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, April 29, 2006

Can Your Believe It?

The most amazing thing that happened yesterday was out of the thousands of women, our own Karoda and I found each other. It was such a treat to get to spend a few minutes with her and meet her sister. Here's to you dear Karoda.....thanks for a great memory for this year.
Now for the correct pictures of the back of Best of Show. Sharon Shamber does all her quilting on a long arm but her motifs are more original and innovative than the usual stippling and feathers. Guess that is part of why she won, no?
Look at these incredible motifs and yes, there are crystals all over the back to highlight certain motifs. It is quilted in black thread...brave woman....which really brings another dimension to the quilting.
Here's a detail of how she used the crystals. I think there is nothing else to say.

The weather was gorgeous yesterday but today is cloudy and windy...looks like we are in for rain. Glad I spent most of my money yesterday. I was really good this year....of course, everything is relative. I needed some new hand dyes from Marit Kucera at ArtSpoken Yardage, found a great over-dyed damask table cloth from Wendy Richardson, and then there were just a few too irresitable to pass pieces of jewelry from several shops. Hey, we are supposed to help the local economy right?
We pick up our quilts this afternoon and then head for home tomorrow. I know I will be facing tons of paper work but being around all the quilts makes me itchy to get to the studio. Even though most of the work is not anywhere near my palette of choice, just seeing it all is inspiring.
I need more hours in a day, more days in a week and more weeks in a month. Sigh! Posted by Picasa

Artist Relocation Program

I should have taken more pictures of the section of Paducah dedicated to the artist relocation program. They are doing a fabulous job bringing in artist of all types....and the studio spaces are fabulous. If we make it back today, I will try to do better. In the meantime, here is Caryl Fallert's new studio and two new pieces of her work.

I am green with envy over this space....close to 8000 sq. ft. with a residence in back. It couldn't happen to a nicer person. Caryl has worked hard her entire career....brought machine quilting to the Best of Show for the first time and
maintained a career as an artist while having a full time job as a flight attendant.
Congratulations, deserve this beautiful space.

 Posted by Picasa

Friday, April 28, 2006

Can It Be Friday, Already?

Where did the week go? Seems as if we just got here and tomorrow is the last day of the show. I could stay another week....and certainly have enough clothes to do so, but Sunday we will be on the road to Texas. Until then a few requested photos and some just for fun.
This is Dale Perry, who greets you and checks your badges and bracelets so you can enter the show floor. He has become one of our favorite people in Paducah. On Friday night he throws a major league party...invitations highly sought. He and his wife Donna invite us for great food and the opportunity to spend time in their incredibly beautiful home. Thanks Dale for
another great year.

Here I am playing stunt double for Deb. Your quilt looks fabulous in the show....and since we both have red hair, I managed to blend well with the art.

This is one of my favorite quilts in the small wall quilt division. It is so innovative and painterly. Congrats to Mary Jo Bowers for Circles's very exciting.

This is Diane Doran's Grotto...notice the Honorable Mention ribbon....way to go Diane. This category is always tough competition since it is where most of the art quilts are entered. This year they divided the category into traditional, non-traditional and pictorial. Smart move...really makes the show more cohesive.

I loved Diane's quilt in Houston and love it even more the second time around. It is so painterly and the colorwork is to die for.

A real tickle yesterday was seeing a vendor carrying my DVD on Surface Design..woot! Of course, I spent money in her booth since she was carrying lots of surface design stuff. Also bought two incredible pieces of hand dyed sateen from a new dyer....will have to post her name for you later when I find the business cards among the stacks of purchases.

Deborah, you are correct the back of the quilt in the photos is the one that won the long arm award. I will snap one of best of show today so you can see what it is like.

Gerrie, thanks for the comment on my blathering. You know how I think about this stuff all the time. Not saying my conclusions are right for everyone but they work for me.....and Mel,with your talent you don't have to dance to that tune either.

