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After the “Road to California”

 Last year I wrote a post about my experience entering my first art quilt in a traditional quilt show in Ontario California.

“ By the end of two days at the show I learned that I needed to improve my technical skills and rethink what might be a better fit using my current technique. I am even thinking of making a more traditional quilt to enter in next year’s show.”

                        Post from January 2018

I have definitely devoted myself to improve my skills as a quilter. I used quilts for my guild’s philanthropy group to practice free motion patterns. Once a month I participate in  a long-arm club at my local quilt shop. At that shop I recently I attended a three day hands on class sponsored by Handi Quilter. During those three days I began to understand and appreciate how quilting can transform even the most basic quilt top.

Like all artists, quilters use design concepts. In planning the quilting for a quilt top, a master quilter is able to transform the composition. A pattern created during quilting will enhance the visual depth of a quilt by densely filling or sparsely  filling an enclosed shape. Quilting provides a visual pathway around the surface of a quilt and can even create a focal point where there wasn’t one.

Quilting lines can be straight or curved, can be heavy or light.  These lines used in a predictable pattern create a visual rhythm which plays across the surface of a quilt. The possibilities are limitless.

Taking the time before I begin to quilt to draw out the designs  has really helped me. I now spend a few minutes doodling with a fine point marker before I quilt. I don't always choose to draw the designs that familiar to quilters like feathers or ribbon candy. I always am thinking about what will add to or enhance the quilt.




Recently I made a simple block quilt. I used a ruler to create a line of oblong shapes. I filled each row with a difference free motion motif. The exercise helped me to expand my design repertoire. 

I am beginning to see how these stitched patterns are important for the visually rich backgrounds in my portrait quilts. The potential of a using motifs in my landscape quilts to mimic natural elements is making me reconsider using primarily thread painting to enhance the design.

This year, as I toured the show; I was able to appreciate the technical prowess of the award winners and of many participants.

The quilt I entered this year (Jana)  had already won an award at a art quilt exhibition but did not get a nod from the judges at Road. So next year, I still have a goal of entering a bed quilt and to enter an art quilt that demonstrates my improved technique.

The goal is not the award.

The goal is to grow as an artist.

Until next time.....

It’s a Plan


Planning for a New Year

A favorite author, Donna Leon; said in an interview

“I write one page a day and by of the year I have written another book.”

Taking each day to accomplish something toward a larger goal is a strategy I employ. I no longer put all my energy on getting into one important exhibition. Instead I  work consistently in my studio each day, grow as an artist and apply to exhibitions that connect with the work I have created.

Creating a system to manage my goals has helped keep me on track. In the past I have used a dry erase blank month calendar that I update with classes, appointments, meetings, due dates, shipping deadlines and reminders.

 This year I wanted to have a more complete planning guide that would allow me to organize my work around larger goals and long term objectives.


I found a  perfect planner for setting long term goals: Day Designer.

The website describes this planner as
The  2019 Flagship Daily Planner helps busy women manage their schedules and tackle their to-do lists.  More than a productivity planner, this beautiful functional planner is the best tool to help you reach your goals.”

There are a variety of pretty covers and practical features.  The planner includes tabs for each month, stickers, a pocket file, laminated page of holiday dates and a ruler. It has both a monthly calendar and double page week with 7 lines for to do’s and descriptions. At the top of the week there was a place to write down the weeks top three goals.

The feature that caught attention was the first four pages that broke down the planning process in manageable steps with written inspirational prompts to help me think about what I  want to reach for in the next year. 

Page 1:
“Start with the Big Picture”.

The prompt encouraged brainstorming about the people you want in your life, what are non negotiables in your life, what matters most, and what you dream about.  Remember this page does not have to be filled out first. Consider creating a word of the year . Grow, Learn, Joy, Energy, Grateful, Connected..... 

Page 2
“Set your goals”.  

Goals were broken down in four components:  Personal, Family, Friends and Relationships, Heart and Spirit, Financial and Work, Career or Study. The space provided was modest  which made me keep it simple. I also taylored my goals to relate to art quilting. For example I want to connect with a larger network of fellow art quilter near me. 

Page 3
"Morning and Evening Routines"

Successful people have routines that support their larger goals. Each day reflects your priorities. I want to enter my studio in the morning even if it’s just to look at my design wall and return to the studio in the evening to clean up and set up for the next project. I also want to take a daily walk, read, pray and meditate.

Page 4
"Stay on Course"

On this page I can check in and give myself a pat on the back for taking a workshop, or averaging 10,000 steps a day, applying for exhibitions or writing an article. The little things count and being your own coach will help you focus on all the progress you have made during the year to grow as an artist and as a person.

edI hope this has help you get geared up for another year. I'm excited!

Until next time...

The Quilt Shows Rubric

"Critics have a job to do. They do not criticise you without reason."

Abhishek Bachchan

This fall I entered two quilts at the state quilt festival. One of these quilts was selected by Nancy Prince and given the  shows' National Teacher Award. I was surprised and grateful for Nancy’s kind words. 

As an art quilter I have many quilts in galleries and museums that feature fine arts. Those shows are juried by digital image and often judged by digital image or as the juror tours the show.

San Antonio

Quilt shows use a difference process. Although quilts may be accepted by viewing a digital image, they are juried using a specific set of predetermined qualities which are evaluated by close inspection. In teacher speak this is called a rubric.

A scoring rubric is an attempt to communicate expectations of quality around a task. In many cases,scoring rubrics are used to delineate consistent criteria for grading.

