It’s hard to believe that we’re almost at the middle of March… almost 1/4 of the year is done!  However, with that in mind today, I thought I should review and see how I’m doing on My Goals for the year.

“Best Friends” by Christina Fairley Erickson
Commercial and artist hand-painted cottons, machine applique, machine free-motion quilting
My first goal is to work on finding and defining my artistic voice.  I’ve outlined several steps to help myself with this.  First, is to work with Gail Harker, of the Gail Harker Center for the Creative Arts.  You might recall some of my previous posts about the fantastic exhibit, Complex Threads, which featured the work of students of Gail.  I’m set for this part of my goal, starting next week when I’ll be taking her Experimental Hand Stitch 101 course. This course will complete my 100 level series classes, and I’ll be continuing on the path starting in May with Studies in Design and Experimental Hand and Machine Stitch 201 which will meet approximately every 3 months through the end of 2014.  
“Best Friends” detail by Christina Fairley Erickson
Next, I decided to kick up my production to help with defining my artistic voice.  To do this, I’ve been making my weekly 5 x 7 Challenge piece.  So far, I’m keeping up with this (one week I didn’t finish, but then did two in another week.)  I also wanted to do my small art quilt group’s challenge every other month.  I’ve only got a couple weeks to go to finish this and I’m not sure that I’m going to make this one.  The theme of the current Fiber Funster Challenge is “Waiting.”  while I have designed a piece, I haven’t even started it in production.  Maybe I can get it going this weekend.
Finally, I planned to document my progress in my blog, which I’ve been doing.  This also has helped me with my second major goal, which is to ramp up my pictorial quilts.  I feel like I’ve made a lot of progress through the weekly production of 5 x 7 pieces, both with my technical skills and composition.  I do still need to start working on a plan for creating a body of work.  
My third goal has to do with studio organization.  Here I have made some progress, but not enough to be proud of… I am at least working in my studio almost daily, rather than my studio being such a disaster area that I end up pulling my work out into other areas of the house!
My next goals, opening an Etsy shop and working towards a solo show in 2015 are still in the thought process, although I have looked through Etsy and think I can stay on track to open by mid 2013.  Beyond that, I’m on track for completing my piece for the Salsa show (entry due in mid-April).  I haven’t yet decided upon my second medium-to-large sized piece to create, although I may go back to my roots and make another horse-themed quilt.  I won a first place (and cash prize!) at an equine art-show two years ago and just received the call for entry for this coming summer. Alternatively, I may shoot for finishing one of my works in progress, such as my Waterfall quilt or Cathedral Visions.  
I’m scratching the final goal, completing a driftwood art sculpture in time to enter in the May show.  Although I love the driftwood art, I’m not having the time to do it as well as my main love, fiber.  
Well, I’m in a bit of overwhelm now, with all that I need to do.  Guess it’s time to get back to sewing!
Do you feel like you are meeting your potential?  Or do you feel like you haven’t quite made it or like you aren’t really even sure how to get to what you think your potential might be?  
This question is on my mind after celebrating my son’s Eagle Scout Court of Honor yesterday.  I made a slideshow for the program, with pictures of my son’s scouting activities- from first grade through his Sr. year of high school.  It hasn’t always been an easy road… he was even asked to take some time off from scouting at one point.  However, I can now see how all the effort (on both his and my parts) has paid off.  He’s made a great step towards meeting his potential.
“By a Nose” by Christina Fairley Erickson
My quilt won a 1st place at an Equine Art Show… however
it’s done with a technique I learned from Noriko Endo…
does that then truly represent my artistic voice?

One of my quests this year in my 5 x 7 Challenge, beyond the concept of how making art each and every week will help the quality of my work, is to find my authentic voice as an artist.  Finding your voice as an artist seems to be a tricky thing for many of us.  I’ve tried many styles of quilts and am still working out how to have my work represent who I am, and not be something you look at and say… “Oh that looks like ____________(put well-know quilt artist’s name here) work.”  My work should look like Christina Fairley Erickson’s work.

I’m clear that I like pictorial or representational work.  I also like stitch, both machine and hand.  So those are the areas I’m exploring.  But the ways in which I put them together need to be my own.  
I thought I’d share another of the artist’s work from the Bellevue Art Museum’s “High Fiber Diet” exhibit.  Maria Shell, of Anchorage AK, spent a year exploring the potential of variations of pattern over the course of many grid pieces.  Each of the nine pieces is made from vintage and contemporary commercial cotton textiles, hand-dyed fabric, batting and thread. So, your basic quilting components.  
Maria felt that by limiting the structure of her work to the grid, she was able to fully explore color… how to make color vibrate on the wall.  She discovered that the proportion of line and shape in the relation to color evokes different experiences in each piece.  The shot below is looking at a towering 20 foot wall of her quilts.  Each piece is approximately 5 -6 feet square.
From left to right, starting upper left:  Picnic, Holey Rollers, 36 Ninjas, Speedy Higgins Play the Drums, Solstice, Get On Up, Deep Blue Sea, Funky Monkey, Habanero by Maria Shell
How do we find our authentic voice?  Creative choice is at the heart of authenticity.  So when making our choices, we are exploring our own voice.  However, if your choices are limited or you feel constrained by things you’ve learned from other “experts”, it’s good to also question when to break free of doing things in someone else’s style.  

 How are you living up to your potential this year?  Are you striving to find your authentic voice or do you feel confident in your artistic direction?  I believe that through exploring these themes and types of questions, we become closer to finding our real selves.  Through that, our artistic voice will come through.

