It’s been awhile…..

It was couple of years ago I moved from our family home  to our vacation home in Mesquite Nevada. I wrote several posts describing the change, what I didn’t share was how this change ultimately fell short of my expectations. 

Source: paxonbothhouses.blogspot.com

Isolation

 

Transition takes time to emotionally sink in and when in the middle of a big change you may mistake being “busy” for being fullfilled.

I did. 

One day I woke up and found myself lost.

Apparently I had been lost for sometime and did not realize that externally I had reorganized my life with fulfilling tasks, but failed to meet the needs of my soul. By the summer of this year, despite a glorious trip to Europe and the birth of the most perfect grandchild; I was down in the dumps. I suffered from anxiety, spent way too much time alone and had trouble motivating myself to do anything outside of my studio.

Luckily for me I am by nature; an analytical person.  When I realized  the problem was not going to pass on it’s own I sought help. I was not afraid to make changes, research, to be open to suggestions and to try potential solutions.  I got a new doctor who was a good listener. I made some lifestyle changes and made an effort to be more attuned to my physical well being. 

The second thing that started me on a more positive path was growing connections with fellow creative spirits: Women who wanted more out of life than just to be comfortable. Although I have a wealth of creative friends which I keep connected to online, in Mesquite I wasn’t able to find the intellectual depth I needed to grow . I found these kind of women in Saint George Utah, 


So I moved!
 


We found the perfect home. It’s less than an hour from Mesquite, but is in a much larger and more diverse community.  It has an active and interesting quilt guild. There is a museum.  The downtown has an amazing library. The are lot’s of bike paths and it is filled with beautiful places to hike. There are good places to eat, shop, listen to concert or go to a play. 

We choose a family neighborhood, near a park with room enough to comfortably have guests. The house has a back yard to garden. There is a huge gourmet kitchen and a three car garage that my husband loves. My studio is in a front bedroom that is larger than my old studio and filled with light. 

I plan to start full speed on several new projects. I also want to balance my studio work with a daily journal writing, cooking, water aerobics and making functional items. There is a wonderful group of art quilters to keep me moving forward. 

Southern Utah is place of great beauty. People from all over the world travel here to see Zion National Park. I feel at home here. I feel welcome and I look forward to many happy years in my new home.

 

Next Post is my word of the year: Observation 

Until Next time..
Margaret

 

 

 

 

 

The Quilt Police

“I had a created a piece of art designed for a gallery setting and placed it in a craft show. A quilt show is a wonderful place for the art of traditional quilting, but is not a place for the work I do.”  post 8/12/13

show-2013


Back when I was beginning the process of becoming an art quilter and experiencing some level of success; I wrote two posts about quilt shows:

“The Quilt Police” and “Here Comes the Judge” judge

The first post explored my feelings of being out of place with audiences and participants focused on traditional quilts. The second post questioned the “artistic” value of the quilting tradition of a select group of judges awarding prizes for excellence.

Since 2013, I have grow as an artist and grown as member of the larger community of art quilters. I see these topics differently. Quilt shows are opportunities for the art quilt community to share what they do with others and to expand the world of art quilting. These venues have value. What they don’t always share in common with the world of fine arts; is a perspective about the innate value of artist freedom.


Reading about Kathy Nida and her problems with a major quilt show brought me right back to this time in my quilting life.


In the summer of 2013, my critique group had put together a show called “Kimono KaKushin”. It is wonderful collection of art quilts using an actual kimono as physical base. Because this group of artists is filled with intelligent complex thinkers, the resulting show was rich with ideas and visual interpretations of the theme. In our first display of work at a regional quilt show one of our members was censored.


“What right did the quilt police have to judge artist’s work in an approved exhibit from an invited group !”


12540837_1090436850991137_3123300604421195346_n

The objection from the quilt show staff came from patrons who thought the photographic images of the Japanese actions in WWII was offensive. The quilt was pinned closed so those images were hidden. I was furious. Members of my group were furious. We continued to show this work, but at venues where their clear communication and an understanding of what was presented.


