Friday, July 31, 2009

A little work, a little play

I finished my row for the row robin challenge today. As I've noted before, there's something comforting and secure in working traditionally, if for no other reason than a session at it usually results in quantifiable results. The sense of really accomplishing something (as opposed to staring and pondering and auditioning and rearranging) gave me such a lift.

Since I can't show it to you, I instead am sharing a graphic produced by Wordie which produces "word clouds" based on supplied text (in this case, a post from my blog on how I see). Words used more frequently get greater prominence. It's great fun as it allows you to do a little tweaking afterwords of background color, font & orientation.

It's about time for the ArtWalk II reception so I'd better get ready. I wisely dealt with the inevitable wardrobe crisis yesterday,
which was like my own version of What Not To Wear's 360 degree mirror room. I just need to change into the outfit I decided on at the end of many surprising rejections.

One thought before I go. I am always surprised by how differently I perceive my work when I see it hanging outside the work room. I know that I've been purposely working small for quite awhile - citing logistics and physical limitations as part of the reason. Everything in this exhibit is under 30 inches, most under 17. Lined up on the long walls, they look much smaller that they do here at home. Not that it is a bad thing, just making an observation. All are very suitable for the average home. However, I found myself thinking that I want to break out, now that I see how small they really are, and work more expansively. I think part of that feeling comes from a confidence I did not have until recently. The designs rattling around in my head are definitely expanding, requesting that I please not confine them to 12 x 12 or 14 x 14 inches. We'll see how well I listen.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Another Row Robin

I worked today on my next row robin challenge assignment, sewing strip sets & triangle units for blocks. This one belongs to a friend who follows my blog faithfully and would rather not know what's happening to her quilt. So rather than have her quit reading, I won't be showing you my addition until the top is back in her hands.

I don't think I'm giving much away in sharing that I'm using some of her border fabric and seed packet panels. Her theme is "Sewing the Seeds of Friendship," and I am very impressed with what people have added so far - not at all what one might think that theme would suggest. It is going to be a lovely quilt.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

ArtWalk II Exhibit Up

Done & dusted, as they say - my art quilts are hung at Panhandle State Bank and they look terrific. My area does not have a special hanging system and they would not allow any nail holes, so a variety of these nifty 3m Command adhesive hooks did the trick.

This is the water feature that is the centerpiece of the building's 3 story atrium. On the right is a community room for banquets and meetings and a small cafe called Tango. They will be catering our reception. On the left is the entry from the parking lot, and I'm tucked in the back corner. A great spot.

I consider my Azalea 2 Garden Path the centerpiece of this collection so placed it such that anyone walking in the door would immediately see it as they looked to their left. This is also the way to the elevator.

That post between the wall and water feature is a bit of an annoyance - but someone passing by can still see there's something on that back wall.

This back wall is about 11 ft long and holds these four pieces nicely. The light from the sconce really accentuates the quilting on the blue piece, Flow. It looked so good hanging there that it took me a bit to remember all its shortcomings that I felt it had when I finished it over a year ago. I guess quilts really do age in the closet - it looks just fine to me now. Maybe it helped that a passerby stopped to admire it, a man who exuded about how it looked like lily pads in water, no - like a Japanese garden. I loved what he saw in it and had to share that in fact, it was my interpretation of telephone rotary dials drifting off into space! Another man commented that Jungle looked almost iridescent, like it was an oil slick. And that was with no use of iridescent threads! This is one of the things I love about exhibiting - discovering what others see in your work. There's definitely no wrong answers here.

Here's where the display turns the corner onto the longer 20 ft wall. I'm pleased with the gradual color shifts from piece to piece so that the more purple ones don't clash distractingly with the more vibrant oranges of the Azalea Mosaics. Nearly everyone who stopped to look today commented on the wonderful bright colors, so I guess that was a good direction to go. The fact that there were offshoots to the main piece was not immediately obvious which I was glad for. As Picasso said, " copy oneself is pathetic." People were not thinking, Oh, there's another one.

Here's the rest of that wall as it nears the entry from the parking lot, 13 pieces in all, the majority completed in the last 14 months. I'm pleased with myself

This shot is taken from the back wall looking across the atrium to the other levels where art will be displayed.

