Things are getting more and more eccentric at Casa de la Swain. Changing styles in my textile work, falling in love again with painting and photography...and then there is the ever illusive quest for continuing creativity through working with Eric Maisel. Still on the road teaching, posting now at the Ragged Cloth Cafe and taking the pledge to keep handmaiden up to date.

Saturday, December 31, 2005

Important Information for All

Beware! There is a superstition in my family that whatever you are doing on New Year's Day is what you will be spending a lot of time doing throughout the rest of the year. Think about it. My plan, of course, is to be making quilts. Consider yourself warned about house cleaning, cooking, etc.

The Fat Lady is About to Sing

Well, it looks like we are about to make in through another year. Most years it is just a passage of time for me but this has been a year of some considerable highs and lows. I have never ridden on a roller coaster but this year I certainly lived one.
From losing loved ones, the miracle of the twins, Chris coming home safe from Iraq to launching the start up of my instructional dvd's, the working through a transition to a new style of work and the gaining of new friends through blogging, 2005 has been a doozy of a year. This is the first time I will be glad to see a year end. Yet, through all of these events there has been a constant in my life: creativity.
The meaning of expressing thoughts, feelings, and vision through quiltmaking has been the foundation and framework that has held my days together. It has given me solace, strength, and a place of peace. Whether you are professional or not, the comfort and discovery in creative energy provides insight into ourselves and others that cannot be found in any other way. To be alone with your own energy and find a way to release that energy into the world is the great gift of any creativity endeavor.
So while I am eagerly awaiting 2006, with all its highs and lows, I look back on 2005 as a time of "pearl in oyster." The events of 2005 have pushed me to examine my life, my work and leave open all doors for the future.
May 2006 bring you great ideas and new approaches to your work and your life. Push, challenge, engage but most of all look within frequently so you will never lose sight of your vision or your true, authentic self.
Sidebar: Thanks for all the computer solutions. We are still working on it but things are looking up.

Friday, December 30, 2005

The Black Hole of the Holidays and the Dreaded Blue Screen

The holidays are a wonderful time of the year with family, friends, food, and sharing gifts. Only one problem, it is a time that sucks me right out of the studio. I promised myself that wouldn't happen this year and things have been better; but still have family at home which somehow makes me believe I must play mom. I have gotten two quilts completely basted and ready to applique but that isn't nearly enough. As much as I love this time of the year, I will be glad when the new year finally rolls around and I can get back to my regular schedule.
Melody writes today about the discipline of working...I couldn't agree I just need to get back to that discipline. I have become a slug. When you work for yourself, it is so easy to not work. The distractions of daily life come at you from all directions. There is the housework (not like I do it), calls and emails and the dangerous "I have already worked so hard this year, I deserve some time off." Whine, whine......sitting here at my laptop isn't helping.
Look around at the artist you consider successful, whose name rolls off your toungue with ease......then take a tour down memory lane through old Quilt National catalogues. There are a handful of people who are still working, pushing the envelope and growing to mature artist.
This is discipline, obsession, being driven or just plain hard work. Maybe their media has changed and we just don't see their work in our venues......but to get anywhere in any media you have to fall in love with it, marry yourself to it and live happily ever after. Try those dreaded work everyday no matter what is going on around you. I promise to do my best to meet this goal.
Now to the bad dest top computer has given me the dreaded blue screen....meaning it won't re-boot. It keeps telling me all the amazing things about dumping physical memory....this cannot be good. I come to you from my laptop...thank all the computer pixies that I own one. Why do I mention this? I have several unanswered emails I can't get to, the graphics for my dvd covers are in Photoshop and world of other important information. My apologies now if I don't get back to you immediately if you emailed me prior to yesterday. I have tech support sons working on the problem.....wish us luck.
And yes, I know next year is was a know fingers faster than brain.
Happy New Year.....avoid those hangovers and stay off the roads.

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Rowing Macine

Almost forgot to answer all the comments and email about the erg machine. This is the easiest way so please forgive the lack of personal responses. First, you are rowing in meters, not miles...big difference that we Americans can't seem to get. I have been rowing for over a year now and it has taken that much time for me to get to the point where I can row 10K+ in an hour. I don't do this everyday but when in competition or trying to drop a few lbs, I will do these long rows. Normally, I row between 5K and 6K meters a day. I try to row at least 5 to six days a week. The 5 to 6 K will take about 30 minutes once you get your rhythm.
The machine does fold in the middle for storage but if you fold it up you won't use it so mine is out all the time...except during social events which you I know I am having weekly.
I have not had any lower back problems because you aren't rowing with your back but instead with your abs. You follow forward with your arms and then pull back with your arms and abs.
Hope this answers so of the questions...if you have more I would be happy to try and answer.
P.S. In an hour of rowing you burn over 200 calories.....nice!

