Monday, August 27, 2012


A few months ago, the director of my daughter's dance company asked the girls to participate in a photo shoot with Ayodele Casel at the studio.  I'm so excited with these pictures that I hope you'll indulge me and let me share them with you. Here's my daughter in a couple of my favorite shots:

It's such a blessing to see her (literally) leaping with joy.   It's also thrilling to see her healthy, especially after her difficulties earlier in the year.  She's back in the studio after a seven week break since boot camp (pre-season training) starts today.   I'm thankful she has a passion that's also such a good activity to keep her strong.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

The Waiting Game

Over the last month or so, there's been chatter on the on-line quilting groups about the rules of some exhibitions against posting images of completed artwork.  Since compliance is taken very seriously most everyone agrees that posting images, even to your own website, can jeopardize your chances with Quilt National, given how easy it is for folks to poach pictures from websites and/or blogs.  Recently, Karey Bresenhan asked that folks refrain from posting images of their quilts along with an "I Got In!" announcement.  Karey's intent was to help IQF-Houston judges from being biased from an accidental encounter with an image on the internet.

I've not submitted to Quilt National, so I haven't had to wait potentially two years to post a picture of my work -- though from the sounds in the blog-o-sphere, a vast number of artists start working on their submissions in the few months preceding the deadline, so they're not waiting that long either.  But in any event, you know those are the rules when you consider entering a piece to QN, so I haven't had much sympathy for the situation.... until now.

I recently completed a piece I think is one of the strongest I've ever made.  I made it for the on-line group, Crossing the Line: Artists at Work (CLAW) which Karen Musgrave is spearheading. For our first group exhibition, we each made an artwork inspired by a woman (someone without a lot of name recognition) we felt had made a mark in history.  I chose Margaret Bourke-White, a pioneer in photography and the first US female war correspondent in WWII, the first female staff photographer for Life Magazine,  and a champion for the poor and underprivileged through her images.   I want to share what I've created, get feedback, see if it strikes a chord with anone else as it has for me.....  but I can't.  Karen has asked that we not post full images of our artwork until the first exhibition has been booked.


I respect and agree with her point of view.  But for what I believe may be the first time in my experience, I'm disappointed I have to wait.  I have something to say and I want to start a dialogue using my art... but I can't right now.

This is much harder than I thought it would be.

So I have to change my perspective on the Quilt National rule and Karey and Karen's requests: I respect the rules, will honor the rules, but have to admit that I wish it could be different.

Detail of "Behind the Barbed Wire"
Inspired by Margaret Bourke-White's 1945 images from the liberation of Buchenwald concentration camp

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Signing Artwork

Do you sign the front of your artwork?  I've always thought that placing a label on the back of a quilt is a slightly clunky way to sign a piece.  I'd like to sign the front of my artwork, but I don't really like the look of my signature.  So, what to do?

I've dabbled with ways to present my initials, but it wasn't until I saw Cate Prato's Cloth, Paper, Scissors Daily post on August 8th about Creating a Stamped Signature did things finally click.  I included my middle initial and came up with this "signature".  I think it's graphic and it shouldn't be too hard to replicate either by pen or machine.  Here's a practice doodle with lots of "VJZ"s:

I think I'm going to play with this a while.  I may even create a stamp of my new signature and put that on my labels to personalize them a bit.

Do you sign your work?  If so, how?

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Almost Wordless Wednesday

Anyone know what kind of bug this is?

Monday, August 13, 2012

Jillian Tamaki - Illustrator and Cartoonist

This summer I've been indulging my love of reading, more easily done these last weeks as I've also spent lots of time waiting around at golf courses for my son to complete tournaments.  I recently finished one of the best books I've read in a very long time: The Remains of the Day by Kazuo Ishiguro.   Excellent, excellent, excellent, on so many levels; I urge you to read it.

And, because I'm a holdout for printed text, I stopped by my favorite bookstore to pick up a few more things to read.  I'm in the mood to read more thoughtful texts, as opposed to the typical light summer read.  While perusing the shelves, I discovered the work of Jillian Tamaki, whose exquisite embroideries are used as the cover art for a number of classic novels.  And, as a bit of good fun from the publisher, the front of the cover shows the image of the front of the embroidery while the back of the cover shows the reverse of Tamaki's work.  Wonderfully clever and unexpected!  I almost bought Emma just to have the cover art, but I already have two copies.  Bummer.  Here's a photo from Tamaki's website (used with permission) showing three of her embroidered covers:

Jill Tamaki's cover art for Penguin Threads
Tamaki has also illustrated for numerous publications, including The New York Times.     Her Sketchblog offers a look into the breadth of projects she's involved with.  Be sure to read her FAQ about making a living as an artist.  She's a very engaging writer and I especially love her guide to idea generation.   Admittedly, her thoughts are directed more specifically to an illustrator's creative process, but I think the nuts and bolts of her guide are applicable to most visual artists.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Sucked In

I can't believe it's been weeks since my last blog post.  I can only confess to having been sucked in by the Olympics.  Every day I tell myself to get to bed on time, but inevitably it seems, I find myself still watching until midnight.  I'm fascinated and in awe of the sacrifice, dedication, and determination of these remarkable athletes.  I get a bit teary-eyed whenever a US olympian gets a medal and whenever the commentators share the stories of struggle that someone -- anyone, from any nation -- has endured and overcome.  Amazing....

We're also staying up late, spending time with our oldest since she's off to college this coming week.  Boxes have been packed and sent off since comforters and dishes aren't so easy to take on the airplane. Sydney's off to Notre Dame, so I'm anticipating taking lots of pictures over the next four years of what's supposed to be a beautiful campus. I know she's looking forward to all the fun football weekends.

Sign on dorm on football weekend
Photo by Matt Cashore/ University of Notre Dame
We've also been spending time with our youngest, gathering stories about her three week trip in the British Virgin Islands as she earned her advanced scuba diving, night diving, and amateur sailing certifications.  She and eleven other young teens lived aboard a boat, taking turns skipper-ing, cleaning the head, and doing all the various chores of living aboard in close quarters.  She's discovered a love of sailing (though knot tying is not one of her favorites) and she's trying to convince me to let her do a trans-Atlantic or a pan-Pacific (Tahiti to New Zealand) sail next year.  Yeah, we'll see.

One of Morgan's pictures of an island dock 
I've finished a new whimsical piece for my chair series.  This quilt will be hanging at the Pennsylvania National Quilt Extravaganza in September as part of the Stretching Art quilt exhibition.  This year's challenge was "Foundations of.....".  I decided to represent foundations of welcome: ways in which we let a visitor know we're happy they're our guest.  Tangibly, we welcome them into our home and ask them to pull up a chair.  In colonial times, pineapples were symbols of welcome, so they make an appearance here, as do wisteria and starwort.  Through my research I discovered that the latter were used in bouquets during Victorian times to symbolize welcome.  Who knew?  (I didn't even know there was a starwort flower.)  I realize I should have abstracted the house a bit more and had better color balance (meaning, I think there may be too many medium value colors), but I like the light-hearted feel of the quilt.

So, there you have it.  I hope you're enjoying your summer, too.