Friday, December 30, 2011

The Reading Part of the Process

Visitors, kids out of school, and general holiday festivities have not been conducive to making art. I have been thinking about though. Through a series of confluences, I was inspired to re-read "The Hero With a Thousand Faces" by Joseph Campbell. It seemed quite relevant to our metamorphosis challenge. Like Deborah, my process usually starts with words, free association, and browsing inspiration. This time I'm diving pretty deep into the word part.

The book has more emphasis on psychology and religion than I remember from 15 years ago when I last read it, and it's a bear to read (or has motherhood fried more brain cells than I thought?). But, bits and pieces have informed my world view for decades and it's nice to re-familiarize myself with it. Though I'm not taking specifics from the book, I'm certain that the metamorphosis of the hero-journey will be my subject matter. Now, whether it will be a person in general (self portrait), the transformation of a soldier (in keeping with my non 12x12 work), or the metamorphosis made through motherhood, I'm not sure.

Along with my book and sketchbook/journal, I've also made size specific design boards for 20-12 and another project. Our new size is looking very do-able -- especially in comparison to the other, much larger board!

Monday, December 26, 2011

Considering Size

As we "twelves" began discussions about what to do after we finished the ColorPlay series, several of us expressed a desire to break away from the 12x12" size requirement. Others were concerned about making too big a commitment to too many more quilts -- or more square inches.

As you know, eventually we decided on creating five quilts that would measure 20x12" during the year 2012. They will each have a theme that will be chosen by one of the twelves. Gerrie chose the theme we are working on now, Metamorphosis. My name was drawn out of the hat to choose the next theme.

At first I was a bit daunted by this new size. In my mind, it seemed much bigger. Last week I cut two 20x12" templates so I could warm up to the size.

Here they are pinned to my design wall -- both a positive and a negative.
The gray house on the purple background is an in-progress piece. It's unrelated to any 12x12 work, but maybe it provides a bit of scale in addition to the iron on the ironing board at the right.

So now 20x12" doesn't seem as big as I thought it would! In fact, now I'm feeling that it's too small for some of the ideas I've been considering.

Our 2012 Series is larger in the sense of the square inches we'll be creating during the year.

In our ColorPlay and Theme series we did six 12x12" quilts in one year. So, that's 144 square inches per quilt, times six quilts for a total of 864 square inches.

In our 2012 series we'll do five 20x12 quilts in one year. That's 240 square inches per quilt, times five quilts for a total of 1200 square inches.

Yikes, when I think in terms of the entire year and the total square inches, it's feeling big and a bit overwhelming again.

I suppose it's a bit funny and strange to get so hung up on size. I'm sure that as I begin to create my pieces, they will adequately fill the space. It's possible that I'll discover new ways of composing my designs to fit this somewhat unusual size -- and that will be exciting and unexpected. I should focus more on the process rather than some inaccurate vision about the size requirements.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Talking about Collaboration

I was delighted to see Ricë Freeman-Zachery again in Houston this year. (This picture is actually from 2008. Apparently we didn't take a picture this year. I wish we had.)

She spent time checking out our 12x12 exhibit and was especially intrigued by the idea of such a large group of artists collaborating together. She recently interviewed me about the project. You can read part one of my answers on the Create Mixed Media website here.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Metamorphosing a quilt

BEFORE I read Francoise's posts about transforming an old quilt I decided to play with the same idea. In fact I had had this idea in the back of my mind since Festival of Quilts when Linda and Laural Kemshall planted the idea. So I dug out a little piece which was an insipid nondescript samples from when I was playing with ideas from June C Barnes book about stitching to dye. I used paint scraping techinques as I had juts been watching a DVD about that when I was sick and languishing on a sofa. I used first a tester pot of household emulsion then  a variety of Steward Gill and Jaquard textile paints. Here Is the sequence of transformation.

So. From insipid but inoffensive to stiff, ugly and possibly worse. Sigh. I bet Francoise does a whole lot better.
PS. It was fun making a mess though!

