Friday, April 9, 2021

Animal Crossings, My Guilty Pleasure on Off the Wall Friday


Me in Sewing Studio on my island

They say the first step in recovery is admitting you have a problem.  Now, I wouldn't say I have a problem so much as  a guilty's Nintendo's Animal Crossing New Horizons game.  Early this year, I decided that TV and social media had become toxic to my life so I made a change.  We cut our ties with Direct TV, bought a new smart TV that streamed easily and I got myself a Nintendo Switch game console. So now if we do watch TV it's usually something on Discovery Plus or I'll spend time relaxing on my virtual island.  (for the record - I bought the TV, Switch, Game and still saved us a bundle by stopping our cable TV)

The other side of my studio


muted colors late afternoon

I've always been a casual gamer....since...well... they had casual video games (yes we're talking pong, space invaders, mario brothers, sim city etc etc).  If you haven't heard,  the premise of Animal Crossings New Horizons, is that you move to a deserted island with two other animal "villagers".  Starting out in a tent you fish, chop wood, grow plants and hunt bugs to grow your island into a  place to live.  As the game progresses, up to 10 animal characters come to live on the island with you. Sounds like a kid simple game right?  Well it can be but you can create you island paradise as complicated as you want.  I mean you can literally shape and design every aspect of your island.     I think that is what appeals to so many creative adults.

Rain storm during Early Spring - notice all the blues and no grass

That's where I stepped in.  The minute I found out that there were countless ways to create my island I was in.  The thing about the game is that it runs in real time.  So when your sun is raising, the sun on your island is rising.  The seasons are the same, the phases of the moon are the same etc etc.  The colors on the island change as the time of day changes just like in real life.  

So little by little, I've been working on building up my island.  Villagers come and go (there are nearly

Sunny Day 

400 animals that can move onto your island - all with their own personalities and themes).  I've decorated my house starting with - what else - a great quilt studio.  I've never seen anybody else have their own sewing room in their house but on the other hand, I don't play with  a bunch of 55 yr old  

I bring this all up because art wise, I have really been noticing things on my island.  Colors are a huge part of the graphics.  The colors are constantly changing due to the weather and time of day.  I play with palettes and designs.  I create my own unique designs to customize the items they give me.  I love the challenge of  coming up with new compositions and making visual decisions visually.  It's really satisfying to take  the rules of design that I've learned and apply them to my island.  

 Ohhh and did I mention that I have my very own museum complete with a  fine arts wing?  So little by little, I'm amassing a wonderful collection of masterpieces....this week I added Vermeer's The Milkmaid.

Just Another Winter Day on the Island  notice dusty colors are used

1st day of Spring
The nice thing about Animal Crossing New Horizons is that you can play as much or as little as you want.  There is no competition, no killing and no dying.   It has totally served the purpose of helping me relax and forget about the troubles of the country.  There are countless ways to have fun with this game which makes it great from ages 7-99.  It's so fun to get on youtube and see how people from all walks of life play and how they use the game to relax and create.  I would highly recommend it to anybody who wanted to dip their toes into the gamer world.

With all of that said though, I'm thinking it's time to put myself on a ACNH time limit so I get more real sewing done less virtual sewing on my island.  Sooner or later spring rush  has to end at work and I'll have more brain power to create.  Yes ladies are still buying a ton of clothing...seems like they were just waiting for the country to open back up....sigh....  I have a ton of ideas I want to get to my sewing table for sure.  

Easter Sunday ( or they call it Bunny Day)

(And in case you're wondering...yes you can take photos with your in game virtual phone to post to real life social media.  I don't do that though I just keep some for a sorta journal as I progress through the game)

So that's my guilty pleasure.....what's yours?


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Friday, April 2, 2021

Let's Talk Pattern on Off the Wall Friday



My gosh, a moment to breathe!  Believe it or not, in my retail world Spring Rush is more hectic than Christmas.  A Spring Rush as the country is starting to open is that much more hectic.   I take call after call which all start out in the same way..."Thank You for Calling My Company, I'm Nina-Marie how can I help you?" It's a familiar pattern but after that you're never quite sure where the call is going to go!  (And since my customers are all about 75-100 years old, I'm sure you understand...grin)  

I bring this up not only because it's dominating my days but also because our lives are full of familiar patterns.  If anything this year has taught us is that when those patterns are disrupted, we all feel out of sorts.  However, since they are so much of our everyday life, we tend to take patterns for granted.  


In Rosalie Dace's recent lecture on pattern she really brought to mind how much inspiration is in our
everyday lives.  Now we aren't talking about pattern like people conventionally think about wallpaper, upholstery fabric, tiles etc.  Those are all so predictable.  Don't get me wrong predictable is good but there is something a bit more interesting in a pattern with a repeat that is without predictability.

