Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Lots of news today!


One advance copy of my book arrived on my doorstep yesterday! I am so thrilled with the job that C&T’s graphic designers, editors and photographers did with it. The first shipment of books will arrive at C&T’s headquarters in California any day now, and then they will head toward me. I am taking pre-orders now, so if you want an autographed copy, mosey on over to my website! Here’s a sneak peek at one of the spreads:

And here’s a page from the section on taking better photographs that you can use in your work:

There was more good news on my doorstep today: an edition of The Charlotte Observer’s Lake Norman News with a feature article on me! You can read the story here. The reporter, Madeline Will, is a college intern from The University of North Carolina’s School of Journalism, where I got my master’s degree. She did a great job.

This afternoon I was out hunting at one of my favorite local antique shops, and discovered this wonderful raggedy old red-and-white quilt. I think it is a Shoo Fly variation, and it is completely hand stitched. (Anyone know if it has another name?) I paid $25 for it.

It is fraying in places, and some of the cotton batting is peeking through, but I think it is charming. It is pretty big, about twin bed size, and very graphic. I may take down one of my quilts and hang it on the wall.

I also found out that enrollment has begun for International Quilt Festival 2011 in Houston, after I got a few e-mails from potential students with questions. I am teaching the following classes:

#432  Wholecloth Painting – Botanicals, on Thursday, Nov. 3
#521  Start with a Photo, on Friday, Nov. 4
#715  Thread Sketching – Dragonfly Wallhanging, on Saturday, Nov. 5

You can take a look at all the classes and sign up here. I’d love to see you in my classes!

Vacation photos

My husband and children enjoy an early morning swim in a calm sea.
Vacation! That’s why you haven’t seen a post from me lately! Last week, I was on Bald Head Island, near the southern end of the string of North Carolina’s spectacular barrier islands. As it is at the tip of Cape Fear, and very close to South Carolina, Bald Head Island has much more tropical foliage than most of the North Carolina beaches.

The Bald Head Island lighthouse is on the National Register of Historic Places.
Bald Head Island Conservancy is responsible for much of the conservation work that has kept the island so pristine. It also helps educate visitors and residents about the unique ecosystems on the island, including the maritime forest and marsh. Their sea turtle protection program is one of the best in the country. As of today, they have 57 Loggerhead sea turtle nests and one Green sea turtle nest (more rare for Bald Head) on the island. The Green sea turtle laid her eggs right in front of the house we were renting on the first night we were there! (It happened about 2 a.m., so we missed it, of course.) 

I have never been lucky enough to witness a mother turtle laying eggs, or the eggs hatching, but I hope I will have this opportunity at some point in my life.

Since my new book, Point, Click, Quilt!, is about learning to take better photos that you can use in your fiber art, I thought it apropos to share a little vacation photo viewing with you, along with my thoughts about taking photos.

Vacation is a great time to take photographs, and not just the ones of your kids standing in front of landmarks or making funny faces. Take time to document your surroundings, and to explore them. Taking photos in a deliberate, artful way forces you to really see what is there.

People often e-mail me to ask what camera I use. I always start off by telling them that it doesn't really matter. Good photography is much more about the photographer’s eye – and knowledge of design and composition — than it is about the camera. A fabulous, expensive camera with lots of features is a waste if you don’t pay attention to those things, and if you don’t do what I call “learning to see.”

People also ask me what sewing machine I use, and I give them basically the same spiel. It’s not the tool, it’s the operator. (Although I do love my Bernina, and I know that some features, whether on a camera or a sewing machine, do make it possible to do things you couldn’t do otherwise.)

I took a very simple, fairly inexpensive digital camera with me on vacation. It is a Canon PowerShot A590IS (8 megapixels, 4x optical zoom) that I have had for several years. I have a fancier Canon, but I took this one because it was smaller and lighter and cheaper.

