Friday, February 19, 2021

A Visit to An Art Museum on Off the Wall Friday


After spending two weeks straight in this old Victorian, it's fair to say that I'm suffering more than a little bit of cabin fever.  For once, Erie has escaped most of the bad weather that has played havoc with the rest of the country.  So I'm thinking that this weekend is a perfect time to get out....welllll.... what is consider "out" during a pandemic.  Unfortunately, my state can't seem to get it's act together and very few people are vaccinated, so most restrictions are still in place.  

Despite that, the museums are open for business.  It's amazing how a little bit of culture goes a long way.  Without our monthly doses of arts this past year, I've felt VERY stagnate and stale.  So it's definitely time to take a ride to town and get a hit of inspiration.  

Where to begin after such a drought....

Art Museum Trip Tips

  • Plan! Don't be afraid to take  a ride a few hours away from home to visit a museum.  Check out the museum's website.  Most will have tabs that say VISIT.  All the particulars will be there...Hours...Parking...Fees/Admission.  This year you'll have to add special Covid Policies to the list to research which  will probably include reservation on a time to visit.  Read through the rules of the museum.  What are you allowed to bring with you.  What are the photography policies.  What are the hours of the museum shop and is the restaurant open.  The more you plan, the better you'll feel prepared to enjoy your day.
  • Exhibits!  Next, I check the calendar of the museum to see what special exhibits are showing and what galleries are open.  Nothing is worse than finding out that you just missed something you were dying to see or that major galleries are closed due to renovations.  I'll read through the description of the exhibits and do a little background research so I don't go into it totally ignorant.  
  • Visit! Wear comfortable shoes, be well rested and wear layers.  Grab a map on the way in and make sure you mark the galleries you CAN'T miss.  
  • Focus!  This is something I started doing about 10 years ago.  When I go into an art museum, I'll pick something to focus on.  It might be that I'm looking for inspiration for my next piece.  It might be I'm looking for subject matter for a new series on my blog.  It might be that I want to concentrate on how the artist used light/shadows.  Or we play find the focal point where we go through and find the focal point in each piece.  If this is all too much for you, take a guided tour.  Some are actually guided (like the one I took at the National Gallery...OMGosh!  it was good!) and some are self guided where you download the app (of course you do!) .  Most museums have mp3 players now that have tours on them as well.  This all adds up to...don't just wander around the museum saying, "Oh look at all the pretty pictures"  
  • Digest!  My husband and I have a habit of going to a museum when it opens and finishing in time for an early dinner.  We'll have the restaurant all picked out.  That way we can sit over our meal and talk about what we saw.  Normally, we are still chatting on the drive home and as we tumble into bed.  It leads to some really great conversations. Also, I always make sure I buy something at the museum store that will help educate me further (not to mention help support the museum).  You want your visit to feed your creativity.  
Just writing this all out really makes me want to take a drive to the Cleveland Museum of Art.  Right now they had the brilliant idea to put together an exhibit called Stories from Storage where they dove into the treasure trough they call "storage".  Go figure that a global pandemic would play havoc with trying to schedule exhibitions of loaned world art treasures.  So the museum is showcases some rarely seen pieces they have in their own collection.  Also, there is a long running exhibit of Mola Textiles, I've been wanting to see.  My gosh!  now I'm all excited!!  Hopefully the weather will cooperate!

So what are your favorite art museums??

You are invited to the Inlinkz link party!

Click here to enter

Friday, February 12, 2021

A Little Humor on Off the Wall Friday

 I've had a stressful week, so instead it of sitting down to write....I found these...

You are invited to the Inlinkz link party!

Click here to enter

Friday, February 5, 2021

How to Title A Quilt on Off the Wall Friday

Son Light, Nina-Marie Sayre

I don't know about you,  but I like me a good title.  I mean if the title is good, I'm more likely to pick up a  book ... buy a movie ticket... or catch a new TV show.  First impressions mean a lot and the title is the first impression of most things....except art.  (Now for this discussion let's not forget that every quilt is art!)

The thing about a piece of art is that the viewer will look at it first then look at a title.  The title is

The Scream, Edvard Munch, 1893

a chance for the artist to give the viewer another insight into piece.  The title may  be an avenue of the theme of a piece, therefore contributing to the full series the piece is within.  The title can give a viewer something concrete to relate to when recalling the piece.  As an example, Edvard Munch, The Scream (or The Scream of Nature as he called it)....need I say more?

