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29 January 2015

New Goals for 2015

Yes it's almost the end of January and I'm just now mentioning my New Year's resolutions.  My blog posts have been very neglected lately.  But I'm going to change that!

To begin with, I will share photos of 2 commissions that were delivered earlier this month:

First off, "Zoey" (13" x 17" quilt mounted on 16" x 20" canvas)

Zoey

 

and her little brother "Bradford" (same finished size)

Bradford

Coming up I have 2 more commissions: one landscape and yet another dog portrait. In addition to these custom pieces, I have some creative goals of my own for this year.

My First goal: to create a coherent collection of 12 finished works of fiber art between now and the end of December 2015. 
Second goal: to integrate healthy habits into my daily life. Here's a quick overview of my game plan:

GOAL #1 (12 new works)

  1. Criteria for "coherent" = Consistent size/dimensions
    Pieces may be 18"x 24" rectangle, 18" square or 24" square]
  2. Criteria for "finished" = Ready to Hang. Edges must be finished by binding, facing or other technique; quilt will either be mounted to canvas, framed, or have a hanging sleeve attached to the back.
  3. Complete (on average) one work per month that will qualify for the collection.
  4. Challenge quilts for Viewpoints9 may also qualify for the 12 piece collection if they meet the criteria.

I chose the size dimension 18x24 because it is a standard canvas and frame size.  I figured that would increase my options for hanging the pieces.

And I added the option of 18" or 24" squares, so the pieces could be hung in an interesting combination and the show wouldn't be ALL one size and shape.   And more importantly, I think I can finish something of this size range in 4 weeks or less.
(key words: "I THINK I CAN")

Still, it will be a tough challenge. Especially since I'm not allowing myself the usual shortcut of leaving the edges unfinished and/or hanging mechanism unattached. Hand sewing is my LEAST favorite fiber-art activity, so it's going to take discipline for me to get these truly finished & ready to hang every time.

….aaaaand since it is January 29th, I will be a tad behind on the whole "one quilt per month" schedule. Better oil up that sewing machine and get to work!

Dancer

Ok, on to GOAL #2 (Health & Wellness)
Here's My Checklist for Every Day:

  1. Healthy foods* for all meals and snacks.  *Healthy foods = according to the plan I put together for myself. Too much info to list here.
  2. Exercise at least 30 minutes.
  3. Lights OUT and screens OFF by 11:30 pm

If I complete all 3 things, I get 3 stars for the day. That's right!  I'm not ashamed to say I'm still motivated by smiley stickers and gold stars! :-)

Anyway, I won't continue to post too much on goal #2, as it is more lifestyle and less art related.  However, I believe strongly that my level of health and fitness has a direct affect on my creativity.  It also affects my mood, my stamina in the studio, and a host of other aspects of my life. 

So for now I'll just say that I am on Day 29 of my 2015 Goal and I've gotten my 3 stars for 25 days and 2 stars for the rest. I thought the exercise was going to be the hardest to keep up. But it turns out, SCREENS OFF is the tough one!

30 December 2014

"Fabric and Thread": My Solo Exhibition at The Funky Monkey (Cheshire, CT)

POSTCARD

I'm happy to share the news that I am this month's featured artist at the Funky Monkey Café & Gallery in Cheshire, CT. 

Many of the pieces in this show have never been on display in public before, including "Looking Back", from the exhibition postcard.  I've also added a few smaller, framed pieces from my new "Dancer" series.

"Fabric and Thread" will be on display until the end of January.  Artist Reception: Friday, January 9, 2015 at 7pm
Please stop by and say hello!

The Funky Monkey Café & Gallery
130 Elm Street, in the Watch Factory Shoppes
Cheshire, CT 06410


Photo Dec 30, 12 12 52 PM

Photo Dec 30, 12 12 25 PM

Photo Dec 30, 12 12 12 PM

12 December 2014

Committees and Commissions

It's now mid-December, so here's what's up.

I've served on SAQA's Education Committee for about 2 years, helping to set up student activities at the last conference.  This year I have the exciting job of organizing SAQA's first "Maker Space", to take place at the 2015 conference in Portland, Oregon.

What's a Maker Space?  I'm glad you asked. A Maker Space houses a community of "Makers" - creative people who like to work with their hands. It’s a place where someone would come to learn how to use a new tool or material in a new way, or to see what others are working on because they might want to help out on that project or start something similar. Ideally, a Maker space should be conducive to inspiration, collaboration, and conversation.

Basically, the SAQA Maker Space will be a social event where people participate in hands-on activities, talk with other artists about their work and explore new ways of creating art.

