Give it a try

My wildflower garden continues to bring me entertainment. Over the past month, I’ve seen a variety of winged beauties visit the withering flowers. After walking the dog or taking out the trash, I stop and look for movement among the overgrown collection of flower heads. Lately there has been an interesting collection of butterflies and moths showing up.
You know it!!  These photos are generating textile inspiration!

My mind is wandering with ideas and I’m thinking about changing things up. I wonder if I should try something different? Its an energizing feeling, which also feels a bit stifling. Not because I’m stuck, but because I’m not sure about moving forward. I’m on a known road, safe to travel and less likely to find failure. Coasting is so much more relaxing, then pedaling uphill.

Unfortunately, coasting isn’t energizing. Am I excited about working with the same techniques? Well, I enjoy it… but my brain keeps telling me, “try it, you’ll like it.”

If you’ve been following me awhile, you know that many years ago I ran away from quilting. I was so fed up with my own personal negativity, so I stopped making quilts. I said, “this is suppose to be fun, but it isn’t.” I was tired of the quilt police nagging me every step of the way. So I ran off and explored mixed-media art which, interestingly, inspired be to come back to textile art with new energy. Because of this journey, I know that sometimes we have to push ourselves to find inspiration. Other times we find it by walking through open doors and exploring new ideas. And, then there are times where the ideas pop into our heads and we’re driven to give it a try.

 

 

footnote:
Have some fun! There are two possible outcomes to my “try it, you’ll like it” dilemma.
Pick one of these two YouTube video links to choose the outcome: Option #1 and Option #2 ]

 

Gifts that are meant to be shared

Work in progress – inspired by my wild flower garden

I openly admit I’m a “recovery perfectionist.” We start learning our behaviors when we are babies. Its been a long journey for me and it is hard to learn new things. In my life and my art, I’m constantly seeking new insight. I realize I will always be “recovering.” Growing. I love learning new things!!

I started reading “The Gifts of Imperfection” by Brene Brown. (I like her casual writing style.) Brene talks about the feeling of being enough which is letting go of what other people think and owning our story. Are we enough? Oh…don’t we all wonder about that?

Accepting who you are as an artist takes courage. We have to believe we are worthy. It is challenge for most of us to stand proud next to our art; to believe that what we create is good enough. People can be cruel and criticize, but we have to believe we are worthy. Believe in ourselves. This is so true even as we learn new skills… and, aren’t we always learning?

Before social media, I use to hide what I created. I can look back at things I made which might have been viewed as “failures.” They weren’t, they were actually learning opportunities. I kept trying. I think that is where it is important to have confidence to say it is “enough.” It is the confidence to say “its enough because I’m still learning” or “its enough because I’m still here willing to try.” Believing it is enough, is believing you are worthy!

I believe you are worthy and if you want to create, you should find a way. Our creative talents are gifts that are meant to be shared.

 

Watch how I made the purple flower:


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B9yQ9rl2vKY

 

On this creative journey

This past weekend I took a road trip to see the Sacred Threads art quilt exhibit in Herndon, Virginia. This exhibit was originally scheduled for July 2021 and was postponed until this year (we all know what was going on then).

The Sacred Threads exhibit is a biennial exhibition which was established as a way “to provide a safe venue for quilters who see their work as a connection to the sacred and/or as an expression of their spiritual journey.” For the past 3 events, I’ve had the honor of having my art selected to be apart of this exhibition. It is an extremely special event. What I didn’t know driving there was how important this year’s event was going to be.

The art quilt community is unique. We are kindred souls. We understand how important it is to create our art in a society that may only recognize our talents as common craft. Many of us have deep messaging behind what we create. Sacred Threads honors all of that. (Note: sadly, as I write this, it is uncertain if there will be another.)

As artists, we create because we are called to. And at gatherings like this, we are collectively understood by each other. No need to explain what we do, or why we do it. There are no quilt police looking at stitches per inch or accurate piecing. There are no critics making judgements on what is or isn’t good art. None of that matters, because we are purely expressing ourselves with textiles.

What struck me most was how good it felt to be among my peers. For many of us, it’s been a long time since we have gathered like this. I’ve missed them. Its been more than 2 years since the start of the pandemic. Meaning it is more than 2 years of being isolated on our journeys. Sure many of us have turned to video conferencing and social media to connect, but there’s nothing like seeing textile art in person. There is nothing like hugging a long time friend and seeing their smiling face looking back at you. And, there is nothing like knowing you’re not alone on this creative journey.

Inspiration to guide us

As I write this, most of the world is under extreme summer heat conditions. This year is truly a scorcher. Every day, I count my blessing that I have air conditioning that works and I don’t have to work outside. There are plenty of creative activities stashed in my studio waiting for my attention. I’m grateful I have lots to keep me occupied — inside!

