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08 June 2016

Update

Wait... did I miss one?  Sorry about that.
OK moving on. This week has been all about spring (summer) cleaning.  The house, I mean.  For too long my room and studio have been full of random furniture, toys, laundry and other items that were stalled there in the process of being assembled, cleaned, donated, moved to another room or simply landed there because there was nowhere else to put them.

I'm not sure if other artists go through these kinds of phases, but I've been in a creative slump for a while. One thing that is a definite stumbling block for me -- disorder and chaos in my environment. When things are disorganized in my house I feel like my brain is disorganized too. ...Or maybe it's the other way around? Could be when my brain is chaos my house ends up in chaos. 
Chicken vs. Egg, whatever.  The point is, I needed to take some steps to break out of the creative slump and get my head in the right place again.  So I decided to work on my immediate environment, hoping it would clear some space in my life and in my creative brain.

So, again not much artwork was happening inside the studio.  I did however manage to make some progress on my Viewpoints 9 challenge.

 
I'm intrigued by the idea of balance and order, or at least recognizable pattern appearing out of apparent chaos.  I've been looking at the Fibonacci number series, phi, the Golden Ratio.

My goal is to create a composition that resembles a page torn out of my sketchbook.  Sketch drawings, notes, fabric swatches, along those lines.  Normally I do most of my pre-quilt "sketching" in my head or on Paintshop software.  So this piece will be a physical object representing my thought process. Taking disjointed, chaotic thoughts and organizing them into a coherent vision.

25 May 2016

Wasssup

So another week has flown by.  Seems like time moves faster as the weather gets nicer.  Or is that just because I'm more tempted to be outside and spend less time in the studio?

Quick recap of the week:
The Lecture/ Trunk Show/ Workshop visit to First Dutchess Quilters was a pleasure. The guild members are friendly and open, and the people I had in class were great.


As you can see, most of the students completed the class project before heading home. Some of them plan to expand their Magnolia designs with additional flowers and branches.  One student wasted NO time and completed her quilt a few days later (see below for Karen Abramson's quilt).

I was so happy to see the wide range of colors - both in the flowers and the backgrounds. Seeing these little environments come to life is what makes the class fresh and fun for me, even after years of doing the Magnolia workshop. Thanks Carol R Eaton Designs!

 

 

 
 
And here is Karen Abramson's finished quilt (image below).  She added a lovely double-border in coordinating fabrics.  Nicely done!
 
 
 
I always feel good when I see students showing off their finished work. The last thing I want is to send them home with an unfinished project to linger in the "someday I'll get to that" pile.

Ok, other news... I did a lot of yard work this week. The kind of stuff that takes a lot of effort but doesn't really get you to a WOW photo. Weeding, tearing up grass, planting and digging/transporting other plants and power washing the stone patio. Maintenance stuff.  But at least it was a nice opportunity to use power tools and spend time outside with my sister and my son :-)





Once again I have knitting progress but no quilting.  My mom warned me that knitting can be addictive. But do I listen???


All right, back to the studio! Next week my goal is to have at least the beginning of my Viewpoints 9 TEXT challenge on the design board.  Stay tuned :-)

17 May 2016

Not Quite Wednesday

I figured I'd post something today since I will be traveling to Poughkeepsie, NY (First Dutchess Quilters Guild) tomorrow to do a Lecture and Trunk show, followed by an all day workshop on Thursday.

I'm packing up all the "people" quilts I have on hand. The lecture will be about my approach to portraits in fiber art.  Also being loaded into the car: 12 sets of printed instructions for the Magnolia Kit class, freezer paper, glue sticks, sharpie markers, scissors, iron, ironing board and my design wall.  Do I have everything...???  I hope so!

This weekend I purchased the gorgeous fabric kits from my buddy and fabric guru Carol R. Eaton.  I'm so excited to see what the class does with their wonderful color palettes!

