Tuesday, December 30, 2008

The End of the Year

It's near the end of 2008; can you believe it? I'm proud of myself for sticking to my goal of creating weekly journals. I went to a mini-tutorial yesterday at the Apple store so I could learn how to upload pictures onto my Mac and here are the last two (sorry, I haven't learned yet how to adjust the sizing of the pictures; I hope to soon):

First, there are Christmas trees on pieced altered fabric. The background looked too vibrant when I finished painting so I covered it with a whitewash to dull it. It's still not great, but it's better than before.

I really like my final piece of the year: ash blue reproduction fabric painted with white and violet/white paint, stamped with the word "snow", then stenciled with silver and turquoise paint stick. Running stitches in ice blue and white sashico thread complete the piece. It looks a bit dull here, but in real life, it has nice depth to it.

I think the journal process was a very good one for me. I've certainly learned a lot since most of my pieces were little experiments. I've discovered that I absolutely love enhancing cloth with paint, whether I use gelatin plate printing techniques, mad dashes with a brush, or paint sticks. I've noticed that most of the pieces that were created more spontaneously turned out better than the ones I thoughtfully labored over. (In other words, I did better when I allowed myself to play than forced myself to "work"). Keeping my blog current was, as I suspected, a good motivator in staying up to date.

On the negative side, I realized that I don't give myself that much time to create my art. My little journal pieces primarily became my art for the year; I just didn't create that many pieces outside of my weekly 6 x 6s. I don't think it was enough. On reflection, it's a bit disappointing.

I'm still mulling over my goals for next year, one of which is whether or not to continue with my journals. They've been a creative exercise, but I'm trying to realistically resolve the time issue. Can I still make journals, but create other art besides? I'll let you know where I come out on that internal debate. The resolution of that will influence many of the other goals I'm contemplating - sort of domino-style.

I don't know that I'll have anything noteworthy to post tomorrow, so just in case, best wishes for the new year! Happy and safe celebrations!

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Two sides of the story

Sydney's post:

My mom got a new mac. it is like a ticking time bomb. We've spent days trying to smooth out the imperfections. It has a lot. Mommy hasn't made any new art because she got a headache from trying to work with the Apple people.

But the computer has a hugeeeee screen. And I'm a technical genius, so no more problems.

Mommy's turn:

Sydney's is rightfully very proud of all the work she's done to get my new computer back on track. But now she's hovering, waiting for the next thing to explode. I'm hoping nothing will; I really want to start playing with this really cool computer. I'm hoping to figure out iPhoto in the next few days so I can upload my last two journal quilts for the year. I'm so pleased that I was able to stick with this throughout the year.

Look for another post soon (I hope, I hope).

Thursday, December 18, 2008

A Birthday Surprise

Yesterday, I received a birthday surprise from Natalya: one of her handmade necklaces! Isn't it beautiful? I put it on immediately to rave reviews. You can find more of her Sketched Fairytales jewelry and art at her Etsy store. The necklace was wrapped in a piece of painted dryer sheet that Natalya uses to such wonderful effect. We'll see what I can do with it.

What a good friend. Thank you, Natalya! Happy Birthday to you, too!

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Journal Countdown

My daughter's godmother has only boys, so she showers my daughter with all the frilly girly-girl things she loves. This past week, my daughter was thrilled to receive a package with a beautiful party dress and shawl in blues and browns. I didn't have a clue where to start with my journal, so I took out a brown striped fabric and colored over it with paintsticks. Next, I stamped a party dress onto a swatch left over from my New York City trip and created the tag. Finally, I added the bow from my daughter's present. Viola ... a journal quilt.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Circles and the Subconsious

Do you remember the ugly fabric I painted about a month ago? Here's a picture to refresh your memory:

For some reason, the fabric nagged at me. I decided to see if I could salvage it at all. First I painted some bubble-wrap in brown and printed on it. Better.

Then I added some silk strips and a swatch of orange sheer I picked up while in New York City. Much better!

