Sunday, January 29, 2006

Artist Way: week 10 check-in

It takes grace and courage to admit and surrender our blocking devices. -J. Cameron

BLOCK. It seems to be a loaded word for many of us. Since I don't actually think of myself as a blocked artist, I usually translate Julia's use of blocks into things that slow me down in terms of productivity or things that keep me from leaping and making the original quilts in my head instead of safely being inspired by others' work.

Like Debra admitted on the the Artist Way Quilters blog, I also didn't crack the book until the end of the week. When I finally did read the chapter, the synchronicity–or maybe just plain ole irony–put a big smile on my face. All that stuff about work and workaholism and what was it that kept me from reading the chapter and doing the Artist Way exercises this week? Yep, it was the demands of a project at what I affectionately refer to as my day job. All week long, I've gone into the office early, worked late and come home emotionally exhausted. To me this chapter seemed to be all about balancing creating with livelihood and that constant struggle to find time for everything that's necessary for life. Another quote that grabbed me from this chapter was this one:

When we are really honest with ourselves, we must admit that our lives are all that really belong to us. So it is how we use our lives that deermines the kind of men we are. -Caesar Chavez

When I finally read the chapter and the exercises, I realized that I must have picked up a trick or two from past reading this book and made them my own. Part of exercise 5 is to "do one lovely thing for yourself each day." When work or life become stress-y, this has become my automatic response. During this week, I bought a pot of blooming pot of azaelas at the grocery store when I ran in to pick up milk and coffee, evn though it won't be able to go outside for at least 4 more months. Another day, I took a stroll through an art gallery during my lunch hour. One evening, I enjoyed a nice long soak in a bubble bath.

This week, I managed morning pages 5 of 7 days. Julia mentions in this chapter that Artist Dates are often harder to do than morning pages . . . and so it was for me, this week. I had plans to go to a movie yesterday and never made it. Maybe instead of going into the office to work a few hours this afternoon, I'll go to a matinée instead :-)

Saturday, January 28, 2006

Inspired by a quilt

I was minding my own business, enjoying a lazy saturday morning and cruising blogs until I saw this quilt photo on bemused. The caption simply says Tokyo Quilt Show. The author is dashing off again but promises more photos soon. i can't wait. I hope I'll also learn who made this incredible quilt.

Sunday, January 22, 2006

Journal Quilt: January

The inspiration for my January Journal quilt is the young maple tree outside my back door. A single leaf bravely held on through the snow and ice storms of November and December. Its tenancity is rewarded by a larger-than-life appearance on my quilt. Here is a close up of the leaf/sky/trunk.

I made a quick, very rough, full-size sketch of my idea, then cut and sewed the piece completely without a pattern--drawing with my rotary cutter. Nearly all the seams are curves. The quilting was also done in an improve style with no marking. For a better look at the seams and quilting, here's the back.

(click to enlarge all photos)

I plan to continue to explore the possibilities of creating figurative work in this improvisational style next month.

Artist Way: week 9 check-in

I did morning pages 6 of 7 days this week.

For an artist date, I spent Saturday morning dyeing at the local art center. I overdyed the failed shibori silk scarf with better results, dyed a large cotton rag rug--I guess I caught the decorating but from Deb--and dyepainted two fat quarters for my stash.
Last week I found myself thinking alot about the image for the winter Art Image Challenge, Drum Bridge at Maguro by Hiroshige (1797-1858). I love this predominarely white landscape and thinking about how to translate some part of it into fabric.

I kept wishing I could get a closer look at those trees and the snow on the trees and mother nature obliged me with a nice bit of synchronicity by way of two snow storms. These pictures are take the day of the first. As I walked between building, I stopped to take these photos.

I had to laugh as i walked through the plaza and realized that many of the elements of Hiroshige's painting exist in my world: the snow covered trees, the bridge, stone wall, the figures walking. Maybe I should reinterpret the painting as a 21st century view of a snow-covered plaza?

I wasn't able to complete all of the exercises this week because of too many long days in the office. I did work through the blasting through blocks questions before beginning my work on the January Quilt Journal page and found it enlightening and refreshing to understand the resentments and fears (aka emotional baggage) I'd already attached to this effort.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Going for Gold

Stephanie Pearl-McPhee has created the Knitting Olympics and challenged knitters to define their own event--a challenging-for-them project to be knit during the 2 weeks of the Olympic games. I think it's an irresistable idea . . . as did more than 600 other knitters–I don't think I've ever seen that many comments on a single blog entry.