The 2nd level is photography -- part of their permanent collection I believe. My apologies that I don't have the artist's name. Above are Acrylics by Brett Rennison.

These oils by Suzanne Jewell are tucked into this corner on the second level.

These painting are waiting to be hung. Some walls on the upper level have a special hanging system that prevents having to use hangers nailed into the wall.

If you click on the picture, you may be able to see the wires dropping down from the metal track at the top of the wall. I think the watercolors above belong to Barbara Janusz..

And more watercolors to be hung, this time on the 3rd level. I just love these sailboats by Karen Robinson. See more (with much truer colors) here.

As a reminder, the opening reception is this Friday, July 31 from 5:30 to 8:00 p.m. at Panhandle State Bank in Sandpoint, Idaho. The exhibit runs through September 13, 2009.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Family Treasure

When I visited Maryhill Art Museum last month, I was excited to study their expansive native American exhibit. I have questions about some Oglala Sioux hand-made items belonging to my family. I found partial answers starting with the Plains Indian moccasin display above. The card notes that some have been found with beading on the sole, and were assumed to be funeral moccasins...except some showed wear on those soles. Well, maybe the spirits of the dead needed to walk around a bit before wafting off into the ether.

Here's my collection, and as you can see, I too have moccasins beaded on the bottom. (click on this or any picture for a larger view.) No funeral moccasins these - they were made for my mother who was born on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota. My grandparents, Anna and Waine Whitlock, successfully applied to the Office of Indian Affairs for appointment to the Indian School there - he as teacher ($720 per annum) with "wife as housekeeper" (at $300 per annum). The documents of the provisional appointment are dated September & October of 1909 and my mother was born in January of 1911. Also in the picture you can see a rattle, a long braided bead necklace and women's leather gauntlets.

The family story handed down is that the Sioux loved my grandparents and were particularly excited when Anna became pregnant. They doted on both of them, making the moccasins and toys for my mother, beaded items for my grandmother. This is Anna modeling an authentic Oglala Sioux outfit, allegedly one made just for her. The dress has long since disappeared, making me wonder if the story got skewed along the way. I can't imagine a treasure like this getting lost when these other items survived. I also wonder about the part of the family story concerning the Indians' feelings for my grandparents. So many horror stories have surfaced about how the Indians were treated on these reservations and how the children were forced in essence to become white children. I'd like to think my grandparents were exceptions to those truths and were more sensitive to their plight. If nothing else, I know my grandfather worked to make a written record of some of the native words and I have his pictures of some of the Indian families in their native garb.

I've not really studied these items in depth, but this time out I began noticing the details in construction. On the underside of the rattle you can see the diagonal opening for stuffing which is then expertly sewn shut. No idea what's in there but it is nice and firm. By modern standards, this rattle is anything but child safe! The metal tubes dangle by a few threads and once held red feathers. It's a wonder that the beads are still intact.

The larger of the two pair of moccasins has this beautiful beading top and bottom making them surprisingly heavy. The designs on each shoe matches perfectly. The pattern isn't like any in the Maryhill display but I can see a general similarity.

The "cuff" is stitched on separately with this once indigo cotton twill tape as support. It also helps support the leather lace for snugging up the moccasin.

The smaller pair of moccasins has a strip of green felt at the join of the cuff and no beading on the soles. The beading pattern is simpler.

The design is an identical mirror image from one shoe to the other, except one toe has blue beads while the other has green. As a quilter, I've got to wonder if the maker ran out of one color or the other, or is this just a sign of a renegade creative spirit?

As for the gauntlets, I've always suspected they were trade goods that the Indians then decorated with beading. They have cotton lining and that's definitely machine decorative stitching along the cuff. I found mention of this in the exhibit to confirm that during the time these were made, the Indians were indeed getting "blanks" as it were to decorate and sell. I love that diamond beading pattern.

Oddly enough, I haven't run across any pictures of my mother as a baby on the reservation, with or without the moccasins. Ditto for Grandma wearing the gauntlets or bead necklace. I did find this circa 1910 picture showing how she got around on the reservation .

And this is Day School # 3 where Grandpa taught. My understanding is that he took and developed his own pictures, including this one. Many were made into postcards and sent to relatives. Apparently, teaching didn't settled well with Grandpa (Mom remembered being told that he became depressed and nervous from it) and by 1913 he moved his family from the reservation to a Homestead claim near Bellefourche, South Dakota.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Ready to go...

