Around The World Blog Hop

My buddy Deborah Boschert tagged me in an Around the World Blog hop in which we answer four questions about our creative process and then tag two more bloggers to do the same. Check out Deborah’s blog post to read her answers and follow her links to read back through many other fascinating blog hoppers.
1. What am I working on?
I’ve usually got several things going on at once which each appeal to different moods and need.
• Right now I’m working on the next in my series of Security Blankets. This one has to do with the TSA and incorporates those blue figures I was working on a while ago, plus floral weaponry.
• I’m also working on a piece, or collection of pieces, for my Army Wife series. Inspired by eye momentos, either photographs or miniature paintings set into jewelry as a reminder of absent loved ones, I have transferred images of my husband’s eye (at specific time periods) onto hankies and am now in the process of embroidering the dates and locations of his corresponding deployments onto the hankies.
• And, in the background, I am working on creating a business in which I make stylish lap quilts from military uniforms. It will be called Modern Military Quilts and I hope to have more to say about it soon.

Star Quilt sm

2. How does my work differ from others of its genre?
This is a tough question for me because I’m not entirely sure what my genre is. I love to draw on the history of traditional quilts, but my work is definitely not traditional. I suppose I could categorize my work with improvisational quilters, but mine has narrative underpinnings. Of course, every quilt has a story, so it’s really just a matter of how far that story goes. I call myself an art quilter, and I suppose my work differs from many in that genre in that I don’t stick to just the quilt form, but work in other fiber techniques as the concept of the individual work dictates. But, already I can think of many artists who work in various fiber traditions simultaneously, so I’m not so different in that way. My work is definitely concept driven, but there is a precedent for that both in the art quilt crowd and in the greater art world. In fact, I worry that if I call my work conceptual I’ll be too readily compared to others who are far smarter than I in their artwork. Maybe my work is different in that it doesn’t easily fit into a genre, but that’s a little too self-important for my tastes. We all like to think we’re different in our own ways.
Momento of an absent loved one

 

3. Why do I write/create what I do?

I make art because I am, and always have been, compelled to do so. I love working with my hands and there is no lack of ideas in my head to fuel those hands.

Floral Weaponry

4. How does my writing/creating process work?
I start with an idea, of course. Then I go to my sketchbook, which is more like a diary or log book some days; I write the basic idea and then a conversation with myself about ways I could interpret said idea. Sometimes things flow, sometimes I let it percolate for a while and add notes a day, or a week, or on occasion a year, later. At some point, it’s time to get to the making, so I gather my supplies — which may be fabric from my stash, but recently has meant deconstructing a flag, culling photos from our albums, or experimenting with methods of sun printing human bodies. If I need to prepare a cartoon or grid to follow, as in Zeitgeist, Selfie, or Temporary Safety, now is the time for that and it includes some time at my computer working with Adobe Illustrator or Photoshop. Click on the link to Selfie for a nice blog post about the process of creating that particular artwork. Of course, each piece is different, so for example, the process of actually making Selfie is very different than the making of embroidered hankies. I almost always have an idea in my head of what I want the finished artwork to looks like, generally, but it really takes form in the making. I never know exactly how each fabric or element is going to affect the others until I see it in the cloth. That keeps the process fresh for me. There is always room for adjustment, surprise, and serendipity while I’m making something. A piece is finished when I feel like I can walk away from it.
I tagged my local friend Lotta Helleberg to join the blog hop next. Be sure to check out her post next Monday, November 31st. Since tagging a second person was confounded by our good friend Murphy and his laws, my friend Terry Grant graciously offered the post she wrote only a little while ago. You can read her answers and follow her links right now.

Houston Quilt Festival 2014 (part 2)

I took a lot of photos of quilts that were interesting to me in one way or another. They are not particularly good photos, so part of me feels like I am doing a disservice to the makers of those quilts. On the other hand, I know that those who can’t make it to a particular show often enjoy seeing even a part of it vicariously through those who did go. I know that I’m often that person. So, here’s a completely subjective, not at all cohesive or inclusive, handful of quilts that I enjoyed seeing at the Quilt Festival in Houston.

The big draw is IQF’s annual World of Beauty show. It’s the one with the big prizes and about a million categories. The big prize winners were impressive as always and can be seen on IQF’s website. Overall, I tended to like the second place winners best.

Growth by Maria Elkins
Growth by Maria Elkins. I just loved the ovoid shapes and the way the colors gradate from pastel to jewel and the background from dark grey to white. It’s a refreshing change from the currently popular rainbow method of organizing color. I don’t remember which category this was in.

