01 November 2015

New Work: Along the Lines of Jackson Pollock

For the latest Viewpoints 9 challenge, I was inspired by an American art movement, Abstract Expressionism, and one artist in particular: Jackson Pollock.

I took the information I gathered about Pollock (art history books, biographies, videos of the artist at work) and attempted to translate that sense of ACTION into fiber art.  While making the “Hummingbird” pieces in a previous challenge, I got a glimpse of that expressionist freedom and I felt compelled to push it further – and much MUCH larger.

I used yarns of different thicknesses that reminded me of the dripped-paint lines in Pollock’s work.  But once I started dripping the yarn onto the white canvas background, I stopped thinking about Pollock’s paintings or my own plans, or really much at all.  All I cared about was adding line after line after line, only occasionally wondering where the next scribble of color should go… until the field was nearly covered.

working Photo Oct 04, 1 17 12 PM Photo Oct 06, 9 31 39 AM Photo Oct 06, 9 37 08 AM

The results are.. whatever they are.  But what was more important to me was the creative process itself. My approach was a mix of intuition, freestyle gestures and controlled composition.

I LOVE the effect of layers of lines on top of each other, creating a web of scribbles that fill my field of vision. Strands pulled out of a piece of gold foil fabric are mixed in with the yarn, adding little bits of reflected light.  As I stand and look at the gestures and movement of the lines, I can retrace my steps and re-live the wonderful experience of making this piece. This type of work is so unlike me (or my usual style) and yet I feel very deeply, personally connected to it.



Technical details: Whole cloth white cotton background, various yarn, metallic and rayon threads, fusible web, acrylic tulle; hand-guided machine quilting
Finished size 40”H x 52”W

31 August 2015

New Work: Found

I was contemplating the latest Viewpoints 9 challenge (unusual materials) and searching for inspiration when it showed up in my mailbox.  My friend and creative collaborator Carol R Eaton had sent me a surprise gift – a piece of hand dyed fabric.  Carol had made it as an experiment and thought I would like the results (I do!)


That began a vague idea about found objects: buttons, a zipper, safety pins – things found around the studio. I took the piece on vacation with me and added to it as I found the time. At first I chose the safety pins as a way to incorporate “reflection” into the piece. But I found that I really enjoyed the repetitive action of pinning them.

A picture began to emerge in my mind – a gentle rain falling on some kind of plant or flower.  That led me to think about the way plants grow. As long as they have a few key conditions (water, sunlight, air) they grow wherever they find the space. The buttons toward the bottom are bunched together, in layers and clumps, as if they are competing for space.



Technical details: Finished size 18x40
Materials: hand-dyed fabric, various buttons, cotton and metallic thread, safety pins, zipper

29 June 2015

New Work: Rock Star

I created “Rock Star” for the latest Viewpoints9 challenge – a finished piece measuring 42” in height using neon colors. For this, our third cycle of Viewpoints9, each artist had the added challenge to choose one idea or theme that will run through all of our compositions. My overall theme is Reflection.

"Neon" reminds me of nightclubs, bar signs and sometimes the your-name-in-lights idea of fame. Which made me think of music.  I ran upstairs and recruited one of my favorite "models" to pose for this portrait (my son, home from college on summer break). I used a desk light to create a single light source, to resemble a stage spotlight.  He was already playing guitar so he didn't really have to work too hard. LOL

To fulfill the challenge, I used neon-colored fabrics in green, yellow and red-orange, as well as some neon blue and pink threads.  For my overall theme of "reflection", the shiny metal surfaces of the button on the guitar strap and the tuners seem to fit the bill.  Reflection could also refer to the way Graeson turns to music when he wants to chill out alone.  He becomes absorbed in the music as he improvises melodies.  Not having any musical ability myself, I find it fascinating. It seems like a form of meditation or mental escape.

technical details:
finished size 28"W x 42"H
cotton fabric, hand cut and layered and secured using raw-edge applique, quilting with hand-guided free motion stitching, rayon and polyester threads

27 April 2015

New Work (Finally!): Two Hummingbirds

Our first Viewpoint 9 challenge of cycle 3: Use thread in a new way.

I decided to use embroidery floss and thread for shape and color as well as line. The only fabrics used in these two pieces are for the backgrounds.


Putting these together was incredibly fun.  I will say I experienced a childish JOY while pulling apart embroidery floss and letting it fall down onto the ‘canvas’. Some of the outlining threads were carefully placed, but most were just dropped into squiggly piles.


Read more about this piece and all the challenge quilts on the Viewpoints 9 blog. Gallery opens today!

