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, July 30, 2005

Just Being a Proud Grandma and Mom

Cyrus and favorite toy being a big boy in his high chair Posted by Picasa

Collin and Uncle Thomas ...the look of love Posted by Picasa

Collin learns to hold his own bottle Posted by Picasa

Collin and Uncle Thomas enjoy flying Posted by Picasa

Why....the Eternal Question

This is aboslutely stream of consciousness blathering from "cogitating" last night....go no further if you aren't ready for thoughts from the simple minded. Here goes nothing...first the quilt still isn't working so going to scrub all but one section that is really eye candy and start over. Nothing new about this process; happens all the time. However, as this decision was being made, the question of what this complusion is all about kept creeping into my thoughts. Why am I doing this (quiltmaking, teaching, filmimg dvd's, spending weeks on the road, learning about marketing and all other related business)? I could be living what I will refer to as a "normal" offense meant to anyone. My normal life would include keeping my house in an acceptable state, having friends to visit (like shopping with and having lunch), spend more time with my every growing family, especially the grand get the idea.

But no, that is not my life...haven't seen my best friend in months...we do talk almost everyday....have seen the kids some but that was work related and the house is soon to be closed by the board of health. What took me down this path of totally self-absorbed, can do nothing but think about work, spend more time in the studio that in any other room in the house and there is not an end in sight on the traveling and teaching?

Light bulb moment: my life has always been centered around some form of artistic expression....guess it was just my turn on the wheel. Some of you know that I did regional theatre from the time I was 18; retiring at 30. Let's face it this is team just can't put on a play without masses of people behind the footlights, not to mention the ones on the stage ....and then there is raising money and mad artistic directors. Being an independent soul, finally got tired of having to get approval from large groups just to get the vision on stage. Retired from theatre....began doing ultra-complicated calligraphic art but with small children this is dangerous...ready to add the last touches, small child grabs arm...whole piece ruined.

Along came quiltmaking, thanks to my mil and I was hooked....but never intended it to grow into the complex operation it has become. The good news is each new quilt brings the excitement of my first; the bad news is longing for a sabbatical to just do work. Imagine the pleasure of waking up every morning with no business to take care of....having a bite to sustain several hours in the studio and repeating the same routine for days on end.

So why? If you have made it this far, brave reader be prepared. Working is a compulsion, read obsessive complusive, a calling, a deep, ever present least, it keeps me off the streets, safe from other people or better said keeping other people safe from me. The work is something that I can't not do (double negative there). There is a lost soul feeing that comes over me now when no work is spewing out.
It isn't an insecurity about whether success will is actually an itchy, anxious (probably need to get meds) feeling that causes me to unbearable to live with. Success in the public world is a fickle mistress...fueled by monetary business and market techingques. Does this have anything to do with the work? Depends on your presonal experience, personally, this never crossed my mind....just kinda got dumped in my lap but remember I embraced it so the ole ego won that battle.

Why? What do I think I am accomplishing and does that even matter? So here is the final chapter in the why....this is just how I am hardwired. The creative life was just this turn on the wheel. To question it is to dilute the stop is to lose my life force. The world in which we live is far too much illusion....we are missing the search for the internal by constantly being bombarded by the external. In part why is a refuge as well as a statement of the times.

While seeing the value of a different life, this is my life at the moment. Changes occur moment to moment so who knows how long this ride will last. So no more why, just more doing what is natural. The creative life is one of constant ups and downs (probably a chart for this somewhere). The choice was mine to devote this life to creativity. The long and winding road still in sight.....destination unknown....but the journey is the learning, the joy and the pulse of my being.

Warned you this was remnants of being a philosophy major.....not particularly logical but absolutely my current truth. In closing, you gotta do what you gotta do....give yourself plenty of forgiveness....focus on the thing that you do best....and maybe work in some outside interests when possible....they do feed the flame for many of us....self-absorbed fool me prefers a more quiet life, recluse in the studio...but we each have to find our own why.

Shutting up now.....your win a gold star if you made it through all this drivel.