So I've been spending a lot of time recruiting artists to offer their expertise and enthusiasm to the Maker Space event, creating a "SAQA Maker Space" Facebook page where people can learn more about it, and trying to come up with a reasonable layout for the ballroom so people can walk from one activity to the next and also have a place to gather or work independently.  I'm very excited about the plan, but the idea of organizing a never-been-done-before event AND on the opposite coast is pretty intimidating.  Luckily, the rest of the Education Committee is very supportive and willing to help!

With that going on, I still have studio work to do.  A lot of it.  And it has been piling up.  Coming up in January the Funky Monkey Café will exhibit a solo show of my work, so I'm trying to create a collection of small framed pieces to offer an attractive price range.

At the same time I have 3 commissions in the queue and one that was JUST finished & delivered yesterday: Here's Jack (finished size 15" x 15").

Jack

For Jack, I used very soft, realistic skin tones which I don't do very often.  Mostly because it makes it harder to show the contours and structure of the face. But overall I think it captures the little guy pretty well.  Before I delivered the finished piece, I attached it to an 18x18 painted canvas with a hanging wire on the back.  The customer was very happy with it, and that makes me very happy!

JackDetail1
(Jack, detail)

Next up: 2 more dog portraits. One is 99% done; just needs to be bound and attached to a canvas.  The second one is in progress. That makes 4 "dog" and 3 "human" commissioned portraits this year. And one more commission coming up, which may be a landscape or another kind of animal.  Details to be confirmed.

So what's the best way to budget my time?  I have no idea, except to get into my studio and not emerge until 2015.

Today I'm working to finish stitching the Viewpoints9  challenge, due Dec 27. Next week I'll add the binding and hanging sleeve onto "Grandmother" so I can bring it to the New Britain Museum on Dec 18. After the VP9 piece is done I'll wrap up the 2nd dog portrait (that may be delivered around New Year's).  Hopefully I'll have a few days to get small pieces ready for the solo show.  Oh yeah, and some where in there I need to spend time with my family for Christmas! I see a lot of coffee with peppermint sticks in my near future…

Busy busy busy, but it's all good stuff.

Happy Holidays, everyone!

04 December 2014

Grandmother is Going to the New Britain Museum!

Wow, it has been a while since I last posted but it has been a busy few months.  Great news to share: "Grandmother" will soon be hanging in the New Britain Museum of American Art (New Britain, CT) as part of NOR'EASTER: The 45th Annual Juried Members Exhibition.

KThemel_GrandmotherSM

The Annual Juried Members Exhibition is the New Britain Museum of American Art's opportunity to expose contemporary visual arts to a wide audience. This prominent showcase in the Northeast region highlights the exceptional work of emerging artists in all media. The show runs from January 10 - 25, 2015.

Please join me at the Opening Reception on Sunday, January 11
1:00 - 2:30 p.m.

New Britain Museum of American Art
56 Lexington Street
New Britain, CT 06052

A list of all participating artists and prize winners can be found on NBMAA's website:
http://www.nbmaa.org/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=198

13 October 2014

Around the World Blog Hop

Tag, I'm it!

Welcome to this installment of the "Around the World Blog Hop".

I was invited to join the hop by Jeanne Marklin.  I met Jeanne through SAQA (Studio Art Quilt Associates).  We have caught up with each other at various fiber art shows around New England and also at the annual SAQA Conference.  Take a look at her blog to see some of the beautiful work she's doing lately: http://jeannemarklin.blogspot.com/

So the basic format of the Around the World blog posts is a set of Questions & Answers. 

What am I working on?

At the moment I'm finishing a composition for the latest installment of Viewpoints 9 gallery. The challenge centers on the number 9 as described by Lin Hsin-Chen:

"In Chinese culture, the number “9” also means “lasting for a long time” (久)….  when we apply this word to natural environment, it means everlasting existence."

Each Viewpoints 9 member is challenged to make a quilt of 40 cm (width) x 80 cm (height) in portrait orientation, based on the theme of environment and ecology”.

Photo Oct 09, 11 15 20 AM(Work in progress, detail)

My piece was inspired by the sharp decline in bee and butterfly populations in North America.  The expansion of industrial farmland using powerful herbicides like Roundup is wiping out many species of plants that are essential to pollinating insects. It's a worrying trend, since these great swaths of farmland and orchards are dependent on pollinators to succeed and sustain themselves.

How does my work differ from others in my genre?

I tend to use pretty traditional quilt materials in my work – cotton fabrics and batting, cut pieces of fabric and machine stitching.  I think what makes my work different than other art quilters' and fiber artists' work is my use of multiple layers of fabric to create the composition.  And I consider the free motion stitching as a drawn line.  I use it to blend colors, enhance contours and add details.

