Thursday, December 31, 2009

new link

Sorry, Susan Sorrel's link isn't working in my last post and blogger isn't letting me change it. Try this.

Winter updating--Online Classes

I'm resting my eyes from an overload of sparkle and enjoying the simple patterns of winter. I love how the leaf stains on the sidewalk collect the frost:

And the stages of rain drying in the streets:

I'm beginning my year end clean-up and direction setting by doing some updating on my blog. I am thrilled with all the online classes and workshops that keep popping up and decided to start a list of them in case others are interested. I have taken three online classes now and have found all of them to be excellent. Since teachers are not able to rely on charm and personal interaction so much online, they seem to put more energy into developing interesting exercises to keep people engaged. The online classes I've taken have had more depth than many of the "live" classes I've had.

Several years ago I took Susan Sorrel's "Developing your Personal Symbols" online class. She takes you through a series of exercises that have you look at objects around you, sketch them and abstract them to come up with symbols that are meaningful to you. She then teaches you how to incorporate those symbols into a series of small fabric pieces. It was a lot of fun, and I also ended up with symbols that I come back to over and over.

I also enjoyed LK Ludwig's "Point and Shoot Journalism" class, although I confess I didn't have time to finish all the exercises. I do have them stored for later and can do them at my own pace. She has fresh approaches for working with all the photos we have piled up in our libraries, as well as ideas for opening our eyes to take more.

I recently completed Stephanie Lee's online journaling class and recommend it for anyone who wants to do more writing. I've been keeping morning pages for about 15 years after reading "The Artist Way" for the first time, so I was a little concerned whether I would get much out of an online class at this point. Stephanie provided lots of new prompts to help push my journal writing in different directions, and her own writing and reflections are a joy to read.

Besides the online class list, I've also added a list of sites that I find full of useful information or instruction. And I'm just starting to update my favorite links as I catch up with my blog reading. You can find all of them in the side bar.

Please let me know of other online classes or instructional sites that I can add to my list.

Happy New Year to Everyone!

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Garland Tutorial

As I promised early, here is how I make the garlands I use for display in our show.

Step 1: Gather white and cream fabrics. Use light weight pieces. I especially like those that ravel. A little netting is nice for body. Avoid satin or double knit polyesters--the heavier fabrics will droop.

Step 2: Cut fabrics across the width in 6" strips. Cut one strip each of 6 different fabrics:

Step 3: Crease one piece in half lengthwise to use as a guide. (Don't iron on your Olfa mat):

Step 4: Stack all 6 fabrics on top of each other with the creased piece on top:

The lengths will all be a little different, don't worry about it. You can trim the ends later if they bother you:

Step 5: Pin along center crease to hold all 6 layers together:

Step 7: Stitch 1/4" from either side of the center crease:

Step 8: Cut strips 1/2"-3/4" perpendicular to the stitching. (Ignore my tape marks--that's a different project.) Cut close to the stitching on either side, but do not cut through it:

Step 9: Run the garland through the washer and dryer, and this ruffled loveliness will come out:

I'd love to see variations of this if you try them. I keep meaning to try some colored ones, but haven't gotten around to it.

My family is arriving in two days to spend Christmas with us, so I will probably be silent until after the holidays. Happy Holidays to Everyone!

Sunday, December 6, 2009

A Grand Show!

Our Portland Art Collective "Open Doors" show was a grand success! Word of mouth is spreading quickly, so the show was lively and full of customers for both days. I want to thank everyone who came and added to the gaiety, and a special thank you to those who stopped and said hello.

It's always a big surprise to all of us to see how the show comes together each year. We get glimpses of each other's work throughout the year, but don't see the full scope of it until we are all set up, minutes before the doors open. I quickly got a few photos, but didn't begin to do justice to all the wonderful items in the show. Even after being there for two days, I discovered new bits of artwork that I never noticed at first. And the displays with the old doors as backdrops and all the imaginative use of cream, white and silver are always a highlight of the show.