Friday, July 29, 2005

Nothing is all bad or all good

Ya hoo! My Kinko's karma has been resolved. Drove over yesterday afternoon after Pilates class (which ends at 6 p.m.) and was home at 6:36 p.m. patterns in hand ready to ship. Could have shipped them from there but use a private shipper for the dvd's and got up this morning and put everything in their capable hands. Takes so little to amuse me but if you knew some of my horror stories with Kinko's you would know this is a major accomplishment in my life.

Filled with the afterglow of success went right to the studio to work on the new quilt....and can't get it right. Keep cutting fabric and taking it down...tried using a background fabric that washed out everything. I have lost the zone is in the twilight. Don't you just hate it when you have what is seemingly good design and then you can't get the color to work? Not faint of heart, decided to do a paradigm shift...don't you just love it when you can use those big words? No background....separate pieces of fabric for each if the palette will just reveal itself to me.

After catching up on paper work and shipping above patterns, took the afternoon off to cogitate the situation. Hopefully tonight something will start working; no pictures until it comes together.
So while my karma seems to be moving in a better direction, Mercury retrograde is keeping me from communicating with this piece.

In order to keep from clogging mail boxes, thanks to all of you for the comments on the last piece. Probably should layer it up and start quilting but the goal for this down time was to get as many tops made as possible to quilt on the far, so good.

Back to the blog or not to blog of my best friends took me to task for posting drawings and works in progress.....and talking about the process of my work. Not something that should be done....mostly the showing of unfinished work. Geez Louise, what is the isn't like I am some famous artist or doing something so innovative that it should be kept secret. Mostly blogging is thinking out loud for me....and occasionally ranting out loud. Not sure why all the hulabaloo over blogging has suddenly come into vogue, but if everyone is talking about it, positive or negative, there must be something vital about blogging. (Run on sentences excluded.)

Off to try working again...stay cool this weekend.

Thursday, July 28, 2005

Still not at Kinko's but a sucker for this fun stuff

You are dignified, spiritual, and wise.
Always unsatisfied, you constantly try to better yourself.
You are also a seeker of knowledge and often buried in books.

You tend to be philosophical, looking for the big picture in life.
You dream of inner peace for yourself, your friends, and the world.
A good friend, you always give of yourself first.

Lost in the Studio and Kinko's Karma

Out of sight, out of mind...well, pretty much out of my mind most of the time anyway...but my studio and I have been having way too much fun this month. Not sure why I bothered to post the pictures since you can't see a darn thing. However, this is the first attempt to combine some abstract and realistic. Bet you were wondering how long I could go without doing another leaf quilt. Obviously not too long, but for me this is very different from the other leaf quilts. Hope springs eternal. Apologies it is so hard to see...reminder to self, buy a new Sharpie.

Truth be known, my day is already filled with anxiety. In Ann Arbor, I am teaching for the last time a floral class. Said class requires patterns that are 20" square...which requires a trip to Kinko's to use their oversize copier. Easy enough but for some reason I have weird karma with Kinko's. Something always goes wrong when trying to get the patterns copied. The machine runs out of paper...the machine prints them slightly askew...the machine doesn't work at all. My hope is that since Kinko's merger with FedEx the karma has changed. FedEx is a good karma experience...knocking on wood. This trip has my stomach all in knots at the thought of what could go wrong so sitting here blathering away in avoidance mode.

On the home front, apparently Texas is one of the few areas of the US that isn't hotter than a stove plate. We actually had rain this week....a rare occurence in July...and the high was only 81...a real treat. Never fear this will change and my apologies to everyone else for taking away their cooler weather....everyone else now knows what it is like here in summer. Every July and August, I question why we still live here and then fall, winter and spring and I remember why.
It is so nice to not shovel snow and have flowers in March.

Just noticed our still life for this week is supposed to be posted tomorrow...bleech. Haven't even started....this probably won't be done in fabric.....hope it gets done at all...good intentions don't get things done. Funny how you actually have to do the work instead of just thinking about it.