Case in point....look at the black and white line images #1, #2, #3....which are you drawn too?  The ones that are predictable  or the ones that start out predictable and then variation is added in. Look at the thickness of the line, the lengths, the angles, the stops and ends.  So much to take in right?  


All three pictures are interesting  with line, but the ones that have less predictability captures the viewer's attention the longest.  So much to think about and explore.  With #3 we know what is there at a glance and we know  where it's going.  Now that in itself is not a bad thing and the rhythm is comforting....but...predictable.

While we're talking about these three line drawings....let's talk about what's important in them.  Is it the black line or is it the space between the lines?  Modern Quilting has brought negative space back into focus for sure.  It's so easy to overlook it sometimes.  Pattern isn't always just formed by those black lines but also the secondary pattern of the negative space around them. If you're a having a hard time focusing on the negative space squint your eyes.  See it now??  Cool right?!  

Look this is not rocket science for sure!  You want to add interest to pattern, add variation.  Make sure that your lines are not all the same length with the same distance between them.  The hard part is coming up with a composition that has enough variation to add interest without being too chaotic.  Chaos for the most part in composition is not good. (well and then Jackson Pollock showed that isn't always true either...hmmmm rules for sure are made to be purposely broke!)

Ohhh and of course remember....the lines definitely don't need to be straight!

 So take some time to draw some lines - play with pattern - take pictures of patterns in your everyday life.  Edit the photos to show contrast and play with the negative space.  Look! Look! Look!

And is there anything else I can help you with today?

Oh wait...that's my day time blog's pattern ending goes like this...

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Friday, March 26, 2021

Off the Wall Friday

 Thought we could all use the remainder....

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Friday, March 19, 2021

Color Trials Continue on Off the Wall Friday

 So last week, I finally finished up my first exercise in color and value.  I'm all proud of myself since it really illustrated visually what I knew intellectually.  So much easier with a picture don't you think?  

You can see my observations on the first four columns here.  This week I added the last which was to add the complementary color of  the red - green.  Now it didn't turn all Christmas which was my daughter's guess.  I knew enough to combat that by  changing the saturations of the green.  What I did notice was that as always complimentary colors play off each other giving a lot of give and take between them  The conversation at this party gets loud with the white and black and grey kinda just fading in the background.  I mean really ... in that last column do you even  notice all the white, black and grey in there?  

With those done, I wanted to see how the column interacted with each other as well as different backgrounds.  So through this whole process I've kept them in columns on my white design board.  I'm actually rather shocked at how well they look together now that they are done.  The white to me seems to just sort blend away.  It doesn't seem to pick up the white in the piece any better or worse.  It definitely doesn't make for a good "frame" for all that fact to me it just makes it feel more chaotic since the white along the edges "leak out" on all sides.  

So let's change it up with a black background.  

The black gives it the strength and grounding it was craving.  Also it makes the white parts pop.  I find the sashing gives a bit of stability to the chaos of the columns.

Now this was interesting!  All the black bits are giving a subtle "structure" to the piece.  It's like the glue that holds it all together but  not nearly as uniform as the sashing in it's sister piece.  Also, notice that there are just as many black  pieces leading out to the edges as the  white above.  But these don't have the same  "leaking" effect.  Instead it gives them a STOP softening the edge but still giving it a distinct edge.

THEN I stole Tessa's grey blanket away from her.  Actually I originally bought it for this exact purpose but it was so super softie in microfiber that she stole it from ME.  Just as well though since all that polyester captures the light and reflects it back to the camera which kind of defeats the whole purpose of using grey.  

That all said, you can see that grey really is a true neutral in both cases.  It doesn't do much for the piece but it doesn't really detract from the columns.  It's not strong enough to add the stability the piece needs but it's not letting the white leak all out the sides and bottom.  Sometimes grey is perfect, but I'm thinkin' this time it's not.

At the beginning of these trials, I had no idea what I wanted to do with these columns.  I mean really you could sit in your chair and talk your way into a plan that might or might not work.  But just by doing a few visual trials really gives you a better picture of how the columns will react with each other and a potential background.  This information can then be ferreted away for the next time so you might not need to go through all this!

 I'm going to finish this piece off with one of the black options but just haven't figured out which.  I'm not a big fan of "frames" on my pieces but with this mess - yes - it needs a frame.  I'm so happy I took the time to work out these exercises!

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Friday, March 12, 2021

Masterclass Session III on Off the Wall Friday

 My masterclass with Rosalie Dace continued last week with us delving into the world of pattern and rhythm.  Listening to these lectures which are recorded so you can re-listen to them I find very helpful.  It's not that it's new material.  It's that #1 material that you just don't think of in your everyday of housework, errands and laundry and #2 Rosalie offers these "nuggets" of wisdom that help you focus on what is important.  This lecture really focused on pattern and rhythm in your everyday life.  I especially found this fascinating.  I do promise to explain what I mean in a later post but for now.....

