Thursday, November 29, 2012

Sunny Disposition

After my gallery show in September and working all summer to get new pieces done I was ready to create something fun and not too challenging.  I created this piece called "Sunny Disposition" and had fun quilting and beading it.  It is such a bright spot on my wall in these every darkening days of fall and winter!

I started with the sunflower print and chose fabrics and beads to compliment it.  The blue splotchy fabric looks like a painted/dyed piece but is actually a commercial cotton print.   The yellow fabric just below center is a piece that I had previously painted.

I love adding dangles of beads to quilts. Even though a quilt hangs rather statically on the wall, the dangles seem to add a sense of movement and they catch the light in interesting ways. Using multiple shapes and types of beads in a dangle creates interest and really adds to the way they catch the light. I change the order and combination of beads in the dangles just maintaining a general colorway and types of beads for a cohesive design. 

As you walk by the piece the different beads are highlighted depending on how the light shines on or through them. On this piece there are translucent glass leaves and seed beads that make lovely shimmery dangles that you just can't resist giving a little push so you can see them sway.

I used one of my machine stitches to create a line of tiny flowers on one of the very narrow strips. I find this uses a lot of thread, is time consuming, and is somewhat tedious. I do like the look of it but I find the free motion stitching much more fun!

I love the way the beading turned out on the sunflowers. Originally I was going to heavily bead the centers of the flowers, but then I thought of this plan and am very happy with it.

I added a narrow dark blue flat piping to the binding for a nice detail. I believe I used 8 different fabrics for this piece, not including the piping and binding (fabrics which are not used in the body of the piece).

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Autumn Inspiration

It is autumn in Montana and deer have now been given free rein of our yard and gardens.  All summer we have been chasing them away so they don't eat our vegies and flowers, but now that the growing season has wound down they are doing some clean up for us.

I believe there were about 12 in this group.  Most of the does in this area seemed to have twins this year, and they insisted on bringing them into our fenced yard (usually through the front gate which was open) and then they couldn't get out when we chased them.  They would eventually find a way over the fence but it was rather disturbing to watch them ram the fence until they finally would attempt the jump.   They rarely had enough memory to go back to the gate where they came in!

 I couldn't resist the early morning light that was giving them a lovely halo effect.  They are standing in my raised vegie garden.   One or more of these images will likely make its way into one of my art quilts this winter.

Friday, October 12, 2012

The Power of Positive Quilting

I am a glass-half-full kind of person. I tend to be optimistic, positive, and hopeful about my creative efforts, and most everything else. I think everyone should be this way and then wouldn't we have much more upbeat art in the world?! I tend to create art that is about the beauty of color, line, shape, texture, and balance in life, nature and experience. I respect the desire of other artists to reflect the human condition and the sad, desperate, tragic conditions of our world, but I don't want to encourage people to hang that kind of sentiment in their homes and live with it. I want to influence their day from the moment they wake up to see the lovely color and swoop of my quilting lines to the time they go to bed and see the shadows and depth of my layered cloth. I am “Sally Sunshine”, I want to make everyone smile, and I've been that way from birth. Just ask my mother.

When I begin to work on a piece I am usually influenced by the color and texture of the cloth. I choose fabrics and shapes to create a pleasing collage and then I add stitch to communicate movement and mood and to lead the eye around the piece in an enjoyable way. I add embellishment that furthers that effort---or sometimes not, if it isn't necessary to the finished work. I hope that the viewer will enjoy the piece from the standpoint of theme or subject, as well as because I have a well-balanced, artistically pleasing composition.

Many of my pieces are made up of a variety of textures and materials and I enjoy experimenting with various surface design techniques. My work is mostly non-representational although I frequently incorporate recognizable imagery, often from nature. I like to add the unexpected ingredient that will catch someone's eye and make them wonder how I thought of it. With these elements in my compositions I hope to communicate a mood, a feeling, or a memory of a place once visited in reality or imagination. My art seeks to mean something to the viewer but it is open to their own interpretation based on their background, experience and views of the world around them. Maybe it lets them escape from those negative “human conditions” that might be in their life, or maybe it just lets them remember a time or place where they felt good and happy. Feedback from people who buy my work leads me to believe that the feelings they experienced that led them to purchase the piece stay with them over the years as they live with it and enjoy it in the light from dawn to dusk. I find that very affirming and rewarding.

