I spent this past weekend at the Fabrications retreat in Lewiston, Michigan. It was my first time attending. I've heard rave reviews from other attendees and put it on my list of must go do this. This year I was able to do that and I already put down a deposit to return next year. (I'm signed up for a class with Fran Skiles and I can't wait!!!)
Its held at the Garland Resort, which is absolutely stunning. And its also Color Weekend in Michigan so there was lots of really gorgeous autumn colors all over the place. And did I take pictures of this? Nope. Which at first I kicked myself for but then realized its a testament to how much I enjoyed myself that I was living fully in the moment. (Its good reasoning, right? Work with me here...)
Pamela Allen's class
I've never taken an art quilt class. I chose to take Pamela Allen's class because before this weekend I was allergic to using more then one print in a quilt and seemingly completely incapable of using more then one fabric for the background of a quilt. Pamela fixed that.
We did several exercises on line and color and then the unfortunate incident with my attempts at free motion quilting. Let's just say that the machine will be visiting the doctor because this time it wasn't my fault. Quit looking at me that way, I swear it wasn't. (Mary was in the class with me and fixed the machine so there is proof, go ask her if you don't believe me.)
I did several pieces but these have got to be my favorite. I ended up kicking out three quilts in a little series I'm calling "Acid Peace." Here they are:
The images are taken from the peace jacket I made for the American Sewing Expo a couple weeks ago. The one on the right came first and had a very acid feel to it, hence the name of the series. (I may rework the middle one a little bit but I'm not sure yet.) The other two came about as wanting to play with the colors to provoke different emotions. Note the patterned fabric, note the not-so-flat background.
The ironic thing is that I've never done series type reproduction work before this class. Poor Pamela, I had to take her class to do something normal. Sorry about that one.
Pamela is an amazing teacher. Really really fun and she really makes you think about why you add what you do to your compositions. I got a lot out of her class and had a blast doing it. I would highly recommend her.
I had the opportunity to have a critique of my work from Laura Cater-Woods. I admit that I was a little nervous about it but the curiosity of what someone had to say about my work that didn't know me in the least was too much and it won over any apprehension.
One of the things that's been bothering me lately with my work is a shift in styles. Below is Fragile I, which is the first of two quilts I recently made. Which to me look absolutely nothing like my usual style.
Laura looked at this quilt compared with my usual style and had some very constructive comments. The biggest thing I learned is that it is obvious that these are from me, they are constructed similarly and bear the same marks. But one focuses more on mood while the others focus more on the objects on the quilt.
I think I've got a split style. There is such a large part of me drawn to the more abstract like Fragile I & Fragile II but I enjoy the mixed media aspect of my usual style. She also helped me to understand my feelings toward working in a series. The quilts that are created based on my mixed media/embellishment style say all that they need to in one shot. While the quilts like Fragile leave a lot of space for interpretation and therefore cannot finish their conversation in one piece.
I'm digging the split style idea. And I thank Laura for helping me come to grips with it. I bought more square beads and some appropriate moody fabric from Cathy Arnett to continue the Fragile series.
Laura also teaches at the retreat and will be returning next year. Just from the brief interaction I had with her, I would highly recommend her to anyone looking for insight into their artwork. She's got a way of doing that with such ease that you don't know what hit you. But in a totally good way.
Laughing Myself Silly
I went to the retreat with Mary and we are good friends with Cathy Arnett, the organizer of the retreat. Unfortunately we don't see her that often but when we get together, it is complete mayhem. I think I laughed so much this past weekend it could have qualified as exercise.
This is a photo of the three of us at Bead Haven in Frankenmuth. Normally I would be irked that the photo is a little blurry but I think it is so appropriate for us that I went ahead and posted it. Why is it blurry? Because we were acting so stupid that the poor girl we wrangled into taking the photo couldn't stop laughing. (And the camera was set on the Kids & Pets setting to help with my issues of having unsteady hands. It was obviously a moot point here.)
From left to right: Mary, me and Cathy.
And to give you an even better understanding of just how we get, I will end this post with some pictures that Cathy took of us using the PhotoBooth program on her iMac. (A quick explanation for those of you not familiar with this program: There is a camera built into the computer and the program has different filters that distort the images like a fun house.) Be warned, they are not flattering but beyond funny....
Here I am doing a hulk impersenation:
And here is Cathy doing an impression of a Dementor on Mary:
You totally have to come next year....
P.S. Cathy will have the information up for next year's retreat shortly after the new year. I can't recommend it enough. It rocked in so many ways its hard to put into words.