Tag Archives: Elsah Cort

Following a trail…

Looking for words to describe the stitches that follow color and shape and pattern…layers upon layers that started out as a something that was photographed, losing its way within a photoshop process that I cannot exactly describe. When I am doing it, I am just in it.

Several years ago, I happened on a “spirit cloth” blog by Jude Hill, that captured me for a week as I read the full seven years of entries. I read about process and stitching and bit and pieces of personal life and a cat named Soul-O. Now I read her every day. I’ve found myself reminded of a younger me who liked to embroider and sew.

I remembered an older woman (to young me when I knew her) many decades ago named Fern. She was sister to my dear friend, Gene Gray, who taught me photography for a brief two years before his death in 1978. I visited Fern from time to time. She often showed me what she had just made, using only hand-stitching, no machine — pillows, curtains, covers for her car seats, placemats, napkins. Oh, I wish had photographed all those so long ago, to help my memory of them now (that I am approaching quickly the age Fern was then.)

What I remember from my younger self is the longing to slow down and sew like Fern. It took me almost forty years to come back to this slowing down.

I am now sewing again with awkward stitches and no viable business plan for art marketing of embroidered mandalas. It’s taking so much slow time just to do it.

This mandala was accidentally printed too large to go on an apron bib as originally planned. Now it’s hugging a store-bought pillow (haven’t slowed down that much to make the pillow by hand) made by someone in India working for a pittance.

The mandala puckered with the stitching on to a thin layer of cotton batting. The “feel” of it becomes my favorite layer, a digital mandala for touching.

• the finished mandala attached to the pillow center…
with large boro-stitching beginning from the pillow seams

• the puckering reminds me of trapunto…stitching from the center out, with a ring of french knots like persons sitting in lotus poses with wavy purple stitches cross-legged

• following the pattern of the original cracking of paint on an old propane tank using pale green thread…many, many years ago I visited the huge studio and artists’ gallery space of Chris Sorenson in Fresno. He had piles of old propane tanks outside the front entrance. I took many photos of peeling paint on the tanks. These photos seem to find their way into a layers in almost all of my mandalas. As I stitched the lines of the paint, I remembered those tanks, now long gone as art works in their own right.

• the hem of the mandala looks like a bleeding of the boro stiches, reminding me of turtles reaching the shoreline

Mandala: “Hello” digital collage © Elsah Cort


Making digital paintings to use as a background for new mixed media collages, I find myself diving deeper into the process and it’s getting harder and harder to know when a piece is done.

The next layer to this work will take place in the studio, when I play with some hands-on work….

© Elsah Cort

© Elsah Cort


© Elsah Cort


Here are the three photographs that made this digital painting.
All these images were taken at the Chris Sorensen Studio in Fresno.

© Elsah Cort © Elsah Cort © Elsah Cort


[all images © Elsah Cort]

Anatomy of a Digital Painting

"Handscape" digital painting © Elsah Cort
“Handscape” digital painting © Elsah Cort
The first image to emerge from this process…two more followed.

"I See The LIght" digital painting © Elsah Cort
“I See The Light” digital painting © Elsah Cort
The second image to emerge from this series.

"Reaching" digital painting © Elsah Cort
“Reaching” digital painting © Elsah Cort
I was surprised when a third image showed up as I was preparing for this blog post.

I don’t know what my final image will be. I start out with one photograph.
This time I chose a photograph I took last week of the back door of the Chris Sorensen Studio in Fresno. It opens out into a back alley.








I make a selection of raw photographs to use and drag them into a folder tagged with date the digital painting was started. This folder was called June 30.

Here are the photos that I initially chose.

A © Elsah Cort  ONEwebB

ONEwebC  F © Elsah Cort

The hand photo is a tile that I have in my kitchen.

This last one is a photo I took at the Sorensen studio several years ago of crackling paint on an old propane tank. Several of these shots always seem to find their way into my digital paintings.

