Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Thursday, December 22, 2011

STITCHED with Deborah Boschert

I'm so pleased to share with you the news that my friend, Deborah Boschert, is offering classes as part of STITCHED.  STITCHED is a collection of 20 online video workshops by 20 talented fabric artists. Students have access to all 20 workshops and can choose to view and work on the projects any time of the day, any day of the week. Registration opened on December 1st and the workshops kick off on January 1st and run through June 1st. Registration is only $89. Deborah is teaching a workshop titled, "Branches, Buds and Blossoms: A Botanical Fabric Collage." She includes videos on selecting fabrics, adding surface design, composing and improvisational hand embroidery.

To read more about it, including how to register for classes , please visit her blog:

Deborah is a wonderful artist and very knowledgeable.   You'll learn a lot and I think this is just the thing to get your creative juices flowing!

 Deborah's sample project for STITCHED

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Knowing the Artist

Last week I had the pleasure of meeting several artists whose work I admire.  We were all at a bustling gallery reception and the art looked fabulous. Everyone was having a great time.  Then, the gallerist flashed the lights, signaling the end of the party.

A few of us weren't ready to go home quite yet, so we went out for an impromptu dinner. Though some of us had only met an hour before, we were joking and sharing as if we'd been friends for much longer.  It was an absolute delight.

And, while I've loved/ pondered/mulled over these artists' artwork for a while, I think I have a new appreciation for it.  I think I understand it better now.  Has this ever happened to you?  Do you think knowing the artist, even a bit, makes a difference?

In my case, I think it does.  The women I met are intelligent and vibrant women who could, I'm sure, create lots of different kinds of art. But after spending time with them, I understand a smidgeon better why they create what they do.  Perhaps that's very simplistic.  I certainly don't want to simplify the effort put into anyone's work or demean the complexity of their art but, without sounding trite, I have to say that I can hear the whisper of their muse behind every story they shared.  I can see, just a bit more clearly, how this is THEIR art.

In this case, spending time with the artists added even more depth and meaning to every stitch and line.  At other times, I've better understood motivations and appreciated the expression in a piece more, especially if the piece wasn't one of my favorite.

Does all this make sense?

Perhaps you've all made this discovery before, but it was a bit of a lightbulb moment for me.  For me, it was rather ....

...... I can see a little more closely into the art now.   Wow.  How cool is that?

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Wall Art

Most of the time, I'm not a big fan of graffiti; it's often obscene or derogatory and I don't have much patience for that.  But sometimes, I think graffiti artists have something compelling to say.... assuming I can decipher the absolutely cool lettering.

Anyway, here's an example of graffiti that's just my speed.  I like what this person has to say.  I can read it easily.  What do you think of it?  It was painted five stories up.  Now what I want to know is, how in the world did the painter 1) get up there?  2) give the letters dimension / depth (I have a hard time doing that with a pencil and eraser, let alone paint)?   3) paint the letters correctly even though (s)he was painting them from an upside down perspective?

If you were the building owner, would you try to clean this off?

For more sanctioned building wall art, how about this one?  It's a whimsical mosaic and I just love it.  It makes me smile.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Photos on the Fly

A few weeks ago, I spent a few hours in the city.  It was one of those glorious fall days where even the city air smelled crisp and clean, the sky was a gorgeous blue, and people were out in droves.  Natalya and I went to a gallery (more on that later) and then walked to lunch.  I thought it was a fabulous opportunity to surreptitiously take photos of folks passing by.

Fail, fail, fail.

Most of the pictures turned out something like this: a close-up of my scarf

or a view of our shadows on the sidewalk.

If you've ever successfully taken pictures on the street, how did you do it?  I'm using my small camera so I can be as unobtrusive as possible, but clearly, I need some help.   I would love to use photos of people as inspiration for artwork and I don't want to give up yet.  Suggestions, please!

Monday, November 7, 2011

Memories of Goblin

I've been gone from blog-land for good reason.  Just before Halloween, we became one of the thousands of households left without power as a result of the Snowtober snowstorm.  Luckily for us, a very kind and dear friend took us in -- including our two dogs!  We were away for almost a week and there wasn't much time to think, let alone blog.

