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).

Liquid Luck

I went small with this piece.  A month or two ago, I listened to a meditation called “Liquid Luck”, which I found interesting primarily because I finished the meditation with an idea for my next project.  I wanted to create my own bottle of liquid luck, reminiscent of Harry Potter and the little vial Harry won from Professor Slughorn in Potions class.

Originally, I thought to make this three-dimensional, but realized I needed to learn how to use my couching foot first.  I need further practice, but I’m pleased with my efforts, resulting in this 10-1/2″ x 10-1/2″ piece.

No poem for this piece, just ingredients:

Liquid Luck

  • Happiness
  • Gratitude
  • Abundance
  • Compassion
  • Love
  • Luck
  • Praise
Luck - Couching

First time using my couching foot. It was lots of fun!

Luck - Finished 02

Quilting around the vial. Decorative stitching to create the “cork”.

Luck - Finished 01

This is Liquid Luck

Next up: A project for my almost 8-year-old niece, who loves the idea of Paris as much as I did at her age.  She’s been promised a trip when she turns 18 if she continues to excel in school.  I thought I’d make her something to keep her motivated.

(Big G…if you’re reading this, be patient.  Making art takes time.  Love you!)

Any Color’s All Right As Long As It’s Blue (for Gene), Part 2 (Finished!)

The last of the Any Color series for my grandparents is complete.

Red for Basil. Green for Lucille. Purple for Neska. And Blue for Gene.

Spending the last few months creating these has been both pleasant and poignant, a time of joy-filled memories of visits with beloved grandparents but also a time tinged with the sadness that never, ever quite leaves after loss.

The process to create Blue went more smoothly than those before it. Not all that surprising, I suppose. Practice makes perfect (or close to it), after all. However, the knowledge that Blue, the last in this series, was in memory of the first grandparent I lost made me a little weepy. There are tears stitched to, and soaked into, the fabric.

A piece of my heart went with each grandparent when he or she died. But in return, a piece of each of them lives on in me.

Blue is for Grandpa Gene, who lives large and bold in my heart.

**

Any Color’s All Right As Long As It’s Blue (for Gene) ~ link to poem

Any Color - Gene - Finished

The finished product

Any Color - Gene - 13

His favorite number was 13

Any Color - Gene - Green Giant

He gave me a Jolly Green Giant doll. I remember it with vivid clarity. There are days I wish I still had it.

Any Color - Gene - Photo

Wasn’t he handsome?
This seemed like the perfect place to save his fireman’s retirement badge.

Any Color - Gene - Poem

The poem

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How do you honor those who live on in your heart?