 

GMOs Gone Wild by Betsy Brandt-Kreutz
GMOs Gone Wild by Betsy Brandt-Kreutz in the Art-Abstract, Small, category attracted me with it’s wild milifiori look. We decided that it was definitely a commitment to a look, and I have to respect that conviction. This may have been in the Embellished category. I like that too — embellished but without the usual glitz.

 

Eight Branchlets by Janet Steadman
Eight Branchlets by Janet Steadman. I think this was in the Art Quilt, small, category. I really liked the crafts(wo)manship on this. Also, it’s just plain lovely.

 

The Messenger by Marlene Shae
I found The Messenger by Marlene Shae in the Whimsical category to be utterly enchanting. I love the somewhat folkloric style of the illustration and the fabric choices. I’d love to see an entire book illustrated with quilts like this.

 

Shared Destiny by Patricia Kennedy-Zafred
Shared Destiny by Patricia Kennedy-Zafred was my favorite in the digital imagery category. There were a few variations on this multiple versions of a single image theme, but I think one was done the best. I appreciate that the ground fabric is patterned and I like the insertion of contrasting fabrics within each image as well as the addition of Flying Geese motifs.

Shared Destiny by Patricia Kennedy-Zafred (detail)
Shared Destiny, detail

 

Towers and Spires by Paula Tanner
Towers and Spires by Paula Tanner used miles of satin stitch in an interesting way. This also may have been in the Embellished category.

Towers and Spires by Paula Tanner (detail)
Towers and Spires, detail

 

Hudson Trader by Coleen Wise
Hudson Trader by Coleen Wise. You can’t go wrong with blue and white. I like how this one seems pretty traditional and basic at first glance, but then you notice the illusion of the spheres and the subtle changes in their size and it just becomes sublime. Well, to me at least.

 

Somewhat, but not too surprisingly, I absolutely loved the exhibit of 500 Traditional Quilts. There was no photography allowed, so I have nothing to share. There is wonderful, inspiring, and varied work in the collection though so I may have to buy the catalog (along with the catalog for the Walsh collection we saw at the Quilt Museum in La Grange).

 

Another special exhibit that is always a favorite of mine is Tactile Architecture.

Rooflines #8 by Colleen Kole
Rooflines #8 by Colleen Kole is to me a perfect combination of quiltiness and implied imagery. It’s also influenced by both the quilts of Gee’s Bend and Nancy Crow/Lisa Call, but too derivative.

 

Rooflines #2 by Colleen Kole
No surprise that her other entry, Rooflines #2, appealed to me too. This one is more derivative of the School of Nancy Crow/Lisa Call, but appropriate and well executed and therefore no less appealing to me.

 

Bedolina Threads by Maggie Vanderweit
And for something completely different, I loved the stitchiness of Bedolina Threads by Maggie Vanderweit.

 

I couldn’t enter Zeitgeist into the World of Beauty show because I paid for it to be long-arm quilted (entries by more than one person must be collaboration — no work for hire), so I submitted it to the Modern Quilt Showcase for another stab at it being seen in Houston. It was rejected, and so I was curious to see what quilts were ultimately chosen. As I suspected, my cat would not have fit in the exhibit because though it might appeal to a “modern” audience, it does not exemplify Modern quilting. I did enjoy seeing what does exemplify the movement though. Two of my favorites:

Entropy by Elisa Albury
Entropy by Elisa Albury

City Center by Angie Henderson
City Center by Angie Henderson

 

The pursuit of Happiness by Robin Felton
The Farm to Table special exhibit was also predominantly Modern in it’s aesthetic. I just loved The Pursuit of Happiness by Robin Felton for it’s bold simplicity and nod to both furrows and flag.

 

Finally, these cheerful mola-style dogs kept jumping out at me from the It’s Raining Cats and Dogs exhibit.

Los Perros de Panama by Kathleen Kennedy-Dennis
Los Perros de Panama by Kathleen Kennedy-Dennis

Houston Quilt Festival 2014 (Part 1)

It’s a little hard to explain or wrap up Quilt Festival. It’s big and overwhelming, and I think it’s different for everyone. The first year I attended, it was mostly about curiosity, and a little bit to thank sponsors for supporting my husband’s IBOL project to get sewing supplies to women in Iraq. I was completely overwhelmed and definitely had the feeling that everyone else knew what was going on and I was clueless. The second time I attended was when Twelve by Twelve, the online quilt challenge group i belonged to, had a special exhibit. I had a home base at the exhibit and a bunch of good friends to experience the show with. It was much more fun and I know I got a lot more out of the experience. This year, I went for three reasons: one, I have a piece in this year’s Dinner@8 special exhibit and I wanted to experience being part of that group of ladies; two, it was a great excuse to visit my bestie Deborah and spend time with her; and three, I’m at a point in my “career” where making contacts is important to moving forward and Houston is a good place for that (though I suspect Market is better than Festival, but I’ll take what I can get).

