Friday, May 17, 2019

Tension on Off the Wall Friday

So you know I've been a bit lost creatively in the last year and it seems like I'm just starting to find myself again.  In that vain, I, on an impulse, signed up for an Elizabeth Barton's class on Abstract Design.  I had taken the first one at Arrowmont and I thought it was time to get back to the basics with her help.  So as in most cases with Elizabeth, we started with paper and scissors and glue composing simple abstract compositions using one shape.

Doing them I felt I still felt creatively lost.  It was like walking  through mud trying to come up with interesting compositions.  Finally in the end I handed the best ones in.


#1 and  #2 are too symmetrical and there for a bit predictable.  #3 is the strongest because it has movement and its not  so symmetrical.  Elizabeth suggested I go back to the drawing board and create tension in the compositions by using asymmetry.

No Problem.  wait.....

What's tension????

Apparently, tension in art isn't that much difference then tension in your love life.  Its the  balance maintained in the composition between opposing forces.  So its the give and pull between elements in your design.  So what about asymmetry??  Well just like your love life it seems like there is always one element that is stronger pulling harder - taking more space than the other element.

For instance in Wassily Kandinsky, Delicate Tension, you can see how the lower element is dominates the design with the diagonal line moving up to the smaller element and taking your eye with it.  (By the way, this piece was done in 1923 so it is now in public domain!)
Delicate Tension #85, Wassily Kandinsky, 1923

In this photo you can see where dark beach shack holds a lot weight in the composition due to its size and value.  Your eye is bounces to the next most interesting - the barrel to the left - the lighter background adds interest without interfering with the tension between the two darkest values.

Okay, so now I get it!!  All I have to do is create it.  I'll work on them later and hopefully will post them here.

P.S.  Here are my new  pieces that should show some tension!!

So What Have You Been Up to Creatively?
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Friday, May 10, 2019

May's Mentally Strong Women on Off the Wall Friday

So May brings us to the end of my series inspired by Amy Morin's book 13 Things Mentally Strong Women Don't Do.  I'm kinda sorry that its ending.  I've enjoyed really thinking about each point and seeing how it applies to one's creative journey. You can find the previous installments  Here and Here and Here. Maybe I'll continue on with  the theme by generating my own ideas!

So Here We Go....Mentally Strong Women.....

Don't Stay Silent

Funny I've never had trouble with this one.  In fact my whole life I'm quite sure that I've been too outspoken.  Luckily with age, I've learned not to give voice to every, little opinion that pops into my head.  That said (pun intended), this is also about giving your art your true voice not just the one that
is popular at the moment or the one that your mentor thinks it should have or whatever peanut gallery member is present at the moment.  For me this is harder. Every artist wants to have some kind of validation with each new piece and its a lot easier to get if you are jumping the bandwagon of the latest trend.  So what do you have to remind yourself????

Your voice is uniquely yours
Your voice has intrinsic value
What You have to say is just as
important as Anybody else.

 hmmmmmm...maybe I should print that out and put it on my design board!

Don't Hesitate to Reinvent Themselves

A lifetime is a long time....a very long you want to be the same person that you were at 20 or 45 or 60??  Each new stage brings new growth, new wisdom.  You can take those and put them to good use doing what makes you happy. I have a personal rule..."If it doesn't make you happy in the long run, then don't do it!"  As we age what makes us happy is bound to change.  Use that as inspiration for a reinvention!  For instance since I was a very little girl, I thought I wanted to be STEM chick.  So that's what I did ...went to college and became an engineer.  It took me 10 years to realize that I was not having fun.  So I reinvented myself and I'm much happier for it.... MUCH!  Remember although a lifetime is a long time, its still too short to  be spending it doing something that you don't love.