The framed quilts are wired, labeled, wrapped and ready for transport...

The free-hanging quilts are steamed, de-linted and tagged per instructions (I use a Quiltac gun to attached business cards to sleeves)...

And my artist statement has gone through a major overhaul. Edited to perfection? No, never that, but it speaks more to this set of art quilts than last year's statement would:

Some artists start with a blank canvas. I prefer starting with something there, with cloth dyed and patterned commercially or by my own hand. Sometimes I see images in it, teasing them out with stitch for others to see. Sometimes a random juxtaposition of fabrics, a matching of colors to those outside my door or a bold print triggers an idea. I especially enjoy the unplanned creations that emerge from the leftovers of the planned ones. Then where some artists might stop, I continue, with highlights and texture rendered with quilting stitches, beading and decorative threads. Underlying each step is the excitement of discovery as ideas emerge from my materials and surroundings, finding expression within the basic framework of the quilt.

The influence of what I see daily in nature runs deep. It creeps in subtlety through the colors I use, more boldly in images of trees, leaves, lakes and mountains, and sometimes only as expression of line, shape, contrast and texture. Yet, I cannot escape my traditional quilting roots. The geometric patterns and rich dark colors in the antique quilts I love are also reflected in my textile art.

In 2006, I returned to my native northern Idaho after a lengthy stint in the Midwest - I so missed the rugged mountains and sparkling waters. With this backdrop a constant inspiration, I see no end to my exploration of organic designs and the simple geometric forms that bring me such pleasure.

* * * * *
And with that, I am ready for ArtWalk II. My coordinator pushed the hanging date from Tuesday to Wednesday. So with no other prep to do but load the car, I am sensing freedom at last and tomorrow to be a day when I can do anything I want without guilt!

As a reminder, the opening reception is this Friday, July 31 from 5:30 to 8:00 p.m. at Panhandle State Bank in Sandpoint, Idaho. The exhibit runs through September 13, 2009.

Sunday, July 26, 2009


"To copy others is necessary, but to copy oneself is pathetic."
Pablo Picasso
Check out Margaret Ramsey's excellent post Replicating Paintings which deals with the sticky issue of how we use what we learn from other artists.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Mocking Up An Exhibit

Last year, I only had 6 pieces for my ArtWalk exhibit and a wall that could have held three times that much. So I didn't worry in advance about how I would arrange them; I could easily do that on the spot. This year I have 13 pieces so wanted to have a plan before arriving to hang them. I planned to work on a mock-up using graph paper, cutting out to scale each quilt and playing with the arrangement on my to-scale paper wall. The problem with this is I wouldn't have the colors of the quilts represented, and I wasn't crazy about envisioning it all in my head, or lining up the actual pieces here in the house.

Since I have pictures on the computer of all these quilts, I hit upon the idea of printing scale color versions to cut apart and arrange on my paper wall. The graph paper has 10 squares to the inch, so in my Corel Paint Shop Pro print layout, I set up a background grid to match. That way I could easily size each picture to the same scale. I felt pretty brilliant at that point.

After printing this out, I had another brilliant thought. If I changed the orientation of the layout, I could pretend THAT was my wall (actually, the page represents three lengths of wall), and play with the order right there. Even better! I can see I have plenty of room and I think this arrangement will work, depending on where some of these fall in relation to some wall sconces (forgot to measure where they were on the wall).

An Afternoon at the Beach...

...Or at least a couple of hours. I live equal distance from two city parks on the water. I adore the one in Sandpoint, as do most of the population it seems. I'd not been to the other one in Dover, so headed there today. I figured if nothing else, it wouldn't be too crowded since Dover is such a tiny community. I was correct about that; however, to call the part of the small park next to the water a beach is a stretch at best. And the water is more river than lake at this spot. Still, it was a lovely day and I found a shady spot to spread my blanket, eat my lunch and sketch.

