31 July 2011

where i stand sunday

It was unexpected, that little smudge of color trapped against the grey concrete monster of the parking lot. It floated lazily beneath the blazing heat in a brief glance of a puddle left over from the afternoon rain. I'm eager for the height of summer to be gone, for autumn to move around me in bright stutters of color.

Where I Stand is an ongoing photo essay examining the different places I spend my life standing. Too often we take for granted the everyday places we spend our lives walking on. The ground we tread on has its own stories to tell.

29 July 2011

QA TV - wishing owls and freezer paper stencils

When I filmed my DVD, Print Design Compose, I also filmed two segments for season 8 of Quilting Arts TV. In one segment I showed how I make Wishing Owls (little plushie owls with a quirk) and in the other I demonstrate how to print fabric using freezer paper stencils.

You can see a quick clip of the owls in this preview here:

Still feels wild to hear my name on these things... :)

Season 8 is out now, airing on PBS, and also available for DVD. There are TONS of great segments in this season. I was so fascinated when I sat in the green room and watched the other artists filming their segments, the place was bursting with talent and fabulous artwork!

You can see the episode guide and pick up a copy of your very own here.

Hope you'll join us for an exciting season! :)

26 July 2011

does artist = introvert?

For the longest time, this was my profile picture on Facebook and here on my blog:

Mostly because I'm an introvert. (I did finally replace it with this one.)

I find myself in a lot of situations between the day job and my art activities that need me to not be. So I've learned to shove the introvert aside so I can do the things I love.

But deep down? I love the quiet and the stillness and getting lost in my own thoughts. I crave it in fact. I have to balance the extrovert Lynn with my true nature. I've loved to learn them both for the things that they give me.

But I've gotten to wondering - are most artists introverts? I see so many books and coaches and art business blogs focusing on how to get out of your studio and move among the more naturally extroverted kind.

What do you think? Do you think it goes with the territory?

25 July 2011

2 words

What. Next ?

Those are the two words that dominate my thoughts. They hold my world in their hands, so much possibility, so much to do, so many ways to turn.

They are a constant stream in my Words Only Journal. The place where I am not allowed to sketch or plan or construct - where a simple basic pen and only my thoughts are allowed refuge. The place where my mind plays without bounds of expectation.

There was a time in my life when I thought I wanted to plan everything out and know how every step would be taken. Now I don't. I don't want to spoil the ending, I don't want to read ahead and ruin the plot, I don't want to loose the surprise.

Because its the surprise that gives that tiny pulse to the thought "What Next?"

And its that small pulse that builds to a full blown beat, insistent and overbearing in the most obsessive of ways.

24 July 2011

WINNER! :) beat the heat giveaway

I printed off all the comments, folded them in half, tossed them in a bag and blindly grabbed one. And the winner is... Lynda! Congrats! Send me your address Lynda (fibraartysta@earthlnk.net ) and I'll pop the DVD in the mail.

Our heat has gone down from the 100s to the 80s. Still not fantastic but at least we aren't melting anymore. Hope you are making art and staying cool! :)

where i stand sunday

The ground is scarred, worn through to the bone. Stepping across the small concave spots creates tiny stabs in bottom of my feet. Its hard to know if it will return this season or if it will need to rest another year to regain itself. The ease with which nature brutalizes itself creates a new kind of awe and respect.

Where I Stand is an ongoing photo essay examining the different places I spend my life standing. Too often we take for granted the everyday places we spend our lives walking on. The ground we tread on has its own stories to tell.

23 July 2011

the ugly side of being unfocused

When I decided to take a brief break from my project schedule, I never really thought it would last this long. I realized today after talking to a friend that its gone far beyond what it should have - I'm completely without focus.

And its making me really crabby.

Not a constant on the surface kind of crabby but the kind that let's that obnoxious voice in the back of my head that spews nothing but negativity have too loud of a voice. I always imagine her as a bully on the playground, the kind that just can't stop yapping and makes you want to go yank her pigtails so she'll be quiet.

She has nothing nice to say. Makes me doubt things that I shouldn't. Kind of whiny, generally obnoxious in every way. She's definitely a mean girl.

So in an effort to make her shut her trap, I pulled out one of my favorite books:

I've read it a couple of times. She's a no nonsense kind of writer and I admire that. I think I was looking for some kind of answer, a label to put on my general sense of blah that keeps sneaking up on me.

And I think I found it. From the book:

"You are in a rut.

A rut is more like a false start. A rut is the part of the journey where you're spinning your wheels, spitting out mud behind you, splattering other people and not going anywhere."


