Progress on our Month of Sundays Project

Our project was simple: both of us sit in front of the same window every Sunday. One would describe in pictures; the other, poetry. The aim: to capture through shared art practice what the anecdote presents as an exaggerated condition of time. At session number thirty or so, we knew the experience had already been successful.

Here are some of the latest images (podcasts, videos, and other media on the project available throughout our blog).

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These squares represent the passage, roughly, from fall to winter, or late October to November. Each page of the sketch pad is window-eye’s view of a calendar month, four Sundays.

Above, is a draft—only a snippet of Sara’s prodigious writing output during a single Sunday session. Each session runs about two hours long, by the way, and by the end of a typical stint, Sara goes through several pages of drafting.

Nov 18 soft pastels

Nov 18 soft pastels

another poem draft from a Sunday session by Sara

another poem draft from a Sunday session by Sara

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from Sep 30 to Oct 21… A week? of Sundays

from Sep 30 to Oct 21… A week? of Sundays

the view that inspires it all. Sara’s “Through One Pane” appears as well.

the view that inspires it all. Sara’s “Through One Pane” appears as well.

This view took up the hour or two of a vivid November Sunday.

This view took up the hour or two of a vivid November Sunday.

We give thanks this holiday season for the gifts of togetherness and time, which this project both reflects and honors in our lives.

Collaging in the Studio

Although November is upon us, some leaves still hold the blush of September. This is particularly true of the young dogwood tree that sits in a place of honor in our backyard. Her red leaves remain a powerful scarlet. Yesterday, we foraged some as inspiration for our fall almanac, an homage to autumnal foliage.

First, we arranged the leaves in the shape of an E. Then, we made a photo model for Sara’s collage work.

First, we arranged the leaves in the shape of an E. Then, we made a photo model for Sara’s collage work.

The photo model served as inspiration for a felt collage.

The photo model served as inspiration for a felt collage.

A few snips of the scissors and swipes of the modge podge later, and our own leaf letter is on display.

Here’s a side by side view of the photo and the collage.

Here’s a side by side view of the photo and the collage.

Michael marked the areas for shadow on the photo model so that Sara could use collage materials to place the E in space.

Artistic materials, both natural and unnatural, meet on the art table.

Time to apply felt to canvas with modge podge and brush.

Time to apply felt to canvas with modge podge and brush.

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The E contributes to a larger whole— an almanac that can be read as a poem and experienced as a visual image, simultaneously.

A background completes the collage.

A background completes the collage.

Several photos equal nearly two hours in the studio. Of course, there are other measures of time and value at work in all of this making, and, wile some of those measures belong to the bronzed world of falling leaves, still others belong entirely with you.

Progress on our Fallmanac

We’re hard at work on multiple almanacs. There’s about four Almanac sized works in our Month of Sundays project, compiling the collaborative art we’ve made while sitting next to each other and overlooking a single view every Sunday.

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There’s an entire Almanac we are making of flower tiles. We call it the Floramanac.

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We are also looking to make an entire piece out of birch bark. Stay tuned for that as well.

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In the meantime, we are working on a piece that reflects on our experience of this autumn. We aimed for it to imitate the verbal capacities of Almanac #3.

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As with this one, we wanted our Fallmanac to be seen as a poster from across the room, with mainly lettering being visible, but also to be viewable from a closer vantage as an intricate interweaving of words, images, and collage—neither a poem nor a painting.

an early arrangement of gridded letters in our Fallmanac

an early arrangement of gridded letters in our Fallmanac

Here’s our latest version of the Fallmanac with views of letters like leaves, falling into and out of color.

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Making Rustic Picture Frames Out of Birch Sticks

The bark of some birch trees looks like pages of a sunken book, the wreckage of some ship’s log crusted over with mushrooming coral and coppery algae.

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No matter how tempting, birch bark should never be pulled from living trees as doing so damages them.

This simple rule is not difficult for us to follow since the not-so-living birch varieties are more than just plentiful—they’re thriving in our area. And the living are no slouches either. The topmost branches of most birch trees are generous to a fault. They are eager to make many weighty donations to the vigilant crafter.

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All cautions and humor aside, Vermont trees are stunning sun bathers under blue skies who parch their pages amidst the relentless authorings of driving snow.

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Once collected, the dried and flattened bark of fallen trees can be used as a material for endless making—pages, of course, but also matting, basketry, coils or fraps. The building block of a storehouse full of useful things waits in every fiber.

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We have a favorite use for these sticks.

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It involves a miter box and a saw.

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We incorporate rustic sticks and old jeans together with some wood glue and a few nails to create framed canvases for our art works.

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This type of frame works best for subjects that suit it. It’s lovely and rugged, durable but also delicate. At the edges, paper and wood change places and dance together around a knot or along the ramp of a stiff curl before parting ways forever.

Small Original Oil Painting of Big Fun Coventry (Cleveland Heights, OH) Toy Store in Rustic Wood Frame Using Birch Bark

Small Original Oil Painting of Big Fun Coventry (Cleveland Heights, OH) Toy Store in Rustic Wood Frame Using Birch Bark

final version

final version

To purchase the above painting, click here.

Month of Sundays -- An Art and Life Project for Two

We have been working on a project lately combining art and ordinary living. These are the best kinds of art projects, after all—we especially enjoy the act of recording the world as we live in it through art.

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This project is based on a cliche you’ve heard before.

How long will it take?

If quite a long while, as the saying goes, it might take a “month of Sundays.”

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But what does the phrase mean? Sunday, considered holy and also a bit slowly (at least in comparison with busier days of the week) is a day that gathers its own time rhythms to it. Sunday has a different time to it than other days, a different temporality. That’s just one Sunday. Just think of the stretched out time for reflection, sacred contemplation, and just laying around that a whole month of them would hold.

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The premise: Interrupt our usual ways of spending uncollected time together by creating a ritual around a picture window in our living room. Every Sunday we would sit at the window together. One would sketch the view in poetry as the other did so in pencils, and together we would produce a fuller picture of the shared time spent between us.

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Our Month of Sundays project is as much an effort to “keep” our time together as it is an effort to make time. In every view and in every poem, we make together in order to draw attention to the life and time we make together.

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Sessions usually take a little over an hour. At first, we would have to squeeze in the time to sit together on the same bench inside our home (the same bench that once served as our daughter’s toy box) to watch a concrete bench outside of our home as it resolutely weathered the seasons. After a while, though, our Month of Sundays ritual became an anticipated event. You don’t need to “schedule” or “plan for” something you’re looking forward to all week.

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Whereas Michael aimed to produce a single image for every session, filling a quarter page of the sketchbook each Sunday, Sara’s drafts of poetry spill across many pages.

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A simple lesson learned—when you make a single day special through shared practices of being together while observing the extraordinary in the ordinary, you acquire a deepened sense of the significance of each passing moment.

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This specific portion of the project is nearing a point of closure, but only in the conventional sense of there being only thirty or so days in a month. Our practice has changed our thinking about time. We no longer define a day or a month in terms of their limits or endings.

We plan on continuing our works of days and months, looking and seeing together through apertures we choose.