Category Archives: The creative life

Talking about creating an artistic life!

Iris Apfel’s Wisdom

Curiosity and a sense of humour

You only have one trip you might as well enjoy it.
Iris Apfel

I recently watched a wonderful documentary on Iris Apel. Iris is a 90(+) icon of the fashion world. I had no idea who Iris was, but by the end of the documentary I was a huge fan.  She is her own work of art. From the heavy use of layered jewelry to her signature glasses.

This post is not about Iris in the world of fashion and design, it’s about the wisdom of Iris.

# 1 “I am not a beautiful women.”
To be honest about yourself is a noble characteristic. Why waste time chasing what is not in the realm of possibilities. (Trying to weigh what you did in your 30’s. Looking good wearing a trendy item that wasn’t designed with your body type in mind.)  Iris is not vain. She is realistic.  Her strength is her ability create a personal style that is a perfect fit for her body and her personality.




Watching Iris has inspired me to rethink putting some creative energy into my own closet. In the documentary she was shopping in thrift stores and carts on the streets of New York for color, patterns and textures that together make a visual statement. She paired these finds with some designer, vintage and cultural pieces. What holds them together her well cultivated aesthetic. 

#2 “You can’t have it all.”

How many of us know people or are people who still hold regrets that we didn’t……..

Iris was born three years after my own mother in 1921. It was an era where women started to move beyond the home. Iris studied art history, worked for Women’s Wear Daily, was an interior designer and assistant to an illustrator. At she 27 married Carl. In 1950 they open “Old World Weavers. The company served clients that included the White House until 1992.

Iris and Carl never had children by choice.  Her reasoning is solid: “You can’t have it all.”

As a women who grew up in the age where women were told to go out and get more. Have the career, the kids, the marriage and social life. It is nice to hear someone who made clear choices and doesn’t have regrets.

#3 When your mind is busy, you don’t hurt so much.

Iris is active despite being in her 90’s and less mobile than a younger person. She pushes herself out the door. Currently Iris has a line of jewelry, eyewear and makeup. She also is a Professor and active in a fashion design program.

I am in my late 50’s and not in bad shape. I can’t say that I am hurting physically, but the schedule Iris keeps would push my limits. Her lifelong work ethic has served her well. Being active is an attitude. Keeping your mind and body moving forward in a meaningful way is critical to a happy and long life.

Check out the documentary by Albert Maysles.

Until next time……….


Letting Curiosity Guide You



This quote by “Eat Pray Love”author Elizabeth Gilbert  caught my eye on Twitter’s#MotivationMonday.

I have read two of Gilbert’s books (Eat Pray Love and The Last American Man) and I have seen her speak. She has a very engaging personality with a unique perspective on how to live a creative life. In her latest book “Big Magic” about living creatively without fear, she some asks some very big questions about letting curiosity not fear be your life’s compass.

 “The central question upon which all creative living hinges:
Do you have the courage to bring forth the treasures that are hidden within you?

Babyboom I have never felt fully comfortable with the well planned upwardly mobile life. When I first left college I worked in a corporate environment. It was the days of shoulder pads and business attire like Diane Keaton’s character in  “Baby Boom”. I moved up rapidly into a management position  and then I imploded. I quickly got a second corporate job. Within a month of getting that job my mother had a car accident, she died and then that company let me go because I had been gone for 3 weeks. This was a clear sign for me to change directions.

I returned home after my mother’s funeral determined to live a life that was not focused on money and mobility. At the time my daughter was turning one. We had beautiful little home in Florida and I had some inheritance and a year of income from unemployment insurance. I decided to return to school and get a teaching certificate in art education.

Well intentioned lectures from the education professors, guidance counselors and friends  urged me to major (or at least minor) in elementary education because I would never get a “steady job” in art. The income would be far less than I was used to and the rewards were limited.
Follow Your Passion

Many years latter I retired from that unsteady job very glad that I had not opted to stick out a life didn’t inspire me.

After learning I was selling my house a few short weeks after I stopped teaching; many friends suggested I was making a mistake moving away from my social and artistic connections. Even I questioned the sanity of my radical changes .  After more than a year I am sure my decision was good one. I moved more than a  physical location.  Mentally I live more fully in a life focused on creativity.

The upside of radical change is that you don’t know all the implications. Your dream has to be reimagined many times over until the transition is complete.  Because exploration and experimentation are required processes of adjustment; one becomes used to the idea of living without stability for a period of time. Thankfully I have become far less attached to routine. Change Quote

You have to let go of the old to make room for the new. I put less energy into projects that involve other people and more energy into self reflection. Time spent in organized blocks was keeping me from spending time working in depth so I drastically reduced scheduled commitments. Every pattern, assumption and every “requirement” is up for grabs.