18 March 2015

Join Me for the Opening of Contemporary Fiber: Breaking Tradition

Photo Mar 12, 1 00 06 PM

Big news! I'm thrilled to be one of 10 artists invited to participate in "Contemporary Fiber: Breaking Tradition" at the Lore Degenstein Gallery. The show runs from April 11 – May 11, 2015.

I'm honored to have my artwork in the company of Beth Carney, Linda Colsh, Jane Dunnewold, Valerie Goodwin, Meredith Grimsley, Katie Pasquini-Masopust, Mary Pal, Susan Shie and Paula Swett.

Please join me at the opening reception:
Saturday, April 11 from 7 to 9PM

Lore Degenstein Gallery at Susquehanna University
Degenstein Campus Center, upper level
514 University Avenue
Selinsgrove, PA 17870 

05 March 2015

New Work: Holi Joe

As part of the Viewpoints 9 "Play Time" challenge, I present my newest portrait "Holi Joe".  My inspiration for this challenge is the colorful Indian festival of Holi.

Holi is celebrated at the approach of vernal equinox, on the full moon. The festival date varies every year, per the Hindu calendar (this year it will be March 6). Holi signifies the victory of good over evil, the arrival of spring, a celebration of color and for many a festive day to meet others, play and laugh, forgive and repair relationships.

Photo Feb 26, 1 39 32 PM

I have been "working on" a portrait of my Dad for over a decade. I have many times started and stopped and put various sketches on the back burner.  My previous attempts at a portrait revolved around this one black and white photo that was used on my Dad's funeral mass book (ask your Catholic friends what that is).

As I considered the Holi festival, I thought about playing, laughing and repairing relationships. So in in that spirit, I decided to "repair the relationship" between my memories of my Dad during his life and the associations I had with this one black and white photo. I lifted the pressure off myself to create a serious portrait and just had fun with it. This one uses every color EXCEPT black and white.

Photo Feb 26, 1 39 39 PM

I loved the freedom I felt in creating this piece. Every time I added a new tie dyed piece of fabric to this portrait, the results were surprising and it made me smile. It still does. I look at my dad's face and it makes me happy. And it seems like a truer version of "Joe" as I remember him.


25 February 2015

"Red Fox, Blue Fox" Chosen for SAQA:Wild Fabrications

Woo-hoo! My animal portrait Red Fox, Blue Fox has been accepted into the Studio Art Quilt Associates juried exhibition "Wild Fabrications".

Wild Fabrications celebrates a world of animals both real and fantastical.  The exhibition will debut at the International Quilt Festival (IQF) in Houston, Texas in October and will then travel to IQF in Chicago, Illinois in March, 2016 and Quilt, Knit, Stitch in Portland, Oregon in August, 2016.


Juror: Geoffrey Gorman
Curator: Jennifer Day

The full list of accepted artists can be found on SAQA's website:

14 February 2015

Coffee Breaks

I had a great time with Building Blocks Together (BBT) Quilt Guild in Bristol, CT yesterday.  The freezing temperatures outside were offset by the warm and friendly people inside.

I demonstrated my 'layered applique' technique, using this finished piece as an example. At around 10"x10", it's perfect for a one hour demonstration (not including stitching). :

CoffeeBreak4(Coffee Break 4)

I like the sample piece with its soothing mocha tones and coffee-bean-like background fabric.  But for the demo at BBT I chose a brighter, more playful palette.  This is the one I put together last night:

Photo Feb 14, 3 13 16 PM(Coffee Break 5)

I loved creating this small composition in front of a live audience, answering questions and sharing the fun as people watched the image "appear" over the course of the demonstration. 

Thank you, BBT Quilters!  You're a wonderful crowd :-)

09 February 2015

New work

Just finished the latest dog portrait "Brad 2.0"  


This pup presented a challenge since he's almost completely white, except for a bit of brown on the ears and his leg. His face is bright white, and Shi Tzu faces are pretty flat. So the trick was finding a way to show the structure of his face without very much contrast. 

Photo Feb 09, 2 01 22 PM

I exaggerated (slightly) the shadows in order to create depth and to show the texture of his fur.  I also used a technique that I call "under-painting".  I layer different colored fabrics under a piece of white fabric, to create a subtle tint or shadowy color within the white. Other slight color variations were added with the stitching, using gray, yellow, tan and peach colored threads.

Photo Feb 07, 4 12 13 PM 
(image: white fabric, under-painted with gray or yellow fabrics)

Now that Brad 2.0 is ready for delivery, I can move on to finish my "Play Time" challenge for Viewpoints 9.  Stay tuned for photos, the Viewpoints gallery opens February 27.



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)



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


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!


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!