Earlier this year I planted a “wild flower” garden along a retaining wall outside my garage. It has truly been a lovely distraction from the heat. I started with seeds, planted the seedlings and I’ve watched them grow (some now over 6 feet tall). Every couple of days the mini-ecosystem changes. First it was the bunnies that visited to dine on the young seedlings. Then, the bees came to pollinate the flowers. Now, its the goldfinches harvesting the seeds and the humming birds and butterflies gathering nectar. I look forward to what will happen after the sunflowers seeds mature. What will visit then?

I’ve seen more variety of activity in my yard this year than I ever have before. If you’ve been following me awhile, you already know that I’ve been taking tons of photos, too! The creative inspiration is overflowing. I love the fact that I can take these photos and render them into applique patterns. New art quilts are in progress!

The garden reminds me that we don’t have to go very far from home to find inspiration. Most people carry cell phones. If we find something interesting we can capture the image for future reference. Maybe its the colors of a sunset that we can use to select fabrics for a bed quilt. Or a building under construction that inspires an abstract design. So much potential everywhere we look. Its so nice to have these photos available, because when the creative energy strikes we have the inspiration to guide us.

 

________________________
Join me LIVE – July 31, 2022 – during Global Quilt Connections Sampler platter
I’ll be presenting a 15 minute demo on how to use placement guides when working with fusible applique.
Click here to learn more

 

A special honor

The Messenger is on another road trip. He arrived in Herndon, VA last week ready to be hung in the Sacred Threads exhibit July 14 – 24, 2002 (just 2 short weeks).

This is the 3rd time my work has been accepted into this very special show. You’ll understand why when you read the description from their website:

“Sacred Threads is an exhibition of quilts exploring themes of joy, inspiration, spirituality, healing, grief and peace/brotherhood. This biennial exhibition was established to provide a safe venue for quilters who see their work as a connection to the sacred and/or as an expression of their spiritual journey.

The objective is to create a dignified exhibition of artwork that touches on both spiritual and personal levels all those who view it. We want to share with others the experiences of quilters whose stories may be a source of healing and strength.

Entries to Sacred Thread Exhibitions are juried in by images for purposes of space and suitability of theme only. Works are not judged.”

I want to thank all the volunteers who make this wonderful exhibit happen, without you this exhibit would never be. To have my work selected, is truly a special honor.

_________________________________________

If you’re in the area, please find some time to visit:
Sacred Threads will be July 14-24, 2022.
Floris United Methodist Church, 13600 Frying Pan Road, Herndon, VA 20171
Hours:
Mondays – Saturdays: 10am – 5pm
Sundays: 1pm – 4pm

 

Not to give up

The day the world changed.

My creative inspiration has been a little lacking lately. I can’t tell you the last time I powered up my sewing machine. Luckily, I always have meditative hand-stitching and knitting to work on.

The world seems heavy some days, but I’ve been collecting ideas. I’m starting to create again.

As a creative, I think it’s ok to expect times like this. Some days you need to collect ideas and process what you’re feeling. We need to ask ourselves, do I interpret what I’m thinking into art or go for a walk?

As a young person, I was never very athletic. No one encouraged that in me. I was always the last to be picked when teams were selected in gym class. However, I always had my art and my creativity was my asset.

Last month I took this photo on top of Hogback Mountain, MI. We hiked to the summit, a steep 1.5 mile walk up with a 564 foot elevation gain. As we neared the summit, I almost gave up because I didn’t realize how close we were to the top. Just a few more steps and we were above the trees. I had to conquer my age old fear of falling, but I made it. There in the horizon stretched “gichi-gami” (Gitche-Gummee), aka Lake Superior. I made it. However, later that day I heard news that rocked my core beliefs. Now, it has me questioning everything.

I’m home now and sifting through my photos, trying to decide what I’ll create next. I can look at this image and see many things. This day hike reminds me so much of my lifelong journey.  I see the luck I’ve had with my health and my determination to stay strong. I see beauty in nature which inspires my creativity and peace that comes from walking among the trees. There’s also a determination to fight for what I believe in and my stubbornness not to give up.

Inspire your creativity

For me creativity also means curiosity. I’m very curious about things. I love exploring a new area and learn about its history. When I go out of town, I don’t want to go to the same old chain restaurants that are dotted along the interstates. I want to eat what the locals eat.

I also like exploring the geographic regions and the local towns. I get inspired by these things. Maybe I won’t be creating new art specific to what I saw…but I do come back with ideas. And, of course photographs.