A rut. Damn. Not sure how I got here. Maybe its my work schedule that sucks up so much of my time, maybe its the billions of ideas swirling in my head that I can't sort through, maybe its the heat.

All I know is that I hate the excuses as much as I hate that stupid little bully voice. I've said it before and I firmly believe it: I choose the direction my art takes, the way it moves. No one else does, nothing else can. Ultimately what I do and where my art takes me is largely up to me.

Twyla says it best at the end of the chapter on this topic:

"When you're in a rut, you have to question everything except your ability to get out of it."

So I'm giving myself a week. Seven days to figure out how to get out of the rut. I'm putting focus back into the forefront of my mind, pushing out all the other negative parts that don't belong and really owning the time that is mine.

How about you? How do you get out of a rut?

22 July 2011

one tiny brush stroke

Today I decided to go ahead and put the last coat of polyurethane on my screens that I talked about back in this post. I've slowly been plodding away at it during the week, braving as much of the heat wave as I can stand.

(Side note: Kathy left a comment that she couldn't stand the odor from polyurethane. I'm using the water based one and doing it outside and there's practically no smell at all. And I'm pretty wimpy about those things so if I think that, then its good.)

My surface design idol, Carol, also left a comment on the post where I talked about painting the frames saying that she tapes off the mesh while she's applying the poly to avoid accidental drips on the mesh. Awesome advice.

Wish I would have listened.

I thought I was super careful but when I picked up one screen today I noticed a thin brush stroke that trailed right smack through the middle of the screen. I stared at it. I could see all the times in my studio when I would go to the trouble of charging a screen with dye and constantly printing that empty gap in the pattern.

I admit that I scowled at it.

Stupid mark.

I put the screen back in a tray and moved on to the other ones. And I kept thinking about it. What a waste. What an annoying glitch in my plans. So much prep work to be ruined by such a simple little mistake. Drat.

And then I realized how foolish I was being. My plans for screen printing revolved around not being careful. I wanted a randomness (controlled to an extent so I can come out the other end with something I like), an organic feel.

Isn't that what that little brush stroke was going to give me? I picked the screen back up and looked closer. Then I took my brush, dipped it in the polyurethane and started dripping, swiping, brushing along the surface of the screen.

I blocked more areas, created a pattern, permanently altered the screen into something that would generate images I would love.

Its not about fighting the mistakes, its about learning to walk side by side with them to see what they can teach us.

21 July 2011

liquid heat

1. 196/365: The sun sets on the Big Apple, 2. Oman, 3. Wildflowers, 4. Vaðlareitur in Eyjafjörður

The sun is burning so heavy, it feels like liquid heat sticking to everything. A simple walk from a building to the car feels like a burden, a weight so difficult to carry that it borders on madness.

One wonders when the break will come, when the great relief will finally reach us.

19 July 2011

beat the hot weather with art GIVEAWAY :)

Michigan is in the midst (like many other states) of an absolutely hideous heatwave. Today got up to 96 degrees and tomorrow is supposed to top out over 100. Add humidity and storms and you've got a generally large group of grumpy people.

I was complaining to a friend the other day that there is absolutely no point for it to be this hot, that it serves no purpose. She disagreed - said its perfect weather for dyeing brilliant colors on fabric.

I kept thinking about that. That even though things are seriously out of whack in the comfort area, its not impossible to find a little something good about it. Hot sweltering weather that threatens to make you sweat buckets within seconds? Perfect weather for staying in your studio and making art. No-guilt-staying-indoors kind of weather.

To that end, I thought you might like to take a little class with me via my DVD Print Design Compose. All you have to do is leave a comment on this post telling me what your favorite surface design technique is and I'll pick a random winner on Saturday and post the result on Sunday.

In the DVD I show you how to do three surface design techniques (thermofax screen printing - shocker, right? ;-) - , soy wax batik and freezer paper stencils. Then we actually cut up the fabric we print (easier then you think!) and design an abstract art quilt (the one on the cover of the DVD is the example in the video) from start to finish.

Here's a little preview that Interweave put together (love the freeze frame at the beginning, looks like I'm blowing out candles!) to give you a sense of the DVD:

Get commenting and stay cool! :)

18 July 2011

my medium does not define me

On some of the email lists I belong to, there is a passionate discussion going on that was sparked by the following comments that a 2011 Quilt National juror made in the show catalog:

" What about these works of art demands that they be formed from cloth and thread? Is there a message and meaning that can only be revealed through this medium?"

