Category: Art quilts

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.

 

An opportunity to give back

I attended two different art exhibits this past weekend, both provided me with insight into inspiration. I was so inspired I’ve decided to share my thoughts in a short 2-part blog series. Here is part 1. I’ll post part 2 next Wednesday.
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I posted earlier this month that I was invited to show my art in an exhibit of art grant recipients. I attended the opening reception this past Friday. I really didn’t know what to expect. I know what I do, but I had no idea of the style or quality of the other recipients who were exhibiting.

I walked into the gallery space and became a little emotional. The space and artwork was beautiful. It was a very eclectic mix of styles. From Classical realism painting, to photography, to metal sculpture, to comic book art, to mixed-media portraits and collage, to water color story books, to textiles, etc … here I was surrounded by art work that would generally not make sense as an exhibit. However, every piece of art was hung with beautiful lighting and spaced around the gallery walls in a way that balanced, without compromising, the piece near it. I was inspired by them all.

During the evening, I had the opportunity to meet several of the other artists. Each one seemed so full of admiration for the other. We were supportive of each other and shared how this grant inspired us to create more and better art. We also shared stories of our future plans. I cannot explain how deep an honor it was to be awarded this grant. An artist’s life can be somewhat isolating, so to meet the other recipients and connect was very rewarding. Because of the grant monies, we all had the connection of having an opportunity to grow.

During the evening, I also had the opportunity to explain my art to someone who showed great interest in my process. It made me think how important it is to share knowledge. A lot of people (artists) hold tight to their processes. I know I’m not going to live forever and realize that there’s nothing that I do that is so “special” to keep secret.

When I openly share with creative thinkers, I get so inspired by their enthusiasm. It doesn’t matter if they’re artists or art admirers, creative thinkers have a certain energy. There is a passion for them to share their ideas to others. I am so uplifted and receive such personal value to connect with other people, to support them, and share knowledge. I’m beginning to realize this is what it means…an opportunity to give back.

 

Take it for Granted
A Regional Artist Grantees Exhibition
January 25-February 23, 2019
Arts Council of Fayetteville/Cumberland County
301 Hay Street
Fayetteville, NC 28301

 

Sometimes you’re the bug

One of my goals this month was to submit work for a couple “calls for entry.” This is the process where an organization is looking to create an art exhibit and “calls” out to artists to submit their pieces for consideration. When the entry deadline arrives, the organizers select pieces that will fit with their idea. For the artist, its a crap shoot. You pay your entry fee and enter your work, then wait. The response will either be yay or nay. You have to be ready for either answer.

Right now I’m waiting to hear from two. On one the call for entry closed a little while ago. The pieces I entered “I think” fit the theme. One was an older piece created a few years back.

I decided years ago that I would not make any artwork for a particular exhibit, unless it clearly fit with my style. This older piece was created before I learned the lesson. I made the piece for a collaborative exhibit. I struggled making it. I realize now that I didn’t connect with it and that created my conflicts. I was making something just to make something, just to get a piece into an exhibit. This month, when I submitted it to the call, it became more important because my collaborator was suffering with final stages of cancer. She died a few days ago, shortly after I submitted the piece for consideration. My fingers are crossed on this one, because it would mean so much to honor her with this exhibit.

The other call, literally has been “calling my name” since I heard about it. After wrapping up my exhibit “As Nature Speaks,” I had quite a bit of artwork with a nature theme. This exhibit is specifically seeking art with an environmental theme. “Ah…hello?… that’s what I do!”

I submitted 3 different nature-inspired quilts to this 2nd call. It took me several days to write the artist statements. What to say, wasn’t the hard part … fitting my thoughts into 1000 characters (to include spaces and punctuation) was the challenge. How could I sum up everything in so few characters?

I completed both tasks and can only hope that what I sent gets selected. I know the reality. There are a lot of great textile artists out there and we’re all competing for the same oportunities. The trick is to not feel so invested in the outcome. I’ve been on the selection side of the story and know that a rejection isn’t a reflection on me. In reality, it is likely is that there were just a lot of good art for them to consider. Whatever the outcome, I’ll remind myself that “sometimes you’re the windshield and sometimes you’re the bug.” (~Mark Knopfler)

 

Take it for granted

Last month, I mentioned that I was awarded a 2019 Regional Artist Grant through the Arts Council of Fayetteville/Cumberland County NC. The grant funds are awarded to “provide financial support to a broad range of exceptionally talented visual, performing, literary and inter-disciplinary artists by funding a project that will have a significant impact on the advancement of their professional artistic career.” I am so honored to be recognized with this award.

I am also overjoyed with pride that this is the 2nd time I received this grant. As a grant recipient in 2016,  I was invited to show some of my work in an upcoming exhibit “Take it for Granted” a Regional Artist Grantees Exhibition at the Arts Council of Fayetteville/Cumberland County, in Fayetteville, NC. This exhibit features the art of grant recipients from the past 3 years. I’m excited to be a part of this event and have entered 5 pieces to exhibit. I’m looking forward to seeing the my work along side of other grantees who were also graced with this prestigious opportunity.

If you’re in the Fayetteville, NC  area, please consider visiting the Arts Council while the exhibit is hanging. I would love for you to see my artwork and that of my peers.

Take it for Granted
A Regional Artist Grantees Exhibition
January 25-February 23, 2019
January 25 – the 4th Friday Reception 7-9pm
Arts Council of Fayetteville/Cumberland County
301 Hay Street
Fayetteville, NC 28301