Category: Artistic Outings

Have the opportunity again

This past weekend, I had the opportunity to travel to Herdon, Virginia to be part of the Sacred Threads Artist Weekend. Sacred Threads is an art quilt exhibit held every other year which focuses on the spiritual side of making quilts. For this juried exhibit, artists were asked to submit quilts with statements that explain their story.

This was my first time entering this exhibit. To my great honor, my quilt “Soar” was accepted.

It’s always a treat to visit the exhibits where my quilts hang, but this time things were different. The emotional energy that’s in the building can’t be explained. Most quilt exhibits, you look at a quilt and move on, but in this exhibit you’re compelled to read the stories. More than once I was moved to tears reading the artist’s intent. Lisa Ellis and her team of volunteers also produce an audio tour of stories told by the artists and there’s the book, a big book, of all the quilts and artist statements. I didn’t have time to read all the statements while I was there, but I did buy the book and plan to read every one. I had the most fun, stalking fellow artists and asking them to autograph my book. It gave me a reason to have dialog with these talented people and personally learn about their artistic motivation.

During the weekend event, there was a special gallery viewing in which the artists stood by their quilts and talked about their art. Due to the traffic flow of show, I found my best observation point to be across from my quilt. I enjoyed the opportunity to observe people’s reaction to my piece. I had a great vantage point to see people’s reaction without them knowing I was there. I found that a lot of men were attracted to “Soar’s” large osprey wing. That intrigued me. Was it the size? Visual impact? Or that it didn’t look like a traditional quilt? I didn’t ask, but its an interesting tidbit for me. If you have the time to visit this week, I encourage you to go. If not, it will be 2 years before we have the opportunity again.

 

SEE MY QUILT “Soar” at the 
Sacred Threads Exhibition
July 7, 2017 – July 23, 2017
Floris United Methodist Church, Herndon, VA
www.sacredthreadsquilts.org

 

Emotions into a quilt

Last week I took a trip to visit my aunt in the San Francisco area. I use to visit a lot when I was younger. As I grew older, I had fewer opportunities to visit. Most of my visits as an adult kept me close to Silicone Valley. If you know the area, you know that it has it’s own distinct beauty, but it is also very congested with humans. Last week I visited Marin County, which, too, is over-populated, but contains some hidden natural gems; namely Muir Woods and Mt. Tamalpais.

Considering all the rain they’ve had the past few months, we were blessed with sunny weather each day. On one of these sun-filled days we took a drive up to Mt. Tamalpais. I was impressed with the vast mountainscapes (or as Californians would call them hillscapes) we discovered so near the urban sprawl. State and National Parks secure the forested lands and it was all breath-taking.

On our way down-hill, we made a side trip to Muir Woods National Monument. I don’t recall ever visiting this magical place before. As we strolled along the trails, I was overcome with awe over the gigantic Sequoia sempervirens. These trees, commonly known as the Redwoods, are massive and endangered specimens.

I don’t often have experiences like this, but I truly felt it was a spiritual encounter. I totally understand how John Muir (the monument’s namesake) viewed nature as a form of religion.

In some respects, the spiritual nature of my experience revolved around my concern over the continual loss of habit. My feelings were also due to the sheer size of these trees, reaching up to 380ft tall and 30ft in diameter; I felt small. It takes time to grow to this size, these trees are known to live 1200 to 1800 (or more) years old. I am very sure that the spirits I felt were greatly due to the age of these trees. They witnessed many evolutions of this coastal region. They emitted an energy and seemed powerfully wise, but I’m afraid few people actually stopped to listen.

Now that I’m home, I’m processing all of this and trying to figure out how I will interpret these emotions into a quilt.

 

On My Journey

Tres Dominea Lagerstroemia I’m safely home from last week’s journey. My sister and I traveled to Houston, Texas to visit the International Quilt Festival (IQF). If you remember, a few months back I posted that two of my quilts were accepted into the exhibit (read it here). It’s been about 7 years since the last time I went, but this is the first time that my quilts were hanging there.

It’s a humbling experience to see you work hanging amongst all the talent. I’m honored to have my work selected.

I’m also glad I went. The reason I decided to go was to experience the joy of seeing my quilts hanging on those black drapes. But, after my return I’m glad I went for other reasons.

Oil cans #3As I mentioned, I was pretty humbled by the talent in the exhibit. I returned home with a new sense of pride and determination. I’m not satisfied with my work. I want more out of it. Being at IQF made me realize that I still have work to do. I’m not willing to give up, but more determined to be “out there.” More serious about what I have to do.