Surprisingly, I've become so engaged with this piece I'm now embroidering around the edges of the red circles to help make them pop. Actually, it shouldn't really be such a surprise, now that I've uncovered my subconcious fascination with circles. See? Here it is influencing my work. But, I had no clue it was doing that. Boy, the subconscious sure can be sneaky.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008


I seem to go through periods during which I'm attracted visually to one thing more than another. I think my preference is simply an unexplained emotional reaction to a style or color that somehow resonates within me. I'm not sure why it happens when it does, but I'm definately "going through a phase" right now. I've looked through my recent pictures and discovered that I've taken lots of photos of circular images -- some natural, some man-made. Here's a sampling:

I love seeing the rings of the trees within the logs.

There are little circles on top of construction cones! Who knew? (You need to enlarge the picture to see them.)

No explanation needed for this one...

Double-click to get a close-up of this picture -- the pattern of the paint between the letters is just so cool!

I think this is the end of a cable spool, left behind to merge with the landscape. What do you think it is?

The sunflower -- one of my favorite natural circles. I admit to having lots of sunflower pictures.

Has this sort of thing ever happened to you?

Monday, December 8, 2008


To the delight of my youngest daughter, we had some flurries last week. In my journal, I decided to use two of the stitches on my machine to represent the falling snow. I couldn't find any solid blue in my stash, so I tried to paint over a commercial print. Interestingly enough, this is the back side of the fabric because I couldn't hide the gold lines on the front. You can still see some of the print but here it works well as a representation of the swirling wind. Two little sculpey clay hands that were languishing in my junk bowl have become my daughter's hands, outstretched to greet the new snow.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

A New Tradition

There was a line outside the door before 9:00 am. Those waiting were so thankful to receive bananas and apples to sustain them until the doors officially opened at 1:00 pm. The doors were unlocked just for us and we snuck past the waiting crowd, feeling guilty, like we were cutting in line.

For two hours the five of us wrapped forks and knives in napkins and set row upon row of plates -- wrapped utensils then went to the left of the plate, soup spoons to the right, dessert spoons above, water glass as well. Bowls of crackers and butter were put out on each table.

The tables were finally set for Thanksgiving dinner.

Over the last couple of years it's become a tradition in our family to forego cooking a Thanksgiving meal for ourselves. Instead, we go to a soup kitchen about 20 minutes away from our home to serve others. Last year, we served about 50. This year, more than 200 people were expected (I don't know what the final count actually was).

I can't get rid of the image of the orange and light brown plastic covering the rows of long rectangular tables, each set with lines of white plastic plates. I had to recreate a piece of it here. Seeing the need, I think we'll be serving at Christmas, too.

Monday, November 24, 2008


My friend, Natalya, was tagged and went on to reveal seven art-related facts about herself on her blog. In turn, she tagged me. I don't think I have seven personal art-related items to share, so I'll just go with the broad brushstrokes of who I am.

1. I'm first generation American.

2. Reading is one of my passions, always has been; I was a literature and languages major in college. I read more fiction than non-fiction. I'd be hard pressed to name a favorite book of fiction -- that often depends on my mood. But two of my favorite non-fiction books are Seabiscuit and The Secret Life of Lobsters.

3. I can raise my right eyebrow like Mr. Spock on Star Trek. (I was raised with a good dose of Star Trek.)

4. I love to dance, much to the dismay of my children and the amusement of my friends. My husband just watches and chuckles, God bless him.

5. I love to eat cookies, but I don't care for chocolate.

6. Sometimes, I snort when I laugh. I laugh a lot, so I guess I snort a lot, too.

7. In high school, I was a pom-pom girl. We put on the half-time show at football and basketball games, complete with a kick-line. Just to balance out the scales, I was also a varsity athlete, playing volleyball and badminton -- hey, stop laughing .... badminton's a serious sport! When I was a senior, we won the state championship. Yeah, I guess that's hard to imagine, too.


My parents are driving from Illinois to New York for a Thanksgiving visit. We haven't seen them for almost a year so I've been thinking a lot about their visit. I guess it's not surpising that my journal is about their travels to get here. I rubbed a gray oil paintstick over part of a license plate I found on one of my walks, then added a piece of a map and two clip art images -- one for the Land of Lincoln and the other for the Big Apple. I think I actually managed to use gel medium successfully on this piece. Hurrah! I painted a bit and quilted a little as well. What fun! What do you think....does this count as collage?

