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, January 26, 2008

I've Been Sick

Look at this pitiful face. Sorry not to have posted more from Phoenix but I have been so sick since Monday night that I have been hitting the bed at 5:30 p.m. I am feeling a little better today even though I look as if I have been rode hard and put up wet.....sheesh, I loow awful.
Today is the last day...whew! I made it...of a two day design class so there should be some good pictures. I will domy best to get some posted to you.

There is nothing worse than being less than 100% in class but the show must go on. My students have been troupers and have enjoyed the classes. I am still giving them all the information necessary but it is exhaustion at the end of the day.

Home tomorrow.....have some new sketches for my own work and leave again February 4. Watch as soon as I get home I will be completely well.

First order of business when I get home is to get out the first edition of Behind the Seams. Keep your eye on the blog or the shopping cart for when it is available.

Will check in later with design class work...cough,sniffle.
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Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Fabric Creations

Here are just a few samples of the fabric they created with paint and Shiva paint sticks. Really beautiful stuff. Will post more later.

Me on the other hand has come down with a terrible cold. Hoping to make it through the next four days. Better today than yesterday and the day before.....don't want to make everyone in the class sick.....cough, sniffle.
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Borrowed Tools Phoenix

It will take a couple of posts but here are some before and after shots from the multi-media class. The ladies did amazing work and so fast. I was on my roller blades to keep up with them. On to more photos
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Thursday, January 17, 2008

Celebrate...Dance to the Music!

All the anxiety and endless hours of sitting at the computer came to fruition tonight.My incredible post production assistant, son Craig, came over for the evening and we cranked out the final edit on Behind the Seams.

My big dream of a dvd zine has come true. I already have the label designed so we are ready to burn. As soon as I get the cover finished,it will go up on the website.You cannot imagine how much I have learned when I thought all was impossible.

I only edited the @#$% thing 3 or 4 times before I got the look I wanted....oh great computer genius that I am. However, I can know proudly say I am an Avid Liquid editor.

Our first edition features an in depth interview with Sue Benner, an interview with Eric Maisel at the Creativity for Life Seminar and Claire Fenton as our featured artist. We even have a sound track under the opening and closing sequence.

After many diet Cokes,too many carbs,no exercise except my mouse clicking, I am ready to take on the Designing Applique quilts edit. Takes so little to amuse me.
As soon as it is in the can, we start the next issue of Behind the Seams....never fear it is already filmed.....and you didn't think I planned ahead...silly me

Off to spend a day of luxury at Toni and Guy...gotta keep the red hair red....and I need a day of kindness to myself.....Ronnie thinks the hair takes all day long so I get out of the house for a day of solitude and pampering with an occasional shoe purchase.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Interview with Eric Maisel on Van Gogh Blues

It is a great pleasure to bring Eric Maisel to you via handmaiden. Here is our recent discussion regarding his book, Van Gogh Blues. Eric is the author of many books, including Creativity for Life, Ten Zen Seconds and A Writer's Paris.

He also conducts a variety of seminars, week long or shorter weekend workshops. Along with this busy schedule, he also manages to train creativity coaches and coach individual artist personally.

Eric's coaching and invaluable experience working with artist of all disciplines has had a profound effect on my own creative life; as well as, the work itself. So, without further ado,let's start the interview.


G: Eric, can you tell us what The Van Gogh Blues is about?

E: For more than 25 years I’ve been looking at the realities of the creative life and the make-up of the creative person in books like Fearless Creating, Creativity for Life, Coaching the Artist Within, and lots of others. A certain theme or idea began to emerge: that creative people are people who stand in relation to life in a certain way—they see themselves as active meaning-makers rather than as passive folks with no stake in the world and no inner potential to realize. This orientation makes meaning a certain kind of problem for them—if, in their own estimation, they aren’t making sufficient meaning, they get down. I began to see that this “simple” dynamic helped explain why so many creative people—I would say all of us at one time or another time—get the blues.

To say this more crisply, it seemed to me that the depression that we see in creative people was best conceptualized as existential depression, rather than as biological, psychological, or social depression. This meant that the treatment had to be existential in nature. You could medicate a depressed artist but you probably weren’t really getting at what was bothering him, namely that the meaning had leaked out of his life and that, as a result, he was just going through the motions, paralyzed by his meaning crisis.