If you’ve been following me awhile, you may notice that my website has changed. After returning from Houston, I put the necessary effort into giving my blog a facelift. You can now find me at www.nanettesewz.com . Expect to be hearing more from me. I hope you continue following me on my journey.

New Things to Inspire Me

campfire on the riverSometimes I think you need to just get away from it all. Since I spend most of my time in front of a computer, I found it quite refreshing to step away from the technology for a bit this past weekend. I wasn’t completely disconnected, I still checked email via phone every now and again.

At night we lit a campfire at the campsite along the river. It was nice to be part of the sunset instead of watching it through the windows of my house.

sunset on theriverI set up a tripod each night and practiced my skills at night photography. It took me quite a few shots to remember what I had to do. If the weather had cooperated more, I think I could have taken some exceptional photos. There were just too many clouds during this rainy weekend. And it wasn’t my tripod (drats, I forgot mine at home), so I didn’t have the flexibility that I was use to. In the end it all turned out pretty good anyway.

hobbit houseAt night I slept in a little hobbit house cabin where you could hear the river running all night long. Heavy rains this summer created some rapidly moving water. Such a wonderful site.

It just felt good to step away for a few days, visiting with friends and family. Seeing new sites. I like mini-vacations the best. Whenever I run away for just a couple of days, I always find new things to inspire me.

 

Overflowing with Happiness

Somewhere in the shuffle, I lost November. Is Thanksgiving really tomorrow? And I’m cooking? Wow! Lots to do. And of course nothing you do for Thanksgiving can be small, big bird, big pies … and can’t forget the sausage dressing…lots of it. OK, I’m getting hungry.

Thanksgiving is probably my favorite holiday. I like that we take the time to be thankful. Recently I summarized my year to a friend, I amazed myself in the process of doing so. Last year, I took a brave step to focus on my art and in the process I told myself to create what I want. Just let it happen. In return, I’ve received positive feedback and national recognition. Really? Me?

For example, just this week I received word that one of my art quilts has been accepted into a juried exhibit. The show produced by the Professional Art Quilters Alliance – South is called ARTQUILTSwater. Entrants were ask to interpret the theme “water.” I entered two quilts “Being Koi” and “Spigot.” Only one made the cut and that was “Spigot.”

Its funny how it came to be. I knew early that I would create “Being Koi,” but “Spigot” came as an afterthought. I was thinking water and a faucet appeared in my head. It goes back to my love of old rusty things. I had fun creating the water splashing out of the faucet, using stretchy synthetic fabric that I found in my personal stash. I also added a bit of a surprise by stitching the water with glow-in-the-dark thread. When you turn off the lights the water glows (hmm, an underlying meaning maybe?).

The name is special too. Spigot is what I call a faucet (with my Chicago accent I actually say “spicket”), some may call it the spout. Anyway, I know what I mean, but the guys are the hardware store do not. It took me awhile to realize folks in the south don’t know the word spigot. I’m not afraid to do plumbing around the house, and that means sometimes you need to ask the hardware clerk for assistance. This quilt reminds me of regional differences in speech. I find it humorous and thankfully so did the jurors. Here’s my artist statement for “Spigot” the quilt:

The clerk looks with question, ‘Spigot?’ Yeah, it’s that thing my garden hose connects to and I use to wash my hands.

Receiving the acceptance of this quilt into the show, emphasizes how lucky I am to do what I’ve always wanted to do…make art. I am thankful for all the opportunities I’ve had and the friends that I’ve made through this life long pursuit of my dream. I am thankful for having a loving husband who believes in me. A great majority of my family have left this Earth, but I am thankful they were there for me, each in their own way encouraging me to be me. And the family that is still here, they are my personal cheerleaders and I’m thankful for them.

I’m glad we have Thanksgiving, because it reminds us to reflect and remember how good life is. So, thank you dear reader, for taking the time to read my words. May your life be ever overflowing with happiness.

 

ARTQUILTSwater is produced by Professional Art Quilters Alliance – South. The exhibit is open from January 4 – March 24, 2013 at Page Walker Arts and History Center in Cary, NC.

Every day I see more clearly

Last month I went back to Chicago, the place where I was born and raised. During the trip, I had some extra time to visit places that I haven’t been to in many decades. Notably I visited Little Red School House Nature Center, Racoon Grove Nature Preserve, Plum Creek Nature Center, and my alma mater, Governor’s State University. These sites played a major role in developing the person I am today.

While I wandered these old haunts, I felt disoriented. There was something strangely familiar about each of them, but there was also something obviously different. I knew in my head that I had walked these grounds and my early love of nature was nurtured there.  I worked in a variety of jobs at each of these natural areas after graduating GSU with a BS in Environmental Biology. You see, my dream since I was a kid was to be a conservationist. I loved the outdoors and wild things. How things change.