 

IQF Ruby Jubilee exhibit of red and white quilts

 

2014 is/was Quilts Inc’s 40th Anniversary so they celebrated with a Ruby Jubilee. Overall I was super impressed with the look of the show. I think there was great use of vertical space and an unexpected variety in ways of exhibiting work. As soon as Market opened a week before Festival, it seemed everyone was posting photos of the dramatic vortex of red and white quilts. I was curious as to whether it was part of the Infinite Variety show that had been in New York a few years ago, or not. Info at the show confirmed that this collection was very much inspired by Infinite Variety.

Impressive display of red and white quilts

 

I’m not entirely sure what this photo exhibit was about. It may just have been to fill some space and/or show that quilting is worldwide. What I did like was that it was floor to ceiling. All that use of vertical space broke up the rows and rows of eye level quilts in a nice, and surprisingly unobtrusive way.

IQF Houston 2014

 

The Tristan Boutis was probably the most inspired exhibit I saw. A boutis is a french style of quilting with only two layers stitched together and stuffing in select spots to accentuate the design. This is a reproduction of a historic boutis showing the story of the knight Tristan. I love the way the glowing display highlights the construction of the textile.

Tristan Boutis

 

There were a few other plinths too. As a viewer, it was very engaging to be able to see things at eye level, but also to look up and down and way up.

I was impressed by the variety of ways quilts were exhibited

 

Here’s one side of the Dinner@8 exhibit with my friends Deborah and Sarah discussing the work. The colors story on this wall was gorgeous.

Dinner@8

 

Much fun was had taking selfies in front of my Dinner@8 quilt, Selfie. I was so excited to see “the Donnas” and Cheryl from the Hawaii Quilt guild. Here’s Donna E and I with my quilt.

Houston Donna

 

Deborah and I participated in The Quilt Alliance’s Save Our Stories project and filmed three minute interviews with our quilts. She talked about her piece in the Festival of Art Quilts: Home exhibit and I brought my pop art Zeitgeist to hang just for the interview.

Me and my Zeitgeist

 

Open Studios is a nice place to rest one’s feet and pick up a few tips and tricks. Betty Busby has charmed a big group of ladies with her paintstick on silk technique (and her bubbly personality, of course). I seem to run into Betty everywhere and it’s always a joy.

Houston Betty OS

 

In addition to the exhibits and the Open Studios, Houston is all about the vendors. I am sorry to say that I did not budget my time appropriately (maybe my wallet isn’t so sorry) and I did not get the chance to do any of the shopping I wanted to do. I actually had a list of fabrics and threads to check out. I did stop by Aurifil’s promotional booth and won a few spools at their gaming tables. Good fun — these guys know how to maximize promotion. I also took the opportunity to talk long arm options with a half dozen sewing machine vendors. I’m not ready to invest, but it may be the answer to the project I’m brewing.

Gaming for Thread

 

Of course, the socializing is a big part of the experience, and this year I went with the intention of matching names of people whose work I admire and their real-life selves. Dinner with Deborah, Chawne, and Sarah was so much fun. Not only did we have intelligent and interesting conversation, but we’re compatible on the goofiness scale too. here’s where we see that we all share the ability to roll our tongues.

Houston Silly

 

After Quilt Festival, Deborah and I continued on to La Grange, Texas to the Texas Quilt Museum to see an exhibit from the John Walsh collection. The trip was sooooooooo worth changing my flight and making the detour. John Walsh is the preeminent art quilt collector of the day and I have admired many of the works in his collection. Just about every art quilt I’ve ever looked up to as where I would like to be on my path is owned by John Walsh. It was great to see these pieces in the cloth. Some were surprising in the details and construction that one just can’t tell from a photo. All of them stood up to in person inspection. My favorite was New New York Beauty by Katherine Knauer (a new name and quilt to me), and Deborah’s was Tim Harding’s Surf Swimmers (deft use of simple folded and stitched bits of fabric to evoke water scenes).

Houston TQM

 

 

After the Quilt Museum, we continued on to San Antonio where we watched Deborah’s daughter’s high school band compete. It was quite the spectacle and they won silver in the state championships. All in All I had a fantastic five days in Texas and I definitely look forward to my next fiber art adventure with friends. My next post will be about some of the quilts I saw and liked at the show.

