Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Urban Dwellers

Urban Dwellers
12" x 12"

I love this little quilt! I have made a small series, some with the little people, 1BdrmApt, Full House, No Vacancy, and 9 Houses. I hoped that they would sell in Houston, and they DID! In fact one sold before Houston, so I made another to take it's place. Then those 3 sold the opening night of the Houston Quilt Show. I was jaw-dropping-shocked-happy-elated!

I thought I might make a few more, hoping to sell them during the holiday season. I only got this one made. The other three are still sitting in a pile. I have been distracted a few big art pieces I am working on....ah hem....back to our story. It sold before I got to post about it! WOW EEEE! To a dear friend who came to visit.

While watching An American in Paris this week, Gene Kelly, playing an artist, talks about how hard it is for an artist to part with his works. I wholeheartedly agree. It is hard to pour so much of yourself, so many hours into a work and then let it go. It is entirely comforting and rewarding when the piece goes to a good home, as I now know that mine has gone. Peace and blessings!
Close up Urban Dwellers, inhabitants climbing up to the roof

Close up of Urban Dwellers,  showing the people tucked inside the pockets

Saturday, December 17, 2011

How Cairns Saved My Life

How Cairns Saved My Life
and our new group project

Many years ago, I was climbing in Yosemite Valley.  Ambitiously I had selected Royal Arches as my route of choice.  For many reasons it was simply the most perfect climb in the valley.  First, it was a number of levels beneath my skill level.  This means that I did not have to worry (constantly) about falling.  It was a long route, 16 pitches, which means that I would have to carry a lot of gear, food and water.  Being heavier is not a goal in rockclimbing! (lol!) For more information about the route, you can click here.  You can see things like the fact that the route is 1400 feet of climbing, and it shows which way to go and where to start, all vital information.  The photo below shows my crude sketch (in red) on top of my photo of the valley, it is to the left of the actual rock formation known as Royal Arches.
And, while the route may look a bit intimidating, the climbing is fairly easy, even with the extra weight of gear, and though the guide book says it's about 2-3 hours of climbing, that was not my experience.  It took about 8 hours to climb up.  There are huge pine trees all the way up the route.  Many of the belay stations were under the trees.  I had a view of Half Dome...all day long! I belayed my then-husband.  I am embarrassed to admit that I wanted to lead this route merely because I did not want to carry up our shoes for the hike down, and he happily agreed to let me give it a go!  Now, the crux of the story....getting down.

The guide book says to be very careful. DO NOT ATTEMPT AFTER DARK.  People HAVE fallen to their death attempting to get off this route.  We did not know when we started that if we had carried up two ropes, instead of just one, we could have quickly and safely rappelled to the valley floor.  We were left with the walk-off route which was not obvious.  We got lost multiple times, and it is not a place where you want to get lost.  And because we took so long climbing it, it was getting late.  And then I saw fresh bear scat and totally panicked.  The woods were filled with mosquitoes.  The exposed rocky descent was, well, exposed, and crumbly gravel...and we were up 1400 feet.  Not that it would make much difference if you fell.  After the first 50 feet of falling, it is sort of moot.... However, I didn't want to fall.  I wanted to LIVE!  And, someone, some very-nice-and-considerate-person (or persons) who came before us, left cairns to show the way.  This is the point of the story.  We are not alone.  We mentor those who come after us.  Show them the way. Teach, teach your children.  Be kind to others.  Learn from your history.
We have recently had an old member of our art quilt bee return to us, Susan Lewis Storey.  When she suggested a group quilt, cairns, I knew that it was right for me.  And in a way, a wonderful metaphor, because as in my last post I mentioned that art is a lonely business, as a group we support each other.  We teach each other new tricks and old tricks.  And so we move into our next group adventure!

Sherri McCauley brought a bag of polished stones for us to play with while we visited.  These slippery little rocks were difficult to stack.  See the Nilla Wafer box in the background for scale!