E © Elsah Cort

Now the process starts. I add layers and images. I change colors or filters for how the layers are added. I keep playing until I find something that I like. I often save the image as a jpg and then use that fixed image as a new layer to add to the original ones. For this “anatomy” exercise I have save many of the versions as jpgs to include here. These 100+ images are not all of the versions, but they are in the chronological order of how they showed up.

1 2 © Elsah Cort 3 © Elsah Cort 4 © Elsah Cort

5 © Elsah Cort 6-1 © Elsah Cort 6 © Elsah Cort  8-1 © Elsah Cort

8 © Elsah Cort 9 © Elsah Cort 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19
21 © Elsah Cort 33 31 © Elsah Cort 30 29 28 27 26 25 24 23 22
34 35 37 38 39 40 41 © Elsah Cort 42 43 44 45 46 47 48 49 50 51 52 53 54 55 56 57 58 59 60 61 69 68 67 66 65 64 63 62 63 64 65 66 67 68 69 70 71 72-1 73 74 74 © Elsah Cort 75 76 77 78 79 80 81 © Elsah Cort 82 83 84 85 86 87 88 89 9091 92 93 94 95 96 97 99


The sun’s morning rays filtering over the hill tops reminds us we are always in motion.
The earth turns on its axis as we go with it always.

"Early Morning" photograph © Elsah Cort“Early Morning” photograph © Elsah Cort

[My early morning “burnout blips” seem to be returning. It’s a practice I started many years ago, recording messages  without editing, that fit into the twitter 140 character mode exactly. Glad to see them again, reminding me that life is lived in spirals.]

…scryed Rumi just after this morning’s burnout blip….love the serendipity genius at work…

Rumi:  We seem to be sitting still but we are actually moving, and the fantasies of phenomena are sliding through us, like ideas through curtains.

Life Layers Itself

Thinking about the intense harvest full moon experience of yesterday…leads me to leap out of the box (or as Deepak Chopra says, “…throw away the box…”) for how I present my art and help others share the process of their art-making…so I did some research about the full moon that happened last night at 8:19 pm…I always know that something macro is happening with our every day events, opportunities to delve deeper and embrace transformation.

“Excitement and anticipation is always associated with change, as it is an adventure into the unknown, as we wait patiently, watching and expecting the unexpected results. The emphasis here is faith, trust, hope, loyalty, invisible sustainment and the conviction that our goals are achievable through our passion and determination of will. Our greatest assets at the moment is the refusal to give up hope when all seems hopeless and our ability to change course or improvise, if need be. It is warning us from hanging on to what worked in the past and to release the negative thoughts which is holding us back from our own progress. This Full Moon is reminding us that we are moving into the abyss of no return, but onward to new adventures and potentials that are beyond our wildest dreams.” quote source

beeswax collage ©Elsah Cort
(made in the summer Arts Alliance workshop with Amber George)

Doing not much….

Studio time versus just every day living time.
My studio is upstairs, I pass by it every time I come in my front door.

I don’t go there every day. Not a good sign for a so-called artist.

My real studio is non-local…
could be said to be in my head, which is also non-local.

I don’t make “stuff” art every day.
I muse art every day, seeing it in my mind’s eye.

I am a-mused today, thinking about the how to integrate the doing of art in a daily life, so that doing itself is the art and not the art itself being the art.

Tree Bark

© Elsah Cort
This is a new collage from photos taken in Crescent Meadow last week,
visiting the monarch Sequoia tree that burned on my birthday in August,
which now has 50% of its original substance fallen to the ground.

Accidental landscape

How many computers does a real artist need?  At least more than one.

the not-far-fall of July 5

the not-far-fall of July 5

[……visit the forest for another view……]

claiming the life of an artist…


Never have I felt connected to the title “artist” or used it as a way to describe me.

I have been known to make stuff.

I have made an series of 64 collage cards with poetry for each one, this was first begun twelve years ago (they await a complete re-design in form, size and maybe even words.)  This card collection has been known as The Other Shore.

