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.

Sunday, April 29, 2007

Day One in Cambria

We started our first day at the Out of Heart and Hand Retreat with a wonderful lunch and send off to class from Sandy Turner, co-ordinator of the conference. My Creativity on Demand class worked so hard that Happy Hour was required for the entire class.

Naturally, I did not miss an opportunity to have a Cosmo for $3. Tomorrow I will be good and go for a massage (if they have a spot available) instead of the bar.

My classs is incredible. I give them kudos for being so brave and signing up for this class that involves no fabric at all. Today we started journaling and working with a variety of media. Tomorrow we will paint and work on paper collages.

They have to journal every day so to honor their hard work I am going to journal also. It is so inspiring to see students trust each other and you as their instructor with personal experiences or fears about creating.

We were so busy that I forgot to take pictures in class but promise to be better tomorrow.
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Portrait of the Lawyer as a Young Man

Look at that sweet face....hard to believe someday he might be a shark in the court room. Thom and his friends were still discussing ethics and improper conduct. When I asked him if he was going to miss law school. he replied with a simple"Not at all." He has a month off and then starts the classes designed to help you pass the Texas bar. However I think his chances are good. The percentage of Baylor graduates who pass the bar the first time is between 97 and99%......higher than any other law school in Texas.

So a of yesterday at noon I am the mother of Dr. Thomas Harlan Swain......that won't cure any body problems but is sounds good. Or it could be Thomas Harlan Swain, J. D.D. Juris Doctor......his decision is finally made.....litigation in the state or Fedral level. He hopes to get a job in Austin and work there.

With brothers and neices in attendance, mom and dad tagging along a good time was had by all.....mostly we are so proud and know he will stick to those ethics. He is just one of
the good guys. That birhgt and shiny face full of hope to change the world.....if we could all hold on to that. Congratulations did it....we wish you a long successful and rewarding career. Oh and by the way, just in case I need a lawyer you will consider me a client, no?

After graducation, we flew home to the airport.....arrived on time and I finally made it to Cambria about midnight due to the fog that rolled in. The drive was good though and I am ready to start with a half day of teaching today. More pictures to follow.

On another note, I sprung for a wireless broadband card since my computer got hacked twice last month using hotel unsecure wireless. Just a warning to the wise. It was about $150 with a $50 rebate for the card, unlimited time at $60 as month but well worth the secure, encrypted connection. I am using Verizon since they are my phone carrier but all the companies have them now.

That's all for now....will check back in after class to see how much trouble wre have managed to get into on the first day.
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Saturday, April 28, 2007

Finally Pictures Again

Here is empricial evidence that I have actually been quilting. The first is Last Leaf. The second is from my new series Open Spaces.....not sure what the subtitle will be yet. There is more done than you can actually see but since blogger was being unkind I fely lucky to get this posted.

On the home front, today is the big day.......we get to see Thom receive his degree from Baylor Law, to be followed by a small gathering of friends and family and then a mad dash back to the airport to get the California.

Will post some pictures of Cambria tomorrow since it will be 11 p.m. PDT when I finally arrive......maybe too late for pictures and better for hitting the bed.

This really is wrinkled it has just been folded for awhile. No big deal a little press with an iron and good as new....ah the joys of all cotton batting.
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Friday, April 27, 2007

What's the Matter with Blogger?

Almost too many things to count. First it wouldn't recognize that I had an account with Blogger and now it won't let me upload pictures of the few quilting stitches I have gotten done. Don't you just want to throw your computer across the room? I will try again later but no promises....they look good so I wanted to share. Just another of life's little gotcha moments.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Late Night Post That Was Probably Better Left Unsaid

Do you ever wonder why you ended up where you are? For instance, creativity has always been a driving force in my life. I worked in regional theatre from the time I was 18 until I was 30. Also during that time I did spec jobs lettering for architectural firms (before computers and fonts everything was hand lettered). While working in the theatre, I wrote grants, wrote plays, acted and directed. In my spare time I painted my own needlepoint canvas designs. Then quilting arrived in my life and has stayed for the past 24 years. Why is this my path?

It is in the quiet moments of night that I wonder what it is I am really supposed to be doing. I replay all these experiences in my mind from time to time and try to put some order to them. You remember an artist creates order out of chaos. This will probably be a lifetime quest but then it is all about the journey....and to quote Joni Mitchell "Life is for learning."

The question for me is why was I so driven....not ambitious but curious....always asking what if? While this time away from the work has caused some anxiety, it was good. Developed lots of new sketches and now that I am working again it is with a renewed energy. When I first started quilting, all I wanted to do was make one beautiful quilt. Not to be immodest but I think I may have accomplished that. Now the search is to create something visual that effects the viewer like music effects the listener. Not an easy task since music has complexity on a variety of levels....but that's what I hope to do.

