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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Iron (Hot Cross Eight)

I took a short break from the studio over the Christmas holidays, but as soon as we rolled into 2017, I was right back at my Hot Cross series with Iron Cross.

For Iron Cross, I wanted layers.  Not just the traditional top, batting, back layers.  I wanted more.  I wanted depth.  So I created mini quilts to stack on mini quilts to stack on the primary cross, using felt for batting.  Each of the minis was stitched to the next largest after quilting until the full piece was completed.

This piece rounds out the Hot Cross series and is meant to represent inclusion through use of all the colors in the spectrum.

To see all of the pieces in the series, please go to my Gallery page.  The first four in the series were a standard 18″ h x 12″ w.  The second four were completed in the cross shape with full pillowcase facings to finish and run a bit larger in size.

I really enjoyed working with shapes; I intend to fully incorporate “non-traditional” shapes into my art practice, which could be interesting as some things won’t lend themselves to a non-rectangular or non-square shape.  However, I always have to rebel against something, so I’ll rebel against “square”.  🙂

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

Iron Cross (link to poem)

Iron Cross (Hot Cross 8)

Iron Cross (Hot Cross 8) - Detail 01

Iron Cross (Hot Cross 8) - Detail 02

Iron Cross (Hot Cross 8) - Poem

 

In other exciting news, a co-worker made his bi-annual trip home to India to visit family and he brought back a TON of fabric for me.  Silks and cottons, prints and solids.  It’s a glorious stash of art making material.  I’ll share photos in a future blog post.

In other even more exciting news, I’m getting a dedicated studio!  I’ve been using our dining room table, with supplies stored in the basement and both boys’ bedrooms.  In essence, the whole house has been my studio but we’re finally consolidating.  I can’t wait!!  Once I’m all set up, I’ll post about that too.

Next up: Airport Layout – Houston Hobby

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Coptic (Hot Cross Seven)

When I was out visiting my parents last February, I took some of my art with me so they could see the pieces in real life, including several of the crosses from my Hot Cross series.  My Dad suggested I include a Coptic cross, based on a small collection of Coptic crosses they have had hanging on the wall of their home for 50 years.

Coptic Crosses

These were a gift sent from Ethiopia and the inspiration for this piece.

So I took the photo above and added it to my design file.

While planning my art piece, I knew I wanted to incorporate all of the crosses mounted to that piece of green velvet but I also knew I wanted to include them as part of a larger piece.  I did a quick image search for Coptic Crosses on the internet to find the traditional shape – as soon as I saw it, I knew how this piece would come together.  There was a lot of fine cutting to create the smaller crosses and their design elements before fusing them all to the larger cross background.  One color component from each of the small crosses was also used in a second smaller cross, integrating the colors throughout.  To pull in the brass from the original metal pieces and the gold from the frame, I used gold and copper metallic threads in the quilting.

In hindsight, I do wish I had finished this piece with zig zag stitches to bind the top, batting, and back.  Instead, I used my usual pillowcase facing.  It took some effort to turn the piece right side out through the narrow leg of the cross; however, that effort does not outweigh my satisfaction with the overall piece.

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

Coptic (link to poem)

Coptic Cross

Coptic No. 1

Coptic No. 2

Coptic No. 3

Coptic No. 4

Coptic - Poem

Next up: Hot Cross 8 – Iron

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Celtic (Hot Cross Six)

The Hot Cross series continues with Celtic, the sixth in the group.  I’m not going to present any false modesty with this piece — I’m in love with it.  While the colors are much more subdued than my usual choices, I find them soothing.  They work in just the way I’d intended when I designed it.

I’ve carried a fondness for celtic knots and spirals for years.  It’s hard to believe it’s taken so long for them to appear in my work.  I enjoyed making this piece so much, I expect to include knots and spirals in a lot of future art work.

As always, constructive criticism and comments are welcome.  Let me know what you think.

Celtic (link to poem)

Celtic - Hot Cross 6

Celtic - Detail 01

Celtic - Detail 02

Celtic - Poetry Label

Next up: Hot Cross 7 – Coptic

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