Why do I create what I do?

Why indeed. I guess I'll take this one to mean "why do I choose to work with textiles vs. other art media?".  I find the process entirely relaxing and transformative. The soft texture of the fabric, fuzzy batting, a warm iron, the humming white noise of the sewing machine – it is very comforting to me. The cloth scraps around my studio often pile up to form a giant colorful nest around me while I work. I just feel at home.

How does my writing/creating process work?

I'm a planner.  Usually I have a clear vision of the finished piece before I start "production".  So I spend a lot of time sketching, choosing fabrics and basically creating an overall game plan in my mind.

466821_373979565975780_1310589193_o (Pattern for Dandelion, detail)

Once I have a good handle on what I want to accomplish, I set about cutting pieces of fabric and layering them together. It's a very methodical process. 

However, after the fabrics are tacked into place, I change gears for the hand-guided machine stitching.  For me, the quilting (stitching) process is much more organic and spontaneous.  I don't plan out the quilting lines beforehand, unless I want to include something extremely precise and specific like text. I'm very comfortable with my sewing machine after all these years.  That allows me to let go of the mechanical worries and get into my drawing "zone".  I'm only thinking about the lines I want – sketchy, dynamic, smooth or rough, a small reflection or wisp of hair.  To me, the thread is as crucial to the finished piece as the fabric.

Photo Sep 20, 11 54 52 AM (finished, After the Wake)

As part of the blog hop, I get to invite other artists to join.  Look for these posts next week:

Carol R. Eaton – I love Carol's hand dyed fabrics! I use them all the time in my own work and for the past few years Carol and I have teamed up to create a workshop/kit project.  Using my instructions and patterns and Carol's fabrics, students create compositions of Magnolia flowers in various colors. Check out her stunning work at http://carolreatondesigns.blogspot.com/

Deb Cashatt and Kris Sazaki – Kris and Deb are members of SAQA as well as the dynamic duo and creative force behind "Pixeladies" http://www.pixeladies.com/blog/. I first met Deb and Kris at a SAQA conference.  I am also a happy customer – Pixeladies created a gorgeous custom-designed silk scarf for me a few years ago.  I gave it to my new sister-in-law as a wedding present.

More Blogs to Discover

There have been many exciting participants in the hop in the past weeks. Here are links to a few so you can enjoy learning about them:

I hope that you enjoy this opportunity to explore what all these amazing artists are doing lately!

11 October 2014

New Exhibition at New Britain Museum Opens Oct 12 (New Britain, CT)

Please join me tomorrow afternoon for the Opening Reception of "Let Me Quilt One More Day" at the New Britain Museum of American Art. 

Themel_NYE_sm
Kate Themel, New Year's Eve

Let Me Quilt One More Day
Saturday, Oct. 4–Sunday, Jan. 4, 2015
Opening Reception
2-5 p.m., Sunday, Oct. 12, 2014
4 p.m. Remarks by Douglas Hyland

http://www.nbmaa.org/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=32&Itemid=56

Let Me Quilt One More Day explores the long-standing practice and art of quilt making in the United States. This exhibition, curated by Dr. Douglas Hyland, brings together an extraordinary selection of over 40 historical and contemporary quilts ranging from traditional to modern designs and demonstrating both the practical application and artistic range found in this medium. The themes of Industry, Emotion, and Art loosely group quilts that vary greatly in material and artistic style.

Noted quilt authority Lynne Z. Bassett, advised on the selection of objects for this exhibition, and her catalogue essay adds immensely to our understanding of this craft and art form.

The exhibition contains works from the Lyman Allyn Art Museum, Mattatuck Museum, New Haven Museum and Historical Society, Fenimore Art Museum, Webb-Deane-Stevens Museum, and Connecticut Historical Society.

In addition we are fortunate to have works by contemporary quilters: Barbara Barrick McKie, Richard Killeaney, Todd Knopke, Norma Schlager, Denyse Schmidt, Marlene Shea, Kate Themel, Anna Tufankjian, and Victoria Findlay Wolfe along with works from the collections of others.

New Britain Museum of American Art
56 Lexington Street
New Britain, CT 06052

p: 860.229.0257
f: 860.229.3445
www.nbmaa.org

SAQA Members: In case you miss the opening reception, our next  SAQA-CT regional meeting will be next Saturday, October 18 at the New Britain Museum.

24 September 2014

New Work: "Grandmother"

Grandmother1

Just finished! "Grandmother" (24x30) is based on a photo I took of an antique sewing machine at the Windham Textile Museum (Willimantic, CT).

You know I can't resist a good set of gears or piece of machinery with bits of shiny metal!

Photo Sep 24, 4 13 18 PM