This is a similar dilemma faced by SAQA’s travelling show
“People and Portraits”.
Below is the written description and a  banner
for this exhibit from SAQA’s website:

exhibition-page-header-people This exhibition celebrates the expressiveness of the human face. The diverse designs focus on a variety of both emotional states and the ways in which people interact: contemplation, joy, community, work and play.

Neither the written description nor the imagery is confrontational. Not only did the venue accept the exhibit, but it also sponsored the exhibit. “People and Portraits” travelled to several venues (including quilt week) before their was a problem.

“I Was Not Wearing a Lifejacket”.  It is a quilt depicting a recurring dream the artist had that she she describes as a running nightmare. It was made by artist Kathy Nida.

nida

The “quilt police” pulled this  amazing quilt from the display.

It seems at a midwest quilt show their was a complaint(s) about a penis.  The problem with that argument was that no image of a penis was found in the actual artwork and there was no staff member at the quilt show willing to help resolve the issue with the offended audience member. SAQA and many members of the art quilt community made their displeasure known.  The response was disappointing.

The statement from the American Quilter’s Society is as follows:

 “After receiving numerous complaints from attendees about a quilt in the SAQA exhibit, AQS removed the quilt from the People & Portraits exhibit at the Grand Rapids QuiltWeek event. Prior to removing the quilt, the feedback AQS received was not limited to one isolated comment. Attendees reached out to AQS staff at the show and via emails and phone calls to our office.”


I followed this issue over several weeks. ( Google it. There is enough out their on the web for anyone interested to get more information.) What I wanted to reflect on is the lessons for me as quilt ARTIST(!) and a member of the art quilt community.

Lesson 1: The traditional art quilt community has a rich culture which I value and understand that I have to serve as a bridge to that community.
Lesson 2: When creating or marketing a display of art quilts consider level of background knowledge of the audience
Lesson 3: Create an avenue for the viewer through written overviews, artists statements, flyers, recordings, and other resources for audience members to get additional information.
Lesson 4: Have a contract which specifically spells out what will be on display (including images of actual work) and what will be the process for resolving issues.

Until next time…..
Margaret

See my work in:

Quilt=Art=Quilt
Schweinfurth Memorial Art Center, Auburn NY:

Turmoil
International Quilt Festival – Houston, TX: October 2016
International Quilt Festival – Chicago, Illinois: April 2017 

Thread is my colored pencil


DM_03242016_1002

Thread is the colored pencil of the art quilt.


b04fd156696347abd1f1cb85bf3bd6a7 Traditional artist training for artists from elementary school through college includes developing an artist’s ability to manipulate color and line. This tool is used to teach these two important of elements of design.

Many art quilters are piecers like art quilter extraordinaire Maria Shell who fully embrace using the traditional form of quilting by putting cloth shapes together to form a pattern. This style of art quilting emphasizes two other elements: color and shape.

“I am a piecer also known as a bitmaker. I am also an obsessive compulsive quilter. Might as well claim it.”
Maria Shell blog post “All my Life” 08/06/1


thread-paintings-zavaglia I am not a traditional quilter. My quilts are whole cloth. I add small bits of fabric on top of the whole cloth to create textures and increase a sense of visual space. I use color by painting the cloth with various wet media. When I begin to stitch I use thread just as I would a colored pencil.

In the art quilt world some would call this thread painting like this portrait by Cayce Zavaglia.  This artists uses thread across the entire surface of the image. The style is realistic. It mimics an oil painting. My friend Lea McComas has a wonderful book which outlines the technique. Check it out, if you want to know more.

Thread Painted Portraits you can buy this book at http://www.leamccomas.com/store/

Thread Painted Portraits

You can buy this book at
http://www.leamccomas.com/store/


I use thread to scribble, to add movement, to change the color scheme, to add value and as tool to draw using a variety of lines over the surface. I have two  invaluable tools.  The most important tool is a high quality sewing machine. My Bernina has a huge work area when stitching . It also has a variety of decorative stitches and an extra large bobbin. It is the tool that allows me a wide variety lines made with thread.

