Friday, December 19, 2014

Holiday This and That

Such a fun time of year, right?!

I went out to lunch with a bunch of gals to celebrate a birthday and the birthday girl's husband sent along this box of Sprinkles cupcakes for us to share for dessert. Isn't that so generous and DELICIOUS! The ones in the lower right are the seasonal chocolate peppermint flavor that I nearly grabbed before anyone else could steal one.

Claire is making a Tardis gingerbread "house."

We enjoyed our annual tradition of chocolate fondue on the night we decorate the Christmas tree. These were the chocolate dippers, we had bread and apples with cheese fondue earlier.

I saw this at Target. Because it's fun to nibble on Baby Jesus?

It's gray in Texas, but Lincoln doesn't mind.

Some artists friends and I enjoyed brunch together plus a gift exchange. There were several items in the gift bag I chose, including this beautiful lemon from Brenda's tree. I am just stunned by it's elegant simplicity.

She also included a bag of fresh bay leaves from her garden. I put this sweet little bag on my spice rack and I love seeing it sitting there with the prepackaged dried stuff.

The wonderful simple gifts of unexpected cupcakes, treasures from the garden and spending time with family and friends... really aren't so simple right? They are the beautifully complex blessings of the season.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Red Wreath

I had an itch to do something simple, crafty and decorative for the holidays. I came across this wreath and was inspired!

I bought a box of red spoons and got out my glue gun. This was hanging up less that 15 minutes later.

It makes me giggle. I can't decide if it's tacky or modern cool. Not that I really care.

Jeff and the kids thought it was fun too.

I could switch out the ribbon and re-hang it for Valentine's day.

I could buy a box of orange spoons for Halloween. I could do a multi-color pastel wreath for Easter. Oh the possibilities!

I hope you have some holiday decorations that make you giggle.

Thursday, December 04, 2014


There's been a lot of talk on the quiltart email list about using photos as inspiration for art quilts. Lots of art quilters like to re-create or copy photographs in fabric. People have many closely-held and hotly debated thoughts on this topic. I'm not speaking to it specifically here. I just wanted to write a bit about being inspired by photographs... or maybe just being inspired by what's around me.

I nearly gasped when I saw this trunk in front of me when I was driving to pick up Claire at school yesterday.

This is the kind of thing I finding enormously inspiring. The stacks of brown square pieces of wood next to stacked the gray pipes and the black circles created by the interior of the pipes.

The contrast in the orderly stacked wood and the somewhat random (but still slightly orderly) pipe.

Even the lines in the grain of the wood and their irregular arrangement. The variety of lights and darks... subtle.

If I look beyond the wood and the pipes, I fall in love with the bits of blue and red.

If I were to make a quilt using this photo as inspiration, I'd be thinking about the color palette, the patterning and the shapes. It would be an abstract quilt, most likely. But, it might also be inspired by the gloominess of the day, the regularly it picking up the kids from school, traffic, fields, birds...

For me, that's how inspiration finds it's way into my creative process.

Monday, December 01, 2014

Another Amazing Project with Fiberart For A Cause

I am so happy to pass along information about an exciting new initiative raising money for the American Cancer Society. It's Virginia Spiegel's Fiberart For A Cause. This year her project is called "The 100." 

Virginia invited 100 fiber artists to commit to donating a piece of their artwork to a patron who donates $100 to the American Cancer Society on February 4. After the donations are received, Virginia will randomly match artists will donors and the artists will send off their artwork.

I am thrilled to be included on this list of 100 amazing artists! Artists may be posting images of the art they'll be donated between now and February 4. I haven't decided if I'll share mine yet... 

100 Artists - 100 Patrons - One Day
$10,000 To Fight Cancer
February 4, 2015

Want to make a donation and receive a piece of art? Mark your calendar for February 4 and check out the details are here.

Fiberart For A Cause has already raised $240,000 through the generosity of fiber artists and patrons. Wow. Isn't that amazing?! We've all lost far too much to cancer. I am eager to be a part of the continued fight for a cure and the support for those living with the disease.

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Bits About Critique

I've been thinking about critique a bit lately. In my experience, a really meaty, helpful, insightful, honest critique is rare. There are lots of reasons why critiques are not always as productive as they could be. That's mostly ok. It's a complicated thing. What's most important is that an artist learns to critique her own work and her own process and learns and grows with each new work.

Kristin wrote about critique on the 8 That Create blog. She has lots of good thoughts.

I also LOVE this video from The Art Assignment video series on You Tube. (I've written about The Art Assignment before.)

I have just two small things to share that I've learned to use in critiques over the years.

One is something I say if I'm viewing/critiquing a piece of art. If there is an element of the work that I find perplexing, I say "Tell me about ______." For instance, if the artist has included a red shape with sharp edges that doesn't seem to fit with the other shapes or lines within the piece, I might say "Tell me about the red shape here." Her response may explain why it doesn't seem to fit. Maybe it wasn't supposed to fit. Or her response might indicate that she didn't have a real plan or sense for how it fit with everything else. Ideally her response helps her -- and everyone else listening -- determine if it's an area that could be improved. Or it simply gets everyone to look at the work slightly differently and we learn from that new persepctive.

