Born a Bucks County artist, Alison Bessesdotter grew up along the banks of the Delaware River in Pennsylvania in a family of artists and musicians. Currently, Bessesdotter is an ArtsQuest Resident Artist at the Banana Factory in studio 248a in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania.
Alison has been by turns a beekeeper, an award winning pie maker, an equestrienne, a painter, printmaker, and flower farmer to name some of her complex and unusual pursuits. An aficionado of the doberman, pit bull, rough coat collie and the toy pug, Bessesdotter is rarely seen without a dog by her side.
Bessesdotter is an artist; a printmaker, painter, and fiber artist. As a Pennsylvania native her affinity for quilting comes naturally. She has a deep regard for the traditional form even as she pushes into new and innovative realms. The marriage between painting, printmaking, design and fiber lends itself to Bessesdotter interpreting herself in a colorful and extraordinarily detailed and imaginative style.
The artists’ respect for the traditional with an iconoclastic streak and leads her to hang her work in galleries and non-traditional spaces. Her style has been described as improvisational: worlds of magic, euphoria and enchantment. Alison’s paintings, prints and fiber works are currently in private and corporate collections.
Red is not a color I typically wear or decorate with, but it is making a big splash in my stitched art. The first pieces where red started was the vintage linen tiles with vintage silk scraps and perle cotton thread keeping it all in place.
The red feels like a crisp contrast to the creamy linen with its slightly coarse texture. Slow stitching gives me a place to meditate, hands working gently to snip and stitch, it is soothing and methodical. Mudita is my 2018 meditation. Sharing the joy of others, mudita, is so vital for us as a collective. We build strength together by shouting in resounding joy–even if its silent in our meditations–like the Grinch our hearts grow and grow.
It can easily come to us to feel left out, neglected, slighted, emotionally bereft and ignored with so much clamoring for attention in the world of unease and war. How do we find a path of peace and the gift of kindness? 2017 was my year for Metta meditation–sending loving kindness to all the sentient beings of the world. Sending love isn’t too difficult until one thinks of sending it to someone who deeply hurt us. Then Metta takes on new meanings. Mudita, sharing in others joy is similar. We might be happy for those we already like or feel good about. But what about when we are confronted with the good news of competitors or those who harmed us?
To open one’s heart for others good news is not so simple when we feel badly. But changing our meditation to open ourselves to hear others good news and feel genuinely happy for them is critical for personal growth and to further peacefulness. Sharing in others Joy is my goal for this year–to stitch, paint and meditate on joy for all sentient beings.
Each of the red works are about 7 or 8 inches and will be appliquéd onto a larger cloth and then machine quilted. I am a fan of combining several techniques and am open to what might happen yet. As this piece progresses or is completed I will share it. The name filtered to me as I was deep in stitching and with mind open, it seems it wanted to be called Roundhouse Blues.
Stuff. What a word. I have an accumulation of indeterminate objects and ideas floating about and want to talk about them all at once!
This morning had other plans than to make art. Nimbus, my Mini decided it needed a visit to the shop after our Boston trek. Here we sit, thread, needle, vintage textiles: silk & linen and favorite scissors by KAI. A video was born.
The time of incubation is passing, the coddled womb that held me rapt in slumber is evolving.
Mother always said September brought change. Our seasons seem to be off now with climate change, September is warmer. The autumn leaf change is off schedule again this year. So maybe the September changing spell is off schedule too and it waited until October to bloom.
The blooming explodes with resounding bursts of not only new ideas of work to be created, but also new ways to present and new tools to make.
I’ve often likened myself to a border collie, perhaps you might be one too. You are likely familiar with the legendary dogs, relentlessly working a herd or driving themselves in sporting competition until they have to flop into cool water because of the stress. I also think its possible to have a border collie mind–one darting to and around–herding thoughts and driving oneself to work. This work helps my border collieness by giving me an activity of both mind and hand.
Saturn Series red section
Couching – Saturn series
Maybe 100 stitches fit into a square inch..although I don’t sew every square inch of the quilt there will be thousands of stitches in a piece that so far is about 48″. No surprise then that my thumb and fingers are a bit sore. A clean sharp needle makes the work much easier, but sharp needles cause more injuries. The accidental and infrequent stabbing of my own hands mostly happens with slight notice. Five or six hours of hand sewing leave my hands tired and fingertips delicately bruised. I have tried different types of thimbles and hand protectors. Not one style has really worked for me yet. Right now I am trying the Thimble-It which is a small plastic oval with adhesive that sticks to the fingertips. So far, the thread has caught on the sticky edge almost every time through and that has slowed me down considerably which makes me cringe more than being injured!
