Sunday, January 23, 2011

2012 Quilting Arts Calendar competition

Detail from my submission for the 2012 Quilting Arts Calendar.
On Friday, I learned that the piece I submitted for consideration in the 2012 Quilting Arts Calendar has made the list of finalists! There are 21 artists and 22 pieces on the list on editor Pokey Bolton’s blog. And I know a bunch of them; all are wonderful artists. One, Faith Cleary, is a woman I met at International Quilt Festival last year while taking one of Judy Coates Perez’s classes. 
Faith Cleary with one of her pet portraits on a Christmas stocking.
Faith and I struck up a conversation, decided to have lunch together, and had the most wonderful time. Then this year, when I was back in Houston for Quilt Market, she showed up in a class I took with Bonnie McCaffery! It just seems like fate that we know each other. It was my birthday, and she offered to take me out for lunch at an authentic Mexican restaurant she knew, and then she drove me all over Houston to see points of interest, and took me to her house to see her darling studio. After seeing her wonderful work, I encouraged her to talk to Quilting Arts, and to enter the calendar competition, because it is right up her alley this year. 

Detail of Faith's work
Faith specializes in pet portraits sketched in thread, and this year, the theme of the competition is “Getting Pet-ty.” Take a look at Faith’s amazing work on her website. She creates very realistic thread-sketched portraits, then frames them or places them on pet carriers, handbags, chairs, pillows, stockings, you name it.

So imagine my excitement when I saw that both of Faith’s entries were on the list of finalists, too! I am so thrilled for her, because she is simply a sweetheart, and because she is an amazing artist.

This is part of what I love so much about being part of the quilting community. There are all these warm, wonderful people who share a passion for quilts, fabric and threads, and every time you turn around, you meet and make another fabulous friend.

I don't think there is any rule about showing the piece you have submitted, but I prefer to wait until the calendar comes out, or the pieces are shown for the first time (this year, at International Quilt Festival in Cincinnati). So the little photo at the top of this post is all I’m revealing for now. The final list of 13 pieces (one for each month and one for the cover) will be announced on Pokey’s blog on Feb. 11. I have my fingers crossed for both Faith and me.

The Sketchbook Challenge: Sketch #11

This is my latest sketch for The Sketchbook Challenge. While teaching this weekend in Georgia, I stayed with Mary and Dan Colley of Athens. I had stayed with them last fall when I was in town to speak and teach at the Cotton Patch Quilters. They are really kind and wonderful people. Dan is a professor of microbiology at the University of Georgia, and is doing ground-breaking research on schistosomiasis, a horrible parasitic disease that affects many people in developing countries. 

Mary kindly agreed to host me, even though they were in the middle of a major kitchen renovation. She warned me beforehand that things were kind of crazy at her house, but it didn’t scare me. It’s crazy all the time at my house!

While I stayed with them, I sketched this beautiful antique dresser in my room. I find dressers very appealing somehow. They all have very distinct personalities, and it is interesting to see how different the styles can be. I sketched a previous host’s dresser last week. I like the clean, spare lines in this drawing.

Teaching at Dragonfly Quilt Shop

I have just returned from teaching two classes at the Dragonfly Quilt Shop in Watkinsville, Georgia. (Watkinsville is just outside of Athens.) I taught two classes, Thread Sketching, in which students make a small piece with a thread-sketched dragonfly, and Start With a Photo, where students create my Round Red Barn design. (For details on these classes, click here.)

I had wonderful students of all levels – some were completely new to free-motion stitching, and some were already experts. I hope each one went home having learned something new. Some of my students had taken my Wholecloth Painting workshop from me when I visited the Cotton Patch Quilters in September. Here are some photos of my students and their work. It is always interesting to see how different each project turns out because of the fabric and thread choices of the students.

Dragonfly Quilt Shop is a gem of a quilt store, with a wonderful owner (Debora Exum) a very helpful and friendly staff, and a great selection of fabrics. The emphasis is on bright contemporary fabrics, including many by Kaffe Fassett & Brandon Mably, and Amy Butler. There are lots of small projects like purses, bags and aprons, great books, and patterns for children’s clothing. The classroom space was also great.

I get to come back to the beautiful Athens area this fall: I’m speaking and teaching at the Hall County Quilt Guild in Chestnut Mountain this October!

