Category: Art quilts

The “Sól” in you

This month I’m working on class prep. Creating new art is, sadly, low on my priority list. But, this gives me an opportunity to reminisce a little. It’s always good to look back every once in awhile so you can appreciate how far you’ve come.

I made this sunflower quilt, “Sól” about 7 years ago. When I see it, I feel like it was just last year. Time moves quickly.

The piece was made as a challenge. Photographs were collected from the local photo club and local artists selected one to re-create using their own inspiration. By design, “Sól” turned out very similar to the photo. The biggest exception is that I used textiles to create my 3-dimensional image.

This was a fun piece to create. The sepals (green parts) were fuzzy on the photo and I wanted to recreate a similar effect. I decided to use green felted wool and added some fuzzy white roving (wool) using needle felting. The petals of the sunflower where stitched on fabric, cut out and then sprayed with a fabric stiffener product. I let them dry so they would stay wrinkly (and a bit stiff) when I sewed them to the background.

I am still very happy with this final rendition. This piece is now in the private collection of a friend. He saw it during the show and had to have it. I’m honored to have participated in this challenge and to know the piece is cherished in my friend’s home. Some of my best art has been created by challenges like this. Have you ever participated in an art challenge? They can bring out the “Sól” in you!


See my artwork:
Sacred Threads
July 11-28, 2019
Artist Experience weekend: July 18-22, 2019
Floris United Methodist Church
13600 Frying Pan Road
Herndon, VA 20171
www.sacredthreadsquilts.com

Challenge yourself

I really do have a plan for this summer, but I’m experimenting a little too. I spent so much time last year creating new artwork, that my brain is kind of in a fog about what to make next. Part of my problem, I don’t have any external deadlines to drive me with a purpose. I’ve been muddling along a little bit and experimenting with some new techniques. It’s always a good idea to have creative play time when you’re feeling a little stuck.

I entered a call for entry last week for “Eye Contact: creating a connection.” It’s an art installation that will be part of the Sacred Threads exhibit July 11-28 in Herndon, VA. The call for entry asked to for a 23″ x 5″ art piece that features human eyes. This was a little bit of a stretch for me, but I had a photo of myself looking into a mirror and thought it would be an appropriate subject for this exhibit. When I saw myself in the mirror, I noticed the lights that framed the mirror reflected in my eyes making my pupils look square. It fascinated me, so I snapped a selfie and rendered it into this art quilt.

It is a bit different from what I normally do and that’s OK. In order to grow as an artist, you must continue to challenge yourself.

 


See my artwork:
Sacred Threads
July 11-28, 2019
Artist Experience weekend: July 18-22, 2019
Floris United Methodist Church
13600 Frying Pan Road
Herndon, VA 20171
www.sacredthreadsquilts.com

Act out a little more

SJSAI’ve been feeling uneasy lately. There’s a lot of changes happening these days, I sometimes feel disoriented. My problem is I’m not sure how to deal with the things that are bothering me. Life frequently is out of our control. Do you speak-up, act out, or just move on?

I was faced with some challenges growing up, but overall I can’t complain. My life has been generally good and I’ve never been without basic needs (food, water or shelter). I was recently reminded, not everyone is so fortunate.

In April, I was at the SAQA conference in San Jose, California. One of the presentations was given by members of the Social Justice Sewing Academy (SJSA). The founder of SJSA is Sara Trail. Ironically, I was a technical editor for Sara’s first book she wrote when she was 13 (“Sew with Sara”). I felt immediately connected to Sara because I knew her from the book. As she spoke, I became even more connected by what she had to say.

Sara and the other presenters discussed their involvement in SJSA and how they empowered youth to express their concerns through textile art. These young people are living daily with social injustice that I never experienced. And, they are making quilt blocks and art quilts that visually tell the stories of what’s bothering them.

Many of these issues fire me up and that’s where I struggle on dealing with it all. Do I just move on and ignore it, speak-up and take the heat, or act out and become visible? What impresses me about SJSA is that the youth are acting out in a very creative and visible ways. Art has always been a method to make a statement.

