with art museums, curators, serious collectors. That's why we printmakers use archival papers and inks, yet certain colours like reds still are somewhat fugitive - even when not in direct sunlight I was shocked to discover. I've not been happy about it. One favourite piece had the rusty red colours turn distinctly brown though I admit that would be touched by sunlight certain times of the year.