Here is my display:

My big hearts:

And my little ones:

My garlands always get a lot of attention with several people wanting to buy them at every show. They are easy to make, and I've promised I will put a tutorial up here once I catch my breath and have time to get some process shots. You can see them at the top of my doors here and used throughout my display:

Other bits of fabulousness--

Cynthia Mooney's chubby, felted birds and colorful tassels:

Jan Harris's lovely photography and painting:

Lorraine Jones' meticulous collages. This one includes butterfly wings, leaves and pods, and I'm happy to say it made its way home with me:

Darlene Veltman's funky sewing machine covers:

Gaelyn Lakin's whimsical danglies:

Jennifer Campbell's clever use of old tins:

Tory Brokenshire's breathtaking use of black-and-white. Those are the most amazing lanterns on the table and paper cuts on the doors.

Paula McNamee's wonderful soft sculpture:

And Suzanne Reynold's fun pillows, which disappeared in minutes:

You'll be able to see many more photos on our group blog over the next few days to get a more complete view of the show. Check back soon for my garland tutorial.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Stepping Up

I finished another one in my pod series to put in our Portland Art Collective show this week. I was experimenting with a couple things in this one, titled "Stepping Up". First, I wanted to see how low I could put the focal point without it throwing off the composition. Second, I usually work with complementary colors, so wanted to try monochromatic this time. I'm really happy with the cool, watery look and the depth of this one.

You can see others in this series here and here, and another, with the process described, here.

I am busily finishing up show stuff this week, trying to stay sane through it all. I've been thinking about one of the best lessons I ever had about being in shows. When I first started showing my work, I was thrilled to be juried into Local 14, a very popular and competitive art show in Portland. Because of my natural shyness and all my insecurities about whether my work was worthy to be in the show, I was really happy that I didn't have to man a booth and interact with the public at this show. I did, however, have to work some at the show.

Imagine my horror when the first place I was stationed to work was directly across from my display. I could see and hear all public reaction without the buffer of politeness from them knowing the artist was sitting there listening. Once I could finally lift my head to see what was going on, I discovered that many people passed by with only a disinterested glance. Others stopped and looked closely. And then, thankfully, some lit up when they saw my work, brought friends over, and even bought it.

Later in the day, I was stationed by the work of one of the most prominent artists in the show, a woman whose work I admire and covet. And guess what? The public reaction was just the same. Granted probably more actually bought her work, but many had no interest in it at all.

It was a great lesson in following your own instincts and not getting caught up with what others think about your work. It will never please everyone.

Now back to work, with the hopes that I will at least please some.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

New Nancy Crow link

Hmmm, can't figure out how to edit the bad link in the last post, so here's a different link. This one will, hopefully, take you to the International Quilt Study Center with a whole list of other lectures, which I've yet to listen to--some sound very interesting. Scroll down to find the Nancy Crow one.

Monday, November 23, 2009

A Happy Girl

Lots of good things happening this week. My week began with the arrival of this. I've wanted one of Jude's pieces for a long time. When I saw "A Soft Scream" I knew it was the one. I love her use of lightness and darkness in this one and the shrouding of some bits in fog. Then the writing in her blog seemed to speak to issues I've been struggling with, "sometimes the light is blocked, sometimes by you yourself."

I just have to say that holding her work in my hands is amazing. Her blog, while incredible, doesn't do justice to the actual pieces, their textures, their colors, their little surprises here and there. This is a real treasure. I've already stroked it many times!

I also finished "Slow." It was a fun, meditative piece and I'm eager to start another one.

I made a nice discovery of couching strips of velvet for the writing. I used 1/2" strips and they couched beautifully, rolling in on themselves as I stitched for a nice finished edge and soft, fluffy letters. I'll be coming back to this.

And I found this Nancy Crow lecture online that I enjoyed listening to. Nancy talks about the influences on her work and how she developed her ideas. It was surprising to hear her talk about struggles along the way, pieces that she didn't like, dead ends in series. They all appeared in her book and looked so cohesive and thought out, you'd think it all went according to a master plan.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

On the Edge

"Slow" needed a slow edge, so I have been obsessively wrapping small bits of fabric into balls for it.

I know there is some sort of avoidance at work here since I should be preparing for my show in three weeks, but instead I sit and wrap little balls.

Ever since I started participating in shows, I've questioned whether I want to or not. The show itself is a lot of fun, and I do like being able to run with something I'm enjoying making and know there will be an outlet for it, but I am very thankful I don't have to do this for my livelihood.

Recently I read an interview with Susan Shie. Susan is legally blind and cannot drive (yet she still makes amazingly intricate artwork!) She said she wished she could hold a job, so she could just do art that she wanted in the evening and not have to rely on it for her living. What a different perspective.

I find when I'm preparing for a show, I'm always trying to guess what will sell, how much, which color. And I'm not very good at it. One year all of my funky crocheted baskets sold out, except for one, and that one was my favorite.

I read this post by Leni Wiener that captures exactly what I'm feeling:

"Everyone responds to art differently, and no artist will appeal to everyone. That is a fact of life. But for the artist to get lost in, to find meaning in, and to be fulfilled by the process is the reason we do what we do. There are certainly easier ways to make money. When artists start worrying too much about the end product--will it get into the right shows, will it sell, will other people consider it ground-breaking--we lose the real reason we create. For artistic people, there is a need to express ourselves through the process. The end result should not be the 'goal' and should not impact on how and why we create. Art is a selfish endeavor--in that, I mean that we do it to fulfill ourselves--if we get outside gratification, that is just the icing on the cake."

Back to wrapping balls.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Raggedy Earrings

This is one of those projects that I started and couldn't stop. I love playing with these tiny palettes of color and texture. The fabric disks are 1/2"-3/4" in diameter. They will be going in our Portland Art Collective show Dec. 4 and 5.

I made lots in my favorite deep, rich colors:

And some bright, playful ones:

And a bunch in neutrals, which have become my new love this year. I have been so inspired by the beautiful work on Gerdiary. She works in the softest, neutral palette and ends up with incredible pieces that often have a very peaceful quality about them.

Thursday, October 29, 2009


Back from a lovely trip up to Port Townsend, WA for Journalfest. I had never been there in the fall before, so really enjoyed seeing it in the golden light.

Even the dorms look grand in the autumn glow:

Teesha and Tracy Moore always put on wonderful retreats, and this one was no exception. They provided beautiful gift bags full of goodies, journaling parties in the evening, even a live band. The highlight of the retreat for me was spending an evening looking through Teesha's journals.

I had pleasant classes all three days, but they could have been meatier. I was hoping to come away with a renewed zest for journaling and new ideas to improve my sketching, but that didn't happen. I did, though, pick up a few new ideas here and there.

In some ways Lisa Cheney-Jorgensen's class felt like a step backward for me. I keep trying to work looser in my sketches, and Lisa works very tightly with a small brush. Her work is beautiful, but not the direction I want to head. I did though, like her use of colored pencil to heighten her final drawing. This was done in her class, with an example of birch trees she did in the lower corner:

On Day two I took Theo Ellsworth's class. Theo creates his own imaginary worlds and does elaborately detailed drawings of them. He gave us a fun collaborative exercise to work back and forth between drawing and writing then we spent much of the day doodling from our imaginations. These are two of Theo's drawings, a bit from our collaborative exercise, and, at the bottom, a sampling of the sort of doodle drawing we did:

And the last day was with Alex Shur who scrubs on watercolors to create a dreamy background, then draws out whimsical characters and animals from them. She works with a lot of China white watercolor and white gouache, which was all new to me. This was the page I did in her class, with the inset done by Alex:

After Journalfest, Cindy, Traci and I spent a few days in Seattle. It was raining pretty hard, so we didn't get around the city as much as planned, but we still managed to hit a few art stores and two of Tom Douglas's great restaurants--Palace Kitchen and Dahlia Lounge. Those make the rain pretty easy to take!

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

A Scattering of Beads

I've been so busy packing, I almost forgot to post this week. I am heading off to Journalfest tomorrow up in Port Townsend, WA. I'll be taking three days of workshops focused on art journaling. I'm traveling with my friend Cindy, and we'll be swinging by Seattle for a little extra hang out time.

So for this week, some raggedy fabric beads I've been making. They're about .5" in diameter.

I'm looking forward to catching up on blog reading when I return!

Monday, October 12, 2009

A Few More Stitches

I'm really enjoying having an ongoing project that I can pick up and spend a few minutes on here and there. Been adding a few more layers:

And some raggedy crosses:
Just got a great idea for an edge treatment I hope to be showing soon.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Breathing Easier

Now that I'm starting to build layers on my ugly background, I'm feeling much better about it. This will be a slow piece full of hand stitching and layers. The quote from Gandhi feels perfect.