Category: Nature Inspired Art

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.

 

 

Science project

Lately, I’ve been spending a lot of time reflecting on who I am and what I believe. Some things you train to do and some things you just are. I think we are born with certain personality traits and some we learn.

As I reflect on my life, I know I am a scientist. I always have been. As a kid, I would spend all day playing in the yard; picking flowers, looking at bugs, playing with worms, hugging trees and discovering my environment. I also had a passion for art. My mom encouraged me to do arts, crafts and draw. In high school I had a major in art and took several art classes in college. My major in college was environmental science.

My brain is wired for both science and art. I question things. Always at the forefront of my thinking is why did, or do, things happen? But how does that connect with my art? Sometimes I seem both left- and right- brain dominant. Until recently, I never could connect it.

The other day I was watching Quilting Arts TV (episode 2603). Susan Brubaker-Knapp was talking with Lauretta Crites about the creative challenge of making art quits. With art quilts, you sometimes come up with an idea that doesn’t work. So, you have to go back to the drawing board, ponder it awhile and come up with an alternative method to complete your vision. Susan made the comment that this is why she enjoyed making art quilts, because you are always figuring out how to do something. ~ Insert LIGHT BULB moment! ~

It all makes sense. I’m attracted to this form of art because it is a scientific process. I come up with an idea (hypothesis) and try to make it work. I may make a pattern, but my materials may not work as well as I envisioned. Do I go back and try again…or do I continue forward and find another approach. Making art quilts is like doing a science project. I present my idea, compile my methods and materials, and see what results. My final artwork represents the conclusion of what worked and what didn’t. And with this, I discovered why an art quilt is like a science project.

 



You can watch me on the Global Quilt Connection Meet-the-Teacher Event on YouTube:
Click here

Hope you are too

I am definitely not a fan of hot humid weather. This far into the the summer, I’m kinda over it. I wish. Like that’s an option. Here in the south we probably have another month or so of this sticky stuff. We’ve also had a lot of rain this year. So between the rain, heat and humidity, it’s not much fun being outside.

Fortunately, I’ve had reason to stay inside. This past week I was developing a 3-minute promo video for Global Quilt Connection. This group was created by Lyric Kinard and Sue Bleiweiss and is an opportunity for teachers in the industry to promote their virtual group lectures and classes. If you’re part of a group or guild that hires presenters this is a great opportunity to meet the teachers. I will be presenting next Wed, Sept 2 from 4-6pm (EST). You can sign up to watch it live or wait and watch it on Youtube. Find out more by clicking here: globalquiltconnection.com/events.html

Now that the promo video is completed, I’m working on updating my website and developing my next online class which I expect to launch it in October. Stay tuned.

So the good news is, during this hot weather, I’m staying cool and keeping busy doing indoor stuff. While I’m in my studio, I get a good view of my backyard and can watch the birds visiting my feeders. I get to see some interesting birds, like the cute little towhee (above). So even though I’m not getting out as much as I’d like, I’m still enjoying the summer. I hope you are too!

 

Priority and ritual

When you wake up in the morning, what drives you to get out of bed? My drive comes from a feeling of purpose. Each morning I awake with the need to get the dogs out and fed. They have an internal alarm clock and we have developed a ritual which requires my participation.

Having purpose keeps us going. Without purpose, we tend to flounder. Whether our purpose is developed from internal needs (e.g., eating) or external obligations (e.g., job), it provides direction and guidance into how to proceed each day.

Finding purpose can also relate to how we embrace making art.  Sometimes creative purpose can just be a strong feeling of “I want to make this.” Other times, you might need to create something for a gift or maybe to sell.

When other obligations have higher priority in our lives, our creative time may be neglected. Highly creative people need to find balance. When we reduce are creative time, we can develop symptoms of depression, like feeling tired or sad. Our purpose is creating and when it’s missing we feel it emotionally.