 

Not One, But Two Exhibits

November is shaping up to be a big month for my art. I’ll be in Houston at the very beginning for the debut of the annual Dinner@8 exhibit premier (and a whole lot of quilt show fun and inspiration too).  My pixelated portrait, Selfie is part of the show.

But as soon as I return, there’s two more local exhibits I’m part of.

The first is McGuffey Art center’s art fundraiser. I’ve donated one 12×12 piece for the incredibly affordable $150 collection, plus my crazy quilted Flag from which 50% of the proceeds benefit the art center. There will be a preview and meet the artists on Wednesday November 5th. Plans have changed a bit and the art WILL be on sale at the preview. The usual First Friday opening will also be happening on the 7th. I hope to be there both nights. Come early for the best selection! I hope to see lots of red dots.

Art Fundraiser at McGuffey Art Center

MAC Fundraiser

 

Wait, there’s more. I also have three of my favorite figure drawings at Charlottesville’s brand new jewel box of a gallery, Yellow Cardinal. They will also be having  a First Friday opening on the 7th, so I’ll split my time between there and MAC. I am very excited about both of these shows because I know many of the artists involved and admire all of their work. I’m also looking forward to having many of their loyal followers see my work as well, since I have not been in town and showing long enough to gain much in the way of an audience for my work.

Life Drawing at Yellow Cardinal Gallery

Microsoft Word - Unwrapped flyer.docx

Peek Into My Studio

My studio room has been looking pretty crazy lately. I try to keep things under control since the room doubles as a guest room, but since there are no guests on the horizon, and I’ve got a lot going on, I spread out! I took these photos after I’d cleaned up and cleared out a bit and I must say, it doesn’t look quite as full as I was feeling last week.

Wanna see?

Studio pan 1

 

Walk in and look to the left. There’s an ever-growing stack of framed or mounted artwork ready to go. This is after I took four framed drawings to a new gallery in town, so the pile doesn’t even stick out as far as before. There’s also only one mannequin loitering by the ironing board. Normally there’s three, but two are now at Walter Reed Medical Center for another few weeks. On the ironing board is a finished sample for a new project. There’s some excess fabric from a few quilts and costumes under the treadle machine as well as uniforms. Cut up uniforms are taking over the floor! They are also joined by a pile of painted quilt bits that hope to become another Flag piece in my Americana series. Oh, and there’s a box with my sister’s Christmas present, and a staging area for things I want to take to Houston. The table itself is so full of fabric, paperwork, and general supplies that I hardly have room to cut. Kitty is helping though.

 

Studio pan 2

 

Looking to the right, there’s another sample quilt on the machine, and a bag of scraps underneath waiting for me to do something with it (I have a plan, but haven’t gotten to it yet).  Next to the bag of specific scraps is a pile of random scraps waiting to be sorted into the small bins also under the machine. The bed was completely full last week, but I’m slowly clearing things off. There was a giant roll of batting that’s now been cut down to fit all my in progress quilts and is now small enough to go in the closet. There are six quilts ready to be basted and quilted, but the space next to their pile is now empty  since I finished the most important of the baby quilts. There was also a pile of backing fabric which is now, you guessed it, on the backs of quilts!  The Macy’s bag and the pile next to it are quilts waiting to happen. The big blue pile is my next Security Blanket which I am excited to get back to. The glossy pile next to it is a bunch on hankies and transfer paper which will become another piece in my Army Wife series. Behind that is a pile of painted quilt parts and canvases that are halfway to becoming two more Americana series pieces. At the end of the bed is artwork that will go to McGuffey Art Center for their November show, and my knitting and drawing class supplies.

 

Studio Closet

 

A peek inside of the closet. It’s a huge closet and I like to be able to walk into it, but between Broken Bob the mannequin and drawing supplies and framing overflow on the floor, it’s getting tough. My fabric stash is in here to the left, and the big bins hold miscellaneous supplies, uniforms, odd fabrics, and batting. There’s some finished and unfinished projects in here too. Behind Bob are seasonal decorations, portfolios, light boxes, my aprons (hanging) and just more stuff.

It feels a bit out of control to me, but as I finish up things and clear spaces that feels great. It’s actually nice to see tangible evidence of accomplishment!

Baby Quilts

Lots of them.

I started my quilting journey making baby quilts for friends. These days most of my friends are parents of teens so there’s not too much need for baby quilts. But every now and then the opportunity arises, and last year friends we met in Hawai’i conceived twins after much trying. Twin quilts — fun! There would need to be two, and they’d have to be the same, but different.

