Category: Uncategorized

May take me awhile

I’m still catching up on things and doing more “business” oriented tasks than artwork. Any creative work I’m doing I’m categorizing as exploration, experimentation, and/or slow stitching. This is a great way to stay creative when real production work isn’t happening. All you need is a little bit of down time to make progress.

Last year I started following a number of artists on Instagram who do slow stitching. I became instantly fascinated by this boro (reuse/mend) trend. I always hated hand stitching because I don’t have the patience to do it neatly. As, I looked at these creations my heart started craving it. My sewing skills started at an young age (under 10), when my mom encouraged me to do hand work; embroidery, crochet, hand sewing, etc. So this “new” vintage style really connects with me on a personal level. This stuff isn’t all that new to me.

They call it slow stitching because it’s just that…using your hands to sew, which, compared to a sewing machine, is a slow method. With the boro style sewing, you tend to use long running stitches to hold fabrics together. This type of stitching can really get you in a meditative/mindful state which is good for your mental health.

One of my more recent slow-stitch projects is about complete. I used indigo fabrics and pearl cotton thread to assemble this little bag that’s a perfect size for a cell phone, keys and a small wallet. It would make a nice little purse, but it needs a strap.  I tried buying some nice cording, but I don’t have many options around here and couldn’t find much online. I did have some wool yarn that would look perfect as a strap and I have a lucet tool that makes a hand-braided cord. So I popped open a Youtube video this morning to learn how to work this simple tool and I’m ready to go. Stay tuned, this may take me awhile …

 


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

Have you ever thought why?

I’ve been noticing lately that I tend to re-create certain themes. Over the past few years, I’ve created a number of pieces that contain butterflies, bees, birds and trees. For example, I’ve created art using this little koi fish at least three times.

Koi fish have a powerful life force which is demonstrated by their ability to swim upstream. In some cultures, koi are associated with good fortune, success, longevity, courage, ambition and perseverance. I like to think that there’s some underlying symbolism in what I do.  But, maybe there’s not. Maybe I just have fond memories of watching these fish swim. They have such a playful way of gliding through the water, interacting with each other. Whatever the reason, I enjoy finding new ways to use these fish in my art.

When you’re creating, do you find yourself attracted to certain designs or colors? Have you ever thought why?

You’ve got this

Last week in my blog, I remembered the little girl I used to be. Part of my reason for looking back in time is because I continue to move forward. Today I am opening up a new chapter in creative my life. I don’t know where this will lead me, but I know I am doing something that I often thought about doing (I’ll tell you more next week).

In the past I wondered, why can’t I do this? Maybe it wasn’t the right time, maybe I really wasn’t ready. Anyway I look at it, I realize it’s been a long journey since that little girl was finger painting in kindergarten. What’s next? I have some ideas but what’s the rush?

I want to take some time and reflect on my journey. Sometimes we set milestones, but when we reach them we don’t take the time to appreciate where we are or how we got here. We always seem to rush onto the next step. But, really, how did I get here? I didn’t roll out of bed yesterday and suddenly make this decision. I realize it’s been a very long road full of trial, error and learning. Sure there’s been some set-backs along the way, but even on my darkest days, I was always moving forward.

Think about where you are in life. Even if there are things in life that you’re wanting, I bet there are plenty of things you can appreciate about where you are right now. I say congratulations!! because you made it to today. Nothing has stopped you from moving forward. I bet you had days that were worse than today and some that were better. You’ve worked hard to get here and there’s more to come. Don’t give up now. You’ve got this!

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.

Just show up and try

After writing about fear last week, a friend reminded me that one thing creative people fear is rejection. This is definitely an issue for me and most creative people I know. Generally, creative people work alone in their studio, pouring their heart and soul into their latest creation. Some find support groups to critique their work and offer productive feedback. But, for the most part, the creative process is solitary.  Eventually you’re proud enough of what you’ve accomplished and declare the “masterpiece” is ready for human consumption.

It takes a lot of courage to put your work out there. When the art hits the public eye, the reality sets in. People will have a opinion; good or bad. You always hope for positive feedback, but you never really know. Some creatives are so worried about negative feedback, that they refuse to put their work out for anyone to see. Other’s have no fear and really don’t care what other people have to say. Rejection is difficult, but over the years I’ve become more confident dealing with it. I’m believe people who may reject my art, aren’t rejecting me.