G: Are you saying that whenever a creative person is depressed, we are looking at existential depression? Or might that person be depressed in “some other way”?

E: When you’re depressed, especially if you are severely depressed, if the depression won’t go away, or if it comes back regularly, you owe it to yourself to get a medical work-up, because the cause might be biological and antidepressants might prove valuable. You also owe it to yourself to do some psychological work (hopefully with a sensible, talented, and effective therapist), as there may be psychological issues at play. But you ALSO owe it to yourself to explore whether the depression might be existential in nature and to see if your “treatment plan” should revolve around some key existential actions like reaffirming that your efforts matter and reinvesting meaning in your art and your life.

G: So you’re saying that a person who decides, for whatever reason, that she is going to be a “meaning maker,” is more likely to get depressed by virtue of that very decision. In addition to telling herself that she matters and that her creative work matters, what else should she do to “keep meaning afloat” in her life? What else helps?

E: I think it is a great help just to have a “vocabulary of meaning” and to have language to use so that you know what is going on in your life. If you can’t accurately name a thing, it is very hard to think about that thing. That’s why I present a whole vocabulary of meaning in The Van Gogh Blues and introduce ideas and phrases like “meaning effort,” “meaning drain,” “meaning container,” and many others. When we get a rejection letter, we want to be able to say, “Oh, this is a meaning threat to my life as a novelist” and instantly reinvest meaning in our decision to write novels, because if we don’t think that way and speak that way, it is terribly easy to let that rejection letter precipitate a meaning crisis and get us seriously blue. By reminding ourselves that is our job not only to make meaning but also to maintain meaning when it is threatened, we get in the habit of remembering that we and we alone are in charge of keeping meaning afloat—no one else will do that for us. Having a vocabulary of meaning available to talk about these matters is a crucial part of the process.

G: This is the paperback version of The Van Gogh Blues, How was the hardback version received?

E: Very well! The reviewer for the Midwest Book Review called The Van Gogh Blues “a mind-blowingly wonderful book.” The reviewer for Library Journal wrote, "Maisel persuasively argues that creative individuals measure their happiness and success by how much meaning they create in their work.” I’ve received countless emails from artists all over the world thanking me for identifying their “brand” of depression and for providing them with a clear and complete program for dealing with that depression. I hope that the paperback version will reach even more creative folks—and the people who care about them.

G: How does The Van Gogh Blues tie in with other books that you’ve written?

E: I’m interested in everything that makes a creative person creative and I’m also interested in every challenge that we creative people face. I believe that we have special anxiety issues and I spelled those out in Fearless Creating. I believe that we have a special relationship to addiction (and addictive tendencies) and with Dr. Susan Raeburn, an addiction professional, I’ve just finished a book called Creative Recovery, which spells out the first complete recovery program for creative people. That’ll appear from Shambhala late in 2008. I’m fascinated by our special relationship to obsessions and compulsions and am currently working on a book about that. Everything that we are and do interests me—that’s my “meaning agenda”!

G: What might a person interested in these issues do to keep abreast of your work?

E: They might subscribe to my two podcast shows, The Joy of Living Creatively and Your Purpose-Centered Life, both on the Personal Life Media Network. You can find a show list for The Joy of Living Creatively here and one for Your Purpose-Centered Life here. They might also follow this tour, since each host on the tour will be asking his or her own special questions. Here is the complete tour schedule. If they are writers, they might be interested in my new book, A Writer’s Space, which appears this spring and in which I look at many existential issues in the lives of writers. They might also want to subscribe to my free newsletter, in which I preview a lot of the material that ends up in my books (and also keep folks abreast of my workshops and trainings). But of the course the most important thing is that they get their hands on The Van Gogh Blues!—since it is really likely to help them.

G: In Van Gogh Blues you discuss creating a life purpose statement? Could you explain more about the importance of creating a life purpose/plan statement?

E: If you agree to commit to active meaning-making, you need to know where to make your meaning investments, both in the short-term sense of knowing what to do with the next hour and in the long-term sense of knowing which novel you are writing or which career you’re pursuing. Having a life purpose statement or life plan statement in place serves as an ongoing reminder of the sorts of meaning investments that you intend to make, both short-term and long-term, and helps you make the right “meaning decision” about where to spend your capital and how to realize your potential.

