03 Jun

My Process

I may not have found my artistic voice, or style yet, but I’m definitely settling in to a process.

Momentum seems to have a lot to do with it. I get an idea and then I have to jump right into it. Or, if I can’t do that, I write it in my sketchbook, make dinner, collect bits, mull it over, procrastinate a lot, get side tracked, and do myriad other things that lack discernible forward movement. It’s all good though, because this slow percolating time helps me refine what it is I’m going to create.

Then, when the mood hits and the planets align, I get down to work. The hardest part is that this is when the momentum really kicks in and once I’m elbow-deep in paints or dye, or firmly planted in front of the sewing machine, I don’t want to stop. More frozen pizza nights than I want to admit to are the direct result of sewing “just one more row,” “I’m almost to a stopping point,” or my favorite, “I’ll be right there,” which really means I’m standing in front of my design wall contemplating the next move.

Knowing that I work in these fits and spurts helps me to get the most out of them, such as grouping like tasks together, or making sure there’s plenty of pizza in the freezer. Another aspect of my process is to gather bits so that when I do get inspired, I can access the bits akin to a painter choosing paint from blobs on her palette (a great analogy I adopted from artist Gerry Chase in her workshop).

One day I’ll be immersed in sun printing, and try out multiple colors and sizes of motifs. Painting and stamping are the same. If I dye fabric, I’ll throw in some extra pieces, or maybe some yarn or lace. Another day I’ll be piecing, and I’ll sort scraps by color, or set aside cut-off strips, squares or triangles that could come in handy in another project. Now, I take crochet yarn to the kids’ TaeKwonDo and hook roots while I wait. I need to have several things going at once so that I can choose one aspect and roll with it for a while, not breaking my momentum to create a single project start to finish, but rather to focus on a day to paint, or to sit at the machine, to crochet or embroider, until I have enough pieces to sort through them to create the composition I’m looking for.

The last two photos are details of quilted, embroidered, fabric and thread collages mounted on or sewn to stretched canvases — similar to Cloud House. There will definitely be more.

16 Apr

So Many Paths

What to do, what to do? I’ve been thinking a lot in recent months about what I want to do with my art, or even if I want to do anything. I’ve whined before about watching my peers seemingly pass me by, but then done little about it. Well, little tangible. I’ve been thinking about options — and there are so many.

I could focus on art quilts. Enter more shows. Focus on marketing that side of me. (I might need to cut back on the public handbag-making, knitting, and kid-art crafting though.) To that end I’ve entered four shows this year and submitted two project proposals to a magazine. The results to date are three rejections, one still-waiting, and one acceptance. Yay! I’ll post more closer to the date, but my latest “Rooted” quilt will travel the US with the “Tactile Architecture” show.

I could pursue fabric design. I’ve got some ideas, but I’m not really sure where to go next, or if this is even an avenue I want to commit to. To that end, I’m happily drawing away on my computer here and there, slowly building a collection of patterns for a rainy day.

I could succumb to my crafty side and grow the blog with more tutorials, swaps, community building, and reproducible inspiration. I could submit more proposals to magazines and crafty web sites. Maybe this is where my kid-inspired art takes the lead. This area is already chock full of more qualified people than I though, and actually the least enticing direction. But I have to admit that I do tend to post a lot of projects that would be just as happy on a dedicated “craft blog” as here.

I could focus on writing that parent/child picture-book-with-project based on our butterfly adventure. To that end, I’ve considered a few illustration styles and made a short list of possible publishers, but then lost it.

I could just do what I enjoy doing each day, and try not to worry about it. This is what I’ve been doing lately, and although it feels right, it also feels like it may just be the path of least resistance.

When my dad was here, we talked about defining individual success and priorities. How important is tangible success like a booming Etsy shop, or published articles? What would it take to make those goals a reality? Would those steps fulfill me? There is a certain honesty in being my multi-faceted self even if it means I’d be sabotaging myself by muddling the definitions (artist, crafter, designer, writer) that make us “marketable.” Embracing that self and accepting that that person will probably never be outwardly successful is definitely a goal of mine. However, speaking of sabotage, I still want the outward validation. I’m in the enviable position of not having to support myself or my family with my art, so why DO I want to be successful or marketable? Do I even feel comfortable selling things or ideas? Why is it necessary (for any reason other than to place value on the work itself) since I don’t need the income? Besides, I’ve always had a problem with convincing others to buy things they don’t really need (the advertising world and the design world overlap and I was always aware of that grey area I didn’t want to cross).