They Don't Fear Owning Their Success

If I may stereotype for a moment, taking pride in their achievements is hard for women.  We're taught to be humble, unassuming, modest and actually those aren't moderation.  The problem starts when they are so consuming that your light can not shine through.  Being an artist is hard and not everyone can do what we do.  So when someone gives you a compliment don't immediately fluff it off by saying, "Ohhhh its not that good"  "Anybody can do it"  yada, yada, yada.  I repeat - Not Everyone Can Do It.  You put a lot of hard work into that piece....sooooo....Smile back and say "Thank you".  And if you're like me, I tend to say "Thank You, I love it too"  

I hope these give you things to think about.  I really think that becoming mentally stronger can only help your creative journey by giving you the confidence to continue.
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Friday, May 3, 2019

It's all About Value...Off the Wall Friday

I'm not ashamed that I'm stumped.  I've been diligently working on the pinwheels and it's getting to place where I really do need some kind of loose value sketch on where I want to put the dang things!  I kinda sketched out some ideas but honestly, I didn't like one more than the other.  They all kind of were just ....well....blah.

So I reached to my favorite teacher, Jeannette Meyer to ask if she had any good hints (she always knows what to say to get me moving in the right direction) and she suggested I take two things into consideration...

How do I want the viewer’s eyes to move? 
Where do I want the areas of highest contrast?

Good advice (as always)....but with this piece really I had no set visual path in mind, no focal point to least not yet! 

What I thought this needed was some inspiration.  So I thought I would take a look at how other artists handled value in their pieces.  One that instantly came to mind was  Edvard Munch, The Scream One of the great things about this painting is how he uses value to direct the eye right to where he wants you to look.  The grayscale version of it really shows how masterful the placement of value is!

I could even look for inspiration in paintings that are more abstract like Gerhard Richter's #9 Abstrakte Bilder Series.  I love this painting mostly because of the mystery it holds. Still, I never thought about how the wonderful colors really disguised how well the underlying value was working.  Its really is an interesting placement of lights, medium, and darks.

But no matter how great these were they still didn't seem right for my piece.  Then I started to look at my old blog posts because not only is it a great place for quilt, fiber artists to meet every Friday but its also acts as my creative journal.  I mean, come on, this isn't the first time I've wrestled with value!  So I popped back to my post here and it gave me the idea to look at my pinterest boards!  Not to mention it reminded me how much I liked LunaPic and how easy it was to use.

And finally.....FINALLY.... a value layout I like!!

So I used this......
To get this.....

I'm thinking this one is a KEEPER!!  Now I just gotta get the pinwheels done!!  This weekend I got about 30 of them done listening to The Woman Who Smashed Codes by Jason Fagone which I'm enjoying quite a bit.  It starts out a bit slow and then you can't stop listening!!

Well, that's one more thing I can check off my THINGS TO DO list!!

What Have You Been Up to Creatively?

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Friday, April 26, 2019

Canticle of the Blackberry Winter on Off the Wall Friday

I hope you will indulge me a bit as a take a very rare detour from my normal Art Quilt post.  Out of all the things I've ever made in my life the one that I'm most proud of is my daughter, Tessa.  Tessa is the kind of strong, independent girl young woman who wants to change the world for the better.   Tonight, her daddy and I had the pleasure of attending the literary festival at her school, Mercyhurst University where Tessa won 2nd prize for her short story.  She also had three poems accepted into the university's literary magazine so I thought I would share one of them here.

Canticle of the Blackberry Winter
Tessa Sayre

If I am any season, I am spring.
I am late twilight hours driving through dense fog spread like
tangible shadows under orange lamp posts.
I am morning birds outside your window chirping into
the afternoon sun. I am long drives home down roads swept
with magenta sun. On days when I am filled with volcanic
sand, I am spring storms that speak in thunder
and lash out in lightning - wind that bullfights trees and
makes grounded beings lose their gravity.
In this, there is freedom. There is unpredictability.
 There is hope.
Spring is the relief after months of chill and
sunlessness. It rattles the unlit house at midnight and greets
you with rain-loving crocuses in the morning. There is no
pressure for spring to be anything that it is not, for winter is
cold and summer is warm, but what is spring? It’s all in one.
Bare branches and verdant leaves, frosty Sundays
and breezy
fields, sunlight in puddles and rain on the dirt.
 She breathes
her goodbye to winter in a low whisper, but
sings her ever
joyful welcome to cloudless skies full
of song.

