Seeing the Forest for the Trees

The past few weeks I have been sharing my progression on a small pictorial quilt  from my travels in Ireland in September. It is now complete and I am free to sit back and just enjoy it.  However, the process of creating it was not always that enjoyable.

I mentioned my frustrations last week (and thanks to all who wrote and offered me some perspective and suggestions). As I continued working, I recognized the roller coaster of emotions that I experienced as all too familiar. My internal critic is only too happy to point out the weaknesses in my work. To an extent that is an asset as it allows me to make adjustments along the way. But, there comes a point where that internal critic is non-productive. Listening to it can create blockages to continuing work on the piece if one gives up from disappointment. It also can drown out another voice – for me it is the magical moment when the art piece ‘speaks’ and begins to direct me in its completion.  So, how to know when to stop listening?

Recently I finished a book by Dan Harris, 10% Happier: How I Tamed the Voice in my Head, Reduced Stress Without Losing My Edge, and Found Self-Help that Actually Works.  While I have mixed feelings about the book, one of the points he makes in his writing relates to just that question – when to stop listening and shut off that voice? The answer: Ask yourself the question, Is this Useful?

Fortunately, I reached the point in creating my Irish piece where I asked myself just that question. It didn’t actually stop that critical voice but I simply observed it and actually smiled a bit at its points. In self-help jargon, you might say that as I embraced the critic, it lost its power over me.   I simply kept stitching. And, as I continued to build the pictorial as I had planned, I liked it more and more. It actually became fun to embellish it. I like to think that a positive mind overwhelmed the negative and made the whole experience joyful. It certainly added to the value of the project!


Ready for framing!


As always, I will link to Nina Marie’s Off the Wall Friday.


Applique of Japanese Gardens, Spokane, WA


20.5″ x 33.5″

Fused appliqué with free motion quilting Hand dyed organza and cottons are the primary fabrics.

This art quilt depicts a scene in the Japanese Gardens in Manito Park, Spokane, WA. It is a favorite place to escape to in the city where there is always a feeling of tranquility.

Detail Image – Click to View Larger


Spring Reverie

hand dyed with birds and butterfliesSpring Reverie

16″ x 19″

Hand dyed cotton with Angelina stitched figures appliquéd to background. Free motion quilting.

This art quilt began as a piece of fabric that I dyed using an ice dyeing technique. The fabric immediately reminded me of the expansion of new energy that comes with each spring. As I began quilting it, as a whole cloth design, it spoke to me even more of spring. Adding a bird in flight and the butterflies seemed a natural completion.

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Close up of bird stitched in Angelina fiber


Abstract pieced art quilt using earth colors and turquoise2010
16″ x 12.5″

In Private Collection

Art quilt created using appliqué, crystals, and decorative stitching with earth and sea tone cotton batiks. The quilt is mounted (with Velcro) on a black cloth covered frame.

“Earth” reflects the interplay of earth and sea which is felt so intensely in the islands.

Detail image – click for larger view



Abstract art quilt in blues and greens2010
22″ x 12.5″

In Private Collection

Art quilt created using appliqué, decorative stitching and embellishment. Mounted (with Velcro) on a black cloth covered frame.

The Hawaiian islands are all the result of volcanic activity. These islands now are home to lush flora and fauna. “Island” honors these jewels in the ocean. 

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Abstract art quilt using reds and blues2010
23″x 15″

In Private Collection

Contemporary fiber art quilt with appliqué and decorative stitching. The background is hand dyed cotton, the ‘island’ a selection of cotton batiks. It is mounted (with Velcro) on a black cloth covered frame.

At sunset, everything pauses on the islands. The panoramic display as the sun sets into the ocean is different every time. The sun’s farewell paints the sky in luscious red tones. “Sunset” honors this daily display.

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Dance of Energy

Two figure portrayal of dance of energy in Aikido2010
24.5″ x 25.5″
Not For Sale

Pieced and appliquéd fiber art quilt with embellishment and decorative stitching.

This contemporary art quilt suggests the passage of energy in the martial art of Aikido from one person to another. When the timing between the two parties is in synch, the result is akin to dance.