There seems to be two camps when it comes to titling art.  The one camp is happy to give very generic names to their pieces, sometimes to the point of calling them "Untitled" or just a number...#1...#2...etc  Usually the idea behind this is that the artist doesn't want to influence the viewer on what the piece means.  The viewer is suppose to take from it their own unique impression. Jackson Pollack, who used numbers to title his paintings wanted the viewer to “…look passively and try to receive what the painting has to offer and not bring a subject matter or preconceived idea of what they are to be looking for.”

The other camp find titles vastly important and tend to spend much time coming up with just the right one.  Titles capture the essence of piece. They are one more chance for the artist to convey their intention of a piece.  Titles may become the link between the artist to the piece to the viewer.  I mean let's face it, its all well and good for an artist to say, "This is whatever you want it to be" .  But the average Jane Public isn't really up for that.  

"Momma is That A Lady Bug", Nina-Marie Sayre 
(The quote that inspired the quilt)

Eph 4:4, Nina-Marie Sayre
(Look up the scripture)

I myself (OPINION ALERT) love titles.  I love reading them, I love making them.  Lots of times, I'll use titles to help lend continuity to a series of pieces or to convey an inner meaning.  I've found that buyers like something they can relate too and a good title can strike a cord with them as well.  For instance, during an Open Studio, I had several pieces up for sale.  A man I didn't know seem struck with my work but couldn't figure out which one to buy.  We started talking about the pieces and he asked me about my creative process which led to the titles.  I pointed to a piece from my Crosses series and I said that is called Son Light.  He loved the play on words that you could sun in working through the piece and the crosses of Christ.  He immediately settled on that piece.  

So How to Pick a Title?????

  • Articulate the theme, brainstorm words that convey it
  • Try witty, clever, ironic play on words that will once again relate back to the theme
  • Be concrete - if its a bowl of fruit - call it Bowl of Fruit
  • Pick out a small piece in the overall composition and call it that
  • Relate the piece back to series it belongs to ...ex...Log Cabin I, Log Cabin II
  • Create mystery of the piece which will leave the viewer wondering how the title relates to what is before them
  • Try one worded titles that are abstract but still point your viewer into the right direction

Urban Shadows, Nina-Marie Sayre

Some of my  Do's and Don'ts
  • Don't use 50 cent words...simpler is better
  • Do be genuine...don't  call it something it's not
  • Do think on the title as you're working on the piece
  • Don't make it too long
  • Do be original
  •  Do double check all spelling!
  • Don't be afraid to ignore all of this advice!

So what are your thoughts on titles?  Do you struggle or do they come easily?  Do you like to title things??  What are your best titles?? What are titles you like??  I love reading your comments!!

So What Have You Been up Creatively??

You are invited to the Inlinkz link party!

Click here to enter

Friday, January 29, 2021

The Mid Century Aesthetic on Off the Wall Friday


Every person over the age of 50 knows that if you wait long enough everything will come back in fashion.  This wisdom came to me as I saw all  the same mid century furniture my mom got rid of in the

1970's popping back onto design shows on HGTV.  I mean  you can't watch a show without the words "Mid Century" popping up.  In fact, it's everywhere from furniture design to Christmas wrapping paper.  

So for those not in the know, mid century is a style of design that roughly spans from the 1930's to 1960's characterized especially by clean lines, organic simple forms and lack of embellishment.  I remember growing up thinking the style felt very cold  and lacked any softness I liked in furniture.  Even today, I constantly see designers adding softening touches, because let's face it, mid century might look good in "reveals" but it's hard to snuggle up to on movie night.

That brings me to why I bring this up.  Last fall, I bought several half yards of fabric from RJR's Pollinator line.  With them, I paired a few dot prints that went nicely.  They all look so great together I wanted to use them in simple big shape design.  "Simple Shape" immediately brought up the whole  mid century aesthetic.  Of course, this aesthetic has also been borrowed by the whole Modern Quilt movement of the last 15 years.  (Don't think the irony of calling a style of graphics from 60 years ago "Modern" hasn't escaped me over the years, but I have let that go.....well almost.)

Delving into the world of mid century is fascinating.  So many simple shapes. 
So many secondary patterns formed.  The use of line is fascinating...some hard...some soft.  It's also interesting to study   negative space  which is so often overlooked.    No wonder this aesthetic has been so readily adapted by quilters.  All that space to quilt in and add fancy machine quilting.  With more study you can see how negative space was achieved by contrast in value.  Maybe that's why I see so much white play into quilting today....nothing says contrast like white!  OMGoodness, it all just makes a girl want to delve in and start designing.


I promised myself I wouldn't start anything new until I finished up the couple of projects I have here. Of course, it does give a girl something to think on while waiting for spring.  Not to mention a good reason to fall down the rabbit hole they call Pinterest.  

So What Have Been Up to Creatively?

You are invited to the Inlinkz link party!

