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.

Thursday, May 25, 2006

A Woman's Perogative

Okay so the other orientation wasn't as good. The good news is it is pieced. Needs a good press and to be squared up. Cropping tools are great but they don't always make the quilt square.....especially if it isn't straight on the wall. I absolutely can't wait to get to the surface design....this will be a completely different piece. However, I am on a roll so I have already selected the palette for the next piece. See below.
Think I will call this series Meditations. Not sure if there will be a sub-title but not crazy about Meditations I and II etc. either. Looks like I have time to decide.
Here's the bigger I doing what I am supposed to be doing? No! If I plan on having a quilt for Houston, I should be doing the surface design work on it, layering it up and madly quilting....especially since the deadline is in July. But no, why do today what you can put off to the point where you are madly rushing to make the deadline.
Philosophy moment: So I don't have a quilt in Houston this
year....the world will not end. When you are in the zone, shouldn't you make as much of that time as you can? After all what is this is all about...being an artist or being in Houston? This period of creativity energy will change all too soon....gotta grab it while it is available. I don't consider this avoidance behavior. This is a path that is asking to be followed. If I finished them all, I will have four pieces...woo hoo another series and since one of my goals was to move more to the abstract, it is also satisfying that need. However, I gotta tell ya I still don't like to piece so this is sure to be a short-lived cycle.
Thanks to everyone who commented on my craftsmanship post. It is good to know one isn't alone in the wilderness. And, no I didn't get any reading done but I did look at the new Chico's catalogue. Does that count?
Off to try and be one with my machine. Posted by Picasa

Sunday, May 21, 2006

In the Studio

Got this sort of minimal feeling last week, prompted by surface design and stitching. Pardon the crooked lines. It isn't pieced yet. Pieced? Is the world coming to an end...I do know how to use my machine but this may sorely test my patience. Have another couple of drawing for smaller pieces so we will see. Also not sure about the orientation but that can easily be fixed by putting the sleeve how you want it to be viewed.
I finished the last leaf applique and now have the surface design work to to. Hopefully, I can get it done in a day and layer it up to quilt next week.
Also found the sky piece in the stash and decided it needed more surface design and a couple of design elements in the upper section. Will try tackling that today but it is getting toward my Sunday night viewing pleasures.
My biggest regret during all this time, the DVD's and quilts, is that I have virtually stopped reading. One of my first loves. When I was I the third grade, we had all the pschologists come to our school. Seems that I could read and retain 1500 words a minute. They wanted to send me all the special places but mom said no. Wanted me to grow up normal.....she almost made it.
Long story short, I love reading but it has been put on the back burner. Maybe what I need is a good book and some bon bons. Posted by Picasa

Monday, May 15, 2006

On the Ethics of Craftsmanship

Lately there has been quite a discussion of craftmanship in particular as it appplies to art quilts. First let me say, I am no great lover of the phrase art quilts...implication that they are all art when some aren't and that quilts labeled otherwise are not art. There isn't a label that makes me sing with delight...fiber art, textile art, non-traditional quilts...pick your favorite. I call myself a quiltmaker. It's good enough for me. However, that is not the issue here. The question at hand is how well made something should be....and to quote an old saw," Anything worth doing is worth doing well."
When we are asking someone to purchase a piece, shouldn't it be comparable to any other discipline? For me the answer is a resounding yes. Painters don't paint badly (well, not intentionally), sculptors don't sculpt badly and on and on. Just my humble opinion but it is my responsibility to myself as an artist to do the best work I possibly can. I am not always successful; no one is and when I am not that work is not shown. Usually I can see early in the process what is working and what isn't so I stop, re-work or start another piece.
If we ever expect to be accepted as equal to the other disciplines, we must rise to the standards of that world. If hanging threads is integral to the piece, then they belong there. If they are just because you didn't want to take the time to cut or thread them back in then they don't belong there.
Bad technique gets in the way of good art and all the beautiful technique in the world won't make up for bad composition and design. There is a balance that must be sought between the two.
In our ever changing world of creative accounting, government and corporate fraud, and product liability, my hope is that art can set a standard for not only aesthetics but also ethics. Art has always led the way to change in the way society sees the world. Let's start today maintaining a high standard of unquestionable craftsmanship and see what tomorrow brings.
Officially off soap box, I remain your over-worked reporter.

Happy Mother's Day to Me

Okay, I know it is not your normal Mother's Day celebration but what the hey, it was the Blue Angels. We had a great time and saw some amazing stuff. The only downside and day in the sun. Wait until you see my sunburn....yes I used sunscreen but we were there from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. For a girl who never gets in the sun it was a bit much. If I am brave enough I will post a picture of the sunburned Gabrielle.
The flying was so beautiful it was breath-taking. Don't miss a chance if they come to your area...all the pain is worth it. I might even look good with my face as red as my hair.
Thanks sweet Ronnie for a great Mother's Day! Posted by Picasa

More Photos from the Retreat

I will just let these speak for themselves. A few show and tell, great stained glass and flowers and my friend, the hummingbird. Posted by Picasa

Midwest Applique Retreat

Finally a chance to blog all the latest doings. Hope I have not lost all my dear readers. First, here are some photos of the gorgeous setting for the Midwest Applique Retreat at the Pere Marquette Center. The weather was cool, rainy and sunny...something for everyone. We had a great time as usual when you get a bunch of appliquers together. Both my classes had outstanding students but extra kudos to the design class. They were forced gently by their slave driving teacher into territories unknow. Not to be deterred they rose to the occasion as I knew they would.

This would be a great place to visit just to get away from it all. Quiet and calm, lots of hiking trails and a casino nearby...who could ask for more. Of course, for me it was the interaction with the students that again inspired me to come home and work. However, there was lots of paperwork...still being done...and then Mother's to follow. I cannot recommend strongly enough taking away some time from your daily life to attend a retreat like this. Anne Peck, our co-cordinator, made my life easy and ran a very professional conference. My hat's off to you Anne.

 Posted by Picasa

Friday, May 05, 2006

Promises, Promises

Remember all that work I was going to do when I got home...and the new DVD that was going to be finished...not! To make it worse, I have to leave Sunday for another teaching gig so you know I will be playing and not working. What is wrong with me? I have all the desire but am seriously lacking in the just do it part. I haven't even blogged..sheesh!
There really isn't much news. Son Thomas is home for about a week before he starts his internship with the Texas State Attorney General. Doesn't that sound important? Of course, we all know he will be working like a dog and getting paid for six out of ten weeks work...but he is excited and we are proud. He will be working in the department that both prosecutes and defends police on constitutional issues. All the grandkidlets are fine and hopefully, their parents as well. Ronnie is sweet as ever. I am a slug. Would someone send me some make a quilt pills quick?
Almost forgot the big news: I now have a business manager, assistant whatever she wants to call herself. This is such a weight off my shoulders....maybe I will be more active in the studio. My darling daughter in law, Christy is going to get her mother in law squared away. Kiss, kiss. Now this is not your average business manager; Christy is a full-time employed stock broker but works a schedule that will allow her to help me once or twice a week as needed.
So this lame post is at an end...gotta pack, go to the grocery store and other assorted duties. I am trying out my new projector on this retreat. Wish me luck. I am only using it to demonstrate techniques so that everyone can easily see at the same time.....sounds too easy but am going to give it a whirl.