Off for one more day of total saturation....Cheers! Posted by Picasa

Thursday, April 27, 2006

A Response to Mel or the Reason We Make Quilts

First, of all let me correct a mistatement in the prize money Sharon will only will $23K if she gives her quilt to the museum. The Best LongArm award is not a purchase award and is only $3K. I stand corrected. Now to the blathering...this do every technique you can, use every fabric you own and all crystals is a phase that started about two years ago. It will be a cycle that will hang around for awhile and then this too shall pass. Quilts that win best ofs are always aberrations in one way or another. They all share a common quality of excellent technique but then we are all doing the best technique we can because craftsmanship at this point in our careers is pretty much a given.
Speaking only for myself, I only make the quilts I want to make....imagery I want to explore, color I want to work with, composition I find fascinating. I have never made a quilt just to enter in a show; much less to win money. To do that is a crap shoot at best because you never know what the competition will be. How can you ever know what will happen?
I have never been in Quilt National and enter when I have quilts that might suit that venue....which isn't every year....but I never expect to get in with the odds of 80 out of 1200 or 1300 entries. However, I would still have made the same quilts. Shows and money aren't my motivation. I make quilts because it is my chosen media for my art....although I am enjoying the painting, it will never outweigh my love for fiber.
Mel is right there is an incredible pressure to produce in our business but that is all self-imposed. Pushing the envelope, exploring new composition, trying techniques are all aspects of our own desire as artists to work in new ways or just play with something we want to test. I have been lucky to win some awards but they were always a big surprise, never expected. No one makes us enter but ourselves. In fact, I know several artists that never enter but do incredible quilts.....there are lots of us who don't travel and teach and do nothing but make great quilts; there are also many of us who travel and teach so much that we never make quilts to enter in shows but instead are working to share with our students.
There are many paths for us to follow....we all choose our own, but in the final analysis, the only reson for making art is because you are driven to do so. Dear Mel, you don't have to prove anything to anyone. Again speaking only for myself, it is icing on the cake if someone likes my work....a great compliment, but it isn't my motivation and in the final analysis doesn't matter if I am doing the work I want to do. As to making money, I am a working artist...this is my career. I actually need to make the money to live in the style to which I have become accustomed....and then there is the son in law school. Long story short selling work, teaching and ocassionally winning a few prize dollars is just part of the business. If I was an accountant, I would want to make money for time spent on the work; as a working artist I hope for the same. End of blathering.
Hey Deb, I am on my way to be your stunt double. It will be a honor to be you for a photo op.
Yes, Dianna, those are crystals all over the back of the quilt....which is quilted in black thread. The quilting motifs are very original and incredibly well-done.
We spent the day with the big quilts yesterday; off to peruse the small quilts today. We also visited the Museum, which has several great shows.....Canadian quilters, Anita Shackleford's antique red and green collection, the Dresden Plate contest and a new gallery of minatures. They have made the Best Minature and purchase award so this gallery will be growing as the years go by.
The Yeiser Art Center has Fine Focus 2006 and it looks spectacular combined with a local painter and sculptor who does great work. Congrats to all in the 2006 show.
Off to eat more not on the diet food and see more great quilts.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

And The Winners Are....

Best Hand Workmanship Pamela Humphries "Feathered Beauties"
Best Machine Workmanship Ricky Tims "Fire Dragon Raphsody"
Best Long Arm again Sharon Schamber.

Just a little preview of some of the winners. We managed to make it through most of the quilts but know we need to return tomorrow for a more in-depth study. We also have to do the museum so I can visit Totem and the Yeiser Art Center.....lunch downtown at C.C. Cohen's, a yearly ritual. Dinner at Flamingo Row that has a new location near our motel and then we just might be tempted to visit Superman's home, Metropolis for a little turn at the casino.
Turning in for the evening, your roving reporter, on the story for tomorrow. Posted by Picasa
Best of Show by Sharon Schamber "Sedona Rose"

Back of quilt
Detail of back of quilt. Quilted on a longarm machine...but that's not all she also won Best Long Arm if she takes the money it will be a hefty $32K.....whoa doggies! Posted by Picasa

More Birthday Photos

Collin wishing Daddy and happy day. Cyrus covered guacamole. Collin recovering from the shock of the restaurant staff singing Happy Birthday to Dad by being slathered in ice cream. Last but not leas, Gaia and cousin Jene' wish Daddy and Uncle Craig and great day.

With that taken care of, finished packing and set off for Paducah on Monday. Spent the night on the road and arrived early this afternoon.

Karoda, I won't be in a booth. I am on vacation but will keep a look out for you. Of course, there probably won't be too many women with pink hair so I might be easy to spot.

