Category: Mixed Media

Stuck when creating

As I mentioned last week, I don’t work with a real “plan.” Maybe that’s good, maybe not. I have a vision or idea, and start working with stops and starts along the way. The following description is an insight to my creative process.

Over the past week, I attached the hexis to my background fabric and created an applique element that will go on top (you’ll see that next week). When I auditioned the applique on the hexis, it looked flat. There was no pop or interest and the applique didn’t stand out.

So, I auditioned some fabrics that I could lay in the center of the hexagons to give it a dimensional appearance. I found a loosely woven material in my stash, laid it on top of the design and stitched around each hexi shape. Then, I cut away the excess material. Tedious.

While I was stitching I noticed the there was a little pocket between the two layers of fabrics. I didn’t like that. I thought, I “should have!!” put Mystifuse on the back of the woven fabric. Then after stitching, I could iron it to adhere it in place. The problem … I didn’t use Mystifuse. Grumbling to myself, I kept on going.

As I continued to work, I thought about … “matte mediums.” I think of mediums as akin to Mod Podge but of higher quality. Mediums are acrylic liquids that can be used by artists to adhere collage material or used to thin acrylic paints. The word matte means there’s no sheen. If you wanted a shine, you would use a gloss medium.

Once the woven cloth was stitched in place and the excess removed, I then “painted” it with matte medium. This not only adheres the 2 layers of cloth, but also stops the woven cloth from unraveling. I succeeded with my vision and I’m ready for the next steps.

Although some people map out their plan, I like the challenge of not knowing. The vision drives me. Most of the time I can work around the obstacles. Usually what saves me is my arsenal of ideas. Mediums are not something quilters usually keep on hand, but other artists do. Because I have exposed myself to many different art techniques, my “toolbox of ideas” is full. And, my stash of supplies is diverse. Classes are a great way to learn new things.

I encourage you to take classes and experiment. Don’t be disheartened if you take a class and find you’re not good at it. You will likely always learn something new when you take a class. Understanding what you like and don’t like is part of the learning process. The more you learn, the more options you have. The bigger the tool box, the less likely you’ll ever truly feel stuck when creating.

Count my blessings

Sometimes life is like a pile of scraps. A heap of bits and pieces. Tiny shards of bigger projects or dreams.

My studio is a mess. We’re taking time this month to do some much needed renovations around the house. Although my life feels a bit chaotic right now, I keep the vision that things will be better when we move past this.

My studio space (a spare bedroom) is a mess. Everything is getting packed up in boxes and moved out. I’ve delivered 2 carloads of stuff to the local Restore and there will be more visits to come. I’m not a minimalist, but when you don’t move in 14 years, stuff starts piling up.  I think it’s a genetic trait because my siblings are collectors too.

Most of what I keep are treasures to me. The bits and bobs may be packed away in a box…but when I find them, I’m flooded with happy memories. Some things find there way out of my life via trips to the donation centers. Then other things, the box gets shut and put away until our next encounter.

Not to be forgotten in all of this is my art/textile supplies! These items are treasures at a much different level. If you’re reading this maybe you can relate to this type of — shall we say — “curating.” Patterns, books, yarn, fabric, paints, markers, rulers, threads and scissors!! I may not use some of these items for a few years, but when I need them I’m happy to know I don’t have to go shopping. For example, the “I’m over it” fabric became useful making masks this year. And… all the wool I’ve collected found itself resurrected as a felting class! My former years as an avid cross stitcher paid off when I discovered slow stitching and mindful mending. I have plenty of floss to keep me busy.

As I reflect on all that I have, I’m reminded, as always,  to count my blessings.

 


 

Be kind to you!

Tenacity…is my word for today. The Cambridge Dictionary defines it as “the determination to continue what you are doing.” With just a few more weeks left, I think most of us could use this word to describe how we got through this year.

Over the last 8 months, I’ve had many conversations with creative friends about how we are surviving these times. Tenacious describes each of us. Sometimes it is as basic as the having motivation to get out of bed. Other times it is having the chutzpah to change direction, move out of our comfort level or learn new skills.

I can honestly say, I have many levels of motivation this year. I find the solution is self-care. It is OK to have a bad day, week or month. You’re not alone, we all have them. The tenacity comes from recognizing how you feel and, at your own pace, continue to move toward a goal.

