Keep a Little Notebook

There is a book by Gretchen Rubin called the "Four Tendencies". It's a book that divides personality profiles into four basic groups. She has test to find out where your personality falls. As it turns out I am an "Obliger". 

Obligers respond best to external motivation. They feel obligated to take out the trash, get the kids to do their schoolwork, dust before company comes and meet the needs of others. 

Where they have difficulty is when they are doing something just for themselves. They are the people who can't find the time to get to the gym or have a regular pedicure. 

I have a little work around as an artist to set up an external obligation to fool myself into doing something just for me. 

Every morning I write in my notebook a short bullet list. Some items might be obligations, like getting to Walmart or walking 8000 steps. I also put on that list studio/creative time or reading in the sun. 

Surprise! Since using this little notebook I find time even in a busy day to get creativity and learning scheduled. 

Until next time...... 

Why am I the “Metaphysical Quilter” ?

As I hand out a business card that most frequent question I get is

"Why the "Metaphysical" Quilter". 

In truth I have to say that I decided on this moniker 10 years ago and did not fully think through my choice. But as time goes on I am becoming more attached to this name.

Metaphysical is by definition " a field of philosophy that is generally focused on how reality and the universe began." It is about the study of deep truths and big ideas.

In popular culture metaphysics is used in connection with new age spirituality. People in the new age culture have taken religion and spiritual study in a new direction. To those who worship in mainstream churches these new age worshipers may seem strange. Both groups however have many things in common. Most importantly both groups fully embraced the central idea of the existence of  God.

Art quilting has kind of a "new age" relationship with traditional quilting. Art quilters are taking the process of layering and stitching fabric together in new direction. The work of an art quilter is not bound by previous rules or not held to set standard. It is a wide open field of artistic expression.

Both traditional quilters and art quilters share a love of fabric, thread, craft and love of making. Quilters will always have something in common.

until next time....



And a Happy New Year!

Dear Readers,

When we were small children we wrote a letter to Santa asking for all the presents we wanted to see under our Christmas tree. As we got a little older the letter was no longer written to this fictional character but the expectation of getting the perfect gift was still a big part of this magic holiday.

Like many of you, I no longer want to receive any gifts other than the much anticipated time with my family. I am blessed to have many gifts in my own life.

Friends old and new who make my life here in beautiful Saint George Utah so special.

My husband of over 30 years who takes good care of me and has made all the difference in my life.

My children and grandson who bring me joy.

Connections through  the Studio Art Quilt Associates, the Dixie Quilt Guild, the Southern Utah Fiber Artist and my much loved critique group.

Inspiration received from my travels, social media, books, magazines, museums, Art Quilt Tahoe and the generous world of art quilters. 

For these gifts and many more, I am grateful. 

Wishing you a very Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays and Wonderful New Year!

Reimagine an old project.

In my last post I described the process of looking at a “failed” quilt as an opportunity to create something new.

"Tom and Jim" The first attempt at this project.

“Tom and Jim”  was the quilt I wanted to take a second look at and try to resolve some of the visual mistakes.


The photograph of my dad (Jim) and his brother (Tom) was taken around 1912, when my dad looked to be about 6 years old. Both boys are dressed up as soldiers. They were living in a small mining town near Pikes Peak in Colorado when the culture was at the tail end  of  the wild west.

My dad described seeing men with sidearms walking through town to the bar or whore house from the window of his classroom. The family would be forced to move from that town when the mine shut down after the collapse of gold prices. Eventually they would settle in California.


SAQA put out a call for entry which focused on artists take on a highly charged topic: Gun Violence. Although politics and advocacy are not the focus of my work this photo was a bridge allowing me to authentically address this topic through the lense of a personal story. It also was a vehicle for me to reimagine this image.

The first change I made was a simple one. I turned the photograph 90 degrees so that the print would be larger. The second change was radically simplify the background. I chose to eliminate the background and place the figures on yellow lined paper. I cleaned up scratches on the figures and sharpened the image as much as I could.

