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.