What do you want? How do you get there? Even simple tasks can be broken down into manageable pieces and accomplished in steps to challenge yourself to move forward. Keep in mind, if it doesn’t go as planned, just start over again tomorrow. It’s OK if you move slow, you’re still moving. And, remember along the way to always be kind to you!

 

 

Want to learn more about me? Check out my latest YouTube video here: https://youtu.be/YK8XDXuBwQk

What brings you joy

The past couple weeks I have been working on a commission art quilt. I’m re-making my “Goldfinch in My Garden” quilt from the Sacred Threads Backyard Escape exhibit. It’s not going to be exactly the same, but very similar. This new version will be part of a permanent collection at INOVA Schar Cancer Institute – Fair Oaks in Fairfax, VA.

It’s kind of fun re-visiting something I made before. The best part is I KNOW how it’s suppose to go together. Usually when I make something new, the entire process is play it by ear. I envision how something will work, but I’m not that sure that it will. This time around the construction was much easier.

The size of this quilt is different. I knew I was going to make the same goldfinch, but it needed to be larger. The new quilt is square versus the rectangular version I made last time.  The process of making the applique bird is the same. I documented it on a new YouTube video that you can watch here. I’m having fun making these videos, so expect to see more soon.

I’m also working with the Global Quilt Connection (GQC) again. So many of us want to take classes and with this pandemic our opportunities are limited. So GQC is partnering with teachers who offer online classes for individual enrollment. After I finish this commission piece, I will be back to work on building new classes. My plan for early next year is to offer some live Zoom classes you can sign up for where we can create together. GQC is offering teachers, like me, the opportunity to show what we offer in classes. There are some great teachers lined up to present. So if you’re craving some new ideas on things to do from home be sure to check out the presentations at http://globalquiltconnection.com/studentmainpage.html. I will be presenting on November 17th.

I hope you are staying inspired and finding time for your creative passions. Above all things…find time for what brings you joy!

 

We shall see

Over the past few months, I’ve spoken to several of my friends about how they are coping with this “new normal.” Everyone I know seems to be re-evaluating what’s important to them and trying to figure out where they belong.

Speedweve tool for mending holes in cloth

I have frequently written about the treadmill mentality. Every day you step on the treadmill and let the belt drive your movement. Sometimes there are so many things coming at you that there’s no time to think, you just have to keep moving…and sometimes it feels like you’re not going anywhere. This covid situation has broken the patterns.  Most of us were given forced time to stop.

Now what? The future we planned isn’t there. Those of use who are working artists/teachers are forced to find new ways of working or be unemployed. For some, this is a good thing, because they received the extra push they needed to finally retire or stay home to care for their family.

What I’ve noticed is, creative people don’t stop being creative. They find another way to focus their creativity. Maybe they move into the kitchen and experiment with cooking. Or they change their focus from art quilting to making functional quilts (blankets) for family. How are you coping?

I personally have started pulling out materials in my stash that I haven’t used in awhile. My wool for felting, that I excessively hoarded a few years ago, has become an opportunity to explore and share a fun craft (see my classes at Artworks Vass). I’m also going through craft books that I purchased over the years and revisiting ideas.

Unfortunately, there aren’t any fabric stores within 25 miles from my home. So, I’m forcing myself to use what I have. By reading the books, I’m re-thinking how I buy and use fabric. I’ve become fascinated with mindful repairs and hand stitching. It’s a calming, productive use of time.  I’m pondering how I can use these skills going forward. Do I keep them as handy projects to keep me busy while watching TV?  Or does it become part of my art form? We shall see.

 

 

Sewing with you

Yesterday I had the pleasure of taking a live Zoom class presented by the talented Jodi Ohl. I have been building my own virtual classes, but I found it fun to be on the other side of the screen. I don’t have plans to be a painter like Jodi, but I know that taking classes in another media helps make you a stronger artist. Inspiration can hit you when you explore new approaches or ideas.