You should probably not pay any attention to anything I say since I am mostly talking to myself but it helps to see it in writing.....and out of my head. There are still days when I am not interested in the studio but they are fewer and farther between. I even put stitches in a quilt this week and the house didn't fall down. Occasionally, I wish I could just be happy watching tv, reading and having lunch with the ladies....all good things....but my hardware or software just doesn't operate that way.

I guess I am just taking the long way home....sometimes I feel just a part of the scenery and then a moment of inspiration is unbelievable and unforgettable....and I know there is no way out but this path. Art gives me hope for humanity....that there is still life beyond our current catastrophe and those shining lights will endure.

Late night 2:20 p.m. here probably isn't the best time to post to your blog but what the hey. To all of you who are seeking, playing, questioning, and creating, keep the faith. You make every day better; you are not strangers but a community, a family. I honor your work and your commitment. Off to bed before I get even more weird.

Monday, April 23, 2007

Last but best

This is our oldest rose. My mom bought it for us when we moved into our house. It is now 24 years old and still gowing strong
This close-up is just a part of the glory of this bush. It is filled with blossoms and buds...and all the roses will bloom again in the fall.

This has some fancy name that only Ronnie knows but it glows in the dark when the moonlight hits it. Ah! the antiques.
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The Rose Show

These are called apricot but end up pink as they start to shatter.

This is one of my favorites. The petals are almost transparent.

Another view of my favorite...dont you just love the red center.

We got lucky this year...a wild mallow decided to bloom in our backyard among the roses.
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April in Texas

As promised here are a few of the things blooming in our yard. Petunias peaking out, Iris almost gone and a long view of two of the antique roses. More pics to come since blogger and I seem to always be at war.

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Saturday, April 21, 2007

The Creativity Demand Class Ready to Go

At the end of April at the Out of Heart and Hand Retreat, I am teaching for the first time a class that was developed from my Creativity on Demand dvd. I am so excited about this new class and hope it inspires the students as well. Yesterday I shipped jars of paint, a journal for each of the students as my gift, my newest sketch book and lots of other fun stuff. We won't be working with fabric but instead learning how to develop ideas into solid compositions and designs.

Our first day will be to start the journal/sketchbook. One the first page they will be required to write three entries: their objectives, goals, desires as an artist; subject matter that fascinates them; and finally, the road blocks/fears that they encounter on their journey.

From there we go to some simple exercises....mostly play. Sorry no cute wardrobe here...I am taking what I call my tasteful at home studio clothes....and possibly one or two nice things for dinner. Does this preclude the wearing of cute shoes? What a horrible thought?

Even though I still love teaching as much as I love making art, I think I am going to take a small sabbatical in 2008 and spend more time in the studio. Of course, as I look at my 2008 calendar, I realize that I may already be in trouble but somehow I will work this out. So as promised in my earlier whining post, here are the decisions I have made. As of June 1st, I am raising my workshop fee and requiring at least two day classes. With the type of material I am currently teaching one day just isn't enough. I am pushing the students like mad just to get through everything which gives them very little time to actually see something come to fruition. This decision will probably keep me from some jobs but at present it feels like the right thing.

There is a great exchange of energy between teacher and student that can feed the fire of creativity. However, when you are traveling so much that you have no outlet for that energy a blockage occurs. I should speak only for myself....but I need time to develop where I want to go next and that can only be done in the studio. I know many of you don't travel and teach but are swamped with other commitments. Do you feel this same need? Or is this just another one of my obsessive compulsive manifestations?

Tomorrow I promise pictures of our roses. Sweet Ronnie grows antique roses and they are really putting on a show right now. Off to contemplate my plight...

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Me and My Camera

Okay, I admit on occasion I do a really stupid thing but this year has been filled with, ahem, dumbness. Somewhere on the road I lost the cradle for my Sony Cybershot. It was only 5.1 megapixels but I loved it. Had tons of pictures on it but no way to re-charge since it charged and downloaded in the cradle. Alas, woe is me! What a perfect opportunity to buy a new camera.....a brand new Cybershot with 8 megapixels. Why read the instructions when you had the same camera before. Au contraire! Last night I was downloading pictures to make this pitiful blog a little more colorful and dang it, if I didn't wipe the card clean before downloading. A simple slip of the finger and entire class at Asilomar is gone. A moment of infinite wisdom on my part.

My other really big loss is all the discs for my programs. When we had to reformat my hard drive, I was prepared to spend a day re-installing everything. Are they anywhere in this I have looked where there were supposed to be and even where they aren't....missing. I have no idea what anyone would want with them or how they got out of the house.

Last night while cruising for replacements, I realized I cannot find the Photoshop Creative Suite I had for less than an arm and a leg and Creative Suite 3 is out which is even worse. Yikes! Nothing to do but bite the bullet but ouch this is painful. Naturally I have no idea how to operate CS3 so not only will I be out the big bucks but then have to suffer through the learning curve.
Aren't I pathetic?