So, although I understand the need of some artists to create art that reflects the more negative aspects of life and love, in my work I feel the need to reflect beauty, hope and the good things about our world. I hang my work in my own home when it is not in galleries or shows and I enjoy living with it and discovering the details of it again and again. Throughout the day as I walk by it or enter a room where it hangs I see it in a different light---not only the physical light but that which reflects the mood I am in at that moment. We definitely create art based on our moods as well as viewing it that way. Through my art I can make someone smile or trigger a memory that is meaningful to them. I do feel good about it and will likely continue on this Pollyanna journey. Because hey, it's my art and that's who I am. If you don't like that maybe you need a little more positive influence in your life. As Martha says, “It's a good thing!”

Monday, September 24, 2012

In The Smoke and Reminiscing About Spring!

Here in western Montana we have been living with air filled with smoke from forest fires for a number of weeks now and it is getting quite old.  None of these fires is anywhere near threatening where I live, but our beautiful views of the Rocky Mountains are clouded and gray and the oppressive feeling really wears on you. We have had a very dry summer and will likely have this nasty smoke until the weather changes and we get some significant moisture.  

In the meantime, I was looking at some of the images I have taken this year and found these lovely pictures of our apple tree from this spring.  We planted this small tree a number of years ago and this was the first spring that we had an abundance of blossoms and the promise of fruit.  Alas, a chilling frost hit at prime blossom time and even covering our trees with sheets could not prevent the blossoms from dying.  It is now fall and I mourn the apples that could have been, but am grateful for my digital camera that allowed me to capture a lovely moment in time....

Now that fall is in the air, I look forward to seeing these blossoms again next spring!  Maybe they will inspire some artwork in the cold, dark days of winter.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

More From My Current Show...

As I have already mentioned in previous posts, I am currently showing my work in a solo show at Montana Art and Framing in Missoula, Montana.  I thought I would share a few more of the pieces in that show, although you really won't be able to enjoy them in images as much as you would if you saw the show in person.  Fiber art is so textural and the details don't always show well in images. These are wholecloth pieces that use quilting stitches to portray different feelings or "themes" for each piece.    Each one is 11"w x 18"h.

The first piece is "Stitch Study:  Nature" and has vines and leaves stitched into it.  These pieces were all cut from the same batik fabric.

The next piece is "Stitch Study:  Science" and has a rather cosmic feeling to the stitching.  Images are reminiscent of lightning, planets, primordial ooze, and the sun.

The 3rd piece is called "Stitch Study: Traditional" and has traditional quilted feathers on it.

The last piece is called "Stitch Study:  Individuality".  

The pieces are priced individually, but I think they would hang nicely in a grouping of all four, or even three as a triptych.

If you have ever had your own exhibition, you might have felt the same way that I do now.  I've been working so hard on finishing all the pieces for this show and bringing it all together, and now I'm not quite sure what to do with myself.  I took a few days of a break, but then I was inspired and just finished quite a bit of beading a new piece.  I guess I'm ready to dive back into it, but now there is no deadline and I can work purely on inspiration.

I also feel a kind of melancholy about the show since I was a bit disappointed in the small crowd at the opening and only one sale so far (the smallest, most inexpensive piece!).  I feel great about the work and the display in general, but after all the effort I put into it I was hoping for a bit more confirmation of my efforts.  I think it is natural to have a sort of melancholy after an opening.  It is the big "hurrah" and then nothing.  I do wish I could be a fly on the wall to hear what people are saying and how they are responding to my work.  That is what is fun about openings is that you do get some good feedback.

Well, there are two more weeks of the show so there is a chance something else will sell and many more people will see it.  It has been a rewarding experience no matter what.  Thank you, Don at Montana Art and Framing for the opportunity!   And now I have some pieces that I could enter in some other shows and hang at my other galleries.  It's all good!

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Show Opening

Last night I had my gallery show opening at Montana Art and Framing in Missoula, Montana.  I was very happy with the quality of the patrons who came to see my work (thank you all very much!), but somewhat disappointed with the number of them.  It was a busy Friday evening in Missoula with much going on in town and this gallery is a little bit off the beaten track.  As well, it is some distance from the Bitterroot valley where most of my friends and acquaintances reside.  Very few wish to venture into the city on a Friday night, but I am very hopeful that when they do make it into Missoula they will stop by and visit the gallery.

