Friday, September 13, 2019

Excuses Mentally Strong Women Don't Make - Off the Wall Friday

I thought it was time to get back to the series I started based on Amy Morin's book 13 Things Mentally Strong Women Don't Do.  Since we did all of Amy's, I came up with my own spin something mentally strong women shouldn't do.  They shouldn't make excuses.

Let's face it....We all make excuses.  Some are perfectly valid, some not so much....all can be be big road blocks in our creative life.  The worse thing you can do is give into the excuses and let them over power your creative self.

Excuse #1 
 I Just Don't Feel Creative

Yep.  Been there.  Done that.  The truth of the matter is that creativity comes in cycles.  These cycles are influenced by the events in our lives.  Sometimes when things are good, finding inspiration and energy in your studio is no problem.  Then it seems like the world intrudes with stress and grey skies and the next thing you know you're in a creative block.  So are you just going to lay around and binge watch Netflix and never create again?  Or do you have already in place a plan that will help you climb over the wall of that block.  To give you a shove I'll give you a peak at my plan!

 Excuse #2  
I'm too Old to Try Something New

You are never too old...for anything (okay well maybe there are some fashions should be left to the  under 21 set)  As we get older, we gain patience and persistence.  Those are EXACTLY the traits one needs to start something new.  There are so many ideas out there, so many new techniques to try.  You are not too old.   I literally talk to ladies between the age of 80-100 every single day that are still vibrant and full of ideas  If they are you!

Excuse #3  I Don't Have the Time

Do you know when someone says they don't have the time to do something, they just are saying I don't want to prioritize this right now.  Of course there will always be things that will deservedly come before your creative life like family.  But most times, you can work around everything else.  For instance, once Tessa was old enough for me to go back to work full time, I made a conscience choice not to chose a job that would suck all the life out of me.  I wanted some time and energy to spend in my studio.  I wanted that good work/life balance you hear so much about.  So I came up with a plan for that too!

Excuse #4  
I'll Never Be Any Good

Okay, we've all had those are browsing through a book or pinterest and you think
, "OMG I'll never be that Good.  They must have had some special training or something.  So Why try"  Well not only is thinking self destructive, but its also plain wrong.  Most amazing artists have gotten to be amazing through a lot of practice and hard work  They practiced .....Then practiced some more.  That all said its counter productive to compare your art to other people's.  Everyone is at their own place in their creative journey and really nobody knows where its going to lead them.  If you give into this excuse, you will never find out how good you could have been.  ALSO remember, you are your own worse critic.  What you see is a lot of times not what others see.

I'll explore others in future posts....Funny how I have no shortage of excuses.  Still I could always use more if you would like to suggest some in the comments.
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Friday, September 6, 2019

Off the Wall Friday

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Friday, August 30, 2019

UFO's 101 on Off the Wall Friday

Paul:  Nina what are you doing?

Me:  Nothing?  Well, playing a game.  Why?

Paul:  Because its 2 o'clock on Saturday and you've been
          laying there since  11.  Weren't you going to sew?

Me:  yawnnnnnnn, yeah but I don't know.
         Maybe I'll take a nap.
Paul:  Maybe you should go sew.

You know, I knew there was a reason I married him (well besides that he's really cute!)  Now that I've woken up from my blue period, I'm really not sure where to pick up on my creative journey.  I mean I have so many false starts in my studio I feel kind of overrun.  So I thought before I started anything else I would start finishing some stuff!!  But.... What to finish??  And How???

That brings me to a video I recently watched Karen Brown, at Get it Done Quilts which really hit the nail  on the head from what was holding me up getting some of these things done.  I liked some of her ideas but wanted to give my own spin on....

A Remedial Course

So most of us are experienced quilters and have plenty of UFO's to prove it!!   Here is a quick course on how to organize them and get them off your To-Do list forever.  I plan on going into my studio over the long holiday weekend taking this course myself! 

Step 1:  Organize

Go into studio (aka your sewing room) and pull out ALL your UFO's.  I suggest you make two piles...Your LOVE IT or LEAVE IT.   Any piece you absolutely love goes obviously in the LOVE IT pile.  Any piece that doesn't speak to your heart goes into the LEAVE IT pile.  Now, like old boyfriends,  just because you are leaving those pieces doesn't mean you hate them.  Its just that they aren't a good fit for the person you have grown into.  Its really YOU not them.  So you can give themScrap Blocks Box"  If you don't have a Scrap Blocks Box yet, you should get one.  This is where all the odds and ends from projects go that had merit but no real use.  Someday though they could  repurposed into something else.  (Like I said - its you .... not them)
away, throw them away or take pieces out that you like and they go into a "

Now this is important....Any project that is put into the LEAVE IT pile should not be revisited.  This is final kiss goodbye.  You are also saying good bye to the guilt of not finishing it.  If you like some of the ideas with the project itself....get out your journal and write them down or better yet a blog post on what was good about the project but what ultimately made you decide that he  it wasn't for you! (Note to self: this is a good idea for another post!)

