Inflamed

I’ve spent the last couple years trying to find my artistic voice.  Ultimately, this is a lifelong journey – an artist finds her voice, people recognize her work without having to read a sign or look for a signature on a piece and then, somewhere down the line, just like happens when people grow from childhood into our teens, the voice alters.  If she’s lucky, elements of the “known” voice remain and people still recognize her art as Her.  Or in this case, Me.

Finding one’s voice is tricky.  It’s not like looking for Easter eggs behind the shrubs and among the high grass.  It’s not even like looking for your keys when you just know you put them right here.  The eggs have color working in their favor and keys always seem to turn up, even if in the most unlikely place.  The artistic voice is illusive.  The more you search, the quieter the voice becomes.

And that is downright frustrating.

If you were to look through my gallery (click the link in the menu), you would likely say, yeah, she’s right, her work is all over the place.  There’s no unifying element of design or color or theme (the crosses were part of the voice search – a start but ultimately just a theme, not my voice).  On one hand, I’m okay with this disparate body of work.  I’m still new to my artistic career and I’ve only earned a small chunk of the 10,000 hours needed to become an “expert”.  I’m also okay with always learning.  In fact, I think “expert” is like “perfect” – a ridiculous notion, both of them.  A little humility and imperfection is better for the soul.

But on the other hand, I’m an impatient woman.  I want what I want and I want it NOW.  The universe laughed at me for that.  Loudly.

So, I researched and read and asked other artists how one finds their voice.  And this is what they said:

Narrow the focus.  Limit the technique and the size and the color and whatever else it takes to have as close to a singular focus for your work as is humanly possible.

This too was difficult.  I have a series of sketches, all abstract, odd shapes.  Doodles, really, but fun shapes for my art.  I rebel against square, don’t forget.  I planned to take those sketches – clouds, I thought – and create my next series.  Within the outer boundary line of each sketch, I drew a circle, a spiral, three stripes, and one other shape.  I thought, “This!  This is my narrow focus!”  And then I created a piece with all those elements and it was a crashing disaster.  It did not work.  At all.  Horrible composition when I took it off the page and into the studio.  A lesson from the genius that is my muse.  I paid attention and learned, which is really the best outcome when something for which you had high hopes goes sideways.

Back to the drawing board I went (the one in my head).  I muddled and pondered and grimaced and grouched and begged the spirit that sends me ideas to help me figure out just what the heck those sketches were, just how the heck I was supposed to narrow them down into something that might just turn out to be my voice.

The artistic spirit who hangs around me stepped up (it took a few days…the universe is always trying to teach me patience).  I was reading a book on my lunch hour.  I don’t know what the passage said.  I don’t know what triggered the revelation, but suddenly, exactly like the proverbial spark of inspiration, I realized I was not drawing clouds in those little sketches.  I was drawing FEELINGS!!!

A light went on.  And I knew how to proceed.

The sketch became “Inflamed”, a feeling of passion, of ire, of pain, of pleasure.  The tight, narrow focus to my work now is the feeling each sketch evokes.

Finding my voice might be closer than I think.  It’s certainly closer today than it was a month ago.

Constructive criticism and comments are always welcome.  Please share your thoughts!

Inflamed (link to poem)

Inflamed - Copyright

Inflamed - Detail 03

No. 01 Orig Sketch

The original sketch, for comparison

There’s no poem for this piece.  To me, the piece IS the poem because feelings are always poetry to me.

Next up: I’m working on the design for the next feeling in my sketch pile, but first, I have a stepson graduating from college.  He needs a gift.

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Airport Layout Plan: Houston Hobby

I build airports for a living.  My day job, since the 1990s, has been in aviation construction management, working in the finance side for massive construction programs.  My first art quilt was the airport layout plan for Austin-Bergstrom.

Austin-Berstrom Airport

Airport Layout Plan: Austin-Bergstrom and what I think construction plans should look like

I’ve hung that piece in every office I’ve had.  I’m on my 3rd airport construction program (these things run for years!) and, when I re-embraced my inner artist, I knew I would make art quilts depicting the airports on which I’ve worked.  Houston Hobby was my second stop, where we built a new concourse for Southwest Airlines.  I’ve always thought the building looked like a stealth bomber.

This is my colorful, abstract take on Houston’s smaller airport.  It’s not my best composition, but it’s still fun!

Constructive criticism and comments are always welcome.  Please share your thoughts!

