Thursday, June 30, 2011

Mid-Year Check-in

It's hard to believe it's June 30th and half the year is already gone! I've come to believe that time is the most valuable thing we have and I attempt to spend my time only on things I value. That's easier said than done, as there are some necessities in life that require my time, like grocery shopping, house cleaning, laundry, and cooking, but I try to get them done as quickly as possible so I can get on to something more enjoyable and more valuable.

The middle of the year is a good time to look back at my goals from January (listed in this post) and see what progress I've made and what I still want to accomplish. So far I've checked off a few (joined SAQA, submitted pieces to three shows and had one acceptance, finished the large piece I promised my friend) but I still have lots to work on. I only finished one other piece besides the "Caribbean Underwater Ballet" (C.U.B) and that has been donated to the SAQA fundraising auction (more on that at a later date). I'd like to make at least 4 more, one of which is in the works. The look I've been achieving with the sheer aqua fabrics is much closer to what I want my signiture color and "brand" to be, so I hope to focus on that with my next four pieces. That should help me select photos to use for business cards and redoing my website, maybe even with my ETSY shop... Maybe I'll pick up on my weekly art again too- I only made it through about March on that goal and then I got so busy working on C.U.B. with its June 15th deadline, that I devoted all my time to that. I find it very hard to finish something in an hour or so, so when I start something new on a weekly basis I end up with a lot of UFOs and a very messy workspace, as well as divided interests. Maybe my weekly things should just be experiments with new techniques on white fabric, like shaving cream marbleing and sun printing. I'd like to make time for those this summer. I've gotten better at keeping a calendar of shows I'd like to enter and have made 3 deadlines so far. I realized only recently that a great place to keep this calendar is right here on my laptop, on the iCalendar app. I usually only use it so I can visually see how the summer or holiday weekends are shaking out, but I might as well use it for my art deadlines too. I'll try that in the next six months. I think I've also decided I need another good light to help get more professional and evenly lit photos of my work. The one I have is good, but I always end up with a dark corner. I think another light will help immensly and I'm ready to make the investment!

Meanwhile, we're heading to the Poconos this weekend for a little family holiday, a good way to spend time. Each of my daughters has invited a friend, so it won't be complete isolated family time, but at least the focus will be on fun and togetherness! (With 13 people staying in our little 3-bedroom house, there will probably be lots of togetherness!)
God Bless America!

Friday, June 24, 2011

Feeling Droopy

The roses look the way I've been feeling lately - droopy, tired, worn-out! Maybe it's just the weather. We've been getting many heavy thundershowers in the last few days and in between it's stuffy, humid, and gray. The air is just heavy.

Or maybe it's the declination I got from the Brush Gallery. I thought maybe I had a shot because that piece fit in so well with their theme this year. Realistically, the Brush says this show features "the best of art quilts from the US and Canada," which is pretty high status and I guess I'm not quite there yet. Also, I think my friend Vivien's theory that more abstract pieces are getting accepted rather than representational ones may have some truth to it (read her blog entry about it here). Maybe my current work using those sheer aqua fabrics would've fit the bill better.

Also this time of year can be so bittersweet, with the flurry and excitement of end-of-school parties and ceremonies. This week two of my three girls had moving-up ceremonies, one finishing eighth grade, the other fifth. The older they get and the further they move into adolescence, the less influence I have over them, it seems. They seem to be more and more influenced by their friends and popular culture, and it is a struggle every day to teach them values and keep them grounded in what's really important. Now the summer stretches out ahead of us with less structure for them, but longer work hours for me!

But I have the whole morning off today, and they will be in school for a few hours, so I'll have that time to pull myself together. I'll try to approach everything with more of their optimistic attitude and energy, as shown in this photo I snapped yesterday.