Click here to enter

Friday, January 22, 2021

Let's Talk Art History on Off the Wall Friday



 How did I manage to go through 8 years of public school, 4 years of college prep, 4 years of University and STILL not get one iota of art history?  (To be fair, I believe, I may have gotten a smidgen in middle school but honestly that was all a hormonal blur so I can't be sure. )  For that matter, in the

Kids Art Based on Georgia O'Keeffe Cityscapes

ensuing 30 years things have not gotten much better.  With all the emphasis on standardize testing, it seems that art history has taken a back seat....a way back seat.

That said, it doesn't mean that art history isn't important or useful.  Of course, the most obvious way is that to understand a historical era you need to look at what was going on creatively in the culture.  Art can help give a clearer understanding of the times.  

BUT that is not where I'm going with this.  Today, I want to show how you can use art history to inspire your own art work.  I first got this idea when I started teaching art classes in the summer for my church.  I would give a lesson on a famous artist and then let the kids try their hand at creating their own art in the style of the artist.  (You can see those long ago posts Here and Here. )  The work they produced was amazing.  It really sparked the idea that art is built on those that came before us.  

  Over the years, I've designed several exercises inspired by master artists from the past.  As always some were successful, others were not so successful, ALL taught me valuable lessons in design and composition.  

 First ..... Pick An Artist..... Honestly, I think the best way to a successful art piece lies in it's foundation.  Do your research!!  If you don't know anything about art (like me when I started) google famous paintings and pick a few that speak to you. Then look up the artist and other works they created.  THEN read their story.  It's so easy to find short histories and most are fascinating.  Make a list of what you like about their work .... what characteristics jump out at you!


Armed with your new found knowledge....pick a design exercise!

#1 Pick a painting, take an interesting crop out of the painting, recreate it in fabric.

#2 Pick a painting, simplify it to basic shapes, pick a new palette and recreate it

#3 Create your own piece in the style of your inspiration artist or painting

#4 Pick a painting - make copies of it  - cut them up and reconfigure into a new composition

#5 Pick a painting - analysis the composition - recreate that composition using your subject matter

#6  Incorporate the list of characteristics of your chosen artist that spoke to you into your own piece

Those are just a few place to start.    Remember these don't have to be great masterpieces.  The value is in what you learn.  Still don't be afraid to take a successful try one step further into a bigger piece.   Try your own ideas and don't be afraid to share them!

So What Have Been Up to Creatively?

You are invited to the Inlinkz link party!

Click here to enter

Friday, January 15, 2021

My Goal Planning on Off the Wall Friday

 So after writing last week's post on SMART goal setting, I had a good idea on how to go about it.  Now I just had to sit down and do it!!  hmmmmmmmm...okay....where to begin.  As most times in life lately, it began with a google search (of course it did!).  That brought way more information on goal setting and goal setting worksheets than one girl really needs!!  I settled on a worksheet layout that was created by Aimee, at the Crazy Craft Lady.  I liked how she broke up the time for the goals into a 90 day period and then from there into 3 - 30 day periods.    90 days all seems more manageable than a full year.  Plus after 30 days, I can always adjust the specifics of the goal! 


Once I settled on a worksheet, it was easy enough to fill out using PDFescape.  Of course you could just print out the form and use a !!GASP!!.. a pen, but honestly my handwriting is so under utilized these days that its become illegible.  Coming up with the goals wasn't hard since two of them were staring me in the face everyday saying "Why aren't you working on me?"  As per SMART...


Specific ...Hand piece pinwheel quilt regularly, Complete my masterclass, Finish Abbey Quilt

Measurable...Hand piece 4 hrs a week, complete each weekly assignment from my masterclass, work 8 hrs a weekend on Abbey till it's done.

Achievable...That's 12 hrs a week sewing/creating is doable although I still work full time.  I should finish Abbey before my masterclass starts, but if not I'll adjust the timeline.

Relevant...All three goals are appropriate for my Master Vision and Purpose...To Work Routinely & Productively in my Studio 

Time Bound...The goals are all set up hourly, daily, weekly, monthly and finally in one quarter.  90 days later I can adjust and recommit. 

Now, I'm writing this all so you can see how I did it.   With all the information out there I didn't see one person actually put their goal process out as an example.  It didn't take me long to come up with this so I wanted to show that it's not as hard as it seems!  In fact, I'm thinking that writing these two posts is the easy part!  Getting the 12 hrs of work done each week is the hard part!!

Now onto Things I Like.....

Creative Classes!!  It's no secret that my favorite vacation is when I learn something new and

am able to refuel myself creatively!  This week I managed to make a new plan for 2021 after 3 such vacations got cancelled in 2020.  (Seriously worst vacation year ever!)

