Sunday, April 11, 2021

A change of subject.....

A friend asked me yesterday why she wasn't getting into local art shows when her paintings were actually much better than several that had been accepted. I went down to the show...and realised that the juror just didn't like traditional landscapes...everything she had chosen was about rawness, ugliness and distortion. Protest was another major theme. In fact she even expressed surprise in her remarks in the catalogue that landscapes were still being painted!!!

So I advised my friend that if she wanted to get in, she would need to change her subject matter. BUT, I felt strongly...that one should always make work (in whatever medium you use) about what is in your heart, what makes YOU glow or shimmer or weep or jump for joy.

And then I started thinking about my own work. when I first made art quilts, I was still a fairly new immigrant to the USA and still visiting my home town (York, UK) regularly and again walking and dreaming in the old Roman city with its medieval houses. It wasn't surprising that that became the subject of my quilts.

But ...this is not what is in my heart now.....now I live in a beautiful green oasis, a large garden, two lovely and intriguing parks close by, a university that prides itself on its landscaping....every window looks out onto amazing beautiful natural patterns of tree branches and leaves and sky. And it is so inspiring and uplifting... So....my art forthcoming will be about the trees, I want to make a quilt and several paintings of the photo at the head of this blog...and for the first time in ages...I can't wait to begin!!!

Follow your heart, said Joseph Campbell, many years ago....and he was right. Jurors who prefer the ugly - bedamned!!!

If you have been, thanks for reading! and do please comment! Oh yes! I will respond! and now my desires lead me to a nice cuppa tea....Elizabeth

Sunday, February 28, 2021

Lockdown diary and dubious "accomplishments" plus a project!

I keep reading about all the amazing things people are accomplishing during this time of isolation - like teaching your children to tap dance! Well I don't have the oomph for that! or the child who wants to learn...but I have got quite a few things done.

Decided to try to learn spanish ....again!!! it is much easier than English...but I can't get out of the habit of pronouncing words the french way - sort of high in the back of the palate!

exercise! what to do ? As a swimmer I was a bit stuck with the pool closed, hard to swim on dry land after all! but I did discover a couple of parks very close and duly masked have perambulated through mud and leaves in the hope of achieving "fitness"!!! (not yet! but still hoping!). In the park I saw people trying to play tennis on small courts with little paddles and whiffle balls! Turns out it's a new sport called pickling!!! So I'm trying to pickle!! Not very good at it and my first teacher gave up on me cos I wouldn't take it seriously and kept laughing...!!! I mean PICKLE! of course you should laugh!

Getting into "death cleaning" as the Scandinavians call it - i.e. clearing out all the clutter, those bulging cupboards of stuff that "might come in" some day!! has lead to several projects - 2 summer bed quilts made from scraps of Liberty fabric I brought to the USA with me when I emigrated years and years ago...a big pink scrap art "window" quilt for a friend which nicely used up all the pink fabric I have never ever wanted to use in any quilt!! It's funny how there's one color you avoid! I am just not a pink person!! I also sorted out all my knitting yarn and now have it divided into neat piles with a specific pattern or idea and the right size needles...I only allow myself 4 rows a night of knitting (arthritis) but it's surprising how quickly you can make something with just that little amount. I often use 3 strands together and that works up very quickly. it's also a great way to make something unified that could be very bitty.You take one yarn that you have a lot of ...which is usually a boring dreary color that was on sale! and then you add in all the fun stuff...the boring yarn holds it all together visually and the bits of fun..give it pzazz!

So then my death cleaning got into my class notes and power points...I've taught a lot of classes over the years....and working with them, I updated a couple of my www.academyofquilting.com classes.... the Art Quilt from Start to Finish, formerly Inspired to Design, and Abstract Art for Quiltmakers.

I usually work from a rough sketch (like below), sometimes from a watercolor, but the most fun - and useful I think - is from a collage.

Working from a collage is a lot of fun....you can use plain paper in just 3 values...or.... Cut out images, or parts of them, from magazines - NOT quilting magazines! - just from the adverts in an ordinary news magazine....and try to make little compositions with them...fitting them together onto card and glueing them down...or you can use those sticky sheets you get in photo albums - if anyone still has them! I like to take apart old christmas and greeting cards and just keep the blank bits...or glue the cuttings over the existing images... make a few of these...and you'll begin to be able to get a sense of what makes a good composition. then take the best one...and make a quilt based on them!!! Send the others off for birthdays etc! have fun...and let me know how this worked for you...it definitely shifts you into working another way and thinking along different lines...which I love. And, if you have been, thanks for reading! Elizabeth ps. please comment! also look out for my article in the upcoming issue of Quilting Moderne.

Friday, February 12, 2021

Getting started on new work after a hiatus...don't set deadlines on creativity!

d'you find it really hard to start work again after you've been away from the studio for a few weeks? I know I do...I futz around tidying fabric, getting the scissors lined up, picking up pins, replacing thread and so on...but once you start refolding fabric from the bottom of the pile...you know you're stalling!!! Time to get some action going!