I did sell one piece and have an image here of it in progress and finished.  It is called "Filigree" and was the last piece I made with the intention of doing something small that might sell---and sell it did!  Nice to see that red dot up there on the wall.  Hopefully something else will sell before the month is over.

This next image is of the second to last piece I made for the show---also intending to create something small that might sell.  Unfortunately (or not?!) this piece became a little larger than I intended so will likely not be snapped up so quickly.  It turned out rather well I thought and I really like the cream colored area near the bottom.  The piece was inspired by the floral blue fabric which I bought one day and made into this piece over the next few days after that.  It is called "Garden Blues".

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Solo Exhibition in September

In September I will have a solo exhibition of new work at Montana Art and Framing in Missoula, Montana. The show is called “Stitch: Lines of Communication”. I currently have 12 new pieces and hope to make one or two more small pieces for the show. I am really happy with the work and I think it will be a beautiful show. Here a few of the pieces you will see----come see them in person it is much better!!

It takes a lot of time and thought to come up with my titles.  I almost always do this after the piece is finished. Sometimes they seem a little bit sappy to me and I'm not one to be philosophical or deep, but I want them to be meaningful.  Let me know if you have any thoughts about my titles.

This one has somewhat of an ethnic feeling to it but I also think it has an intensity to it and feels rather warm. The title is “Heated Conversation”. The piece includes hand stitching, stone and ceramic beads, and some fabric remnants given to me by friends.  

This piece is called “Release”. My 9-year old was lying on the couch enjoying one of the last days of his summer vacation. I showed him this piece and asked him if this is what he felt like on the last day of school last spring when he was getting out for the summer. His face lit up and clearly he identified with the feeling incorporated into this piece. Success! From the brick and mortar to the freedom of summer, or to the freedom of going out into the world after graduation. Maybe a major change in your life frees you up to venture forth on new adventures. Whether a positive (new job with more money) or a negative (divorce) change, there are new things to explore and experience. Fly, be free! (Maybe that should have been the title!)

This piece is called “Searching for Center”. This refers to the hand embroidery in the circles with the off center orientation, but also to the lifelong struggle to stay centered in our life, art, etc... The base for this piece is a very heavy, coarse textured utility fabric given to me by a friend . I think the beading is integral to the composition and helps to balance the piece. 


My show will open on Friday, September 7 with a reception from 5pm-9pm, and will continue through the month of September. Montana Art and Framing is at 709 Ronan Street in Missoula. Phone number is 406-541-7100. Please do stop and see my new work!!

Thursday, August 9, 2012

The Inspiring View Out My Front Door

 A few nights ago there was forest fire smoke in the atmosphere and a thunder storm moving through, but the sun was shining through at the horizon of the mountains.  I just had to go out and take some pictures at the risk of getting hit by lightning.  I was limited in my angles because it was raining so I had to stay on my front covered deck.  The colors changed as the sun set and the storm moved.  

This is the view out my front door.  Actually I can see much more of a panorama than this, but I can't get it all in my camera.  I'm thankful for it every day.   It is one of the things that inspires me to create my art and share the beauty I see with others.

Find your inspiration. 

Saturday, August 4, 2012

More Reminiscing...

I was going through some of my quilt images and found these two pieces which I sold to the same person.  She and her husband loved both of them and I hope are still enjoying them wherever they are.  They moved south shortly after buying the second piece.

The first one never had a title except for "Challenge 2008" because it was made for the 2008 Sapphire Quilt Show challenge.  We were given the florally fabric with the black background and a dull light green tone-on-tone fabric with vines on it which were both very difficult to coordinate with other fabrics.  It took me months to come up with this collection---but it was worth it!  This piece won the challenge and was purchased before the show was over.   I will always regret that the price it sold for was an error and they got it for a song.  And I never even got to bond with it as I finished it just before the show!  At least I have pictures!  I am glad that it went to someone who really enjoys and appreciates it---and bought another piece shortly thereafter!

I like the suspended quilted triangles at the bottom.  I will have to do this again sometime as it was quite effective and added a lot of interest to the piece. 