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

The Sketchbook Challenge: Sketch #10

Okay, I've now completed ten sketches for The Sketchbook Challenge so far this year. Ten sketches, 18 days. Not too bad. Today I sketched my reading glasses. “Highly prized” (this month’s theme) because it is getting to the point that I can’t do much of anything without them. Sigh. It makes me really mad, really crazy. Can you tell? 

I think the glasses look pretty good, pretty realistic. But perhaps I should have done the lenses with some of the color showing through? At least they stand out from the background this way. I am loving working with type in my sketches. It makes me wonder if I should do some fiber pieces using type. With my graphic design background, it makes sense. 

This is the kind of visual brainstorming I was hoping would take place by sketching regularly. It will be very interesting to see where this takes me this year, and how much the sketches affect my fiber art. 

Note: This is black ink on white paper, with water color and pencil (the words in the background). The size is about 8.5" x 11".

Monday, January 17, 2011

Martin Luther King, Jr., and creativity

Today, I am celebrating Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. While reading quotes by him this morning, I was interested to discover several that dealt with creativity:

“Almost always, the creative dedicated minority has made the world better.

Human salvation lies in the hands of the creatively maladjusted.

We must use time creatively.

This made me think about how much King must have valued creativity. Perhaps not in the sense of the arts, but as a form of critical problem solving, a way of finding new solutions. (Which is also what artists do when they are being creative.)

Certainly King showed creativity in his push for civil rights. You can see it in his choice of protests and approaches, and in his glorious use of language in his sermons and speeches. 

I will finish this brief post with one of my favorite King quotes:

“I have decided to stick with love. Hate is too great a burden to bear.” 

Today, let us all make that same decision: let’s stick with love.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

The Sketchbook Challenge: Sketches #7, 8, 9

I did the pencil sketches in this post for The Sketchbook Challenge during my trip to Maryland last week. I took along a little Moleskine sketchbook, and drew this one (of my Dansko clog, above) at the gate in the airport, without taking my foot out of the shoe. I highly prize comfortable shoes, especially after my 18-month bout of plantar fasciitis, a very painful foot condition, several years ago. (If you are wondering about the scribbles all over the shoes, these clogs have French writing all over them.)
 This is a sketch of my host Coralyn’s lovely antique dresser, which was in the room where I stayed at her house. 
When I joined the Sketchbook Challenge, I vowed to take on faces and bodies, my greatest fears. This is a drawing of a young woman seated across from me at the airport waiting area. The proportions of her body to her face are not quite right, but it is not too bad, considering that I never draw people. Maybe I can do this after all! 

I am considering getting a book on drawing faces and figures, and working my way through it. Any suggestions on books you like?

New Zealand, here I come!

I got a fabulous invitation last week! I’ve been asked to teach at Taupo Symposium 2013 Fabric Art Festival in Taupo, New Zealand. This symposium in New Zealand is held every two years, and typically draws 1,500 participants to its quilt show, special exhibitions, and a broad range of classes.

The 2011 event is called Remarkable Symposium 2011, and it is being held in Queenstown, NZ, April 18-23.  If you click on the “Timetable, Classes and Tutors,” you can see all the instructors and classes they are offering this year. 

Taupo (population 21,000)  is known for its beautiful lake, trout fishing, skiing, geothermal phenomena, waterfalls, and rock carvings at Mine Bay. I can’t wait!

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Visit to the Needlechasers in Chevy Chase, MD

Debbie with her dragonfly, at the end of the Thread Sketching class.

I just got back from a visit to the fabulous Needlechasers of Chevy Chase in Maryland. What a great group they are! I gave a presentation and taught two classes, Machine Quilting 101 and Thread Sketching. I really enjoyed my time with this group. I especially appreciated their flexibility in dealing with my travel delays caused by a big snow/ice storm that hit Charlotte last Sunday night. I was supposed to fly out on Tuesday, and almost all the flights out of Charlotte’s airport were canceled that day. (It figures that this would happen the first time I flew to a presentation!) I ended up going one day late, and the program coordinators were able to jiggle my classes around with minimal disruption.

Debbie added wonderful details like the curlicues on her dragonfly’s legs.
Jan with her dragonfly.

Coralyn Colladay, my marvelous host!
Many thanks to Marina Baudoin, Debbie Lamb-Mechanick, and my host, Coralyn Colladay (shown with her dragonfly, above) for making this a great experience!

Get ready to register for 2011 NC Quilt Symposium!