G: You list a number of core questions relating to creativity and making meaning in our lives. Do you feel that over time we will alternate between which question applies to us? Or is finding one question that applies to an artist is permanent, not changing over time?

E: There is no one question, just as there is no one meaning. The meaning-making process is a process of constant re-evaluation and ongoing analysis as we not only provide answers to our own questions but also provide ourselves with the right questions. For one period of time the questions may center on productivity, creativity, career, and the like, and during another period of time they may center on relationships, service, and the interpersonal sphere. Even on a single day, we might switch from asking ourselves one sort of question (about what project to tackle) to asking ourselves another sort of question (about how to help our addicted child or what to do about a community problem). Meaning shifts; and so do the questions that we pose to ourselves about how to make and maintain meaning.

Thank you so much for sharing your time with the readers of handmaiden. More information on Eric and how to contact him regarding coaching or learning how to become a creativity coach can be found at the links below. ericmaisel@sbcglobal.netphone 415 824 2113 for information on Eric Maisel's books and services please visit for information on Ten Zen Seconds, the next step in mindfulness practice.

Van Gogh Blues is only available in paperback at this time. Check out Amazon to get your copy or order from Eric's site.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Not As I Intended

I tried working smaller today and discovered, as the case with my quilts, this just isn't my format. This canvas is 12"x 14", and while it doesn't suck; it also doesn't work. Just not enough space for the kind of gestures that I use. Another one for the recycle bin, but I learned a good lesson. Playing and experimenting is our best teacher.

Now that I know the canvas should be larger, I can work with the same concept more successfully....or not. Painting is always a mysterynever quite doing what you expected but giving you the gift of surprise with each canvas.

Tired and ready for dinner....until tomorrow....go make some art with no expectations.
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Raise Your Hand if You Are Surprised by This

You are a

You are a total hippie. While you may not wear birks or smell of incense, you have the soul of a hippie.
You don't trust authority, and you do as you please. You're willing to take a stand, even when what you believe isn't popular.

You like to experiment with ideas, lifestyles, and different subcultures.
You always gravitate toward what's radical and subversive. Normal, mainstream culture doesn't really resonate with you.
Are You a Hippie?

Found this on DebR's
blog and as you might guess couldn't resist taking this test. None of my family would be surprised by the results. As a matter of fact, it was almost an exercise in futility since I already knew the answer....still it was fun just to see the questions.

Off to the studio for more paint and canvas since I am sure the fabric or design for the new quilt won't have magically appeared over night....although the gremlins might have decided to take pity on me and dug them out of the bowels of some hidden place. If I accomplish anything worth showing, I'll try to remember to post it the photos before retiring.

Reminder: Tomorrow is the day for the visit to handmaiden by Eric Maisel. Hope you stop by for a read.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Changed My Mind...AWoman's Perogative

Got up early this morning, 4a.m., totally inhuman but in theory one of the best time for creativity. My intention was to look for fabrics for my new quilt idea. Lo and behold, even after much caffiene, I don't have the fabric I need. Y'all have seen pictures of my stash so this is a near unbelievable occurance. Undaunted, I thought at least I could find the design I had planned to use....and of course, with the way my day was going you can guess the results. No design.

Several months ago I had torn up enlargements of three designs because I felt they were too large....leaving too much negative space. However, I would never have tossed the original drawing or the transparency. Okay, my studio is not at it's best but give me a @#$% break....there are only so many places where I store drawings and transparancies. Nada,nyet, nunca and several other versions of "I cannot find the blasted things anywhere. Uncle! I concede defeat.

Failing at the fabric event and with the intention of doing something creative,out come the paint and canvas. After all I woke up when most of the world is still asleep with the creative energy so had to expend the energy, read too much caffiene, some way. Paint tubes srparated in order, brushes and canvas ready, I began the under painting.

I love to do to layers of under painting and then scrape away areas to add new color. As you can tell, I am in love with abstract but always with earth strata or geology in mind. The top painting is finished at the moment. Tomorrow may tell another tale, but for now I am satisfied with what happened.