I don't have the book (so its possible, even likely, that there is far more expanded on this statement) but have been intrigued by the heated response to this.

There is a part of me that doesn't understand the question. Why do painters use paint? Why do potters use clay? Why do artists who draw use pastels or charcoal or colored pencils?

Seems to me like its largely a matter of personal preference.

I've encounted back lash when I tell people I'm a fiber artist. In fact, I remember not too long ago getting an email from a blogger letting me know that she had blogged about me. When I read the post, she referred to me as an artist but always put the word in quotes. So it read (and I'm paraphrasing), "I found this blog where this "artist" does this..."

I was confused at the time. It felt really condescending and I debated about whether or not I should say something to her about it. In the end, I let it go because I didn't feel like it was worth the amount of energy it would take up. It felt negative and I don't want that kind of energy attached to my work.

Why do fiber artist feel the need to so vehmently defend fabric as a medium?

I guess the discussion is good. It makes us think about things. To answer the questions, I use fabric because I like being able to hold it in my hand, tear it, reassemble it, print, paint, stitch, layer. Could I do this with other mediums? Maybe, but the draw for me is the versatility of it, the endless variations.

I don't know....in the end I don't think it matters.

I'm an artist.

My medium does not define me.

beyond thermofax screens

Believe it or not, thermofax screen printing was not my first foray into the wonderful world of screen printing.

That honor goes to the fabulous Kerr Grabowski and the week long class I took with her on deconstructed screen printing. That was the first time I'd done what I call abstract screen printing. I tend to look at printing in two categories: abstract and realistic.

When I want abstract prints, I do deconstructed printing. When I want, for example, the image of a ginkgo leaf exactly as its meant to look, I do thermofax screen printing.

I've had a hankering lately to do some abstract printing and the deconstructed variety sounds like it will hit the spot. I ordered some supplies today and decided to do a little check up on the state of my silk screens.

I use these regular old plain ones for smaller printing and they work like champs. But I've not been so happy with the duct tape on them and today I decided to change it.

If you're new to screen printing, here's the scoop: you have to protect the wood frame because you're going to get it wet - with water and paint and dye and whatever else you toss on it. If you don't protect the wood, it will warp and rot and generally become useless. And since these buggers aren't so cheap, that's not a great prospect.

When I was new to the game, I went the duct tape route. Which means I taped off the edges into submission and its worked decently. But as I used the screens more, it became evident that its not a long term solution. I noticed the last time that the tape was lifting at the edges but not wanting to deal with it then, I ignored it.

Bad idea.

This is what I was calling a "clean" screen (this is what it looks like after I yanked the duct tape off) :

Not very clean, is it? Here's another view:

The other thing that I've never really been a fan of is how much screen area I'm loosing to the duct tape. See the rectangular stain on the mesh in the photo above? Everything between that line and the wood frame was tape.

You can really see the difference in this photo:

Think of all the printing you could do with that extra room.

Basically I had two choices. I could replace the duct tape with new tape and try to take up less room with it or I could use polyurethane.

I went the second route.

What you do is paint the wood edges of the screen with several coats of polyurethane and you leave all that extra space free. It takes more effort then the tape. I have to wait for each coat to dry (which isn't really that hard since its 96 degrees here today) and it takes a little more finesse because if I get it on the mesh of the screen, it will block that area.

I set about my work in the sweltering heat that Michigan is being smacked down with and this is what everything looked like after the first coat:

I did decide to add a permanent well to the screens by brushing about a two inch strip of poly on the end of the mesh. (A "well", in case you don't know, is a blocked area of the screen where you put paint or dye before you pull it across the screen. If you don't create this, the paint or dye will just go straight through the screen and create a big old blob. You can create a well with tape or polyurethane. I chose the latter.)

I'm going to let them dry overnight and do a few more coats over the course of the week. My hope is that next weekend cooperates and I can get some good deconstructed printing done. I figure if I prep supplies during the week, it'll let me go gangbusters on the good stuff rather then having to putter with it later.

There always seems like there is a lot of prep work with these things but its sooooo worth it in the end, don't you think? :)

17 July 2011

i'm (finally) for sale

I know today is supposed to be the usual Where I Stand Sunday post but I've got something a little more on my mind and thought I'd post something different today.

I've been asked many time is if I sell my artwork. I do. But its been sporadic. Meaning if you happen to be in front of it and ask me about it, I'll sell it to you. There's been a few factors that have stopped me from really getting organized about it - how to price it, not having a big stock pile, wanting a consistent portfolio.

