Monday, September 21, 2009

Being Professional

Wave I
17 1/2" x 24 1/2"
Begun 1999, Finished 2001
Mixed fabrics including hand dyed silk, Embroidery, Beads
Completely hand stitched

Lions, Tigers, and Bees
27" x 32"
Begun April 2006, Finished July 2006
Cotton, Silk, Ribbons, Buttons
Machine and hand stitched

These are two of the finished pieces I have recently put up photos of on my Facebook and Flickr sites. Today I became a true professional by selling both of them. They sold to the same patron. I will be spending my week packing them and getting them mailed out. I can't even begin to express the excitement that I am feeling. I'm over the moon.

Thinking about why one is an artist leads me to philosophize a bit. I create these works because I have to. They are within me and I have to let them out. I need to create in order to feel happy. It is just who I am. But I think all artists struggle with how their work is perceived by others, because we can't create in a cocoon. We create, and then we put it out there for everyone to see. We strive to show our work, and to sell it because we know that it is within the interaction of others that the work comes alive. It is no longer just your own perception, but also that of the beholder. Music needs to be heard, art needs to be seen. It is in this that the creation becomes 'whole'.

My excitement stems from knowing that for the first time ever, my work is being seen by people and ultimately it has in two cases communicated so deeply as to become the property of the viewer. Those of you who have been doing this for a while, may be smiling a bit. You may have sold many of your pieces in your artist lifetime. Lets face it, there are many who are making their living as artists. Selling is a necessity of existence. But I don't think it ever gets better than this. It's like a first kiss. Intense, scintillating, and unique to the moment and I am ever thankful for the experience.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Progress on 'Chlorophyll'

I have been working on 'Chlorophyll' lately. The center leaves are all stitched down and their veins are stitched in too. Have been thinking about how to quilt and embellish already. I think that I want to hand quilt in the background with some embroidery thread. But no beads in the center of this one.
Andrea, my daughter with quite an eye for design, and I took some time last night playing with the fabrics in the stash. With her suggestion, I chose the border for color and also for the contrast of large to small pattern. We stepped back from the pinning and were wowed by it's movement and contribution. So here it is. I will be beading this border heavily. The bursts of the pattern remind me of fireworks and to me should be bright and sparkly. So I have an intense beading project on my hands. My next work is to hand sew the border to the background and to miter the corners. I will then move on to quilting the center background. More progress in days to come.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009


Just a quick note to my readers.

Welcome to my seven followers. Thanks for taking the time to view my blog. I have been having some trouble with some of the applications since I downloaded the background. I have sent off a few e-mails to the company who owns the rights to the background but have gotten no reply. On my end I have done everything I can think of to assure that you can leave comments, to absolutely no avail. I also cannot get the slideshow gadget to recognize my flickr photos. My 22 yr old daughter and I were up very late trying to get it to work. If I get frustrated enough, I am going to have to deep 6 the background. :(

If you have any comments, I welcome them on Twitter or Facebook. I am artgirlri at Twitter and you can look for me as a friend on Facebook by searching for Nancy Turbitt. One of the reasons for my doing this blog is to get some very needed feedback.

I have put a group of photos on Flickr which are a small finished portfolio. However, I am still learning about how to use Flickr. You can find me there as artgirlri.

Again thanks for your support. I will be in the studio all tomorrow and Friday, so there should be some progress posted by the end of the week.

Friday, September 11, 2009


My Bernina was in need of a tune-up, so in late August, I took it to the local dealership. On the morning of September 11, I dropped my Mom at her daily adult care center and got on the highway going south to Warwick. It was then that I heard of the first plane hitting the tower in NYC. By the time I got to the store to get my machine, all the employees were standing in front of the TV in one of their workrooms. I joined them in disbelief.

I joined an entire nation, who now remember their experiences of that day. Pivotal and painful, we all knew that the world would never be the same again. Eight years later, I fear that we really haven't made much progress in the way of peace. I am always hopeful but there is a foreboding now that will not go away. At any time, any moment, it could all shatter; the quiet hum of safety. Let none of us forget that peace begins in our hearts, that life is fleeting, and that the world will turn no matter what happens.

As I sit at my Bernina this afternoon, I will let each stitch become a prayer for peace, for the pain and suffering of all the people who lost someone eight years ago to this tragedy, for those individuals who lost their lives and for those who would perpetuate this kind of violence again. For the later please, bless their souls with tolerance, compassion and wisdom and fill their hearts with love instead of hate. As I watch the leaves flutter on the trees outside my studio, and the tiny drops of rain fall like tears, I pray with hope.