So this is the lamest post ever...finally coming to an end. No promises to stay out of the studio....hear it calling now....come play....lonely fabric is a sad thing.

closer view Posted by Picasa

Trying to combine two styles Posted by Picasa

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Up Date: See below. The finished view coming home on a jet place. Got a little better color and included a detail.

Detail Posted by Picasa

Update: last piece appliqued and squared up Posted by Picasa

Back Among the Living

Let's just put it this way an airport at 3:45 a.m. is a ghost town. That is unless you are tyring to get out of Las Vegas...there were two more flight after Craig's. Guess when you run out of money you need to get out of town quickly. All went well with his cetifications; he was very happy. However, yesterday was a total loss for me. Did do orders on dvd's but not a creative thought passed through the gray cells....mostly slept.

Today is another day. Shipped all the orders from yesterday; actually went to the grocery store, my worst nightmare; cooked for Thom, Ronnie and I (hope they don't plan on something everyday); and worked on quilts. Started the third in the abstract series but not ready to reveal anything yet. Not enough done to see where the piece is already thinking about changing the palette. Stay tuned for changes later this week.

Now that the brain is working, some thoughts on art and creativity have come to the surface. These might be just left over dead brain cells from the weekend but just thought you might want to see how deranged my beady little mind works.

Found this quote: I have no conscious premise while working of why I am working, what it is I am making, or whom it is for...I'm a revolutionary , and hope to remain one. An arrogant independence to create in my only motivation.--David Smith

Thinking this over just brought home to me that the impulse to create is what drives us all. The reasons we create may be beyond our conscious mind but deep in our subconscious. There was no reason in the world for me to stop making leaf quilt......could have gone on for years. As a matter of fact, I have a friend who has been painting aspen leaves and trees for twenty years. That isn't all he does...but it is a focus. In my case, the change occurred because something deep within wanted out. It is not for me to qustion why or even what they will be or who will be interested in them. My obligation is to simply create whatever wants to come out.

As artists/quiltmakers, we are responsible to the muse, rather call that impulse, since no etheral beings have been sighted in the studio. We limit ourselves by believing every piece has to be a show piece or selling piece. Can't tell you how many pieces have ended up in the trash....caught our trash man actually taking some out of the trash bin. Hope he and his family enjoyed them...but they weren't for me.

Every design/composition isn't golden...every stitch isn't set in stone. Some pieces can be saved; others can. What we need to develop is a discerning eye so we don't end up with the emperor's new clothes. Photography is a great tool for this. The camera can lie, but it can also reveal areas that need work or a piece that was just not for display. Whatever tool you use for discernment, don't be intimidated by it. Know that this is just a guide to get you to where you want to go.

After that long discertation, back to the studio...and check out the cute pictures of some of the Swain get back to work.

or this one , disregard how crooked it is one the wall Posted by Picasa

Abstract 2, started ages ago, one more piece to add and then square up to quilt. This view was taken while flying over fields.....which orientation works better? This one. Posted by Picasa

aunt Jillaine, Momma Kelly helping Jayden hold Collin Posted by Picasa

a very pegnant Jilliane and my Cher grandaughter Jayden...never leaves homes without multiple wardrobe changes Posted by Picasa

aunt Jillaine and Collin not at all sure what uncle Chris is all about Posted by Picasa

Uncle Chris and Collin Posted by Picasa

Sunday, July 24, 2005

Number Three is in the Can

Just when you thought it was safe, here I am back early. Neither of us wanted to keep working but we were so close to finishing that we forged ahead and Borrowed Tools: II More Surface Design is ready for editing. As you can see from below, I question whether this is a career I would ever want to pursue full time....but trust me, I looked better last night. Did lose control of my tongue about eleven p.m. but no one will notice because the samples turned out great.

Thought this would be a nice quiet recovery day but have to pick up son Craig at the airport at 3:45 a.m. He is returning from Las Vegas after acquiring multiple Microsoft certifications in two weeks. Trying to decide whether to stay up or go to sleep and set alarm. In either case, tomorrow will be a lost week day.....but Monday's are always slightly scattered for me so if I have to lose a day Monday is good.