It was interesting to be the student yesterday because I realized how much fun it was to take a Zoom art class. I didn’t have to pack my supplies and carry them out of the house, then carry them home again. The class was late in the evening and I didn’t have to worry about driving home at night. I was comfortable working in my own space and didn’t have to dress up. At one point, I realized I forgot one of the items on the supply list. Well, good news, I didn’t miss out on anything…I just walked to the other room and grabbed it. (Note: You don’t know how many times one of my students forgot a part for their sewing machine.) I was able to work along with Jodi, but there some times where I just watched her and that was OK. I felt like I was having a relaxed private lesson with a front row seat. Another interesting big perk I noticed was at break time, I didn’t have to stand in line to use the privy.

Having participated in many Zoom “meetings,” I was really surprised at how much fun and comfortable a Zoom class was. With the current restrictions, it’s not a safe to attend in-person classes. All indications seem that online classes are going to stick around well after we return to normalcy. People, like me, are seeing all the benefits and wanting more.


This is why I want to take a minute to tell you about my online and virtual classes. My online classes are on-demand (listed here) and, after enrolling, are available to you 24/7. My live classes and lectures (listed here) are meant for groups, guilds, shops, libraries or other organizations. I offer the live presentations through video teleconferencing technology (e.g, Zoom). If you’ve ever wanted to take a class from me, now is a great time to do it. Besides the perks I listed above, I can “virtually” teach anywhere in the world and neither of us would have to leave our homes.

If you prefer to take a live class, I plan to schedule some virtual classes in the near futures. (Make sure you sign up for my newsletter to keep informed.) Also, many organizations are currently scheduling programs for 2021. If you belong to or know of a group which offers programs, I would be honored if you shared this post with them. And, until I see you again, I’ll look forward to sewing with you!

Show for it

My first art exhibit for 2020 is happening this week. On Friday at the Arts Council of Moore County’s (ACMC) Campbell House Galleries, I will be participating in the opening reception for Art in Quarantine.

Early into the shut down, ACMC started a online publication called Moore ArtShare-Covid Edition. It offered an opportunity for regional artists to share their recently completed artwork. My sketches were some of the first entries in the publication.

With the great success of ArtShare, ACMC decided to open up the gallery to artist in the county who had created new works since the pandemic started. I entered 2 pieces:

Dreaming of Tomorrow” is digital artwork made using one of the series of sketches I drew this spring. You may know me as a textile artist or quilter and my find this entry a bit unusual for me. It’s really not. My art quilts are frequently created using sketches and digitized designs I use to make applique patterns. I just jazzed this piece up a little with some fun Photoshop colorizing.

A Sewists Response to Covid-19” is a facemask I made for this exhibit. I created about 150 protective masks this year. My efforts combined with other sewists in the area, collectively produced thousands of masks which most were given away to those in need. I wanted to represent our effort because a sewist’s “art” is frequently overlooked, yet very important to comforting people during good times and bad. My “artsy” mask is sewn from fabric I shibori-dyed a few years ago. After assembling the mask, I spent hours hand-stitching the embroidered embellishments. This stitch technique is known as slow-stitching and is very mindfulness meditative practice. I didn’t have a plan, I just stitched as the inspiration guided me.

I use to hate hand sewing, but recently I’ve learned to embrace it. I don’t worry about what my stitches look like, I’m only concerned with the feeling that I need to do something. Being stuck at home for so many days, missing my friends and family, I can stitch when time allows and contemplate about all of it. Any idle time doesn’t seem so wasted when, in the end, I have something to show for it.


Art in Quarantine

October 2-30, 2020
ACMC Campbell House Galleries
Virtual Opening Reception:  Fri., October 2 at 6p via Facebook Live

It is important to you!

I assume if you’re reading this that you are someone who explores art and finds that it is your passion. So I ask, what’s with self-doubt? So many artists have this underlying struggle of “am I good enough?”

This “covid situation” has really rattled a lot of us. Professional artists are scrambling to re-establish themselves and pondering if they should just toss in the towel. Venues are shut down and businesses are permanently closing. It’s difficult to get the “fix” we one received from outside sources and support groups. For some, income is gone or significantly reduced. And for the professional artists, it’s just a lot of work to keep up with the business side of making art, especially when you’re not making money doing it.

Then there’s family, work, health, fitness and the creative desires all pulling at our time, thoughts and heart. At any given time, what gets the priority?

