Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Freshening Up

"Sunshine and Picnics",  February 2014

Back in November, the Latitude Quilters had their reveal for their "Escape" challenge, but I didn't post anything.  You may recall that in November I suffered a fractured tailbone, making any sort of art-related work out of the question.  With my family difficulties at the start of this year, I haven't been making art for a few months.

I've finally been able to get back into the studio and, pressed for time, I changed course.  My original idea for "Escape" was very cool, but would have taken more time than I felt appropriate; I didn't want to continue to keep my fellow members waiting for me to finish.  As a result, I decided to piece a small quilt reminiscent of one of my favorite summer "escape" activities: picnics.  Piecing seems to reflect best those days when picnics are a special treat, with a homemade cloth spread out on the lawn.  I love picnics on gentle summer days with puffy clouds, so yellow and white became the color palette.  Piecing also took me back to the beginning of my quilting days when I made baby quilts for everyone (except my own children -- sorry, kids!).  I'd forgotten how much I enjoy piecing.  

In my hope to get the quilt done quickly I didn't take as much care as I should have; I pieced one section backwards.  Rather than take the section apart and resew it, I chose to cover up the error and I'm so proud of myself!  Sometimes, it is the right decision to take something apart (or even to start over), but I'm glad I gave myself the opportunity to consider another alternative.  Now there's grass peeking up along the edge of the quilt, just like it might at a picnic.  (I have to wonder if I wasn't also influenced by the bit of green I've spied alongside mounds of melting snow.)  As it turns out, I think the quilt has a bit more charm now.

You'll note that the quilt has more quilting than my usual work does.  One of the challenges I gave myself this year was to decide how I liked quilting -- not as a medium, but as one of my art-making tools.  Not surprisingly, I figured I was done after I had quilted in the ditch then stitched a few diagonal lines through nine-patches.... but no, I really wasn't.  The open squares puckered a bit due to lack of quilting and the quilt looked a little forlorn.  After mulling it over a bit (what design to use? do I really want to take the time?), I decided I needed to do something.  I think the quilt looks better with the swirly, loopy quilting and the open squares don't look sloppy any longer.  I chose to try out Aurifil linen thread that Alex Veronelli sent to me when I volunteered to experiment with some threads.  I LOVE the line this thread makes.  It's the perfect thread to use if you have a motif that needs to stand out and "fill the space", so to speak.  I don't know if this is the right thread to use in the background as a filler; I'm inclined to think it's better on center stage.   The few colors I saw are lovely, too.

Now that this project is off my plate and my quilting mojo is somewhat back on track, I can work -- very quickly -- on some projects that have rather immediate deadlines.  Hopefully I'll have new work to show you SOON.  

If you peek through the grass, you can see that I pieced the half square triangles
in the wrong direction; they were supposed to go the other way
to mimic rays of sunshine, as on the top of the quilt.

Simple swirly, loopy motif for the empty squares, stitched with Aurifil linen thread.
(The diagonal lines and in-the-ditch quilting was also done with
 the same Aurifil linen thread; even the straight lines pop!)

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Facing Life with Attitude

A flower for Karen

For those of you who don't know me outside of the internet, you might have been wondering why I've been gone from blogging for so long; my sister, and only sibling, passed away unexpectedly at the beginning of January.  It's been a difficult time, but my family and I are beginning to be able to move forward and I find myself today with the time and the desire to blog.

So here I am, starting the blogging year in February.  I'll start by telling you that the word I selected for the year is "attitude".  I decided on "attitude" because I realized that most aspects of our lives, whether they are art-related or not, are influenced by our attitudes towards them.  For example, I hosted my oldest brother-in-law's 50th birthday party less than 24 hours after we returned home from our week-long Christmas trip.  When I first heard about the timing, I felt overwhelmed and panicky.  But I came to realize that my attitude towards the event was all wrong. This was going to be a wonderful opportunity for the whole side of my husband's family (all 23) to be together.  It was going to be FUN.  Once I adjusted my attitude, everything about the party was a joy.

All ready for a PARTY (and it was great)!

I'd like to look at everything more joyfully, to enjoy the ride as opposed to worrying about the speed bumps.  I suspect it will have positive implications across the board.  How will it impact my art?  Well,  I'm going to try to be more process-driven, as opposed to product-driven.  To that end, I've signed up for a year-long master class that will allow me play without specific projects in mind.  I'm hoping to decide what I like and don't like about my art making.  For example, is my quilting more minimalist because that's my style or because I'm not that comfortable with it?  I'm looking forward to a year of discovery.  It should be fun and I'll keep you posted on my progress.

I have a few weeks until my class starts and there's lots to do before then.  I'm hopeful I'll soon have something new to show you.  Until then, I'd like to leave you with this excerpt from the book, A Rule Against Murder by Louise Penny.  There's a character in the book who's an accountant.  Each day he wanders off to "do his sums" and everyone assumes that he's a stingy, money-hungry fellow who's tallying up columns of cash.  Not so...

"You asked what I count each evening and each morning. What I
counted each day in [POW] prison while better men withered and
died.  Do you know the sums that I do? -- I count my blessings."

 That's the attitude I want to grab each day.