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Friday, April 19, 2019

Getting Serious with the Pinwheels on Off the Wall Friday

Okay, enough is enough!  This week I had a come to Jesus talk with my self.  I said, "Self, you have playing around with the pinwheels for too long. At this rate this quilt is NEVER going to get done.  It is too darn pretty for you to do a pinwheel here and a pinwheel there.  Get over your laziness and just work on it regular!"

So that's what I did this week.  I took it out in my studio and started working on the pinwheels like it was a regular project, not just a project I do to keep my fingers busy.  Now you've seen it here and there on this blog but this time I'm serious!  Fabric on my work table, blocks on the wall, Work an hour or two a day serious!

I'm still not quite sure what form they are going to tessellate into but I did realize that I needed some very "Medium" blocks.  I have a lot of darks, a lot of lights but really no mediums and transitional blocks.  So that's what I was making this week.  I also discovered the world of 5" charm packs.  I had no idea that the smart fabric marketers have started selling 5" charm packs of commercial fabric lines.  AND these little charm packs are relatively inexpensive and full of a lot of variety.  Thanks to Amazon Prime, I was able to get some Stonehenge Gradation Chips from Northcott in a jiffy.  I still think that I'll have to do some Red Solo cup dyeing soon in the palette of the quilt to get some good transitional fabrics but we'll see.

Anyways, listening to Laurie R King's A Grave Talent, I happily am plodding along on the quilt.

Now for the sad news ....

This week, the quilt world lost one of the greats to cancer....Gwen Marston.  Over the last 30 years, Gwen has been teaching and lecturing her ideas of "Liberating Quilting".  Although she, like many of us, started with traditional quilting, she took the leap into creating in a more innate abstract  way.  With this new liberation for the structures of  the traditional , she found her passion.  She felt that  “…quilts like these hold my attention longer than their predictable, well-organized, color-coordinated, pattern-based, uptown sisters.”  Now a days, we can all appreciate that sentiment.  But 30 years ago, it was more groundbreaking.

In her quilting life she taught internationally, wrote several books and founded a popular quilting retreat near her home in Beaver Island, Michigan home.    She was a prolific quilter and with a quick google search you can find many examples of her videos, podcasts, and quilts.

She will be missed.

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Friday, April 12, 2019

1847 Quilt Retreat Center Review - Off the Wall Friday

Early this year, I started looking for a place where I could take a long weekend treat and get away from my work at home life.  Luckily, I found  1847 Quilt Retreat Center that is housed in the Hotel Millersburg, Millersburg Ohio.   Millersburg is within 3 hrs of my house and I love central Ohio so I thought why not?  Still, retreats are for groups right?  And I'm only ONE!! 
But I thought I would call the coordinator and see what she thought.  Leslie was super accommodating and didn't think it would be a problem at all.  She had several groups of quilters coming in the spring and she picked one that she thought I would like. (But really they do retreats for one or two if you want since they have bedrooms that are big enough for that).   After picking one of the 33 rooms to stay in, I was all set! 

Leslie was right.  The group, Pieceable Quilters from Zanesville, Ohio are an amazing group of ladies.  Not only did they adopt us (my friend Rhonda from work joined me as well!) as one of their
own but they made sure to include us in all the fun they had planned for the weekend.  We were so lucky to get to know them!

So onto the Review:

  • Retreats can be customized to your needs and can accommodate 1-50 crafters.
  • The actual crafting facilities are adequate. 5 ft tables, cutting tables with mats, iron stations, padded chairs (complete with kabooti cushions), 24 - hr secure access, restrooms clean and nearby
  • Soft drinks provided through out retreat
  • Unique bedrooms  with many different options to choose from
  • Large - YUMMY - breakfast included
  • Affordable made from scratch restaurant on site.  The food was AMAZING.
    My Room
  • Hotel staff was super friendly and approachable.  
  • The whole place had a very relaxed atomsphere where you didn't have to do your hair or make up all weekend if you didn't want to.  (Which I did not - LOL) 
  • The hotel is all VERY ADA accessible with large bathrooms and a nice elevator.
  • Small town environment with many interesting main street businesses, restaurants and quilt shops near by. It all feels very safe and Mayberry.
  • Nick - yes they have a Nick who helps you move in and out, makes sure you have everything you need, will show you how to fix your heating in the room, and will sit and chat if you want to know some local flavor.  Whatever they are paying him is NOT enough.
  • A Truly well priced Great Value!

