Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Summer Swelter, Yet Again

Here I am again facing the trials of summer heat. Still no air conditioner! I have so many UFOs to attack this summer. With a couple of Calls for Entry in my sights, including for the first time for me, Quilt=Art=Quilt at the Schweinfurth Art Center in New York and Art Quilt Elements at the Wayne Art Center in Pennsylvania. I have a plan and so far even with this spring's deviation from the goal list, I am on target.

What set me off of my planned goal list was a call for political art in Threads of Resistance. Feeling as overwhelmed and panicked as I still am about what is happening in my country, I felt a need to try to create a piece in just two months for the exhibit. Organized and run by The Artists Circle, a group of textile artists, Threads of Resistance received over 500 entries. I did not make the cut. I will, however, be traveling to The New England Quilt Museum for the opening on Saturday, July 15, 2017 because I just can't wait to see some of my favorite works up close and personal. For more information about the show go to

This is my entry, which I am very proud of:

24" x 42"
April, 2017
Beadwork, Andrea Theriault
Photo by Joe Ofria

This was my first dyptic. I chose to do a dyptic because I saw my issue as being a two headed monster of a problem. On the right is a close-up map of the US middle, red states. You can see all the tributaries of the Mississippi River reaching from the right across the piece. The black, gold and silver spots represent oil or gas leaks and the gold beadwork lines represent the network of pipelines that already exist in these states. My daughter, Andrea, actually was a strong influence in some of my creative choices and she did all the beadwork on the second panel. 

With so many leaks already a part of history, why would any administration actively support two more pipelines, the Keystone and Dakota Access Pipelines. Which brings me to the left part of the dyptic and what I think is the second aspect of this problem. Someone is refusing to acknowledge or see that pipelines leak and cause havoc. Environmental issues are front and center with me. I am very worried about clean water, air and land being available for the future for all our children and grandchildren. 

You may not like my politics. I only ask as an artist and a citizen of the USA, that I still have the right of free speech in order to air my grievances in the most natural way possible, through my art.

I entered a couple of other calls for exhibits also showing in Lowell this summer. The first is at the Whistler House Museum of Art and is called Contemporary Art Quilts 2017: A Juried Exhibition and will be opening August 5 to September 1, 2017. The Artists Reception is on Saturday, August 5 from 2-4pm. I entered Queen Bee and Lady Feather, neither of which has ever shown. They accepted Queen Bee.

43" x 45 1/2"
Photo by Eric Zhang

Since I didn't have to create a piece for this exhibit, that freed my time to consider creating a piece for another upcoming call also showing in Lowell this summer. This call is named Little Black Dress and is showing at The Brush Gallery & Studios from August 5 to September 16. The Artists Reception will be held on Saturday, August 26. Based on my reflections of the times I have worn this type of dress, it is more like a pictorial memoir than my usual art quilts. I used two of my former "little black dresses" as some of the textiles for this piece. The blue in the title refers to the tall bearded irises that my mother grew for years and painted so well towards the end of her life. My mother's influence permeates this piece, culminating in the third and last dress being the one I wore to my mother's funeral.

39" x 39"
June, 2017

I stretched my usual technique style a bit with this one using not only fabric which was printed with my own linoleum cut, but I incorporated the actual dress tissue-paper patterns, dresses and used a photo transfer onto silk fabric for the first time. This emotional piece may be the beginning of a new series, but with all that I have on my plate I won't be able to continue the series until next year. Memoirs was accepted into the exhibit at the Brush so both Queen Bee and Memoirs will be showing in Lowell, MA late this summer.

Moving on to what I am working with right now, Apollo will be finished by mid-July. I have been working on it in fits and starts between the other pieces this spring. I am not far from completion. I will put up some pictures of the process in my next post. Also on deck for later this summer is A Child's Eye in which I must create a 3 foot wide drawing of a wicker settee by using discharge medium on fabric outside on my deck. Fresh air and good weather are a requirement for discharging.

Sideways view of a thistle growing in the median near where I used to work. This photo is my primary source for the drawings of the thistles used in Apollo.
My first drawing of the wicker settee in A Child's Eye. I have since had to redraw the entire settee. Because it is so big, this is going to take a long time to draw out with a thin brush on fabric over my light box. 
Time to turn in for the night. Tomorrow is another busy day in the studio!

Thursday, February 9, 2017

The Teacher in Me

It's been a long time coming!

In preparation for an invitational event at the New England Quilt Museum called "Meet the Teachers" this past October, I did some work finishing off my three concepts for workshops. Above is my brochure front cover and the inside of the tri-fold.

I offer three workshops, Fabric Markers & Pens: Enhance & Design, Floral Compositions with Fusible Web, and From Photo to Quilt: Landscape, as well as a trunk show lectureMy topics for the teaching concepts draw from my strengths as an artist; simple landscape compositions, using fusible web to facilitate getting a strong composition, and using markers directly on fabrics to enhance the surface of a quilt.

Fabric Markers & Pens:
Enhance & Design

Several of my quilts have successfully incorporated the use of markers as a vital technique in producing the final piece including, Queen Bee Says No to GMOs, (honeycomb bodice, right), Monumental and Empress of the Pines.

Students in the fabric marker class will be working on one of three of my small floral designs. While working with fusibles and the markers and pens, students will be also finishing the design with stitching and adding a decorative fabric frame with a finished binding. They will be taking home a small finished piece along with the knowledge of how to use markers and pens at home. 

Petal Pushers (right)
My designs are simple to use, uncomplicated and offer the beginner a great starting point. 