Monday, December 12, 2011

Our group blog

Our group blog

Last week I spent some time updating our group blog, Austin Art Bee.  It has had few posts and little traffic, so I am trying to remedy that here by giving it a little attention.  If you haven't already noticed, there is a link on my sidebar....
Since I first began making art quilts in 2003 (the first year I participated in the Journal Quilt Project), I joined the Austin Art Quilt Bee.  A lovely group of women!  We work collaboratively on group projects.  It has been a labor of love from the beginning.  I still remember meeting at Frances Holliday Alford's house for the first time.  I had been invited to participate on a group quilt that was already in full swing.  The project was called Leaves, and I was supposed to use neutral colors with green....well that's about all I remember at this point.  I was also given options of sizes of blocks to make.  I made a few blocks, quilted them, and brought them to the meeting.  Sherri McCauley, Yoshiko Kawasaki, Mandi Ballard, Niki Vick, Betty Colburn and Frances were all gathered in Frances' huge sewing studio.  Multiple conversations always going as we attempted to trim and put the blocks together.  Many things going right, a few things going wrong.  It was hard to make everyone's work look good in a cohesive quilt.  We argued, discussed, and took breaks.  One by one people started leaving because...well, the day was drawing to a close, and we had to return to our other lives.  I wasn't there, but I heard that at some point Yoshiko took rotary cutter in hand, and started chopping up everyone's blocks into 4" wide panels.  Then they rearranged what was left, and it completely came together!  It was beautiful.  It was successful in that it looked cohesive.  It had the group voice.  And it also maintained the individual's voice.  It is extraordinarily difficult to juggle the balance of the two, and this time the results were stunning! 

I remember thinking how shocked I was that day that Yoshiko did that.  Now, I think how brave she was.  She knew intuitively what needed to be done, and she did it.  And she changed the way we each looked at our own work, and ironically by working mostly alone, she brought our work together.  Amazing!

And as the years have passed and we have put together quite a body of work at this point, I look back on all the times we have had together.  How the group members have changed slowly over time, and how we have each changed.  I value the way the group process has helped me with my own individual work, and also how it kept me from starving to death of isolation.  Because being an artist requires listening to yourself and expressing it.  It is hard to do that in a group.  I find that I need to be alone. But being alone for too long is not good either.  The safety of the group and our projects together gives me the safety to be alone and create my own work.  It is all linked together, and I am so grateful for the day that Frances invited me to join in.  She has been a role model to me to invite others to join in.

And so I would like to invite you to stop in to see our group blog.  It was started when I wanted to share images with the group on those occasions when we couldn't all be in the same room.  And now, all the group members are contributors to our group blog. The blog has 3 pages at the top, Blog, Gallery, and Credits and Awards.  The Blog will be a place to discuss our projects, and inspirations.  The Gallery is page of images of our work.  And the Credits and Awards shows the names of participants for each project along with awards, venues, and publications of each quilt.

Thanks for stopping by!

Tuesday, December 06, 2011

Dedicated Spaces

Dedicated Spaces
I probably don't talk enough about how important it is to have a dedicated space to do art.  I am so very lucky to have an entire bedroom converted into my studio.  It is great to be able to just walk IN and have everything I need in easy access, and organized enough to find what I am looking for.  It is also great to be able to walk OUT of my studio, and leave the mess just as it is.
Last week I received my copy of Inside the Creative Studio by Cate Prato.  I am so happy to be included in this book!  It is awesome!  The eye candy alone is fabulous!  If you are considering re-organizing your space, check out this book.  It will unfortunately, probably leave you wanting more....more space, regardless if you work in a tiny space or a big one!  I love getting a glimpse into other artists' studios.  The creative process is fascinating to me. 
Of course, my biggest concern after having some dedicated space, whether its just a table top or an entire room, is the color that surrounds me.  It sets the mood to let the creative spirit unfurl.  And this is what you will see in my little section in this blues, and my purples, and it has spread throughout the house!