You can see the vibrancy in Maria’s work
with this sample from “Deep Blue Sea”
While “Solstice” doesn’t play with color, Maria’s
use of pattern and repetition make for a striking piece
You might also be interested in:

BAM High Fiber Diet Outdoor Fiber Art 
& Call for Entry
Fitting My Challenge
with Showing

Frozen bush from Dec 2008
No snow yet this year!

     I’ve been working on putting my artistic goals down on paper (or in electrons) for some time now:

So, the clock is ticking towards midnight (and 2013) and I’m ready to state my goals and intentions, as well as to ask you to respond back to me what you are going to commit to doing.

Goals 2013:
1.      Find and define my artistic voice or style. 
a.      The first way I will work on this is through my work with Gail Harker.  Seeing the work of other students of Gail’s, I am struck with how each student makes artwork that is unique to each of them.  I believe Gail has an incredible skill in teaching her students skills and processes, as well as how to make design decisions, without specifically teaching them to make artwork that is a particular style or that is similar to anything that she herself makes. 
b.      From my previous studies, one of the main things I’ve learned is that one’s artistic voice is found through practice, practice, practice.  To this end I will do the following:
Ø  Make a5” x 7” composition each week, working to enhance both my design and technical skills
Ø  Make a 10” x 16” composition every 2 month as part of the Fiber Funster’s challenge
Ø  Do all the coursework from Gail’s classes with a serious attitude toward excellence
c.       Document my progress in my blog at least weekly (preferably daily) as well as documenting all my work for Gail.
d.  Open the 5″ x 7″ challenge to anyone who is reading this blog to give others support, encouragement, and critiquing.  
2.      Ramp up my pictorial / representational quilts.
What does “ramp up” mean to me? 
a.                  Increase my technical skill/proficiency to a high degree
b.                  Increase my composition skill-how the composition is placed/cropped, color usage, understanding innately and using good design principles with my compositions (balance, unity, contrast, value, movement, focal point, relationship (color, size, value, shape, texture, style, theme), visual bridges/elegant choices, integration.
c.                  Make and execute a plan to develop an intentional body of work that is authentic and expresses meaning to me.   Meaning includes work that expresses my interests, my feelings, and my values.  I will work on exploring meaning through writing about my work on my blog.
Beautiful icicles
3.   Work at increasing my competency at working in a clean and organized studio space.
4.     Explore opening my own Etsy storefront to sell my work by July 30, 2013

5.      Work towards my goal of having a solo show by September 2015.
     Steps to have a solo show:
            a.  Minimum of 12 finished pieces reflecting my integrated artistic voice
            b.   Find venues that would consider my work
                  i.    Talk with other textile artists to find out where they’ve shown
                  ii.   Make a running list of galleries 
                  iii.   Visit galleries and talk with gallery owners
            c.  Increased technical competence
            d.  Continued showing at national and local levels
            e.  Professionally marketing myself as an artist
                  i.     Re-do my artist statement
                  ii.    Update my website
                  iii.   Write out a description of key phrases to describe my work
                  iv.    Write up descriptions & diagrams on how to display my work
                  v.     Write/send out press releases on my shows (build reputation)
                  vi.    Create an artist portfolio
                  vii.   Develop 10 ways to promote my art
             f.   Continue working as CQA Exhibitions co-chairperson through March 2014, to gain knowledge and experience on putting on exhibitions.
Hope you’re warm and safe
for the holiday!
6.   Complete at least 1 art quilt or art cloth to enter in the Salsa! show at Mighty Tieton.

7.    Complete at least 1 other medium-large piece and enter it in 1+ shows.

8.     Complete at least 1 driftwood art sculpture to enter in the show in May.

Well, that’s my year for you (and a little beyond.)  I’d love your support and comments, as well as hearing what you have planned for the upcoming year!

Hugs and Happiness in the New Year to all of you!
WA State Convention Center

I’m spending the day at a Photoshop for Photographers workshop, held in a giant ballroom at the Washington State Convention Center in downtown Seattle. I’ve been coming to these specialized training a in Adobe Photoshop for about 12 years now… Generally one happens each per year in Seattle. Some are geared for photographers, as this one is, while others for designers in either print or digital media. As my professional background has been in website design and development, I’ve been a member of NAPP (National Association of Photoshop Professionals) and always love to learn a few more tricks in this amazing program.

At the Photoshop CS6 for Photographers Class
(about 400 in attendance)

I love taking photos… whether on a trip or around my home. I see beauty in many minute details. Years ago, I was an avid scuba diver, and my favorite things to see were some of the very small and delicate creatures. I’d dive with macho guys who were always searching for big 4 foot long ling cods or 3 foot across sun stars (Pycnopodia helianthoide) while I was content to watch a delicately feathered iridescent nudibranch.

I love taking series of photos on particular topics. For instance, I have many remarkable doors, mainly from Europe, as a collection. I’m excited by trees, particularly their bark, and must have hundreds, if not thousands, of detailed shots. I’ve thought for some time that my photos would help me move more to series work in my fiber art. One of my struggles is that I’ve tried many styles, but haven’t really found my own discernible style in my art. I’ve already determined that my number one goal for 2013 is to develop my voice as an artist.  In fact, one of my purposes for having my 5 x 7 personal challenge is to work on developing my artistic style.

After a great day full of learning, I’m looking forward to applying the tricks and techniques shared today on my photos.  I’ll share some soon!