 The second piece is called "Out of My Window" and began with a de-colorized image printed on two different types of silk.  The picture is of some cottonwood trees and snags (dead trees) in my backyard along Three Mile Creek.  This is the scene I see out my sewing room window, or I should say, used to see.  The tall snag fell down a couple of years ago---as I was looking out the window!  That was truly something to watch.  Kind of slow motion and then a dull thud.  Not even a loud crash or boom or anything.  And it wasn't even windy.  Just rotting cottonwood.  Luckily it was far from the house and caused only slight damage to our fence.   Love the black, white and red color scheme.

I have been busy working on pieces for my upcoming solo show at Montana Art and Framing in Missoula, Montana.  I have 8 new pieces and hope to complete several more.  I am pretty happy with what I have so far and hope that the gallery owner will be too.  I haven't made my final decision, but I think the show will be called "Stitch:  Lines of Communication".  With all the quilting and the hand embroidery on these pieces the lines are pretty integral to the work.  Now to write up a publicity statement about the show and what my title means.   Back to work!

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Quilt Show Challenge

I recently participated in the Sapphire Quilt Show challenge and showed my piece at the show this month. This is the quilt group in my small rural town of Stevensville, Montana.  I didn't win any prizes, but I liked the way my piece turned out.  (I did get 2nd place on one of my entries in the main show).

We were given two fabrics to work with and could make anything (maximum 100" perimeter), it didn't have to be a quilt, although mine was..  There were two viewer's choice prizes given and one went to a stuffed horse "of many colors" and the other to a cat wall hanging.  Cute won over whatever you would call my piece (although I can appreciate cute, I don't usually do cute).  I chose to disguise the challenge fabrics rather than showcase them.  The multi-color fabric is covered with sewing tools and notions.  I cut out some of the buttons and used them to embellish my quilt.  The flat piping inside the binding is made from the green swirly challenge fabric.

The color is not as accurate in this image, but you can see some of my stitching.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Looking Back...

I have been creating art quilts for about 5 or 6 years now and was just recently looking back on some of the images I have of my early pieces.  I thought I would share some of them here.  I can see a definite improvement in my quilting skills and I think my design skills are better now.  I also think that my pieces have become a bit more professional looking and are just technically done better.  You might not be able to see this from the images, but when I look at the images I see the quilt in my mind and know all the intricate details of it.  And of course as the maker we notice all the flaws, right?!!

This first one is called "Blue Marble and Stone" because of the marbled fabric (which I shibori dyed and then marbled) in the center and the stone beads, of which I had five in just the right colors for the quilt---serendipity strikes again!  The fabric marbling was done with the shaving cream method.  My son did some fabrics too---great project for kids.  I think will have to get that stuff out again and play some more one of these days...!

Next is "Joy In The Morning" because that it is how it makes me feel when I look at it.  This is still one of my favorite pieces, but I have not gotten such a positive response from others.  I don't know if it is the wonkiness of it, the fact that the trees are not very realistic, or just the composition for some reason isn't appealing to others.  It is meant to be a type of dreamscape or just a visionary landscape, not reality.  I don't do reality, but I love trees, landscapes, sunrises/sunsets, and nature.  I like this piece and will likely never lower the price, donate this, or give it away.  I'll keep if for myself if it does not ever sell.  Many of the leaves on the trees are dimensional.  I stitched and turned fussy cut sections of the leaf fabric, embroidered them and then hand stitched them onto the background.  There are embroidered flowers in the landscape, hand needle-felted roving in the sky, and beading on the sun.  The right hand side has a piece of filmy silk reinforced with Misty-Fuse so it doesn't ravel.

This next one is one of my first art quilts called "Winter Blues".  It was my first quilt to be accepted to a national show (Denver Quilt Festival) and it was purchased when it was in my first gallery exhibition.  I know the owner and have seen it recently.  I still like the piece, but it was not my best workmanship.  The owner loves it, and that makes it a success for me!  I used hand-woven Thai silk, Angelina fibers, couched yarns, and beading to give this piece interest.

This next piece is called "In A Heartbeat".  It was auctioned off for the Missoula Art Museum's juried silent auction two years ago.   Couching yarns and using stone beads are two ways I still use frequently to create texture in my pieces.

It isn't like I have decades of works to look back on (like my mother!), but I do see progress and improvement in my work over this short span of time.  Thanks for looking back with me!

Stuffed Turkey Thigh/Legs

Disclaimer: This is a cooking post not an art post!  But I will say that there is an art to boning, stuffing and baking this recipe--and it ...