Airport Layout Plan: Houston Hobby (link to poem)

ALP: Houston Hobby (c)

ALP: Houston Hobby - Detail 01

ALP: Houston Hobby - Detail 02

ALP: Houston Hobby - Poetry Label

I owe you a post about the glorious fabric stash a co-worker brought me from India and pictures of my new studio.  I haven’t forgotten.  Promise.  I’ll get it up eventually.

One of these days, I’ll get around to creating my 3rd airport – O’Hare International but until then…

Next up: I’m on a mission to find my voice.  I’m going to make what I’m calling a cloud series.  Stay tuned.

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Sunshine Doodle

SAQA put out a call for art for the next traveling trunk show, with no jury or acceptance process.  The only requirement was the piece must measure 10″h x 7″w, no more, no less.  I thought it would be fun and quick to work on a small piece, one that would travel with the show for up to three years (what a great opportunity to get my work out there!).  While I was correct about the fun part, I was incorrect about the quick part.  Turns out, when one is working small, more detail (i.e. quilting) is needed to really make the piece pop, or at least that’s how it worked out for me.

When I was pondering design ideas, through both brainstorming and doodling, I kept coming back to a doodle I’ve been doodling since I was in about 2nd grade.  I’ve always called it my sunshine doodle.  The only thing different between the very first sunshine doodle and a more current version is the current version doesn’t include eyes and a smile on the sunshine.  Seriously, people, I’ve been drawing this thing for over 40 years.  You’d think I would have come up with a new idea in that time, but apparently not.

Sunshine Doodle - The Doodle

The doodle

So there really was no contest when deciding on my trunk show art piece.  After all these years, it was time for the doodle to become art.

Sunshine Doodle (link to poem)

Sunshine Doodle - Full

The art

Next up: Back to my cross series with Crisscross (Hot Cross Five).

Lead with Love

In February, Yvonne Porcella, a pioneer in the art quilt world, passed away after a long battle against cancer.  Throughout that fight, she maintained a zest and energy and positive attitude that was inspiring to all who knew her.  I’m sure she had bad days and down days and days when she just wanted to give up, but from all accounts, she got up each morning, put a smile on her face, and conquered the day.

Yvonne had lots of friends in the art world and beyond.  One of those friends, Pokey Bolton, is hosting an art quilt tribute show in September and put out a call for entry this past Spring.  The call for entry to “Living Your Brightest Life: A Tribute to Yvonne Porcella” encouraged those who wanted to participate to share what it means to live a bright life, conveyed in fabric and thread.

This art quilt represents what living a bright life means to me.  The piece may not be accepted to the tribute show, but I certainly enjoyed making it.

As always, constructive critiques are welcome.

Lead with Love (link to poem)

Lead with Love - Detail

Simple quilting as rays of sunlight and around the hearts

Lead with Love - Full

If one leads with love, it bursts from the heart with the brightness of the sun and spills out into the universe

Lead with Love - Poetry Label

Every quilt needs a poem

Next up: An experiment in layering

Mariner’s Compass, Part 4 (Finished!)

Whew!  This art piece is finished!

It was a near thing, getting it completed before the end of the year.  I had several thoughts urging me on before the calendar rolled to 2015:

  1. I had established a SAQA Visioning Project goal of 4 new art pieces in 2014 (this is the 4th).  No way was I going to miss achieving the goal by mere days.  Not that there’s a gold star or a smiley face or a trophy for the goal meeting.  Instead, there is satisfaction in accomplishing something I set out to do in the time I set to do it.
  2. I refuse to let the busyness of a new job stop me from creating my art, and….
  3. I needed the dining room table cleared of sewing machine, cutting mats, fabric, thread, scissors, Ott lites, and art to make room for Christmas cookies, Christmas cake, and Christmas Eve dinner.  Food, drink, and fabric don’t mix.

Somewhere through the process of creating this piece, I realized its name had changed to Sunburst.  The bright, bright points of color in the compass explode across the  pale, pale yellow of a dawn sky.

What do you think?

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Sunburst (link to poem)

Compass - Finished 01

Both the art and the duvet it is laying on have some warp. I’d love to know what I am doing that prevents the finished piece from laying flat

Compass - Finished 02

Straight(er) shot. See the sun exploding in the sky?

Compass - Poem Label

The poem label

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Next up: “Any color’s all right as long as it’s red” –  My Grandpa Clark used to say that.  I always thought the statement would make an excellent art quilt name.  Check back in January for a progress report.