Sunday, July 20, 2014

Pushing Boundaries

Pushing Boundaries

I have just passed the one year anniversary of my move to a professional studio space so of course I am thinking about what has happened over the past year.

First of all, I absolutely love having my studio in a busy arts center. I do get interruptions occasionally but I also get amazing inspiration, support and encouragement. I have learned so much about art and the creative process by hanging out with a wide variety of artists including oil and acrylic painters, photographers, jewelers, potters and even a few knitters.

One of the biggest growth opportunities this last year is because Cottonwood Center for the Arts hosts themed exhibits 6-8 times a year. Each exhibit challenges me to learn more about art history and theory. I try to enter as many as possible and even though I don’t always get in the show I learn so much that it really doesn’t matter. I was more than thrilled to be accepted into the abstract and postmodern exhibits this spring.

This piece, Does it Matter? was accepted into the Postmodern show. I and many of the other artists at Cottonwood spent considerable time discussing exactly what is Postmodern art. It is still confusing but I was thrilled to have one of my pieces get in. Competition for these exhibits is pretty intense.  During the show I had quite a few great conversations with viewers about my piece and the question it asks. Great fun. I didn't have good photo lighting for this piece. The background is flat black like a chalkboard.

As you can see my work is changing! I still love collage but am moving away from it to a more abstract expression. I have been working very small; 4" square and 8" square but I just ordered a canvas that is 2' x 8' for a whole cloth piece I have been working on. Being part of a thriving art center has encouraged me to push at the boundaries of my textile art. I can't wait to see where I go next!

Friday, July 4, 2014


Have you heard of the artist named Swoon? She is not to be missed. Natalya here to tell you about Swoon's exhibit at the Brooklyn Museum. It was a spur of a moment visit, I only had my iPhone to take pictures with and I took a gazillion. No worries, it was painful, but I edited them down to just a few...

You do have until August 24th to go see this for yourself, but in case that doesn't fit into your summer schedule, here's a brief review and many links. Caledonia Dance Curry is quite an accomplished artist who started with traditional training (she attended my Alma Mater Pratt Institute), but after graduating was very discouraged with the gallery system and became a street artist. She has managed to fashion an amazing career from that start and is now an artist with exhibits all over the world. She known for her installations and this is her latest at the Brooklyn Museum.

I had never seen her installations before, just have heard about her and seen a bit about her in a documentary film Our City Dreams. Needless to say that I was completely overwhelmed by what I saw and I'm sure Kristin can confirm that my jaw was on the ground. The scale of this installation is immense and cannot be expressed in these photos. Do see the videos in the links above to get a sense of the scale.
plastic drop cloth (my heart fluttered). Swoon used the drop cloths that protected the walls during the installation in the installation.
gigantic tree draped in cloth and lacy cut outs for leaves is at the center and made for very dramatic shadows
cardboard tubes in a beehive like hut
a collage of larger than life prints of her beautiful drawings
delicate cut outs are draped on the floor where they curve and produce wonderful shadows
here are the tree roots, so you can see the fabric
more amazing drawings
two large handmade boats are part of the installation (made from scraps), but I was fascinated by the lace sails and the shadows they made
my kind of whimsical
this is a top portion of one of the boats
lacy cut outs cover many walls and backs of large figures
Hope you do get to see this exhibit, it's worth the trip! And happy Independence Day USA!

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Friends and Inspiration

It's Kristin again.
I have completed 11 painted and stitched canvases from the Service Star quilt in the previous post here! The curious can find them on my blog. I am happy to report that I feel no regret at painting and cutting up a decade's worth of work.

I am also happy to report that I had the opportunity to visit friend and fellow 8 That Create artist, Natalya, last weekend. We had a great time in NYC with two of three from a special circle of friends.

We spent the better part of two days together seeing art and soaking it in. This is our posse on Broadway, posting on one of Chakaia Booker's Rubber Sentinels.

One of my favorite exhibits (Natalya will post about the other, was The Urban Fabric, by Liz Kueneke at The Hudson Guild. 

Kueneke embroidered city maps on fabric and then invited the city’s inhabitants to stitch on the maps in response to several questions, such as “what is the heart of the city?” and “what is a negative place in the city.” The embroideries were accompanied by legends explaining the symbols used, and photos and videos of participants telling their stories. The large scale made it relatively easy to "read" the maps, but it also allows the viewer to walk through them and therefore feel more connected to the city and the project.