Back then, I “knew” I couldn’t be an artist because I couldn’t draw. So I pursued training in my second love, nature science. I experienced some interesting things during my formative years. My training gave me a keen eye to see what was around me, the colors, the light, the movement, and all. I still have a photo pinned to my cork board that I took at Racoon Grove. Some day I will render that photo into a quilt.

Little did I know back then that I would eventually be an artist who sells their work. When you live somewhere a long time, you see things change gradually over time and you adapt. When you go back years later, the changes are much more dramatic. On my trip I noticed that the road to my school was foreign, so much new construction had replaced the farm fields I knew so well. The two nature centers had been remodeled beyond my recognition. And Raccoon Grove seemed somehow smaller.

I also realized that I too have changed. My eyes see things differently, clouded by decades of experience. I am grateful to have had these youth-filled experiences, they have helped me be a better artist. What I learned on this journey, was you can never go back. But that’s OK, even going back to a strangely familiar place has enriched me. Every day I see more clearly.

Its a wonderful feeling.

Earlier this month, I told you about the two fiber and stitched oil can renditions I made after being inspired by an art class I took this summer (read more about that). One of these renditions was intended for my quilt guild’s biennial show, Quilting in the Pines V. I’m a bit embarrassed to say that this was only my 2nd time entering my work in a guild show. But I don’t make traditional quilts, so its a little difficult to enter an artquilt in a show the specializes in traditional piecing. This year was different though. It was the first year they had an “Art Quilt” category. For that reason, I HAD to enter this year.

Along with the “Oil Cans #2”, I entered “Solitude” (aka “the tree”). I entered truly expecting not to win anything. My techniques are non-conformist and would probably be bashed on technical merit. I know that. I know the rules. I just choose not to follow the rules. So my thought in entering was, “It is what it is, enter them anyway.” And so I did.

This guild’s show is always amazing. It is set in an old fair barn, which provides such a warm ambiance. And, the talent…there is some awesome talent among these ladies. Even though it may sound biased, I have always felt this is one of the best guild quilt shows I’ve seen. The pictures posted are just a little eye candy of the show.

During the show, “Solitude” won a 2nd Place Ribbon in its category and happily (sadly) it was also sold and is now in the hands of its new owner. It is sad to see it go, it meant a lot to me. But it was created for someone else and it found  Patsy. It makes  me happy to know my work will be so loved in its new home. Thank you Patsy for loving it.

And, during this show “Oil Cans #2” also sold. Again, it is in the hands of someone who I know will love it. Thank you, Lynette. It makes my soul feel good. Both ladies, my friends, live near me and have given me visitation rights. ~smile~

So, I entered this show not expecting to win, but I did. I won a ribbon and better yet, I won knowing that 2 of my pieces are now in new homes being loved and cared for. Its a wonderful feeling.

Coloring with Pencils…and thread

Last week I told you about my summer adventure. I told you how I took a class in Prismacolor pencils and learned some new techniques which I’m going to apply to my artquilts. I knew all along that Frank Pierce at Eye Candy Gallery could teach me a few things, but I learned much more than I expected.

Besides learning how to use the pencils, I also learned how to add color to a piece of art. I learned that a splash of red or violet, in unexpected places, adds great interest. Also I learned that using dark blue is a better choice than using black to outline objects (since the class, I’ve been regularly running out of navy thread). Initially I was afraid to use my white colored pencils. It just seemed too harsh, but lately I’ve found myself adding white outlines to my applique work. Color theory and design, that’s what I learned.

So one of the last pieces I created in Frank’s class this summer was pencil sketch of oil cans. I photographed the oil cans a few years ago at the Denton Thresher’s Reunion (see the post here). I was fascinated by these little cans sitting in a “coke-cola” box at a flea market vendor. I was especially smitten by the blue one (and I kick myself for not buying it). Since that day, I started a small collection of these oil cans. I love the way they k-thunk, k-thunk, when you push their little bottoms. It reminds me of my dad and the cans he had in his garage/workshop.

After the sketch was complete, I scanned it and sent it off to Spoonflower where they printed it on fabric for me. I had them print a couple copies so I could work with different layouts and techniques.

My first attempt (“Oil Cans #1 –above), I heavily thread sketched each can adding more color to the pencil drawing using machine stitching. My second attempt (“Oil Cans #2 – left), I only thread sketched the blue can and did some trapunto style quilting around the others. I have one more panel to use and I’m working up some ideas. I’m happy to report that “Oil Cans #2” sold this past weekend at the local quilt show. I’ll tell you more about that soon. In the mean time, I have to get back to my colored pencils and thread.