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Close up of detail stitching in art quilt


Irish Cottage, Bunlough, Devlin North, County Mayo, Ireland


25.5″ x 32″

Not For Sale

Fused appliqué with free motion quilting/thread painting and a bit of jewelry wire.

This quilt depicts the remnants of a cottage on the West Coast of Ireland in Bunlough, Devlin North, County Mayo. The cottage was still standing two years ago when my cousin took a photo of it. It figures prominently in  my family history and why my grandmother moved to the U.S.

Detail image – click to view larger:

Roots, detail

Illuminated Albizia

A stand of trees in Maui, Hawaii

23″ x 30.5″

Exhibited in La Conner Quilt Textile Museum 2012 International Juried & Judged Quilt Festival, La Conner, WA and River Walk Artist Gallery Juried Exhibition

Contemporary fused appliqué art quilt with machine quilting. 

Adapted from a photo taken in Maui, Hawaii of a standing of monkey pod trees.

Detail image – click to view larger:

Illuminated Albizia, detail

Winter Morn

Representational art quilt of winter scene in Vail, Colorado

35″ x 20″

Exhibited in “Branching Out,”  Rochester, NY 2012

Fused appliqué art quilt with machine quilting.

This fiber art work was inspired by a photo taken by my son near Vail, Colorado. 

Detail image – click to view larger:

Winter Morn, detail


Art quilt with appliqué and overlay

38″ x 32″

This art quilt toured with SAQA’s No Place to Call Home special exhibit.

Contemporary fiber art quilt: pieced and appliquéd hand dyed cotton with a hand stamped tulle overlay.

No one really knows how many children in this world do not have homes. UNICEF estimated 100 million street children in the world’s cities back in 1989 and continues to refer to that number. Using this limited estimate, each child in this quilt would represent one million children.

No one knows what happens to these children either. Some simply disappear, dying from malnutrition, disease, or worse. Others though endure and rise up from their bleak beginnings to live full and inspiring lives.

This quilt imagines the world through the eyes of these children – vast, muted, empty of homes – and honors them by bringing attention to their sheer numbers.

Detail image – click to view larger:

Homeless, detail

The Dream Lives On

Applique art quiet memorializing Kennedy deaths

31″ x 26″

Appliqué art quilt using embellishment and decorative stitching on cotton fabric.

When Ted Kennedy died in August 2009, it marked the passing of the last of the three brothers, John, Bob, and Ted, whose lives had shaped my own. As I watched and listened to the eulogies following Ted’s passing, the image for this piece flashed in my mind.

The tears shed with the loss of these three men collect in a pond and from its depth rises the mythological phoenix carrying forth with their dreams for social justice for all.

Detail image – click to view larger:

The Dream Lives On, detail


Applique art quiet

44″ x 35″

Exhibited in 2012 Northwest Quilting Expo’s Juried Quilt Show.

This machine quilted art quilt combines pieced, fused, and appliqué techniques and includes decorative stitching and hand beading. 

Life, at times, can create a feeling of being besieged and bombarded by outside events, with energy draining and thoughts spinning endlessly. I created this piece at a time of major transition in my life.

Detail image – click to view larger:

Overwhelm, detail

Keeping Perspective

Representational art quilt of Antarctic scene

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


Representational art quilt of Antarctic scene

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


Beaded abstract art quilt2010
16.5″ x 13.5″
In private Collection

An appliqué art quilt with decorative stitching and embellishment.

This piece began with celtic coloring but emerged with more of a celebratory design reminiscent of my time in the southwest. Hence, I chose the name “Celebration.”

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Summer Celebration

Applique art quilt of flower2009

18″ x 22.5″

In Private Collection

Applique and décorative stitching. 

This quilt was the result of family fun and intensive gardening at my daughter’s home in eastern Washington State.

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Small art quilt with dragonfly2009
13″x 16″
In Private Collection

An art quilt of appliqué on a pieced background, fused angelica fiber and thread.

Popular  symbolisms of the dragonfly are renewal, positive force and the power of life. Dragonflies can also be a symbol of the sense of self that comes with maturity. Also, as a creature of the wind, the dragonfly frequently represents change. 

Detail Image – Click to view larger