Category: The Journey

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!

 

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.

 

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!

 

Smile with our eyes

Life feels weird right now. Most of the time I go through my day without thinking about what is different than it used to be. Things become routine and you don’t think about them anymore. But, yesterday I felt gobsmacked.

I was scrolling through social media and stumbled on a video produced by the Virginia Quilt Museum. Like most museum and art galleries these days, they have produced virtual tours of their art exhibits ( www.vaquiltmuseum.org/virtual-tours ).  They recently produced a video tour of their Eye Contact exhibit. Eye Contact was originally produced for the 2019 Sacred Threads Exhibit and is now touring.

I watched this sweet video, with its serene music, while intently looking for my eyes. As I watched the artwork scroll across my screen, I couldn’t help feel sad. There’s irony here. When I made this quilt, I didn’t think about what it really meant. At the time, it was just an exercise in creative play and didn’t have much meaning to me.

While I was traveling early last year, I notice how my pupils looked square in our hotel so I took a photo. I take lots of photos of non-significant things. Sometimes they inspire me. And truly, this photo inspired me to work on a quilt to send to Eye Contact. When I see it, I think of traveling. Last year was a very fun year of travel for me.

Yesterday, while I watched the video and saw all these eyes scrolling past me, I was reminded of where I was in time. For one, no travel plans for me for while. That’s all been cancelled. And, when I go out in public, I no longer see faces on the people I meet. Instead, I see a mask and above that I see their eyes. While watching the video, I felt like I was seeing mask covered faces.

It was a peculiar experience thinking how a little more than a year ago we were in a different place. Back then, I would have never expected the Eye Contact exhibit to reflect our future, but it has. It’s poignant, and a little bit sad. I’m honored to be a part of this exhibit. It definitely means more to me now. When I created my eyes, I was unexpectedly looking into the future.

Now when I’m out in public, I frequently wonder if my mask-faced smile is worth the effort. Will anyone see it? My friends remind me that indeed … we do smile with our eyes.|

 

 

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.

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.

 

Be resilient

I’ve been spending a lot of time in front of my computer lately. Last week I published my newest online course Paint with Thread. I’m going to participate in the Global Quilt Connection next month (Wednesday, Sept 2, 2020 from 4-6pm) and have to start preparing for that. Yesterday was their first live broadcast. It was great to see such a diverse set of instructors (you can watch a recorded version here).

During all of this, it is difficult not to focus on why we’re here. Why am I, and all these other teachers, so eager to branch into this new territory?

I know so many people who have been making a living teaching. With the pandemic, venues are shuttered and many of us are wondering how to continue with our passion. I’ve talked to friends who are considering retirement. And other’s who are willing to take the financial risk and focus only on making their art. Some are making face masks and selling them…which is definitely not the same creative joy as making art. Then there are those of us, who want to continue teaching and see the potential in virtual education.

I have been talking about doing this for a couple years. Last year I was preparing for this opportunity, researching and buying equipment, and taking classes. The pandemic only forced everything forward in my list of priorities. Now there’s suddenly a need for online-instruction and I have more time on my hands.

When all of these changes became so real back in March, it’s funny how attitudes changed. At the beginning of all this, so many of us were so lost and frozen. The amount of disappointment we felt was overwhelming. It’s exciting to see new energy, but how long will it all last? All we can do is be resilient.

 

 

Join me and 29 other instructions as we share what we do in teaching our craft.
Global Quilt Connection
Wednesday, September 2, 2020
4-6pm EST

Hosted by Lyric Kinard and Sue Bleiweiss

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.

Finding balance

Right now I have, as my mom would say, many irons in the fire. I realized this week, with everything that’s happening in the world, that I don’t feel comfortable teaching in-person sewing classes. It is difficult to keep a social distance when you teach using a sewing machine. It’s important to see and help the students when things don’t go as expected. And, believe me, when you work with machines things happen. I’ve decided to postpone in-person machine sewing classes. However, in their place, I’ve revived one of my older classes, Art Felting which is scheduled for Saturday, September 12th at ArtWorks Vass in Vass, NC. (Keep a lookout on their website for time and registration. You can also sign up on the waiting list for my thread painting and sketch your pet classes.)

I’m am still working on editing videos for my up-coming online course called Paint with Thread. Stay tuned…I’m very, very close to opening it for enrollment. (If you want to be one of the first to know and receive some promos I have planned, make sure you’re signed-up for my newsletter.)

I’ve also received an opportunity to show what I’m with doing. Two top-notch art quilters, Lyric Kinard and Sue Bleiweiss, decided to pool their skills to promote online quilting teachers. Through their Global Quilt Connection website, they are presenting three virtual meet-the-teacher events representing 90 instructors who teach online. This is event is free for quilt guilds who are looking to find virtual classes/lectures to their members. If you’re interested in learning more sign up at the Global Quilt Connection website. My session is scheduled for Wednesday, September 2, 2020 from 4-6pm EST.

You can see that I’ve been pretty busy this past week. As always, I’m trying to keep a personal balance. I have an exhibit scheduled next summer at my local arts council. In order to have enough artwork for the show, I have to hoard as much of my artwork as possible. This all resulted in my need to let a few things go. Sadly, last week, I pulled all my artwork from a local gallery. Good and bad, life definitely requires finding balance.

 

 

Rhythms in your life

Lately, I’ve been thinking about rhythms and patterns in creating things. I think of them as a metronome that forms a beat to follow. Maybe the beat is for a specific task, like hand sewing hundreds of hexagons to create a quilt top or assembly-line sewing 50 face masks. As the process develops, you start out clunky, but then (hopefully) you develop a beat that runs through your head. First this, then this, then this…repeat. One, two, three…repeat. (Note: Knitting and crochet is also this way and is frequently written in “secret” code: *K2, P1, Sl1,* repeat.)

Rhythms also develop in our daily lives. Wake up, let the dogs out, grab your caffeine…repeat (the next day). When you get a new pet, new job, or start a new project, the daily routine shifts and the beat gets clunky. With luck, the rhythm forms quickly and you find your beat.

For most of my life, I’ve been aware of rhythms. As I write this, I’m hearing (and feeling) the 1, 2, 3 count and I’m finding comfort in the pattern. A rhythm can be like a good song that plays in your head as you go through the day.

This week I realized that I’ve felt out of sorts lately because the rhythm keeps changing. This year has been crazy for this. I’m seeking a beat, but the world around me keeps changing. On the days that I find my cadence, I feel more calm and accomplished. Lately, there have been many days where there isn’t anything to count. This is were rituals (or habits) come into play. You find something that’s repeatable on a daily basis. It’s important to find things you can repeat, because it puts order into your day: “I’ll do this, then I’ll do this and then I’ll do this…repeat.” I’m going to  focus some thought on this. Unfortunately, I’ve just never been that successful with forming daily habitual behaviors. Some of the one’s I’ve had (like going to the gym daily) have been broken due to the pandemic. There’s always room to change. We’ll see how it goes, right? Do you see any rhythms in your life?

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.