Sunday, November 28, 2010

Time to start doing, not learning

Just have to accept that it's time to move on, and stop taking clases. Time to actually produce something. The silk painting class was difficult. The teacher, who normally lectures to university students, had left preparation for the class to the last minute, so was operating on very little sleep--if any. University lectues are quite different than adult education classes. In adult education I expect more of an interactive approach--not do it this way and don't ask questions. I made the mistake of asking a question, and was told that she had been doing this since 1994 and her way worked. She said that she painted her silk because dyeing it involved setting it up in a large canner and finding some way to suspend the fabric so that it could be steamed for 4 hours. No Canadian source for supplies?! No place in Winnipeg to buy silk?! Say What?? I've dyed silk fabric and silk roving both in the microwave ( 1 minute)using an acid dye, and flat on a table using Procion MX--both with excellent results. And so we went on. For most of the class, I fought to keep from saying anything more, although, at one point, I did have to ask an appropriate question. My quandry now is whether I go back for the second half of the class.

So comes the question--Should I be taking classes? Am I a "bad" student? I've certainly been enjoying the painting classes I've been taking, but the last one is on Wednesday. Part of the rationale for my "Sabbatical" has been to re-discover my muse. So, yes, I should be trying to produce. But I can continue to produce paintings as well as fibre pieces.

There is a second question as well. What sort of teacher am I? Am I receptive to questions and other ideas? I hope so, unless it reaches the point of interrupting the class. Do I arrive at class well-rested and prepared? Not always, as I never believe that I'm totally prepared, but I certainly try to be well rested and ready to perform (Yes, teaching is performance art--IMHO). Recently, I was talking to a friend, who is well-experienced in teaching adult level classes at a national level. I expressed concerns about my teaching methods, as I've noticed that there have been times when I have taught once and never been invited back. She recommended working some humour into the class (performance)

So, my introspection and procrastination continues.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Still dithering

After the sale last weekend, I did a volunteer shift with my art group, and got to see what was selling. Again it was small stuff--under $100. So the issue of sales or exhibition remains a valid question.

But this week I have classes. On Tuesday I took a begginners acryclic class called "Paint a Landscape in Two Hours"--and I did. Never plan to show it to a soul, but I did it. Wednesday was one of my regular classes. This time we were to go with an idea, but were not allowed to use brushes--only pallette knives. I took some of my pictures of rock faces, and managed to get one painted, but didn't have exactly the colour of paint that I wanted, so my rocks turned out a little to brown/red. The grass around the rocks was great--I was very pleased with it. I'm almost tempted to re-do it but with better coloured paint--but that might mean buying more paint--and December is just around the corner. Saturday, I'm taking the first half of a silk painting class. I have no idea when or where I might use this, but this is my year to explore my creativity, so on we go.

Last evening was a little different. My son the magician visited, and brought me some clothing for alterations--the sort of alterations that magicians need to dazzle ther audiences with magic. This isn't the first time this has happened and it's always fun to find out how these things are done. Even when you know the trick, it can be quite amazing. And I've never seen this trick, as there was a part of the set up that he didn't show me, so I don't really know how it will work during a performance.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Quite a weekend.

The big sale is over, and it turned out to be somewhat of a mixed blessing. Yesterday was not good. We only grossed $42.00 in 6 hours, but I took some dyed fabric and a few small purses to a quilters' Guild meeting and sold more than twice that. This morning there were no people and we only grossed $35.00. It was so slow that I went to take a look at another sale a couple of blocks away and left DH in charge. However, this afternoon was a bit better and I can now say that we made a bit more than expenses.

But that wasn't my only reason to be there. I'm really wondering if these sales are the way I want to go. For the past two years, they have rarely been profitable. If I want to enter any more, I'm going to have to do some more production work, and I've promised myself a year off of that. So--some hard decisions to make.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Sad day? Maybe not!

My first task this morning was to take my new sewing machine in for repair. The needlethreader just wasn't working, and I figured I better have it seen to while my warrantee was still good. I checked my schedule and realized that I'm going to be pretty busy the next few days and that it would work well to take the maching in today. Si I phoned earlier in the week and told them we would be there today. It's quite a performance getting the machine redy, and then DH has to carry it out to the car. Off we went, carried it in and within 10 minutes he had the problem solved. No need ot leave it behind. What a relief! she is home safe and sound, and hte threader works--for now.

Tomorrow is "the big sale". My heart really isn't in it. I can't work up any enthusiasm. I'll go and work hard and maybe--just maybe sell something, but somehow the "spark" is missing. This is sad, and I wish things were different. I'm soon going to have to start thinking about next summer's sales. Right now I have no desire to sign up for anything.

