Category Archives: Uncategorized

Sketchbooks

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The season of heat here in Southern Utah is almost done. I am able to get an hour on the patio each morning as long as the shades are down and the fan is on.

During that hour I have been sketching.


Sketchbooks were a big part of my life as an art teacher. All my students started each unit of study, no matter what the medium(printmaking, ceramics, glass) ; with their sketchbooks. Sketchbooks help focus attention and turn that noisy left brain off.


I start sketching with a collection of ideas for sketchbook pages I collect on a Pinterest board. I have a basket of markers and several very sharp pencils. My sketchbook is small. Each day I work on a double page starting with a light pencil sketch. I trace the pencil lines with thin black markers and then erase the pencil lines. Next I add color.

I have new markers that act like watercolors. The tips are brushes. The set came with a water pen allowing me to paint water over a line to soften the effect. I also have markers with two tips and sets with a range of color values. These materials are organized  in a wire basket and separated with cans holding different pens.

Each of these page spreads included some text. Sometimes it’s a quote, but most often I just put down a short phrase. Drawing out different kinds of lettering is a great way to improve your drawing skills. Arranging the words on a page with an illustration is a way to practice making choices in your composition. 

Some of the barriers to drawing most people face are:

  • Unrealistic expectation of making something look real
  • Not knowing where to start
  • Endless erasing to get it just right
  • Wasting time searching for subject matter
  • Romantic ideas about how a “real” artist would sketch
  • Have an attitude of failure after a single session

 

You can avoid these barriers by:

  • Trying to copy an existing drawing. Drawing from life can be too much when you first start, but not using a visual reference is a mistake. 
  • Start with a single subject. Don’t over think the process. 
  • Add fillers to the page like words, or colors, patterns, etc...
  • Draw with a pencil using short light lines. Trace with a heavy pencil line or maker and erase the light lines. 
  • Realism is overrated. Seek out examples of illustrations that visually engaging but not complex

 


Don't judge yourself, just finish the page.

Repeat a process (draw, trace color) overtime and remember it’s not going into a gallery.

It’s just for you.


Until next time...
Margaret

Nowhere to Go, but always something to do…

My travel is mostly in my imagination and on YouTube, but just because I don’t have anywhere to go doesn’t mean I am not busy.

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As many of you know, I use “Spoonflower” to print my fabric. For the past 5 years my focus has been on photographic portraits and landscapes. Over the five years, my Spoonflower Design library is getting quite large. I decided to address the online clutter and found some of my first designs created at Art Quilt Tahoe in a class by Jane Dunnewold in 2015. 

I can’t remember the exact assignment, but I do remember there was a dusting of snow on the ground and I wandered around with my newly purchased camera taking photographs of rocks, pine needles and red branches with a hint of leaves left on them. These photographs were uploaded, resized, manipulated digitally to change their colors and turned in every direction. I printed a sample or two which I used for scarfs but never focused on making my own digital yardage. 

 As I organized my design library, these photo experimental fabric designs caught my eye. I placed them in a separate folder. The next step was to order a sample. When the samples arrived I was able to check the quality and place them in my online shop. My shop now has 8 designs with a goal of having many more on offer in the upcoming months. 

Designs by metaphysical_quilter

Shop Link Above

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This has been a learning curve for me. I have been able to figure this new world out with the help from my super tech savvy son and the wealth of information from connections within the art quilt community.


I also am using all the years of teaching experience in an art classroom to put together virtual workshops. I am using both familiar tools like PowerPoint and a new streaming application to record my computer screen while I am working in Photoshop. I be putting out more information about this project in early fall.

It’s learning that keeps me young and engaged.
I am experiencing the world very differently today than last year and it’s exciting!


(If you are interested in an online workshop, let me know at metaphysicalquilter@gmail.com. )


 

Until next time....
Margaret

Stages of Buying Equipment

Like many other Americans of my age I am staying close to home this year. Even my quilts seem to be sheltering in place because of exhibit cancellations. I had hoped this year to begin to lecture and teach but this goal has to be put aside. Now I am working through a new plan to take advantage of this unusual period of time.