Tonight I ordered yarn to make this shrug, designed by Mags Kandis, from Mission Falls book, East + West. I am NOT also knitting the shawl in the photo–I may be crazy, but I do have a day-job with a hot project deadine in mid-February. Speaking of which, today at the day-job, I introduced two of my knitting colleagues to the Yarn Harlot blog and convinced them to join me.

I think Melody Johnson summed it up best: As if I don't have enough to do. Yeah, she's in, too. It's an irresistable idea.

Monday, January 16, 2006

Stash Sunday: Stripes

Stripe Stash
Originally uploaded by jeansophie.
Hmmm ... When I went looking in my stash for stripes–the theme for yesterday's stash sunday–I found a precious two. Perhaps I need to plan for some future striped SEX (stash enhancement experience). Artist Date idea?

I bought the eye-boggling stripe on the left to use for sashing for black and white swappers star swap blocks, but decided no one would be able to fall asleep under that quilt. The one on the right was one of the fabrics I bought to take to a fabulous design class with Odette Tolksdorf.

Saturday, January 14, 2006

Devilish is the word ...

Best blond joke ever

Artist Way: week 8 check in

Small movements lead us to the larger movements in our creative lives. -Julia Cameron

This was a pretty good week for me. I completed morning pages 6 out of 7 days, but I ran out of time for an Artist Date. Synchronicity? Working the chapter that "tackles" time when a project at work became especially demanding of my time. Also this quote on time from Carl Sanburg turned up on the quotations weblog:

Time is the coin of your life. It is the only coin you have, and only you can determine how it will be spent. Be careful lest you let other people spend it for you. -Carl Sandburg

Last week I said that I thought Julia gave us a great basis for resolutions by reminding us that Treating myself like a precious object will make me strong. This week I would add that I think the steps of the goal search task is one of the best approaches to goal-setting I've encountered--perfect for setting goals for 2006. I found it a great way to go from "dream" to long term goal to near term goal to what I can do now; from ideal-ideal to ideal to what's possible now. I set some quilt-related goals that, for the first time, feel realistic for me, given the reality of my life. I also believe that they are small movements which will lead to larger movements in my creative life.

I really liked the tasks of describing ideal and ideal-ideal days. I realized that my ideal day in the world I inhabit now would have to be a 30-hour day--no wonder I'm having problems finding time for morning pages AND exercise AND breakfast in the morning before I go to work. I was surprised that I included a lot of detail about things that would make my day-job ideal. (I realized that it wouldn't take much to make that work so much more fulfilling).

Part of my ideal-ideal day would be spending half my days making things. I gave myself the gift of half a day working in my studio space and made some progress on the daisy work-in-progress:

Edit to add link to Artist Way Quilter discussiont:
Artist Way Quilters: Chap 8 Check-in January 15, 2006

Monday, January 09, 2006

4-way meme

Jules tagged TAW quilters with A new meme.

Four jobs you've had: web designer, development director for a theatre, hatmaker in an opera costume shop, production artist for a winery

Four movies you could watch over and over: The Quiet Man, It’s a Wonderful Life, Ever After, French Kiss

Four places you've lived: Antibes (France), Boston, San Francisco, and Houston

Four TV shows you love to watch: Gilmore Girls, Law & Order, Lost, Project Runway

Four Places You've Been on Vacation: Athens (to be a tourist) , Calabasas (to go to a health spa), St. Moritz (to ride in a friend’s glider over glaciers in August) and Vail (to ski)

Four Websites You Visit Every Day: quilting forum, bloglines, google, and my ISP’s site (for email)

Four Of Your Favorite Foods: Roast chicken, mussels, salmon and pears

Four Places You'd Rather Be: on a beach, in a sailboat, in the mountains, in a real city.

Four Albums you can't live without: I don’t really have favorites, so my real answer would be:
Something classical, like Vivaldi’s Four Seasons,
Something nostalgic, like the Beatles, “One,”
Some happy world music, like Sukay, Music of the Andes
Some show tunes to sing along to, like South Pacific.

