|Monet’s 1869 painting “The Magpie” was rejected by the Paris salon and now is
one of the most beloved paintings at the Musee d’Orsay
|Monet’s 1869 painting “The Magpie” was rejected by the Paris salon and now is
one of the most beloved paintings at the Musee d’Orsay
I find that the time between Thanksgiving and New Years is the perfect time to get a little introspective and to think about what you’d like to accomplish in the coming year. There are many reasons to take this time and actually write out your goals.
First, by writing out your goals, you help clarify them to yourself. Is it more important for me to show in as many shows as I can get into or do I want to pick and choose? Or do I want to forego a real push for exhibiting this year and work on developing my style and voice in my work? By looking at where you’d like to be by the end of a particular period of time, you increase your ability to pick actions that will help you get there.
Similarly, if your goals help you pick proper actions, then you reduce “scope creep“. When asked to do something, you can evaluate how it will help you with your goals. I know it’s important to learn to say “No”, but it’s not always something I’m good at. So, perhaps if I get really clear on my goals, I’ll be more likely to recognize when a request isn’t going to help me with the direction I want to go. When you’re busily working towards your goals, you’ll find yourself presented with more and more opportunities. You know the old saying, “If you want to get something done, ask a busy person!” By focusing on your written goals, you can find keep yourself working towards them, rather than getting distracted by other potentialities.
As part of goal-writing, it’s a good idea to come up with a plan to help you accomplish the goal. While there is plenty of data on the power of just putting the goal down on paper (and even then just sticking the paper away in a drawer somewhere), I personally believe that you get much further towards accomplishing your goal if you have a plan of action to accompany it. Even if it’s just a list of to-do tasks, that will get you on your way. If you want to go further, you can set objectives to accomplish for each goal, then make timelines, and evaluate what could potentially trip you up in your plan and how to overcome that (aka risk management) if the ‘risk’ occurs.
Ah, this is all sounding a bit dry. I think it must be time to hit the sewing machine. Before I do, I thought I’d share a link and a few photos from a fabulous textile tour to Guatemala I took a few years ago with my mother. The hostess, Priscilla Bianchi, is a Guatemalan quilt artist. She uses traditional Guatemalan textiles in her amazing quilts. Tonight I found a book called Arte Textil Guatemalteco- Trabajo de Priscilla Bianchi, or Guatemalan Textile Art- the Work of Priscilla Bianchi online. It is just beautiful, even if you can’t read Spanish, check it out!
The photos here on today’s post are ones which I took when I visited Priscilla’s home in Guatemala City in February 2009.
It’s funny, how you can be really organized in one area, yet swimming (or sinking) in disorganization in another. Like many creative types, I struggle with organization. At our local Surface Design Association meeting a few months ago, we had the topic of Time and Studio Management. We all brought photos of our studio in its current condition. We even had a $20 prize for the local Quiltworks store where we meet for the artist with the messiest studio, to encourage people to really not clean up before our session. Well, since I offered the prize, I didn’t have to shell out any money when it was unanimously decided that my studio was the worst! No, I’m not going to share those photos online at this time… maybe when I get to know you better.
On the other hand, I’m extremely organized in some areas… in setting and attaining goals; in developing organizational systems; in project management. For instance, today I put together 3 different proposals for exhibition venues for the Contemporary QuiltArt Association (CQA.) Two were for well-known musuems and the third for a city hall gallery. Putting together proposals such as these requires a lot of organizational skill. You need to find their requirements and do your best to follow them explicitly. You need a personalized cover letter, artist statement, biography, artist resume, and images of your work. The images needed to be picked and formatted to each venue’s specifications. I’ve been very successful with my exhibition proposals in the past and hope that I will be here again in the near future. (I’ll let you know where the museums/galleries are if we secure them.)
