Thursday, January 28, 2010

January Bead Journal Project

I mentioned in a prior post that I've joined Robin Atkin's Bead Journal Project for 2010. It's a personal challenge for all participants to create 12 beaded pieces (or "pages") in the course of a year. The only restriction is that each piece is the same shape and size. I'm using a paisley shape, and exploring a different color each month. January's color is white, and I've finally started.

I placed my large bead first. It's a Venetian glass bead I bought many years ago at a gem show in Santa Monica, California. It has some pink swirls that resemble roses, and some gold flakes. Although January's piece is supposed to be white, I actually chose the side that has more pink and gold. Don't know why. In placing the Venetian bead, I just let it go where it wanted. I didn't think about it, I just placed it and sewed it down. I added the seed pearls, then the loop of mother of pearl beads, then the glass beads around the Venetian bead.

I don't know what I'm doing, I'm just doing it. Does that sound strange? It does to me. I'm trying Robin's way of working improvisationally, and it's not easy for me. I'm a "follow the pattern" type of person, although I have altered a pattern occasionally. I love algebra, calculus and geometry. I do like organic and asymmetric shapes, but even when designing my own work, I draw it out, plan it out, know what's going where, and how I'm going to put it there. It's too soon to tell how I feel about improvising. Although I am enjoying it, it's still a little scary. Maybe I'll have a better feel for it when February's piece is done!

Until next time, take care.


Wednesday, January 20, 2010

A Long Weekend and Velda Newman

The long weekend has come and gone, and I didn't get a lot done. Life has been throwing curve balls at me since the beginning of the year, and I'm not left with a lot of time for art. The Road to California Quilt Show was this past weekend, and I was planning to go, but didn't. Road is one of the larger shows in Southern California. I don't believe it's affiliated with any one guild, and accepts entries from all over. One of my goals last year was to enter a piece in this show. Unfortunately, that goal didn't get realized. It's now one of my goals for this year!

I did, however, take a class with Velda Newman through our quilt guild this weekend. I missed the beginning of her lecture at the guild meeting on Thursday, but did get there in time to help show her quilts. I love holding up the speaker's quilts at the meetings, because I get a very up-close and personal view of their work. Also, being a fiber artist, I love to touch! You can't touch quilts at shows, for very good and obvious reasons. Being able to touch the quilts the speakers bring adds a whole different understanding of the fabric and textures they get in their work. I had heard of Velda a year or so ago, and loved her quilts. When I heard she was coming to our guild and doing a workshop, I was one of the first to sign up! Her quilts are large, intricate and very colorful works of art. She just finished one that's 15 feet long! Unfortunately, she couldn't bring that one with her I would have loved to see it.

The class she gave on Saturday was Texture and Form 1. It was a technique class in how to add dimension to a flat shape with stitching. I had so much fun! We did a basket, a lemon, two leaves, and a melon.

Although this was a techniques class, and these are really just samples, I'll probably use the basket and melon as accents on a couple of totes. (Have I mentioned before that I love tote bags?!) The leaves are perfect for a quilt that I'm working on using a piece I did in a class with Patt Blair (more of that in another post). I have no idea what to do with the lemon yet. I know I'll come up with something.

Velda was great. She was friendly, fun, informative, and helpful. I think we all laughed as much as we worked.

The techniques were superb. Having taken several drawing classes, the technique for the basket was pretty logical. It followed basic drawing rules for creating the illusion of a 3-D form on a 2-D surface. But her take on it in thread was very effective. The lemon was an interesting study in texture; very time consuming, though. I loved the leaves! What a great idea, and a wonderful timesaver! The technique used on the melon was my absolute favorite. It has so much potential! I've got several ideas for using the technique in other pieces.

The rest of the weekend was somewhat depressing. I didn't really get much of anything done, other than sewing a button on a shirt, working a bit on a couple of swap items, and taking the photos of the techniques above. I do need to get more done this week. The swap items mentioned above are late. Both are very close to being finished, and I need to get them done this week and in the mail. If either of my swap partners are reading this, please know that I have been putting some time into them each weekend, and will get them to you as soon as possible. At any rate, I need to turn my dream of being able to do art full time into a reality. I just don't know how to go about it. I have a few ideas, but the one thing I need most (time) is the one I have the least amount of! Think positive, Michele!