Step 2:  Evaluate

So now that you just have  the pieces you love, its time to take a closer look at them.  Where did you leave off on each one.  Do you have some that just need binding/facing/labeling? (Stage 4)  Do you have some that need quilting?  (Stage 3)  Which ones are still in the piecing phase? (Stage2)  Which ones didn't make it to your sewing machine (Stage 1) (yes I have some of those ....pathetic I know)  Put them in piles by STAGES.  (If you are a list me...make a list of each stage!  Those get put on your design wall or bulletin board)

Step 3:  Make a Plan
My suggestion start with Stage 4!  Pick one day a month for binding/facing/labeling...pick a good movie or audio book to help you get through them.  This is a good time to make sure the hanging sleeve is on too!

With the rest....I suggest you pick 2 or 3 that really are calling to you.  Maybe they have specific deadlines ....maybe its an idea that you think is really working....maybe its one that is nearly to the binding stage.....whatever.  You commit to work on those projects.  

When you get done with those... you pick 2 or 3 more.

Now if you're like me, I'm committing to getting them all done before I start another big idea.  I know that this "All In" plan might not be good for everyone.  For me though, these UFO's are starting to feel like dead wood in my studio when they were meant to bring joy and beauty.  Not to mention as I work through them inevitably I'll be struck with new jumping off points for my next great piece. Another note to self:  Write down ideas that jump into my head while working on UFO's but don't start anything new.

So I know what you are thinking, Nina, that sounds a lot easier than it actually is in practice.  NO KIDDING!!  There will be roadblocks along the way in this process.  I'll need to stay organized and driven to get these done.  

Also, there were some really good reasons why these pieces ended up on the UFO pile.  The biggest of which at one point (probably around Stage 1 into Stage 2) where the design wasn't working.  I mean REALLY "What was I thinking" not working.    So what to do then?

  1. Decide what is not working
  2. Brainstorm ideas of what will help 
  3. Add to the ideas cutting up the piece entirely
  4. Hang on Design Wall and Make concrete Deadline for Design Decision
  5. Audition ideas, Make Final Decision
  6. Commit to new idea before Deadline
  7. If you love it, continue
  8. If you love the piece but hate the idea repeat steps 1-6
  9. If you now hate the piece add it to the LEAVE PILE

Step 4:  Celebrate Your Completions!!  

I believe this step is super important.  I love, love, love posting a completed project.  I think I even love more checking one off my To-Do list.  I think I will even love it more seeing my UFO shelf totally empty!!

Now I've posted before about getting projects done on here before but I never had a clear idea on how to actually do it.  Its kinda like losing weight and getting in shape....yeah you know you need to do but if you don't have a plan in place  it probably won't get done.

Hmmmm maybe I should start a group called UFO Watchers.  We could strive to get  for PiecePoints for working on our unfinished pieces!!

I'm really committing to this plan for the next four days.  I hope some out there will join me and let me know how you're doing.  

You can always reach me at ninamariesayre       at       gmail   dot com.

So what are you doing creatively?

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Friday, August 23, 2019

It's not that Transparent on Off the Wall Friday

Okay, its official.  I have completely lost my mind!  I know that people told me it was going to happen but I thought....No Way!!!  Not me!!...Well, I was wrong.  Can you believe, that after all this time, I completely forgot to post Off the Wall Friday?!?  The kicker is that I didn't think of it till Saturday morning right about the time Margaret Blank messaged to check on me!  We had a  totally unexpected house guest and it through everything off.  Anyways...I apologize!!

 Tang Kwok-hin

Ever since I left Quilting by the Lake, I have been mulling around the idea of transparency.  It all started when I turned to Emily Richardson and asked her....okay.... I get how this is done and understand how you make your amazing pieces...but how can I use it to in my work?? ...... So its uniquely me??  She gave me a look like...Wow, Nina I have no idea...I taught you
enough this week now its your job to figure out how to use it.  She's so sweet though she didn't say that out loud though!!

Its such a big idea though and I've been wanting to play with it for so long, its hard to whittle down. that's where I'm still at....still....pathetic I know....its been a month!!!