I know what draws me to this work, the repetitiveness I think is the most desirable part of the process for me. Analytical thinking while maintaining awareness of my surroundings are paramount to the final product–until I get to that part of the process–which then becomes an apparent necessity of design. Being able to listen to books and podcasts is vital to the operation–and the focus is intensified and I can retain so much more information when my hands are delicately engaged in repetitive work. I have favorite audio books that I have ‘read’ over a dozen times while sewing. I am convinced that my retention level increases while stitching and time slows while it also leaves me with the perception that there is no time. That trickster reveal, that there is no time, but simply a construct that we choose to abide by much like other constructs of our civilization.
Casually I tossed this latest quilt sandwich on the ironing table last night. The table is also used for laying out fabrics, auditioning items that may want to play together, winding hanks into yarn cakes…well you get the picture.
This morning, when I saw the red folds of the quilt sandwich, I saw books…they may need to become a quilt book. I had planned to add them to the neon quilt that is underway and set in an all dirty whites and vintage fabric block background…but now it wants to be a book. Not yet decided on who will win this gentle discussion.
In the meantime, see that neon variegated thread spool? It has no name and I am hoping more can be located. Although it isn’t vital in the entire scheme of the work, something else will come along that will fit into place if this thread is gone. More important to complete the work of art than to quibble over the exact materials.
The blue yarn is part of a ten pack gradient dyed lace weight that is being rewound into cakes, it is waiting to be couched…its good to have plans.
Thought to self: resolve to stitch 6 hours everyday…when not making art my mind has images and thoughts and tells stories and makes mind movies about what I will create. Then THIS ^^^ happens. Finally, I understand what happens and why my plans may not play through fully and get interrupted by this kind of work. This is about play and experimentation of threads, yarn and color on a solid background–all the stuff that gets me working–and then I utilize to make a finished piece of art. This is only a beginning, not a finished work. But what is really exciting about it….is the reflection of my interior is what gets made in the exterior….this is chaos. My life is in chaos right now and this is what it looks like. This is not a downer, but exciting, giddy, full of color and line, texture, oozing neon and it shows off that my mind has not gathered to a resting place but is under deep stimulation.
And that has to be ok.
I often say the scope of the artist is reflected in their artworks. Right now, my life is in chaos and this is what it looks like. Detail pics below.
Hastily searching for a sketchbook last week, I found a 4×6 booklet behind my leopard fabric covered chair where I sit and draw. Leafing through it, I found some fun sketches I did in February 2016. With few art tools and being winter house-bound I turned to sketching between stitching to keep my mind open. Little did I know that my purple pen drawings would be found around the same time as the passing of Prince.
Prince left us in the spring of 2016. I’m lamenting the loss of this talented artist for several reasons. He and I were of the same generation. His talent and kind nature are legendary and I admire him. His legacy will continue. Enjoy the sketches!
Painting the last swipe on the canvas I’m exhausted. overtired. Eyes are dry from staring for so long, resisting blinking, absorbing the colors in front of me beyond the feeling of almost madness.
The large square canvas must cure overnight. I shirk off my robe and wash up. Looking down at my hands every finger tip on my right hand is a pale turquoise mixed with white. Brushes clean up easily, reshaped, they are left to dry.
Outside my eyes adjust and my mind enters the parking lot, I begin to see reality again. Looking at my hand holding the key….a splotch of bright red has dried on the back of the palm. A little paint is evident.
The paint colors and shapes in my brain is still there. Lingering. Stroking the nerves barely sheathed with the silence of the drive home. Walking in my home I’m greeted by dogs and my mom. Adjusting to normalcy is what I need. I hit my bed to let the flow of shapes run out of my ears. I rise and make dinner.
I don’t recall the last time I have been so motivated about a piece of art!!
16 months ago I started asking for Peace in my life. At the time I didn’t know exactly what I was asking for. Life answered with a culmination of events that changed my life.
Peace arrived with eating plants. This little seed is germinating the sign of peace inside. I’ve found peace with my body and the animals around me…and it has continued to wind it’s tendrils around other areas of my life. Peace is not found in every moment, but it is continuous, gradual and more meaningful. The multitude of feathers are a symbol of healing prayers.
Completed and ready for sale–contact me if you’re ready to collect an original Bessesdotter.
Peace: for all, for animals, for us. This work contains seed of peace–tucked in the details–safely swaddled and with a bold headdress.
I started regularly asking for peace about five years ago. It eludes me still. Maybe I don’t know in what form peace can enter my life. Until it becomes clear, I’ll make peace in my art. The reflection of peace in the art can shine it’s reflection boldly back out into the world.