Sunday, June 24, 2012

Exciting New Class by Red-Dog Enterprises

Saturday I had the pleasure of taking a new digital class that Julie Brandon is teaching through her company, Red-Dog Enterprises. The class entitled Digital Meets Fiber was held at the White Birch Cove Retreat.
Images appearing from printer

I have owned Adobe Photoshop for years and used it for very specific purposes. I have always wanted the opportunity to explore its use in art quilts and this class offered just the opportunity. In the short span of a few hours, I was able to create a collage design, work with it in Photoshop, and have it printed out on cotton fabric.

Julie was a dream of an instructor. She set up exercises to get our creative juices flowing and then coached us through the design aspect of the class on computer. I was quite impressed with her time management and directional skills. I have been in many classes where students fall behind as the class progresses and the goals for the class are not achieved. Not this class.
Julie explaining the intricacies of design work on the computer

I left at the end of the day with an exciting image on cloth to play with on my machine, as well as three other collages scanned into my computer for future projects.

Julie showing my first digitally designed full cloth image while Sophie looks on

The class is offered again in August if you are interested. Both Julie and Val Schultz are offering a selection of classes at White Birch Cove this summer. You can check out future class offerings on the Red Dog site. And, I understand that White Birch is also available for private retreats and other events. It would be a beautiful location to spend a weekend!

White Birch Cove Retreat

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

The House Quilt Project

I learned of a truly worthy art quilt program last week - the House Quilt Project. I have vowed to create one myself but didn't want to hold up on letting others know about the project by waiting till I had created my own quilt.

The project was started by Jamie Fingal, a California art quilter. In Jamie's words:
I work with individual quilters to coordinate the making of patriotic house quilts for the walls of rooms for individuals in the Wounded Warrior Battalion and Habitat for Humanity .
The House Quilt Project was established in June of 2010, to assist Furnishing Hope, a group that works with designers to create interior rooms and entire houses to help those in need. So far in 2012, Jamie has collected 9 quilts that will hang in homes for the Wounded Warrior Battalion worked on by Furnishing Hope.

Sample House Quilt
The requirements to contribute are simple.  Create a 16"x20" quilt with a house and a patriotic flag. You can find more details on the House Quilt Project website.

Hope that you will considering contributing a piece!

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

The Quilt that Keeps Giving

Last year I wrote about the quilt, A Rose is a Rose. A member of my local quilt guild, Christine Wickert, handquilted this beautiful piece and donated it to a local hospice, Isaiah House, where her sister was a resident.

The quilt was eventually auctioned off and the winner has now donated the quilt back to Isaiah House for a second auction in memory of Christine's sister.

It is a beautiful quilt. Chris does impeccable handwork. If you would like a chance to own it and donate funds to a very worthy cause, you can find information here.

Much thanks!

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Intuitive Play

Years ago I took a personality test called Myers-Briggs which confirmed that I am a highly intuitive person. These days as I refine a process that I have for creating art quilts, I fully appreciate and trust the value of this intuition.

In the process that I am refining, construction begins with a blank piece of muslin tacked up on my design wall. Maggie McNabb writes in her book, Design by Nature: Using Universal Forms and Principles in Design (Voices That Matter), that emptiness gives you a point from which to start from. As I begin to fill in my muslin, I use a 'map' that I create by abstracting from a photo that I have been attracted to.

Portion of map from Illuminated Albizia

I begin to fill in parts of the muslin with fabric, following the rough guidelines of my maps.

Early stage of Illuminated Albizia

 While intuitive play is somewhat constrained at this point by my map, I always grant myself the option to not follow my map. Contrary to some other approaches that use a guide from a photograph as a strict diagram for their art quilt, my map marks a general direction to my goal.

 Once the muslin is filled with fabric, the stitching part of my process begins. This is where intuition  plays a major role. It is in the thread painting and quilting that my art work really comes to life.

Winter Morn prior to quilting
As I quilt each portion of a project, I allow my intuition to guide me. I actually create a 'sample sandwich' with pieces of fabric from the art work that I test various quilting ideas upon. This give me a general idea of how the quilting of a particular area like the mountains or a tree might look.
Sample of quilting effects

As I actually quilt my piece though, I really allow the fabric to 'speak' and guide me. This is often the most exciting part of my process. In Winter Morn, for example, I had a general idea of how to approach quilting the river. I started according to plan but soon was listening to the fabric and trusting my intuition. Quite honestly, when I completed the section, I wasn't 100% certain of what I had done. It wasn't until I viewed my piece from a distance that I realized my intuition had transformed the river from a quiet stream into a more interesting element - a dynamic flow rounding a bend.
I have taken a number of design classes with Dena Crain. An observation that shows up repeatedly in classes is the recognition that there is a point where you, the artist, surrender to the piece you are creating. If you allow that to happen, the piece will show you what needs to happen next. This is where intuition rules the day. When this occurs in the creative process, it reminds me of those perfect moments on the mat in my art of aikido where you totally blend with your partner and joy results.

In reality, it is this blending or dance that happens in all those moments in life where we are happiest and most fulfilled. The founder of aikido, Morihei Ueshiba, expressed it best:

To be one with the universe.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

A Moment to Remember - Queen's Jublilee

This morning while I was quilting away, I put on CNN and witnessed the most amazing sight. The Brits were celebrating the Diamond Jubilee of Queen Elizabeth II.  This was the day for the Thames Royal Pageant  with over 20, 000 people in over 1000 boats. Those figures alone are fairly amazing. But, here is the thing - it was cold and pouring rain. It didn't matter.

The Royal family, stood in an open air reviewing stand for the entire 90 minutes of the spectacle (when they weren't on a barge themselves, waving to well wishers). A million people came out to watch the event, despite the weather.

At the end, the London Philharmonic orchestra and choral group sailed up the Thames and sang to the Queen. The singers were on top of their barge and drenched through and through. The orchestra was pretty wet too. But, it didn't matter. The crowds cheered and the band played on. It was a most amazing demonstration of respect for a woman who had served them for 50 years and of the determination of a people to carry on despite a little weather.

I am reminded of a favorite quote of mine from naturalist, Stuart Mace, whom I had the pleasure to study with many years ago. 'No one ever melted from the rain."

Here is a clip from CNN of the final moments of the pageant and singing of a very wet national anthem. Would we all show such determination in carrying on despite unexpected turns of event!