Monday, November 17, 2008


I admire those artists who have an eye for texture in their work. I think the first step towards being successful at incorporating it into your art is being able to see texture around you. So, when I took my dog for a walk this morning, I went armed with my camera. I was pleasantly surprised to discover how much I was able to see when I put my mind to it. I think that texture will appear to change at different times of the day -- as the light changes and the shadows lengthen -- so I'm looking forward to discovering that as well. Here's a sampling of some of the wonderful things I saw today.

Large dead leaves:

Hydrangea petals:


A hollyhock leaf:

Tree fungus:

Saturday, November 15, 2008

A Gray Day

It's been gray and rainy all day. The wind has blown most of the leaves from the trees. And so I guess it's not surprising my journal quilt is a lonely tree with one solitary leaf outlined against the gray sky. This is raw-edge applique with some free-motion quilting to secure the tree. I did have a bit of fun using a striped fabric for the tree, so there's a touch of whimsy amidst the lonely scene. I've long admired the artists who can be "freer" with their quilting, so I tried it here in the background to signify the wind and changing season. The leaf was stitched, then colored in with pencil.

I also did some messy painting today. I don't know what I was thinking when I decided to use the pink metallic, but at this point, this will look best all cut up. I did learn one thing in all this: I tried to use circles cut from coffee filters as a resist -- Disaster! But they do look pretty painted, so perhaps they'll end up in something.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Getting Organized

Inspired in part by what Lisa Call has written on her blog, I've decided I need to organize myself if I'm going to make any real attempt at responding to calls for entry and/or entering shows. By "real", I mean a deliberate and conscious effort. I've had some luck, to be sure, but I'd like to have a more planned approach. I'd prefer to eliminate last minute, oh my gosh, entries. Yes, opportunities might come up at the last moment that require scrambling, but I'd like to see if I can't think ahead in anticipation of exhibits. I'd like to create some goals. I'd like to know what pieces have been successful and what pieces have been, for lack of a better word, duds. I'd like to keep track of entry fees, shipping expenses ... you get the idea.

So I'm taking my first stab at it. I've created a "Calls for Entry" binder with four sections. The first section, called "Entry Info" has individual sheet protectors that include the details of the exhibits that are of interest to me. They're organized by "due date". This is followed by a "pending decision" section, then "accepted" and "declined" At the front of the binder is a simple list of the exhibits in due calendar order. I've also created a spreadsheet of all my entries, with contacts, prices, fees, tracking numbers, the works. I even got myself a FedEx account, in the hopes that I'll have things to ship back and forth! Hope springs eternal, I guess.

I'm looking forward to giving this system a try. I'm sure I'll be making tweaks along the way. Any pointers you'd like to share would be most welcome. Hopefully the chart with all the blank lines will be an incentive to create more art!

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Delicious Autumn

Yes, another journal inspired by fall. For this piece I free-motion quilted a maple leaf onto yellow fabric, then added color with oil pastel crayons. Next, I stamped the beginning of a George Eliot poem onto the top. It reads, Delicious Autumn! My very soul is wedded to it... Ahhh, the wonder of the English language in the hands of a master. That's just how I feel about fall sometimes, but can never express.

Friday, November 7, 2008


Art Quilts XIII: Lucky Break is opening today at the Chandler Center for the Arts in Chandler, AZ. Linda Colsh's beautiful piece, Drawing on the Mist, was selected for the postcard art. I'm so proud that my piece, Revelation, will be hanging as part of this prestigious show. Please stop by if you're in the Phoenix area. The exhibit will be up until the end of the year.

Friday, October 31, 2008

Inspired by Nature

This summer, though my eldest daughter hobbled about from her foot injury, we went on our planned family vacation. Because she wasn't too mobile, we had to change our activities a bit. One day, we girls ended up taking a plein air oil painting class with a local artist. My daughters had each dabbled with oil paints in school art classes, but I've never touched oil paint before. We enjoyed our day immensely. Although we all sat on the terrace of the lodge, I think it's interesting how we were each inspired by different things. Now that I'm looking at the paintings we made -- I'm considering framing my daughters' art as gifts for the girls -- I thought I'd share them with you here. What do you think? Have any of you tried oil painting?