NCQS09 logo
It’s time to get ready to register for the 2011 North Carolina Quilt Symposium! You can get the forms online, and then mail your registration form (postmarked on or after Jan. 20). I’m teaching at this great event; look at all the fabulous teachers: 

Frieda Anderson:
Esterita Austin:
Susan Cleveland:
Karen Comstock:
Nancy Eha:
Ann Fahl:
Rayna Gillman:
Susan Brubaker Knapp:
Suzanne Marshall:
Laura Martell:
Janice Pope:
Leslie Riley:
Sharon Schamber:
Eileen Sullivan:
Patsy Thompson:
Mary Lou Weidman:

You can view all the teachers’ information, as well as their projects for Symposium, here. I’m teaching Thread Sketching, Machine Quilting 101, and Surface Design Madness.

This year’s Symposium is hosted by the Capital Quilters of Raleigh, and will take place on the campus of Peace College June 2-5. Remember, you don’t have to live in North Carolina to come; it’s easy to fly into Raleigh if you live out of state.

Art from the Heart

Linda Moran is a teacher and mixed media artist I know. She lives in Tuscon, Arizona.

On Saturday, Jan. 8, Linda considered going over to talk with Gabrielle Giffords at her “Congress in Your Corner” meeting at a Safeway grocery store in Tuscon. She wanted to tell Giffords that she supported many of her policies, but was disappointed with some of her political ads. But everyday affairs intervened, and she didn’t get there. She heard about the tragedy in the same ways that most Americans did: television, Facebook and Twitter.

And then, Linda did something that most of us didn’t. She decided to do something with her pain. She started a website called  Art from the Heart: Healing Hatred in America. It is going to be an online gallery in memory of lives lost and changed in the Tuscon tragedy. Artists who wish to make a statement about the problems of hatred, hate speech, discrimination, prejudice and political vitriol in the U.S. are invited to submit an image of a small piece. If accepted, the piece will be displayed on the website, with the artist’s statement.

Linda writes eloquently of her yearning for “reaching middle ground:”
Let ART be our clarion call; to wake long quieted voices, to recognize those who have paid prices far too high for simply being a citizen of this nation, to begin a dialogue of hope. Let ART be a neutral medium wherein we may express feelings that we dare not put to words, sadness that we no longer can contain within the depths of our souls, and above all else, the genuine desire that is in most people for a brighter future. Let ART be an avenue toward healing.

For all of us.
There is a point at which we have to forget on which side of the aisle we normally reside and gravitate back toward center. Where we can meet. Where we can see into each others eyes. Where we can, sometime in the near future, embrace. Where we can find one common vision and focus.
Step up with me. Put forth your ART. Let it speak. Let us hope that someone listens. And then another. And another.
May it be so; for you, and for me.
In grace and peace ~~ Anne
Linda believes “each one of us can be an instrument of change, regardless of how small.” Her blog is called Marbled Musings: Thoughts on Life, Art, Marbling and Creativity.

I am hoping to submit a piece to Art from the Heart: Healing Hatred in America; if you have strong feelings on this issue, I hope you will consider doing so, too.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Barn Quilt Project of Iredell County

I took this photo last August at a dairy farm in Sweetwater, Tennessee. Tennessee has a fabulous Quilt Barn Trail program. (A quilt barn is one that displays a quilt block, like the one above.) These programs are cropping up in states across the country. You can read more about them at American Quilt Barns or the Barn Quilts and the American Quilt Trail blog.

Last August, Johnny Elliott of Harmony, NC, mounted a beautiful replica of his great-grandmother’s quilt on the side of the barn he is renovating. He got help from Taproot Artisans, a marketplace for work by Piedmont-area artisans. You can read more in the Statesville Record and Landmark’s article from August 2010 here. His efforts led to the start of Barn Quilts of Iredell County.

The group was supposed to meet on Monday, but their meeting was canceled because of the snow and ice storm that hit here earlier this week. The new meeting date is Monday, Jan. 17 at 6 p.m. at the Harmony Community Center, 3286 Harmony Highway, Harmony NC 28634.

On Jan. 22 and 29, the group is holding a workshop to make barn quilt blocks. Here are the details:

Jan. 22 (starting at 9 a.m.) and Jan. 29 (wrap-up)
Participate in this hands-on workshop and take home a finished barn quilt block! You choose pattern (Basic!) and colors.
Materials furnished - everything you need to complete the project.
4' x 4' MDO 1/2" Plywood block with finish paint coat. Ready for pattern to be applied.
Paint for pattern, brushes, tape, scale sketch, layout instruction, painting assistance.
PVC Edge Capping
Cost - $225. Must be paid at registration.
Location: TBA, in the Harmony area
Instructor - Cora Ellen Stroud, Taproot Artisans (336) 492-2234
Pre-registration is required. 