This year I’ve made slow incremental progress in gaining control over some areas of my life. First and foremost, I lost 30 lbs that had been slowly creeping on over the last few years. Next, I’ve been keeping up with putting all my clothes away (anyone else have oodles of laundry?) and making sure to keep my closet cleaned up. Then, I moved towards keeping the corner of my bedroom clean, where my books, quilt magazines, art projects and miscellaneous junk pile up from whatever I’m working on or reading before bedtime. And now, I’m working on the studio.
Part of my problem is that I’m blessed with a large home. So, whenever I run out of space, I just move on and work in another area. I also love to work in the evening in front of the t.v. However, theis requires bringing a bunch of things from my studio into our “adventure” room (family/tv room.) I also am one of those people who just love to learn new things. So I have supplies for all of them. I’m working now at developing a place for each type of supply… a drawer of thermofaxes, a bin for stabilizers, all my scissors put away in the same place, so I always know where to find things.
|The outside of the old fruit processing plant|
But, again, you can only do so much cleaning and organizing until you are cutting into your art time. Today, I did some dyeing-the wool Viking tunic my son made. Too much time has been spent in front of a computer screen. I never did claim that I was great on the time management side, now did I?
I promised a few days ago that I’d post some photos from the Mighty Tieton gallery. Enjoy!
|You walk through part of the old warehouse…|
|… and open the huge Cold Storage door|
|To a beautiful gallery space|
|Large Unfinished Feltwork at Tieton|
Have you ever heard of scope creep? Sounds like some kind of peeping tom that uses a periscope, doesn’t it? Well, it’s actually where the intent and expectations of a project keeps increasing. Perhaps I just have big ideas… but I’m finding myself being really excited about the prospects of the Tieton exhibition. For instance, the large felted piece that I mentioned yesterday? I started thinking about a documentary on Mongolia I’d seen and how they would felt large pieces by pulling the roll behind horses. Here’s a link that has some info on the Mongolian felting tradition, as well as a YouTube video of the steps of the process. Well, I’m a horsewoman… I recently sold my horse but still ride and know lots of people in the equestrian community. One of my contacts has a Friesian farm in the Yakima area, not terribly far from Tieton, where they have big beautiful black horses that draw carriages. Shouldn’t be too hard to drag a roll of felt, then, should it?
|Will and Teresa Bron with two of their lovely Friesians|
I also got to thinking about a fiber group whom I read about in Quilting Arts Magazine (June/July 2012). They are from the Netherlands and create all sorts of outdoor installations. You can see some of their work on their Windkracht 10 Blog. We also have had a wonderfully colorful addition to many of our outdoor spaces here in the Seattle area… yarn bombing. Just google yarn bomb Seattle images. Here again, Tieton would be a perfect place to do all sorts of wonderful outdoor fiber art displays. So, the scope of this exhibition may just be creeping up a bit more.
I’m thinking that it might be too much to ask of our CQA artists to also do the outdoors pieces, so perhaps I’ll just write an open call for artists in Washington… that shouldn’t be too much extra work, right?
Tieton would also like to have lecturers and classes available from fiber artists during the show run. So, I’ve opened this up to CQA artists as an opportunity, but I may need to open it further, if I don’t get enough response. Well, I suppose I could pull a class together before next May….
Oh, and I’m thrilled that Mighty Tieton, having their own print studio, has offered to make a catalog of the exhibit! All I need to do is provide high resolution images of all the artwork, artist statements, information on each piece, and write a curators statement. No problem!
As you can see, it’s easy to commit and commit, and then not take time to do your art. I’m committed to make a piece (or more) for this show. But as artists we need to weigh out our commitments and look at our overall goals. I do believe that putting this show on in style will be a positive experience for my artistic career. But the major sticking point that I struggle with is in making enough art. Making enough to be good. Making enough to develop my artistic voice. Making enough to feel fulfilled. As I work through my goals for the coming year, I’m looking at committing to making a small art piece (5×7?) each week. However, I struggle with whether that will stop me from making my larger pieces. I have a partially-completed quilt (OK, who doesn’t) on my design wall that is about double-bed sized… I don’t want to stop making something just for the sake of some promise to do a small piece every week. And I’m not sure I have time for both. Well, I guess I will think it through some more before I write out my goals and plans for 2013!