We were all settled in again by end of day Friday, which was just in time for our older Lab, Goblin.  He had started to feel a bit poorly while we were away but, by the time we were back home again, he felt it was safe to begin his goodbyes.    We learned about his diagnosis at the start of September and today, he succumbed to his battle with cancer.  He was a great dog and we were lucky and honored to have him.  Here are a few memories:

Even though he was very manly, Goblin loved his squeaky stuffed animals

He also loved a good belly rub

He could never resist hanging by the fire, even long, long ago

He hated looking at the camera as he got older.... I never could figure out why.

I think he looked regal, even when he was wearing The Cone of Shame

And, he was a great, loving, and patient "big brother" to Bella 
Good bye, sweet dog.  We love you.  

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Words and Photographs

I've just been told that my photos, Lily Shelter and Waiting to Ride, will be on display as part of the Eye of the Quilter exhibition at the International Quilt Festival in Houston.  Yeah!  I'm going to Houston -- well, sort of.  Something of mine will be there.....

Lily Shelter

Waiting to Ride

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Photo du Jour

Brazilian eggplant -- saw them for the first time at the farmers' market

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Photo du Jour

Farmers' market bounty

Saturday, September 24, 2011

To Donate or Not to Donate

There's been a spirited on-line discussion (some might call it a heated debate) about a call for donations which was presented via Friday's SAQA e-bulletin.  Karey Bresenhan, a former SAQA board member, asked SAQA members to consider donating a small art quilt that could be sold through the shop of the soon-to-be-opened Texas Quilt Museum.  Prices for the pieces would be between $100 and $200.

It seemed like an innocuous request to me, but really got under the skin of others.  As I understand it, there were two reasons why:

1) The pricing was too low.  Objectors felt such pricing was devaluing art quilts in general and would limit public perception of the value of our art.

My rebuttal: For many of us, at this point in our artistic careers, a $100-$200 price tag is appropriate for a small piece of our work and, therefore, doesn't devalue it. There are certainly some artists who are much farther along in their careers and who likely don't have a great deal of artwork that fits into that pricing category. I accept and respect their decision not to contribute something with a prescribed price.  However, there are also other artists who want to support Karey and will donate something, even if they could sell it for a higher price elsewhere.   That's okay; that's their choice.  I don't think anyone should feel guilty or be chastised for donating if they deem it appropriate to do so nor if they choose not to.   How and where an artist chooses to sell, donate, or present their artwork is a personal decision to be made in accordance to their personal goals and values.

As for pricing, I believe that Karey knows better than most what the market can bear in her area for small art quilts. (For clarity, let me note that I think something up to 12" x 12" can be considered small.)  Pricing varies throughout the country; what may sell for $100 in Texas may sell for more in New York and less in Louisiana.  That's simply economics.  The point of a museum shop is to generate income.  Therefore, stock that doesn't sell, either because it doesn't appeal to buyers or is priced too high, will be of no use.  Remember, these are mostly impulse purchases that strike an emotional chord with the purchaser.  Karey's goal, then, is to offer pieces that are going to relatively fly off the shelves because they can't be resisted; attractive artwork at a fair price point will hopefully do just that.  As pieces sell, the market will likely tolerate higher prices; Karey just doesn't believe we're there yet.  I'm going to trust her judgement on this one.

2) SAQA's e-bulletin should not have been the delivery mechanism for the request.  Objectors felt is wasn't appropriate for SAQA to be part of an effort to support or endorese what appears to be a museum more focused on exhibiting traditional works.  In addition, many felt SAQA should have policies in place that will dictate what kind of material can be sent to the membership.

My rebuttal:  I don't disagree that a Board discussion about this situation would be helpful.  I imagine no one thought twice about presenting the membership with an opportunity from Karey Bresenhan to sell via a museum shop.  However, I can see the validity in concerns that the lack of guidelines could lead to a slippery slope.  A future discussion should outline basic principles at to who can "speak" through SAQA bulletins and for what purpose.  However, I believe a thoughtful application of the rules should be employed, as opposed to a rigid one.