I wish I had a barn so I could do this! Do you think my neighbors would object to a big quilt block mounted on my house?

The Sketchbook Challenge: Sketch #6

I’m inside for the second full day today, following a big snowstorm that hit the Charlotte area on Sunday. Ice followed on Monday, and this morning, it is a mess. I took the photo below on my side porch, and sketched it for for The Sketchbook Challenge.

Events like this make me think about those who are homeless and outside in the elements. And about those whose jobs take them outside, like people who work on downed power lines, people who pick up our trash, and those who clear the roads. I am so very grateful that we have power, and that I have a warm house in which to weather the storm. We went five days in the winter without power one year here in Charlotte after a big ice storm.

Ice and water are hard to sketch, and I need to work on them more. I chose a bright blue background (wishful thinking that the skies were actually blue and the sun shining), partly to make the sketch prettier. I also eliminated the tree, although adding those additional lines might have been interesting, and drew fewer icicles. Part of being an artist is deciding what elements to alter, add or leave out. 

I’m not so sure that my power lines look like power lines. I’m going to go back in and highlight each a bit at the top, and make them somewhat thicker.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Pumpkins for Piano, Part 1

I am starting work on a new piece based on this photo, and I’m very excited about it. I’m creating it for a wonderful couple who collect art, whom I met through my friend and fellow fiber artist Nancy G. Cook. They had a nice piano that they had not been able to sell, and I was looking for a better instrument for my daughter to play. I could not afford to pay them what the piano was worth, so they proposed a trade: the piano for a piece of my work. 

After I showed them my portfolio and talked with them about how I work, we decided that I should take a lot of photos of pumpkins and gourds last fall, and do a piece based on the photo they selected. I am thrilled that they chose this one. There is so much wonderful color and texture in this shot, and of course, it is pumpkins, one of my favorite subjects … perhaps because of my Halloween birthday! 

We are trying to decide whether it should be a horizontal or vertical piece. Here is the photo horizontally. What do you think?

This is Autumn’s Bounty, a piece based on a photo of mini-pumpkins I did that was featured in the 2010 Quilting Arts Calendar:

And believe it or not, I have two other pieces in which pumpkins are the subject, but I can’t show them to you just yet. I will post about my work on the new piece as it progresses. My daughter loves the new piano, and is playing beautifully.

Friday, January 7, 2011

The Sketchbook Challenge: Sketch #5

Can you guess that I went to my doctor today? Today’s sketch for The Sketchbook Challenge is an apple, a symbol of good health. I have Type 2 Diabetes, and I have not been paying enough attention to it lately. It is time to make a change. Perhaps I can improve both my drawing skills and my diet this year!

This is my favorite type of apple, Honeycrisp. These apples, created through a cross-pollination of Honeygold and Macoun apples, just started showing up in our local grocery stores in the past few years, and I am totally addicted to them. They are what the name promises, both sweet and crunchy, as well as slightly tart and juicy. I tried to capture the interesting bands of color – from red to orange, yellow and green — and their mottled appearance in my drawing. 

I also wanted to play with some background texture on my page today, so I penciled in some Xs and Os on part of the page, and I’m liking it. 

My goal for this year is to eat more apples and fewer sweets – and to keep sketching!

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Leaves of Green: A free pattern!

This month, I am Designer of the Month for Aurifil thread, and my Leaves of Green pattern (shown above) is available as a free download on the Aurifil blog. Pat Sloan, who is organizing the Designer of the Month program for Aurifil, did a little write-up on me, and the link to the PDF download is at the end of the post. (By the way, Pat Sloan is a sweetheart… she is one of the nicest and most energetic quilters I have ever met.)

I made Leaves of Green using needleturn appliqué, but you could use a fusible or machine appliqué technique.  The 25 little 6" blocks are a perfect portable project, and the simple shapes are easy to appliqué, so it would be a great project for a beginner. 

 I quilted it with an overall leaf design to add lots of texture. 

Each month, Pat will be writing about another designer who is offering another free pattern. If you make the project and share your photos in the Flickr account set up for the Designer of the Month program, you have a chance to win fabulous packages of Aurifil thread! So please stay tuned… it is going to be fun! 