Narrative Threads

Has it been that long? Sorry, I can’t explain this case of my disappearance from this blog. I was like I slipped into some time warp, that put me in another dimension for a few weeks. Is it really June already?

I do know that last month I spent my time completing a new art quilt for an exhibit that opens the end of this month, called Narrative Threads. The exhibit is sponsored by the Professional Art Quilters Alliance-South (PAQA-S) and Sharon Elizabeth Wood, the quilts are mixed media creations, combining the art quilting expertise of Alliance members with words from NC writers.

The idea behind the exhibit evolved from an inspiration shared by Sharon Elizabeth Wood, a creative writing coach and consultant, Jana Lankford, President of PAQA-S, and Antoinette Brown, an Association member. Antoinette recruited member-quilters who were then matched with writers recruited by Sharon to establish at least 15 collaborative pairs. Each quilt being exhibited represents an artistic expression unique to the pair who created it.

I was paired with author and poet Anne Barnhill. Anne’s recently published novel “At the Mercy of the Queen” is a tale of sexual seduction and intrigue at the court of Henry VIII. It is rich and dramatic historical fiction about Madge Shelton, cousin and lady-in-waiting to Anne Boleyn.

Early in our collaboration, Anne and I discovered we had a similar interest in the moon and goddesses. We were initially inspired by Artemis, the ancient Greek Goddess of the moon, who was often depicted as a huntress. We later decided to present our moon goddess with more generic origins, representing her strength and the influences of the moon on women. I enjoyed working with Anne and hearing the stories of the other artist/author teams as we worked through our collaborations.

The Narrative Threads exhibit runs June 29 through August 27, 2012 at the Page-Walker Arts and History Center in Cary, NC. The public is invited to the Artist Reception at Page-Walker on June 29 from 6 to 9 pm. Until then, you’ll have to wait to see my completed piece, but I have included a small image to show some of my process of creation. I can’t wait to see what everyone has done. Please join me if you can to see our Narrative Threads.

Traveling alone

I hope you had a wonderful thanksgiving. Each year at this time, I often think of my family that have left this Earth. From Thanksgiving to New Year’s it seems everything focuses on family and familiar traditions. Everyone talks about their kids and their parents. These discussions frequently remind me that I don’t have either. My mother died when I was a teen and my father when I was in my early 30’s. I’ll be honest and say I am a little jealous of people 60+ years old who say they’re going to visit mum, who’s in her 90’s. But I remind myself just as frequently, that you live with the cards you are dealt and make the most of it.

In August, my father’s sister (my godmother) passed to the next world. With her passing, I am aware that I am quickly becoming the “oldest” generation alive in my family. Needless to say with the big 50 approaching, I’m feeling older than my years. I’m calling it a mid-life crisis, even though I’m well passed mid-life (I don’t expect to live to 100). I want to get more out of life. That’s what makes what I’m doing exciting. I’m making larger footsteps in my journey and I’m finding it quite exciting.

So in this light, even though I know it is near the end of November, I have to tell you about another adventure that I had in October. It was a bittersweet journey that was extremely powerful for me.

My godmother’s memorial service was held in Florida in late October. Where she lived in Florida isn’t very convenient to airports and if I flew I would have to rent a car. It looked like the best opportunity to get to the services was to drive. Unfortunately, finding a travel partner wasn’t promising. So I made the decision to travel alone and make it a 5-day journey. I had never done this before, but I wasn’t going to let that stop me.

As it turned out, on the way to Florida, I was able to stop in SW Georgia to meet someone who was selling her collection of sewing machines. A friend of mine met me there and hauled the machines off to his house for me to pick up later.

My next stop was Florida. Before my godmother’s services, I put myself on a mission to see a live manatee. On a rainy Saturday morning, I found myself alone in a wonderful state park/zoo. I was mesmerized with this opportunity of watching the gorgeous animals and birds without the disturbance of other people (except the keepers). No kids screaming, or people talking, or competition for that fabulous photo opportunity. For 2 hours I was in heaven…and I got to see the manatee.

The next day I was on the road again to visit family in Savannah, GA. I really love that town and I love my cousin who lives there. I had a great time and the next day found myself on the road home. The 5-day journey was over.

Between my highlighted stops, I had a lot of time to be alone. I listened to upbeat music on my XM radio. I thought a million thoughts. Cried a few tears. I was awestruck by the beauty of the country-side which I drove. And I surprised myself, by how much I enjoyed my journey and being alone. Well not completely alone, I did pick up a hitchhiker at McDonalds who became my mascot for the road trip. Now that I’m home, I’m anxious for another opportunity for a road trip. Who knew, I would really like traveling alone.