 
I don't have any quilt-related updates to post since completing the 2 Mothers Day commissions, but I did make some progress on a knitting project. Recently I learned how to do cables, so I thought I'd try my hand at Celtic-knots. Here's how far I've gotten so far:


Hope you're doing something fun and creative as well. Have a lovely week! :-)

09 May 2016

Mother's Day commissions

Whew!  Okay so all went well with the commissioned portraits.  The client was thrilled with them and gave them to her daughters for Mother's Day.  Today she sent me a glowing report from her daughters as well.
So here they are, the Sunshine Sisters:

(I absolutely LOVED working on the girls' gorgeous curly hair )
 
And the Giggling Trio:

(I'm a sucker for kids who wear glasses)

 
Each portrait had its own style and sense of place but I hope they both show a loving connection between siblings. I love the way baby brother and older sister are holding hands (Giggling Trio, finished size 14"x 20"), and the way older sister hugs her younger sister (Sunshine Sisters, finished size 14"x 16").  

Creating a 14x20 composition featuring 3 faces was a challenge, not to mention adding hands, clothing, glasses.  Working in such a small scale (baby brother's head is only about 3" diameter), my top priority was to capture the kids' features and a little of their personality using minimal shapes and lines.  I figured if the grandmother and parents could recognize their precious children in these portraits, they would be happy. 

I'm so relieved the client loved them!  Whew!

These portraits were a great learning experience for me.  It's always good to push yourself beyond your comfort zone as an artist.  With that said: in the future I'm going to set a minimum size for portraits, especially ones with multiple people in them. Not that I'm unhappy with these. I like the way they came out. But it's a lot more difficult to cut and sew really tiny pieces. I prefer a little more room to work, so I can really capture the smaller details.

Okay, I'm going to take a SHORT break from quilting. Regroup. Clean up the disaster area otherwise known as my studio. Then move on to the next project.

Check back soon! :-)

 

04 May 2016

Nerves

Happy Wednesday, everyone!
And May the Fourth be with you, to my fellow nerds.

This week I finished the 2 commissioned portraits. I will not post them yet since they have not been delivered and/or approved by the client.  Right now I'm having a confidence issue, which is common right before I show a finished piece to a client.  My policy is that I always give the client the option of either accepting or rejecting the piece - if they accept it, they pay the balance and I give them the work.  If they reject it, I keep the piece and they owe me nothing further.

So right now is when the doubts start creeping into my mind.  I'm always afraid that THIS TIME will be the time the client hates the finish piece and refuses to take it.  It's a recurring nightmare. Most of the time I channel this fear into motivation to do my best work.  Other times I just lose a lot of sleep.  Sometimes both.

I deliver the pieces on Friday, so I will follow up with some photos and I'll let you know what the final decision from the client was.
Stay tuned!

27 April 2016

Update, new work

(Albert, 24"H x 40"W)
 
So here's where I'm at.  The Tattooed Dog, otherwise known as Albert.  Our most recent Viewpoints 9 challenge was called "Pick a Color, Any Color".  We were challenged to create a composition using only ONE hue from the color wheel, along with as much black, white and gray as we liked.

I chose yellow-orange as my one color. I like the way the warm organic-looking batik background brings out Albert's brown eyes and compliments his black and white printed coat. 
 
At the moment, Albert remains un-quilted. Normally I would not post an unfinished piece on Viewpoints 9 gallery day... especially since I am the one who wrote the current challenge.  HOWEVER.  Too many times, lately, I have rushed to get something done and ended up with "mmmeh" results. This time I am taking the time to do the job right, even though it means missing a deadline.
 
So, the current status of Tattooed Dog is limbo. I feel like it still needs more work before I bring it to the quilting stage.  The shapes on his back and body are still too large, the patterns too recognizable.  Right now the patterned fabrics (while interesting and cool) are getting too much attention. I want the piece to have more tension between the patterned fabrics and the realism of a portrait. I need to add more variety and smaller pieces to create a more believable sense of light and shadow on the dog.
 