And here's an additional point I don't think anyone has mentioned.  If I'd read my emails sooner, I would have liked to bring it up in the public discussion, but I feel it's too late to chime in now.

The mission of SAQA is as follows:
Studio Art Quilt Associates, Inc. (SAQA) is a non-profit organization whose mission is to promote the art quilt through education, exhibitions, professional development and documentation.

I think placing the request in one of SAQA's e-bulletins is in accordance with that mission.   Offering artwork through the museum shop immediately places a value on them, something that a more traditionally-minded audience might not otherwise do.  It seems to me that the museum's target audience at the moment is one more inclined to traditional quilts.  Well, we certainly can't expect the museum to host an art quilt exhibition just yet.... nor can we expect these folks to visit an art quilt gallery show, either.  But offering items through the gift shop is, I think, a wonderful way to introduce them to art quilts.  Here's an audience we might not otherwise reach because they aren't currently attracted to our art form.  They'll discover there's more "out there" by seeing our pieces displayed.  Perhaps a shopper will be captivated by a piece, buy it, and be intrigued enough to look up the artist on the internet.  Look, we've started to educate a consumer and that's very much in line with SAQA's mission.  This may be a novel approach to raising awareness, but I don't think it's any less valid than other ways.  With that in mind I think the SAQA e-bulletin was an appropriate vehicle for this message.

Now, as folks become more familiar with and more informed about the diversity in our art form, I hope shop pricing can go up.   Hopefully Karey can broaden her audience and visitor pool enough to support  art quilt exhibitions.  In the mean time, I hope to create something worthy of a museum gift shop that's compelling enough to be purchased.  At this stage of my game, I think this is worthwhile.  Besides, I never would have gotten started with art quilting without the Journal Quilt Project; I can try to give something back.  And who knows where a patron may come from?  

--- Please feel free to leave rebuttals and comments.  A thoughtful dialogue is always a good idea!

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Getting in the Way of Art

The school year's started and though I hoped it would spell more time for art, that hasn't been the case. Sadly, I've been occupied with Goblin, our beloved black Lab.  He was suddenly lethargic and didn't care to eat much.  After trips to the vet, ultrasounds and x-rays, and discussions with oncologists, we've reached the conclusion that Goblin has a very aggressive form of cancer that won't be resolved with surgery and doesn't respond to chemotherapy.  As a family, we've decided to keep him spoil him for the time he has left with us.  I'm getting a little comfort in my belief he's sure that he's a much loved dog, but my heart still aches for the time I wish we still had.  I was counting on years and years; it's hard to realize it's likely only going to be a couple of months.  Still, I marvel that in the midst of his discomfort, he can be the silly, fun-loving dog just a short while after being strapped down and shaved for an ultrasound.  This dog has spirit.

On the art note, Goblin and some school snafu's have occupied my time and little has happened up in my studio.  I'm please to report that my article, Do I have to journal? is part of the Fall 2011 SAQA Journal.  I'm curious to see what hoopla it may generate since I take the tact that I haven't successfully integrated journaling into my art process .... sort of goes against the grain.  You can read the article on-line and read it again, when you get your copy.  I'm excited.  Also included in the issue is my interview with featured artist, Patty Hawkins.  Oh, does she make beautiful art!  I found it fascinating that she still felt she had so much to learn, even as successful as she is.  Wow.

And finally, this Saturday is the artists' reception for our FiberArt Northeast group.  The exhibition is called Fiber +Thread=Art III: A Colorful Show.  The exhibition will be up through the month of September at the Mahopac Library Gallery and showcases our monochromatic art (with an accent).  My piece, Rex Ray Gray,  is hanging in the exhibit, along with works by Natalya Aikens, Jane Davila, Cindy Green, and Norma Schlager to name just a few.  Here's the cover art of our postcard as a tease.  Stop by if you get a chance; I'm sure you'll see something that catches your eye.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

What are the odds?

