The purpose of this blog is share with others the processes involved in my favorite form of creativity- silk art quilts. The creative process itself is a fascinating thing. I am constantly amazed by it- both its simplicity and its complexity.

I feel strongly that I am a better person since I truly started following my dream. Because of collectors--those who actually buy original art-- I am able to live my dream. I thank you from the bottom of my heart. You can see more of my work at my website http://www.rebelquilter.com/.

Monday, February 2, 2015

The Magic of Magic Time

The period where I assemble a quilt on my design wall has always been a magical time for me. It is when the quilt makes the transition from theoretical to real. I've always identified it as the point where the quilt takes on or reveals its soul. Usually there have been many hours of work just getting it to this point and the reveal is often awe inspiring to me, its creator. It has been more than 5 years since my last project that involved Magic Time.

Late last week I got to experience it and I was stunned. My frame of mind has not been at a very high level of late. My mother just passed away, I am mid-process of handling breast cancer discovered last fall and we are awaiting selling our home so we can move across country to be near our children and grandchildren. The rising level of fear in my life has never been higher.

I am, by nature, a very optimistic person. I usually assume the best, plan with an expectation of good things working out and see the positive. In my quieter moments doubts do arise but they are usually able to be set on a back burner for "wait and see".

After stewing for months on how I would address this quilt, I finally decided that by simply starting with a technique that I could do in my sleep would get the ball rolling. I decided from the beginning that I would allow myself to declare this piece a failure, if necessary, and dove in.

I deliberately added in some colors that I considered depressing and morose with the idea that I could acknowledge my current voice. I still don't know how I will move beyond the basic bulls-eye design to expand on my message. The theme of the piece is "ageing" and is to reflect on my view of the future. Yikes! Heck of a time to be addressing THAT subject.

While I still don't know yet how I plan to build on the bulls-eye base, I do know I will be incorporating my newer printmaking skills and using free-motion stitching to add imagery and further my concept and message.

As I began to stick my bulls-eye quadrants on the design was I noticed something. Despite my current emotional level, the piece was revealing a very happy optimistic feel. I continued to be amazed and felt like my inner core being lifted. I felt like what was being revealed was my core level of my soul and THAT core level was, as always, optimistic. I felt like all the garbage, all the chaos, all the confusion was blowing off and at the innermost energy level was me--optimistic, hopeful, wanting to engage.

That is the magic of  healing of art and the magic of Magic Time.

My working title for this piece is "Terminally Optimistic." There are many more levels of imagery and stitching to come as well as a gray stripe to cross it. It is to be a part of am upcoming exhibition so more details will have to wait. I figured the foundation is very far away from the final look of this piece and therefore felt safe in sharing it.

Having fun again~~

Monday, September 22, 2014

Time and waiting = Inspiration!

I've discovered that waiting and I don't make good company. We have the house all prepped for the market and now it feels like "all dressed up and no place to go". But we DOOOOO have someplace to go. We want to be with our children and grandchildren. They are in the eastern time zone and we're in central.

Fifteen years ago we moved to the Ozarks because we were pretty sure my parents were going to need our help and living in Clearwater, FL involved a 2 day drive or a 2 hour flight. So here we are. My dad passed 7 years ago and Mom lives with us and Jon and I share fulltime caregiving. She is quite frail, terrified of falling and is doing a pretty good impression of "bump on a log."

A while ago, on her 85th birthday, I asked her about being 85. At first she was pretty sure she had no idea as she was quite certain she couldn't possibly be that old. When I asked her what she thought 85 looked like she simply said, "slow." Boy! she nailed that! Every time I see a video with a sloth in motion I just think...moves faster than Mom.

So now we are at what, to me, has become the hardest part of the  move--waiting for the house to sell. If there was traffic and it got shown occasionally, I'd at least have areas to focus on and fix/ ignore. But hurry up and wait just doesn't suit my cup of tea.

I've been finding myself going through periods of anger, frustration, listlessness, etc. Not good for me nor those around me. So I've decided that I need to direct my attention on an art project. My first in 3 years. I am addressing the issue of time and waiting. Despite having packed up my studio, I do have access to a few materials. I don't think I could easily dye any new yardage without unpacking a bunch but my ability to add surface design is still pretty much intact. I could draw, paint, felt, embroider, cut with scissors, almost unlimited in my direction. But where to start?

When I started thinking about time I conjured up images of hour glasses, clocks etc, first. Then I started thinking about waiting and how that is related to time. The tide goes in, the tide goes out. The stars move on relentlessly along with the seasons. There are periods of waiting while germination occurs. What is happening during that period? Where does germination begin? Where does gestation begin? No, I do not want to get into religious thoughts regarding the beginning of life!!!