Let none of us ever forget.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Feathers of Gold

It is finally done. Begun in March of this year with a simple drawing of the sunflower and goldfinch, it really didn't start to take off until I found the goldfinch fabric to place in the corners. It finished off at 17 1/2" x 21 1/4" and is made primarily of cotton but with silk, beads, sequins and buttons. Stitching is done both by machine and by hand. It's formally named, 'Feathers of Gold'.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

A New Quilt, 'Chlorophyll'

I got this crazy idea. One of those that come to you in that time between sleep and wakefulness. I saw a branch of a tree turning into fabric, just as it grew. So I thought about it and later went out to 'prune' an oak leaf hydrangea. Above is the lowest leaf on the stem, therefore, the largest, pinned to fabric. Cutting was a challenge, as I wanted to keep as much of the true edge as I could. Used both my large scissors and my tiny ones.
Taking what was once three dimentional and visualizing it on a flat plane was a little harder this way than when I draw it out. While drawing, I am drawing with perspective, allowing for depth. This was just simply a placing of leaves, one on top of another to create a sense of depth. I snipped each leaf, pinned it to fabric and then cut it out. Next I placed it where the real leaf was, pinned and then moved to another leaf.

The end result is a grouping of leaves, straight from Mother Nature herself. The leaves are ironed as I usually do, under layers completely; as they will be first to be sewn, and upper layers; only partially ironed or not at all yet. My backing fabric is a fun print from one of Jane Sassaman's collections. It will wrap around to the front as the border. The background fabric is, as usual for me, silk shantung.

This was an exercise in spontaneity for me. I usually work in a much more controlled way. It was a lot of fun and I am looking forward to sewing it.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Continuing with the close-ups, the one above is the Lupine;January 2001 center section of 'Nancy's Garden.
Close-up of Iris; April 2001, part of 'Nancy's Garden'.
Close-up of Tiger Lily; March 2001, part of 'Nancy's Garden.'

The past few days have been busy ones, filled with the stuff of life. This Saturday I am taking my youngest child off to his first semester in college. He will only be 1 hour away at the University of Rhode Island, however, it has hit me a bit hard this summer that all of my kids are now grown and Tony and I will be empty-nesters. Andrea, 21, has helped by moving back home for a while to save some money so as to finish off her studies. But she is fiercely independent and we never see her even though she sleeps at home. My husband,Tony, owns his business and is working 15 to 18 hour days, so I have a lot of time on my hands. My day job is part time for the present, as RI has a 12% unemployment rate, and I lost my full time job at a local fabric store when they closed shop.

For the first time in many years, I actually have the time for my artwork. Our new house in Smithfield has provided me with the most wonderful of studio spaces; light, airy and spacious. From my years at the fabric store I have amassed quite a full collection of fabrics, just waiting to be used in quilt projects. For the most part I am ecstatic and full of creative energy that I am able to tap into daily. But there is this little annoying, pesky voice deep inside that is very resistant to change. That is the voice of the Mother, who feels a bit unneeded. It is a very strange time of life and most days I wonder how I got here so fast.

I also have an alternate voice who is looking ahead, whispering, "How much longer are you going to be able to see well enough to do your artwork?" or "What if your fingers succumb to nerve damage?" Will I ever get all the drawings worked into fabric? I really am not sure how many more years I will be doing this work. I am hoping that it is a long time, but one never really knows.

My Mother came to live with me in her late 70's because she could no longer see, due to macular degeneration. She was a watercolorist. I still remember her sitting at my kitchen table that first week, weeping for her lost lifestyle. She could no longer paint. She stayed with me for four years until her death at the age of 82. I think it was the hardest four years of her long life and she had lived through the Great Depression and my father dying at the age of 59.

Those of us who are solidly in middle age, have no real choice but to think about what may be coming our way. Such a strange time of life, a time to ponder with some wisdom, what has been and what may be.
There is an urgency to my stitching that was never there before; an urgency fueled by intense desire.

Got to go sew...........

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

As I struggle to take pictures of my work, here are a few more close-ups that have been successful. The first two photos are close-ups from 'Nancy's Garden', Rose;December 2000 & Sunflower;October 2000.

I decided to embellish Sunflower with some real sunflower petals. They were dried by myself, and sealed between adhesive clear plastic. While not as pleasing as I may have liked, they do bring a certain unique and fun quality to the piece.

Above is a close-up from a piece called 'Lions, Tigers and Bees' done in spring of 2006.

Within a day or two, I should be able to get pictures of the entire quilts. Should, being the operative word.

I have been embellishing 'Goldfinch' feverishly, as I really want to see it done. There is a lot of beading on this one. I don't always bead heavily, but for this one, I felt the desire. It will be posted by the end of this week, complete and named.