Stitch detail

Stitch detail

The second tool is my pallette of thread. I have over 100 spools of thread. . Learning to use the right thread and to use a variety of thread is the key to making a real visual impact. Some thread is fine for a straight stitch but gives me headaches when I free motion. I love variegated thread but have come to appreciate the subtle qualities of grey values. superior-threads-office

I am lucky to live in close proximity to Superior Threads. It has a “huge” (say it Bernie Sanders would) warehouse in St. George Utah where I can wander through a maze of thread. The first purchase I made was a thread chart. This helps me find not only the color I am looking for, but allows me to check off the colors I already have in my stash.

Sewline-Colour-Chart_png_1200x1200_q85 Every thread line has a color chart.

“Even if you are buying thread online, order the color chart first.”

I often take a photo of the selection of a single color. For example I was working on a portrait and I was missing a light value between two beiges and a dark value between two greys. Seeing the spools in a row helps identify what I am looking for.

When I shopping at Superior I also take a phone shot of the top of the spools which shows the the color number. This way I can make sure I am not buying a duplicate or a color too close to the value I already own.

WarehouseThreads images

I have to give a shout out the the staff at Superior, they are always nice and go the extra mile to help answer a question of find a solution to a problem.

Until next time……
Margaret

Oops! Handling failure….

There is a difference between a mistake and a failure

failure-copy


 

I ruined a quilt I spent thirty hours on!

H2Oh! in progress

H2Oh! in progress

I had worked very hard on a potential entry in the SAQA exhibit H2oh! The last step in my process is covering the surface with a matt varnish with UV protection. My rational has been to seal the surface to help protect it from handling the quilt, fading and to ensure any lose threads cannot be pulled.

 

I have always used the same water based product. It came in a money saving gallon tub. The tub would last a year.  In this one case the entire surface of the quilt looked cloudly after it dried.  Panic set in.  I went to my local art supply store to consult with the manager. He said the cause could have been the product getting too hot, being over mixed, too thick, inconsistent drying during the heat spell, etc…  In the future he suggested I use a very thin spray varnish to avoid any potentional clouding.

There was no turning back. H2oh! went into the garbage as a total failure.


“A failure by my definition is a mistake that cannot be undone.”


One of my options after closing the lid of the trash can would have been to reorder my origonal design from my “Spoonflower” account. Having completed the project once and keeping a photographic record of my progress; I could easily duplicate this project. It would be the quick path. Instead, I thought of the failure as a message from my art angels to step back and reflect. Maybe my failure was ment to be. 

When I finished my JAM portfolio in the early spring, I submitted a portfolio of 7 art quilts. I believed I was creating two distinct series of portraits. One was portraits of spirtual practices like mediation and the other group were portraits investigating my family.

My mentor suggested that I needed to stop seeing my work in seperate catagores. The work I was making should be an extention in large body of work. With each new quilt I creating for myself new challenges and addressing problems with previous work.  Don’t repeat, expand!

A portrait of meditation.

A portrait of meditation.

A portrait of my Grandfather

A portrait of my Grandfather

 

 

_

 

 

 


Was the failed work an  authentic extention of my previous work?

I responded to the “H2oh!”  theme by making a portrait of a process of meditating to the sound of water. When I meditate, I often just put on the sound of water a let my mind quiet. This would be another portrait of of a spiritual practice but was I creating new challenge?  Was I moving forward creativily or resting on established formula?

On balance, I did spend a great of time on this project  improving technically but very little time on anything else. Recently, I have made an effort to use thread as a stonger design element. I have started collecting a large number of threads that allow me to use thread much like I would use colored pencils.  From that limited perspective, I was challenging myself.  Thread

 Looking at any project technically is not enough. An artist needs to express something deeper. So I chose to move to another project. This time it is self portrait. The self portrait has so much potential both technically and thematically as an exploration of who I am in the context of where I came from.

(I have not abandoned working on entry for H2oh! I have an abstract portrait for sound of water and photo of my father in law as an ocean life guard.) 