Right now most of us are dealing with some self-doubt and pondering our futures. I’ve been talking to a lot of friends and we all seem to be dealing with things in different ways. How do we move forward when we still have uncertainty about what is ahead? It’s definitely challenging times.

I’ve been coping by focusing on what I can do and segmenting my time through task management. The last two months, I spent a lot of time developing 2 online classes. Now through October, I have to focus on a couple of art projects. The immediate task at hand becomes my priority. Those that are less priority stay idle while I wait for a few spare moments to give them my attention. Even though, I’m working slowly, I’m still moving forward. When I start having self-doubts, I stop and think about what I have done and not dwell on what is waiting to get done. I will eventually get to the important things.

If your creativity is a passion, then it is also important. Don’t give up on it. Find little projects that you can pick up while watching TV or attending Zoom meetings. Start a bigger project (or work on one in progess) and work on it when you have a few minutes. An example might be piecing fabric for a quilt. You have 15 minutes while dinner is in the oven, then go sew a couple squares. If your projects need a larger chunk of time, like basting a quilt or dyeing fabric, then check your schedule for an opening and set it as a priority task for that day.

I know this is sometimes easier said that done. I get frustrated when I’m don’t feel I’m moving efficiently enough. And, I sometimes there’s doubt; “Why am I bothering? Who really cares?” … If you truly have the passion, you know who cares ….  You Do!  So, don’t forget to feed the passion, because it is important to you!

 

Feed your soul

I have a pretty big to-do list for the next few month. Less computer work and more time in the studio manipulating fabric. I’m looking forward to this change of focus. It’s always a challenge to find the right balance of creativity and business time. Both are equally important to me. For other’s it might be more about finding time in your daily life for your creative outlets.

In my life, I try to include events and activities that encourage my creative being. I don’t want to lose the joy of creating by focusing only on the commercialization of art. I frequently find projects that are just fun. Sometimes I just want to do mindless knitting or sew squares of fabric together for no other reason than just to sew.

Earlier this year, I challenged myself to spend a few minutes every day drawing in a small sketchbook. I didn’t set a specific time limit, but I usually didn’t give it more than an hour. Over the past few days I have been flipping through these sketches. Some I think are ok, others not so much. Some I’m considering making into an art quilt.

If you are a creative person, I think it’s important to find time for your art. It doesn’t have to amount to anything specific. You don’t even have to show it to anyone, if you don’t want to. I just encourage you to find time for it. I promise it will feed your soul.

 

 

Your purpose will find you

After the initial Covid-19 shut-down, I’m finally feeling like my life is having direction again. There’s been a cloak of depression hanging onto many of us. Even Michelle Obama described it in a recent podcast. When I think of my feelings over the last few months, I know I was feeling depressed. Everything I was looking forward to and aiming for was gone. There was no alternate path to take, or at least I couldn’t see it.

Without a path forward we can feel stuck and lose motivation. A while back I heard a quote from Cathy Heller (singer/songwriter, podcast superstar) that changed my thinking. She said, “the opposite of depression is purpose.” As I look back over the past few months, I realize that’s where my mild depression was coming from. I had no purpose to drive me.

Sure there was the usual things; getting up and caring for the family, or going for a walk and paying bills. But was that exciting enough to stay motivated? No. Most of it could wait until another time. Purpose can drive you to get up each morning. The fact that you could have an impact on someone’s life is an awesome purpose to have. To know someone/something is waiting on you, can provide the drive to get the work done.

To me, purpose can also be accountability. If I decide not to walk the dog today, no one will hold me accountable, except maybe my dog (oh, how they love to give guilt trips!). If you decide not to clean the house, will anyone care?

For me, purpose and accountability are the keys to moving forward. Sometimes the accountability comes from within yourself. You can set a goal and aim for accomplishment. But, if you don’t have an outside source to keep you to your word, you may give up and go back to binge-watching Netflix.

I think this is so important to our lives as creatives. Over the last few months, I had a couple opportunities pass my way and I took them. They catapulted me onto other projects. People are depending on me. I see purpose and accountability when 3 months ago there was none. I feel a drive to show up every day.

If you feel stuck, I encourage you to still show up. If you can’t create, then just go into your space and be with the tools you love. Share with someone what you want to do. Or just write it down on paper. No guilt trips, just be kind to yourself. Your purpose will find you.