Last year I entered many more of the traditional quilt shows. Typical art quilt exhibitions are judged on a digital images. Prizes (if offered) are based on criteria not tied to the traditions of craft. In traditional shows I realized that the quality of my quilting was an area I needed to master.

I also started taking some cues from the modern quilt movement. Their quilts are known for an absence of fabric pattern and an excess of quilting. The surface pattern is a key marker of the modern quilt. It fits in a niche between traditional and art by taking visual cues  from both approaches to quilting.


As I write this post, my quilt studio has a new addition. A small frame long arm machine. I selected the Handi Quilter SImply Sixteen with a Little Foot Frame. I want to share with you the process of making this decision and how it will expand my portfolio.


 

5 stages of change : Pre-contemplation. Contemplation. Preparation. Action. Maintenance

“The trans-theoretical model of behavior change is an integrative theory of therapy that assesses an individual's readiness to act on a new healthier behavior, and provides strategies, or processes of change to guide the individual.”  Wikipedia

change

The 5 stages of change are associated with behavior change. They are applied in therapy for habits including additions, anger management, eating disorders, smoking etc...

I am going to use these 5 stages to the art quilter in general and specifically to my process of buying new equipment.

 

The 5 stages of purchasing equipment.

Precontemplation: This is the point where a project is a struggle, excessively time consuming, has to be altered to accommodate the equipment within the workspace. This is the phase where projects that go beyond current skills are and beyond the comfortable use of current equipment. It’s the “what if...” stage 

Contemplation: In this stage the workarounds with equipment are either impossible or too cumbersome. This stage is often sparked by new learning. A week-long  workshop, a trunk show or a studio tour may be a spark needed to consider a new purchase. It should be clear the skill set needed to accomplish the goal is not the primary concern. It’s the level of frustration where the need to make an additional investment is clear. 

Preparation: The first step in this stage is research. That is the point where a network of quilters is important. Ask for suggestions. Make a short list of equipment. Remember to select only equipment that  has a solid support system. (Dealer, Service Center, Online Help, etc..)   Carefully consider the compromises.  (Will you need to sell or move something? Will you have enough walking space? Give up storage?) Understand the number of hours needed to feel competent using the new equipment. 

Action: Now is the time to figure out a budget. This may mean waiting until a floor model is available or going to a show to get a deeper discount. It may also mean selecting from your shortlist based on price. Consider seeking out used equipment. Reconfigure your studio space  before placing an order.


Maintenance: Once equipment has arrived be prepared for the learning curve. Having a series of practice pieces ready. Make sure that you allow yourself time everyday to learn and become comfortable. Having a support system readily available is key to maintaining the commitment to this investment.


My long arm arrived a few weeks ago. Before it arrived I moved my computer, printer and cutting machine to another room in the house. I consolidated my thread collection and measured out exactly where I wanted the new machine and frame placed in my sewing studio.

Before it arrived, I purchased some cheap cotton and batting.  I watched numerous videos on how to load the backing, batting and top. Within a few hours of my Simply Sixteen's arrival I had my first practice quilt sandwich completed.

My plan is to try to empty my dwindling stash of commercial fabrics as I play and learn. In the future I hope to create a new series of art quilts which combines my painted digital designs with a modern background.

 

It’s a good year to invest in the future.
Until Next Time.....
Margaret

About Brooklyn

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Brooklyn is my newest quilt. This quilt, like all of my quilts; Brooklyn has a hidden story. It began with a simple tale and ended up telling a much more complex story. This story exists in both the past and the present.

My vintage portraits like this one; start with well worn pictures that come home to me from extended family, boxes I uncovered after moving and in old albums I inherited . This snapshot was sent in a manilla envelope along with other photographs from my nephew. The collection included professional wedding photographs, a snapshot from a honeymoon in Niagara Falls and several pictures from World War II. This one of my mother in law immediately caught my eye. 

The picture was taken in her parent’s backyard when she was barely 20. On the back of the photo she had written a note which read “Like the view!” I imagined this snapshot was sent to her boy friend as he headed to Europe during the second world war. This Italian girl  would marry that boy from Brooklyn despite objections from both families for not choosing someone in their community. They would be described by friends as the best looking couple in their small town. 


By the time I had selected this photograph for my next project, the world had changed.
A global pandemic was raging and its epicenter was in New York.


