Archive for the ‘52 Sparks’ Category

52 Sparks: Week 7 – What Do You Love?

I am still behind, but I am thinking all the time…….I love life! I love everything about it – the ups, the downs, the music, the art, nature – everything!I don’t think we always appreciate that simple fact. Even when we have down times, there still is so much beauty around us, we just need to find it – or even something as simple as taking the time to find the beauty. Ever since hubby and I were dating, one of our favorite things to do was take a ride along back roads and go exploring. We found lots of great things: a very small car ferry across the Potomac, a flooded Harper’s Ferry, National Geographic Headquarters, a small sugar shack, sand dunes, an uncovered hulk of a ship off the Diamond Shoals on the Outer Banks. We still go for drives, but it’s a little harder in the desert….not as many options! But one of our favorite spots is Saguaro National Park East, about 6 miles from our house. It’s pretty brown this time of year, and I am looking forward to the first signs of green. But we had snow this week, so there was still some around, and some decaying saguaro cacti, which had incredible texture to them.

What’s left of the snow on the Rincon Mountains. The desert is so brown. You can make out the majestic saguaros at the bottom.

A more panoramic view, with a saguaro in the foreground.

Look at the texture!

Pretty serious thorns on this bush. The desert can look very deceiving!

52 Sparks – Week 6 – On Top of the World

I am behind, part of what’s making me so nuts lately. But I do so want to stay up with some of my projects for this year. So far I’m really not doing badly, and I know I need to give myself a break and stop being so hard on myself. So….Week 6: When You’re On Top of the World….

I feel giddy, I giggle, I smile, I talk a lot, and my mind goes crazy with ideas. I’ve often commented “It doesn’t take much to make me happy.” I don’t know if that’s a good thing or not! I’m thinking it’s a good thing – I like the feeling, and I want it to happen more often.

I often get this feeling when I complete a project. I just finished a commission as part of a house-warming, and about half-way through I started grinning from ear to ear. I LOVED the piece!! And then, yesterday, I bought a new sewing machine – with 90 decorative stitches…..I’m still grinning, and I can’t wait till Thursday when life is a little simpler to play with it and make my stitch  sampler. I’m still giggling at the prospect.

Nature also makes me feel on top of the world, and not necessarily when I’m on a mountaintop. A favorite spot just south of the Seven Pools on Maui, the lakefront on Champlain, the Pali on Oahu, cactus in bloom during a wet spring in Saguaro National Park……get me outside and I can feel on top of the world.

So here’s my free motion quilting piece for my friend Ali. There are SO many things I love about this piece – the colors worked even better than I thought, and I love how the blues kind of shine. The tension on the back for the most part worked really well. I used Bottom Line in the bobbin, Silk Kimono for the ribbon, Art Studio for some of the blue background, and King Tut for the overall design. The thread colors were great. The ribbon around the center celtic piece was the new FMQ challenge for this first part of the year from SewCalGal, and brought to us by Libby Lehman. I love how the ribbon is created. I’m not happy with how mine turned out – it needed to be larger, and I discovered that I really didn’t need a pattern – next time I will freehand the ribbon and not make the stitching as dense. I was even thrilled with the blocking, squaring off, and binding. Overall – on top of the world……

close-up of the “ribbon” work

52 Sparks, Week 2 – Appreciation vs. Approval, Plus FMQ

 This week of 52 Sparks had a really interesting question that I pondered a bit. The question: How do you appreciate yourself? I had to think long and hard about this one. I think I was confusing appreciation with approval, and it took me the longest time over the years to not worry about family approval. I needed to start appreciating me for me, and what I did and succeeded at because I was pleased, not someone else…..kinda rambling, but I hope it makes sense.

Appreciation: I go for walks to think about what I’m doing, I take time off to read – some times days at a time to just immerse myself in some books. Mostly, though, I appreciate myself by giving myself free rein to make art. And with retirement, I am taking more time to appreciate what I’m learning and creating. In fact, three new commissions over this week. It is just so delightful to quilt away for hours (with the occasional back break) and see the progress.

That said, here’s what happened with art this week. Last time I had the stencil traced on to the green fabric in preparation for my first whole quilt. Now all I need to do is square it off and bind it. I LOVE IT!!!! I NEVER thought I would be able to free motion a whole cloth. Yay me!

So here they are – better pics when the binding is finished.

 All are Superior Threads, Bottom Line in bobbin, Silk Kimono in background, and Fantastic variegated in the design.

 

52 Sparks – Week 4 – Aloneness

This was an interesting question this week: How do you feel when you are by yourself?

