Thursday, January 31, 2013

CARNIVAL -- Latitude Quilts Reveal

Today is the day each of the members of the Latitude Quilt group reveal their 15" x 15" creations from our first group challenge theme: Carnival.

When the Carnival theme was announced,  I immediately thought of the local town fairs that pop up across the country in warm weather.  I turned to my journal and filled a page with different images and ideas: cotton candy, laughter, tickets for rides, roller coasters, sticky fingers.   It was clear that my biggest challenge was going to be settling on one idea.  At one point I did consider doing some sort of image collage to help represent the colorful and chaotic nature of these town fairs, but that didn't seem the right path for this piece.  Instead, I pared down my thoughts and created this: Ferris Wheels and Goldfish (15" x 15").

I think I got my first ferris wheel ride at a hometown carnival.  I do know that I got two of my pet goldfish by winning a carnival game.  A platform was covered in little water-filled fish bowls, but a few  had goldfish in them as well.  If you were lucky enough to throw your ping pong ball into a bowl with a fish, you got to take the little fish home.  And I did -- twice.

I'm pleased with the colors of my piece and the graphic quality of the design.  I tried to use some of the lessons I learned in Lisa Call's Abstraction class to represent what I wanted, without realism.  I also wanted to convey fun and joy, along with the shapes.  Since I love circles, I'm happy that there was a way to incorporate so many of them, even though I didn't consciously set out to do so.  The quilting was harder to do than I expected; I couldn't decide if I should keep it simple or go nuts.  In the end, I kept the quilting to a minimum so as not to compete with the simple lines already in the composition.  I also ripped out big decorative hand stitches and beading because they also seemed to interfere.  Besides, I couldn't figure out how to "bling" the ping pong balls; the quilt looked really lopsided with an embellished ferris wheel on the left and plain Jane circles on the right.

Please head over to our group blog: to see what all the other members made for the challenge.  I know you'll be glad you did.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Start, Stop, Start Again

A while back I started a new chair piece.  I stenciled some shapes onto a pieced background made from 1930s blocks.  Next, I outlined a chair with a dark variegated thread.  After outlining the first chair I stopped; the outline looked too harsh and I didn't care for it. However, I didn't know how to continue, so I set it aside.

A few weeks later, I glanced at the piece and immediately thought, "It's good that chair has a strong outline."  For some reason, I liked it - go figure.  Who knows what happened in my psyche.  Nonetheless, I stitched around the remaining chairs with the original dark thread.

Today I sat down to add some seed stitched shadows.  I chose a lovely navy perle cotton thread and set to work.  I figured I could hang out with my husband on the couch, stitching while he watched golf.  But now, I don't like what I've done -- AGAIN.

You can barely see the stitching, though I guarantee you that it's there.

This time though, I think I know what I want to do differently ... but it will have to wait until I finish the piece that's generated this mess:

These are scraps and tidbits from the piece I'm creating for my Latitude Quilts group.  You may remember that I joined an international internet group back in November and we're working together on bi-monthly themes, similar to the Twelve by Twelve group.  Our first theme is Carnival and OUR FIRST REVEAL IS THIS THURSDAY, JANUARY 31ST.  I hope you'll all pop over to see what we've created.  In the meantime, feel free to stop by our group blog to get to know us and see what we've been up to as we prepare for our first challenge.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Time Flies

and apparently, so do boys....  Happy 17th birthday to my son.

Thursday, January 17, 2013


Here are two things I learned recently about thinking ahead:

1) I never mix just enough paint for what I'm doing.  I ALWAYS mix far more than I need.  Case in point:  the paint for this 7"x 7" fabric square

also covered this 12"x 25" fabric (shown here drying on the stairwell).

LESSON LEARNED:  Always have extra fabric right next to the work station when painting.  That way you don't have to wash your hands, go back to your studio, cut fabric, iron fabric, and bring it back to your work station before the paint dries on the plate.

2) Trying to squeeze in some painting time before the children come home from school isn't necessarily a good idea.  Why?  Because it's the children's chore to feed them when they get home and the dogs get antsy and nudge-y as the clock winds down.