|Eastern Washington Seed Pods|
Here’s my favorite inspiration from my day! The sunshine and shadows on these seedpods was lovely with crisp air filled with the smells of all the dried grasses and grains.
|Entry to the old cold storage room now refurbished as a gallery|
Mighty Tieton is an unique artist community 15 miles outside the city of Yakima, Washington. As the co-chair of Exhibitions for the Contemporary QuiltArt Association, I’ve scheduled an exhibition in their unique gallery space. Today I visited the space-a remarkable gallery created out of an old fruit processing warehouse. The space where our exhibit will hang was a large cold storage locker complete with huge refrigerator-like doors through which they probably drove forklifts filled with pallets of fresh Yakima valley produce. Once you get through the door, however, the space is transformed into a wonderful gallery space with soaring ceilings, high-tech lighting and a wire hanging system which will allow us to hang quilts or art-cloth throughout the interior of the gallery, rather than just from the walls.
Currently, in a second “cold storage” space, they have set up an exhibit of Trimpin’s sound studio art. Originally from Bavaria, Trimpin’s now lives in Seattle. His artwork combines music and sculpture, often using computers to play the instruments. He has exhibited in numerous prestigious galleries and museums, including Seattle Art Museum, the Experience Music Project, Frye Art Museum and many more.
In yet another space in the warehouse, there was the start of a large (approximately 20′ x30′) felted piece, started when Janice Arnold had one of her incredible felted tents on display (still up in yet another gallery space!). We may even get the opportunity to work on felting this unfinished piece.
I took high-res photos of the space which I’ll post after I return home and am able to process them.
As one of my artist goals, I want to get to the place where I can have a solo exhibition of my art. I’m not there yet… but as one step towards this goal, I decided that volunteering as Exhibitions co-chair would help me gain valuable experience which I can use in my future solo shows. Since the time I started working on CQA’s exhibitions, I’ve learned a great deal. How to find potential venues; what to include in an information packet to the prospective gallery; talking with gallery representatives; working out exhibition details; how to publicize the show; hanging an exhibit; putting on an opening event; working with the gallery on sales; and finally, taking the show down.
More to come on the process of putting on exhibitions. Any secrets you have to share would be greatly appreciated!
One area in which I never have any difficulty is finding inspiration. If anything, I’m too willing and see beauty and interest in too many things. Right now, my husband, Randy, is watching some of the post-Thanksgiving college football games and I can glance up at the commercials and see the artistic talent and incredible genius in the commercials. The marketing wizards of television advertising create such compelling imagery, as well as often having incredible auditory stimulus.
Today we drove across the Cascade mountain range from Western Washington to Eastern, where my husband loves to hunt. It is with a bit of trepidation that I mention this activity. I grew up in the suburbs of Seattle, and with the exception of a short couple months living in San Francisco and many years of living in the Seattle city limits, I have found myself living back in Bellevue, a short distance across Lake Washington from Seattle. I bring this up in contrast to how my husband was raised, in the rural countryside of Minnesota. Having been brought up in suburbia, I don’t remember anyone that I know of having guns or being a hunter. My impression of hunters was probably pretty biased… radical right-wingers… card-carrying NRA members… although I didn’t have any real ethical problem with hunting, so long as they would eat the meat, rather than just killing for sport. Even after several years of having been a vegan in my past (a vegetarian who eats no animal products at all, including meat, poultry, fish or dairy) and having studied the issues of being a carnivore, I feel like that hunting or fishing at least gives the animal/bird/fish some change at survival and a better quality of their life than most creatures that are farm-raised. In contrast, Randy grew up with pheasant hunting every year with his father. It’s a very nostalgic activity for him. Regardless, I know that there are plenty of people who are anti-hunting. So I tend not to mention this aspect of our life to many people, for fear of their reaction or rejection.
