Friday, January 9, 2015

2014 Retrospective

Blogging has fallen by the wayside recently.  I use my blog more as an organizational tool, a place to look back to and see what I was doing at a given time, than an marketing tool, an attempt to attract readers or to get "likes."  That's what Pinterest is for.  :)   It's also a way to share what I'm doing with anyone who might be interested.  I've started sharing some progress pictures on Facebook, and that a more straightforward way to share so it's replaced some aspects of my desire to share.

But it seems de rigueur among my Master Class classmates to blog for marketing reasons.  To keep your name in front of people, keep them interested in your art, etc.   At this point in my art career that's not a concern for me.  [But I would like to point out that I resisted the temptation to put "art career" in quotes.]  I'm not doing work that I will be famous for, instead I feel that I am plodding through all the bad work and skill development one needs to do to get to the point of being good.

No, plodding isn't the right word, I don't feel like I'm plodding, I love what I'm doing I feel my skills and work are improving, and I can literally feel my heart lift when I enter the studio.  At the same time, I know I'm just learning skills and developing a design sense that is necessary before creating my best art and making big strides in my career.  [There, I said it again.]

The Master Class has been invaluable in keeping me mostly motivated and thinking about what's next in the studio, as well as giving me clear understanding of what it takes to get to the next step.  Many of my classmates are at a point where they are "professional artists." [Sorry about the quotes again, but what that phrase means is fodder for a whole different blog post.] Seeing the work they do and the success they are achieving definitely motivates me, and shows that it is possible.... someday.

All that aside, I do like to look back at the last twelve months, this time of year and see where the time went.  I think my year would be better assessed from March 1 - March 1, as that's become the natural cycle of getting ready for workshop, going to workshop, coming home with all new ideas, but also brain dead and needing a break.  But if I don't do it now, I know I'll be too busy with other stuff to do it in March, so here goes:

In January I finished the fourth Color Prints piece:
Color Prints #4
And three pieces that were started in the 2013 Nancy Crow workshop:
Bright Idea


Busy Signal
Then in the first week of March I headed off to Indianola for two weeks with Nancy Crow.  The first week we had two exercises, one was "the minis" where we took a simple motif and repeated many, many small copies of it with different color combinations.  It was interesting to see how the motif morphed into texture in different ways.

The other exercise was a very intense one - there were 10 different panels which were to repeat the same motif in gradually more glowing/less flat colors.  I had a design I really liked in black and white....
In Black and White
And it started to look like something on the wall...
Flat and Glowing

But it was just too complicated for me to translate and sew.  Yuck!   This one is still a bag of fabric hoping to become something some day.  If I do finish it, I will make it one continuous row.  I really didn't like the format of this.

I liked the second week's exercises much better.   First we created a piece with a repeating motif:

Then we did an interpretation of that motif, repeated, hugely exaggerated, and with a long complicated program of other requirements, including 28 different colors.
This is what my black and white design looked like.   I really liked it, and Nancy made a few encouraging comments.

Rockers #2
It looked something like this when I left the workshop:
Nancy was intrigued, particularly with the textured background, and challenged me to "Finish that thing."  I took that seriously and it has taken me the rest of the year, on and off, to get it to a point where the top is fully pieced, sandwiched ready to quilt.

Between working on that herculean task, I enjoyed a lot of play and sketching 

with the motif that I began calling a "Rocker."    I tried to make a much simpler piece with them:

Rockers #3
And it STILL took a really long time to construct.

Then summer came and I felt the urge to dye fabric:

I wanted to keep on with the Rockers, so I sketched an even simpler piece, and got it pieced sometime toward the end of the summer. I worked really hard to get the forms and colors where I wanted them.

Rockers #4

So hard that I cut, and re-cut and cut some more.  I had a lot of scraps and unused pieces.  I felt the urge to sew them together and then cut them up into squares.  I'm still working on a way to combine these into one or more pieces.
Improv Squares

Before I knew it, September was here, and with it my first trip to the Crow Barn in Baltimore Ohio.  An artist and instructor that I have long admired, Terry Jarrard-Dimond was teaching "Design Boot Camp."  I had a fantastic time, and came hope with a start on this piece, and a new series.

While I was still struggling to complete Rockers #2 throughout the fall, our local quilt shop started a block of the month, and I'd always wanted to do a New York Beauty, so I succumbed to that desire.  I wasn't so crazy about their scrappy look that came with the kit, so I decided to also do one in charcoal gray with solid colors.   This is what I do when I'm just too tired or brain dead to focus on art.  (I won't sew them together mixed, it will be two different pieces).

I started a "City Sampler" too, because I was starting to attend the MQG meetings and that's what they were doing.  But I don't think I'm going to put more effort in that direction it's not contributing to where I want to go.  But it's a fun distraction now and then:

Toward the holiday season, I started making a big push to really finish all the "done" quilts laying around.  Over the course of football season I made and stitched down about twenty hanging sleeves and labels.  THAT feel like a really big accomplishment!  So now there is nothing laying around waiting for those elements  - and I feel great about starting the new year fresh!  

Here's to a Healthy, Happy, Productive New Year for everyone!

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Resolution Review....

Here are the resolutions I publicized in January.   How did I do?

Study hard with/after Nancy Crow
I think I did this well, at least at first.  I spend a lot of time in the months after the workshop focusing on figure ground, and developing the Rockers series.  Lots of sketching was good at first, but tapered off later.

Study design and composition
Ditto.  I have been reading whatever I can get my hands on, getting critiques from Master Class, and of course took the week-long workshop with Terry Jarrard-Dimond which was an intensive design-oriented class.

Study color
Ditto, though not as formally.  I still need to do more of this.  Of course it’s a life-long quest.  I have to get past all the basic classes that seem to repeat the same things over and over – complementary color schemes, etc. etc.  More play with the Albers App is in order.

Continue "Color Prints" series.  See where it leads.
Nope.  That series was abandoned in favor of Rockers, which started in the Crow workshop.  The major piece that I informally called Magnum Opus was competed as well as two smaller ones.

Make labels for all completed quilts still in my possession.
  I did really well with this.  And it only took me one day - Dec. 27 - but hey, it’s done! The hang-up was inventorying them all and trying to find dates of completion on the blog.   I finally said, WHO CARES? And settled for the year.

Make hanging sleeves for all completed quilts still in my possession.
Yes,  I plodded through this during the fall and winter months.  All are done!

Resist temptation to do "functional" stuff
Well, almost.  My Dad requested that I make him some placements for Christmas, and of course I couldn't turn him down.   Made some potholders to match, as well as a few extra potholders for gifts.  Also made two sets of curtains, bedroom and bathroom.  The house still looked bare after almost 3 years of living there.

Finish or give up on the current UFO's
Making a little progress, but not letting it consume me.  I’m getting better at not caring about finishing something will not be good enough to sell or show.  Using the backlog to focus more on using them for quilting practice.

Learn to photograph my quilts
No, I never got a Round Tuit on this.  

Learn to use Photoshop Elements
Not much.  I have used it a little more, but not enough to keep from forgetting what I learned by next time I want to do it!  Also I didn't do this, because I didn't do the photographing.

Enter at least one SAQA show, besides the trunk show.
No.  Didn't see anything that inspired me. Didn’t enter the trunk show either –the piece I had created for that purpose was ugly so I used it for a mug rug on my desk instead.