For all you serious painters, don't faint on me,but the way both of these paintings were done was by putting dots or lines of paint directly on the canvas. I then spread it with a large house painting brush, apply more paint, push it around with smaller brush. Next step is to start removing areas with my favorite tool, a kitchen sponge. I start with a dry sponge and as new colors are added, I wet the sponge to get a smoother finish. Now that you have picked yourself up off the floor, give it a try. You can achieve amazing blending without delicate brush work...and get tons of happy accidents.

This is a background piece again with earth strata/geology in mind. It is painted on masonite....not my favorite surface for painting, but perfect for mixed media. The next step will be to add colored pencil and/or oil pastels or whatever comes to mind to get the effect I want.

What started out as a potentially unproductive day ended up a day full of fun and pleasant surprises. Sure am glad I couldn't find my design and didn't have the fabric I need.
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Ahem....I'll Take Very Cool

You Are 89% Creative

You are an incredibly creative person. For you, there are no bounds or limits to your creativity.
Your next creation could be something very great... Or at least very cool!
How Creative Are You?

Found this little test and couldn't resist. Wonder what it would take to be 100 % creative....not like I am going to spend any brain cells worrying. I am off to the studio to see if I have fabrics for my new experiment in monochromatic....and only 89% creative.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Talking to Myself

Okay, dear readers, I am beginning to feel as if I am blogging to the sound of my own voice. Not that it isn't a great way to journal....but I am feeling a little pang of loneliness. So, if you are out there.....leave a comment or two when you stop by.

We all love comments and as a part of the new handmaiden,I will reply to your comments in the comment section or directly in a blog post.

Now I think I will indulge in some crackers and cheese to go with my whine.

Preview of Book Tour with Eric Maisel

Just a quick reminder that Monday, 14 January, handmaiden will be hosting a blog book tour with Eric on his new book Van Gogh Blues. I highly recommend this book for all. There are references to Van Gogh in the book but the heart of the book is how we can formulate life plans, approach our work with integrity and honesty. Most of all it helps you deal will the rise and fall of the artist life. What to do when you reach a plateau after a long period of success and how to deal with the daily transitions we all face.

At the link below you can listen to some of Eric's pod casts on a variety of subjects surrounding creativity and living as an artist. Check them out if you get a chance.

Here's a small review of the book, just to whet your appetite.

"Psychotherapist and author Dr. Eric Maisel speaks to the specific type of depression that creative people experience. 'I believe that depression in creative individuals is best thought of as a meaning crisis caused by chronic, persistent uneasiness, irritation, anger, and sadness about the facts of existence and life's apparent lack of meaning,' he writes. Anyone who examines the facts of existence and strives to find personal meaning, as creative people do, opens herself up to this depression.

"In order to counter this kind of depression, Maisel says creators must become meaning experts, learning to navigate through the terrain of meaning. They must engage in conversation with themselves about what is meaningful — and then work a plan to create that meaning."

Eric has been and continues to be my creativity coach. He encouraged me to paint, do manipulated photography and stay committed to my textile work. In a conversation on Wednesday night, I awoke yesterday with the first idea for a new textile piece since early last year.

I think you will enjoy Eric and will certainly appreciate his dedication to us. Please drop by Monday and join us for the discussion on Van Gogh Blues.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Now Seriously Folks

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Lest you think that the Casa has been overwhelmed with artist angst, I thought I would list a few of the silly compulsions...ahem, likes and dislikes that float around in my brain and our household.

1. When I take eggs out of the carton, the remaining eggs have to make a geometric pattern....makes sense from an artistic view point plus it keeps the weight balanced.

2. I hate chocolate and peanuts together. Separate them and all is well. For creepsakes, peanuts are a vegetable, a legume to be exact. How would chocolate and broccoli, strike you. Although I did mention this to Sweet Ronnie the other day and he was kinda in favor of it...bleech!

3. I eat oatmeal with no sugar....instead I like use butter and a baked potato. I am certain cheese would be an excellent addition. Put that on the list of foods to try.

4. Give me a nice long soak in the tub over a shower any day. Showers are so fast...sort of a get it over with kinda thing. I want to refill the tub and sit until I all wrinkled and have finished a chapter in a book.