During the meeting, I found out that SJSA was looking for experienced embroiders to stitch down the fabric pieces in the quilt  blocks the youth created. I volunteered and was quickly sent my first project (pictured here). Unfortunately, I didn’t receive the young person’s intended message, but I did see a powerful statement of strength. Through this inspiration, maybe it’s time act out a little more.

You won’t regret it

I’m so happy to see nice weather. These past few months have been a challenge in North Carolina. Today makes 3 continuous days of sunshine. I think this is a record for this year. My windows are open and birds are singing. Spring marks a time of renewal and growth.

Do you ever take time to think about your own growth? Do you ever feel stuck? Sometimes I do. That’s usually when I want to try new things. It could be all I need is to take a class or read a new book. I just find it important to keep trying, keep being involved and keep learning.

I’m approaching an age when most people start to settle down. Their kids are grown and they retire from their jobs. People handle this change of life in different ways. Some look forward to sitting home and some seek travel. Creative people frequently look forward to more free time for their artistic endeavors.

I guess as we age, we find more time for our interests. We’re less wrapped into the drudgery of being a money-making machine or raising a family. I hope whatever age you are, you seek what you love. Many of us face health issues later in life. So, waiting until you retire to enjoy life may add limitations to what you can do.

As we move from spring into summer, no matter what you’re age, I hope you stop a minute to think of what brings you joy. Then, find time for yourself and your passion, you won’t regret it.

One step at a time

A week ago today, I was in Cleveland, Ohio. Although I grew up in Chicago, I don’t remember ever visiting Cleveland. I’ve heard it is a fabulous city, great art museums, restaurants, hotels and, of course, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. On this trip, I didn’t get to see any of it. I was escorted directly from the airport to a outlying suburb for a visit K & S Productions studios.

This trip was the apex of the past 6 weeks where I’ve been preparing to film 4 segments of the Quilting Arts TV (QATV). I shipped my quilts ahead and carried 2 suitcases on the flight. One was full of clothes…4 segments means 4 changes of clothes. The other was filled with supplies to demonstrate my techniques.

I’ve been watching QATV since it started. I’m pretty sure I’ve seen every episode. So you can imagine my excitement when they asked me to be be part of the series. It was surreal to walk on set to see all the familiar props juxtaposed with all the filming equipment. I had no idea there were so many moving parts. In order to save time, they want us to film in one take…which isn’t always possible, but that’s the goal. You plan your segment to be no more than 12 minutes.

I arrived a day early so I could get comfortable with everything. I’m glad I did because I really got to enjoy the company of everyone there. They were so professional, kind and supportive. They all were dedicated to making the “guests” look good. Of course there was the host, Susan Brubaker-Knapp, and Vivika DeNegre, editor of Quilting Arts Magazine. There was also Kristine, associate editor of Quilting Arts and Jeanne from Bernina who helped us prepare. Besides the film/editing crew from K&S there was also Kathie, producer and Katherine, production coordinator. It was a smoothly operated production that made this newbie feel at ease. I have only been on TV once before…with all their help, I was much better prepared this time.

The morning of the filming was make-up time. This was another first for me. I have never had my make-up done by anyone. Looking at myself in the mirror, I looked like I had a face-lift. I could get use to this…

My first segment had me a bit shaky…but all went well without any “major” glitches. The other 3 have become a somewhat of a blur in my memory. But I do have the memories of being in the “greenroom” with the other guests on the show. I have found new friends among these talented textile artists, Julie Basseches Booth, Patty Kennedy-Zafred, Deborah

Fell, and Sherry Lipman McCauley. It’s fun how you connect with people when sharing similar experiences.

Three of my segments will air on PBS (or Create TV) this fall (2019) and one will air next spring (2020). I look forward to seeing the episodes. They tell me I didn’t appear nervous…so I’m banking on that outcome. For now, I’m preparing for what comes next; I have some plans I’ll share with you soon!

Reflecting on this journey I’m reminded: How do you climb that mountain?… One step at a time.

 

Listen, learn, be kind and connect.

I gave a presentation yesterday using a SAQA Trunk Show to guide the participants in understanding/appreciating art. There were 57 mini art quilts in this show and nearly 80 people in the room. From table to table, we passed stacks of 5 or 6 around the room. The participants were instructed to closely look at each quilt and critique them.