In order to be creative you need to be experimenting, playing, having fun, trying out possibilities in between major pieces...this is what leads to discovery. Looking at art - preferably very good art that has stood the test of time...and then thinking...hmm how could I play with that idea? Please don't feel that you have to have something ready for the next show, the next challenge etc. don't set deadlines on creativity. Become a curious person! No!!! not to others...!! but to yourself...being curious about whether you can arrange eleven triangles and one square to indicate comfort....or alienation! Can you look out of the window and "discover" 6 new design ideas? Exercise your curiosity each day...and it will grow stronger, just like muscles!!!

don't switch off your artist mind when you leave the studio or sewing room, be your artist self all the time...seeing the beauty and wonder everywhere...plus possibilities for new quilts or new paintings!!! So many people seem to repeat the same old thing over and over...don't be one of them!!!

pull out your notebooks...is there anything that you didn't follow up on? look at the photos on the phone...should any be sent to your printer for further manipulation? Take the first likely possibility and start playing - whatever your preferred method is...I like to trace or sketch and then layer and collage...just with 3 values of paper. But everyone has their own preferred technique.

think of all the different ways you can manipulate the ideas you find: smaller, larger, different proportions, details, upside down and inside out, values reversed, straight lines curved and curved straight, everything in dots ...or dashes! all lines going all the way to the edge, everything slanted, try out all the filters on your photo imaging program! The quilt on the left? I cut into 6 vertical strips and rearranged them!!! Try that!

pin up the best possibilities on the wall, and consider which could be refined...

Be aware that you are improving and let that encourage you and lead you forward!! it will, honestly!!! and while you're encouraging yourself, consider reaching out and encouraging others too....there's nothing so energizing as having a friend exclaim in delight over something you've made!! "Motivation is in the world around us. We have an infinite amount of material at our disposal, in the lives of those we meet, in what we see, feel and discuss." (Pablo Picasso) and, let me know how you do!!!!

if you have been, thanks for reading!!! Elizabeth

Friday, January 29, 2021

Give yourself a art show!

When it comes to dispaying art quilts at home, it's impossible to get a really good idea of them as you'd need a huge house to put them all up on one wall. I've loved it when I've had a solo show in a gallery somewhere, because that's what it takes to really get a sense of where you are going with your work. But alas, at present, gallery opportunities are not available!

However, it struck me that I could clear a wall in my basement studio and hang my paintings. First I had to mat them - well the mats got hung up with covid! But eventually arrived....so that took several weeks. Then I ordered frames - I have tried a number of different ones, including some surprisingly pleasant looking and inexpensive ones ...but made in plastic and purchased from That Store we ladies do not patronize! Finally I decided if a painting is worth hanging it's worth a decent frame...and you can order the elegant simple Neilson metal ones from several places on line. The paintings now chosen (all from 2020), matted and framed...the next job was to clear all the junk off the wall!

This accomplished, I decided on a salon style of hanging which is a fancy way of saying hang as many as you can in one space!!! And so, you can see the result in the photo! Room for more too....which is great gives me an incentive to get to work.

The best thing is that seeing a body of work at one go you can really get a sense of your direction, your style, your focus, where you might challenge yourself next. I do have one or two "odd" ones in the mix where I tried something else...but I love the impact of a number of works based on one idea. And you can ask yourself when you see a whole show like this: is my work any good? is it strong? Am I moving forward, or just repeating yesterday's ideas? Am I learning? Am I alive?

e.e. cummings: “…It is Art because it is alive. It proves that, if you and I are to create at all, we must create with today and let all the Art schools and Medicis in the universe go hang themselves with yesterday’s rope. It teaches us that we have made a profound error in trying to learn Art, since whatever Art stands for is whatever cannot be learned. Indeed, the Artist is no other than he who unlearns what he has learned, in order to know himself; and the agony of the Artist, far from being the result of the world’s failure to discover and appreciate him, arises from his own personal struggle to discover, to appreciate and finally to express himself…. …“to become an Artist” means nothing: whereas to become alive, or one’s self, means everything. …

What d'you think? Dare you give yourself an art show? I recommend it!

And, if you have been, thanks for reading.... Please comment!!!! I will read AND reply....but now for a nice cuppa tea......Polly! put the kettle on! would you, dear? Elizabeth

PS to see the paintings individually please check the watercolor page on my website.

Thursday, January 7, 2021

Taking Classes....

I've always loved screen printing...it's such magic when you lift the screen up ...very slowly....and see what's happened!!

REcently I came across some images of prints I'd made in my first surface design class which was on screen printing....in those days(35+ years ago) I used textile paint rather than thickened dye, but either works.

You can learn screen printing with dye (thickened) and many other surface design techniques in my www.academyofquilting.com class Dyeing to Design. The class covers simple dyeing, arashi (storm!) shibori, and several types of screen printing including deconstructed. It's really a taste of all the different surface design techniques I know. Taking a class can change your life - it has mine - many times! In the Uk I took screen printing...and judo...and pottery...and watercolour. In the USA I've done a lot more surface design and watercolor, and my very first quilting class...when I came to Georgia in 1984. And what an adventure that lead to!!! Meanwhile I also did lots of different kinds of dancing, and aikido and water aerobics and swimming, and pickleball and French and Spanish and and and....

Learning something new opens up your whole life!

So...if you have been, thank you for reading..! Do comment and tell me what classes have changed your life. oh, and while you're perusing the offerings at the academyofquilting, check out all my other classes including the new one: Simple Secret to good design - easy guidelines for strong designs.

What can we do when we can't socialize? we can learn!!!!

Take care everyone...masks hide a multitude of wrinkles!!!! Elizabeth