I think it was the camp chair with it's many legs that intrigued me enough to sketch the girl totally engrossed in her reading. I soon reverted to drawing the negative shapes as I'd learned in my class to get the angles right. I was amused at her big floppy straw hat, something I'd expect a much older woman to be wearing ( or maybe I'm not in step with current fashion). It was difficult to capture because there was a breeze, so the brim kept changing shape. The girl kept changing position too, but would soon return to the position I was sketching or close enough.. I knew I'd incorporate that tree on the left once the girl was sketched, but hadn't planned adding any of the rest of the background. Once I'd loosely interpreted the pine tree, I guess I was on a roll and used a similar loose technique to add the shoreline, tall grass, bushes and trees. I'd say the drawing class has helped a lot. This sketch is a huge improvement over the ones below I was making back in 2006 when I was out here house hunting. Those sketches were so light I had to fiddle with the scan so you could even see them. Not so with today's drawing.

When I returned to the parking lot, I noticed the osprey on its high high human-provided perch.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Olly olly oxen free

Ok, Sharpie pen, you can come out now. I bought a replacement pen today for the one I can't find, so I anticipate the lost one to show up any day now. I justified buying this because it is an extra fine point, unlike the other one which is merely a fine point. I always took exception to that rating - it never seemed very fine to me. Now, provided I find it again, I will have two widths to choose from. Not having a problem curbing my excitement here.

I've let this Picasso drawing suck up more time this week than I should have allowed. Against my better judgment, I put the finishing touches on it this afternoon - it was something I could do outside, and oh, how I wanted to stay outside a bit longer. I'm learning that drawing is not unlike quilting - it's difficult to stop adding this and that and to just call it done. But I must. There are more subjects I want to practice on.

So what was the value of spending so much time on this? Well, value was the value, as in really studying the subtle and not so subtle changes in value in this painting and duplicating it in tones of grey. Yes, I could have scanned the painting, changed it to greyscale and studied it that way, but there's something in the doing of it, the slow process of duplication that gets the message through differently and perhaps better. At least, I am finding it is causing me to make the connection between theory and practice. Every time I looked at this picture, I saw something new - even today as I was saying, there - I'm done. I'm also getting a feel for how to use the different pencils, erasers and that cardboard tube thing that I can't remember the name of. I feel a little less in the dark.

I did finally do some work towards my exhibit preparations, stumbling upon a way to let the computer do some of the work more quickly. I'll be sharing that tomorrow.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Readying for ArtWalk II

The opening reception for Sandpoint's ArtWalk II is fast approaching. My work will be at Panhandle State Bank at 414 Church Street. If you are in the area, please stop by Friday July 31 from 5:30 - 8:00 pm for food & drink and lots of art. There are 6 artists at this location representing art quilts, watercolors, oils and acrylics! There are 22 other locations throughout downtown so plenty to see, and the exhibits stay up through September 13th.

This is a fabulous building which opened only a year or so ago. It incorporates a lot of "green" technology in its climate control systems - a very efficient building. I applaud Panhandle State Bank for their foresight in its conception:

"The Sandpoint Financial and Technical Center, designed by local architect, Gordon Longwell of GD Longwell, PLLC showcases the North Idaho architectural style of brick, natural stone, wood and log accents. Encompassing 90,000 square feet and three stories, the Sandpoint Financial and Technical Center has been designed to visually reflect the natural beauty of North Idaho and bring the scenic outdoors in -- featuring a 5,000 square foot atrium with skylights and live pine trees, a cascading water feature, period street lights patterned after those that currently exist in downtown Sandpoint, and artwork from area artisans. Natural pathways will lead visitors and customers to the bank and to a community learning center, a deli/restaurant, a full-service copy facility and to the entrances of additional financial, technical and professional businesses. The large community center with state-of-the-art video communications technology and additional training center and conference rooms, as well as the natural atrium, will be available for community non-profit organizations, bank customers and building tenants."

You may remember that my location last year provided excellent public exposure, but too much strong light exposure. Several pieces showed fading after 6 weeks, so I requested an assignment this year to a less light intensive venue. The organizers heeded my plea and I am very pleased with my spot tucked in under an overhang on the main floor of the atrium.

We hang the show next Tuesday, and although all my quilts for it are done, I still have details to attend to. Some of the frames need wire attached and all the framed pieces need labels generated and glued to the back. Today I worked on pricing the new work, always an unsettling process in spite of the formula I've devised. Where is that line between giving your work away and asking more than the current soft market can bear? Once I'm comfortable with my figures, an inventory list will be compiled and printed and signage prepared. But first, I'll play with a mock-up to see just how many pieces I can fit in my wall space. I'm hoping there's room for a few older pieces that haven't been exhibited with this group yet, but if not, I'm pleased with my core group of 8 from the last 7 or 8 months. I've already taken pictures and printed them out for my documentation files. But my artist bio could use some work. At least I don't have to box all this up and ship it.