To critique doesn’t mean criticize. When we look at art we should make it a challenge NOT to make quick value judgment of “good” or “bad.” We should be specific about what we see or feel. General terms like “pretty,”  “busy,” or “I don’t like it,” don’t explain what’s really happening. When viewing art, if we find a point of connection we can better explain how we’re reacting to it. Some questions to ask are:

  • How does it make you think or feel?
  • What does it remind you of?
  • What draws you in or pushes you away?
  • Are you attracted to or turned-off by the concept the artist is trying to portray?
  • Are you attracted to or turned-off by their method of execution (how they created it)?

We also need to be generous and empathetic when we make our comments. Even though the artists may not be in the room with us, try to find what’s good about the art. Always remember that it takes courage to put your artwork out there for others to see.

The best way to learn about art is to take time to look closely at it. I instructed the participant to really study each piece for awhile, then flip it over to read the artist’s statement on the back. You can learn a lot about the artist’s vision by reading the artist’s statement. After they read the statements, I asked them to look again at the quilt to see if their opinion changed. After they viewed each one in the stack, I asked them to share their thoughts: What was their favorite or least favorite and why? Did they find connection?

I enjoyed hearing their feedback. Art is subjective. Something I like may not appeal to you, but either way I can connect to it when I take time to understand what I’m looking at. I can also connect to the people I’m with by listening to their opinions of what they see. Sounds like a lesson for life: listen, learn, be kind and connect.

 

Tomorrow offers new opportunity

I’ve been riding a mix of feelings the last couple weeks and I’m wondering, how do you judge a good day from a bad one? Does any one event crush you to a point of writing the entire day off as bad? I’m know there are instances that could be that bad, but for the most part I try to focus on what’s good (operative word: “try”). This is what helps me get through difficult days.

Earlier this year, I entered 2 different juried art exhibits and heard from both this past week. The first one was a win. My artwork was accepted into the Sacred Threads 2019 exhibit. This exhibit is about textiles artists of all faiths connecting to the sacred and/or sharing their expression of the spiritual journey. Two years ago, I also was selected to be in this biennial exhibit and had the opportunity to go see it. This entire exhibit speaks to me. I’m extremely happy to be in this show.

Yesterday, I received the other notification which wasn’t so rewarding. This exhibit spoke to me from all levels of my journey of being an artist and sharing my connection with nature. All 3-pieces I entered were rejected. I was quite worried about entering this one, because acceptance would place me on another level of professionalism. I was extremely anxious about making sure the entry was spot-on and I didn’t make any mistakes (which could potentially get me eliminated). You know what? Even with all that anxiety about entering, I’m very OK that I didn’t get accepted. This rejection isn’t about me personally. It is about a pool of fabulous artists all trying to get their shot. Someone has to sit on the sidelines in this “game.”

Some days it’s difficult to reflect on what’s positive in our lives, but there always is something. I think putting the best that you have into an entry, then receiving a rejection can be difficult. I’ve been there, but I remind myself there’s something else down the road. This moment of disappointment is only temporary. When I feel myself in a pity party, I remind myself that tomorrow offers new opportunity.

 

See my artwork at:

Sacred Threads July 11-28, 2019, Herndon, VA

Where this leads

I recently became aware of on a newly formed organization called The Society For Embroidered Work (S.E.W.). “The aim of S.E.W is to promote and support artists who have an element of stitching in their artworks, hand or machine and traditional or contemporary forms of embroidery.” This organization is focused on raising the perception of stitched art away from being viewed merely as a craft. If you look at the work of their members, you’ll see the why this mission is so important. While grandmother’s embroidered hankies and table runners were beautiful and crafted with great skill, the innovative use of thread in today’s art world is at a much different level … take a look: societyforembroideredwork.com

Last week they made a call for new artist members. Since my work entails a great deal of free-motion machine embroidery, I took the opportunity to submit some examples of my work, along with an artist statement, and waited to hear their juror’s selections. Knowing the caliber of artists in their association, I was overflowing with humble pride to receive their confirmation email this week.

