Category: Success & Failure

Higher Plane

I’m in a transition state this week. Last month, I completed a couple of projects and now it is time to move forward with creating some new artwork. I started flipping through photos and found this tree quilt, “Solitude,” which I made in 2011. It is one of the first art quilts I ever made. I really like how I completed the background. It is a quilted whole-cloth design with an appliqued tree. After quilting, the fabric was painted with gesso, then layers of paint colors were applied with paint rollers.

I’m looking at how I handled the background and I’m still fascinated by the technique. I need to revisit this process. It was pretty intense to create. I used regular craft paint, so this quilt is stiff. I need to try it with fabric paint.

My brain is flooded with all sorts of stories about it. I remember creating it, exhibiting it, selling it and now I’m inspired by it again.

There was a time I didn’t like looking back at the pieces I made. I don’t know about you, but sometimes I can be overly-critical about my art. That’s the perfectionist taking charge. A fun way to re-direct this thinking is to image the thoughts are coming from a mischievous little pixie who whisper in your ears. You could believe them or you can just ignore what they have to say. This is part of the journey. To overcome negative self-talk, we first need to recognize it is there then decide to ignore it.

I’ve come a long way since I made this quilt. I realize now that they all can’t be master pieces. Each is made by my hands and nothing hand-made can be perfect in every way. So it is important to let go and accept where you are. As humans we are forever metamorphosing, so we can value each step along the way as a learning process. It is all part of moving to the next higher plane.

Time to remember

This past week I’ve had a flood of memories. I find it interesting how memories stay in our heads even if we don’t realize it. You think you forgot about something and suddenly you’re reminded. It all comes rushing back like you were there again, exactly at that moment.

I’ve been thinking about how memories influence my art practice, or at least how I think about my art practice. I believe most of us get caught up in our own heads. We rush around trying to deal with the day’s events and focus mostly on what’s right in front of us.

Each significant life-event is a specific moment in time. We spend days, weeks, months or even years, prepping for that very moment that we’ve been waiting for. And then there we are, taking it all in … and in a flash its gone … except for the memories.

This is how life rolls. But, I’m concerned that the accomplishments we’ve made get buried and forgotten all too quickly. So many times I can remember when I rushed and rushed to meet a creative deadline. For me, there were articles written, TV shows that I appeared in, artwork created, exhibits to participate in, and for sure don’t forget all those little gifts I made to brighten someone’s special day. If you’re like me, you’re proud of each of those events. (And, you should be!) But its done and you forget. You have to … there’s no time to think about it anymore because we’re rushing to take care of what needs attending to NOW!

When I first started quilting, I created a scrap book of each quilt I made. If I gifted it to someone, I noted the reason along with a photo. Time started running short and I eventually stopped filling the pages. Instead, I have a couple keepsake boxs of memorabilia. If its something I feel accomplished about, I toss a trinket (e.g., postcard or copy of the article) into the box. This is great…but it means nothing unless I look inside every now and then. The memory, along with the validation it generated, fades.

This week I was reminded of Lesley Riley’sQuotes Illustrated“* book she published in 2013/2014. I made the courageous lion specifically for that book. I remember the excitement of being involved. I remember stitching the design. Looking back at it I realized I’ve come a long way. My style is different and my focus has changed. But, I forgot about the book. What an accomplishment that was at the time.

Life flashes by way too quickly. Its good to reflect. Dust off the memories. Be proud of how far you’ve come. Do you take time to remember?

 


*Note: Copies of “Quotes Illustrated” by Lesley Riley can be located on Amazon.com . There are 2 editions with different covers and different number of illustrations/quotes. Publication dates are 2013 and 2014. It’s a lovely and timeless book. Great for gift-giving!

Fill you soul with what you love

Click on the image to see the YouTube video

There’s a line in the Avett Brothers song “Head Full of Doubt” that says Decide what to be and go be it.”

That always has been a powerful line for me. There are so many options in this world. How do you decide? It is not as easy as saying I want to be an astronaut and “poof” tomorrow you’re flying rockets. It takes commitment. And, I’m also realizing it takes a lot of time.

We all have gifts and talents, part of finding our personal direction is tuning into them. When we share these skills we can cultivate a sense of meaning and purpose. It is important to recognize which of our attributes provide us with joy.

For me my art is what brings me joy, but sharing my art is what brings me purpose and meaning. It is easy to get caught up with the day to day minutia and forget about what makes our hearts feel full. When life gets like that, it is important to stop and reconnect. If you love creating, find time to create. Set aside time and commit to making it a regular habit. If life is super fast, find bits of time to squeeze in creativity:

  • Maybe have a sketchbook handy to write or draw your idea.
  • Take five minutes to sit in your creative space and breathe.
  • Go to an art show or gallery.
  • Or, maybe commit to taking a class.
  • Even flipping through pages of creative magazine or book can lovingly fill the empty space in your heart.

It does take commitment and time, but when are you more happy? Do you find joy, running super fast through life? Or, is it more joyful to fill you soul with what you love?

Anything else

If you’re a creative person, here’s an interesting question to ask yourself:
Why you do what you do? Is there a reason you create?

I don’t know if I can clearly answer that…but it is something worth thinking about. For me, its almost like I have to. I’ve been doing it all my life. I can’t remember a time that I wasn’t mentally gravitating toward art. As a kid it was crayons, paper mache, drawing … oh goodness, let’s be real … I was into anything I could get my hands on. I just loved making things.

As an introvert, I find comfort in the creative process. I can escape and entertain myself for hours. I know my mom encouraged it when I was a kid, maybe because I would keep occupied and out of her way.

I also think of the generations before me. The one’s I knew were also creative … sewing, crocheting, wood working, drawing, writing, etc. My siblings also have the “bug” but haven’t pursued it like I have. Maybe for my family it is just a genetic trait? But, aren’t we all born creative at some level? As we grow older that’s when our creativity starts getting squashed. Life gets too busy or we have self-doubt.

I guess if I ponder the question, I believe my creativity is some sort of magic. I get an idea, say “what if…” and then watch what happens. When the project is complete, I’m in awe that an idea manifested into something tangible. The results aren’t always what I expected … good or bad. Sometimes it needs to tucked away for later renewed inspiration. Other times it needs to be cut into pieces, repurposed or scrapped.

But, I’m always thinking “what if…” and ultimately, I don’t know how to be anything else.

 

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

 

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

 

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.

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!