Until next time……..



I was an early multitasker!

 Human multitasking is the apparent performance by an individual of handling more than one task, or activity, at the same time. An example of multitasking is taking phone calls while typing an email. Multitasking can result in time wasted due to human context switching and apparently causing more errors due to insufficient attention.  


When you were a kid, did you ever get questioned by your Mom for watching TV, be talking on the phone and doing your homework at the same time?

Even as a kid, I liked to be doing something with my hands at the same time I was I being entertained (TV, radio, movie) and learning. I doodled on desks at school at the same time I was taking notes, looking up answers to the homework questions and listening to the teacher. I was an early multitasker.


Art Studio

As a teacher, I found that letting kids have access to lot’s of sensory input (auditory, visual, kinesthetic)  was a good formula for encouraging on task behaviors.

I know this sounds counterintuitive. You would think that by limiting distractions, students would be more focused on work.  After many years of teaching I observed silent classrooms as incubators of boredom.

Most students forced into periods of silence longer than 15 minutes fight to keep themselves from drifting off into daydreams or falling asleep. Maybe it’s the current cell phone culture, but I suspect; the brain needs more than silence to engage in learning.

Article called “Learning can be Loud” A

If you walked into my  classroom art studio if would not be unusual to hear music, see a slideshow of images, notice students moving to different stations and see tables that were crowded and students sitting by themselves. It was a fun place and more importantly a  very productive environment.


I have taken this lesson about engaging my senses into my own studio. When I am working I like to stream music, flip through a magazine, watch a favorite movie, catch up on the news, play instructional videos or listen to an online series while I am really working hard at making art.

So here is a list of my current favorite multi-tasker “non” distractions:

logo-ccc-box The online series my Jerry Seinfeld “Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee” It is so funny and insightful. The episodes are 15 to 20 minutes. Your brain needs you to move every 20 minutes for maximum attention. This is perfect and hilarious!

Intel Debate NPR Podcasts. There are so many great podcasts on NPR. One of my favorites is Intelligence Squared . They have great thought provoking topics like “Too Many Kids Go to College”.  Each side takes a position and argues their case in a respectful tone, with lot’s of information. It’s such a lovely break from the current media culture and you really get new insights on tough topics from real experts.

Cafe U-Tube has tons of music which runs from 2 minutes to 2 hours. I try to get a playlist that runs 40 minutes. It keeps from sitting or standing in one place for too long. When I listen to music, I tend to listen to something not in English, something that takes me to a different culture or place. All you have to do is search for “French Cafe Music” “Indian Music” “World Music”, etc…. There is so much out there and it’s free!

As a default I often listen to Ted Talks or put a familiar movie in the background. One thing that I found is a win-win, is replaying a online class lesson like the series I took from the Pixeladies on Photoshop. By replaying the video lessons I reinforced what I had learned. Most online learning courses leave lessons open for a period after the class has closed. It’s great to take advantage of hearing about the skills you practiced for a second time.

Until next time……



While I was away….


I was on a “Blogcation”- a week off from my weekly post!

During that time I got a new and improved website.The new website is sound investment and demonstration of my commitment to working as a full time creative person.

The site was redesigned by a company called ARTBIZ.  As an artist, I wanted an artist (turned web goddess) to help me to take the Metaphysical Quilter to the next level as a blog and as a digital gallery. The recommendation came from Marie Snell and I love the result.

New Logo

New Logo

There were some errors on my part. 
I left my  large TIFF image files on discs back in Mesquite. So I still have to send my web designer a better image to improve my banner. 
I also need  to use these large files to upload better quality web images for my galleries.

Why a new website?

“Invest in the future because that is where you are going to spend the rest of your life.”
Habeeb Akande

Another part of being a full time creative person is taking my creativity on the road.

Miniature travelling car with luggage on top

 My plan was use part of my travel time to research potential shows and venues for my art; get some online learning done, watch some U-tube and play a few instructional DVD’s.

Wifi - not availible

Wifi – not availible

This plan failed. I was out of the country in a remote area.The web service on phone was nil. I couldn’t even get the time right on my phone unless I updated it manually. The villa I stayed at did not have a DVD player and any internet connection was spotty at best.

Plan B: The sketchbook. sketchbook markers I always travel with a sketchbook, a small bag of drawing tools and a set of markers.

Since I had some down time, I focused on a project in my sketchbook making potential designs for fabric.

portion of sketchbook page taken with my phone camera

portion of sketchbook page taken with my phone camera

I was inspired by my Pinterest Board called “fibers”.  It’s a place I collect ideas and have a list of sources that help me as an art quilter. Fabric is based on the design concept of patterns and visual rhythms.Creating a pattern is essentially a repeat of colors, shapes, lines, values or textures.