When I’m looking at someone in the eye, I’m pretty those with negative feedback won’t tell me what they “really” think. For this reason, I like to eaves drop in on people when they view my work. Doing this I’ve overheard someone say what I made was “hideous!” Or there was a time when a woman critiqued the way I quilted something.  I was also shocked the first time a 30-something woman viewed my oil can quilt and pondered why my subject was toilet plungers. Her comment made me do a palm-plant to my forehead . “Oy!” (P.S. I later learned it’s was a generational issue.)

So how do you handle fear of rejection? I notice I’ve grown a greater tolerance to negative feedback and rejection. However, I don’t think the fear of rejection will ever completely go away. I try to accept the negative comments as just an opinion, because I can’t please everyone.  Sometimes after the hurt fades, I realize that the comments offered good ideas and give me inspiration for improvement. Above all, I’ve learned the best thing to do is just continue to show up and try.

What fear is holding you back?

Lately, I’ve been thinking alot about fear. I’m beginning to realize that it’s not an acceptable topic for adults to talk about. It seems like unless it’s a major crisis in someone’s life (death, illness, tragedy, etc) our sense of fear (anxiety) is not considered realistic. I don’t understand this because we all experience some fear in our lives.

Some people are fear junkies who live on the edge of life, jumping out of planes or climbing high mountains. Surely, they experience fear, because one false move could end their lives and they know it. These are hyper-adrenalin seekers. We view them differently because they do things so extreme, with apparently no fear. They are super-human. We might even ask them if they’re scared. They laugh with casual response like its nothing to walk across the Grand Canyon on a tight rope.

But what about the fear of making a change or doing something out of the ordinary for yourself? We often allow these “milder” fears to stop us in our tracks and give up on our plans.  Sometimes it’s scary to move on with a project, so why not just give up? We can settle back into our “comfort” zone and just ignore the desire which set us into thinking about a new opportunity.

I think it’s important to be open about our fears and discover why they may stop us. Sometimes we fear the unknown. Other times it might be fear of failure, success, or a simply fear of change. Generally, none of these fears are usually life threatening, but we allow them to cripple us from moving forward. Why is that?

What’s worse is when we speak of these fears, they’re acknowledged as trivial… “Oh honey, that’s nothing to be afraid about.”

I feel fear about some of the decisions I’ve made with my art. Recently, talking with some other artists, I realized I’m not alone. If we all experience it, why don’t we talk about it.

Fear can be a healthy part of self-development. For me, fear usually will either make me give up or make me fight harder. It all depends on my passion for the project and my desire to overcome the anxiety. I’m the only one who can decide. So, what fear is holding you back?

 

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

 

Good day

I’ve committed to some personal challenges this year. Last year I focused a lot of my time into making art for my solo exhibit. Now that that is behind me, I’m trying to make-up for some of the time I spent doing studio work. Its a good to spend time in the studio. However, now I have all this art in my possession, I need to get it out in the public and hopefully purchased.

This is the business side of making art, it is an entirely different skill set. Since the start of January (today is the 9th day), I have placed a collection of art work for sale into the hands of a local gallery. Two pieces were entered into consideration for an upcoming show. Five pieces were sent to the Fayetteville (NC) Arts Council for use in their exhibit opening January 25th. Three more are waiting on me to complete the finishing touches to submit to another call for entry with a deadline at the end of the month.

Its a little mind boggling to think that I have so many pieces of work, but that’s my outcome of 2018. Last year,  I dedicated the time to create. I’m still kind of struggling to get back into the swing of studio time, but I need to allow myself time to re-focus. The business stuff needs to get done too.

Being a professional artist is an ebb and flow of focus. You always have to keep an eye on short- AND long-range plans. You also have to keep your mind on the business at the same time you’re creating. Its a switch of left and right brain thinking. I feel a little awkward at times, like I’m on training wheels learning to ride a bike. There are always plenty of sudden starts and stops and collisions. However, each morning I remember that it is a new day. I have the opportunity to pick-up where I left off and start fresh with new vigor. Today is always a good day.