Quilting By the Lake has not managed to announce a summer schedule this year due to Covid, but did set up online Online Classes  & Workshops.  So I signed up for Rosalie Dace's Masterclass.  5 weekend  days of exercises lead by Rosalie who is safely home in South Africa.  It's not QBL but I will have the luxury of having my whole studio and fabric stash at my finger tips so that will be nice.  This starts the last week of February therefore, making it into my creative goals for this quarter.

John C. Campbell Folk School is resuming classes for June 1.  I'm signed up for a Embellishing Textile class with Jennifer Ries in August (my husband is going to learn to make brooms - apparently a life long ambition of his) and then I'll go back down in October to take a class with Mary Lou Weidman to try my hand at applique story quilts.  Both sound fun - both should ad a skill or two to my toolbox but more importantly fill back up my creative jug!

There ya go!!  Now it seems I have a plan for 2021!!  I think things are looking up!

 What Have You Been Up to Creatively??


You are invited to the Inlinkz link party!

Click here to enter

Friday, January 8, 2021

Setting Goals on Off the Wall Friday

 Is it just me, or did it feel like all of 2020 was spent just "waiting it out".  It kinda reminded me of my childhood in the 1970's on the Tug Hill Plateau in upstate New York. (And when I say Upstate NY, I don't mean 45 minutes north of New York City, but the truly Northern end of the state)  We would get these ridiculously huge snow storms where you were lucky to make it the mailbox more less to the grocery store.  You just spent the next few days, just waiting for the weather to break long enough to get shoveled out....or the sun to come out...or both.  That's what 2020 felt like  to me....just marking time

But honestly!  Enough is enough. It's time to stop sleep walking through the weeks and set some goals.  Now, don't get me wrong.  Goals are different than resolutions  which tend to point to everyday life improvements.  Goals are specific deadlines or targets.  It's a tangible finish line to reach too.  

Apply this idea to your creative life and see how much you get done in 2021.

Okay, got it!  So how do I do it?!


1 What are the results you want to see?  Is it project driven like finishing two large quilts in 2021.  Or maybe its technique driven...learning how to hand dye fabric.  Or maybe its productivity driven...spending 20 hrs a week in your studio.  Really the possibilities are endless.  I suggest you sit down and think what is REALLY important to you!  Brainstorm and make a list.  Now prioritize it.  Set the top few and file the rest for another time.

  Now that you know what you want to do, you need a plan.  You might have seen the acronym SMART around.

  • SPECIFIC- Exactly what you want to accomplish
  • MEASURABLE - Set up a way to keep track of your progress towards your goal.  Set up milestones or "mini-goals" to meet
  • ACHIEVABLE - Make sure that your goal and in extension the way you plan to obtain it are actually attainable.  This process is meant to be empowering and productive not discouraging and depressing.    Don't be afraid to ask for help.  Is there someone knowledgeable that can help you with what you want to learn?  Or maybe a friend or mentor that can hold you accountable to reaching your milestones. Set up the tools that will make your goal achievable
  • RELEVANT -  This is more important that you might think.  Okay so say your goal is to make two full size quilts this year.  Well that's all fine and good but why?  Is it just to say "Hey look at me.  I covered two beds in 2021!?"  Or are those two more installments in your latest series of quilts?  It's the difference between just randomly doing stuff just to have a goal for 2021 and using the goal to further the decade and eventually your whole creative life.
  • TIME BOUND -  Set a deadline....a REALISTIC deadline. I myself do well with mini-deadlines and treats along the way.  With a deadline looming, it's easier to complete the goal.

3.  Using SMART, set up an action plan. I highly suggest you write out exactly your milestones,
how you intend to achieve them and exactly when they are to be done.  I would also  use visual ways of measuring...think GOLD STARS or Days to Christmas ... you know what I mean.

4.  Take Action.  Put your plan into practice.  Use a charting system or calendar to mark off mini-achievements.  Brag to your best friend how you're doing.  Have her help you when ambition lags.

5.  Reevaluate.  Once the process starts, don't be afraid to reevaluate the goals and achievements.  If the timeline needs to be changed, do it.  The idea is to accomplish the goal, not to give up because it proved too unrealistic.  

Writing this all out gives me hope that I will actually get something done in 2021.  I'm still playing with the idea of putting my action plan on the blog and publicly  being held accountable.   Now THAT'S scary.  But honestly after 2020, a little boot in the pants toward a bigger goal is a NOT a bad idea!


Anyways, I hope this helps you as much as it's helped me!  Here's to a more productive 2021!


You are invited to the Inlinkz link party!

Click here to enter