My youngest was inspired by a puddle:

My oldest was inspired by the hills in the distance, but changed the palette:

I was inspired by the cool shape of a dead tree:

I'm still inspired by trees, as you can see by my two recent journals. For this one, I photocopied some colorful leaves onto fabric, did a bit of outline quilting, then colored over it all with pastel crayons to give it a softer, painted look.

I used scraps here to create a background, covered it with mesh, then quilted all around to capture the pieces. I highlighted some areas with metallic paintsticks and glued some skeleton leaves on top.

Hope you all had a fun and safe Halloween! I'll be sad to take down the decorations.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Here's What I've Been Up To.....

Busy, busy, busy .... that's the only way to describe things around here. That's the reason I didn't get a chance to post last week's journal. Last week, I was perusing the "Go Green" Quilting Arts issue and was inspired by the menagerie of five inch squares created for the challenge. In turn, I took out the final sewn scraps I had from my Tropical Bubbles challenge piece and joined them into a square. I followed up with branches made from an orange plastic bag and leaves from a green one. I had the bird print lying about my room, so I put that in, too. (The print was made from an etching on a styrofoam butcher's plate.) This was fun to do.

I've been thinking a lot about my blog and my artwork lately. I imagine that my blog can get pretty boring to look at sometimes because it seems I primarily post about my journal quilts. Some are lovely (some are not!), but that doesn't make for particularly compelling reading. Unfortunately, these little pieces are often all I have time to do. I think they're very helpful for me -- they get me to create and I try new things, but I think I've become too focused on them. They leave me little time for anything else. So, for the remainder of the year, I'm going to try to be a little more light-hearted about my journals and try to use them more as I intended: as exercises in creativity. And, I'm going to try to find some time for larger pieces.

With that in mind, here are two pieces that are on my design wall (I don't recall if I've shown them to you before). Please pardon the pins and basting you see in the pictures. I'd love your feedback. This one is waiting, I think, for the perfect sheer to augment the rectangles -- all cut from a larger piece of fabric printed using gelatin plate printing. I'm hoping some of the fabric I bought last week in the city will be perfect.

This one is waiting for me to sew down the irregular border pieces. I think I'm going to add some big spool shapes after that.

And this is a piece of fabric I painted today. I had a few minutes to spare and decided to play. I must say that I so enjoy painting fabric. It's the one of the few things I feel comfortable doing without an end result in mind. For this piece I sprayed water all over the scribbling I'd done with Neocolor pastel pencils so the colors would bleed. Then I stenciled on top of that with painsticks. I confess I love how this turned out.

Friday, October 17, 2008

My Teenager is Jealous of Me

Yep, you read that correctly; my teenage daughter is jealous of me. Why? Because I went into New York City yesterday and had a chance to stop in Mood Fabrics of Project Runway fame. The sales person explained that the show's become so popular that it's now pointed out on some city tours. And, even if designers were shopping, Mood closed the store for an hour while the PR contestants ran around to find their fabrics so no one got in their way.

And run they had to. The store is HUGE! You really have to go in there with some sense of what you're looking for because they have everything! Bolts of fabric from $5/yard to over $100; buttons; belt buckles; and things I have absolutely no clue what they're for. Here's a picture of just one aisle of perhaps fifteen, on just one floor of the store. WHEW!

If you're ever in New York City, make a quick stop at Mood. For someone like me who's never been in the design industry or made clothing, it was amazing to see all that's available. The staff is nice and knowledgeable, too. I've promised my daughter that I'll go back with her. Until then, I'll linger in the virtual aisles. Did you know they have a website: www.MoodFabrics.com? (No affliation here, just excited about a fun day!)

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Overly Ambitious

My friend, Natalya, and I challenge ourselves to create pieces with found objects. Natalya has finished hers. She's patiently waiting to reveal her piece until I'm finished, but she posted a teaser on her blog a few weeks ago.

I, on the other hand, am struggling with a vision in my head that is proving to be absolutely insane for me to try to create. I don't know what I was thinking! The trouble: it's too small and intricate for my unpracticed hand. Well, I've certainly lived up to the "challenge" part of this exercise.

It's also taking me longer to make than I anticipated ... and I'm pokey to begin with. Besides which, I'm no longer sure if what I'm making will support what I want to do with the found objects! (I'll tell you what they are once we post our finished pieces.) But here's a sneak peek, just to validate to myself that I've actually made some progress.