The embroidered maps themselves are meticulous and attractive, and create a neutral backdrop for the rougher participant additions. It was interesting to see that in some cities, the loves, hates, and interesting bits were scattered overall, and in other cities, they were clustered in specific spots. The maps are beautiful in and of themselves, but the viewers’ responses on them add a wonderful depth. 

Even the backs of the embroideries are intriguing. 

I'm so glad we took the time to seek out this exhibit. I found the work to be well conceived and beautiful.  It was all thought provoking and excellent fodder for further conversations and curiosity.

Of course, it didn't hurt that I was there with friends who were also inspired, and that our conversations veered into our own explorations and experiences and our own personal maps. We may work alone in our studios, but to also come together and commiserate with, encourage, and support each other is just as important to our work as the lone, introspective time. I am glad to have found such a group.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Drastic Measures

Kristin today.

One of the art lessons that has made a lasting impression with me was an experience my dad had when he was in art school. He told me that after laboriously drawing the day's model, the instructor had all the students erase their work, turn it upside down, and start again. The moral of the story is not to think that your work is ever too precious for improvement.

Service Flag

I have been working on this quilt on and (mostly off) for over a decade. The whole tale is on my blog today. It had changed in meaning for me, and I have tried to bring it up to date. After much laboring, I have come to the realization that it is just not working, and I have to take drastic, art school type, measures.

Service Star WIP (detail)

Sometimes (probably more often than we are willing to admit) there comes a point where something just can't be fixed and it has to be tossed or completely reimagined. I decided for the latter and painted my heirloom quilt and then cut it up. I plan to stitch some bolder designs over the panels and mount them on canvas as wall decor. It still may not work, but at least I will have been bold and tried; besides, it's not like the original project was going anywhere anyway.


Interestingly, I just read an article on Ragged Cloth Cafe this morning about creativity and fugitive artwork. It's worth checking out.

Friday, May 23, 2014

Articles on Making Stuff

Carol writing today.

A few months ago, I received word that two of the article proposals I had turned in to Interweave had been accepted for the newest Pages magazine.

Imagine my delight when I saw the publication for the first time and my artwork was on the cover!

I wrote an article about creating artful niches for miniature books.
It is a really fun project that is not that difficult to create.
The carving and painting portion is my favorite part! And, if you mess up, it's very easy to "erase" that area and start over.

I also wrote an article about creating a triptych out of canvas, plaster and molding paste.
Add a few lines from a poem, some of your favorite natural items and you have wonderfully textured piece to sit on a shelf or a desktop.

"Forest Symphony"

The back side of
"Forest Symphony"
Pop over to this site and purchase your own copy of the Pages magazine.
This is the fifth edition and I have all of them. They really are chock full of wonderful projects.

Friday, May 2, 2014


With plastic in my case. Hi, Natalya here to declare that I have fallen into a deep dark hole that is called experimentation. What if I try this? What if I now do this? What if.......

You would think that after playing around with a material for a while, let's say a year, you run out of the "what if's". Not true in my case.  At least not with the recycled plastic shopping bags. Or dryer sheets for that matter. Here are few detail shots of my recent experiments:

layered with packing material batting, stitched and painted with acrylics
dryer sheet painted with gesso
plastic drop cloth, drawn on and stitched
translucent plastics layered and machine stitched
layered, stitched and sponge painted with acrylics
It's a good thing that there are some deadlines looming, as they make me finish my experiments and draw conclusions. But the experimenting goes on even with the deadlines, it's so much fun I can't help myself. I must find out what if.....

What are you experimenting with?

Friday, April 18, 2014

Texture Inspiration Everywhere

Liz Kettle here today:
I have been on the road teaching and enjoying my newest grandson so I have been away from my studio a lot the last two months. When I am traveling I love to gather inspiration photos. And the photos I take most often are of textures.

Photos can be snapped while I am at the park playing with the grand-kids or walking in a new town. I am used to getting that look from strangers when I am taking close up photos of bricks or mulch.

I file these in a special texture photo file so when I am looking for lines, shapes or texture for stitch inspiration I can find it easily.

Today I am sharing an assortment of inspiration photos from my last two trips.

The first batch is from the playground:

 Inspiring lines from shadows

 I love the interplay of lines on the railings

 I can see this done in free form stitching in shades of cream and brown or in wild colors!

The photos below are from the Elms hotel in Excelsior Springs MO where I taught for Art and Soul. Lines, swirls and textures...they all make me want to run to the machine. 

Who could resist all the beautiful lines on this antique cash register?

What do you do to keep the inspiration flowing when you can't get into the studio?