Sunday, November 14, 2010


I think I've taken on more thanI can handle. As I'm quilting "Midnight Snowfall" the blendable thread is changing the values within the piece and making it much light. So now we have "Evening/Twilight Snowfall", and I sure hope we don't end up it "Noon Snowfall". But the quilting is turning out to be a massive job. I've got 25-30 hours into it now and have finished less than 1/4 of the quilting. The problem is that each individual line of stitching, and there are hundreds of them, has to be tied off at both ends, and the ends buried. This is what's taking the time. I'm also at the stage where I'm starting to doubt myself, and my pea brain keeps saying "This isn't going to work. How the heck are you going to get the snowflakes to show up on this." The answer is "I don't know how I'm going to do the snowflakes. That's why I made such a big doodle cloth. And it has to be quilted as well, just to truly test the damn snowflakes. " Arg-h-h-h! And there are still 4-5 other ideas whirling around in mybrain. By the time the snowflakes are finished,I'll have forgotten them all LOL
Regardless, I have a 6:00am doctor's appointment tomorrow and then I have to drive out to Beausejour to pick up some sandwich boards, and deliver them to the Crafts Museum to use at the "Big Sale" this weekend. So bedtime.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Donkey work and doodle cloths

Slogging away at my latest piece "Midnight Snowfall". Yeah, we're into snow again--and I don't care! It's mine and --so far--I love it. I have large-ish piece of fabric I found in my stash, that had been painted a rich, darker blue (Ultramarine I think, with a few very subtle overtones of some sort of scarlet). I've sketched some whirling curves of wind on it, and am densely FMQ'g these with a Sulky Blendable in shades of blue with a bit of yellow ochre. Those small areas around the edge, and in the middle, where there are no curves of wind, are machine stippled with a much darker Blendable. This will make a subtle patterned background on which I want to put snowflakes. Today's problem is that where the curves come against each other and the lines are moving in the same direction, the outline of the curves disappears. This may not be important in the whole image, but is bothering me, so must be fixed. I tried overstitching one with a medium value periwinkle coloured thread, but no good.

So the next step is the "dreaded" doodle cloth. In my little pea brain, I know that these are wonderful and essential for most fibre arts-- but-- they slow me down. Of, course when I measure the time it takes to make and use a doodle cloth against the time it takes to completely rip out hours of stitching, or the loss when a whole project is ruined because a technique wasn't tested out, then they don't slow me down at all. When I was stitching, a doodle cloth was just a scrap of fabric, similar to the one used in the main piece, on which to test colours and sttiches, before adding them to the project. In my type of fabric art, I put together a fabric sandwich using the same weight of fabrics and batting used in the main project. I also have to anticipate how large I need to make it, to allow me enough room to test all of the techniques and stitching I hope to use. Some times I'm able to just use the edges of a project--the ones that will be cut off when I square it up. But in this case, I know that I'm going to be trying quite a few techniques for making the snowflakes, so I'm going to need a fairly large (12 by 12 or bigger) doodle cloth.

When the project is finished, the cloth goes into my sketch book along with any preliminary sketches I might have done. While this gives me a permanent record of how projects were put together , it can also prove, to a certain extent, that I made it.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

OMG! I'm at it again!

More introspection! Today, I'm at the point of saying that I accept that I'll never set the world on fire, that my work will never sell for $$$. So where do I go from here? I think I just carry on, carrying on. But maybe I'll do things I want to do and not care if they join my "crap quota". Maybe I'll spend time visiting galleries and enjoy the art rather than trying to analyze what is successful about it, and why it's there in the gallery and mine isn't. I've certainly learned that who you know and being in the right place at the right time are more important, in securing gallery space, than how sincere your work is. I've also learned that while I may pretend that I'm working in series, I haven't really had a new conceptual piece in several years--just several pieces all based on the same few concepts. That doesn't mean that I'm going to stop being obsessed with snow, snowdrifts and blown snow.

I've been trying to start a new piece for an exhibition whose theme is "Canadian Content". I've been lying awake at night with ideas going through my head, trying to meld what I believe they want, with what I believe I can do well. So I've been trying to get out of my box and design something very, very different than what I would normally do. Yes, a couple of ideas came out, but I wasn't happy with them, they didn't interest me, and I felt that my technical skills weren't good enough to produce something worth exhibiting--especially in what may turn out to be an international exhibit. So at this point I've started working on a piece that has its basis in snow, and is technically similar to My "Inua-Spirit in the Wind", but with an added twist--a melding of what I consider my strengths. I will go back to the ideas that I couldn't work with, and play with them in the privacy of the studio, without any expectation that any one else in the world will ever see them.

Thursday, November 4, 2010


A friend has had a proosal accepted for a fibre art show at a local gallery, next November. I will be helping her. I'm very, very excited. We anticipate that most entries will be quilts, but we have friends who favour other fibre media, that we want to leave it open for all fibre arts. That, in itself, will be challenging.

Monday, November 1, 2010

New direction

For awhile now, I've been hearing about artists who attach a fibre piece to a painted stretched canvas--so I decided to try it. I have a painted canvas and the fibre piece, and plan to spend today completing the technical part of attaching the two. I have put them both in conjunction and I'm quite pleased with the appearance. I have to confess that I'm not totally pleased with the quilting and edge finishing on the fibre piece, but, as this is experimental, I'm going to proceed. I'll use this piece to solve the technical problems, before moving onto a second piece that I plan to treat in the same way. The second fibre piece is much more pleasing, and I want to make sure everything is perfect with it, each step of the way. If either of them prove to be successful, I plan to put them in a gallery show next February.
My other task for the day is to start the designing of a piece for the "Canadian Content" show that will be going to New Zealand next spring. The entry deadline is January, so there really isn't that much time. There is another show in April 2011, with a slightly later deadline, that I hope to enter as well. But one thing at a time.