It’s OK to feel this way. Sometimes life gets crazy and there’s little time to make art. But, it’s also important for creatives to carve out time for our art. Look at your calendar, find a block of time, set a date, and leave yourself written reminders. Give this gift to yourself, you deserve it. And just like your reason for getting out of bed, if you believe creativity has purpose in your life, then it also needs priority and ritual.

 

We travel through life

I’ve been busy the last week working the final touches of my new online class “Paint with Thread.” I will be opening enrollment in the next couple days. So, if you want to be the first to know … make sure you’re subscribed to my NewZ-letter.

Thread painting is one of my favorite things to do. It’s actually one of the things that got me started doing mixed-media textile art. I’ve always loved working with textiles and started making traditional quilts in the 2001. I was quickly hooked and started devouring it. I was making log cabin and nine-patch blocks like crazy! I got so inspired with quilting that I got a job technical editing quilting books.

The first book I edited was Joyce Becker’s “Beautifully Embellished Landscapes.” Editing that book opened my eyes to something besides sewing squares and strips together. I was really amazed with her techniques and chuckled at how she used dryer lint … a brilliant way to create snowy mountain tops!

After many years of being exposed to textile artists like Joyce, Susan Brubaker-Knapp, and Jane Davila, I caught the mixed media bug. And soon, I tried my hand at thread painting and liked it!!

In 2010, I decided to use the technique to create a portrait of my recently deceased dog, Storm. His portrait eventually made its way to fame by becoming Mr. September for Quilting Arts 2012 calendar [sadly this was the last year QA published the calendar]. Up until then, I had only played around with mixed-media textiles. I’m pretty sure “The Perfect Storm” was my first art quilt. Isn’t it kind of crazy how we travel through life?

 

 

 

Lyric Kinard and Sue Bleiweis are hosting the free Global Quilt Connection. If you’re looking to hire virtual teachers for classes or lectures, this is the place to start. This live event will introduce you to 90 instructors, shared through 3 meet-the-teacher virtual presentations. Learn more at Global Quilt Connection. You can see me Wednesday, September 2, 2020 from 4-6pm EST.

Keep practicing

Before and after – color pencil on fabric applique

I recently listened to graphic designer Adé Hogue on the Creative Pep Talk podcast. Adé, who’s also an athlete, compared art to being an athlete. No one ever tries a sport for the first time and expects to be good at it right away. For example, if you started running today, you probably wouldn’t get too far and you’d very likely be sore as your muscles recovered from the new workout. For that reason, you probably shouldn’t expect to run (and win) a marathon tomorrow.

This very thing is true for art. It’s not like you will pick up a guitar today and expect be a virtuoso tomorrow. It takes training and lots of practice. Also, when we step away from our craft for awhile we need to ramp up on the training to bring ourselves back to speed.

I can relate to this comparison, because, as an artist and a teacher, I find we sometimes want to be exceptionally skilled as beginners. We also expect our skills to remain high after taking a break from our creative habits.

I know I feel that way right now. I’m learning some new technology and I’m slowly plugging away, learning every step of the way. I’ve also taken a break from my art and find it a bit challenging to feel comfortable with my tools. It’s OK. It just means we have to keep practicing.

Go be it

When things change, I believe we have to adapt to those changes; the proverbial “making lemons into lemonade.” I find it interesting how people are embracing technology right now. What’s odd for me is a couple decades ago, I faced the same need to embrace it.

In the late ’80s and early ’90s, I was opposed to my husband purchasing a home computer. (note: he often reminds me of this fact.) Well, he bought a PC with Windows 3.0 installed and the big old, truly “floppy” discs. The man frequently had to fix the things I messed up. I was in graduate school at the time and had to build my computer skills. So it really was beneficial for me to get comfortable with this, then, new technology.

When I graduated, I found a job that again needed computer skills. I discovered I was becoming proficient with this stuff and actually kind of liked it. Fast forward a couple years and I, again, found myself unemployed. I started teaching computers at the community college and volunteered to teach a “new” coding language called HTML (a simple computer language that creates web pages). One catch was I had to learn it first. At the time, it was an oddity. Hardly anyone owned a computer and few wanted to learn how to use one. Nobody seemed to know what email was, the World Wide Web was in it’s infancy, and I found myself building webpages and e-commerce sites.