I NEED TO FINISH MY EXERCISES ON COLOR AND VALUE from week #1.  Why is it that quick little projects seem to take on a life of their own?  But I promised myself I wouldn't rush through these and I'm not.  I'm all happy with this composition and where it's going. Reading Left to Right...  Column #1 is Black/White ... Column #2 Black/White and shades of neutrals ... Column #3 Black/White and the primary Red ... Column #4 Black/White/Primary Red and the Analogous color Orange . (Analogous color is the color that is your neighbor on the color wheel)

Some Observations (because that's why I'm doing this exercise)

  • Black/White it's all about a strong graphic statement.  It's all about contrast.  There is no wiggle mystery.  It's strong but flat
  • Adding the shades and tons of black starts to give it a little depth but I didn't add enough for it actually to matter a whole lot.
  • With the Red, a whole new person is invited to the party.  Now it's not just a conversation of two people but three with all that that entails.  You can tell  too.  It's going from this vary graphic statement to a composition with more nuance.  This is starting to draw you in more to see the little bits.  How the shades of Red interact with the shades of the neutrals is very interesting.
  • So when Orange joins - well now the party is in full swing.  Tessa took one look at it and said wow that got busy.  It did but it's not just the piecing.  It APPEARS more busy because now you have two neutrals and two hues and all their values playing around.  It's no longer this graphic statement but several little compositions interacting with each other.  Also now the neutrals are not just highlighting the red but it's also about the relationship between the orange and red.  
Since each of these are taking 2-4 hrs each they're going slow.  I do love piecing .  It's so relaxing!!  The

next  column is Black/White/Red and its compliment Green.  I'm also thinking about doing one that is black/White/Red and two analogous colors ... but hmmmm I dunno.  See what I mean ...A LIFE OF IT'S OWN!

 Things I Like...

Did I tell you I got a pair of Kai 7170 Professional scissors for Christmas.  Omgosh!!  I'm in love with them.  Not only are they the sharpest scissors, I've ever owned but the action on them is so amazing.  Every time I go to cut fabric, I'm reminded how wonderful they are.  Their handle is just right too.  Not to hard - not to soft.  I told my husband now I want another pair so I can stop reaching all over my studio for those specific scissors.  All my other scissors just sit on my table unused.  WORTH EVERY PENNY!  I just wish they had a pair that was a 5" range or so.  I use both sizes a lot in my studio.

So tomorrow I took a half day off to sew and maybe - just maybe - I'll finish up my value/color exercises so I can work on rhythm and pattern - grin!!  It's good to be back in my studio!

And just because I don't say it nearly enough.  Your thoughtful, comments mean a lot to me.  I'm always a bit shocked people actually read my posts more less comment!!  So THANK YOU!

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Friday, March 5, 2021

Masterclass Journal I, II on Off the Wall Friday

From Branching Out in 2005
I met Rosalie Dace in Morrisville, NY in the summer of  2005. I liked her immediately.  She had a no
nonsense air about her but also she was warm  and laughed easily.  I remember it was hot that week and I worked hard coming up with a my idea of what  a tree art quilt should be.   It was intimidating working in a classroom of women all 20-25 yrs older who mostly knew each other  and looked like they knew way more about quilting than I did!  It seems like  forever ago.  Rosalie though mentored me through the process of my quilt and it came out great.  It finally was dawning on me that I could be an art quilter after all.  

I've taken 3 other week long classes with her and every time I've had fun.  It's hard to describe but it's like Rosalie forms this safe cocoon around her class so you can create.   Shrug.....I dunno....I just know that when I'm in her class, I feel like making something amazing.

Well...that is until this time.  Saturday morning  - Day 1  of our Zoom Masterclass  starts.  I'm already with my tea and a notebook, all comfy in my studio listening to Rosalie's opening lecture. Surprisingly the tech all works great.  I'm a little amazed that everyone seems to have no problem meeting together from all over the country....with Rosalie in South Africa.  Her voice washes over me familiar soothing.  I take in all the photos in her interesting presentation.  Still it's like I'm just  a voyeur in the class and I don't have any inclination to pick up a piece of fabric or scissors  or anything.  Normally I can't wait to get at it.  Not this time...this time I just want to take a nap.  I did manage to work couple of hours and finished one little exercise on composition.  I then flipped the values and tried it in fabric.   I wasn't excited by it but I did it.