So, if I don’t need the income, and I’m not much of a marketer; if I like my hand in many pots; if I can wrap my head around not needing outside validation, then perhaps my path is not the one of least resistance, but the one of self discovery. My mom suggested I just keep doing what I’m doing and throwing the ideas out there in hopes that one may take hold and show me the way. And that does seem to be the direction (if one can call it a direction) right now. Underneath this hodge-podge of a blog about art quilts, ripple blankets, sewing, backyard bugs, motherhood, military life, travel and cultural exchange, there is but one journey.

*It occurred to me after writing this that part of why I keep coming back to this need to define success and to decide whether I need it or not is a cultural predisposition to need to always be growing and moving forward.  Perhaps I need to get out of my American head and look for other perspectives.

06 Mar

Pre-Swap Swappiness

Deborah found a cute mushroom swap she thought I’d like. I convinced her that she should participate too (mwahaha!). To add to the fun, we decided to do a little private swap as well. I sent her a mushroom man, mushroom chocolates, and a pincushion, of course.

She sent me a beautiful mixed media mushroom and a wonderful package of cool papers, tags, ribbon, cards and vintage hankies — all in red and white! I’m liking this swap thing.

Mixed Media Mushroom by Deborah Boschert (photo by Deborah too)

Oh, and speaking of swaps, I sent Anika a pincushion, since she asked so nicely and is a fellow islander, and she returned the favor with this cute watercolor which is now hanging in my daughter’s room with her fairy collection.

“Tapio” by Anika Nui (photo by Anika too)

Remember the wonderful ribbons Nic sent? I returned that favor with chocolate covered macadamia nuts (which her hubby nearly absconded with) and a silky, spotty, sequined, and beaded Bali-inspired ‘shroom.

I’m enjoying all this creative art sharing. I can’t wait to see which mushrooms I receive in my official mushroom swap package.

04 Mar

What’s That, A Pot Holder?

The smaller I work, the more desire I have to find ways to give the art the presence it deserves. I think quilts of all types look great as-is in lap or larger sizes. Doll quilts look great in context. But I find that many of my art quilts that are 24″x 24″ -ish or smaller just lack a “finished” look. The quilts for 12 x 12 have a sort of built in presence as they should always be displayed in groups, either by individual artist or as a group by theme. But what about all those other little pieces we make as tokens or experiments?

Creating the artwork for a specific frame is an option (scroll to the bottom of this post to see them hanging):

Many quilt/fiber artists are mounting their small works to matching sized painted canvas to give a nice depth and easy way to hang the art, or they are painting larger canvases to coordinate. I decided with my “Fairytale Forest” that since stretched canvas is just stretched fabric, then why not stretch my (dyed, stitched, beaded, and collaged) fabric directly onto stretcher bars as if it were the canvas.

This week, I finally hung some small art gifts from friends and noticed that they showcase a few more display options. Clockwise from the upper left:

Bird by Terry Grant. This one’s easy. 3-D art sits well on a shelf — even if that shelf is a shadow box. I used some museum tack to hold the little feet in place so it wouldn’t get knocked off with every breeze.

House Upon a Rock” by Deborah Boschert. This one is just a little larger than your typical fabric postcard. I bought an unprimed linen canvas and just stitched the art to it from the back in a few places. The natural linen complements so well the little pebble she’s sewn on below the house, and fits right in with the current decor aesthetic.

Art quilt by Esther Parkhurst. This one isn’t the actual piece, but a digital print of it sent to us as a holiday card by Esther’s husband and friend of my dad’s. Why not take a printed postcard, greeting card, calendar page, business card, or whatever with a favorite textile image and mat and frame it? Easy peasey lemon squeezey, as they say.

What If #9” by Jude Hill. Being nearly square, this one fit well into a square shadow box. I poked two holes in the mat where each corner of the artwork would be, and sewed it on from the back. I have one of my own pieces (Village Series #3) in a deep frame where I’ve sewn velcro to the back of the quilt and then glued the counterpart to the mat. I also have a Bundle by Sonji Hunt which arrived mounted to black foam core — perfect for popping into a shadow box (a great option for dimensional art which tends to collect a bit more dust).

It occurs to me that I also have another piece by Jude which I’ve sewn to a larger linen pillow cover (I’ll have to photograph that and share). I’m loving the decorative pillow as display venue because it’s not too far removed from the comfort of a quilt, which is, of course, the media of this art. Similarly, my mom has sewn a small bird quilt I commissioned for her from from Terry (similar to this one) to a pillow, which now resides in a place of honor on her upholstered window seat.

What do you do with your small quilt art?

01 Oct

Shelter From the Storm

We interrupt our regularly scheduled antiques show to return to quilts for a moment.

The 12 x 12 challenge is posted and I think we did a great job on this one! My story is here. It’s pretty straightforward this time. No deep concepts, just shelter plain and simple. I’m really pleased with it. As often happens though, I nearly killed it at the end. Any guesses as to what bonehead move I made and how/where I fixed it?