Preview and awards tonight...will try to post the big news as soon as possible. Hope y'all have as much fun this week as we plan on having. Posted by Picasa

Happy 31st Birthday, Baby Boy!

Sunday was number 2 son's birthday. It is the first time I have been home for his birthday in 15 years....why you ask? I am always in Paducah at the AQS show. Never fear I have paid dearly throughout the years for this oversight but this year we didn' leave for Paducah until the day after his a good time was in store.
Nothing like a yummy homemade birthday cupcake...make a wish Craig.
After the home celebrations, we went for more food...Tex-Mex, of course. Turns our Cyrus loves guacamole...who would have fitting a true Texan and only a year and a half. He even tried the salsa but clearly the guacamole was the big winner. Posted by Picasa

Friday, April 21, 2006

It's in the Can

A tired director avoiding the camera....I keep telling him it is the talent that is supposed to be pampered but as you can see I'm getting know where with that. The good news it is all re-shot in the proper aspect ration and from the picture below ready to edit.
The plan is that I walk in the door from Paducah on Sunday, 30 April with a master waiting on me to start burning and shipping. I will let you know how that works out.
What I find amazing is how much concentration that it takes to film, know what you are saying, and hit the mark. I get better every time but still there will be some great outtakes on this one.
Today I am shipping another order to my distributor and a few orders from the website. Once that is done all I have to think about is how much fun to have in Paducah...ya hoo! I have my lucky hundred ready for the casino and fabric in mind to buy. Most of all, I can't wait to see the quilts....what a treat for the senses to see all those beautiful quilts in one place.
Of course, there will be some food that is not on the diet and maybe a cosmo or two.....ahhhh! a perfect busman's holiday. Naturally, I am taking the laptop so I will try to stay in touch as often as possible with all the doings at the convention center. Hope you all have as much fun next week as I plan on having....looking forward to seeing some of you there...that means you Karoda.
Terri, to answer your question about the box. It holds the camera for overhead shots so you can see me in the process of working the exercises. What it gives us is a three shot....we are using two cameras to create the view of three. Clear as mud, no? Posted by Picasa

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Duh...what did I do wrong?

Sorry that these two pictures that I kept referring to didn't make it into the last post so you will have to read the post below to see what is going on. Don't you just want to scream at Blogger on occasion!
 Posted by Picasa

A Hard Day and Night

Set-up shots, camera angles, Chris working hard editing and me after a long night shooting....only to decide to start over with a whole new approach. We were shooting sequentially...lecture, exercise, lecture, etc. Light bulb moment! Why not shoot all the lectures is one segment, then shoot all the exercises and edit them together later. How cool is that?
Got up early this morning after about three hours sleep...thank goodness for make-up and great lighting and ta da! we are finished with the lecture segments. Tonight when it cools to a decent temperature we will shoot the exercises.
Speaking of temperature, it hit 101 F. in Fort Worth yesterday and this is only April.....sheesh! what will summer bring. My pansies are fried
rather they look like raisins.

Terry thanks for the comment on the photos. I am really enjoying doing these and I totally agree only I would be looking for a great Cosmo.

One of the set up shoots includes the cartoon for my next quilt. It is folded to fit into the video screen but hopefully you can get a feeling for where I am going.

Mel, dahling, I miss you but not to worry I just had some sort of bug and am firing on all cylinders now. However, I guess I might as well
reveal the health situation that has been causing me some anxiety. I am not really worried because the dr. isn't all that worried but I had a bad pap. Don't think it is anything because it was classified as atypical which is about seven steps from make your peace. Had the second pap last Monday and hoping the results are back before I go to Paducah....whatever happens I will have a good time and I will keep you informed.

Oh...will I ever lose these extra pounds. After all my hard work, I have become a slug and am barely exercising....while filming, it is fast food city which doesn't help. Not that we don't have food to cook but would Steven Spielberg ask his talent to cook and shoot....I think not. So look for a fat woman with bright red hair as shown in the photo below after we finished shooting last night. It is a sad state of affairs. Posted by Picasa

Sunday, April 16, 2006

Oops...forgot my favorite!

