Return to Center

There is no true path without center
With center, the mind, body, and spirit –

Passion and commitment unleash
A force that cannot be contained.
Thomas Crum

A visit to the island of Maui a few weeks ago reminded me of the importance of ‘recharge’ breaks in life for staying centered and nurturing my artistic spirit. Maui had been an annual stopping point for my husband and I for many years. A little condo complex perched on the western shore offered an easy resting spot for us where we could quickly slip into a laid back routine. However, life has a way of intervening and it had been three years since our last visit.

It did not take long after our arrival for me to remember just why we had spent so many years trekking out to the spot annually. It felt as though the crashing waves outside our lanai were washing away tensions in my body. As I sat watching whales frolicking in the ocean, I realized the inspiration for many of my art quilts had emerged in similar moments sitting on a Maui lanai. The setting was a vehicle for me to nurture my own centered state akin to recharging a battery.

Back home on the mainland, I continued to play with the concept of recharging center. I began to identify and more fully appreciate the places in my travels where that feeling of ‘recharging’ was strongest and that I intuitively longed to return. I found each conveyed a deep feeling of peace that nurtured my creativity even though the locations varied significantly in landmark characteristics. High on my list were two sites in busy Paris – the sculpture gallery of the Louvre and the restored home of Rodin that displays many of his works.

Louvre Museum

Rodin Museum

Other ‘recharging stations’ for me were in more remote destinations: a beach on the west coast of Ireland, the ice in Antarctica, a mountain top perch in western Colorado.

County Mayo, Ireland

County Mayo, Ireland

Rocky Mountains

Fortunately, these places are not the only way for me to recharge. Daily meditation is my ‘at home’ go to for starting off a day in a balanced and inspired state, and sites such as the Seattle Art Museum, much more accessible than Antarctica, are guaranteed to recharge and inspire me. However, my Maui trip has reminded me of the importance of scheduling visits to some of those more distant magical places as often as possible. In fact, next year is already booked!

 

 

Tip of the Iceberg

iceberg

I describe the design process as like the tip of the iceberg.
What you don’t see is the long haul: all the endless auditing and things like that.
Norman Foster

This week was definitely not about the tip of the iceberg! Moving forward as an artist and in a new studio requires much behind the scene work and I moved forward on several fronts.

First, I took some steps this week towards being able to photograph my works in my new studio. Doing my own photography has been a goal for a long time. Now that I am across country from my favorite photographer and have many hand-stitched works that I eventually want to add to my online gallery, I decided it was time to take action. That required much research and then some online ordering to begin to assemble the necessary equipment. One of the most helpful sites that I found on the website was Shoot That Quilt, co-authored by my own web-master, Holly Knott. If you would like to take a peak at what she has written, click here.

I also began to focus more on documenting the work in the Basic Dyeing for Quilters class that I have been participating in through Academy of Quilting. (Here is a listing for the next session of the class.) This week we completed dyeing work on a reference color wheel. Here is how mine turned out:

color-wheel

One of the most entertaining features of this class has been discovering what dyed pieces actually looked like after all processing. I was surprised but very pleased by the mysterious results of my efforts to dye a piece of Kona cotton purple.

purple

The fabric on the left is supposed to be a fairly solid purple. The one on the right is my blue-purple. The two component dye solutions that were used for these pieces did not mix well, particularly in the case of the purple. Perhaps it was the temperature of my warm water? I don’t know and may experiment further in the coming weeks.

It was clear though that I will be dyeing explorations of the class long after it concludes. And so, I am taking the time to process and record notes as I go along. I also am stretching out the dyeing for a more relaxed schedule that works better with other demands on my time. It all is quite a bit of fun and I am looking forward to the next class where I am told we will discuss over-dyeing.

Winter Scene Update

I did move forward some more with my Winter Scene piece. It is now quilted and awaiting a binding. Here is a quick glimpse at how it evolved.

scene

And, I continued to work on my latest hand-stitching project. It should be completed by next week.  I should also have a report by then on a workshop by Sandy Turner that I am enrolled in. It looked like a fun project and a way to meet some quilters in our new second home area.

By the way, the photo of Antarctica above is one of mine from our trip there several years ago. That trip continues to rank as one of the most memorable that I have ever taken. Everything you read about the out-of-this-world feeing of Antarctica is true. Gliding in ice flows, past huge icebergs, and among mammoth glaciers is a great reminder of how small we are in this universe – a great wake-up call to the ego, and totally inspirational for the artist!

As always, linking to Off the Wall Friday. Check out what others have been up to!

Hopping Around the World

This week I am delighted to be participating in the Around the World Blog Hop.  I was invited by Deborah Lynn Stanley and you can read her blog hop post here. The theme of the hop is to answer some questions about our creative process. I found it  a great opportunity to stop and consider my own artistic journey so here goes!

What am I working on?