What are the odds that we'd be in San Francisco when there was an earthquake felt in New York?  Well, that's exactly what happened.  We were on vacation in California when the earthquake happened.  My husband and son were playing golf and the girls and I wandered around Chinatown on an unusually clear day.  Oh, the riot of colors!  Here's one of my favorite photos of the day, filled with the lanterns that adorned many of the balconies.

Of course, we did make it back to New York for the hurricane.  Now, things are getting back to normal, though our house will be emptier since we won't have friends stopping by to take showers.  Everything's getting ready for the start of school -- I can't believe it's already September.

I hope you had a good summer.  I certainly did.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Monday, August 22, 2011

Something Totally Different Than My Usual

Our FiberArt NorthEast group is hosting an exhibition in September at the Mahopac Library gallery.  The exhibit is curated by Joyce Sullivan.

Though open to all our members, Joyce set some guidelines for participation.  All of the pieces had to be finished to 9" x 20" and mounted to a white 12" x 24" canvas.  The pieces could be either vertical or horizontal in orientation.  Each piece had to be monochromatic, using any and all hues of the selected color, but we could also use one accent color.  The main color had to be included in the title.

I just finished my piece, inspired by the work of Rex Ray, whom I've recently discovered through a duplicate book Robin wanted to find a new home for.  I find his work to be joyful and sophisticated, all at the same time.  I'm attracted to the "neatness" of his collage and the vibrant colors.  Because I'm not a natural at collage or abstract, I took a cue for some of his work and used it as a starting point for mine.

There are things about the piece which I like (the colors, my wonky piecing on the side, and the suggestion of background squares created by the lines of fabric), but there are things I wish had turned out better.  Mostly, I'm disappointed that my fusible didn't behave so well and there are sections where the fabric is fraying.  I would have preferred clean edges.  Rex's flowing shapes are much more elegant than mine; I struggled to draw one and ended up just cutting free-hand, hence some of the less than smooth curves.  It also doesn't fill the space as completely as I would have liked.  Still, I am pleased that I made an abstract collage that I'm comfortable showing to the world.  Here's Rex Ray Gray (inspired by #2754):

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Friday, August 5, 2011

Thursday, August 4, 2011

The Company of Friends

It's been a busy, crazy summer with lots of comings and goings.  But I've also been blessed to have two weekends filled with the joy of being with girlfriends.  It's been great.

The warm, fuzzy feeling has been lingering and, when I sat down to quickly make a spirit flag (akin to a prayer flag and inspired by Vivika Denegre's Prayer Flag Project ) for our upcoming Fiber Arts Northeast exhibit in September, I knew just what I was thankful for: the company of friends.

What are you thankful for?

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Friday, July 29, 2011

In the Absence of Fiber Arts Magazine

I know many of us have been lamenting the loss of Fiber Arts to economics.  It's a shame to learn that there's not enough demand in the market to support a publication that was well-written, educational without being pedantic, with good photography.   

Along with the SAQA Journal (for which I have a special fondness, of course), I urge you to take a look at the Surface Design Journal.  Published by the Surface Design Association (SDA), the Surface Design Journal is a quarterly publication distributed to SDA members.  The small print under the title of each journal says it all: "creative exploration of fiber and fabric".  This may be a perfect fit for those trying to inform themselves of artwork outside our "quilt" niche.

The Summer 2011 Journal focuses on paper and books.  I've had a rare opportunity this morning to sit quietly for a bit and read undisturbed.  I've found what I've read so far fascinating.  Editor Patricia Malarcher notes in her editorial many fabric artists began working with paper in the 1960's and 70's as paper making saw a resurgence during that time.  Who knew?  Further evidence, I guess, that one art form can inform another.  I've also read interesting articles about starting papermaking in Ghana, how Mary Hark came to create her paper artwork that has "quilt-like structure", and about joomchi, a Korean papermaking tradition.  I haven't read the whole issue yet, but I'm going to set aside time later today to do so.  I have lots to learn.

What are you reading?

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Going to California Without Me

Yesterday, my husband flew with our youngest daughter to California.  He has business to conduct out there and she is going to be backpacking, hiking, and kayaking in various wilds of the state with a small group.  I'm so happy for her; this is going to be such a great experience. 