I spend a huge amount of time time by myself, usually working on something artistic. It seems like I have always been by myself growing up…and yet, you can never be by yourself when you have a good book. And that is still true.

But I never had a lot of friends. I am quite the introvert, so moving to something artistic just seemed a natural. I think my introversion became even stronger, given my position in a family of extroverts, coupled with emotional abuse. So I am accustomed to being by myself. My husband and I do most everything together – we are each other’s best friend. The fact that we can – and do – work at art together is a great plus for us.

I can remember my dad asking me how I was, one time when he came to visit. I said I was lonely. I did a lot of things by myself, and I could always read, but I think it was more a case of seeing friends with others of the opposite sex, and I would wonder what was wrong with me. I finally decided if I was going to be single, then it would not keep my from doing whatever I wanted to do.  Alone can be very good – I get a lot of work done on fiber pieces, a lot of planning. Especially with retirement. So when I do have “alone” time, I plan projects or lose myself in a good book.

So since I haven’t started something new, I decided to try a “whole cloth” quilt because of the class I’m taking on Craftsy with Cindy Needham. I had the really great stencil from about 12 years ago…..I finally found where I had “stored” it. I pulled a green piece with some interesting tonal print to see what would happen. Here’s the latest “in progress:”

Of course, most of the yellow marker has already rubbed off…….

52 Sparks – Week 3

Week Three of Dale Anne Potter’s 52 Sparks asks about our favorite color. I’ve had an interesting week thinking about this one. My first thought was purple, as I wear that color a lot. And…I have a lot of purple in my fabric stash. But the more I thought about it, the more I kept going back to basic black.

Growing up I did a lot of work with pen and ink, as well as charcoal. In fact, the year I was 14 for Christmas I gave my father a drawing I had done from a holiday card. This was the old-style pen and having to load the India ink each time. He had it framed, and it eventually passed to me when he died and my mother remarried. There are times when it looks vary amateurish, and times when I see the perspective and the light sources. I still like the piece. Here it is:

There is something so basic and stark about working in black and white. I was very linear when growing up, and as a naive, young adult, a lot of life was black-and-white, with few shades of gray. That has certainly changed!

In college I had to buy a black dress for orchestra performances, and I have always loved the idea of the “little black dress.” Wearing black and white in the summers was a favorite, and I was delighted to learn in the 70’s that I was a “winter,” and crayon colors were perfect for me. But I have also realized I wore a lot of black when I was teaching. It’s a great discipline color, and it was a staple in my wardrobe, and I could mix and match just about anything.

Speaking of wardrobes, black also is slimming, so that’s another reason why I have so much of it – accented with purple, of course.

I don’t hesitate to use black when needed in my artwork, and of course I love doing zentangles. Last week I showed the beginning of the zentangle – in glorious black and white – that I have started as the first step in a piece for an art show. After three days of a lot of intense, fine work, my zentangle is approaching completing, and then I can go on to the next stage. Here it is, as I’ve started to square off the sides, and not too much to finish.

I wear red, I wear purple, but I am still drawn to black…even if I don’t have to worry about discipline any more.

52 Sparks – Week 2

I’m participating in Dale Anne Potter’s weekly art journaling project for this year. This week’s prompt was “Right now – what drives you?”

I spent a lot of time this week processing that. Travel certainly is a driving factor, and I want to try and get as much in as possible in the next few years. But…on a day to day basis, I’d say it has to be creating with fabric. It’s not all art, but a good chunk of it turns into something pretty wonderful. And I find I am really trying to get as much art time in as possible, what with trying new ideas, redoing old ones, and just generally learning more about materials, fabrics, and techniques.

That said, I was looking at the lists I’ve developed on year-long projects, month-long projects, and weekly tasks. For the last two years I haven’t entered Fish Follies because I haven’t gotten anything new made. I had a fabulous idea last year, but the deadline was as we were coming back from StashFest in La Conner. I had the who piece worked out in my head, but the very first piece would be creating the zentangle artwork that I would need as the base for all the fish.

So as I’m looking at my lists today and contemplating writing about this question, when it occurs to me to just start doing the basic artwork. Start on it, so I can see the progress and realize I really am working on creating, not just reading the lists. I figured if I created the zentangle on a large sketchpad piece of paper, then scan it, I could create the fish I needed and they wouldn’t all be exactly the same. So two hours later, here’s what I have so far….and a long way to go before this part is completed……

Lots more to go, and it will be interesting to see how it photographs – I think it will be too large for the scanner, but at least each of my fish will look very different.

What I like about this prompt this week is the sense of commitment to creating, and when I combine it with my word for the year – optimistic – it feels like a really good fit!

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