17 April 2014

Upcoming Exhibitions: Windham Textile History Museum and New Britain Museum of American Art

"Honey Bee" will make its debut at the Windham Textile & History Museum on May 16, 2014. 

I made this piece especially for the Inspiration Quilts: Then and Now exhibition.  Twelve artists were invited to create a modern interpretation of one of the museum's antique quilts.

The show runs from May 16 – Sept 7, 2014
Opening Reception is May 24, 1:30 – 3:30 pm


Windham Textile & History Museum
411 Main Street
Willimantic, CT 06226

Then later this fall…

I'm thrilled to share the news that I've been asked to loan my fiber artwork "New Year's Eve" to the prestigious New Britain Museum of American Art (NBMAA), for their upcoming show:

"Stitched in Time: American Quilts 1758-2014" 
October 4, 2014 – January 4, 2015


Museum curators have selected examples of masterful quilts and fiber art from over two centuries of textile history.  I can't wait to see the show and visit NBMAA's beautiful gallery.

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

I'm grateful to SAQA for this opportunity, because my work was brought to the attention of NBMAA by way of the Studio Art Quilt Associates' annual "Portfolio" book. 

SAQA-Portfolio20-cover_lgThe SAQA Portfolio contains full page color images of fiber art by SAQA's Juried Artist Members.

It is available for purchase through the SAQA online store.

10 April 2014

New Work: Three Amigos

I decided I had too many projects "started" and not enough of them finished.  So why not take a nice little one and just get it done?

Done!  The Three Amigos: Dawson, Brady and Darby
finished size: 12"x12"

Photo Apr 10, 11 39 50 AM

I'm not sure where this particular piece will end up.  It might make a good candidate for the SAQA Benefit Auction. But for now it's adding a bit of adorable fuzziness to my studio.

Photo Apr 10, 11 40 12 AM

07 April 2014

Working on the Next Portrait, "Joe"

It has taken over 10 years for me to work up the courage to attempt this portrait! One of the last photos taken of my dad before he passed away in 2000, and one of my favorite images:

Joseph P. O'Brien 1939-2000
Photo by Patrick O'Brien

My mom and each of us 4 "kids" have this particular photo hanging in our homes.  It's just such a perfect representation of my dad.  From the loving smile and the scarf he always wore, to the rolled up sleeves and coffee mug.

So you can see why this is particular composition is very personal and dear to me, and the members of my family.  Which is probably why I have always "chickened out" of starting it before.

However, this is "The Year of Stepping Outside Comfort Zones!" Okay I just made that up, but let's go with it.  As Hippocrates reminds us: Ars longa, vita brevis (Art is long, life is short).

14 - 1 (1)
"Joe", pencil sketch by K.Themel, 2014

30 March 2014

Work in Progress: Three Amigos

Here's a sneak peek of a little quilt I'm working on.  Right now it's about 14x14 but will probably end up being closer to 12x12.

The "models" for this piece are my "dog-niece" Darby (the Shih Tzu) and her two Maltese buddies, Brady and Dawson.


No quilting on it yet.  But I think it's going to be fun adding all that moppy hair! 

29 March 2014

Raising Prices

Photo Nov 02, 3 38 23 PMLast week I attended a terrific SAQA-CT Regional Meeting at the Guilford Art Center and participated in a panel discussion on Pricing Artwork.  I enjoyed sharing my own experiences with the group, but I learned so much more by listening to panelists Mickey Lawler and Jane Davila and other SAQA members.

I left with a realization: A lot of artists find it easier to discuss the deeply personal, emotional stories behind their artwork than explain the logical, professional reasons behind the PRICE of that work.  As if pricing our work is more scary and revealing than the whole creative process.  But since I am serious about having a career in art, I must get over that squeamishness.

So Here's the Honest Scoop About My Pricing

It's important to me to have a simple pricing plan, so I can A.) remove the emotion from it and B.) answer potential buyers' questions and quote a price without a lot of hemming and hawing (confession: I'm familiar with hemming but have no idea what hawing is.)