5. I have Michael Bolton on my Ipod. I understand all the Ipods in the world have Michael on them.

6. I love Michael McDonald's voice....any guy that can hit a note higher than I can is way cool....besides he and Ronnie look alike...sigh...except Ronnie can't sing. Oh well,you can't have everything.

7. I can't stitch a straight seam on my sewing when I sew strips or blocks I sew them from one direction them flip them to the other end and stitch from than direction. Some lack of hand/eye wonder I applique.

8. I drive really fast...sshh! My daughter in law Christy says, " You don't so much follow mom somewhere as much as you chase her."

9. I love pulp fiction....old and new, from Dashiell Hammett to Jonathan Kellerman. Gave myself a Christmas gift and read Gone by Kellerman in one day.

10. I dance to music regardless whether alone or not...desperately want to take ballroom dance classes but have two problems. No partner and I always want to lead...sigh!

There are tons more normal things going on around the all is not dark and brooding. Every waking moment isn't filled with total a matter of fact, I am getting way over myself and plan on resolving this soon....or just tossing all my fabric, canvases, brushes, etc on the curb. Start fresh....not sure on what but it would force me to do something.

However, nothing is ever going to make me like chocolate and peanuts. And that's the truth...bluuulh!

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

The Tale of the Tape

First a big thanks to Val and Sharon for your comments on my last post. I have been working on resolving this time of transition. Val, my new work is very different; almost minimal....but planning on lots of stitching and surface design. Sharon, so good to hear from you. I agree I need some time to meditate on the next step. Maybe it won't be quilts, maybe it will, but art is art. The important thing is to stay connected creatively. Hugs and kisses to you both for your kind words. They mean more than you realize and helped bring some clarity.

One of my plans for 2008, not a resolution, just a plan was to start exercising again. Not for any vanity reason but to increase my energy and stamina to make it easier to travel and teach. Also, increased energy will have a major effect on my ability to get to the studio. Bravely, I took out my trusted tape measurement to record the bad news in preparation for starting back on the program in the a.m.

Trust me, there will be no announcement on the results of the measurements. Suffice it to say, it isn't good but not as bad as I expected. Still there is much need to get busy. However, I have my trusty Concept 2 erg machine....a girl's best friend. The last time I embarked on this program it only took 13 weeks to get into shape. Since I am starting from a better weight and measurements than the original stint, things are already looking up.

Tomorrow morning just me and my rowing machine. It will take a while to build up to the hour a day that I once did....but gotta start somewhere. Besides, I have all those clothes I bought that I need to get into for the year. I am refusing to buy any new clothes....part of my revolt against consuming things I just want but don't need.

Going to oil the chain and dust of the rest of the machine to prepare for the new me. Hope I don't faint and fall over since I am in a state of total disrepair. Light a candle...I will need all the help I can get.

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Dazed and Confused

What have I been doing? As I started teaching the Creative Spark class this week, I realized how little I am practicing what I preach. Only two new quilts since 2006. However, there were several paintings and lots of photography. Working with Eric Maisel again in our individual session he asked if maybe it was time for me to stop working in fiber......Shock, horror, all sorts of uncomfortable emotions. However, you have to give Eric his fair due.....if I am not doing it it time for a change?

At the moment, I am repairing a quilt the dog joke... for a good friend. Now as much as I love animals if this dog was mine, it would now be living in a new home....with other quilts to ingest. Also, this is a beast to repair, the quilt is finished and bound so there is nothing to support the repair....seeing as dog ate batting and backing. High fiber diet....poor thing must need new food.

Back on the ranch, yes, this is taking time that I could use on my own work....which I haven't been doing anyway. A conundrum, no? Have I lost what little talent I ever had? Or am I just being lazy?

I look back at when I was exercising which has also fallen by the wayside. I remember when I spent hours in the studio and quilted at night in front of the tv. Where is that person? As much as I would like to place all the blame on sweet Ronnie's retirement, I must take my share of the blame.