Twin Quilt 1
I started with this one. The mom is stylish and modern so I knew this was the perfect opportunity to make a houndstooth quilt which I’d been eyeing for a while. All the colors were chosen to be gender neutral and to coordinate with some absolutely adorable forest themed fabric my daughter chose for the backing.

Twin Quilt 2
I tried plaid to go with the houndstooth for the second quilt, but the scale was wrong, so I went with tried and true triangles. I really like this one.

Unfortunately, the twins didn’t make it. So, I didn’t finish the quilts. The good news though, is that mom and dad tried again and they are now expecting their first daughter any day! When the baby shower was announced, I knew I didn’t want to give them the original twin quilts. The karma just wasn’t right. So I jumped right back in to make a quilt that was related, but it’s very own.

Baby quilt

I was in an improv quilt kind of mood so I started with a motif from the backing fabric and built around it in a modified log cabin style. I like it, but something just wasn’t quite right yet. I still had a bunch of fabric left over, so I kept going.

Baby Quilt

Simple and slightly floral.

Baby Quilt

Yes, that will do.

Baby Quilt

Now we are all just waiting for baby to arrive so she can be wrapped up in this and drag it around with her for many years to come. I will finish off the twin quilts and the log cabin and will eventually donate them to a good cause.

Healing Arts Exhibit

Last week I was invited to speak at the 11th Annual Healing Arts Exhibit at Walter Reed Military Medical Center.

Healing Arts Talk

The exhibit started as an awareness campaign for the Breast Cancer Center and has now grown to encompass the use of the arts in many types of healing. The vast majority of artwork was created by patients at Walter Reed. Mine was there because the director loves my work and believes that it speaks to the same audience. I took four pieces from my Army Wife series. The two aprons on the plinth will stay for about a month — until mid November.

 

Healing Arts Exhibit

It was a fantastic experience. I spoke about my inspiration for the series and how it not only allows me catharsis but can also give expression to others who may not have found their words or images. Apparently it went over well. It’s hard to predict what kinds of connections an event like this will create, but I met the young curator who put together the show, many well heeled ladies from the Spouses Club, and one in particular who already gave me some tips for local galleries to shop another show to. Best of all was sharing my artwork with an audience who “got it.” Several wives came up and thanked me for expressing their story.

As an aside, there is nothing so humbling as spending a day at Walter Reed Military Medical Center. While my military experience has had it’s challenges, they are nothing compared to those faced by the service members themselves — especially those with visible and invisible injuries. I met several people whom I’m sure could tell fascinating stories. But the people watching is what amazes me every time I visit. Torsos outnumber limbs. I see different prostheses on every visit. Emerging from the elevator was a guy wearing standard leg prostheses and carrying blade prosthetics for running. Another man walking down the hall had a prosthetic hand with movable fingers. I think it was one of those that the wearer can control with their thoughts. There is always all manner of wheelchairs. Our favorite this time was the guy being pulled by his bulldog, but the dog was having a bit of a hard time because of the slippery floors. And then there’s the dogs. Many people have their own service dogs (like the wheelchair-pulling bully), but Walter Reed also has their own comfort dogs. Volunteers take these dogs around to patients or just hang around in the halls for anyone who needs a little doggy fix. Each dog has it’s own adorable harness/vest/pack thingie made from old military uniforms. They were made by a volunteer and are absolutely fantastic — some making great use of the uniform collars or pockets. One dog had her own custom ID tag. Too cute. My husband always stops to love on the dogs. It’s part of his own healing.

I am honored to have been asked to be a (very small) part of this important center for our military service members and their families.

Shroud

About a year ago the United States was slogging through a government shutdown. I went to DC and sat for a small while deconstructing an American flag as a metaphor for what I saw our congress doing. I blogged about it here. Since then, I have used those flag parts for several art quilts. One was as a base for “Dominant” which was shown in SAQA’s regional show Tarnish last May.

I haven’t shared my second piece as yet because I decided to submit it to Quilt National. Today, I found out that one of the two pieces I submitted was accepted (yay!) and so the other was rejected (also yay because now I can share it!).

DeathShroud_detail web

Death Shroud for Democracy” is constructed of a deconstructed flag, used clothing, and a vintage sheet. It should be obvious that it references the Shroud of Turin. Death Shroud expresses my frustration and disappointment with the state of American politics particularly since 2010.

Death Shroud web

I probably should have more to say about this piece, but I’m not sure I need or want to put it into words. I suspect everyone can have their own conversation with it. As for the other, somewhat related, piece that DID get into Quilt National, we’ll have to wait until May 2015 to see that one.