As a lover of animals, I’m relieved that my husband only hunts upland birds (pheasant, quail, and chucker.) I’m pretty good with training, both dogs and as a horsewoman. So my participation in the past years has been to train and maintain control of our hunting dog. Yet for the first time this year, my two teen boys passed their hunter education and I took the class with them, so I’m actually participating in the hunting. I guess I should say for those who’ve never gone hunting, that it’s a lot like fishing… it’s a good day when you see a bird- but many times you don’t. If you really want to bring home dinner, you pay to go to a bird farm/hunting club, where they place farm-raised birds which you buy (regardless of whether you actually get the bird or not) in a field for you to hunt. The real joy is in being out in the field watching your dog do what he/she is raised to do and love.
|upholstery fabric from restaurant|
OK, how does this relate to finding inspiration? As I said, I find inspiration everywhere. The sky and clouds, the few lone crab-apple trees in the orchard which are inexplicably filled with fruit while most are bare, pieces of wood, fields of grain… these are a few of the things which I viewed today. I also saw some wonderful textiles, again in everyday places- the upholstery at the restaurant we ate at, and a cute applique pillow in our hotel room.
Happy Thanksgiving! I am so thankful today to have had a relaxed joyous day with my family, as well as being able to do many of my projects. My sweet husband did much of the cooking, to help keep me out of the kitchen, as I’ve worked very hard this year to get down to my goal weight by losing 30 lbs (and keeping it off.) I do love to cook, but I knew I’d be tempted to taste all day long! He did ask my support in one thing, however… clearing some space in the freezer for the leftovers.
Well, that meant that it was time to get into my dye studio- I had to use up the snow I’ve had in the freezer since last winter- time for snow-dyeing! It’s also a great way to use up some left-over old dyes. While the colors may not come out quite as rich or vibrant, I’ll always be able to over-dye or do additional surface design on the fabrics. So I prepared 4 separate yards of cotton, put each in it’s own container, packed the snow on top, and poured 3 colors of dye onto each one. It looks like giant snow cones!
|Ryan, my Viking warrior|
Since I was already dyeing, I also mixed up a fresh batch and dyed a couple yards of linen. I’ve never tried dyeing linen before, nor is it a material I use in my artwork. The things we will do for our children! My son, now 17, is fascinated with Viking culture and hopes to go into anthropology and/or archeology. He’s found that there are Viking re-enactment groups, similar to the ones that put on Renaissance fairs, and has talked me into going to a holiday “Good Yule” celebration in full Viking dress. Of course, it has to be authentic! Last week I taught him basics of sewing on my Bernina (ok, not so authentic that we’re going to sew it by hand!) and he made his own Viking tunic out of wool. He’s still deciding if he wants me to dye it or not (it’s currently a beige-brown.) The linen I’m dyeing will be for a Viking apron, the style which they wore around the tenth century. I’ll make sure to post the pictures when we have our outfits complete!
I’ve been working on encouraging my Mom to start back to sewing again, so she brought over her machine and a Christmas table-runner project which she had started. She was having some problems with mitering the binding. It’s easy to get confused with a mitered binding if you are used to making a mitered border on a quilt. The process is a bit different, since you’re turning the finding to the back side. She also some a 60 degree angles, which I admit I had to look up how to bind. Thank goodness for Google!
Once I had my Mom going, I started working on some freemotion quilting samples from the wonderful collection by Leah Day on her FreeMotion Quilting Blog. If you are interested in improving your quilting stitches, I can’t recommend Leah’s blog highly enough. Here is the “Calm Sea” design which I stitched this afternoon. I have several notebooks of practice samples such as this, which I keep adding to on a regular basis. Then, when I am ready to stitch a project, I can look through my samples and think about what would work best for the piece.
Tomorrow I’m taking off with my husband for a few days, so I’ve packed my sketchbooks and look forward to looking for new design inspiration, as well as working on thinking through some of what I’d like to accomplish in the year ahead.
|Moulin Rouge dans la Nuit|