The girl in photo has been dead for many years and so has the love of her life. These two were born just after the 1918  pandemic. Now their grandson is living through a pandemic in Brooklyn. The story I am telling in this quilt was now much bigger than my initial idea. 

Art can be much more than a pleasing composition or an example of mastering a medium. Art has the capacity to help the artist and possibly an audience process emotion, think more deeply about an issue or be a witness of history for future generations. 

Pablo Picasso’s “Guernica” is an example of a work of art being much more than a masterful composition. “Guernica” is Picasso’s anti war painting which documents the Nazi bombing of a small Basque town in Spain.

Nazi pilots used the town as a training ground during the Spanish civil war. The bombing was ordered by Spain's dictator Francisco Franco, was a act of war his countries citizens. Picasso's painting demonstrates the horror of war on innocent bystanders.


When I began rethinking my approach to this photograph I took into account the current crisis and the original love story. Using digital editing I blended the figure in the photograph with an easily identifiable New York  landmark. The figure was intended to be ethereal, like a ghost which hovers over Brooklyn. Floating in the atmosphere are round shapes that float over the skyline representing the path of the virus.

I have a personal connection to the last big pandemic.  I remember my Dad telling me about the 1918  when his family had just moved to San Francisco. He was out of school for a year and spent his time selling newspapers to help out with the family finances. Both his mother and older sister were very sick. Now I worry about our family in New York.


Art helps me think more deeply and process some of that worry. I hope you will all stay safe and stay creative

Until Next time.......
Margaret

Visual Language

Artists create in a visual language.

An artist  may be like a poet, a journalist, a biographer or fiction writer. Some artists creating in the midst of global pandemic provide a record of the times like a journalist. Like a poet, artists often use their work as a healing process or a record of deeper feelings during stressful periods of life. There will be artists making work like a biographer or historian, celebrating the hero’s and the victims. 

Like a fiction writer, I considered myself a visual storyteller.

My project ideas are wrapped in a family story, a cherished place, a day dream, an interesting idea, a memory or a person I love.


My image files of future projects are large and although I try to separate them into categories (landscape, vintage portraits, camera phone, etc..) they are random. I don’t second guess the impulse to save an image or to take a photo. This happened as I cleaned out my closets recently. 

 

 

 

 

 

Cleaning Out Closets

 

 

 

 

 

Old Photograph

I found a pair of jeans that my husband's sister had hand embroidered. They were the jeans he wore to Woodstock. In the same closet I also found a family quilt top that had been left to me. It was probably made by a distant cousin on my father’s side somewhere in West Virginia or Ohio. I pinned the top to my design wall as a background and hung the jeans with pins. I took several photographs. 

The pictures were saved to my computer until I was ready for another project. As I looked through the files this image spoke to me. It was not just the Woodstock jeans, the memory of my sister in law and quilt top from the mystery relative. What sparked my imagination was cleaning out the closets during the first days of the shelter in place orders. Although this would not seem to fit the category of “art during the pandemic” it is a product of this period of time. I will connect this quilt with the pandemic.

My current project would be something that might be recognized as “pandemic art” but in fact it was an image I have had on file for a couple of years. The picture is of my mother in law in an open bathrobe showing her legs. The photograph was taken during WWII. On the back is a caption “like the view!”. I took this photograph and merged it with a picture of the Brooklyn bridge. I used a filter to make the figure look as if it were dissipating like a fading memory.

With the pandemic epicenter being in New York, this quilt takes on new meaning. A viewer might assume it’s a tribute to a life lost. It might look like the dissipating filter is the virus spreading around the city. It could be seen as a portrait of the city itself and it’s outer Boroughs as the victims of this deadly virus. This image's story began as a love story during a war. It has morphed into a homage.

 As I am working on this quilt, the story I am telling has changed.  I am thinking not only of my in-laws but of the family that still lives in Brooklyn. I am missing the trip we planned to take to NYC. Just before starting the quilt I sent out masks that are now required in public. The news is filled with death tolls and infection rates. Now I see this quilt with a new perspective.


My art, like most art changes with the extraordinary times we are living through. It is helpful to keep working and to find a healthy outlet until this is over. 

Stay safe and stay creative.
Until next time......
Margaret