Where Did She Go?

Blog? What's that? Oh, I remember you journal online and stay in touch with friends and family...yeah, it had slipped my mind. Why is it after Christmas, I don't become a normal person again until after New Year's Day? Gotta be some sort of weird altered state. ...where I fall into this I can just sit on my fanny and not do anything because it is a holiday. I know I will use this as my Twyla Tharps' week away from computer suggestion...check that one off the list.
Hope you all had as wonderful Christmas as we did...and I know you did, regardless. I was a good girl this year according in Santa....a new Kate Spade wallet, a web cam, two beautiful bracelets, gorgeous set of pj's and from sweet Ronnie an entire new sound system....with sub-woofer, amplifier, cd get the idea. I consider myself humbled by how thoughtful my family is.
So what have I been doing? Sewing! Aren't you proud of me. I decided to take this time as a personal blogging (sigh)...and I have gotten an amazing amount of work done.
Other than that I am brain dead from so much will close for now and try to be more coherent after New Year's.
Cheers to 2007...have one for me.

Sunday, December 25, 2005

A new Way for Santa to Travel

I leave you with this last picture of the arrival of Santa in his flying saucer. Of course, there are tons more pictures but don't want you falling asleep at the computer.
Happy Holidays to all! Posted by Picasa

Uncle Thomas and Grandpa with lots of loot

Guess Santa was busy watching someone else this year. Posted by Picasa

When Do We Eat?

Enuf said....or maybe it was the presents they were after. Posted by Picasa

Grandpa and Collin in deep discussion

Cyrus: "Hey, grandpa, wait til you hear the story I gotta tell ya." Posted by Picasa

Cyrus and Collin opening presents

Obviously Cyrus has the posing for the camera thing down, but heh, heh, smarty Collin is getting to the goodies by opening the present behind his back. Posted by Picasa

Grandpa and Grandma with newest member of the clan

Chris and Jillaine's new baby boy, Benjamin Jace at his first Christmas. Posted by Picasa

Cousins Jene' and Gaia wondering what comes in small boxes

Jene' is Chris and Jillaine's oldest; Gaia is Craig and Kelly's oldest. Just two of my eight grandchildren. Posted by Picasa

Everyone Except Jillaine

Merry Christmas to all of you from all of us. We are missing Chris' wife Jillaine who took all the kidlets to have their picture taken with Santa....brave girl. Hope you all have a wonderful time with your loving families. Posted by Picasa

Friday, December 23, 2005

Okay I Shoulda Dusted the Table

Last but not least a small taste of red and green on the end table. I think I out did myself this year.

Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night! Be good Santa is still watching with list in hand.Posted by Picasa

A Beautifully Decorated Mantle

Fresh read and white flowers, another red velvet bow and a blue velvet star box.....I know Martha is dead with envy. Posted by Picasa

The Height of it all

This bamboo is actually about 3 feet tall....just the right size for a Christmas tree. Posted by Picasa

Please Take Note of Festive Decorations

Red velvet bows surrounding the bamboo....spare no expense...89 cents from Walgreen's. Posted by Picasa

Let It Not Be Said I Didn't Decorate for Christmas

The Ronnie and Gabrielle version of a Christmas Tree. Posted by Picasa

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

The LIttle Machine That Could

Here is the erg machine that I row least 5000 meters a day when I am home. I am on the road so much that my numbers get all wonky if I don't work hard when at home. As of today I have managed a total of 613, 224 meters even while traveling and teaching. Since starting last year, I have done a grand total of 1,474,652 meters.....around 700 plus miles.
This machine has made me a new woman...helps keep the pounds in reasonable control, really increases your stamina(way aerobic), and is low impact on every part of the old body.
For a girl who was never athletic, this has turned me into an addict....don't get between me and my machine. If you have a gym that has one, give it a try. All machines are not alike....this is a Concept 2, top of the line...much better than the older models. Got me down 4 dress sizes so I could buy lots of new clothes to match my every growing shoe collection......wait maybe this is not a good thing. Posted by Picasa