Today is the equinox- equal parts day and night. How appropriate!!!! Today the balance shifts to longer nights. I find I am compelled to reach outside my own head and thoughts and include the impressions of others. I want to know how time and waiting affect YOU. Is your job affected by time? Do you have periods of waiting? How do you approach that aspect? Have you had a major experience that involved time? What happened? Seriously-- I want to hear from you on the comments section or email me directly.

In the past it seemed like the longest period of waiting for me was from the point I sent in an entry for an art show and had to await the jurying. So time also had the element of judgement attached.  How often does waiting involve judgement?

I know there are periods that time seems to go into a time warp. Those periods are, for me, most often associated with a "maybe". That is a point where a decision has not been reached and things are in a quandary. Around our house that was declared as "living in parenthesis". Not my idea of a good time. An example might be a period of deciding IF you are going to make a big change. Once the change is decided, things usually resume to normal speed...or perhaps speed up! Time seemed to move pretty fast while we were doing the remodel.

But here, the decision is done, the preparation is done and now we await the physical universe catching up to provide that person that falls in love with our house the way we did and can make the move.  We know that person/people is out there and seeking just such an escape from the big city to a slower lifestyle and one of the lowest crime levels in the country, where the air is clear, the people genuine, rivers and lakes abound and living is good (as long as you are not dependent on the local economy for your income.) An IT person would love it.

BTW, I am including a link to our house listing on Trulia . We live in a classic Craftsman style home in a charming small town in the Ozarks. The house is wonderful and if there was any possible way to pick it up and take it with us, we would. If this home were in a larger town of any consequence it would be at least double the price. So please help us spread the word to anyone you know who might be looking.  

Now back to the subject at hand... I await your input...with impatience. Start. Please feel free to add your thoughts via the comments section or via email to me. susan@rebelquilter.com. Thank you.


Monday, September 15, 2014

Getting back in the swing of things

I am writing today in hopes that this starts a new chapter for me. After 4 years away from my studio, followed by eight months of home remodel/prep, I am finally at the pivotal point where I can allow myself the joy of creating just for my pleasure. The studio is about 80% packed up in anticipation of our move across country. Left accessible are drawing and painting materials. My thought here is that drawing and painting a la watercolor and water color pencils takes up very little space. It is also an area in which I have not spent much time developing my skills. I have no doubt that my drawing skills, though rudimentary and VERY rusty will develop along the way. In the meantime it'll give me an opportunity to slow my thought process down long enough to see.

I have always been inspired by the fact that my grandmother on my father's side didn't even start painting watercolor until she was in her late 60s maybe 70s. She became a very talented botanical specimen painter, drawing and painting from flora in her realm. She did dry brush technique and was very very detailed. I am fortunate to have many of her paintings. One of her earliest ones was a black-eyed Susan she did for me. Sadly it is on poor quality paper but it is a treasured piece of our history.

I am the type of person who can focus pretty intently on what I perceive as the most important aspect at any given time. Over the last 4 years I have shelved my artistic creative energies and focused on first, the cafe, then readying the house for market. Now that all that is done and we are awaiting a buyer, I can once again reclaim the creative energy for my own.

We have spent the last 15 years in the Ozarks due to my parents deciding this was the place to be and our wanting to be able to assist. Sure do wish I could have persuaded my father that Florida was the place to be. Water over the dam. It was an interesting detour but now we want to be near our children and grandchildren. This requires pulling up stakes and relocating.  The house is ready and on the market. Although we have listed with an agent who has us on abut 6 sites, we have yet to have a single person see the house with a view toward buying it. Jon and I have made a point of inviting folks over for dinner who we know have a wide audience with the hopes they can pass along what a nice house it is to the right person. It is very frustrating. So I decided that things are now far enough along it is time for me to begin my own next chapter artistically.

While spending all this time working on various house projects I've speculated on where my art pursuit might take me next. I think I've said all I had to say with my bull's eye direction. I'm pretty sure I want to challenge myself in another direction. Dyeing, printmaking, mark-making, textures, saturated color, observations of nature, the hand of fiber-- these all still hold a fascination and I am pretty sure will evolve into my next foray. I'll try to add images of my playtimes. That always makes things more interesting.

I anticipated feeling a sadness while packing up the studio. Instead I found myself marveling at the vast quantity of materials and supplies I have accumulated as well as the resources at my fingertips. I've toyed with the idea of developing a series of classes, teaching techniques. I've also hoped that my granddaughter at almost 12 will have an interest in something I do and want to learn, I have even wondered about creating a fashionista class to teach tweens how to create their own looks upcycling thrift store finds. Should there be a real interest on the part of my granddaughter, I am sure it could occur, if only one on one. But for now, my create time will be strictly for my own indulgence. Yea, me!