So I guess I'll be focusing mostly on "paperwork" this week, at least until I'm sure all these details are finalized. Pretty hard with the nice weather outside...ah, the price of fame! ;-)

Friday, July 17, 2009


I was SO in the mood to start something new today. Well, not exactly new, but different form the azalea series I've just wrapped up. It's back to more rooting around on the work table for languishing projects and more bits to use up (and maybe the lost sharpie pen) . There are still triangles left over from the "Jockeying" idea (here & here), so I started there. I thought a part of this paint wipe cloth might work for a background.

While searching for the remaining triangles, I unearthed this Paintstik rubbing which I had been less than thrilled with. Mmm, maybe some triangles would help it along. I'd been thinking about adding yellow in the background, with paint or thread, but this really gives it a lift. I can see using a heavy yellow thread to quilt rays out from the center along the angles of those triangles.

But back to the wipe cloth. This little section should work for a postcard. Just playing with colors and a new thought on positioning the triangles.

Here's another new thought on arrangement. Not crazy about the purple on this fabric though.

This is a better background for the purple, and the teal green adds needed interest. The background fabric is one from an experiment with acrylic paint.

Different triangles, different sections of the wipe cloth. Not crazy about either.

Ah, but this I think has real potential. The background fabric is a sun print with ferns. I don't think the picture shows just how well these two browns look against the ocean-like blue-green. A wonderful contrast that I'm pretty excited about.

The pictures are mostly for reference. I plan to apply Wonder Under fusible web to the back of the triangles and wanted to be able to recreate any great compositions or combinations I stumbled on today. I found plenty to work with, plenty to keep me busy for awhile - all waiting for me on the work table. And no, the elusive Sharpie pen did not magically reappear.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

A bit of drawing

The last part of Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain emphasized drawing lots of portraits, both from live models and by copying those of the masters. I've been itching to do the latter, knowing I need to practice practice practice. I've been reading about Pablo Picasso where I ran across "The Absinthe Drinker" from his Blue Period, a painting I found very compelling and wanted to try copying. I started late last night, setting up my grid in my sketchbook and taping the transparency grid over the picture in the book. I'm sure there were more important things I should have been doing today, but I found myself picking this up again - just for a few moments, I told myself. I got so thoroughly engrossed in the process that several hours passed before I knew it.

Logic would dictate that copying a painting at the same size as the original would be easier than smaller or larger. To my puzzlement, it is not. The nose in particular gave me fits, and it still needs some work I think. I've lightly penciled around areas where the dark values shade lighter. I foresee this next step of subtle shading to be quite challenging - I'm still learning how the different hardnesses of pencils react and how to smudge and lightly erase. And I can't use the crutch of changing colors to shade like I might with fabric.

Already I'm seeing the value of this copying practice. In the process, one really looks at the details, sees subtle shapes and connections that a general viewing misses. It is also said that one can get a bit into the head of the artist doing this, understand the style better, and I'm experiencing that too. The eye in particular has been a revelation.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009


Somewhere in this house is a Sharpie pen. Not just any Sharpie pen. The ONLY Sharpie Pen I have and use almost exclusively in my studio. But I haven't seen it since I got back from my trip. Can't figure out where it is. Can't remember when I used it last.

Have done the pat down and the peak under of the stacks here and there. Have spent more time looking for it than it would take to go buy a new one. But I'm stubborn. It MUST be here SOMEWHERE and I will EVENTUALLY run across it. I'll return it to that little basket with the scissors and the pencils and the other pens.

Of course, this would happen sooner if I just cleared the mess off the various suspect places it might be. I'm trying not to let it possess me, this frustration of not being able to put my hands on something that is ALWAYS in the same few places, but isn't now. Silly. Frustrating. I feel a cleaning binge coming on...then I can either feel triumphant when I find it or totally perplexed when I don't. If I just bought a replacement, it would appear right away and I wouldn't have to straighten up my mess...It's a thought.