Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Finding Your Voice...Or Recovering It

Recently, I read a powerful blog post by Kelly Rae Roberts.  I encourage you to visit her blog and take a moment to read it.  I think it is important.
As artists, we are often pushing ourselves in many directions.  I know I do.  I am primarily a quilt maker, a textile artist who uses my own cloth as well as commercially printed cloth.  I am a mixed media artist who works with all sorts of paint, medium, and ephemera.  I have more than one means of walking on my artistic path.  One medium often informs the other, or so it has been my experience.
That said, we can easily get scattered.  Our time is split between making work, applying to shows or teaching venues, volunteering time and resources to organizations, and more.  And that is just our artistic selves.  What about all the other things that happen in our lives?  After all, none of us live in a vacuum!
Every one of us has unique demands on time and artistic resources and these will vary over the years.
If we have young children at home or aging parents, we know that these are our priorities.  These are periods of time when our art-lives take a back seat and we find ourselves less prolific.  Many of us are doing these things plus juggling the demands of a career outside the studio.  It makes me tired to read all this and I. Have. Done. It.  And guess what?  I wasn't making much art while I was juggling all those plates.  Each of these things was an "era", a portion of my life.  If I had an artistic voice, it was whispering very faintly.

Early in my "former life" as an RN, Elisabeth Kubler-Ross was a pioneer in the field of death and dying.  She humanized and put a face on the experience of loss, death, and challenging life transitions.  In reading Ms. Roberts' blog post I was reacquainted with Ross.  This quote should resonate for many who read this:

The most beautiful people we have known are those who have known defeat, known suffering, known struggle, known loss, and have found their way out of the depths. These persons have an appreciation, a sensitivity, and an understanding of life that fills them with compassion, gentleness, and a deep loving concern. Beautiful people do not just happen.― Elisabeth K├╝bler-Ross

Realize that we are all the sum of our experiences.  We all have great joys and sometimes great sorrow.
It makes us who we are as human beings.  And for all of that we learn a great deal about ourselves and the world.  As artists, we are often conduits:  we use our art as a means of expression.

There are times for many of us that the events of our life overshadow our artistic-selves:  it is a universal truth.  The challenge is to reawaken the muse, to find the balance, to work with intent, to prioritize time for making art.

Friday, April 19, 2013

Modern Guild Retreat

Here are a few shots from last weekend's San Antonio Modern Guild retreat near Smithville, Texas.
The retreat organizers did an amazing job of creating fun activities mixed in between all our hard work creating new things.  Everyone received very generous door prizes from our sponsors.  All-in-all, it was a great, exhausting weekend that was very productive.
I arrived Thursday afternoon.  Several of us came early to get a jumpstart on our work.  My goal was to fix one project, finish two that were underway, and piece yet another.  Ambitious, yes?
Gazing across the large room where we are set up for work.  Each participant has 
a 4x8 foot design wall and one and a half work tables.  Since I brought my Sew Ezi, I had more room!

I worked on this piece, the background for a quilt that I am creating for the MD Anderson ovarian cancer fundraising event.
I am paper-piecing hexi's, which will be part of a design to be appliqued to the surface of the 
MD Anderson piece.

Here is a Kaffe Fassett design, the first pattern I have constructed in decades, under construction.
I have always loved this quilt!  I made several mistakes as I do not follow written instructions very well.
The mistakes are plainly evident, and I like them very much.  Seriously.

It is quite large:  80-something inches by 70-something inches.

We were treated to a surprise champagne and strawberry toast late one evening!
Our toast?  The same as the Dinner At Eight toast, given to us by my dear friend, Rachel Parris.
It goes like this...
Here's to strong women:
May We Know Them
May We Raise Them
May We Be Them!

Next up:  Finish this big quilt top.
I had previously pieced the bright blocks in the upper right.
Now, my task was to embed the other blocks into a large negative space using a
Kaffe Fassett shot cotton color of gray.
Apparently I did not photograph this after finishing the quilt top.  I'll add an image later.

Here is my workspace:  messy!

Monday, April 15, 2013

Life Starts Here...

Today, especially after the horrible events that occurred in Boston, I decided to write about something that I experienced during the summer of 2011.  I returned to Santa Fe, NM, to spend time with 2 dear friends of mine from Kansas.  We don't get to see each other very much now that I have moved to Texas, and we find that planning a trip to a different destination is a great way to stay connected to one another.  
While we were in the area we wandered up to Taos, to Georgia O'Keefe's ranch, and more.  One of the fun things we did was walk across this bridge.

I was so taken with this little scratched-out message located right in the center of the bridge.

Life Starts Here.  

Every morning we wake up and make a decision.  Will we live this day to the fullest or will we spend it in worry or anger?  I know it isn't always that simple.  I know we each have our cares.  But, really, we each make a choice as to how to live our lives.  
I'm heartsick over the events that occurred in Boston today.  I will never understand terrorism and violence.  
But, tomorrow, I will wake up and do the very best I can to stay in the moment, to work with intent, to realize that each day is precious.  
Because, quite frankly, every single day we can say to ourselves, "Life Starts Here".  

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Piecing, Jurying, & even a few Hexi's in the mix....

I apologize for not posting in a while.  I gave myself a few days to rest up after the trip to Arizona.  I didn't mention in the previous posts that I flew to SoCal from Phoenix to spend time with Jamie for a few days before I returned to Texas.  We enjoyed our time together.

We have a construction project underway on our property:  the demolition of the old pool cabana (a useless, if cute, structure), and are progressing toward a covered-porch and outdoor kitchen.  Many setbacks along the way due to some unforeseen issues (hello, septic system located in an entirely different place from the original house plans).  The resolution of this rather large hiccup has lead to even better plans that are now unfolding.  Below is my husband, standing in front of the framing for the poured concrete that will house the wood-burning pizza oven.  He is pretending to shovel a pizza in and out of the oven!

I've been back in the studio with quite a number of plates spinning, or at least wobbling in the air...

I have been revisiting my love of piecing.  I started this right after the holidays. I had a major stressor in my extended family that sent me into the studio for what i would like to call "comfort piecing".  It was perfect therapy, resulting in a lot of pieced things that need some finishing.  I'll show you.

At least 3 different things rolling along on the design wall...

Late last night I pulled the pieced blocks down and started messing with them.
I'm trying to decide what to use as "filler" blocks.  I'm still not certain.
The dog is not certain, either, and she is really bored with me.

eh...I just don't know about any of this.  Black with white print?  White with black print?
Both? None of the above?  I'm not feelin it.

Biz has just about "had it" with me.  Just after this shot she started stealing things off the floor.
This is her trademark maneuver for distracting me away from my work.

Also in the mix:  some hand-basted hexi's!
These, believe it or not, are going to be configured into the shape of an ovary and a fallopian tube.
They will be, theoretically anyway, appliqued onto a background for a quilt that is to be donated to 
All the more poignant since I now know 3 women who are battling this awful disease.

And, I'm jurying an exhibition.  It is a process that takes time.  So between sessions at the computer, I'm piecing, sketching, writing, and thinking.  Oh!, and I'm playing with Bizzi.