I just love this photograph....looks like something an ad agency needs. The man standing on the corner is almost like a statue, and even though this is in the middle of downtown Fort Worth, you can see we still have big sky. Rural meets urban very quickly here. For any fellow Texans, this is the corner of Throckmorton and Belknap going toward Forest Park and the Trinity River. Posted by Picasa

First Reveal of Some Time Spent

First, to all of those of you who celebrate in whatever manner, I wish you holiday greetings and much creativity as the new cycle of the earth starts.
Before posting sketches, I thought I would share with you some of what I have been doing with cityscape photography. This is really fun for me. I just drive down the road....hold the camera anywhere and shoot. Some are better than others but by the time I finish tweaking them, there is some great stuff.
Now in an effort to organize my time better, I have decided to start answering comments directly on the blog. This will keep my hours on the computer down, but will also mean I will blog more. Two birds, etc. In keeping with this new
plan, Debra asked about the potential life of the DVD's. Not to correct our resident techno guru but they are DVD's not CD's. Research is showing the lives of CD's are short. However' let's consider how different a CD is from a DVD. First, they are used much more....especially music CD's which seems to be where the most degradation occurs. We leave them in our cars in all kinds of weather. We play them much more than DVD's.
I do have music CD's that are older than 5 years and they are still working fine. Mostly it is all about care and usage. DVD's cannot be printed with the footage. They must be burned for the laser to read the image. There is no way around
this one so far, but I will keep my ear to the ground. The projected life span of a DVD is between 10-20 years. Hopefully by that time you will have gleaned all the material you needed to learn. So, Debra, I hope that helps.
Painting day in the studio....more pictures later and have been contemplating what I want to say about composition....same time, same channel. Posted by Picasa

Friday, April 14, 2006

News from La Casa Swain

It dawned on me today that the reason I haven't been posting daily is that I have absolutely nothing to report. You cannot imagine what a boring life I lead when I am not traveling....and I like it that way. I get to spend hours sketching, journaling, painting and sewing. I don't even go to the grocery store but instead have deliver our weekly sustanance. What a slug!
However, this does not mean the wheels aren't turning. Since you all know that I overthink or better said examine constantly my artistic life, the past few weeks off have been like a personal retreat for me.
First, I took some ideas from Twyla Tharp's Creative Habit....such a great book...and shut myself off from external stimuli for a few days. Then I did the guilty pleasure of watching all the bad tv that I love. Tonight is one of my personal favorites with Ghost Whisperer, Close to Home and Numb3ers. I don't even have to change the channel.....don't forget the wheels are still turning.
I have made some decisions.....assistant interview Tuesday...know this will go well. Turning over all DVD decisions to extremely talented son, Chris. We are going to form a production company...and hopefully offer our services to other quiltmakers that are interested in moving into this 21st century media. I will be the producer, basically the face of the business, since I know many of the quiltmakers that this might be a valuable service for but he will do all the directing, filming and editing. From there we will create masters that you can have produced anywhere or print and burn for you at a per unit cost and deliver on spindles for you to package. Definately don't want to get into the packaging see I have been thinking.
The success of my class at Asilomar this year sparked the idea that I should film this class so future plans are in the works. We will be going to market again in the fall and possibly to festival but not so sure about teaching and working in a booth. Know I could get great help from my wonderful daughter in law, Christy, who attended market with me last year. However she is a stock broker and to ask her to stay for festival....well, you can only ask so much.
During the past couple of months, I have been dealing with some health issues. Nothing to worry about yet but getting sick coming home from Asilomar really put me away for at least a week. That didn't help with blogging....hard to blog when you have to keep a barf bag by the computer...more information than you needed.
But again, during this time, remember the wheels are still turning. After re-reading Mel's post of a week or so ago on design. I started thinking about what is important to me in these areas. Answer: composition....for me that is the most important aspect of design. If you have a solid composition, whether abstract or realistic, you can't go wrong. I am on the fence with the less is more concept but agree simplicity is elegance. However, I see fiber as an opulent medium due to it's very nature.....pattern, stitching..etc. In other words, for me mininal and quilting are mutually exclusive. Having said that nor do I believe that you need to do every technique you know on a single piece or use every beautiful fabric in your stash. It all starts with the composition.
For me this is the road map to working with intention...know what you want to say and say it well. So while I have been absent, I have been reading your blogs with great delight and totally re-considering where I am going. The breakthrough is close but this was a much needed vacation. I realized I can't do everything myself and so paring away external duties, whether trival or important is next on the calendar.
Exploration with Eric still continues but what I realized is that I don't want to turn this into another business. I want to keep this as a respite from business.....a place where I can explore and get results slightly faster than in fiber. A place to feed the changes that I am striving for in the textile work. This will be our next conversation. I know he wants me to make these available to galleries and maybe if my assistant is open to doing all that work it will happen.....but it is not somewhere I want to go. Simply having this place of painting is a refuge for me....creativity that is not a business. Sigh....ah!
Sorry to blather on so long....hopefully next time I get back with you I will have more to say. Soon, I hope to have all the internal issues resolved and back in the swing. Keep me in your thoughts.