I have been working on art quilts for about seven years. Late last year I began to study hand stitching with Karen Ruane. I am currently taking a class entitled Simply Stitch 5 with Karen. It is a free form class via the internet where the student is a ‘fly on the wall’ in Karen’s studio while she works. You have a choice of working on what Karen is working on or doing your own thing with feedback from Karen and other students. We use Flickr for posting photos of our process and receiving comments. I have found that this approach to learning works wonderfully for me. I travel back and forth between upstate New York and Spokane Washington regularly so I need a flexible learning arrangement.

Men's handkerchief

 

 

 

As part of Karen’s class, I have just started to create a cloth that will be comprised of men’s handkerchiefs embellished with feminine touches. I have just finished my first ‘block’ which added lace trim and french knots to a blue handkerchief. I love the color combination and the feel of working with these fibers and am going to be really curious to see how this develops as I embellish more handkerchiefs!

 

Ghost Tree

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I always have an art quilt in process and have been working on a piece on deforestation for an upcoming Call for Entry. I don’t usually work on pieces for specific Calls but this was a topic that interested me and so I used the Call as an opportunity to make a statement through my art. Here is a peak at one of the ‘ghost trees’ that I have designed to wander through a devastated landscape. I have hand stitched mulberry paper backed with roving onto a hand dyed organza background.

 

How does my work differ from others in my genre?

Hmmm. My art quilts are reaching out more and more beyond the use of cloth fibers to get the effect I need. For example, in my art quilt, Roots, I use wire for the fencing near the cottage.

Fencing

Why Do I Create What I Do?

That is simple: – to make a statement. It may be about something I observe in the world. Often, I am capturing a moment in time either from my travels or my life that had significance to me. I hope that my art will touch others and invoke emotion in them. My art is my means of reaching out and communicating with others.

A trip to Antarctica a few years ago is a great example of how my travels have inspired my work. I was deeply touched by the beauty of ice in that intriguing world. To date, I have created a number of art quilts out of my Antarctic experience and I am sure more will surface. Journey is a good example and you can find others here on my website.

Journey

How Does My Wriitng/Creating Process Work?

Ideas for my art often come during meditation. I also take a lot of photographs as I travel. Something in a photo will capture my attention – it may be the light, certain shapes, or the overall essence of a particular place. Over time, I get a clearer image in my mind of what a particular piece might look like. From there I will either begin sketching with an idea of creating an art quilt from unique fibers, or I may decide to play with a photographic image in Photoshop with a goal of printing the image on cloth for stitching.

At some point along the way, the art work itself ‘takes over’ the creative process. I listen to it as I work and follow the direction it dictates. Sounds crazy but if I don’t listen, I grow intensely dissatisfied with the piece.

Linking to Talented Friends

As part of the hop, I get to invite some friends to join in next week. The three who will be posting next week are:

Jeanne Marklin – Jeanne and I both have a passion for travel.  We attended SAQA’s annual conference in 2013 together and I quickly appreciated the depth of her knowledge of the fiber art world. Her art quilts are stunning and she is masterful dyer. Be sure to check out her blog and her website today and again next week.

Diane Miller – Diane and I are members of RAFA, Rochester Area Fiber Artists. She is constantly exploring and creating amazing art quilts and jewelry. You can see examples on her blog.

Regina Dunn – Regina and I met over the internet as we participated in SAQA’s Vision Project. I love Regina’s enthusiasm to explore new methods and her talent to in writing about her process on her blog. She will be writing a post for the hop next week. In the meantime, you can see some of her work on her website.

More Blogs to Discover

There have been many exciting participants in the hop in the past weeks. Here are links to a few so you can enjoy learning about them:

I hope that you all enjoy this opportunity to explore what all these amazing artists are accomplishing.

Keeping Perspective

Representational art quilt of Antarctic scene

2012
24.5″ x 31.5″

Exhibited in ARTQUILTSwater: Professional Art Quilters Alliance – South Juried Exhibit

In Private Collection

Fused appliqué art quilt with machine quilting.

There are no trees in Antarctica, no greenery. If you are fortunate enough to ever visit the continent, the vastness of its glaciers, mountains, and waterways will forever humble you. The number of species that can survive in its climate are few. Man is a visitor who quickly learns to respect the forces of nature at work. The scene depicted in this representational quilt was adapted from photo taken in this land of ice.

Detail image – click to view larger:

Keeping Perspective, detail

Journey

Representational art quilt of Antarctic scene

2013
36″ x 39.5″

Fused appliqué art quilt with machine quilting

The scene depicted in this fiber art quilt occurred on a Christmas Eve in Antarctica. Some volunteers who had been restoring a deserted hut were stranded by an influx of ice into a previously open waterway. The ship that I was traveling upon had the ability to cut through much of the ice. We then sent two Zodiacs up a channel to pick up the volunteers and transported them to Port Lockroy to spend Christmas with friends.

Detail image – click to view larger:

Journey, detail