Anxious to get back to work in the studio but first have to get the studio cleaned first....a good job for mindless Monday. One positive comment about doing the instructional dvd's is that it makes you focus on how you actually work. You have to take apart step by step your process in a way that other people can understand. The same thing is true for a book except you can edit a book until you get it right. With film, you only have so many times you can do this before you lose interest and train of thought. This dis-interest reads well on the audience also will lose interest. " Being on" for hours with no audience but the camera is very different than with an audience. Glad this one is over and now have a few months to get everything ready for the next shoot.

The fourth in the MasterClass series is on Creative Exercises so lots of work to do getting samples ready. In the meantime, gotta quilt some of the tops waiting in the pun intended.

True nattering today so time to shut-up....will let you know how the super red-eye visit to the airport went later.

another sample of different media combined Posted by Picasa

sample of shiva paintstick on cotton/silk blend Posted by Picasa

work table finally at rest but in a mess Posted by Picasa

corner oozing its way to under table Posted by Picasa

hmmm...familiar out of control corner Posted by Picasa

neat studio gone Posted by Picasa

Do all film stars look this good the day after? Posted by Picasa

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Friday, July 22, 2005

Okay so I Lied

Wasn't going to post today because had so much to do to get ready for tomorrow...but here it is at 12:10 p.m. my time and the job is already done. Still have to sketch a design on the pfd to paint but that won't take a minute....going to use a small leaf design from two years ago...hard part already done.

First, let me say that blogging is addictive...and in spite, of all the rumors, takes no time at all. I sat down at 12:08 p.m. to upload pictures, and now posting probably all of ten to fifteen minutes total from start to finish. Myth dispelled...I am so busy I can't blog. Let me just add that there is probably no one busier than Mrs.Mel and I dain to include myself in that....yet somehow in our hours filled with so much art, knitting, cooking , cleaning, visiting with DH's and general BS we both manage to find time to natter away about what is going on in our lives. It (blogging) is actually a respite..when you hit a brick wall and need time to re-evaluate or when you have been sewing four hours and need to take a break, blogging can be a reward for all your hard work...and often re-focus your intentions.

Truth be known there isn't much exciting happening at the Casa. Yesterday found a toad so tiny it looked like a big cacaroach. Major event around here since everyone chemical dumps their yards but us. It is so hot that my croton has only yellow leaves...but the baby zinnas (so cute) are loving the heat and blooming like crazy.

Even worse and more boring, restraint set in and I did not attend the Nordstrom's sale. Can this woman be saved? See what being on a roll in the studio can save you. Probably it was the heat that kept me in but working sounds more arty. Did make it to the gym at 5 p.m. because of gaining 5 pounds from some unknown source...this cannot last. Although my trainer keeps telling me it is muscle..niggling thoughts going Ya, sure...I know better. I am still suffering with the dreaded bra fat. Any of you have this problem? Where the fat goes over the edges of your bra right at the place where the bra meets the back of your shoulder...not a pretty site.

The real answer is while I have been going to the gym twice a week down from three time. I have fallen off on the rowing. When the million meter mark ticked over, the glory got to instead of every day, only rowing about three times a week. Not going to stay thin that way.

On the medical front, my cholestrol is way down 184 thanks to lipitor; HDL is 34 but trigylcerides so high they couldn't measure the LDL. So now taking niacin to lower that...who knows what this combo will do...back in January for another check. Thanks to Debra for all the diet hints....weeds and seeds...remember when that meant something fun.

So this is the exciting life of a traveling quilt artist....gotta ship stuff of next week for the Ann Arbor gig, orders on DVD's to be shipped, filming for 10 to 12 hours tomorrow and then hopefully some time in the studio....oops forgot about eating and laundry...oh, who needs it. Seriously folks, often this working for yourself is tougher than having a boss to tell you what to do when, but I wouldn't trade it for the world.

Now officially off blog until filming is done...have a productive weekend....and remember all that glitters doesn't necessairly go with every emsemble.

Couple of pre-done samples to show techniques Posted by Picasa

Variety of media ready to go Posted by Picasa

Plus some gold ole PFD to paint on Posted by Picasa

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