 I looked up the definition.  Transparency is the condition of being transparent.  Well, that's no help.  So what is transparent?

So that brings up a lot of good words to brain storm - 
Light, transmit, passage,clearly, fine, sheer, free, understood, accessible...interesting.  Those are the kind of words that could be a starting point.

Cutting Wind, Andrew Southall

Plus....I could look and see how other artists used transparency in their work.  Once I started looking there were a ton of great ideas of how people have used it to get their point across.  Some famous, some not so famous.....some 2-D.....some walk through many ideas

Masood A. Khan

Most of it came down to this though.  Transparency is all about layers.  Some layers that the artist
wants seen some not so seen.  So ideas that are big but some ideas that are just a mysterious under layer.  That is  what I love about pieces that use transparency.  Its the mystery of it. Its soft, its fuzzy, its mysterious.  It makes me want to come up close and see if I can see more but even when you do you get more questions than answers.

I've been writing this out because this is how I brainstorm new ideas.  I use words, and images from the net to come up with new ideas.  I'm not nearly done with this yet.... but at least I have a start!!

Hopefully you are getting more done than just mulling ideas around!!!

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Friday, August 9, 2019

In the Words of Emily Richardson ...Off the Wall Friday

Edge of an Instant, 16" by 14" Emily Richardson
So if you haven't gotten it in the last two weeks, my Quilting by the Lake was a pivotal in my life.  Its the kind of time where I'll be saying in 20 years, "It all changed after Emily's Class" .  The more distance from the class the more  ideas are constantly jumping in my head.  I had to start a little journal so I wouldn't lose them!

Last week I left off with my little beginner piece.  The second one I wanted to try adapting the way I create and meld it with Emily's organic approach.  I started with a loose sorting of my fabrics (you'd have to see Emily's looks like color silk exploded all over while she's designing and then
magically its all picked up while she's sewing).  Then I picked a background piece to set the size.  And it was off to the races!!

"I don't get anywhere new if I'm reserved. 
 I only get somewhere if I am ready to take off"
Emily Richardson

Step1:   Just get Stuff Up

At this point I really had no idea where I was going.  I did know that I would set up an underlying value that would help hold it together.

"With everything you put down, something new is created"
   Emily Richardson    

Step 2:  An Idea is Forming

 Well at least I have an idea where it's going now.  There is definitely a lot of trials at this point.  Put a little up and take a little down.  What pleases me...What doesn't.  Is the value letting my eye flow or come to a dead stop.  

"You move one thing and it changes everything.
  Meanwhile its stabilized by the grid underneath"
Emily Richardson

Step 3: Evaluate

So I started the evaluation process that Emily had suggested.  During the first few evenings of classes, I had gone back to my room and review exactly what were the Elements and Principals of Design. Boy, I'm glad I did.  It made the whole process easier.  PLUS  I found out my new little point and shoot had a Black/White mode so I could see an instant value study.  The light path is subtle but its there.

"It's seeing where the composition wants to go. Bringing it to life, so I like it and hopefully other people will too" 
Emily Richardson

Step 4:  Time to Bake

  "So now it hangs on my design wall and I still want to make a few changes to it.  I personally think it needs a bit more dark in there and the dark left hand corner needs some lightening up.  But we'll see.  I remember I was worried it would look too much Emily's work.  I must have been crazy.  It totally doesn't look like her work at all.  I think it just needs a bit more me.

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Friday, August 2, 2019

Class with Emily Richardson - Off the Wall Friday

Basically the Before

Ready to Paint!
So the artist/teacher Emily Richardson finally was rescheduled this year to return to Quilting by the Lake to teacher the class Inspiration Through Reflection: Painting Fabric, Creating Quilts. I believe this was her 5th time at the conference over the last 20 years.  Even though I loved her work, I just wasn't in a place that I thought I could confidently be taught what she did.  BUT this year, I was and I'm so glad I did!!  

At QBL, some years I learn just a bit and play a lot; some years I learn a LOT of stuff and play not at all.  I've had a couple really crappy years where I kept waking up each day and think OMG why did I take this class???  THIS year I really had a creative breakthrough and an amazing lot of fun!!  I would look up at Emily and say at least a couple of times a day, "I'm really  having a good time!!"

My OMG why didn't I take up knitting when I had a chance!
Now going in I really didn't have a clear idea  of what we are going to do.  But I did know that I didn't think she was going to show us how she created and show us how to do it!!  BOY was I wrong.  We had a nice range of 21 ladies in class  - some with a ton of surface design experience, some with a ton of design experience, ladies who had made very few art quilts and even a lady who  really hadn't made a quilt yet.  And Emily taught us matter where we were on our creative journey she found us and dragged us along till we got the hang of it.  The class looked like an art gallery when we were done.