Unlike my first attempt which was response of an open ended call for entry (Pathfinders) this project required me to address a specific topic: gun violence. Using  the lense of my family’s story; I wanted the viewer to think about how over a hundred years gun violence has changed for children. I used accurate statistical data published by the Brady Center to call attention to an everyday tragedy for families with children not very different from these two boys pictured.

The text of daily statistics on gun violence involving children was floated on top of the figures to create a greater sense of space and to allude to relationship of present and past.

When the fabric arrived in my studio; I realized that I had made this too plain. The yellow background had no horizon line leaving the figures floating. To remedy this problem I used the lined paper as “sky” filled with script repeating the title. The ground became a dense field  of flowers. The text boxes of statistics were made to pop out from the page using black on a white background.

You can take a look at the result and make your own judgement. I think it is an improved composition. Whether it will stand the test of getting out into the world to seen, has yet to seen.


Taking a Second Look

Taking a second look at a failed project can spark new inspiration.

After a project is complete and I send it out for to a several calls for entry. If the work is rejected I evaluate. Something about that completed project did not work. When I look critically at my own work I look at three areas.

  1. It could have been that my skills were not up to the challenge.
  2. Maybe the composition missed the mark.
  3. The quality of the digital image may have missed the mark.


I must admit, I am used to rejection. Not being included in shows is part of the process of getting better at what I do. Taking the time to evaluate the reasons a particular submission was not included in an exhibition is a source of inspiration.

 “How can I reimagine this project?”


When I select an image to work with, I am telling a story through my work. I can talk about my work at length by the time I am done. I have a number of completed projects that failed technically or compositionally, but the story is still engaging. One of these failed stories was “Tom and Jim”.

The quilt began with a picture taken of my father, James King Lowers and his brother, Thomas Houston Lowers; posing at the side of their home in Victor Colorado. I have a couple of these photographs taken with the brothers in a costume. This picture is of them dressed up as soldiers. At the time they were mesmerized by Teddy Roosevelt’s “Rough Riders”. Despite guns at the ready, they look nothing but cute.

Since the photo is over a hundred years old it is not a "high quality" image. There are scratches. It is a little fuzzy and the sepia print makes for a low contrast image. In my first attempt working with the image, I scanned it as a high resolution. I didn’t improve the image before adding  a series of overlays*.

*In photo manipulation software, a filter is a particular effect that can be applied to an image or part of an image. Filters can be traditional photographic filters or they can be complex programs used to create a wide variety of effects.



I made an obvious misstep when ordering the fabric. When an image has a vertical orientation rotate the image 90 degrees so the usable print is larger. When the fabric came from Spoonflower I realized that error and another big one.


In an attempt to add a "playful" quality I used a filter with warm colors that would blend well with the sepia print. What I failed to understand was the image was not enhanced by adding layers of photo filters, fabric or paint that further obscured the figures or made the composition visually busy.

The final “nail in the coffin” was the quilting. In attempt to bring the figures into focus, I used fine thread (Superior Threads “So Fine”) in lighter flesh tones. By the time I was done, the faces were thick with thread and looked horrible.

Lessons were learned.

In my next post you will see how this picture was reimagined.

Until the next time........

You can see my work…….
New England Quilt Museum
Lowell, Massachusetts  •  July 11, 2018 -  September 23, 2018
Sacred Threads
HeART Gallery, St. Paul’s Lutheran Church, Toledo, OH – October 18-30, 2017


Interpretations: Conversations
Visions Art Museum
San Diego, CA
October 21 2017 – January 7 2018
Under The Western Sun
Handi Quilter
October 4 to December 1
"Art Quilts"
California Heritage Museum
Santa Monica CA
December 9 - March 18 2018
Art Quilt Quarterly 
Issue #8
Page 38
Subscribe or look  at Barnes & Noble, Books-A-Million, Joann Fabrics, or Chapters stores after November 29th.