I have made mandalas, hundreds of them, with watercolor pencils and metallic gel pens. They came from meditative practices learned long ago. I don’t call the mandalas art, but rather a high form of doodling. I mostly love the process of the mandala-making with no real attachment to the result.

I have made photographs, also hundreds of them, now thirty years past.  After at least seven years of being buried in boxes in a niche under my stairs, the photographs are scattered all over the table in the living room.  I have awakened them to introduce the negatives to a new scanner that  is supposed to bring them to life in the digital world.

Re-making, re-thinking, re-vising—a RE-DO of all of it—is in the works.

Oh, and I now make blogs.  Several, in fact, for me and all the spokes in the wheel of my life.
I am consulting with other artists to give them a jump start in the blogging world.

I am emerging as artist.

(Please, forgive this boring, mundane post. This is the way things are at the moment.)

Wesak Full Moon: Awakening the True Self

(The Wesak Full Moon is the first full moon after the sun goes into the astrological sign of Taurus, usually in May, sometimes in April. The full moon is at 9:01 pm PST on May 8, 2009 and 12:01 am EST on May 9, 2009)

We touch the heart,

we contain the truth,

we hold the gratitude.

In this way, and only in this way,

we serve the Human Spirit.


We touch the Ultimate with each breath. We blend the outer breath as “inhale” with the inner breath as “exhale.”  It is a natural flow that contains all we need to know or be. When we are still, pausing between inhale and exhale or between exhale and inhale, we stand at the Door.

The Buddha teaches us the path to the Door; the Christ gives us the key to the Door.  We enter the Door, when fully in mind and heart, we join our will with the Will of God, the Life of God, the Light of God, and the Love of God.

At the Wesak Full Moon, the Earth is blessed with the linking of the Buddha and the Christ. It is a time for bringing forth new intuition, new rhythms, new serving–all transformed through the wisdom of the Buddha path and the “love-ye-one-another” heart of the Christ.

These two great Beings as working together in the NOW as servers for the Human Spirit.  Let us hold them in deep gratitude and welcome a Wesak Awakening in our souls.

[the above description of Wesak is found on the back of the cards in the “Awaken Wesak” series in The Other Shore collection. The collage is also found in this card series, where all the images have both Buddha and  the Christ in them.  Here is Buddha holding the baby Jesus.  I call it “Buddha and child.”

The energy of the Buddha and the Christ is not confined to those two human beings who lived it to the fullest. It is available to all of us.  It is natural to all of us. It is not owned by any religion or dogma; in fact, it has been corrupted by many of these institutions. Even the word, God, is inadequate to describe it.  As the Tao teaches, it cannot be named or spoken. I Ching, the Oracle of the Cosmic Way describes it as “…the true self, which is born with a full quotient of Cosmic Chi and naturally equipped to express its uniqueness…”

Wesak itself, has its origins in Tibet (the timing relating to the birth of Guatama Buddha) and has evolved in the West through the work of Alice Bailey and other theosophists and, the source of my first hearing of it, Ann Ree Colton via her school called Niscience. The Lucis Trust has good online publications about the Wesak Festival.]


buddhapetalsweb I give up. What’s next?

My grandfather, an earlybird pilot, Walter E. Lees, brought this buddha back from China in the 1940’s. I never got to talk to him about where and how he found this. He died when I was 7 (and I knew nothing about Buddha to ask questions.) He did give me my first beer, though, and he was also left-handed. Me, too.


So I moved a framed piece of cloth, a small part of a handwoven coverlet made in the 1700’s by one of my ancestors, from the place high on the kitchen wall where it has hung for at least 25 years.  Big change.


View from the clothes pins


Looking up the Kaweah River Canyon (deeper than the Grand Canyon ) toward Sequoia National Park with Ash Mountain looking sharp and rocky in the late afternoon on a Wednesday.  Palm tree marks the spot where St. Anthony’s Retreat greets pilgrims from time to time and has a bell that rings out with no regular pattern to tell me to take notice of whatever is in that exact moment.  I listen.