Luckily the judges included the completed rubric when my quilts were returned. It was valuable information. Their rubric  used two categories: "Appearance" and "Workmanship". Each judge circled a grade from excellent to fair after looking at the specific attribute. There was also an option of not applicable. The rubric was used for all categories from patchwork to art quilts. 

The appearance category had six attributes: fabric choice, color/value, scale/composition ,border, quilting pattern and condition. Workmanship had seven categories and  eight subcategories: piecing, applique, quilting (even stitches, amount, visible marking or knots, tension) amount of quilting, borders, finishing (binding, corners, filled binding, stitch) and special techniques or embellishments.

My quilt San Antonio, which got the national teachers award ; received no exceptional marks in any category from any of the states judges.  The reason for this is because the judging process was very different. 

It was clear from the rubric that the judges area of expertise was traditional or functional quilts. Judges wrote a note asking if the quilt was a photo or was it painted. Because the judges were unable to read my artist statement to help them fill in the gaps in their knowledge they were at a disadvantage.

Many of the attributes could not be evaluated because art quilts are not bound by the limits of function or the deeply embedded craft tradition associated with the quilt. I did not have a border. The quilt is whole cloth so there were no fabric selections, no piecing or applique. The fabric itself was unique and created with recent technology. Teams of judges assembled to examine quilts had no frame of reference to look at a creative or non functional entry. 

The national judge was not bound by the rubric. She had experience viewing and making quilts that were decorative and not functional. She also was given the freedom to look at the selection of quilts and pick one that spoke her aesthetic sensibilities. She was selecting a quilt in the same way a judge at art quilt exhibition would select a quilt. Their selection is based on visual qualities and not held hostage by a the rubric.

Alamo Gate

When I explain the difference in the judging process  to an audience, I often hear people say, that’s why I don’t enter quilt shows. I don’t need to be judged. 

It's important to remember that judges have a job to do. The are not judging without reason. I am going to use the rubric from the state show to help me select some areas of technique that I can improve.

I am also keenly aware that the selection process at an art venue  is different than quilt show. Finally I am confident in my current abilities and in my ability to constantly grow as an artist.

Until next time...

Sharing what I know with others….

For many years I spent my creative time making projects for my students.

I was continuously gathering inspiration at museums, galleries, in books, at classes, online and with other artists. Very little of my energy was devoted to my personal work.

Like many of my fellow art  teachers, when I first retired I had zero interest in teaching. I wanted to take the time to be an artist.

My energy poured into my studio.

Being a fulltime artist was my dream job.

My intense focus has paid off for me. I now am beginning to see the fruits of my studio time. I have pieces traveling in shows around the world. The past year I have begun to win recognition.  Thanks to my new schedule, I am able to travel to places like Art Quilt Tahoe.  where I could study with the master’s in the art quilt world including Jane Dunnewold and Sue Benner.


Today I just scratching the surface of what I want to create in the future.

This creative life is a great privilege.

blog October

Recently something odd happened. I started to  think about teaching again.

The desire to share what I have learned and to grow the community of art quilters here in Southern Utah has been on my mind over the past year. Lucky for me I belong to a thriving quilt guild that needed a someone to help serve those quilters who were interested in learning about art.

What is great about sharing what I know with other people, is that I learn as much from group members as I (hope!) they learn from me.

Right now there have been two meetings. At the first meeting I pulled out a design problem that I used in middle and high school. By the next meeting I was looking at several little art quilts that went well beyond my simple instructions.

When you share what you know  you are forced to take a few steps back and think about how much you had to learn.

I pulled out set of watercolors and began to work on some simple landscapes. Sharing with others helps me look at a process and define each step.

For example you have to start with the background first. The next steps are to lay down each part of the landscape from front to back. This process is as true for painting as it is for an art quilt.

 Community helps you grow.

There is nothing like being in a room with creative people to get your mind geared up for studio time.

Until next time.....


Studio Redesign

My studio remodel is done. It took a little time, some elbow grease and a little under $1000 to create a wonderful dedicated work space.

Studio Collage


1. Start with the surfaces. I needed light that filled the space evenly. I painted all the walls with a white with a little sheen (not a flat white). Next I added a solid surface floor in off white. I used “peel and stick” tiles that have a linen texture. I keep the windows curtain free to let in the maximum natural light.

2.Place the biggest pieces of furniture in the room first. I have a large koala sewing table with a leaf extension. I can roll the table around but for the most part I like to use it with the leaf down. I placed this on one side of the room with my back facing the wall and the leaf facing middle of the room. This allows me to open the leaf without moving anything else. My mid arm machine is on the opposite wall. So is my desk and my storage cubby.

3. Tools and supplies should be easy to reach. Think of creating workstations. I have most of my thread near my mid arm machine.Rulers are pinned on a board above my sewing machine. Cutting matts sit on cabinets with my rotary cutters in cans in arm reach. I have my rack that hold my spoonflower prints, yardage and some finished quilts in the alcove right across from my buckets and bins of scrap.

4. Invest in quality functional storage. I had simple custom cabinets installed. They are a simple white finish. No doors or drawers. Two deep cabinets provide an extended  surface for quilting larger pieces. They also provide storage for all my batting and material. In the alcove I have large tall bookcase which holds all my media, books and miscellaneous materials.


Now Decorate!

Create displays of your work and work that you have collected. When someone comes to your studio you don’t want to miss an opportunity to have your style on display.

I want to be inspired when I enter my studio.  I pulled out work that is too old and too small to enter in shows. I created  interesting items like decoupage paint cans to hold trash and floor matts covered with fused scrap  . 

Don’t let money stop you from making your space work for you. Grab a can of paint, rearrange the furniture, create some workstations and put your work up on your walls.

Until Next time.....