Let me just say that none of these really affected my stay ... but still want to include them.
Playing a Fat Quarter Game
  • The traffic in town is crazy.  Their main street sits on state road and literally 18 wheelers are constantly going by.  
  • Parking for the hotel,while free, is hard to come by in the busy public lots
  • Unpacking your car happens on this busy main street
  • Communication between staff could have been better and more organized.
  • The service in the restaurant was hit or miss and they definitely for now were understaffed (I expect this will change since between the quilt retreats getting popular and tourist season starting in May they will need even more help)

So how was my stay personally???  Just the best retreat I've ever taken!  I loved that Nick helped move us in.  There was plenty of time to sew and I worked on my Craftsy Block of the Month quilt and my hand pieced Pinwheel quilt.  We ate mostly in the Hotel and both of us loved the food.  I mean  - really loved it!  They literally have the best Rubens EVER! Leslie chose an interior bedroom for me with a large king size bed.  At first I thought I wouldn't like it since it didn't really have an exterior window but I didn't realize how safe I would feel in the room and how quiet it would be.  Plus it was super close to our working space that I could hop back and forth with no problem.  The whole hotel was VERY clean and well kept up.  There were quilts everywhere - if there was a wall - there was a quilt
on it.
Our Soft Drink Station

I did make a quick run to a near by quilt shop - Somewhere Sewing  - where they had exactly what I needed.  I didn't make it to Zincks or Miller's Drygoods but I will next time.  In my quiet huge bed I slept great, got a ton done and felt rested when I got home.  The whole time totally recharged me.  I loved the atmosphere that I can tell that will be my new go-to place to get away.  I love low maintenance vaca's that don't cost an arm and a leg....especially where their is sewing and food involved.

Obviously I can hardily recommend!!!

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Thursday, April 4, 2019

Retreats..The What, Why & How on Off the Wall Friday

Today's post come's from my comfy Victorian room in Millersburg, Ohio in the heart of Amish country.  Yes, I decided to take a quilting retreat because it was long overdue!


For those of you who don't know, a quilting retreat is where you take a break from your real life - grab your current project and head to some out of way place to sew!  There are all sorts of ones out there with all levels of amenities.  Also, you can take them with your guild, quilting bee, just a few friends or by yourself!  You can pick one that is close to home or one that is in a place with other tourist attractions.  They can last a couple of days or a whole week!  One thing I found, is that if you call the hostess of the retreats usually they will accommodate your needs.


Why retreat?  Because its a great way to just escape for a while and immerse yourself in your work.  I don't know about you but when I'm in my studio I still feel the pull of the rest of the house encroaching on me.  There is something about schlepping all your stuff to retreat that really makes you settle into your work. Plus its a way to be with YOUR PEOPLE.  You know who they are.  They are the people who actually understand what  you do and  how you do it.  Their eyes don't glaze over
when you mention fabric or Bernina.  They GET YOU.


Still the how might seem a little daunting to someone who hasn't gone on retreat before.  Sometimes
it pretty easy.  Your guild sets it up and you just join the group.  But what if - like me - you don't have a group.  What I did was do a google searches of quilt retreats in a 3 hr radius of my house.  Luckily I don't live too far from the midwest so there were most than a few to choose from.  I called the coordinator and asked her to help me plan a retreat for myself (and later a friend joined me).   I told her what my needs where and what I was looking for and she just set it up for me.  I talked to three different coordinators who were all great with all sorts of options and just chose the one that worked best for me.

All that is left is the packing and deciding what to bring.....more on that next time!

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