I love the texture in this piece of wood, which has been battered and worn down by years of rain and sunshine. And the detailed pattern in the weeds in the lower left corner.

What lovely soft texture and color in the plants; a great way to set off the lines of the driftwood. It is interesting to see how most of my vacation photos fall into the same palette of blue, green and tan.

The berries on this juniper are pale blue-white, and very smooth, which is a nice contrast with the texture and color of the juniper leaves.

Southport is a charming sea town; the ferry to Bald Head leaves from here. It was decked out for the Fourth Of July weekend, with a flag flying from nearly every porch.

The juxtaposition of the sailboat and the lighthouse (nicknamed Old Baldy) give this shot interest.

I’m a sucker for rust, and places near the ocean have it in abundance. This is a shot of a metal covering for a sewer or water line that had originally been painted a pale blue. Interesting lines and texture as well as color. Make sure that you take some detail (or close-up) shots as well as long shots and medium shots.

The silhouette of this palm tree shows off its interesting branching structures. 

Don’t be afraid to get down on your belly and shoot; lots of the really cool stuff is small and you’ll miss it if you don’t get down on the same level. Use the macro feature on your camera to capture small details. Nearly all digital cameras – whatever their pricepoint — have this feature. The button usually has an icon of a tulip on it. Make sure you don’t zoom in at all when using the macro feature, or you’ll be out of focus.

The contrast in shape and texture between the prickly pear cactus and the yucca are what interested me here.

I placed the bloom off center – rather than smack dab in the middle of the frame — to make this composition stronger. I used the macro feature for this shot. It has the added bonus of changing what is called “depth of field;” note how the background is hazy, while the bloom is in focus. This, plus the beautiful red color, helps pull your attention to it.

 The color is dull, but texture and pattern take center stage here. 

Don’t forget to look up! I got this photo by standing very close to the trunk, and shooting straight up. This accentuated the pattern in the palm tree’s trunk and foliage.

Colors of the sea are echoed in this collection of glass bottles arranged on a windowsill. 

I bent down the fronds of this plant to get a better shot of this fascinating structure at its core.

The color variations in the leaves, and the pattern created by the individual green blades against the main vein interested me here. 

The vivid chartreuse and lapis are part of what makes this photo a winner. Strong lines and textures are supporting players.

You can almost feel the heat while looking at this sunset shot. 

Lights hung in this live oak tree by the Maritime Market illuminate the Spannish moss, and cast a lovely glow. There is wonderful texture in this shot.

This shot of the marina at Bald Head Island is stronger because of the diagonal line  between the sea and the boats in the lower half of the photo.

The ruffled edge of this plant’s leaves creates a pleasing pattern.

The tiny air holes in the sand provide and interesting backdrop for this coquina shell, which is purposefully set off-center in the frame.

What I like in this shot is the way the distinct, strong green mass of shrubbery sets off the houses, which appear hazier and less distinct, almost dreamlike. 

Repetition of shapes — the cottages of Captain Charlie’s — pull the eye along from left to right, as does the road.

The color and line in this shot nearly makes me swoon.

The subtle diagonal line where the sea meets the sand pulls the eye from the cannonball jellyfish in the foreground, through the scattered shells on the sand. 

Soft colors and strong texture in sea oats.

The vibrant blue color of the bicycle set it off from the more natural color of the brink wall and the ground. The difference in the mortar in the bricks at the top and the bottom interested me. And there’s something about this photo that makes you want to jump on that bike and take off!

This was the coolest fuzzy grass. The vertical lines in the grass stalks, combined with the horizontal lines in the shutters, is nice.

This juxtapositionof different colors, textures and patterns makes this photo work. 

And of course, I do occasionally take photos of people! This is me with my husband, Rob. I took it by holding the camera at arms’ length aiming it in the general direction of our heads. 

I’d love to know which of these photos you like best, and why. Which ones would you like to see me make into a piece of fiber art? Leave me a comment!