Themel_MuscleMemory_fullI don't like the idea of pricing artwork based on the amount of time it took to make.  I'm not a lawyer or psychiatrist; I don't charge by the hour.  Besides, there are too many variables (when does the timer start…when I think of the idea or when I draw the pattern…?  Do I include all the time I spend choosing fabrics and staring at a piece wondering what to do next??) Plus I don't want to punch a time clock when I enter my studio, parsing hours and minutes into categories.  That would just distract me and put my brain into business mode vs. creative mode. 

What matters to me is the finished piece, not the amount of time it took to create.  A piece is finished when I love it and I say it's finished.  Sometimes that happens quickly, other times the thing seems to drag on forever.

I decided to use a price-per-square-inch system because it is consistent, justifiable and transparent. And I don't have to think about it until the piece is DONE.

Photo Nov 02, 3 33 17 PM

After the SAQA-CT meeting, I went back and looked at all my available artwork.  The prices seemed to be all over the place regarding size-to-price ratio.  Over the years I increased the price on NEW work but I rarely went back to increase the price on older work to keep up.

May 1, 2014 is "Price Change Day"

My next step will be to adjust the prices on ALL my work to be at least $2.30/ if it's not there already*.

Crunching Numbers: The Not-So-Secret Formula

How did I come up with the $2.30/ figure?  In a nutshell, I let the "market" decide.  I used the size dimensions and sale prices of all the work I've SOLD in the past 3 years to calculate the average price per square inch, and used that as the new baseline.

*NOTE: Some pieces are valued higher because they have been juried into major shows, published in a book or magazine, won awards, or simply because I love them too much to let go of them very easily. Okay, so there is SOME emotion involved in pricing.  But I am trying to keep it to a minimum.

Now is a Good Time to Buy

If you have been on the fence looking at your favorite Kate Themel artwork, you have until May 1, 2014 to buy it at the current price.  After that, most of the pieces will be more expensive.  A few of the older ones will nearly double in price, since they haven't been updated in years.  Good news for collector's who already bought one!  

My Commitment to Offering Pieces of Various Sizes and Prices

Some people fill their homes with beautiful, inspiring artwork that speaks to them in a personal way.  Other people buy art as an investment, because they believe the artist is going to continue to produce quality artwork that will increase in value.

I realize for most people, buying art is a luxury.  I understand some of my pieces may be priced outside the typical household budget.  So I plan to create smaller pieces that will be beautiful and of the same high quality as my larger pieces, but available for a lower price.

18 March 2014

Workshop: Ready to Launch

14 - 14Thanks to the helpful feedback from my first group of students, I have made some improvements to my Magnolia Kit Workshop.

Carol R Eaton and I got together to talk about different fabric choices. The students' work has been so inspiring, we can't wait to do this again!

14 - 3So I guess that means I'm ready to go forward with phase two – advertising and booking the next workshop.

So far I have added a blurb on the SAQA website, under Resources, "Art Services Directory"

14 - 13I'm also working on changes to my website, to include information on workshops and presentations.  Here's a look at the prototype page, to see a list of classes and workshops:

Thank you again, Sisters in Cloth and Carol R Eaton, for making the first workshop so much fun!

18 February 2014

Workshop 1 Complete. On to Step 2

2-15-2014Last Saturday was the first "Magnolia Kit" workshop, and I must say it was fun and educational.  Well, it was for me, hopefully for the students too! 

Everyone was happy to participate and share their own ideas.  I left with a lot of great feedback and notes to improve the workshop. 

As students picked their fabric sets, I noticed which color schemes were popular and took a few requests for next time.  KT

People loved the complex and beautiful background fabrics, which were hand dyed by Carol R Eaton.  Even if 2 people had the same flower colors, they would not end up with an identical quilt.

We all made the same flower during class, to practice the technique from start to finish (some examples are shown here). 

14 - 4After we got a handle on the process with the first flower, the students were free to create any of the other flowers or buds they liked.  My job was easier because these particular artists are very self-sufficient. 

They only needed small corrections and advice as we went along, and by the end most of them were ready to run with their designs.  Luckily we wrapped things up just before it started to snow.


I can't wait to see what everyone puts together this week!  On Saturday 2/22 we will regroup and work on free motion quilting.

And since we were hit with YET another 5 inches of snow this morning, I was happy to stay inside and get some quilting done on my own sample project:


I am SO looking forward to spring!