Tag Archives: Sukie Curtis

ReDress: Where Shall I Start?

Lenten stitch meditation no. 1, Feb. 14, 2018

Everything starts somewhere in time and place. And sometimes it’s hard to say just when and where.

So we get to decide: I’ll start the story here.

That’s what I’m doing with this post and what I’m calling my “ReDress project,” although it’s fuller title in my mind is “Redress-reDress.” It’s a multi-sided, multi-media’ed exploration of the process of redressing a wrong, an old wound, while also sewing myself new clothes. (Get it? Redress a wrong; re-dress a wound; reDress myself…)

What can I say to get this launched? I love making things (knitting, painting, writing, sewing), and I love playing with words, looking up words in dictionaries, finding intriguing connections and double-meanings and overlapping sounds, rhythms, rhymes.

This past winter I found myself drawn to some Instagram posts featuring fabric and sewing, some of it the machine sewing of garments and “improvisational quilts,” some hand-stitching of small pieces of fabric in what fiber artist Liz Kettle calls “Stitch Meditations.” I decided during the season of Lent, I would try doing one “stitch meditation” each day, more or less. I posted them on Instagram and fully intended to, but never quite did, post them here. Better late than never.

The process of putting together small bits of fabric and hand-sewing them with colored threads makes a good visual beginning of my ReDress project, even if it started before that in my thinking. So I’m starting with Lenten stitch meditation number one, sewn on February 14, 2018, which was both Valentine’s Day and Ash Wednesday.

More to come.


What’s New? One or Two Haiku for You

Self-portrait sketch, ©Sukie Curtis, ink on paper


One or two haiku–
some days that’s all I can muster–
a moment compressed.


Man standing knee deep,
Fishing rod flashes sunlight–
Not one fish nibbles.


I often think I will try to write at least one haiku every day, but I’m not that good at those “one something a day” things, although I did once commit to a whole year of at least one small drawing a day, and it was a wonderful experience. I stuck with it for a full year.  And my drawing skills improved in the process! 

I was inspired in my one drawing a day by someone else’s daily blog of drawings and paintings–Elizabeth Perry’s woolgathering. She is still doing daily drawings, from what I can tell, but now on Instagram and Twitter. Elizabeth dates her drawings and includes a number, now well into the four thousands, to indicate how many consecutive daily drawings she has posted. That’s a lot of daily drawings in the midst of a very busy, creative life!

Most days a small drawing is part of my morning routine. I like the way drawing grounds me and quiets my mind. Even if I draw many of the same things over and over–my hand, my hand holding my mug of tea, an old ceramic mug on my desk full of pens and pencils and a wooden spoon.

I often think of haiku as being very like simple drawings–a way of closely observing a moment in time, a glimpsed view, a sensory experience. Perhaps I will pair an occasional drawing with an occasional haiku, and see what happens.


View from Islesford, Maine painting

“View from Islesford,” ©Sukie Curtis, oil on canvas, 9×12

Painted last year after David and I enjoyed a long weekend in a beloved spot on Little Cranberry Island, Maine, this view is a slightly fanciful version of the real thing–looking from Islesford across the Eastern Way toward Mt. Desert Island and Acadia National Park. The rounded profiles of the Bubbles, perhaps slightly exaggerated (who can resist?!), occupy the center of the painting.  

Given the slow drying time of oils and the challenges of transporting wet oil paintings, I often do small sketches of landscapes “on location” and later paint from the sketch, or at least with the sketch and my remembered experience as inspiration. Among my favorite sketching tools are a very fine felt-tip drawing pen and watercolor pencils (colored pencils that blend easily when wet). They are extremely easy to transport!


Rowboat Song

Brass oarlocks on wax-print fabric

Rowboat Song

My song is for the rowboat hauled out for winter, 
listing in a sea of leaves.  I love her lines,  
the graceful beauty of her usefulness.  But even more 
I love the way she carries the music  
of my father, his summertime humming  
and the ringing of brass oarlocks dangling from his hand 
as we walked the tangled path pungent with huckleberry 
and sweet fern in August heat. 

                                                           Our syncopated footsteps
on the wooden runway, the slight lift and sway of the float 
beneath us, slap-slap of running line on water  
bringing the dinghy in.  My father’s slender fingers  
worked the line, hand over hand, removing strands of eelgrass 
and slimy mermaid’s hair, green, and matted. 

                                                                                      And then 
his easy rowing, skilled feathering of oars, their rhythmic turning 
in the locks, a two-part pulse of leather and wood against brass: 
back and forward, back and forward.  Between strokes, 
from the oar tips a whispered staccato drips in tiny 
running steps across the water’s surface. 

Did we speak?  Maybe a little.  Mostly in silence we’d do 
what was needed—unstop the sails and hoist them,  
let go the mooring line, back the jib to bring the bow 
around, and with sails filling slip gently out the harbor. 

Strange–I remember always the setting out 
rarely the homecoming, always a new beginning, 
always another chance. 




Poem: A Snowy Afternoon

Whose Woods These Are, ©Sukie Curtis, oil on panel

The Snowy Afternoon

That snowy afternoon a galaxy
appeared on your dog’s black back
while we talked. Stars took
their places, planets, whole constellations
gathered there, marvelous as a meteor shower,
until with a few friendly, unthinking strokes
I wiped the whole sky clean, and it
began to fill again. It seemed
the kind of tender beauty
too intimate to mention
just there and then, this galaxy
falling gently
onto your dog’s back.    

One of the Facebook’s features that I most appreciate is the way it serves up your own “memories” of things posted on a certain day in previous years. It makes for some interesting juxtapositions of past and present, such as a post of a rainbow from a few year’s back on a day when it’s snowing; or a post about snow on a rainy day, or full blazing sun.

That’s how I got reminded of this poem: first, by a gentle snowfall last year, when something about the snow reminded me of this poem I’d written years before (it was published in the Christian Science Monitor) and then posted on Facebook; second, by Facebook reminding me of that post this year.

Some things I am grateful to remember, and to be helped in remembering.