In my sketchbook I created 12 pages that are filled with patterns. I start drawing by repeating colors, lines  and shapes. In the end the page is filled. After several pages are done, I step back to do some evaluation.

When I got home I started by taking photo’s of the pages. In photo editing software (photoshop or free programs like PIXLR) I cropped and edited the images changing change their colors, contrast and intensity. When I finished editing I use the program’s collage option to create a pattern.

cropped images

cropped images

repetition of image using a photo collage grid.

repetition of image using a photo collage grid.







The example above is not one I really like and that’s OK.
(Remember my post :Embrace the Mistake)

I have many more pages to look at. When I am done, hopefully I will find a pattern worth spending additional time developing. Here are some more samples I created while on the road. I think it was time well spent.

Repeat of VW micro bus

Repeat of VW micro bus

repetition of mice shapes

repetition of mice shapes


curves lines

eggs and textures

eggs and textures




Next week I will be on the road to DC and NYC!

Until Next Time….


Full Time Creative Person On the Road



Strategies for a full time creative person on the road.

After a year of figuring out life in retirement, I am now a full time creative person. I have a studio, a list of creative projects I am working on, I am connecting with in my local creative community and I am making daily progress toward some long term goals.

My husband and I headed out on the road when the temperature in our town of Mesquite got well into the triple digits. Before I left I spent a little time thinking of a strategy so my creative momentum wasn’t stalled by weeks away from my studio. My focus was to  use the time away from making art to my advantage.


I want to use the time away from the studio as investment in my art.

As an emerging art quilter I need to find places to show my art. At a recent SAQA convention; the speaker advised artists to have at least six juried shows on their resume in order to compete for grants and to get into more prestigious venues in the future. According to this speaker, the key to success is entering a consistent number of shows and selecting them wisely.

In my experience at least fifty percent of the time the work I submit to juried shows is not selected by the juror. To meet the goal of six accepted entries I will I need to find at least twelve juried shows at local, national and international venues.  Using my time on the road is ideal for this task. In the car or waiting in line; I can open up my phone or tablet and cruise through a variety of sites including SAQA’s call for entry,  CAFE,  or Art Call to find the twelve “right” shows. Bookmarking sites allows me to go back and carefully review the information.

This quilt has been accepted into several juried shows.

“Synchronized in the Sea of Love” has been accepted into several juried shows.

As I search I keep in mind my inventory of work of a high enough quality available to  enter.

Often the search to helps me collect potential  concepts for future projects  when I return home.

When I have time to sit down with my laptop I review my bookmarked websites. I search for images of artwork that were juried into their past shows. I carefully read the juror’s website and resume.  Most importantly I read and reread the prospectus.  A clear understanding of the show concept is key to submitting work that will have a chance of being selected.  All of this information helps me make an informed choice of which juried shows to enter.

Thanks to the abundance of long distance learning opportunities, I signed up for a second Photoshop course with the Pixeladies that I plan to complete while I am out of town. Since I had already taken the first course, I was sure that being on the road would not be too much of an issue. I have lot’s of images on my computer and can always use my camera or phone to add to my image library.


Another way to learn on the road is to bring some of the DVD’s that I find on sale at places like the Interweave Store.  Currently I have a copy of video by Jane Davenport that I have never watched. I tossed the DVD in my bag with a sketchbook, markers, pencils.  Although Jane’s illustration style is not my own, getting out of comfort zone helps keep the creative juices flowing.

If you don’t have a DVD, then search “YouTube” .  When I searched for “Color Theory Lesson” there were more than 7 pages of hits. Zentangle patterns gave me just as many hits. I can grab my sketchbook and draw along or just watch and learn!


With every trip I try to search out those places where I can see great art, amazing scenery, inspirational architecture, etc…

This trip we are going to head up to NYC. I have tickets for the new Whitney Museum. The Whitney’s focus is on contemporary and cutting edge art. It is now housed in a new building on the west side of the city close to some great galleries.  We are also going to the New World Trade Center and taking the tour which presents a multimedia experience of the history of the city as you ride to the top floor. Side trips will include wandering (my favorite way to soak up this city) and a stop at MOMA for the Jacob Lawrence exhibit.

I will miss my studio time. Most importantly I will come back with some new ideas, a few new skills and a large quantity of creative energy.

I will be on a BLOGCATION (a short vacation from my blog) so I will miss you next week.

Look for a new webpage design in the near future!

Until the next time