Sunday's class started with another great lecture on value and color.  More amazing photos to inspire.  This time though I felt a bit more excited.  Rosalie gave us 10 suggested exercises and I started to work on them.  The first one was a basic black and white study.  The more I worked on it the more excited I got.  And in the way  of Nina, that's where things got out of hand and the exercise has taken on a whole life of its own.

Rosalie says she has two extremes in her classes - the Project oriented  - those who rush through their week making a project and say "Wow Look what I made!"  and the Petters those who spend their week looking at their pretty fabric and sorta dabbling in the exercises.  Most people fall some where in between.  Of course, I did not.  I was a project oriented person  - start to finish type of gal.  But there was a reason.  Not only is it in my personality, but  also this was my one  week of   52 that I could create and not play mother of a toddler.  I could just be Nina for a change and I wanted to have something to show for my week.  

BUT this time I am determine to do it differently.  Finally that  little girl is grown up into an accomplished young woman and doesn't need me hovering.  I have time to slow down and really contemplate the relationship of the values and shapes my exercises create.  At least that what I told myself.  I can see though this exercise is turning into it's own project ....of course it is!

My Exercises so far as of Thursday Evening!

One thing is definite.  I am totally in love with complicate improv piecing.  It makes me happy to loosely guide where the piece is going but then be surprised by where  it is at the end.  Plus it's soothing.  Saturday I had to force myself to it is Thursday and I'm getting up at 5 so I can get a few hours of sewing in before work.

Yep and there is that..... Spring Rush has hit  at work and ladies across the country have decided they will need clothes since they are finally being set free.  So I'm working hard selling clothes during the day and trying to fit in sewing in around it.  The nice thing is that this time I don't have to do it all in a week, I just need to get back into the creative habit.   

I'm so glad I decided to take this class.  It's not the same as being at Quilting by the Lake where you can totally immerse yourself in quilting.  But it is teaching me how to be creative and work around my home life here.  

This week we only have class on Saturday so I'll have Sunday to sew.  Hopefully I'll have more to show next week!!

So that's me....

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Friday, February 26, 2021

Preparing For Class on Off the Wall Friday

It's no secret that I have a tendency to use my creative vacations as fuel for the rest of the year.  I never thought of it as a crutch, but after this pandemic dry spell, I guess it has been.  Without them, I've been totally lost.  That's why when I got the email from Donna Lamb, Director of the Schweinfurth Art Center (and also Quilting by the Lake) announcing a master quilt class taught by Rosalie Dace, I said thankyouLordJesus.  I mean seriously, I could not spend another year piecing together cutesy little girl quilts no matter how much fun it was! So I signed right up.  That was 6 weeks ago and of course i  have not really not given it a second thought.

So now it's less than 36 hours away and it's time to get my act together.  Preparation is weird this year. I didn't have to spend a few hours packing up my studio (which over 20 years of taking these classes, I've become a wiz at).  No!  This year, I had to download Zoom.  Take a crash course on how to use it.  Play with my new web cam which I told my daughter I would give to her when I'm done with the class. Make sure the lighting for the camera was correct and get my studio ready for a new class.  

So in preparation for class or retreat you should....

  • Print off two copies of the supply list.  Check one off as you pack things and then pack the supply the list last.  The other copy goes with your general information you have about the class.  As you pack, make sure that your machine is cleaned, extra needles/manual are packed and plenty of extra bobbins are wound.  Make sure your scissors are sharp and include paper scissors.  Also tape has always been helpful  - masking and scotch!
  • Check the agenda of the class.  If you have any questions, don't be afraid to email your teacher.  Honestly, unless I've had the teacher before, I always email with questions on the class before and after I sign up.  The more you know about the class the better time you'll have.
  • Make sure you do any pre-class homework.  So many times, I've seen students show up with it not being done and not only does it hurt themselves, but it often hurts their fellow students since the class needs to be adjusted for them.  
  • Have a general goal what you expect to get out of the class before you start.  Do you want to learn a technique?  Do want to create a project?  Do you want to find a new focus.  I swear my general goal for this class is I want to find a  jumping off point for something new and exciting.
  • Set up expectations you want from the class.  As you progress through the class, if you feel that your expectations
    Rosalie Dace teaching from South Africa

     are not being met, I encourage you to talk to the teacher rather than just getting annoyed.  So many times, finding joy means finding the courage to communicate.  More than once I've seen  a fellow classmate not speak up and leave the class sour and disappointed.  Don't be that person!
  • Finally, come fully rested and comfortable.  Wear comfortable clothes, have you favorite tools around and keep bottle of pain reliever near by.  Many a day was saved by two little advils I swear.  Creating is tough stuff!
Ya know, I really gotta stop using this blog as my personal pep talk to myself!  Sighhhhh but lately, its like we could all use a little pep talk!  I promise next week to share my journey through the class!

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