And to make it even more fun, I’m going to be giving away a pack of Aurifil minispools (shown above) each month when the new project is announced. Just leave me a comment here to tell me what you think of Leaves of Green, and I'll pull a name at random next Friday, Jan. 14 at noon. The sampler pack includes great colors in different weights.
We have a winner: Corinne from upstate NY!

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

The Sketchbook Challenge: Sketch #4

Here’s my fourth sketch for The Sketchbook Challenge. I did it while looking at a photo I took of my Nikko Blue hydrangea this fall (you can see the photo below). It had turned a wonderful dusky purple color.

I am considering this as a subject for a future art quilt. I just love the luscious color and texture in it. I sketched using a Sharpie pen, used my Caran D'ache Water Soluble Crayons to color the drawing, and then turned the color to water color with a wet brush. I’m not very happy with this sketch, and I’m not sure why.  

I think I need to add some darker values, especially in the background. This is something I struggle with again and again. It is scary to add the really dark values. But this sketch is at least a start, a step toward the art quilt. I am trying to decide if I should do it in paint, as I did with my orchid series, or with fused fabric.

Monday, January 3, 2011

The Sketchbook Challenge: Sketch #3

For today’s Sketchbook Challenge sketch, I chose as a subject this beautiful creamer and sugar bowl of pale blue and gold given to me by my mother-in-law, Janet Armstrong Knapp. 

Here is what I wrote in the background: They belonged to her maternal grandmother. She was given them after she stayed with a neighbor to help out after she had a baby. They are fine hand-painted porcelain. Janet is in a nursing home and is not doing well. I am thinking about her often. I cherish these beautiful objects because they were a special gift from her. They are in great shape and have been cherished by generations of women. 

In looking at the sketches from the hundreds of people participating in the Sketchbook Challenge, I find that I am drawn to the ones with text in the background. I have always loved the work of Susan Shie, too, and maybe this is part of the reason why. So I decided to try it out. There is something graphic and elegant about beautiful handwriting. And I love the idea of telling a story or keeping a diary that is both visual and verbal; it appeals to the journalist in me. It might be a good thing to do this year during the Challenge. 

I’m being kind of chicken; I only penciled in the words! Perhaps I will be braver tomorrow.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

The Sketchbook Challenge: Sketch #2

My second sketch for The Sketchbook Challenge’s January theme – highly prized — is my eye. It represents how much I value my vision. Whatever would I do if I could not see my children’s beautiful faces, or the colors of leaves changing in the fall, or the first amazing greens of spring? 

Regretfully, my eyes are not really this green. They are more of a muddy green with brownish hazel at the center.

It is interesting the things I notice about my drawings once I photograph or scan them and look again. In this case, I drew the eyebrow way too small and out of proportion. Perhaps it was because I drew the eye at the top of the page, and didn’t have enough space at the top for the brow. 

The thing about photography is also true in the case of both my art quilts and my traditional quilts. It is very valuable to photograph them at different stages, and to examine the photos, because I learn a lot about whether I am using values and colors properly, about whether a piece is in balance, or out of sync. If something bothers me about the photo, it tells me what I need to fix in the piece.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

The Sketchbook Challenge: Sketch #1

January’s theme for The Sketchbook Challenge is “Highly Prized.” It has me thinking about all the things I value. On this, the first day of 2011, one of the first to come to mind is time. I hung my new 2011 calendars today, and started thinking about the year to come, the things to be accomplished. So it made sense to choose these old clocks to sketch today for the challenge. 

I’ve always loved old alarm clocks, and have a small collection. My favorite was one I purchased on a trip to Seattle and Vancouver in the late ’80s. It had a bell on top, and a name – Slumber Stopper – that always made me smile. Unfortunately it was destroyed when it fell off a shelf after the roofers started pounding on our first home, a rented cottage in Charlottesville, Virginia. The three shown in my sketch above are newer acquisitions. Part of the reason I love old household objects is imagining their past.

Did the little green clock get packed in a trunk and taken to camp? Did the “True Ring” get its dent when it was thrown against a wall by a grumpy teenager who didn’t want to get up for school?  

It seemed a luxury to sit down to sketch and paint today; I am usually so busy rushing around and getting things done that I do not find the time. I hope I can do a little bit in my sketchbook every day, and use it as inspiration and exploration for my fiber art.

“Nae man can tether time or tide.”
– Robert Burns