Friday, February 2, 2018

Week in Review 2018 - 02/02

Tips, Thoughts and Techniques:

Can you have more than one swan song? The definition is so final the answer seems to be no. However, I conjecture life is a series of swan songs. Just as the conclusion of years of schooling, such as graduation from high school, doesn't mean one will not go on to attend college and from there pursue post graduate degrees, can't artist's careers be seen the same way? Picasso's blue period proceeded his cubism period. He must have made a final "blue" painting, perhaps overlapping or blending into his cubism period. Would this final blue painting be Picasso's blue period swan song?
Sunrise Over Little Lake Butte des Morts
4.5" x 6.5"

I see my own work this way, on a continuum with both clear and misty periods. This week has been bittersweet, as I made my SAQA Spotlight Auction piece. It is likely the last artwork I will make in my Appleton studio. It is my studio swan song, and perhaps my last homage to the view from our condo. It will not be my final artwork. Once we settle into our new home in Cohasset, Massachusetts, I expect new inspiration will fuel my work.

I am now linking up to two blogs on Fridays. The first is Nina Marie's Off the Wall Fridays and the second is Free Motion Mavericks.

Friday, January 26, 2018

Week in Review 2018 - 01/26

Tips, Thoughts and Techniques:

The sleeves are attached to 2017's quilts.
Next job is to add the labels.
I've recently begun listening to Driving Miss Norma, by Tim Bauerschmidt and Rami Liddle. It is the memoir of Tim and Rami's RV road trip with his mother, Norma. She is 90, recently widowed, diagnosed with uterine cancer, when she chooses to eschew treatment in favor of seeing places in the US she had only imagined going to. It's a testament to never being too old to say yes or be open to new adventures. 
There was a time in my life when I needed to learn to say no. Now I find myself needing an internal nudge to say yes. It is easy to become complacent and settle for the tried and successful. Why take a chance on something new? Yet isn't that what making art is all about? Constantly challenging oneself and pushing the boundaries?

Love my new designated hand stitching spot.
Saying yes doesn't have to be something big or unsettling. It can be a tiny step. Recently I  moved from my standard hand stitching spot, on the family room sofa, to one of our reclining chairs overlooking the lake. What a treat to watch the eagles vie for the best fishing spot at the frozen lake edge.

I am now linking up to two blogs on Fridays. The first is Nina Marie's Off the Wall Fridays and the second is Free Motion Mavericks.

Friday, January 19, 2018

Weekly Report 2018 - 01/19

Nothing like the dawn to jumpstart my day.
View from our master bedroom. 
Tips, Thoughts and Techniques:

Yesterday, we went to lunch with fellow retirees from my husband's work. There were six of us, all in our sixties The conversation began with a medical roundup. In other words talking about ailments of either the attendee or someone they were caring for. Although I listened, I could have easily piped in. My optometrist has being watching my cataracts for years. They are slow to change, but have resulted in night driving no longer being safe, especially in the rain. Part of me is fascinated by my change in vision. For example, bright lights such as a full moon in the night sky, headlights, or even traffic signals, are no longer singular objects. Instead I might see a headlight like a totem pole, the actual light brightly lit at the bottom, another two less brightly lit lights stacked above. A full moon, however, looks more like a Venn Diagram, with the actual moon in the center, and three lighter moons forming an equilateral triangle shape, overlapping, but not covering the central moon. The triangle always balances on its point. Part of me is terrified that this change in vision means that time is running out for me to make art. I understand this is more feeling than reality, at least for the moment. I have no doubt cataract surgery is in my future.  
One of the pieces from 2017 I worked on.
It's final title is Forest Floora

Today, when I should have been buckling down and writing this post, I couldn't resist reading an article brought to my attention through an eNewsletter I subscribe to. The article by Patricia Corrigan is titled, "Don't Let Eye Problems Keep You From Painting or Drawing". If you, like me, harbor a fear of ending your creative self due to aging eyes, I highly recommend giving it a read. 

Maybe, I will turn my attention to a series I have been contemplating focused on art as seen through my older eyes. This week I focused on finishing up, or least moving forward, many nearly there pieces I started, but put aside in 2017.

I am now linking up to two blogs on Fridays. The first is Nina Marie's Off the Wall Fridays and the second is Free Motion Mavericks.

Friday, January 5, 2018

Week in Review 2018 - 01/05

Lola helps attach the sleeve to
Picking Up the Pieces #4
Tips, Thoughts and Techniques:

A question commonly asked in the art quilting community is, "if you make art quilts does it matter what your backs look like?" The answer is often no, unless you plan to enter the work into a judged show. Ultimately, I think this is a matter of personal taste. However, I wonder how quilt art appraisers would view this question. Do they look only at the front of the work, the composition, materials, and technical skills? I have had my work appraised by several different appraisers over the years. None have mentioned the back of my work, BUT, although the work isn't judged for matching seams and mitered corners, my skill at executing the work is included. 

Changing of the Guard - front
Changing of the Guard - back

My personal taste is pretty typical of my general "close enough" philosophy. I don't worry about the quilting thread not matching backing, or a tiny knot of thread showing. The fabric I select for my backs is frequently pieced for larger quilts, because I simply don't have fabric large enough for the back and very rarely buy fabric specifically for a back. I used to match my sleeve fabric to my backing fabric. No longer. I want a sleeve that I stands out against the backing. This way it is easy to spot. What is most important is there is no shadow through of backing fabric and or sleeve to the front of the quilt. This happens when the top is a lighter hued fabric than the back. The bigger the value gap, the more likely there is to be a problem.