Portrait in progress. From a photograph of me in 1976

Portrait in progress. From a photograph of me in 1976

 

Until the Next Time
Margaret

You can find my work at:
Textile Museum at George Washington University
"Diaspora: Stories of Migration"
through September 4th

New Legacies
Lincoln Center 
Ft. Collins, CO
July 5th - September 3rd

SAQA Benefit Auction
http://www.saqa.com/memberArt.php?ID=1186
Bidding starts September 16th

Turmoil
International Quilt Festival – Houston, TX: October 2016    
International Quilt Festival – Chicago, Illinois: April 2017 

SAQA - Portfolio 21 
Type: SAQA Portfolio 
Price: $29.95

Mesquite Local News
Article "A splash of Color"
Featured Art Quilt "Namaste"

 

 

Planning for the “Call for Entry”

It’s Southern Nevada in the Summer

It’s Hot!
100, 106, 115, 118, ……


monte Carlo I have just returned from a trip around the Mediterranean where the weather, the people and scenery couldn’t have been more relaxing. It was the perfect trip.

Now I have to get back to reality. 


The business of being a studio art quilter requires me to submit work to calls for entry. These calls are my vehicle to share my work with a larger community. There are two types of calls: open and directed (or theme driven). When I returned home from this trip, I picked two open calls and two themed calls to work on during the hot summer. (It’s kind of like quilting when it’s zero outside and snowing!)


I have process.

20160618_092123 Step one: Print out 2-4 proposals. I select calls to consider from regularly checking sites like SAQA’s call for entry page, the SAQA  regional blog for my area, blogs and social media groups. I also keep a list of shows that I have entered in the past on my google drive with a link to a web page.

20160618_090529 Step Two: I update my white board calendar with current dates.  Next I list the calls I want to enter with deadlines. When I have an appointment I add this to the board.  It is important for me to look realistically at what I can accomplish that will allow me a big enough window to really create something that will add to my portfolio whether or not the work get’s accepted to a particular call.

Step Three: I comb through my  selection of images.  Often have some of these images are already printed on fabric.  If I don’t have anything printed on hand, I look through my digital files, print them on my home printer and make an image selection from there.

My collection of  images have a rich subtext. This allows me to connect with a themed exhibit or create something outstanding for an open call. Next I begin the process of matching potential projects with a call for entry.

Potential entry for H2Oh!

Potential entry for H2Oh!

Reading and rereading the prospectus is  important. So is spending time looking at the jurors websites, reading any information about the venue and finding google images of previous shows. The goal to find a “good” (not perfect) fit with my personal aesthetic.

After I have done my research I put images on my design wall or spread then on my work table. Inevitably an image just seems to standout. Occasionally I select subject matter just happens to match the title of the show (see example below). More often, in reading a theme or looking at a juror’s statement I make a conceptual connection.  When I am on the right track I can easily write an artist statement in my head about the piece before I have begun to work on it.

H2Oh! in progress

H2Oh! in progress


In case you are interested here are the calls for entry I am looking at:

Quilt=Art=Quilt:  Open call. Schweinfurth Art Center in Auburn NY
Quilt National: Open call. Dairy Barn Arts Center, Athen OH
Layered Voices: Themed show. (SAQA) International Quilt Study Center, Lincoln NB
H2Oh!: Themed show (SAQA)  National Quilt Museum, Paducah KY
Sacred Threads:  Themed show, held outside Washington DC.


Do I think I will get into all or even any of these shows?
No idea.
It does not matter.
What matters is adding to my body of work. 
Challenging myself technically and intellectually.
I really can’t lose. 


Until next time……

Margaret

You can find my work at:
Textile Museum at George Washington University
"Diaspora: Stories of Migration"
through September 4th

New Legacies
Lincoln Center 
Ft. Collins, CO
July 5th - September 3rd
Join me at the Opening Friday July 8th 5-7

SAQA Benefit Auction
http://www.saqa.com/memberArt.php?ID=1186
Bidding starts September 16th

Turmoil
International Quilt Festival – Houston, TX: October 2016    
International Quilt Festival – Chicago, Illinois: April 2017 

SAQA - Portfolio 21 
Type: SAQA Portfolio 
Price: $29.95

Quilting Arts Magazine
http://www.interweavestore.com/quilting-arts-june-july-2016
$7.99