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Helen's Dilemma

I've been thinking about Helen's two blogs on her metamorphosis dilemma and all the interesting comments.  I'm  remembering the discussion we had about whether this challenge should be a series and if so, what would the series be about?  At the time I was disappointed we weren't going in that direction, but on reflection, I'm content with our decision to do our own work with individual themes.  I even had the fleeting thought, like Kirsty, that I could somehow work out a series with the five pieces we are doing this year, not even knowing in advance the themes to be chosen. I soon realized the foolishness of that, as I would be making up ways to fit the theme to my work.

I can't let go of series work though, I've been doing it to long, and with the larger size, I feel less like experimenting and more like doing serious work.  I think others of us are leaning in the direction of expanding on each theme into our own personal series, Helen and Françoise have both written about it.

I'm thinking of my work exploring the body through medical imaging, and how I can include metamorphosis in that challange. Since I usually work abstractly I was interested in the replies to Helen's comment on whether "the subject of a work of art be obvious to a viewer or need it only be in the recesses of the artist's mind."  Most of the replies reinforced my belief that the artist should make the art they need to make and the viewer should interpret it the way they need to see it. Obviously, with our discussions on the blog, the reader will receive lots of information about what they are viewing, but I'm hoping to look at the art for a while before reading text.

This is the start of my series, subject to change of course

Friday, December 16, 2011

From Colorplay to Metamorphosis

I've been trying to switch over from "Colorplay" to "2012", and in order to visualize the new size better, I've pinned a 20x12 piece of hand-dyed fabric on my cork board.
I will probably have no time to start working on this new quilt before January, but I've been thinking a lot about it, writing down a few ideas. I also did some very practical transformation experiments. See...
from these elements...
I got this interesting looking material...
and finally it turned into these yummy edible objects...
More seriously, one of my ideas is to take one of the numerous quilts that I have never shown and to change it into something completely different. Not sure this is the way I will go, as I also want to make a 20x12 series.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Beautiful Butterflies

I have no idea of the species of caterpillar in my previous post.  Perhaps it is related to this butterfly which I understand is a from the from the Dayflying Moths family (aka Agaristidae Agricola Donovan).

Friday, December 2, 2011

STITCHED Workshops!

I am thrilled to tell you that two of the 12x12 artists (Deborah and Nikki) are instructors in the new STITCHED collection of online video workshops!

Join Deborah in exploring botanical shapes, textures and patterns! She'll share her process for creating a collage incorporating fabric, machine and hand stitching, and a variety of unexpected materials and techniques. You’ll choose your own fabrics, compose an original design and experiment with layers of detail. I’ll teach ways to add personal design to your fabrics with painted patterns. We’ll use simple construction techniques, then enhance your collage with a variety of unusual materials and interesting embellishments. Plus, I’ll share tons of fun embroidery stitches to add more detail. Check out more images and details on Deborah's blog.

Nikki's workshop is titled "Mini Treasure Box of Dreams."

In Nikki's workshop we will make these Mini Treasure Boxes of Dreams.  We will explore my quirky method of backwards quilting, make fabric paper, secretly share our dreams and wishes on some fabric beads, and share the big secret of sewing these boxes 100% on the machine.   Plus I couldn't resist throwing in some extras, like Treasure Tea Boxes and Nesting Boxes. Read more about it on Nikki's blog.

I think Nikki and I would both say that being a part of 12x12 made a huge positive impact on our artistic lives! We're both thrilled to find ourselves exploring this new endeavor of online video teaching. We hope you'll join us!

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Ugly Duckling Syndrome

In contemplating various metamorphic transformations, I am struck by frequent connotations of improvement and betterment.  The icky, squishy caterpillar rolls itself into a cocoon and emerges as a beautiful butterfly; the ugly duckling turns into an elegant, graceful swan; and so on.  But caterpillars can be beautiful too. This one deserves to appear in a quilt one day.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Metamorphic Dilemma 2