I use two different products in this class. One is the Fabrico Marker by the Tsukineko Company. They are developed specifically for use with fabrics and have dual heads, fine tip and brush tip. My chart to the right indicates all the colors available and I have used them to show how each tip looks when used on white cotton. We also learn to use Sakura's Pigma Micron pens which give a fine drawing line in archival quality dye-based inks. A small kit fee ($10) sends the students home with the markers and pens that they have used in their design.

Floral Compositions with Fusible Web

In my many years of creating fused art quilts, I have developed a way of ensuring that segments of my drawings are placed well for the composition. I fuse colors of the quilt to a pre-fused, paper-backed muslin first, layering as much as I need, and then cut these sections from the muslin to pin them to a pre-stitched background.

Students will be using my floral designs to create a finished 14" square piece. This is an intensive two day workshop and much attention is payed not only to color choices but to placement and composition as well, including active critique on the work wall.

Stargazer (right)

From Photo to Quilt:

Having taken so many photographs specifically for use as subjects for art quilts has given me a strong base for teaching my techniques. I manipulate my photos to get the highest range of contrast and then render them in black & white. Using a light table to draw out a simple design lets me focus then on choosing the right fabrics to illustrate my design.
In this one day classroom, after learning my tricks for using photo altering apps on computer, students will use one of my two designs to render their own landscape experience. A lot of attention is payed to how to find the right fabric for the elements of a simple design.

In Marsh Walk you can see how the subtleties of patterning, and color within a batik or hand-dye can add to the overall visual understanding of a landscape. At the end of a day a finished 12" X 18" art quilt goes home with the student as well as the knowledge of how to produce a landscape quilt from their own photos.

Marsh Walk (right)

Trunk Show

Don't we all love to see a great trunk show. Let's face it, it is like going to a gallery for a show but hearing the artist talk about all the back stories. (Which are always so much more fun.)

So there it all is in a nutshell. OK I'm ready now. Let the fun begin.

If you or your guild would like more information about my classes, you can go to for information, prices, and supply lists. Would you like to have some brochures? Email me at

Sunday, February 5, 2017

A Whale of a New Year

And so it goes, the years flow from one to another. Here we are in 2017 and that means it's time to assess and project all the actions in the studio.

It was a rejection from Quilt National. Expected, so I dusted myself off and entered Lady Feather and two others into SAQA's Layered Voices. That was a rejection as well. With over 500 entries each to this SAQA exhibit and the H2Oh call, my chances were better at Quilt National. I am rethinking my strategy towards entering all-SAQA exhibits. I will no longer go out of my way to create a piece for a SAQA themed show. If I have one done or if one of the ones I was planning on doing fits into their theme, good to go. If not, it won't be happening.

So this year, I am aiming at something a bit different.

I have a big goal of finishing up some UFOs this year. Needless to say, like so many of us, I have a huge pile of them. I also made a goal list for the business of art and for refurbishing parts of my studio. The later will hinge on my ability to make some money at this. First priority acquisition for my studio is an air conditioning system. Needless to say I have to sell a lot of art for that! Wish me luck!  

Some new things in the studio came as presents from Santa hubs. I have wanted to start using the Inktense pencils for a while to give depth to the fabrics I choose. So I am happy to say I dove right in with my first "new" project of the year. Each year since 2013 I have developed one of my Nature's Portrait Series with past personalities being Queen Bee, Mariposa, Empress of the Pines and last year, Lady Feather. 2017 is the year of the ocean for me. Meet Balena.

Balena is the Italian word for "whale." I have taken on a different approach to this year's personality by realizing that each character I create needs depth of understanding, not for the viewer, but from me. I really have to know who she is. So I have begun writing in journals about Balena. She is a 15 years old mermaid, a Pisces, a loner with a sharp intellect due to her voracious appetite for learning and inner curiosity. "Often quiet, she has a bond with a blue whale who always ends up showing up when she thinks about him." This is how my journal goes. It's storytelling. And I am indulging this practice in order to get a better feel for how to portray this character. 

I also am forcing myself to do several drawings before choosing which will become my major piece for the year. Some of these are Balena plays chess with the octopus (he's winning), Balena has lunch in a kelp forest, Balena hitches a ride with a dolphin. The above drawing is Balena with the whale, my first fully completed drawing.
I also decided to create sample pieces so that I get a full idea of how my techniques are working and to see if I want to make any changes to my drawings. I made a small sample to test the Inktense pencils and to get a feel for color and shading. 
And then I decided to push it a bit and see how the whale which is behind Balena would look alone. I actually completed this piece to stand alone and entered it into a show in Yachats, OR to which it was accepted. The show runs March 10-12, 2017 in Yachats Commons. My first acceptance of the year is Giant below.

34' X 43"
January, 2017

So I am doing a dance between new work and finishing older concepts begun at various times. Here are some of the ones I hope to pull off finishing this coming year:

 ...the mountains behind the butterflies in Apollo
 ...the buildings behind the morning glory wicker bench
...and the drawing of A Child's Eye

...a portrait of love between a woman and her cat Medonja Saves His Girl 
...the other mermaids in Beyond the Deep
These four are big projects partially begun. I don't have to reinvent the wheel, but there is a lot of work to do to complete even one of them. I have been plugging away at Apollo a little bit daily as I have also been drawing Balena. Once Apollo is complete, I will move to more samples of the Balena series, perhaps an octopus study next.

This is a heavy load of work to attempt. As I step down as a SAQA Rep for MA/RI in March, I am expecting a reclusive and steady diet of STUDIO-time all year long. Whoopee, just what the doctor ordered or should I say just what Queen Bee ordered.