Until next week, take care, and thanks for reading.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Places I Belong

Everyone has a place they belong. The place doesn't have to be a physical location. It can be a state of mind, a feeling or emotion. That place can change from time to time, even from moment to moment. Mother, Sister, Brother, Father, Lawyer, Doctor, Construction Worker, Postal Carrier, Woman, Man, Under 30, Over 50, Toddler, Teenager..... each moment puts you in a different place, needing different skills, utilizing a different frame of reference; often mundane, sometimes challenging, and occasionally disquieting.

So, where are some of the places I belong in my artistic journey?

I've been a member of the Antelope Valley Quilt Association ("AVQA") since May of 2002, about five months after we moved to the High Desert. Last year I finally entered two pieces into our annual show. The first is a small quilt (18" x 16") that I started in a class with Geri Richardson to learn her hand applique technique; it is also hand quilted. When Mom first saw it, as I was working on it, she exclaimed, "Oh, those are my colors." As our quilt show is in May, I decided to give it to her as her Mother's Day gift. "Peony" now hangs on Mom's wall.

The other entry was our Guild's challenge. The challenge was titled "Fantasy Me," and was described as how we see ourselves, or something we always wanted to be. This is also a small quilt (24" x 20"), and is done with fusible applique, machine quilting, and colored pencil for details. I spent quite a bit of time trying to decide what to do for this challenge, as there have been so many things I've wanted to do throughout my life. I actually spent so much time working on various designs that I ended up without enough time to properly execute any of them! So I settled on one piece from the larger idea, the one that had always been strongest for me.

I use the top half of this piece as the avatar for my online presence.

I belong to three online swap groups, and I thoroughly enjoy each of them. I've been able to expand on my techniques, learn new ones, and the swaps are a constant source of inspiration. Most of them are ATCs and PCs, but there are some new ideas and techniques I've not seen or done before. This is where I first heard of Inchies, Dotees, Button Fairies, Quilties, Zentangles and Zines, among others. I love button fairies! And, as it turns out, I've been doing Zentangles for years, though mine are a bit more messy!

Last year I joined Studio Art Quilt Associates ("SAQA") and Quilt Art, and just recently joined the International Quilt Association ("IQA"). I plan to follow their Calls for Entry ("CE") very closely this year, and want to submit at least one piece to an exhibit offered by each of them. There are a lot to choose from. A few of the UFOs I started last year, and have yet to finish, came from pieces I wanted to enter into one or another of these organizations' CEs.

I joined the Bead Journal Project ("BJP") for 2010. This is the third year of the BJP started by Robin Atkins. I saw Robin at the first Long Beach Quilt Festival in 2008. Her work is just astounding! I had been wanting to work on my beading skills more, and this will give me a perfect opportunity. It is a challenge only to myself. There are no deadlines, no one knocking on your door asking if it's done yet. It's a chance to explore my own creativity and perfect my skills in bead embroidery. One piece is done each month; at the end of the year, I'll have 12 beautifully beaded pieces to display. I've decided to use the paisley as my shape, and each month will be an exploration of the tints and shades of one color. Each piece will also feature a cabochon or large bead as a focal point. January's color is white. You'll be seeing more of these as they progress.

The next two organizations I plan to join before the end of this year are the American Needlepoint Guild ("ANG") and the Embroiderers' Guild of America ("EGA"). I've been doing needlepoint and various forms of embroidery for decades (literally!). Both ANG and EGA have wonderful correspondence courses that I would love to take. Although I have had a friend or two show me some basics, I am generally self-taught in both needlepoint and embroidery. It would be wonderful to get some instruction from masters in both of these arts. Actually, one of my dreams (should I win big in some lottery) is to study at the Royal School of Needlework in England. Until then, I'll take courses through these two organizations, and, hopefully, be able to attend a few of their yearly seminars.

I'm ready to work and put myself out there. This year, my artistic journey takes its first steps out the door. I've been packing and preparing for this journey for years; it's time to start.

You will see more on this blog this year. I'll try not to get so wordy, and show you more images of what I'm doing. LOL! I have so many projects started, and so many ideas waiting to move from the ethereal to the physical. One major limitation this year will be finances. The first weekend of the year found us putting down over $1,300 in car repairs, commuter bus pass, and textbooks! Of course, that's above and beyond the bills we regularly have to pay each month. Although I won't be able to go out and buy new materials, or even get to a couple of the big quilt shows I wanted to attend early this year, I have so much material at home, I'll still be able to do most of what I want to do. It will also challenge me to find creative ways to finish my UFOs, or even start new projects, with what I have on hand.

If you're following me on my journey, I'll try to make it fun and interesting. Please feel free to leave me a comment, if you so desire. I'm interested in your remarks.

Until next week, take care.