Four People you'll pass this on to: All the Journal Quilts Challengers now have their blogs set up and this is a nice way to practice posting (and getting to know one another), so TAG, you’re ALL it.

Sunday, January 08, 2006

Artist Way: week 7 check-in

Artist Way Quilters: link

Like Rian and Jules, I, too, had a hard time getting back to Morning Pages and only did them 2 days this week. I felt like I usually do the week after clocks spring forward or fall back for Daylight savings time--a weird form of jet lag. Plunging back into work was also challenging for me.

I thought I had planned the perfect Artist Date when I decided to make Planet Patchwork's New Year's Day mystery quilt. It was the first mystery quilt for me--in fact the first time I had made an entire quilt, as written, from a pattern. It seemed like a nice bit of synchronicity to discover that I could use a stack of FQs from my stash that I had purchased a year ago without a plan and now thought just weren't my style. Unfortunately, while I did finish the quilt top, the day was not a satisfying one because every step was fraught with errors ...

Looking for a more satisfying experience, I returned to a WIP and started working on letters and words for the border. Everything was done improv-style and it was fun (and satisfying).

Thinking about jealousy (or it's more gentle form, envy) and perfectionism were interesting. As I read the ambitious quilting goals of others, I confess that I envy those without a day job and all the available time they have that I simply do not. I envy them the long list of quilts that they will make that I simply cannot. I remind myself to set realistic goals for me and not feel any less for them.

I saved this quote from Danny Gregory's blog this week:

Art making is not a competitive sport. Being intimidated by what others do, by the clarity of their vision, the steadiness of their line, means thwarting the very thing that will get you to where you want to be. If you don't draw because others, who have done it longer and more often, do it 'better' you are robbing yourself.

With the accessibility that the web gives us, it is so easy to be more intimidated than inspired by the work of the Famous Quilters and not-so-famous artists we admire. I choose to be inspired and to give myself a break when I can't do all I wish I could.

I forgot about exercises 5 and 6, but realized at the end of the week, I'd done them anyway.

This week I wore a pair of hand-knit-by-me socks and felt a ridiculous amount of joy from the experience. It's a little like falling asleep under a quilt of your own design and making, but better because you're fulling awake and walking around with a little smile all day long. The experience inspired me to buy some beautiful hand-dyed yarn from a local yarn shop to make more and to place an order for some Socks that Rock yarn (in Lapis, Pebble Beach and Falcon's eye colorways).

I wore my socks inside another small luxury--my new Dansko loose-back clogs in a NARROW width. I went on a scavenger hunt around town to find a store that had the narrow width that Dansko only offers in one style. The fit is perfect--I may never buy any other style shoe :-)

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Resolving, Evolving and The Artist Way

In week 7, Julia Cameron asks us to make this line our mantra,

Treating myself like a precious object will make me strong.

What a great bit of timing (and synchronicity!) to receive this reminder when so many are busily creating goals for the year and resolving to do what it takes to achieve them.

I confess that I am more of an evolver than resolver--continually fine-tuning my life as I discover more of what works and what doesn't. Treating myself like a precious object--in the context of diet, exercise, career or creating a balanced life with plenty of time for making things always seems to be the right answer. I read about diets with the same attitude as toward my weekly horoscope--taking them in and seeing if they resonate. For me, if I am mindful, if I am paying attention, if I am treating myself like a precious object, I will eat well, sleep enough, keep moving (and feeling better) ... and CREATE.

Monday, January 02, 2006

Working up to working small

I guess I needed to convince myself that I can create work that is small enough for the Journal Quilts Challenge and satisfying enough for me.

Even though it's months past the deadline, I also really wanted to interpret my image from Simple Still Life #3 in fabric. Here's my 8"x10" start on both fronts:

My plan for the journal pages is more of the same improvisational-style pieces. Drawing with my rotary cutter was so much fun.

Sunday, January 01, 2006

Holiday Afterglow

While some are expressing relief that the holidays are over and are busily putting their houses back in order, I am hanging onto the afterglow of the season and the last days of vacation. My gifts have been delivered and all the social gatherings of family and friends are behind me. I'm enjoying simple meals, quiet evenings with a book or knitting and the luxury of time for introspection and reflection.
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