Shameless Self Congratulations

This is the certificate I was just allowed to download for participating in the Holiday Rowing Challenge. If you look very carefully, you can read 200,000 meters.....well, actually I rowed 201,800 meters but when you hit 200K you get the prize. Now I get the cool T-shirt that says I made it. The challenge started on Thanksgiving and ends on Christmas Day. You have your choice of doing 100K or 200K.....but when you hit the 100K it is hard to resist not going all the way.Posted by Picasa

Twyla Tharp's The Creative Habit

Like Deb ,I am also reading this book. Bought it yesterday as a Christmas present to myself....since we all know Sweet Ronnie would never think of this one. I intend to read the book through completely before starting any of the exercises. Not sure why but this seems to be the feeling I am getting from what I have read. What I am struck by is how similiar her writing is to the way I work. Please don't think that I am comparing myself in any way to Twyla Tharp, yousers would that be arrogant. What I am referring to is the way she speaks of creativity and working.
That it is a discipline that must be maintained everyday.
A creative life is one that involves being prepared and ready for the work....not an occasional doing something every once and awhile but everyday. You don't have to compose a masterpiece every fact a masterpiece might take a year...a tidbit quiltmakers might learn something from. Within each work of creativity there are going to be some serious what. Get back to work.
I realize most of you make art as a creative outlet and have no desire to be professional artist/quiltmakers. However, there are some of you I know that are pursuing this path. Go for it...what can be the worse that happens, you have a lot of great work for yourself or you become the hottest thing in the market.....both have their pitfalls. The important thing is talent is not the be all and end is discipline. I think that is why this book resonates with me so strongly.
I am a self-trained artist. I did take Michael James color class in 1985, and in the early '90's took two graduate level art class...basically studio classes but that is the extent of my training.
Admitedly, I was born with the gift of drawing but if I had done nothing with it what would have been the point.
Nattering on again when I just wanted to highly recommend this book no matter what stage you are in on your creative journey. No offense but it is much more enlightening and easier to work than "The Artist's Way," just MHO.
Happy Holidays...Santa's on the way.
Sidebar: Lest you think Sweet Ronnie is going to give me the Christmas present no one wants...he is having new speakers put in my car....Rock On!

Monday, December 19, 2005

Self Portrait Tues Dec 20

Since I spend so little time in the kitchen, it seemed appropriate to put myself in the oven. I love the white lines that make me look like I might be incarcerated but still have blue glass as company. With Christmas cooking coming up, my oven and I need to become one again so here we are together awaiting the onslaught. Posted by Picasa

Button, Button, Who's Got a Button

Thanks to our talented beyond words Mrs. Mel, I now have a button. You are free to copy and use on your blog. Don't ya just love talented women?
As to other doings, I braved the Christmas crowds today and have everything done but two gifts. Yes, I am gloating since I am usually last minute Lizzie. Wednesday I brave the grocery store and Thursday and Friday cook. However, this year will be very special because daughter in law Christy is coming on Friday to cook with me. One can only imagine the mess we will make but what fun.
With things well in hand, that' s a relative statement, I am going to try to sneak in some painting tonight or tomorrow night. Don't want to stop when I'm on a roll......and since I have been on the weirdest sleep schedule known to mankind , why not?
I wonder if it is the full moon which shoouldn't be a problem now or if it is all this creative energy pushing me around. Aw, who cares if you get to work at midnight or noon.
As to wrapping the presents, well that will be a Friday night exercise....maybe Ronnie would help, second thought, not a good idea.
List of what we are cooking for Christmas at Craig and Kelly's:
Gabrielle's famous cranberry pecan chocolate chip cookies.
Mini pumpkin muffins
Dark chocolate almond bark
Brie filled with lox
Curried chicken salad
Meatballs in carmelized onion cream sauce
Yep, no calories there...shouldn't gain a pound over the holidays.....such an optimist.

Sunday, December 18, 2005

Well, Shut My Mouth, I Have Been Working!