Instead of feeling depressed that I am packing away my studio, which sat virtually un-utilized for the past 4 years, I am instead feeling hopeful. I have managed to winnow down to a few less "directions" I could throw myself into. I am pretty sure I'll not be spending my time on clay sculpture, basket weaving, dollmaking, or marbeling. I have jettisoned the materials and equipment to go off those directions. I have sorted and filed and packed. I now know what I have to work with and more importantly, can probably put my fingers on it without much delay. I still have 7 sewing machines of various uses, at least 15 large tote boxes of cut fabrics and well over 100 years of un-dyed fabric. I packed up over 75 jars of dyes and 2 tubs of auxiliaries. I have over 100 POUNDS of beads- glass beads are heavy. I gave away antique laces, men's ties, rolls of vinyl, but kept 2 big tubs of stamps I had made as well as 2 boxes of thermofax silkscreens and another tub of regular silk screens. Along the way I found boxes and boxes of old family photos. Surely they can have a voice.

My only apprehension at this point is wondering if we'll be able to find a location where  I am able to set up a real studio. I am resigned to the likelihood that I'll be taking over a garage as my studio. It isn't ideal as garages tend to not be very weatherproof and humidity is not kind to my craft. But it is a starting point. I get downright giddy at the thought of, once again, being able to attend art show openings and suck in that rare creative air. I thrive on the input of art and have felt, especially lately, the desert I've lived in. I'm like a starving refugee. Show me some art. Let me drink it in.

After so many years of being an active part in art shows around the country as well as  being on the boards of 5 different non-profit art organizations, I feel deprived. I love surrounding myself with creative individuals. They see things differently, approach challenges with a different energy and are simply those who I most prefer to be surrounded by.

I am having fun collecting images on Pinterest of various studio setups, with an eye towards how mine will be set up. I know I'll not likely ever have the luxury of the space I currently have. My current dye-kitchen, though ugly and hidden away, was perfect. Being in an old darkroom, it had the perfect 8 ft wide, 3 ft front to back and 3 inch deep sink to set buckets of dye on. I had a stovetop to steam my acid dyes, an exhaust vent and even a pasta water tap in the wall next to the stove top so I didn't have to haul heavy pots of water across the room, a washer and dryer and old kitchen cabinets in which to store all my dyes and auxiliaries. We won't even dwell on the loss of my 38 ft  x 9 ft design wall... or my 4 x 8 print table... or my 4 full sized book cases full of reference material. Sigh. In my new set up,  I expect to share the washer and dryer with the family, use an electric burner to heat my steamer, and cover tables with plastic to place my dyepots. Oh well. The reward will be closeness of family. I am thrilled to begin to explore that aspect of my life.

My race right now is to get the studio packed the rest of the way. We'll be keeping the space to stage our move. I'll make it a priority to clear off a portion of my print table so I have room to draw. Each day I'll spend the morning on packing projects and the afternoon on creative adventures. That's my promise to me. I hope you enjoy my journey. I am glad you are along for the ride. Here we go.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Happy New Year!

Here is a quilt very few of you have seen. It has been on tour for several years as a part of America Celebrates. My warmest thanks to Judith Trager who coordinated this display and handled all the logistics of  traveling the show. From my experience in doing the same for Roots of Racism: Ignorance and Fear, I know what a monumental effort it is and how much time is taken away from one's own ability to create. Thank you, Judith. I hope you can now get back to your own lovely work.

After I shot this image it was determined that the dragon would stand out much better with a darker shadow to lift it off the background. So it sports that now.

My next project is actually a bed quilt. What? My younger son and his wife have been together for at least 12 years and somehow I never got around to making them their wedding quilt. You have to understand that I only make bed quilts for close relatives to celebrate monumental occasions...like births. I will still need to make 2 more to celebrate my 2 granddaughters. The timing of the wedding and their births sadly was such that my focus was on creating an income rather than creating for family. That element is no longer a driving force and their times have arrived.

For the wedding quilt I plan to do a variation on a broken pickle dish. The arcs will be paper pieced....all 128 of them. Argh. Am I crazy? The initial request was to create it in Mexican fiesta type colors. I love the happiness these colors evoke. Especially during this extremely cold winter we are having in the Ozarks. I got as far as starting my prototype block only to be asked to hold off while a possible alternate color scheme is determined. So I am on hold. Since I have drafted the paper piecing, I was able to determine to my own satisfaction just how many peaks the arcs would have. There are easier ways to create this design but most looked like short cuts were taken. Even the version Kaffe Kassett did looked simplified. I do love his use of color.