Circumstances continued to force me to adapt to the changes in my life, which leads me to now. I’m faced once again with the need to adapt. For the longest time, I didn’t like to share my diverse journey. But, now it fascinates me how every step along the way…no matter how odd it seemed at the time…the decisions I made lead me to today. I am once again learning new technology and using it in my profession.  In a couple weeks, I will be opening registration for my newest online class: Paint with Thread.

Looking for innovative answers to life’s challenges is a creative process. Just like making art, our brains envision something that didn’t exist, then considers the options and implements the action. I hope you are seeking innovative solutions and considering all the possibilities for your future. While we’re working through this challenging time, I also hope you consider the Avett Brothers’  advice to “decide what to be and go be it!”

 

 

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Find respite in art

The summer heat is finally here in the southern US. I’m one of those people who hates hot weather. For the next 3-4 months, I’ll be stuck inside most of the day breathing only stale conditioned air. We had a long cool spring, so I’ll try not to complain too much. With the long summer days, I’m more motivated to work on a my art. Good natural light helps.

I’m working on a piece that was inspired from a photo I took last fall (right). I was on a long, solo hike through coastal redwood forests of Northern California. Along the route, I would stop and take photographs. At one of my stops, an Anna’s hummingbird came in to see what I was doing. It was such a lovely encounter with this curious bird. I created a sketch from the photo and now I’m rendering it in fabric.

As I work on this piece, my thoughts go back to that adventure. I remember how I was feeling and why I was on this trip, taking this solo walk. And, now working on this art piece during the heat of the summer, I’m reminded how cool it was that day. I can feel the coolness, hear the sounds, and see how the day appeared.

It’s funny how making art ignites our senses and emotions. Fabric also has a way of bringing back memories. If you work with fabric, have you every gone through your stash, found a piece of fabric and remembered exactly how you acquired it? My mother’s been dead for over 43 years, but I have some fabric that was her’s and I remember the shorts she made using it.

With all the craziness going on in our world right now, are you taking time to make art? Creating is a way to sink deeper into our thoughts. It allows a little escape from the reality, but also gives us time to process how we’re feeling. If you’re feeling uneasy with life right now, I encourage you to escape and find respite in art.

 

 

 

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What are you passionate about?

The gyms in my town have been closed because of Covid-19. So I set up a makeshift place in my house to work out. It’s a little nook in a hallway at the top of my stairs, just outside my studio door (a spare bedroom). Just some free weights, a yoga mat, a TRX strap and … my design wall.

For the past three months, I’ve been working out in this space with my fabric birds on the wall. When I made my “Backyard Songbird Series I” quilts a couple years back, I made 2 sets of each bird applique. The little critters on the wall are the flock that didn’t get used. Looking at them almost everyday has had me thinking about what to do with them. (Ok…actually its not really that I’m thinking about them, they seem to be looking at me and nagging.) There needs to be a “Songbird Series II.”

While I’ve been in lock down, I also took advantage of the great spring we had (note: right now it’s hotter than heck and oppressively humid, but the spring was good). My bird feeder set up attracts some really interesting species. The red-headed woodpecker (RHWO) is a regular guest at Château de Nanette. I’ve been trying to photograph the birds who visit and use the images for the second series. (You can see on the design wall that I did create an RHWO for the first series.) Maybe I need to do something a little more complex this time.

Anyway, my bird feeders are an escape for me. They are positioned so you can see them from any window on the north side of my house. And see them I do! You can frequently find me gazing out a window and looking at who’s visiting. It’s a passion and it translates into my art.

To me this is what finding your voice means, to find an idea or technique that you’re passionate about. Your work doesn’t have to mean anything or speak for you, but it resonates energy. Have you ever thought about artistic voice? Do you have one? If not, do you want to have one? What are you passionate about?