But I decided last week that enough is enough, its time to take this step. It feels like its a necessary (and up until now - missing) part of where I want to go with my art career. So today, instead of taking pictures of my feet, I spent the time putting up several pieces into a new etsy shop.

Many of these pieces have appeared in the articles I've published recently with Quilting Arts and Sew Somerset.

I've got more I want to post but its a start and I'll keep adding pieces to it over time. I've got a lot of work in my studio that is eager to find a new home.

Please go have a look if you are inclined and thanks for taking this step with me. :)

12 July 2011

are websites obsolete?

Are websites obsolete?

This is a question I kick around often. With blogging, facebook, twitter, linked in, my space and a bazillion other ways to connect online, is anyone still looking at a basic little website?

As artists, an online presence feels like a necessity. By that I mean its far easier to connect with others who share our passion for our particular medium if we place ourselves online somehow. I'm lucky to be surrounded by a very talented group of fiber art friends in my area but by being online, I've "met" people that have really inspired and motivated me to be a better artist.

As far as social networking goes, I decided a while back to pick two and stick with them. I chose facebook and blogger (I do have a twitter account but mostly just post links to new blog posts and new e-zines). I've been happy with the two, they are things I can maintain consistently and not feel chained to.

But a website? Does anyone just go browse websites anymore?

And what should it look like? Lots of graphics? Sparse and clean? Logos? How do you organize the artwork? How much work should you put up there?

It gets kind of overwhelming pretty quickly. I can't even tell you how many different versions my website has been through. Last week I decided I needed to wipe the slate clean and make it reflect where I'm at in now in my art career. But more then that it needed to be simple to update (since I do my site myself) so that I could keep up with it as I make new work.

Here's what my home page looks like now:

Its totally minimalist and miles away from the first version I did years ago. If you're inclined, please go have a peek and let me know what you think.

I've got a lot of new artwork to photograph and get up there. My portfolio is woefully not up to date but I've decided to take photos of five pieces a week and upload them. Anything beyond that and I'll get that twitchy feeling that comes with too much work to keep up with and just not do any of it at all.

I still need to decide what to do about Where I Stand Sunday. I'd like to capture the project in its entirety somewhere. Its a lot of photos and a lot of writing and its not something I want to loose sight of. (I still secretly hope to one day publish a book about it.) I'm thinking my flickr account but that's still up in the air.

I'm relieved to have it done. Its really simple but it makes the artwork the star and that's what I was hoping for.

Sometimes the best solution is the simplest one, don't you think?

11 July 2011

left behind

1. L'hôpital abandonné, 2. Loved the old school structure in this barn, 3. Untitled, 4. Up to another world, 5. Hausfriedensbrecher unterwegs auf dünnem Eis, 6. VEB Kombinat Medizin- und Labortechnik, Leutzsch, 7. Chair., 8. "Estoy Quebrada..."-imagenes-editadas-de-cris, 9. Abandoned Baggage 1

There's something magical about things that have been abandoned. Secretive. Enticing. And just a little bit unnerving.

The colors of decay seem full of life, an odd contradiction.

Beauty is everywhere, even in the things that have been left behind.

10 July 2011

where i stand sunday

At the start of 2009, these were my intentions. I've walked with them in mind ever since, writing them on my board in my studio to look on. Some things have been accomplished, some are still waiting and some no longer feel necessary. Time is the master of perspective, a master at clarity. One stands out more then others: live an artful life.

Its become obvious that this is a lifelong pursuit.

And I am happy for it.

Where I Stand is an ongoing photo essay examining the different places I spend my life standing. Too often we take for granted the everyday places we spend our lives walking on. The ground we tread on has its own stories to tell.

07 July 2011

the feeling that ties it all together...

I've been spending snippets of time in the studio where I can find it. My focus has been on continuing the Remnant collages. Laying out the foundations requires that I be in my studio, the other layers can be created while I watch tv or visit friends or when I want to indulge a whim.

I keep wandering in and looking at them. Not out of vanity, not because I think they are the end all be all but because that nagging feeling has begun again.

That restlessness.

That wondering, ragged questioning, quiet nervousness. The feeling that pulls everything in at the edges and makes it hard to see what is right in front of me.

I've realized over the past few years that there is a constant degree of tension in art making for me. (Do you find that too?) A kind of uncertainty that is neither unpleasant or welcome. It just is.

I don't mind it. It doesn't get in my way. Like many of the idiosyncrasies that follow me into the studio, its one that has been with me for as along as I can remember and has made itself known that its not going anywhere any time soon.

