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Taking a Second Look

Taking a second look at a failed project can spark new inspiration.

After a project is complete and I send it out for to a several calls for entry. If the work is rejected I evaluate. Something about that completed project did not work. When I look critically at my own work I look at three areas.

  1. It could have been that my skills were not up to the challenge.
  2. Maybe the composition missed the mark.
  3. The quality of the digital image may have missed the mark.


I must admit, I am used to rejection. Not being included in shows is part of the process of getting better at what I do. Taking the time to evaluate the reasons a particular submission was not included in an exhibition is a source of inspiration.

 “How can I reimagine this project?”


When I select an image to work with, I am telling a story through my work. I can talk about my work at length by the time I am done. I have a number of completed projects that failed technically or compositionally, but the story is still engaging. One of these failed stories was “Tom and Jim”.

The quilt began with a picture taken of my father, James King Lowers and his brother, Thomas Houston Lowers; posing at the side of their home in Victor Colorado. I have a couple of these photographs taken with the brothers in a costume. This picture is of them dressed up as soldiers. At the time they were mesmerized by Teddy Roosevelt’s “Rough Riders”. Despite guns at the ready, they look nothing but cute.

Since the photo is over a hundred years old it is not a "high quality" image. There are scratches. It is a little fuzzy and the sepia print makes for a low contrast image. In my first attempt working with the image, I scanned it as a high resolution. I didn’t improve the image before adding  a series of overlays*.

*In photo manipulation software, a filter is a particular effect that can be applied to an image or part of an image. Filters can be traditional photographic filters or they can be complex programs used to create a wide variety of effects.



I made an obvious misstep when ordering the fabric. When an image has a vertical orientation rotate the image 90 degrees so the usable print is larger. When the fabric came from Spoonflower I realized that error and another big one.


In an attempt to add a "playful" quality I used a filter with warm colors that would blend well with the sepia print. What I failed to understand was the image was not enhanced by adding layers of photo filters, fabric or paint that further obscured the figures or made the composition visually busy.

The final “nail in the coffin” was the quilting. In attempt to bring the figures into focus, I used fine thread (Superior Threads “So Fine”) in lighter flesh tones. By the time I was done, the faces were thick with thread and looked horrible.

Lessons were learned.

In my next post you will see how this picture was reimagined.

Until the next time........

You can see my work…….
New England Quilt Museum
Lowell, Massachusetts  •  July 11, 2018 -  September 23, 2018
Sacred Threads
HeART Gallery, St. Paul’s Lutheran Church, Toledo, OH – October 18-30, 2017


Interpretations: Conversations
Visions Art Museum
San Diego, CA
October 21 2017 – January 7 2018
Under The Western Sun
Handi Quilter
October 4 to December 1
"Art Quilts"
California Heritage Museum
Santa Monica CA
December 9 - March 18 2018
Art Quilt Quarterly 
Issue #8
Page 38
Subscribe or look  at Barnes & Noble, Books-A-Million, Joann Fabrics, or Chapters stores after November 29th.  


Being friendly pays off – It’s called Networking!

I live in a great community filled with quilters. There are traditional quilters, modern quilters, art quilters and everything in between. One of the draws for quilters is a larger population of people like me who have their children raised and time to devote to the creative process. 

My quilter friends shop at a local gem: Superior Threads. Superior has a warehouse that also serves as a retail outlet. I love wandering around the maze of thread and picking out just the right, weight, color, and kind of thread for my projects. The people in the warehouse are busy packing items for shops and online customer, but they are never to busy to help me find what I am looking for.

As I checked out one day I mentioned to the receptionist my passion for art quilting. We got to chatting and I gave her my website address. Several months down the road I got an email from a member of the Superior Threads team who does the newsletter. She asked if I would like to provide some information about my work.

“This month at my quilt guild meeting, several members mentioned reading about me in the Superior newsletter.” 

Social connections matter to spreading the word about what you do.







Networking is EASY.
Talk about what you love and you never know what can happen.

There are many places I “network” at here in Saint George.  There are a good variety of places to buy fabric.  I had great conversations with local  longarm quilters with some amazing skills to support local quilters .  There are shops that sell or service machines.  I always try to say “hi” or introduce myself. and make new connections when I am buying supplies or using a service. Having a business card to give someone helps them find more about what I do. 

 My quilt guild is large and inclusive.  Every member is encouraged to grow their skills and knowledge in a supportive atmosphere.  To reach out to the region and beyond; the guild hosts a beautiful and well attending  biennial show  called “Gems of the Desert”.  This year the show offered exceptional classes along with a exceptional variety of quilts. It is a wonderful atmosphere for me to make new connections. 

Going outside of one’s comfort zone to get to know new people is a great opportunity to get the word out about what you do and learn something new. Modern quilters in Saint George have their own guild in town which  attracts a younger group one of whom is in the national spotlight. Her name is Natalia Bonner.

She started quilting when she was a kid. After her first child was born, she began a journey which has produced a thriving business. I was so inspired by a presentation and trunk show ; that I bought one of her books and have begun building my repertoire of free motion stitching. 

(Look for a future post about this wonderful quilter, teacher and author. )

Network works!  Try it sometime. 

Until the next time…….

You can see my work……. 
International Quilt Festival – Chicago, Illinois: April 2017 

Under The Western Sun
Rocky Mountain Quilt Museum, Golden CO
April 27 – July 25 2017

National Quilt Museum, Paducah Kentucky
June – September 2017

Sacred Threads
Herndon VA
 July 7 – 23 2017 and Traveling through out the country!

Southern Utah Museum of Art
Cedar City Utah 
June 30 – August 26 2017

The View
St. George Museum of Art
St. George Utah
April 28 – August 16 2017

Untethered Thread
Poway Center for the Arts
Poway, CA
June 1 – June 24, 2017

Interpretations: Conversations
Visions Art Museum
San Diego, CA
October 21 2017 – January 7 2018



Forget Focus and Live!

Map  It’s day three on my blog about retirement. A new life has begun and things are going to change.

Moving through life without the burden of scheduled work has allowed me to rethink my daily life. So many people have told me that they thought they would have lots of time to get into the studio, read tons of books, work out, or pursue new goals. What they thought would happen when they stopping working  and the reality  of retirement were very , very different.  Retired people fill their days with scheduled events and activities that take on a life of their own.

That’s not going to be me!

Get to work

When I worked each day I had a list of things to accomplish. Often that list would be written down or posted on a calendar. Today I just don’t focus. I am starting my days out on my patio reading me emails, sipping coffee, looking through the news, blogs, “Pinterest“, etc….

 If an idea pops into my head, I pursue it. Maybe I go down my studio and sew. I might decide to go to the gym or work on my new computer  to understand Windows 8 or maybe shop online for a new camera. There is always TED lecture or maybe a movie I can download .

The list is gone.

I no longer place value on getting things done. 

It would seem a life without direction would lack value. Without focus, without aiming for a goal you would not accomplish anything. Your productivity would go down.

On Target Here is the weird thing I found out after letting go of the normal pattern of work behavior:  I accomplish more!.

Yes I get more done by just letting go of focused tasks and acting when I feel the urge. Without  looking at the clock I am able to devote the time to task without rushing through it. I actually go to the gym more often when I don’t think about how often I should go to the gym. When I am in my sewing studio I allow myself to stop before I plow through to finish project. I get more pleasure from what I do and the quality is better.

My advice: Stop aiming for a goal. Stop replacing the schedule of work with a schedule of activities. You will be happier and (surprise!) more productive.