Because they're going to be traveling about, my daughter will only be able to get mail once during her two week trip.  Care packages can't be sent (no fun wrestling a mountain lion over chocolate chip cookies), but letters are welcome.  I've sent off three postcards.  One is a souvenir from the Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty exhibit viewed on Thursday.  While there were some things that would have made her uncomfortable to see, I'm sure the flower dress, Sarabande, would have been one of her favorites.  (There will be more on the exhibit at a later date, after I have had time to thoroughly absorb my impressions and what I've learned through the catalog.)  The other two are quick fabric cards made using a combination of patterns available in A Forest of Quilts, by Terrie Kralik.  These aren't typical of what I do, but having something already drawn cut down on production time and I didn't have a lot to spare -- as a result, they were a perfect fit.

Now, off to finish some chores, then to the studio to work.  I'm hoping to share some thoughts on a new direction soon (tried and true, but new for me).

Thursday, July 21, 2011


The Twelve x Twelve Group is hosting orange in their last color play challenge.  I love orange.  I literally have piles and piles of orange fabrics.  I take lots of pictures featuring orange, especially of poppies.  BUT, I don't think I've ever made a quilt with orange as the predominant color.  What's that about?  I wonder why.  Do any of you have colors that you love that don't make their way into your artwork?  If so, why do you suppose it is?

Some photos of orange.....


Sunday, July 17, 2011

Something New on my Design Wall

I've been away from my studio for weeks (maybe even months) and I was a bit nervous about getting back into things.  I started to pick out fabrics for a piece I'm making for a Fiber Revolution exhibition; good work, but not what I was in the mood for.  Instead, I picked up a TAP transfer that's been languishing on my wall and started to pick through fabrics to go with it.  Lo and behold, the ugliest -- and I do mean the ugliest -- fabric ever was actually a pretty good fit.  I screenprinted this very ugly fabric at a studio workshop with Rayna Gillman.  It's not her fault at all; I mixed and muddied my colors.  But somehow, it seems to fit the mood and feel of what I'd like to do.  I haven't pieced it all together yet, but I like the direction this is going.  What do you think?

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Back from Nationals

We are back from Nationals and starting to get back into the swing of things.  Actually, we were back yesterday, but I spent the day just trying to make our home civilized again; cleaning out the refrigerator after I've been gone for almost a week can be a very scary job.  In any event, it was a tiring, but very exciting, Nationals.  The girls danced beautifully and had a marvelous time for their first year going.

In the end, their large group lyrical dance placed 3rd in their division (11-12 year old, advanced); their small group jazz and open dances tied for second; and, their small group lyrical dance came in first, not only in their division, but overall!

Here's a photo of  their small group lyrical dance, "Two Birds", choreographed by Jennifer Parsley, taken earlier in the year.

"Two Birds", choreographed by Jennifer Parsley; performed by Breaking Ground Dance Junior Company; photo credit NRG

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Heading to Dance Nationals

I don't know if I'll have time to post during the next week.  I'm off in an hour or so, to take my youngest daughter to her national dance competition.  Yikes!

Dancing to "Heartbreaker" by Pat Benatar; solo choreographed by Gina Mazzarella; photo by NRG


Sunday, July 3, 2011

Thoughts on Quilt National 2011 Book

Quilt National 2011; Lark Books; www.LarkCrafts.com;  ISBN 978-1-60059-799-2
I just read my Quilt National 2011: The Best of Contemporary Quilts book, showcasing each of the quilts in the current QN exhibit.  I was so excited to see it, not only because I wasn't able to attend the opening, but also because a number of Fiber Revolution members were juried in.  I'm so excited for my fellow Revolutionaries!
The book has two implied sections: the written portion which includes an introduction and the jurors' statements, followed by the section with images of each of the quilts, accompanied by the artist statements.  I read the first part with interest, especially the jurors' statements.  I was particularly taken by Pauline Verbeek-Cowart's statement for its brutal honesty. She admitted to having a predisposition about what she was expecting to see among the entries.  She's not a quilter, but a weaver, and came to the jurying process with a bias based on her experience in her field.  She wrote, "New tools allow us to do things that were not possible before...It is not so much the idea that new tools are better, because often they are not, but they entice us to ask questions and stimulate us to think of new ways to create and express our interests.  I viewed the more than 1,000 entries with this mindset the first time around and I was initially disappointed.  Not a single entry in my opinion represented that leap into new territory, or challenged conventional notions of the medium and stood as a radical new approach."