Picking Up the Pieces #1 - back
Picking Up the Pieces #1 - front

I am now linking up to two blogs on Fridays. The first is Nina Marie's Off the Wall Fridays and the second is Free Motion Mavericks.

Friday, December 29, 2017

Week in Review 2017 - 12/29

Changing of the Guard
Tips, Thoughts, and Techniques:

2017 is coming to a close and 2018 is looming on the horizon, open to possibilities. It is a time of reflection. It is a time of eager anticipation about the future. On December 31st, Dana (my husband) and I officially retire. He is leaving a career in R&D spanning 43 years with the same company. I am leaving my role as SAQA's Exhibition Committee Chair, a post I have held for three years. It has been bittersweet as we say our goodbyes and words of thanks for those who have worked beside us. This isn't all we are leaving behind. We have an agreement to buy a home in Cohasset, Massachusetts and will soon put our Appleton, Wisconsin condo on the market. Yes, we did make sure there was a place for my studio. :) 
The sky is quilted with clouds.

It is clear 2018 will be a year of transition and adjustment for us. How will this impact my studio time? So far, quite positively. I've actually had far more time in my studio this past week, than I have had in years. In fact I nearly completed Changing of the Guard in a single month, from germ of an idea through completion. If we didn't have such a busy weekend planned, I would be tempted to push ahead and finish on December 31st, just to say I did it.
The water is quilted with ripples.

Each year around this time I set a focus or intention for the year. In 2017 it was about making pots. In 2018, my plan is to stay open, not rush to conclusions, or do things the same way, simply because that is how it has always been done. I want to continue to questions rules. Why are they there? What purpose do they serve? Would another approach be better? Part of being open is being gentle on myself, accepting the natural fear that comes with change, while pushing forward anyway.

What are your plans for 2018?

I am now linking up to two blogs on Fridays. The first is Nina Marie's Off the Wall Fridays and the second is Free Motion Mavericks.

Friday, December 22, 2017

Week in Review 2017 - 12/22

Tips, Thoughts and Techniques:

My year devoted to making pots is coming to a conclusion. Here is what I said at the start: 
I've finished piecing
Changing of the Guard.
Next up is deciding how to
quilt/stitch it to the batting
and backing.

2017 will be a year of pot making for me. No, I am not switching mediums to become a ceramist. Nor will I be making fabric vessels. Instead I will be following the recommendation of the allegory shared in Art and Fear by David Bayles and Ted Orland, on the importance of focusing on quantity over quality.

For me pot making is as much about experimenting, trying different approaches to the same project, as it is about making quantity. Today, I thought I would share this process through pictures.

... and the sunrise reflected
in the water. 
There are distinct sections, such
as the moon...
There is also the sky, or background to consider.
Rather than experiment on the quilt, I take
the time to make a smaller quilt sandwich
to play with. Often I have leftover
pieces or blocks to do this. Not this time.
So, I opted for one of the mid range
turquoise fabrics and a compatible
orange, yellow blend.

I played with different filler ideas. Should
I echo the background geometric feel
with diagonal lines? Perhaps create the sense
of blowing wind and clouds?

What color thread should I use? White,
turquoise? What would happen if I
combined different colors of thread, such
as white as the top thread, and turquoise
in the bobbin, or vice versa?
Should I go with only the clouds?
Finally, it was time to start stitching.
I began by outlining the sunrise and
its reflection with a button hole stitch.
This has the advantage of anchoring
that portion of the quilt to its backing.
I will be adding diagonal "rays" next.

Isn't this a great project to work on during the darkest time of the year? I find sunrises make for such happy, optimistic palettes. Wishing you a holiday filled with light.

I am now linking up to two blogs on Fridays. The first is Nina Marie's Off the Wall Fridays and the second is Free Motion Mavericks.

Friday, December 8, 2017

Week in Review 2017 - 12/08

Tips, Thoughts and Techniques:
Sunrise Abstraction 2017

It is important to work in a series. Is it? Really? If so, what constitutes a series? This maxim, stated as unequivocal fact by many has haunted me for years. For someone who is rule driven by inclination, my art is one of the few places where I do what I want and not what I think I should be doing. 

There are very brief times when I work in a series. I am much more likely to flit from idea to idea or technique to technique, to whatever feels compelling at the moment. I do return to certain themes and techniques. Rather than a clear linear trajectory of work, I would say my work, if graphed would look more like a spider web, with connecting spokes and ever expanding categories of work. 

This week's obsession is Sunrise Abstraction 2017. I have made half a dozen other works featuring sunrises over the past few years. The construction methods, palette, and techniques used are varied. This one features a palette I have nicknamed HoJo's. For those of you reading who are younger than me and/or leave outside the US, HoJo's is shorthand for a chain of restaurants called Howard Johnson's. They were easily recognizable by their orange roofs with turquoise spires . 
The moon block from
Sunrise Abstraction 2017

Next week's obsession is likely to remain Sunrise Abstraction 2017. If I get a hankering to do something else, I have a few other studio projects to turn my attention to:

1) Finish piecing Sunrise Abstraction 2017

2) Finish WIPs (Works in Progress)

3) Pot(s) made this week

4) Free motion quilting practice

I am now linking up to two blogs on Fridays. The first is Nina Marie's Off the Wall Fridays and the second is Free Motion Mavericks.