But that will have to wait.  Right now (or actually, starting tomorrow) I gotta pivot back to the 2 commissioned portraits I have due in early May.  Those are my laser focus for the next week to 10 days.  After that, I'll finish Albert and get everything in place for my 2 day visit to First Dutchess Quilters.
 
After that I will be caught up. I think. Hopefully.
 


20 April 2016

Wassup Wednesday

Welcome, welcome, welcome!
Just time for a quick recap of the week.

I made some progress on the 2 kid portraits. One is now finished with phase 1 (all the fabric pieces are cut and placed. Phase 2 is the machine quilting). 
The other is about 1/2 way done with phase 1.

I had a wonderful visit with the Quilters' Connection quilt guild in Waltham, MA on Monday. The guild members were very friendly and asked some great questions.  They seemed interested in a future workshop, so we'll see how that goes.

Still coming up: a trip to First Dutchess Quilters Guild in Poughkeepsie, NY May 18 - 19.  For that visit, I'll be giving a lecture/trunk show centered around portrait quilts. Then on the 2nd day we'll be doing the Magnolia Kit workshop.

So what else is new?  This morning I took a 5K walk along the trail near my house. It was such a beautiful morning, and I've been spending so much time in the basement (studio), I decided to take my doctor's advice and get more outdoor exercise. I thought it would help to clear the creative cobwebs out of my head.


Maybe it worked! When I got back from my walk, I put aside the kid portrait commissions so I could get the Viewpoints 9 challenge piece started.  I'm starting to feel that ol' mojo coming back.  I'm having a lot of fun creating "Tattoo Dog - otherwise known as Albert".  More on that later.

In other fiber art news, I've started knitting. Learning to knit has been a goal of mine for the past few years.  And finally, on April 1st, Cindy Grisdela generously gave her time to the SAQA MakerSpace (an event I organized at the 2016 SAQA conference in Philadelphia) and she taught me to knit & purl.  Thank you Cindy!
 
When I got home from the conference, I used up the rest of the donated yarn remnant I brought home from the conference and learned a couple more things, like how to cast on and cast off, and how to un-knit mistakes, by watching YouTube videos. 

My first knitting project! I call it "Mouse Blanket"
 
 Here's a little detail showing one of my practice pieces.  I'm just doing different combos of K and P, seeing what kind of textures they create. 
 
I know it might seem counter-intuitive since I already have a lot of projects going on. But I think knitting might be a key to breaking out of my creative dull drums and getting back on track. Learning something new is a good way to engage a different part of the brain.

Here's one thing. My actual productive hours during the day are really only from about 10am - 2pm. Those are the times when I have excellent focus and can really get some detail work done in the studio.  After that, I pick up my son from school and my productivity starts to decline.  By dinnertime my attention is 10 different places and by evening, I can't be trusted around heavy machinery, sharp scissors and a hot iron.

Knitting offers me a chance to work with my hands with NO pressure to deliver something great to anyone and under NO time limit. I can sit and relax but also feel like I'm being productive.  Even when I accidentally let the stitches fall off the needle and everything unraveled, it was kind of fun to pull it all apart and see the yarn there, waiting to become something new.  (Kind of like Legos!)

This is a nice way to quiet my mind toward the end of the day. Hey, it beats zoning out with Candy Crush... level 765 and counting!
Last week I bought a brand new skein of yarn to work with. I discovered that I really enjoy "seed stitch".  It builds into a lovely, bumpy texture like smooth pebbles that feel great in my hands. So there ya go, instant gratification.


I realize this post is kind of rambling on without much structure - kind of like my knitting projects right now. But who cares, it's a pleasant break from the deadlines, precision and structure of my current fiber work.
Anyway, I'm not trying to obsess over writing the perfect post.  I'm just gathering my thoughts for the week and holding myself accountable. And MAYBE something here resonates with another artist in the same creative boat.  If so, welcome to the boat! :-)