You have seen all these before in various stages of construction, but I was feeling like maybe I hadn't gotten enough done during my hiatus from teaching. The goal was to get as many tops done as I possibly could so that I could quilt on them while I travel next year. Posting them all together again gave me a sense of a job well done....and some of them so close to being finished that I need to work on them in a focused order. For the past month, I have had a great time going from one to another, starting new quilts, developing new designs and new ways of working. Now it is time to put nose to grind stone and get these to a finished state.
Sorry about making you all look at them again but seeing them on the blog re-energized me about some of the older ones and got me really excited about how much I had accomplished when I thought I was basically piddling. Well, there was some piddling going on but you know what I mean. So all in all not a bad month for a quiltmaker who still hand applique, hand quilts, paints, pencils and uses cable ties to stitch quilts together.
Thanks for all the encouragement during this process. Now we will be counting off the days on the calendar to see how long it takes to get them done.

New Construction

Anxiously awaiting some beautiful paint, another WonderUndered canvas and Peltex. On the first small piece, I painted on the peltex, this time I am going to try painting on the canvas just to see what the difference is. If it doesn't do well, it will just have pretty colors on the back. Have the construction designed and going to try using heavy weight grommets for a more industrial look. Just thought the first construction was to colorful for an industrial look. Posted by Picasa

First in Abstract Series

As of yet un-named but all pinned and basting for applique started. You know the rest of the story...surface design, etc. Posted by Picasa

Earth Strata:Aerial View

Top finished...needs colored pencil for shading and then ready to layer and baste and of course, hand quilt. This will be very straight forward with the quilting following land lines and plowed fields,etc. Posted by Picasa

Whole Cloth Retro

My homage to the '60's....still needs more surface design, and then layer and baste and quilt. Not going to do fancy quilting just to enhance the design. Still may cut this up or rather Gerrie and my favorite term deconstruction.....this one is still stewing in the pot. Posted by Picasa

Late for the Sky

Top finished, surface design started but no where near finished. Would probably take a day to finish the surface design and then another day to layer and idea how long to quilt....want to to lots of groovy line work with the stitching. Posted by Picasa

Sea Stones

The center panel is completely quilted....two side panels ready to be quilted. Could be finished in a couple of weeks if I would work on it? Posted by Picasa

Not A Bad Month of Production

The leaf abstract background with just a few more seams to go before adding the leaves. Posted by Picasa

Friday, December 16, 2005

Future Constructions

Answering comments in this post because I can't get everyone's email...Blogger at work again.
For Val, my second degree isin English Literature, concentration 20th Century American but I had to read every century to get there; and just to make you fall off your chair, I like 12 hours finishing my Master's in.....tada.....World Religion. Brother, was I gonna make some money when I graduated.
To everyone else, thanks on the compliments about the piece. This was a test piece for a larger work but since I have to spend all next week cleaning (you should see my house...yikes), cooking and finishing Christmas shopping, I won't be able to start until Christmas Day. Our holiday has always been Christmas Eve. The boys and wives then go to their respective in laws for Christmas. Sweet Ronnie and I bask in the glow of we did again another year. Me usually in the studio, him usually being a couch potato. So to make a long story even longer, I will paint the Peltex first and then Wonder Under it for the larger piece.
The cable ties worked so well because I WonderUndered the Peltex to watercolor canvas. A very fine grade but it gave it the stability to not go all wonky. I would like to try adhere it to fabric but my concern is that it won't have that same stability. Will have to do a test piece to see 'cuz I gotta tell you pulling those ties throught the canvas was a chore.
Last but not least, you know I was pulling your leg about the video and blankie....come on, with my sarcastic witty humor. What? That's not how you see me.
Sidebar: No Val, I still have twelve hours left to finish my master's which I did not do. Sorry for the confusion.

Gee Whiz Guys!

I write this long philosphical post about life and all you can do is complain about having to hit a mute button. I am heart-broken, small tears on the computer keys. My apologies for making you work so hard....I take the pledge to not post anymore videos...don't want you stop reading the blog...although obviously the post is secondary to muting the video, Sigh! I crawl off to a corner with a blankie to cover my head.

I Always Post these in the Wrong Order

My blogging skills need some thoughtful consideration. But, hey, yahoo, it's done. Posted by Picasa

Finally Finished

Mostly through aviodence complex, this took forever or it seems so to me. It is only 21" H and 25" W. However, I wanted to so a small study before I tried a larger piece. Now that I kinda know what I am doing, the second piece should be easier. I know you are all sick of this...thanks for putting up with the photos. Posted by Picasa

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