The second thing is something I ask if I'm having my work critiqued. Often when discussing art with like-minded, caring friends, they don't want to say anything critical. So, I say "Tell me one thing that seems out of place or misguided in this piece." Then they are forced to think of something they might wish I'd done differently. It doesn't feel critical. They've already told me they love the piece. (I may also love it.) But, even the smallest suggestion that the blue rectangle is too big or a particular fabric looks old fashioned -- or whatever -- helps me see the piece differently and consider how I might improve the design process the next time around. Or if I lovelovelove the same thing someone else says they are confused by, I can learn to verbalize and explain why I chose to design it the way I did.

Here's my piece, Neighborhood, which some of my friends suggest has a blue rectangle that is too big. They may be right.

Family Cruise!

We've just returned from a super fun cruise! Way way way back summer before last, my parents wanted to plan a trip to celebrate their 50th anniversary. We picked a time that worked for everyone and found a cruise that looked super fun. Sadly, my dad passed away just weeks before their actual 50th anniversary. 

But, we still have so much to celebrate and he would have wanted us to cherish time together. We did.

Beautiful sunset from our cabin's balcony.

We took a five day cruise out of Galveston.

At our port call in Cozumel, we visited Chankanaab National Park,

where we watched through lovely botanical gardens and visited a replica Mayan hut where this amazing woman served us the best tortillas I have ever had.

The lunch buffet included green and purple jello.

Quintessential cruise towel creature.

At our port call in Progresso, we took a small tour that included a stop in Muna where I took this snapshot.

We walked through the local church.

I'll never complain about uncomfortable pews again.

Past Muna, we made our way to Uxmal one of the best preserved and restored Mayan cities in the world.

At Uxmal, tourists can still climb the pyramid.

Does this photo give you a sense of how steep it was?

This view was worth the entire trip. Astounding.

After Uxmal, we drove through the countryside and through a small village to visit a completely "off the beaten track" cenote.

A cenote is a spring-fed, under ground swimming hole. Here's the entrance. A bit foreboding?

 Once our eyes adjusted, we came upon this stunning clear, calm, beautiful pool.

Really, it was the coolest thing ever. I didn't even mind the bats flying around. Well, not too much.

Here's a shot looking back up the stairs through the entrance hole.

I loved hanging out with my nephew Kristofer.

Benjamin was thrilled that we all agreed to play Monoploy in the ship's library.

There were many more fun times that can't be captured in pictures. I am so very thankful for my family and for my dad's vision and dedication to making special times together.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Artists Blog Hop

My friend Lyric invited me to answer questions for the "around the world" blog hop. You can read her answers here and track back to read thoughts from lots of other amazing artists.

1. What am I working on? 
I'm preparing a new program for 2015. It's called Stitching, Symbols, Signature Style. I've been doing programs for quilt guilds and visual arts groups for years and I am always so thrilled to share my quilts and my ideas about creativity with an eager group. But, this is the first program that will really dig deep into my own personal work as it's developed over the past several years. It's been super fun to gather images of the places I've lived, the things I am inspired by plus pictures of the quilts I've created from those bits of inspiration. 

I'm actually giving it to the Denton Quilt Guild on Thursday. Come see me! Or invite me to your guild. I'm eager to come see you and your quilting friends. Here's a list of my programs and workshops.

I'm also working on the next bit of fabric for The Printed Fabric Bee. I can't share the theme, but tune in at the beginning of December for the reveal of all the fabrics. I can say it will be a welcome respite from winter weather.

2. How does my work differ from others of its genre? 
My work is really about layers. Layers of fabric (both commercial prints and originally surface designed fabrics), layers of paint, and layers of free motion quilting and hand embroidery. I love to create art quilts where all these layers compliment each other, but also have their own individual impact. I'm not sure this is different from some other art quilters, but I try to make it my own. Also, I never get tired of making these tiny Y stitches.

3. Why do I write/create what I do? 
Oh... such a complicated question. Mostly, I just like to make art quilts. I like the challenge. I like how I feel when I'm creating. I like what I learn about the medium through the process and I like what I learn about myself. I love the people I have met through quilting. There is just nothing like a friend who loves you AND your art.

4. How does my creative process work?

I confess, I'm driven by deadlines. When an opportunity to enter a show, prepare a program, teach a class or exhibit my work presents itself... I get to work. I make simple sketches and lists of things I want to incorporate in my work. Then I gather fabric and begin composing. Eventually, I settle on a composition and I fuse the fabric in place. I add details with paint and hand embroidery, then I machine stitch through all the layers. The most important thing is that this process fits in and around the rest of my life with my family.

I've invited Kristin LaFlamme and Completely Cauchy to post their own answers in this blog hop. Check out their posts next Monday. In the mean time, you can see their smiling faces on my left and right in the picture above! And Sarah too!