Facing the new year comes either get with it or give it up time. As the wheel turns( isn't that a soap), I hope to come to some answer. Back to the dog ate my quilt.
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Sunday, January 06, 2008

Who Needs Therapy When You Can Blog

What Gabrielle Means

You are deeply philosophical and thoughtful. You tend to analyze every aspect of your life.
You are intuitive, brilliant, and quite introverted. You value your time alone.
Often times, you are grumpy with other people. You don't appreciate them trying to interfere in your affairs.

You are usually the best at everything ... you strive for perfection.
You are confident, authoritative, and aggressive.
You have the classic "Type A" personality.

You are full of energy. You are spirited and boisterous.
You are bold and daring. You are willing to do some pretty outrageous things.
Your high energy sometimes gets you in trouble. You can have a pretty bad temper at times.

You are wild, crazy, and a huge rebel. You're always up to something.
You have a ton of energy, and most people can't handle you. You're very intense.
You definitely are a handful, and you're likely to get in trouble. But your kind of trouble is a lot of fun.

You tend to be pretty tightly wound. It's easy to get you excited... which can be a good or bad thing.
You have a lot of enthusiasm, but it fades rather quickly. You don't stick with any one thing for very long.
You have the drive to accomplish a lot in a short amount of time. Your biggest problem is making sure you finish the projects you start.

You are friendly, charming, and warm. You get along with almost everyone.
You work hard not to rock the boat. Your easy going attitude brings people together.
At times, you can be a little flaky and irresponsible. But for the important things, you pull it together.

You are relaxed, chill, and very likely to go with the flow.
You are light hearted and accepting. You don't get worked up easily.
Well adjusted and incredibly happy, many people wonder what your secret to life is.

As I Was Saying

The living room is still looking pretty good. Busby is on guard at the front door. After so much company for the holidays, he is certain someone is coming to visit him at any moment. Take note the rowing machine is again in a place of honor just waiting for me to put my glorious fatdom ( new but appropriate word) to work. Son Thom bought me an IPod for Christmas in an attempt to encourage me to exercise. What a thoughtful hoping his evil...oops I mean concerned for his mother, plan works soon.

Now for some original art from son Chris. If you remember, those of us who had time or wanted to gave hand made Christmas presents. Chris is such an incredible artist, even if I do say so myself. This is a multi-media piece he created using a variety of gorgeous papers. He then put the symbol for strength on the background canvas and built the dragon in 3-d on top of the background.

Here's a detail of all the intricate cutting and addition of other media to achieve the look he desired. I am in awe...all the hours and coming up with the concept in the first place. Thank you sweetie, I will treasure it always. Between his lovely wife Jillaine's skills as a gourmet cook and his artistic abilities, there ought to be a business these two could start. Give me enough time and I will think of something.

Now off to the studio to at least make a pathway....and to practice what I preach. In the Creative Spark, one of our first assignments was to get your studio ready for working. Oops! my dog must have eaten that homework...but since we don't have a dog that is a pretty lame excuse. Oh Busby, where are the studio no doubt creating a mess.
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The More Things Change; The More they Remain the Same

In my mad cleaning frenzy for Christmas, the studio became the repository of all things fallinginto the category of "What do I do with this?" Obviously not a solution, but it seemed like a good idea at the time. Now I am faced with the eternal, never-edning cleaningof the studio. How many times in 2007 have you seen pictures that look similar, read absolutely the same, as these. Being a packrat doesn't help but this is beyond the pale. Reassure me that none of your studios look quite in this disarray.

I did finally get my new iron, only a year old purchased at Quilt Market '06, out of the box and ready to use. Of course, I haven' t used it but with my plan to get three tops underway, it is eager to be heated up.

It goes without saying that every studio needs a food processor....OMG....I couldn't find a better place for that thing. Could have but would have meant cleaning cabinets....nah...just stick it in the studio. The vacuum will come in handy especially since it is blocking my way to the design wall and cutting table. Someone up there is telling me I have to clean or I won't get in the door.

On a good year, I would just toss all this stuff in closets but I fear they are full from my last cleaning event. In case we ever decide to sell the house, I have already warned sweet Ronnie we will have to move out before we can begin to show the house. I could never keep it realtor clean.