As with most bright colored combinations, the brights look best against dull colors so they can have contrast and not just be a riot of equally fighting colors.
   This is an image of one posted on Pinterest. It has somewhat similar coloration to the one I plan. Don't worry. I'll be posting the process as I go along.

Happy News!!! This week I'll be driving to Springfield, MO to once again join my troop of artquilting friends. It has been 3+ years since I was able to attend a monthly meeting of Uncommon Threads. I am truly thrilled to be once again connecting back up with this elite, outstanding, and exciting group of gals. They have been consistently supportive of all my creative efforts and my familial obligations as well. I am a lucky girl.



Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Christmas 2013 I'm back!

After a 3+ year hiatus I am finally no longer encumbered by owning and running a restaurant. The restaurant was formulated as a solution to the economic downturn of 2008. We have now closed the restaurant and are expecting to sell it in the next few weeks. In the mean time I'll once again be able to focus on some creativity while also being caregiver for my mother. For the last 3 years Mom has been living in either assisted living or a nursing home while Jon and I worked 14 hour days. Now that we are no longer tied to the cafe our plan is to bring Mom back home to live with us. My studio is about 2 blocks from home and since Mom seldom is awake before noon, I can spend my mornings there. Another activity will be pulling my time and attention, as well. We'll be prepping the house with intent to put it on the market. We'll try to have it ready for a very well done staging by March. That'll involve extreme removal of extraneous "Stuff" that has made its way into our lives over many years. It is time to severely downsize and divest ourselves of the junk of our lives. Once the house sells we'll be returning to Florida to be in the vicinity of our children and grandchildren. It feels lovely to say that.

As I write this we are in Florida with our kin. It is warm—a  far cry from the miserable weather previously and currently happening in the Missouri Ozarks. We had carolers in shorts at the door last night.

As I look forward to extended periods of creativity I am also a bit alarmed. Do I still have an artistic voice? Do I have anything to say visually?

My game plan is to simply begin by journaling a bit, collecting imagery that inspires me and play in the studio using materials with which I am quite familiar. I am hoping my muscle memory gradually responds to the motions and internal conversations are started back up.....or ...new conversations are started.

This is what I know—

  • I love to work tactilely and texture is an important element of my work
  • Color remains an element that evokes emotions
  • I love various forms of printmaking and mark making
  • I like to apply printmaking to fabric
  • I am attracted to natural elements
  • I like to make commentary about life, often pointing out irony. 
  • Humor is an important element to my life. Perhaps to my art.
  • My focus will first be creating art for my sake—to entertain, stretch or play
  • The future remains unknown and a bit scary
  • I am excited about it
With the long days of the cafe behind us, I am most hopeful that my creative energy will once again be accessible. Most of the time I was simply too exhausted to do more than long for studio time. There was simply no juice to fuel the creative center. But I kept paying rent for my studio even though I have probably spent less than 30 hours in it in the last three years.

To those of you who have remained on my blog subscription, thank you. I do hope to expand my reach and have the opportunity to influence lives in a positive way through my art or at least, artful living.


Friday, July 16, 2010

Celebrating Normalcy- debut

It's SOOO quiet!!!! This is the finished newest piece-- Celebrating Normalcy. If you scan down to some previous posts you'll get the concept in full detail. But the short version is this piece celebrates the return to the mundane after a period of crisis. It is the sigh, the exhale, the relief of not having to think in crisis mode. The image is a stylized version of a moonrise over a calm bay. The back is silk screened with examples of daily mundacity--walking the dog, feeding the cat, unloading the dishwasher, taking a luxurious bath, sleeping in your own bed--all activities that, when life is normal, have very little significance. But when they return following a crisis- medical or otherwise, they are worth a little celebratory jig.

This piece has just been juried into Celebrating Creativity at William Woods University which opens in late August. The happy/sad part is that I will not be able to enter it into Quilt National as it will have been posted to a website-- disqualifying it from entry. Unless something else majorly inspires me, I won't have an entry for it this year.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

CAOs (Crazy Ass Onions)

As a gardener who is attempting to grow some of our own foods, when it comes to onions I am a complete failure. I have yet to grow an onion that has an edible bulb.(I did great with garlic) But I seem to have mastered onions as abstract art! This image shows the beginnings of just how whacky those guys can get. I swear they are dancing and singing there way through the season. I am quite sure I was supposed to do somethng before they got to this state. That was weeks ago. Now there are bulbettes where all those higgledy piggledy stems originate from the main stems. I just know that this is the inspiration for my next quilt.

BTW- I did finish my last piece "Celebrating Normalcy" and depending on what happens with the show I just entered it into, I'll post images later. FYI-- there are some shows where they will not accept pieces that have shown up on websites- period. So to leave that option open I'll be keeping the finished image to myself for now. And yes-- they DO check.