Friday, June 17, 2011

In the Habit

For the last month or so, I've been using every spare minute to finish my large piece (see previous post), and even though it's now finished, I found myself in the habit of going into my workshop area and doing a little something every day. Of course, I did take it a bit slower, read a couple of books, watched some TV (the new season of the next Food Network star has started!), even napped a little this week, but I dove right into my next two projects (yes, you read that right - two!). I think I was able to work more quickly than I have in the past because in the previous project I became used to just doing, not thinking. I hope I can keep up this momentum!
In planning the previous project, I bought several sheer and metallic aqua fabrics that I thought I might use as overlays to suggest water. I ended up not using them, partly because of the time crunch, but also because I felt they would've obscured all the interesting textures and details I worked so hard on. I was a bit disappointed that I didn't get to play with all those fun sheers and see what effects I could create, so I decided to use them for my next two projects. The one above will be for our next FANE show in September, so it needs to be finished over the summer. We had a group member serve as a guest curator and she came up with the size and theme requirements for our show. The size is 9" x 20"- interesting and different - and it can be hung either vertically or horizontally. She also decided each piece should be predominantly one color and that the color name be mentioned in the title of the piece.

To explore this idea, I took a long piece of cheesecloth that I had painted with watered-down acrylic paints in the spring, and cut it to about 24" (I always like to have more than enough!). I cut those sheer aqua fabrics into strips about an inch wide, threaded them on a large needle, and wove them in and out of the painted cheesecloth. Right now it's all just laying loose on top of another piece of aqua fabric, but I intend to position it into waves and use both hand and machine stitching to hold it all together. I may do some beading on it as well, as I also have a pretty good collection of beads in this color.

While I was playing with that, I started thinking that maybe I should consider creating something for the SAQA auction, which would need to be completed by July 2. That piece has a size requirement of 10-12" square, so I thought I might use some of the same fabrics but in another way. For this piece, I started with a square piece of pale blue fabric and layered wavy strips of the sheers over it to look like water. At the bottom is a soft piece of a tweed-like fabric in peach tones, to resemble sand. I added some hand stitching to this too, to give it more texture and obscure the straight lines a little (you may have to click on the photo to enlarge it to see that detail). There's also a tiny seashell in the lower right corner.
Anyway, it's obviously a seascape and I'm happy with the effects of the layering of the sheers. In person, I feel it really conveys the sense of being by the seaside. Maybe this will be the start of a series (I've got yards of those sheer aqua fabrics!). Once again, I'm a little disappointed with how it looks in the photo compared to how it looks in person. One of my goals for the year is to invest in lighting or some other means of getting better photos. I still need to work on that one...

Saturday, June 11, 2011

It's done!

Here are the images I'm sending off to the Brush Gallery in Lowell, Mass for their 2011 ArtQuilts Lowell show!

I finally finished and photographed it today (a day later than I planned) after a few setbacks. First, we had tremendous thunderstorms blow through Thursday evening, complete with hail and everything, and we lost power overnight, so I was unable to finish the machine stitching I needed to do. By Friday morning I was intent on getting it done as quickly as I could, knowing that I needed to attend two school functions later that day. In my rush to finish, I wasn't as careful and precise as I should've been and in the first set of pictures I took, it looked very sloppy. I ended up spending the afternoon ripping out all the stitching I did that morning and spending the better part of today redoing it and photographing it. I'm satisfied with the results. I'm calling it "Caribbean Underwater Ballet."

Since there's a $30 entry fee for up to three pieces, I thought I might as well add one more. Here is a shot of "Great Blue Whale" which I did years ago. I still like the color scheme and fabric choices, but it seems almost simple to me in comparison with the other one. It's also much smaller - 15" x 19" compared to 27" x 41"!
But I'm thrilled that I completed everything in time to enter. As long as I can get to the post office first thing Monday morning and send the CD two-day express, it should be there on time! Hooray!

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Because it's June...

Isn't the world a beautiful place in June?

I've tried to take notice of all the beauty around me (mostly while I'm out with the dog!) while I feverishly run from home to work to the store or the orthodontist and back home again, and then try to get some more work done on this underwater piece (what shall I call it?!?!). I did spend a good bit of time on it this weekend and yesterday (I only worked a half day) and managed to add these elements: the tarpon (he will be stitched on tonight or tomorrow)...

...and these spiny sea urchins. I actually had to do these twice because I didn't like the way the first ones looked. I added some hand stitching and the piece is just about ready to be trimmed down and bound! Just in time too, because I need to get it photographed and mail the CD before the 15th. If it's all done by Friday, I should make it.