However, there is a brighter side. The rest of the house still looks pretty good. Only because I haven't managed to cover every flat space yet. The gift basket of goodies from daughter in law Jillaine is still in plain sight so I can munch at will. She made absolutely the best cinnamon chips with strawberry salsa ever. I was greedy and didn't share a single one.....don't worry Thom and Ronnie got the Salsa Verde and Salsa Caliente....also yummy. Back to point, these two rooms look as if someone might actually live here.

Blogger again refused to post more than three pictures so living room to follow. It also is still in a presentable state. Wonder how long it will stay that way? Yes, the Christmas tree is still up but it is so small....and I am still feeling festive....that is unless I walk into the studio.
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Saturday, January 05, 2008

2007 In Review

Not being inclined to look back in time too much, I thought a moment of reflection might be proactive for 2008.

From top left: I remember sleeping in a multitude of hotels....all nice and comfy and appreciated after a long day.

Made another guest appearance at Houston Quilt Market and Festival....and enjoyed every minute even though exhausted at the end of each day.

Then, there was the ever present messy studio which won't really be all mine again until Thom moves out.

Speaking of Thom, the highlight of the spring was his graduation...he is now practicing at a firm in Ft. Worth.

Got to visit again one of my favorite places on the planet,Melbourne, AU. I will miss y'all this year.

Taught a group of incredible, talented women at Sandy Turner's retreat in Cambria, Ca. They make a mean Cosmopolitan.....see y'all next year for round two...are you ready for what my beady little mind has in store?

Also, taught for Empty Spools at Asilomar. Thanks Diana, Suzanne and Gail for great students and being in such a beautiful setting.....just an easy walk to the beach...always good for the soul.

Yard guy gave me a beautiful yard to come home to from each trip....even when it snowed.

Last but never least, I bought a few pairs of shoes. However you would be proud of new shoes since early 2007.

What will 2008 bring? More hotels, more beautiful cities, plenty of amazing students, hopefully getting my studio back, surprises in the spring garden and maybe a pair or two of shoes.

The only thing missing is the making of quilts. As promised in my previous post, turning over a new leaf (no pun intended) in that department. Already have two layered and basted....more in the finished stage.

2008 is already in full swing. Full of things I am looking forward to doing to keep me cooking on the creative front. While this is not all 2007 gave....painting, photography, dvd's and intermittent blogging...looking back brings a smile to my face....and the sure and certain knowledge that 2008 can only get better.

Get yourself in the studio. It's the weekend...uninterrupted creative time....go make some art.

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Friday, January 04, 2008

So Many Choices

Oh the agony of making choices! One of my Christmas surprises was a gift certificate from Charles and Christy.....from Dick Blick, no less. As all things in the universe happen in order, the new Dick Blick catalog arrived earlier that week. Are you feeling my pain yet?

The pages are stuck together already from my drooling over all the possibilities. I'll take one of everything, thank you. Should I be practical and buy new brushes? Or should I indulge in this interesting book leaping of the catalog page need me?

Just imagine all the fun inside this still my heart. Of course, all the techniques could easily apply to quilts so it would be an investment on two fronts.

Regardless, any choice will be a good I might as well just open it to any page and point. What fun....a gift that will give me pleasure in both choosing and using. Kisses to my beloved son and daughter in law.

Slight change in subject, as some of you might know I am working with Eric Maisel again as a part of his Support Group '08. Today was our first individual session. We talked about everything that was going on in my life and what I wanted to focus about everything. Seriously, we all know that won't work but Eric did cause me to re-evaluate where I was as a quiltmaker.

He even asked if maybe it was time to move on to another discipline....did making quilts hold any meaning for me now? Ice water in the face time, but after I recovered the answer was clear.

What I am tired of is working toward a competition.....following someone else's guidelines for my work....and as always the constant external pressure to produce. Is this a familiar refrain?

Cut to the chase: I am committed to making museum quality art quilts....a phrase formed with Eric's help. I am also committed to continuing the dvd production. So there it is the year at a glance. We are going to be working together for six months. Taking a leap, I announced that I will have at least 3 new pieces either finished or well on the way to being finished by the end of our time together.

Now that it is out there for all the world to see, I am really accountable. However, for the moment, back to drooling over possible choices.....all seriousness and no silliness makes Gabrielle even more eccentric.