Saturday, April 08, 2006

Just Had to Do This to be a Better Blogger

SCORPIO (Oct. 24 - Nov. 21)
Would you be terribly surprised if a total stranger became your closest friend this month? Would you be shocked to discover wisdom in small packages? Would you be willing to believe your fortune cookie? Would you be taken aback to see your reflection in your beloved's eyes? Would you be dismayed if your astrological forecast were nothing but a list of questions? Would you be caught off guard to discover that you had the answers all along?

Nope, wouldn't be surprised.....just trying to find the way to put the answers to use or even better what is the real question.

Progress Report

No, I haven't fallen off the planet or retired to a Zen monastery...however the last option is sounding appealing. The past week I have been a bad blogger for two reasons. One, I have been working hard in the studio and two, we have to re-shoot all of the last dvd because both cameras weren't in the same aspect ratio. Our mistake but nonetheless a pain in the wazoo. To ease the pain here are a couple of pics of the last leaf. You remember this old thing. Finally ready to finish all the applique and baste for quilting.
When I get all the surface design work done on the leaves, it won't read so medium overall. I will add pen and ink, colored pencil and possibly Shiva to advance the leaves from the background. Easy fix much better than shooting 16 hours
of footage again.
And just for kicks and photo of my horrible office. Gremlins again only this time while I was in California someone has also totally destroyed my nice neat clothes closet and dressers. Maybe I should call Ghost Busters...can't imagine who would do such a thing.
On to the session with Eric, first Pam thank you so much for you comments. They really resonated with me. Eric agrees with you so maybe you should take up coaching. I am going back to the original mode of working with the paint. Experimental is fun but at some point you have to find what works best for you and this was definitely not it for me. First, I hate the surface of the gessoed masonite...the paint just doesn't push like I want it to. And to agree with Pam again, it is imagery I am just not interested in. I want to abstract but still want imagery that is recognizable to the viewer. You hit the nail on the head, Pam. I want the best of both worlds. Hence the last leaf....the abstraction in the background, leaf on top. So onward and upward, going to use some of my "while driving the car" photos for the next exploration.
Next quilt is river bed and rocks...will post pic of drawing soon....deciding on fabric at the moment so want to show you as much as possible.
Also have some great statements on creativity from my class at Asilomar that I must sit and post for you soon. These artist are so articulate
you just have to read some of their thoughts.
On a brighter note, got my blood work back finally.....cholestrol..173...only 3 points higher than what he wants which is 170. LDL...94 falling in normal limits so the naicin worked....HDL still a little high at 51 but the best news those pesky triglycerides are 141...well withing the normal range of 20 to 190. Guess y'all are stuck with me for awhile.
Another possible weight off the shoulders is that I think I may have found an assistant...still working on details but will know the final answer on Tuesday. This would be such a relief to me I cannot even describe how much I hope this works out.
Been thinking, meditating, day dreaming lots on where I want to go at this point in my career. Feel on the verge of a break through with the work, still optimistic about the dvds but still working on marketing ideas. Artist don't much like this end of the business...well, I should only speak for myself, but it is necessary and important if you want to get the work out there to be seen. Good discussion for another day.....any thoughts would be appreciated...maybe we could do a group discussion on this topic if y'all are open it. For now, signing off to applique leaves and start the new quilt. And again, promises to be a better blogger....but we all know when you are in a working mode there is only so much time in a day and time is the only thing we have creatively that can't be replaced. Posted by Picasa