This is a new organization which holds great promise. By carrying member status, it is another way to encourage traditional craft techniques to be accepted into the fine art category. I’m proud to be part of this distinguished group and look forward to seeing where this leads.

Everything is so temporary

Have you ever noticed how quick things change? When we’re living a routine life, we go through the motions and it frequently feels like we’re sitting still. We get up walk through our day and tomorrow it is another one of the same. Then there are times when we have big events to look forward to. You know, like the vacation of your dreams or milestones like waiting to get married or have your child (or grandchild). We wait with anticipation and then, almost suddenly, it seems like we’re looking backward remembering “when.”

I’ve been noticing this a lot. Maybe it’s an age thing. I remember waiting to go to the Grand Canyon. I was so excited for this new opportunity and now I’m looking backward on the trip that was 2 years ago. Every second of that trip was in my mind when it happened and now my memory is forgetting the details. I feel this way about my exhibit last year. I spent 2 years anticipating it and now I’m somewhere else anxiously anticipating the next thing.

I was reminded of this feeling on Monday. I was at the Fayetteville Arts Council to pick up my artwork from the “Take it for Granted” exhibit which hung this past month. As I packed up my art work, I got to take one last look of one of my pieces, “Tres Dominae Lagerstroemia”  (3 lady crepe myrtles). That piece meant a lot to me, I remember the excitement of making it and exhibiting it at Eye Candy Gallery. That was a beautiful exhibit. On Monday there it hung in another gallery, with the tell tale red sticker… sadly, it doesn’t belong to me anymore.

I took one last look, one last picture and said good-bye. For me it represents life in general. Everything is so temporary.

Find joy in the creating

This is part 2 of a 2 part blog series on creative inspiration. Read part 1 click here:
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Last week I shared a story about becoming inspired by an art exhibit where I connected with the other exhibiting artists. The same weekend I had an opportunity to display a SAQA Trunk Show at a local quilt shop, Cary Quilting Company. SAQA (Studio Art Quilts Associates) is an international organization of art quilters consisting of over 3500 members in 39 countries. They have several “trunk shows” containing small art quilts which can be rented and displayed.

As the NC/VA Regional Co-Rep for SAQA and with the support of Cary Quilting, I brought the quilts to the shop. For 3-days, my friend, Christine Hager-Braun, and I sat watch over the quilts and invited shoppers to look at the artwork. The overall response from visitors was “this is amazing.” They were excited by the diversity of artistic expression.

Since the quilts measure only 10″ x 7″, visitors were a little surprised by how small they were and realized they “could” work that small. The smaller size seemed to minimize their angst about creating art. Quilts are usually pretty big and cost a substantial amount to make. Something this small seemed to liberate them to enter their “studios” and play.

I also met creative people who didn’t quilt and didn’t want to learn, but they saw the variety of techniques and became intensely inspired to explore fabric as a medium. One beautiful woman, came back a 2nd day to show me what she was inspired to create after seeing the exhibit. It was pretty amazing what she did. Her energy, gave me energy.

But then, sadly, there where others who implied they could “never do that.” I answered, “Why not? If you want to, you can.”

I realize through this opportunity, that the power to be creative is inside each of us. Because bad art happens, the issue is whether we are willing to push past our ourselves and create things that might stink. As Seth Godin puts it: “What matters, what makes it art, is that the person who made it overcame the resistance, ignored the voice of doubt and made something worth making. Something risky. Something human.”

For years, I was my own worst enemy. A few people who know me saw that intimidated dabbler. I held myself back for many years, until I decided that I was destined to share what I do. It is increasingly clear, that my goal as an artist is to inspire. I can encourage confidence in those doubting themselves, because I’ve been a doubter too. I realize we don’t have to allow a critic to stop us because, it is our own decision to accept the labels. Yes, we can reject them, if we choose to.

Because there are so many ways to express ourselves artistically, we shouldn’t try to replicate someone else. I say be open to learn, experiment and make bad art. If one style of expression doesn’t feel right, try another. Eventually, you’ll know that you’re on the right track, because you will find joy in creating.