So Here's What We Did:

On the first day of class, I promised Emily I was going to jump on her train and follow her directions.  This really is  not my style.  I mean I love rules....right up to the point that I think their stupid.  But if you just stay in your little box and never step out,  you will never progress.  (maybe I should send that to the leaders of the two major political parties).
Getting the hang of it

hmmmm, Sorry, I digress....

For the first two days we painted mostly silk.  The supply list came with a relatively inexpensive supply kit that contained all sorts of silk types for us to experiment with. Plus I brought all my silk scraps  too.  We stacked the fabric and just started painting.  I would be lying if I said at this point I had a clue of how I was suppose to paint but Emily said just get some paint on the silk so that's what I did (as you can see from the picture).  But with each following painting session, I had more an idea of how it was going to come out and what kind of effects I liked best.  Really, though all the fabric came out usable.  Maybe not amazing usable, but it will do usable.

MUCH Happier With this one
By  Day 3, we put all the paint away, and started to design. Emily gave us instructions on how basically put the fabric up and fill up your piece. THEN you were suppose to move things around by what you liked and what you didn't.  What bothered you...what you didn't,..she gave us a list of things on how to evaluate your piece so you know when it was done and that was a skill I really needed to work on.  But really not many of us started with a clear idea of how it was going to come out and that's how she does it.  At the end THEN she titles it.  Totally different with how I work.

By the end of Day 3, I finished my first trial which Emily thought was almost there.  She walked up and looked at the piece - looked at my silk pile .... grabbed  the right piece and put it in the right place. apparently you get better at this with years of practice.  Although that saved me a TON of trials, I still like to do my own work.  I asked if I could do another one that looked more like me and less derivative of Emily's work.  She gave me a look because normally classes start sewing it down but once mine was basted I thought I could do the rest at home. (Most everyone did more than one...some even did three!  She said she never had a class do that!)
Actually this one came out the really don't know you're going until you iron the out!!

Day 4/5 was spent doing a much bigger piece more in my own compositional style and it went  together  much easier.  By Friday at 2:00 pm, it was all basted and ready for our last evaluations.  I'm leaving that piece for another post but I really love it!!

My first piece ...not super big 14" by 20"

Two weeks later, I still haven't made it back into my studio to figure how how to finish sewing them.  But I will  this weekend.

Now we're cooking....ooops Painting!

So to sum it up....If you ever get a chance to take a class with Emily ... DO IT!!  She has a unique teaching style which is totally her.  She's a lovely lady.  Quiet on the outside but really has a nice dry sense of humor underneath. She's VERY generous with her process.  She's one of the few teacher/artist that doesn't do this to be in the limelight.  In fact, I'm thinking that is the last place she wants to be.  I think she creates to share the beauty of her work with the world.  And was super fun to soak it in all week!

I love this picture!
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Friday, July 26, 2019

A Week at Quilting by the Lake - Off the Wall Friday

So last week was my 17th year at the quilt conference, Quilting by the Lake.  I love going back every year because it seems so familiar and yet there is always something new.  This year was no
Suffrage Quilt, Votes for Women, Ellen Blalock
exception.  In fact, I'm not sure if its because I'm finally truly over my blue period or because I'm in an up swing of creativity but there seemed to be inspiration EVERYWHERE.  I took a ton of pictures and I thought I would share a few.  This year I kept them to the gorgeous campus (which is finally over the major construction its been under the last few years) and the quilt show.  But besides these, there were some great lectures that were fascinating, an amazing show and tell and a super fun mini-mall.

So every morning I got up around 5:15 am and headed to the Family Y which is on campus and open to QBL participants.

  One morning it looked like this

 Another morning it looked like this

When you're in Syracuse you never quite know what the weather will bring!!
The campus was filled with gorgeous wild flowers  - everywhere!

The architecture is pretty amazing since its a two year community college!

But what was the best was this year quilt show!

Martin Luther King, Susan Robinson

Cabin on a Lake, Cheryl Kosarek
Label Quilt, Carol Boyer
Close Up of Label quilt

Gatekeeper 2, Lily Moebes

Close up of Gatekeeper 2 by Lily Moebes

There are many, many more pictures of the week - it was just one big visual explosion I swear!
Next week, I'll do a post on my amazing week with Emily Richardson.  I want to think a bit more on the class yet.  I still haven't caught my breathe from it all - it was quite the whirl-wind!

So What Have Been Up to Creatively?
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