LESSON LEARNED:  Don't do anything that requires any finesse at all (like keeping paint off your clothes) in the company of hungry dogs.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Almost Wordless Wednesday

I'd like to learn how to sleep standing up....

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Watching the Clock

There are all sorts of record keeping that I think are helpful to my artistic endeavors: maintaining a spreadsheet listing the details of each of my pieces, using another spreadsheet to track where my artworks are, and the like.  But this weekend, I decided that keeping track of the hours spent in my studio will not be something I'll do right now.

Why did I reach that decision?

Because I really don't need a reminder of how long it takes me to get things done. This was illustrated beautifully for me yesterday when I decided to bury my quilting threads on a new small chair piece I worked on.  Before I got started, I had gone through a mental checklist of what I might want to do better on my chair pieces.  One of the things that came to mind was trying to clean up some of the thread bulk created in the stops and stops inherent in sketching a chair.  Burying the threads seemed like a way to achieve my desired results.  Out of curiosity, I looked at the clock to see how long it took me to get from this

to this (threads buried carefully enough that you can't see them in the open space when held to the light).

I like the neatness of the final sketch, but it took me an alarmingly long time to get it all done. I'd spent a good amount of time on this piece just sketching and burying, and I wasn't close to finished, leading me to the following questions:  Do I really want to know how many hours I spend on a piece?  Do I really want to work out the price per hour?  Do I really want to worry about the time expended, if it's the right thing to do?

For me, at this point in my artistic journey, I've decided the answer is "no".  I don't want my joy of being in the studio diminished by an hourly tally.  I want to feel that all my time is well spent, regardless of how much I tangibly get done. I want to thrill in getting done what I can, to the best of my ability.  I want to ask, "Was it worth it?" about experiments in my studio, not the time spent there.

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Looking Backwards and Forwards

I've been reflecting on 2012 as I consider the upcoming months of 2013. What things do I want to be sure to remember from the past twelve months to inform how I meet the next twelve?

1) My family will always come first and take up a lot of time..... and that's a good thing.  The time I have with my children is very short in the grand scheme of things, so I'm going to celebrate the messiness they inherently bring.

I hope there will be  no more pouting about not getting to the studio!  Slap me if I do.

2) I'm going to remember that, despite the family obligations, I still made some art this past year that I'm really proud of.  In fact, I think I made some of my favorite pieces last year.  I only showed you a peek of this one before, but it's okay if I show you the entire quilt; it's one I especially like.  This is Behind the Barbed Wire and it's currently waiting for an exhibition with the group CLAW (Crossing the Line: Artists at Work), spearheaded by Karen Musgrave.

Behind the Barbed Wire
I think I'm growing as an artist and I hope I continue on that path.  Thoughtfully delving into a subject is great and can manifest itself into some pretty authentic art.  That's the goal, not the number of pieces I create.

3) I was a student more than I realized in 2012.  I took two eight week, on-line courses with Lisa Call in 2012: Working in a Series and Abstraction.  Working in a Series started my artistic exploration of a chair shape and I know I'll continue exploring it in the coming months.  I've long admired textile artists who can create abstract work, but I didn't know if I could use abstraction in my own work.  I took Lisa's abstraction class in an effort to learn more; I wanted to make a thoughtful decision on whether or not abstraction is "right" for me.  I had no idea how much I didn't know, about abstract art in general and the incredible intellectual approach to different forms of abstraction.  In addition to learning a great deal, I think the class made me a better art viewer.  I also made some really cool drawings that I will want to pursue in fabric some day.

I hope to continue to learn in 2013 because I'm a geek at heart.  It was wonderful to rediscover my passion for book -learning and inquisitive thought.  Loved it, loved it, loved it.  I don't know how this will manifest itself in the coming months, but I loved being a mini-academic.

4) An exciting development for me at the end of the year was my acceptance into the Latitude Quilts group.  I really enjoy the camaraderie of a group working towards a common goal.  To that end, the bi-monthly themed challenges of our group will get me thinking in new ways, especially since so many of the artists have a completely different perspective than my own since we're truly a global group.  I can't wait to hear their take on what I create.  Our first reveal is on January 31st.  In the spirit of experimentation, I'm thinking of trying to include some Christmas debris in my piece:

I look forward to being pushed by my new colleagues.

Here's to 2013!