Saturday, October 11, 2008


Here's my journal for the week, inspired by all the beautiful leaves that have fallen from the trees. It looks nothing like what I had envisioned, but I certainly learned a lot in the process.

I started by gathering leaves during a walk and photocopying them onto Extravorganza. I was surprised to discover that the leaves really didn't look too distinct and the colors were a bit faded. As a result, I placed the Extravorganza over a piece of bright yellow fabric -- to liven it up a bit. It looked great. I also placed a piece of handmade lime green paper under it; it created a background that made the leaf lines more crisp. I decided to use gel medium to adhere the Extravorganza to the fabric and paper.

Perhaps this is where I made my "mistake". The colors bled and the paper looked dull. I don't know what happened; do you? At any rate, I stitched on some wavy lines in a beautiful lime green thread and outlined a tree in a vibrant burnt sienna as a fill-in since the fabric couldn't carry the piece. Both of these got lost. I tried to darken the body of the tree with paintstiks(no success) and fabric markers (marginally better). Finally, I tried color pencils on both the paper and tree. At least this helped make things more visible. I finished it with some orange stitching with sashico thread.

I was stumped at each turn with this piece and it looks nothing like what I had originally set out to create. I had hoped to create something that expressed the richness and vibrance of all the fall colors. I'm really not sure how I feel about the end result. I think it has a sad feel to it. The colors look mushy and dull. The green paper looks too big compared to the tree I ended up stitching to use up space (a mistake, perhaps, to try to free-hand sketch a tree?). Ah well; thank heavens this is a journal.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Christmas in October?

I have a tradition to needlepoint ornaments every year for each of my children. If all goes well, I have them ready when we decorate our tree at the start of the season. Well, I've just completed this year's ornaments in time to send them off for finishing. Yep, that's what I've been doing -- needlepointing, as opposed to quilting. I'm posting just little tidbits of each of the ornaments, just in case my children decide to check out my blog; the ornaments are supposed to be a surprise. Each of these was stitched entirely with metallic thread, save for just a spot in some holly leaves; I used embroidery floss there. The metallic is harder to stitch with, but the glitter and shine sure look lovely on the tree. It will be back to quilting tomorrow, now that these are done!

Monday, September 29, 2008

End of a series?

I was so excited about my recent news that I forgot to post my journal quilt for the week. I returned to the same pool of fabric I used in my most recent journals. The print on this piece is a fallen feather-like branch I found on my driveway. In one of my earlier journals I had cut out a section, so I decided to try that again here. I like how the open shape -- which I tried to make echo the rectangle shape below -- is bisected by the branch.

Yesterday, I made this week's journal. This one is constructed using left-over quilted sections from previous pieces. I zigzag stitched them together. I wasn't particularly inspired by the whole pieces of fabric this time, so perhaps this is the end of this mini-series. We'll find out.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Recent Acquisition

Yesterday the mailman delivered a very nice package: Urban Landscapes #2 by Karen Stiehl Osborn. Isn't it just amazing? I'm so excited to own a piece of Karen's art and I can't wait to find the perfect spot for it in my home. I must admit that my picture of it doesn't do the piece justice; it's so much richer and more complex in person. I'm so lucky to have this!

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Art Quilt XIII Acceptance

I'm thrilled and honored to report that my quilt, Revelation, has been juried into Art Quilt XIII: Lucky Break at the Chandler Center for the Arts. The show will be taking place from November 7 - December 31 in Chandler, AZ. I'm besides myself with excitement; this is such a prestigious venue and I'm humbled by the list of artists included in the exhibit. Wow! This sure is a lucky break for me.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

More Journals

With every spare moment I've had, I've been trying to squeeze in some more journal quilts to get up to date. I think I was invigorated by the "play" journal I made a few days ago, in lieu of a "real" one. Four of the new pieces work especially well together; they seem rather thematic. All the journals were made from the same pool of fabric. The second piece I made doesn't fit so well with the others because I pieced it and that didn't turn out too great. What do you think? Do I have a mini-series going?

Here's the fabric I used, all painted using various techniques:

Here are the journals: