Monday, February 27, 2012

No Time to Talk!

Excuse me! Pardon me! Comin' through! I know I haven't been around for a while, but who has time to sit and write it all down when the tables are piled high with projects and the mind is overflowing with visions of color and stitch. I know I'm supposed to be documenting my journey, but I've never been that good with keeping a diary. I'm not by nature a verbal person, more a visual one. This writing stuff takes too much effort. I totally love and admire those who can rant beautifully about the things that cross their paths. For example: Rice Freeman-Zachery at her blog "Notes From the Voodoo Cafe" comes  to mind. I love to read her rambling take on things both trivial and important. She is always insightful and amusing. But most of the time when I come to the end of a read (hers or others), I find it hard to muster the energy to leave a comment.  I follow Jude Hill's blog, Spirit Cloth, and her ongoing design whispering classes, and even though I am a known part of that community of textile lovers, I must think too hard and edit myself too much before finally leaving a bit of me on the page.

My TAST sampler pages for the five January stitches.

Learning to form shapes and fill spaces with common stitches

February has been more difficult to free form, but also more rewarding as I learn to improvise and take stitches to new places.

So the very best diary for me and the one I use almost every day is my flikr photostream. Just like a diary with stream of consciousness writing, it records where I've been and what it means to me at the moment: good and bad art, trivial and important observations about the inspiration or methods involved. A place mark to revisit my own growth, but just as importantly, to share growing steps with like minded artists of all mediums and levels of experience. Images connect with others in ways that words can't, especially when the audience is international, and that too is an amazing benefit. To meet and see the work of so many influences and feel the cultural similarities and differences. This visual diary is the real me: on the paper, the cloth, and the screen.

The portrait quilt is finally done, and I must say it came out better than expected (there was no plan, just moment by moment improv.)

Purple and green Dave is my favorite.
I have been taking a class with Sharon Boggon on the use of an artist's visual journal as both a creative diary and a workbook of ideas for future art. I have never consistently kept one before, and I am trying to learn the benefits and the habit. Since I resist writing, the studio journal is a place to tuck snippets of inspiration: photos, sketches on napkins, labels, lists, sources: whatever may be of use (or not!) down the line. There is no commitment to use anything you keep, but taking what you keep and developing it a bit further  by annotating or trying an idea in a quick study will leave behind more of what inspired the artist on later inspection. These bits of color, texture, inspirational quotes, faithfully glued and inked to the pages are left to age like fine wine. When thirsty for ideas, just uncork! I have barely begun to make this a habit, but like the art itself, I can see how meaningful it will be.

Arlee Barr's FrankenStitch class has taught me new textural additions to surface design beyond the stitches. This is a fabric "geode."

A second geode grows on this panel as the concept develops from 2D source art to part of a "Shrinebook" screen.

Buttonhole lace, stuffed, becomes a "nodule." 

Sourced from the painting, "We Drank All the Limoncino, " another panel comes to life with "nodules."
I had a recent revelation on my art journey. Something I knew inside but didn't quite acknowledge as acceptable until I recently heard Jude Hill repeat it in one of her cloth whispering sessions. That it is not necessary to have the whole concept or design the whole piece of art when you sit down to begin the making of it. I have long felt that "pre-designing" is akin to making yourself a kit, and when you begin working the kit, your mind and creativity have been left at the door. Not much different from working a kit by another artist. Granted, many of you may enjoy this sort of thing, and I don't mean to cast a broad net and say all use of other's designs is bad. But for most of us, doing that sort of work means we are not seeing all the good ideas we have inside. We decide ahead of time it is too hard to do, or that we are not good enough. What is really happening is that no one ever told us how to get the ideas out, how to make a medium our own: that we are all creative beings.

From a new sketchbook series: Starbucks Saturdays,
playing with Inktense pencils and a waterbrush to find new joy in doodling (while drinking soy lattes) on my weekly date with David.

Inspired by waterbottles in the cold case. The drips were from my new fountain pen (more about that another day.)

Trying to loosen up and draw freely feels good,
 and sometimes results in funny drawings.

I couldn't attend Carnivale in Brazil (although I know someone who did), so I just  drew with abandon.

After scanning the image, I found this samba dancer on a parade float, so I turned on a Zumba DVD and danced along!

This week in the studio journal class we are exploring design inspiration through cutouts and kaleidoscopes. I made this classic study of positive and negative spacial imagery using a photo of my own face, then inserted it into a kaleidoscope app to produce the designs on the right. How much more personal can you get than a motif created from your own profile?

I am coming to realize that the best way to find your creative voice is to start somewhere, with something that inspires, to begin the work and not worry where it will go, and just see what happens. What's the worst that could happen? You won't like it and you will start over. But from my recent class projects, I am seeing that quite often it isn't a matter of starting again, but continuing. Continuing to add, subtract, turn it around, see it with new eyes, be open to what is going on, both on the surface of the paper or cloth, and what is going on beneath, in you heart and mind. Keep on doing, everything is ultimately connected to the "you" inside. Finding your own voice is easy when you turn down the volume on what others say and do, and listen to what really inspires you.


  1. I totally agree with you that it's not necessary to have the whole concept or design ready when you start. In fact, I often start out with one idea, or only a vague idea, and things evolves while I'm working, so the end result might be quite different from what I first imagined. That's what makes it all so interesting and rewarding: all those little discoveries and epiphanies you stumble across along the way! Sometimes I get such a high from an unexpected idea or solution that I have to take a break and dance around a little to calm down. I believe that a design or thought needs its time to mature and as I know that my first thought seldom is the best design solution, I try not to rush into things.

    This has got to be the longest comment I've ever written on a blog... I enjoyed reading your thoughts and look forward to seeing more of your explorations here, or on Flickr.

    1. Hi, Annika. I must admit I've been so busy that I haven't read your last few posts and must go back tomorrow and catch up. I found it very amusing that I got your writing juices flowing! The funny thing is I don't so much mind writing, but documenting is always last on the list of things to do in a day. And that's why I need to develop the studio journal habit. Otherwise, ideas disappear in the mist!

  2. wow! what a lot you've said - esp for someone who isn't verbal! You seem to have quite a bit of momentum going, and your enthusiasm is contagious. I've not been a planner either, and as you note, sometimes making stuff is just a process of letting yourself begin, and then finding little ways to keep going. It has taken me awhile to recognize this as a strength - and now I think I can say quite evenly that planning creators and spontaneous creators are two different kinds of minds with very different strengths... I am wanting to not demonize the planners even though I have been sorely judged by them as a group over time!
    BTW - I saw your portrait quilt on flickr and really love it!

    1. Thanks for writing, Dee. I hope I don't make anyone feel bad about crafting from other's ideas, but I really believe most people, if they learn how to step out of that rut, will find they have the ability to be unique in their artistry.
      I'm very happy with that quilt. It was a technique I wanted to try for a while, and it gave me a chance to finally make something special for my guy. (We just hung it by the front door.)

  3. Wow! That whole last paragraph ("I am coming to realize...") is so profound for me -- it is something I have been struggling with lately and just now reading what you wrote really hit home. I hope you don't mind but I printed it out (with where it was from of course) and put it on my inspiration wall... I just today happened upon your blog and look forward to reading more and seeing what you are creating!