Investing in Progress

Many people write New Year’s resolutions.

Most people don’t follow through with their big plans and by the following year they are resolving to she those same ten pounds

Creative people are not different.

New Years

Artists vow to spend 3 hours a day in the studio this year  and enter so many exhibitions, have a gallery show, etc.... I know myself better than to make that kind of promise. In years past I have made a list of specific things I wanted to do. Take a workshop. Redesign my studio, etc.....


What I find helpful is taking time to review what I have accomplished.

It’s my end of year “Ta Dah!” list instead of a “To Do List”


 This year I made 12 quilts.  The previous year I made 8 quilts. I had 11 exhibitions in 2019 and have been accepted into 4 additional exhibitions scheduled for 2020. The previous year I was included in 8 exhibitions. This is the first time I have had a solo exhibition .  I will be featured in two Magazines in 2020 and I have booked both a workshop and lecture. It’s been a productive year. 

These opportunities came about because of the investments I made over the last five years as a studio artist. 

Investment #1: The studio

I have a space where I can work consistently. The machines I use (A Bernina and a HQ Sweet Sixteen) are well maintained. I have  taken advantage of training provided by my local dealer and have put in enough practice hours to troubleshoot most issues.

I collect images in a computer file for digital manipulation. My computer is in my studio so I can work on getting my digital images  ready for printing on fabric. Printed fabric can take 2 - 4 weeks to arrive. My goal is to have four digitally printed yards on hand.   

My process involves painting each digital image. I keep my paints stocked and organized. When I quilt the painted top, I have a least 10 bobbins (I use pre wounds) and a selection of multiple colors, values and weights.

I always bind the quilt, add a sleeve and label immediately after I am done quilting. There are no half finished projects in my studio.

Investment #2: Record Keeping

As a former public school teacher, I am a “natural” record keeper. When I finish a making a quilt use a consistent process of record keeping.  First I photograph the  quilts . I save the file in TIFF, JPEG and Web ready formats. By doing this work I can enter any exhibition easily. Next I add the title and dimensions to my inventory spreadsheet for the year. Finally  I write an artist statement .  I keep my images on my computer and on an external hard drive. The spreadsheets and documents are stored on google drive. I can access those files from any device. 

My system for keeping track of exhibits is simple. I print out calls for entry, write the deadline at the top of the page, place them in date order in a pile that pinned to a wall in the studio. When I enter I write name of quilt and the date of notification at the top of the page. I move this to an entry pile in date order. If  my entry is accepted, I move the print it to a pile for shipping. If it's reject I throw it out. 

Investment #3: Community

When I complete a quilt, get into an exhibition or have an article in a magazine; I share this on social media. This work is made easier because I already have a “web ready” image on my computer. I have multiple social media accounts;  Facebook , Instagram, Linkedin and  Pinterest.   I also share my Facebook posts to a variety of art quilt groups. Recently I have even spent a little money to boost the impact of posts. I reached 10,000 + people in a single recent Facebook post. Social media is the prime delivery system for sharing what I make and leads to many other opportunities. 

I belong to my wonderful local quilt guild and to the Studio Art Quilt Associates. These are my two primary networking  groups. Participation provide me the opportunity to share what I do and learn from others.

Investing in workshops like Art Quilt Tahoe or Empty Spools Seminars has allowed me to learn from artists who are at the top of the profession and to connect with fellow art quilters from around the world. 

Going to exhibition openings at venues like the  Visions Art Museum in San Diego connects me with museums and collectors. I always carry business cards to any event and use my cell phone to share images


I want to end my wishing everyone who reads this post “A Happy, Healthy and Joyous New Year!”

until next time....
Margaret