This year I planted a “wild flower” garden behind a retaining wall along our driveway. This is the first time I’ve ever done anything like this. Every few days I stop and look at what’s happening with it. Early in the summer, the bunnies visited trying to eat the new seedlings I planted. Now that the flowers are maturing, some of the flowers are going to seed. So its the goldfinches who are coming to play and of course the bees visit too. I could watch for hours. Of course, I’m documenting with my camera.

I’m curious what will happen next. After my morning walks its always a pleasure to stop and take a moment to just be present. See. Document the changes. Its truly inspiring me. This little “experiment” has my curiosity going and it will definitely generate new art. The ideas are flowing.

What makes you curious? Does this curiosity inspire your creativity?

Spiritual journey

Last night, I was notified that my quilt, “Goldfinch in My Garden” has sold. Great!! news! Since then, I’ve been overtaken by a flood of memories and want to share them with you.

I made this quilt in 2019 and haven’t seen it since early 2020 when I shipped it to Virginia to be part of the Sacred Threads Backyard Escapes traveling exhibit. It is always an honor to have your art selected for an exhibit. I knew it would end it’s journey this year and I knew it was for sale. However, sometimes with special pieces you send them off and hope they come home.

I took the inspiration photo during a trip in 2019. I traveled a lot in 2019, which was something I didn’t do much of in years prior. I was full of energy and hope, enjoying life. Once in Virginia, it was selected to travel to a quilt festival in California. I was super stoked about that opportunity! I felt like I was on a roll. Then, something happened … uhm, … covid. Need I say more? The tour dates for this exhibit were put on serious hold while the world scrambled to deal with a pandemic.

Later in the year, I and several other Backyard Escapes artists were commissioned to re-create our quilts for a permanent installation at Inova Schar Cancer Center in Virginia. Super exciting news and such an honor! So, I made the quilt again, this time square and titled it “Contemplation.”

Now, as the Backyard Escapes tour ends, it will hang one last time during the Sacred Threads exhibit in Herndon, Virginia. All remaining unsold quilts are currently on sale through their website (view the sale page here). 25% of the sale going to Schar Cancer Center fund for Arts and Healing. As part of the Sacred Threads exhibit, my red shouldered hawk quilt “The Messenger” will be hanging nearby. If you’re in the area and want to treat yourself to some art therapy, please visit this dual exhibit. It holds such meaning for me and all the other’s artists participating. I hope you find similar meaning in your own artistic practice:

Sacred Threads is an exhibition of quilts exploring themes of joy, inspiration, spirituality, healing, grief and peace/brotherhood. This biennial exhibition was established to provide a safe venue for quilters who see their work as a connection to the sacred and/or as an expression of their spiritual journey.


Sacred Theads  14-24, 2022.
Floris United Methodist Church: 13600 Frying Pan Road, Herndon, VA 20171
Hours for the exhibit:
Mondays – Saturdays: 10am – 5pm
Sundays: 1pm – 4pm

 

Magic to enjoy

I’m currently reading Elizabeth Gilbert’s book “Big Magic.” I love reading these creative self-help books because it reminds me to let go. As you may know, I’m a long time, self-proclaimed, recovering perfectionist. There was a time when my perfectionistic behavior stopped me from doing. I even gave up quilting once, because “she” sat on my shoulder too long, nagging me. She’s still there sometimes, swinging her feet enjoying the view. I try not to let her get to me, but I sometimes I still hear her.

So I found it interesting to read Gilbert’s chapter called “Fear in High Heels.” Ouch, this struck close to the nerve. She writes that perfectionism is just fear. So very spot on. I have had these nagging dialogs in my head:

“what will they think?”
“what if I do it wrong?”
“what if I make a typo?”
“what if they don’t like it?”
“what if my stitches are crooked?”…what if, what if…
Rinse and repeat. Yah, stop, … so what!

I know, some days, easier said than done. Why didn’t I realize this was fear talking? When these thoughts start swirling around the drain or I edit my written words for the 500th time (note: I’ve been doing a lot of this the last couple weeks), there’s really just a little kid inside who fears going to the principle’s office. What she really should be doing is sitting there swinging her feet with a big grin, enjoying the magic that’s happening around her. There really is so much magic to enjoy.

Faux-Float Frames

I received good news in my email today…I was notified that an article I wrote for Quilting Arts Magazine will be in their Summer edition and on newsstands June 14th, 2022.

Over the last few years, I’ve had a number of people asked me how I frame my smaller quilts. I explain it in this article called “Faux-Float Frames for Art Quilts” and now you can read all about my process.

If you don’t have a subscription or local newsstand that carries Quilting Arts Magazine, you can order it here (available mid-June) https://www.quiltingdaily.com/product-category/magazines-ebooks/quilting-arts/

If you read the article, please let me know what you think.

Enjoy!