The good news is I have managed to put my hand on all my sketch books and journals. Whew! Talk about a trip down memory lane. You should try it on occasion....and surprise, surprise there are some decent possibilities for new quilts. I wouldn't execute them in quite the same way but with a few minor changes they would be me now. Of course just what I need more quilt tops that need to be quilted. Guess they will just have to be put in the long line things to do when I have more time off.

Now for something completely different: youngest son Thomas is graduating from Baylor Law School on 28 April. Whoopee! He is an amazing guy...went to Florida State on a full academic scholarship, graduated in three years with two degrees, Political Science and History, summa cum laude, Phi Beta Kappa, captain of the College Bowl team...went directly from there to Baylor Law where he was on of 60 accepted out of 6000 applicants. Did his internship with the Texas State Attorney General in the civil rights department....his aging hippy mom had to love this. Law school has been a definite eye opener for him.....he has actually had to work to get through not just gloat down the lazy river and still get all A's. He has decided to go into public service so he has to pass the bar before he can get a job....some rule in Texas. First exam is in July so send good thoughts.

Graduation is at 10 a.m. and Waco is only 2 hours away so we are driving down early in the morning and then driving back with my suitcase in the trunk so sweet Ronnie can drop me at the airport to fly the wild blue yonder to Cambria, California for Sandy Turner's Out of Heart and Hand Retreat. Wish me luck...I have developed a new class from my Creativity on Demand dvd. No fabric involved more art 101.....hoping not to have a riot in the class from fabric withdrawal.

Now that I have found through trial and error how to download, there should be some pictures of springtime in Texas and other sundry minutiae coming.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

My Poor Neglected Blog

As usual I have fallen off the wagon again on posting but I do have an excuse...also as usual. I have been on the road non-stop teaching, developing the latest dvd and working on the magazine. Amid all this my sweet computer had to be wiped clean and completely re-formatted...always an exciting experience and last but not least, there was so little, and yet so much, happening that I didn't feel like narrating what I ate or how many planes I was on.

Finally, guilt overcame me along with a nice block of free time so whoo hoo! I am back. My schedule is still monsterous until August but I do promise to try and be better. On with the news: I have lost my fabulously talented editor, long story, and am now having to learn how to edit my own dvd's. Sure do hope I am smart enough to master this skill but y'all know, I am stubborn enough to keep on or go down in flames.

The second news report is regarding the magazine. Between discussions with my students and other teachers, I have received nothing but great feedback....and then, of course, all the encouragement from my faithful readers. I did some one on one market research regarding the title and the winner is: Jeannie with her submission Behind the Seams. Everyone loved it and so do I: congratulations to Jeannie. When you have a second or two drop me an email, so I can put you into the data base for your free dvd zines.......and thanks for a great title. FYI, we already have lined up Sue Benner, Jane Sassaman, Judy Dales, Jan Krentz and the ladies of Asilomar for either interviews or featured artist segments. Any and all suggestion regarding subjects of interest to you are welcome. This dvd zine is for you so I look forward to your suggestions.

Now onto the work: many thanks to all of you who posted in on my "Art Thang" post. I do have a lot on my plate at the the point where I became a zombie just washing, packing and going back to the airport. As is my usual bent, I have pondered this dilemma and have taken all your comments to heart. I do still love teaching so there are a couple of options: Raise my fees, require more days teaching, or stop doing so many guild gigs....or all of the above. I gave myself a deadline of June 1 to have this resolved so I will keep you posted.

Most of my being overwhelmed came from simple daily life that we all experience. However, the last two years have been a trial by blast furnace. As many of you know two of my darling grandkidlets were born at 25 weeks gestation and were in NICU until their due date. They are two now and doing spectacular....fraternal twins but look very much alike and are cute as bugs in rugs. Throughout this our son Chris was in Iraq for a year....I would rather have gone through all his teenage years again....but now he is home, safe and finally better after recovering from PTSD with the help of a VA program. He is blessed with a loving wife who has stood by his side through all this and is now working for Toyota in a great job. His return from the war zone was bittersweet because we were saying good-bye to my beloved mother-in-law who died two years ago in March. Finally, sweet Ronnie retired in September of last year....a new person continually in my space but we are finally adjusting. Is it any wonder that I felt like Dorothy in the tornado?

Artist have enough personal reflection to deal with but these added events kinda get you out of sync. I am not special; these events happen to millions of people every day. I think that it was they all happened in such a short span of time that overwhelmed me. Priorities change, adjustments must be made and finally you gotta stop beating yourself over the head about what you aren't doing and try to enjoy what you are doing.

I miss blogging and all of I have resolved to get back into the swing....for yet another time.