That gave me pause.  So I went back to the QN website to see what their expectations are for entries and it states the following:

"The work must possess the basic structural characteristics of a quilt. It must be predominantly fabric or fabric-like material and must be composed of at least two full and distinct layers (a face layer and a backing layer). The face layer may be described by any or a combination of the following terms: pieced, appliqu├ęd, whole cloth, stitch/fused to a foundation. The face and backing layers must be held together by hand- or machine-made functional quilting stitches or other elements that pierce all layers and are distributed throughout the surface of the work. At least some of these stitches or elements should be visible on the back of the work. As an alternative, the work may be a modular construction (an assemblage of smaller quilts). Each individual module, however, must meet the above structural criteria."
Well, in my opinion, that description means that pieces appropriate for QN are going to continue to be fiber-based and, somehow, tangibly derivative (whether through appearance or structure) from the traditions of quilting.  I'm not sure that, while this definition stands, there will be any large number of submissions that will push the envelope in terms of materials (such as recycled bottle caps as the base for the work) or technique (such as adding LED lights).  But Pauline's opinion, as an "outsider", is very thought-provoking.  I don't know how I'll respond to it -- I'll probably continue working as I do since that's how my voice speaks -- but I think I will question what I do more.

Based on what I've seen in the book, I think the three jurors did a magnificent job of choosing the pieces for this year's exhibition.  Of course, nothing can compare to seeing the pieces in person, but I think that, through the book, we can get a good sense of the mastery on display.  I loved reading each of the artist's statements.  I looked through the book three times before I felt I could stop.  First I just looked at the pictures.  Then I read the whole book, start to finish.  Then I looked through it again, backwards.  I really, really, really wish I could see these pieces up close and personal.  For example, just how close are the quilting lines in Judy Kirpich's and Lisa Call's pieces? Is there texture in Katherine K. Allen's painted surface besides the stitching?  What does the stitching look like in Helene Davis' piece?

And this leads me to my one criticism of the book.  As Pauline said, "...most fiber does not translate well, nor is fully represented, in digital form.....If stitching, piecing, texture, or a special surface treatment are crucial elements in a quilt, they have to be visible in the detail shot."  I couldn't agree more and wish that Lark Books had taken note of that sentiment.  I understand that this is meant to be a cocktail art book and, as such, is supposed to be a visual treat with a high-end feel -- hence the hard cover.  However, in my opinion, much of the beauty in our art form comes from the texture created by the artist.  I would prefer that Lark use a format enabling us to see detail photos of all the pieces, not just those for which there was extra space on the page.  For example, I would have loved to see a detail of Sue Cavanaugh's, Ori-Kume 20 piece, the winner of the Lynn Goodwin Borgman Award for Surface Design.  Unfortunately, the page couldn't accommodate a detail shot.  Too bad.  I'd be willing to trade a hard cover for more pages in a volume containing detail pictures from all the quilts.  (If you do want to see excellent pictures of the exhibit, along with some thought-provoking text, visit Kathy Loomis' blog.  She wrote an eleven-part series on her impressions on the exhibit, especially interesting since she's an exhibitor as well. She also reviews other shows and shares her thoughts on art in general.  I'm a big fan.)

Lest you think otherwise, I consider the book money well spent.  I'm sure I'll linger over it for many hours to come and force my children to linger over it, too.  And some day, I hope to get to see the exhibit myself.  But first, I'm going up to my studio to ask myself thoughtful questions about what I'm creating.   

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Luscious Flower Colors

Look at the luscious flower colors I saw yesterday!