We may as well be friends.

Its the feeling that makes me want to gorge on making things until I can't stand up straight anymore, to forget the clock and spend the night at my print table in my studio rather then my bed.

I find myself sitting quietly among the mess of fabric and canvases more. I'm feeling that connection to my art returning and its a kind of relief that I can't describe. It feels like I've been forgiven, like I'm back where I need to be.

Me and my restlessness.

05 July 2011

on the chopping block

Every year in the summer the company I work for decides we all need to go away for a week and forces us into vacation mode. While its definitely not my favorite time of the year to take time off, who am I to complain about nine days off in a row? You don't have to tell me twice.

There are lots of things that need to be done that don't rank anywhere near the "fun" or "interesting" scale but with all that extra time off, I decided to make a serious effort to get in as much studio time as possible.

Today was a good day in that regard.

There's been a different kind of excitement lingering in my mind when I think about what I want to make. I feel like I've finally hit that sweet spot for what I want my work to be. Its been a long time coming, I've been at this for a while, but you know, I'm okay with that. Because each step has helped me get here. And now that I know where "here" is, I'm going to make myself comfortable and really settle in.

I continued on with my remnant collages.

My first step was to go through my stack of completed quilts and decide which ones should go on the chopping block. I came away with this pile:

I don't really have much trouble cannibalizing old work. Its not that I hate these pieces (most of these have been in shows or books) but I don't feel like they represent what I want to say anymore.

So in my mind, its better to yank out the scissors and give them a new purpose. I'd rather love them in a new piece of work then feel okay about them in their current state.

I also love working on these collages because I get to yank out all my scraps and dump them out and make a mess. Messes are goooooooooodddddd:

Right now I'm busy completing the five pieces I started back in this post. They are on the small side, 10" square. There's a certain kind of comfort level at working smaller right now, like we're still getting to know each other and we're doing that in several brief little visits.

What I find really interesting about these pieces is that they make me kind of twitchy when I'm working on them. I'm not very practiced at combining prints. In fact, I often feel allergic to it. I tend to work in more solid block and keep the imagery clear and graphic.

These are new and I've gotten to a point where when I start to feel like I want to pull back and simplify, I know I'm on the right track. Basically I work on it until I get nervous that its getting out of control - and keep going.

Its intoxicating.

That freedom.

I've got six total complete, four just need the edges completed. And three more that are very nearly finished:

I have an 18" canvas waiting on me. My plan is to begin that one tomorrow if I can find some free time.

I feel like I've finally found something I can dig my teeth into for the long haul, a series topic that I may never tire of. Its not really an idea that I ever thought I could wrap my mind around.

And yet here it is.

And all it took was a pair of scissors and some old artwork.

02 July 2011

its not about finishing

I've talked about my superpower here many times.

I am a List Maker. I organize my life via neat little columns of writing (hand writing, not typing - I remember it better if I actually put pen to paper) and post it notes. Nothing thrills me more then a parade of colored squares with details arranged across my desk (I know, a little weird but what can I say? I'm a Virgo).

Part of my commitment to myself to slow down during the month of June had been to let my lists get sleepy. Instead of dictating deadlines, I simply kept them more as a tool to remember things I want to get done at some point.

And a realization hit me:

The lists will never ever be finished.

Seems pretty obvious, doesn't it? But the truth is that I get tied up in getting. things. done. (Do you?) I'm always moving around the idea that there will be an end to the list, that I can reach a point where there will be nothing left to do.

Life isn't built that way. I feel sort of silly for taking so long to understand this.

A certain degree of urgency has drained away, a tenseness has creeped out when I wasn't looking. I'm not feeling frantic about not having enough time, not getting things done, not crossing off the whole list with thick lines that signal finished.

Don't misunderstand, I'm not about to just wander without purpose. Some deadlines still need to be honored but imagine how much more enjoyable it will be (and how much less stressful) if I don't treat it like a race?

Feels more balanced.

I'm off work for the next nine days. My day job shuts down for a week every july. Its not really my favorite time to take a break (we all know how I feel about the heat and sun) but who am I to complain about so much free time? You don't have to tell me twice. ;-)

I've got a list. Its long. Its impossible to finish in the time that I have off. But instead of springing out of bed in a frantic rush to start ticking things off, I did this instead:

Candy apple red nail polish.

And I ordered some supplies from Dharma. And I'm heading out to pick up strawberry pies for a small gathering with friends tonight. And I'm listening to the westie snore softly beside me while I write this post.

The Lists and I are going to be good friends, I can tell.