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.

Enjoying the Twiddly

How precious are these moments — breathe, cherish, be.


This week was a true gift! My calendar was clear of appointments. My time was my own to spend as I chose. This doesn’t happen very often in my life.  😉

Perhaps you can guess what I did? A good deal of time was in my studio/office; another big segment was outdoors enjoying the fall colors while they last. This week was a time to reflect and plan future projects as well as work on current ones. Last week I began a small memento of my trip to Louisburgh, Ireland – an art quilt of buildings on one of the two main streets in the village. This week I moved right along. Windows and gutters started appearing.

Louisburgh, County Mayo


As the week progressed, I began to fill in the scene more.

Louisburgh #3The more I worked, the more dissatisfied I became – isn’t that always the way! The angles on the green building were just not right……and the scene still was very ‘flat’. As I added more pieces to the scene, I also began to play with my Inktense pencils and adjust some of the elements in the scene.

By week’s end, the  piece was showing improvement though I am still tweaking and adding elements including some lettering which awaits the arrival of a  red Inktense pencil. However, I think you can see progress here:

Louisburgh, County Mayo

While I cut the pieces of fabric for the windows and doors, I reflected on a comment often made by my stitching instructor, Karen Ruanne. She is always remarking that she enjoys the twiddly.  Wikipedia defines twiddly as “anything that is relatively small and trifling or elaborately decorative.” Karen revels in embellishing her pieces with intricate detail. She says it relaxes her. As I cut and fused those tiny window panes I realized that I too enjoy the twiddly. While I often use simple shapes to define objects, I will then add tiny details to complete a scene.

What about you? How do you feel about the twiddly? Are you impatient to be done with it or do you enjoy the process?


As usual, linking to Off the Wall Friday so you can check in with other artists.

As the World Turns

Nothing is worth more than this day.

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

Life has been spinning a bit more than usual the past few weeks. After a half month out west, I am now back in upstate New York. While out west, we purchased some land and began moving forward on a second home near our daughter and her family. Here is a quick peak at our new acquisition:


My husband, Jerry, is standing by the start of the pine forest.

Since I have been back home, I have started up some new work. My current project is a small art quilt that will serve as a memory of my trip to Louisburgh, Ireland. I thought it might be fun to show the progress.

Pink house - 1

Not very exciting but you have to start somewhere! This will eventually be a pink house along one of the two main streets in Louisburgh. During the week, it did grow a bit.  🙂

Pink House #2

Perhaps this begins to make some more sense? You can see that I am building the quilt on a piece of muslin. I have made it quite large as I have dreams of creating an unusual border – we will see how that materializes as the quilt grows.

Pink House #3

In this photo I have started to add in some forms for trees. I am building from the back forward. It doesn’t look very straight as I am adding allowances to each of the sides and not being very exact on that process.  My next step will be to add roofs, gutters, windows, doors and trim. Hope to be able to share those next week.

The rest of my creative time this past week has been devoted to my work for Simply Stitch 5 with Karen Ruanne.  I have decided to take all those handkerchiefs that I mentioned in a post a few weeks ago and create a quilt. That will be a long term project for me with lots of hand-stitching! I just added a few doilies I collected over the years in travel to another handkerchief.


Life in the coming year promises to be full. I suspect I will be constantly reminding myself to take one day at a time and most definitely to stay present and appreciate the day I am in!

Linking to Off the Wall Friday, so please check out what other artists are writing about this week as well.

Outstanding Louisburgh Ireland Artists

A people without the knowledge of their past history, origin and culture is like a tree without roots.
Marcus Garvey

Last month I had the opportunity to spend a week in the town near where my grandmother, Alice, was born. Louisburgh, Ireland remains today a town with one crossroad. This belies the fact that new homes abound in the surrounding area and the town bustles with tourists during the summer months. Not only is it close to Croagh Patrick, it’s beaches offer some excellent surfing and there is always the opportunity to fish.

Crossroads in Lousiburgh, Ireland

Town centre, Lousiburgh, Ireland

I met two wonderful artists while I was there and I would love to share their work with you.

Kerstin Hellmann is a photographer whose photos of Ireland take your breath away. She is also a gracious friend, ever willing to offer advice and info on the town she resides in. I met her in the Louisburgh HQ where she had a display of her photos. She quickly suggested that I place a few of my notecards of my art quilt, Rootsin the local gift shop. (I did and if you ever stop by, please buy one!). You can learn more about Kerstin on her website. Here is a sample of just one of her beautiful photos of a beach near Lousiburgh that was on a notecard that I purchased from her:

Carramore Strand

I actually met Desmond Downes in my favorite Lousiburgh pub, Ah Bhun Abhainn. He graciously returned to his gallery for some postcard gifts for my cousin and me. Desmond is a truly gifted artist. From his home in Louisburgh he works on Film/Annimation with companies across the globe as well as graphic and web design. However, it was his oil paintings that caught my attention. You can learn more about all his many talents on his website.  Here is a glimpse at one of his paintings:

Sam Hire Sligo

Sam Hire Sligo

I hope you enjoy browsing their works as much as I did!