Thursday, January 03, 2008

A New Look for handmaiden

Thanks to the hard work of my computer gurus, handmaiden has a new look for it's birthday. The banner is a little small but we will get it up to a better size soon. Nonetheless, it is there and quite lovely.....thanks Jessica,

This is one of the good things that happened today. The other was talking with more of the students from the Creative Spark class. I knew this was going to be exciting and that I would learn so much from them.....but it is even better. Everyone is so committed to this process that they have already been an inspiration to me. Thank you ladies for taking this leap.

As to me and my off and on again love affair with was an off again day...yousers! I really don't appreciate it when the software is smarter or dumber as the case may be than I am.

I finished the last title, put in all the dissolves,only to discover my dvd menu has disappeared somewhere in the bowels of the program....words I can't repeat in mixed company...!@#&* Moving on to attempt the voice over only to have no success in getting the track to record.

Also, I love the help topic tutorial on creating a voice over: Open the audio tool; turn on microphone, record. Well now isn't that informative....thank you so very much. On that note, having spent all day at the computer, I majestically turned off the sucker and walked out while giving it the raspberries.

Paper work tomorrow so I am saved from the monster for at least a day. However, my stubborn streak is being tested beyond all limits. I am going to get this done if I have to take a hammer to the darn thing.

Hope you enjoy the new look on handmaiden....and that your computer is in a better mood than my editing computer. Bad computer....needs an attitude adjustment.....naturally, it isn't operator error.

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Working in the New Year

No pictures today since none of the work I accomplished is interesting unless you enjoy photos of paper. Started the day shipping stuff off for classes and shipping a quilt for a sample of February classes. Spent the rest of the day visiting with the gals in my online class....a real treat for me. What an exciting group to be working with for the new year.

Tomorrow my big hope is to lay in the audio track on the dvd. I think I know the problem but keep your fingers crossed that I am right. If that goes well, the production will begin and on to the next instructional dvd.

That is the news...except for the fact that it is colder than heck in Texas....which has us all totally freaked. The low last night was in the 20's F. with more of the same predicted for tonight. If that wasn't enough, our ice maker is producing enough ice to send to the melting the dead of winter, when we don't use much ice.....naturally this summer, the blasted thing will not produce a cube.
Just the natural course of events at the Casa. Upside down and backwards.

The great progress that occurred over the holidays is that I started working with Eric Maisel's support group for 2008. We started in the throes of the holiday commitments with three goals to accomplish each day relating to our art. Low and behold, it worked. I got tons of work done.

We, then, moved on to weekly goals parsing them out daily. This concept is just the foundation I needed to see where I was going and to have a sense of what I accomplished. It is such a great concept that I am going to apply to my class.

If you have trouble focusing because of too many tasks or because you piddle away time that could be better spent, give the 3 goals a try. Naturally, it works better if you have someone who you are accountable to for your accomplishments. Maybe you could find a friend who would be willing to give it a try with you.

My brain is fried just like the dinner we had I will stop rambling.

Almost forgot a small postscript, while I am working like there is no tomorrow, sweet Ronnie is continuing with his retirement resolution of sitting on the sofa doing nothing. First of all, this would send me over the edge....go directly into straight jacket, do not pass go. However, he not only has this down to a science; he has managed to elevate it to an art form. Good for him....well deserved....just stay outta my way.....which works well since the sofa is well out of my regular movement track. He need not think this is what my retirement will resemble in any way.

Remeber to put on your calendar January 14 for the book tour with Eric. I think you will find him delightful as well as incredibly kind and insightful.

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Greetings 2008!

Happy New Year and Happy 3rd Birthday to handmaiden. When I started this journey, I had no concept of what a blog was or how many friends from all over the world I would make. Thank you all for the gifts you have given to handmaiden and to me.

Here's wishing that the creative light glows brightly in 2008....that there are always glimmers cooking in the back of your mind for new work....that your problems be small and your joys be great and that you never lose sight of the light within in you.

When doubt rises, keep the light in sight and keep focused on the pleasure of the process. Remember "mistakes" are only learning steps that lead you to a solution. Trust yourself and make art that is meaningful to you.

Savor every moment with friends, family and especially in the studio. How good it was to wake up to the possibilites of a new year.....celebrate the dawn not of just a new day but of a whole new year. My best to all y'all.

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