So, thank you for your responses to my first dilemma. I was not aware I was cryptic but now it has been pointed out I am quite looking forward to developing that side of me!
So, my second dilemma. I am not sure anyone but me can sort this one out but I thought I'd share anyway. I do not think I am giving secrets away to say that the group had a democratic discussion about how the new challenge was to proceed and one conversation was about whether we should know all the themes in advance to allow us to plan a series from the start. The decision was no.
So we are free to just make free standing quilts each time. But, you know me. If I can complicate things......I am pondering. Should I impose some restrictions on myself and try to make the theme fit in with those restrictions each time so that I end up with an individual series within a group series? I am thinking of the inclusion of a small design element and / or a restricted palette. Or maybe simply requiring myself to use more surface design techniques in each one. That seems an easier restriction and yet still very useful to my development as an artist. 
Or, should I enjoy the freedom and allow myself to stop planning and invite in spontaneity and see what the muses send? After all, if the quilts are ever displayed they are much more likely to be with the other Twelves's by theme rather than with all five of mine hung together. 
Hmmm. Maybe I should make my decision but not communicate it and let you work it out what it was as we go along. A kind of cryptic series!!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Metamorphic dilemma ( No 1)

Yes, I am sorry, but, despite the fact that I am delighted we have a new series and a theme and despite the fact that I am eager to get going, I am dilemma ridden. I will save one confusion for another day but let me ask you,Twelves and Readers alike, should the subject of a work of art be obvious to a viewer or need it only be in the recesses of the artists mind? Is the answer different when the work is made for a themed collection?

Let me more specific. I recently found an affordable (ish) copy of the award winning and out of print African Ceremonies by Carol Beckwith and Angela Fisher. It is a two volume book in a slip case, weighs about the same as a six year old, and is full of lucious photos. Photos from it are also available in two different condensed versions which are genuinely affordable if anyone is interested.

I am reading the chapters about initiation ceremonies and about how inititates in some tribes are taken into the bush or the jungle and put through ceremonies which render them first helpless like young children again and then allow them to be ' reborn' as men. Metamorphosis in other words. The tribal body art and costumes are endessly Inspiring to me.

But if I made a quilt based on how those photographs translate into something else in my head, I doubt the viewer would look at it and, without a description, say," Oh, yes, metamorphosis". Or even " Oh, an initiation ceremony." I would hope they would see African / tribal / body art. And I think with a short statement the link would be crystal clear.

Normally, if the viewer found my art visually appealing and if it evoked somekind of emotional reaction in them I would be delighted and not care less if they understood that it was all about my interpretation of metamorphosis. In fact if they thought it was about something entirely different I would be delighted to hear their interpretation.But, if this quilt is to be part of a group of quilts all on the same theme, should my interpretation be clearer? Do you disagree with me that the art does not fail if it does not always convey the message the artist had in mind? Do you favour explanatory statements with quilts or not? Are you even awake and still reading?


Friday, November 18, 2011

Thinking about Metamorphosis

I love the new theme of Metamorphosis that we will be working with. It conjures up all kinds of thoughts of change and growth and moving into a new phase. Exciting stuff. Coincidentally, one of my favorite quilts at the IQF show in Houston a couple of weeks ago, (you know the one—we Twelves have been talking of nothing else!) was a beautiful piece called "Metamorphosis" by Gabrielle Paquin of Orleans, France.

I adored its clean, graphic lines and it is made from wonderful woven plaid and stripe shirting fabrics, another thing I adore. Here is just a part of my collection of shirtings, which I just happened to tidy and move to my studio yesterday.
After I got home from Houston I had to find Gabrielle Paquin's web site to see what else she has done. Wonderful work and she uses the butterfly image and the name "Metamorphosis" a lot. The link to her web site is above.

Given my collection of shirtings, I could do my own take on Gabrielle Paquin's work and have my "Metamorphosis" done! But why would I do that when she has already done it to perfection? Well, I wouldn't, of course. It will be fun to dream up my own interpretation of metamorphosis, but it will be hard to pull my mind away from this lovely, lovely image.

My Beautiful Blue Plate

I absolutely love my plate! I still can't believe what an amazing gift Karen and Ted have given each of us.  I was so surprised when I came home one morning from dropping the kids off at school and found a package on my porch.  Amazon? I tried to think of what I might have ordered? I read the label to make sure it was my package.  Karen didn't have her name on the label.  I think it must have been a packing/mailing company.  I was very confused up until the moment I opened the card from Karen. 

Ted based the plate on my blue, white and black quilt, Reboot.  I like the plate much better than the quilt. I love the depth and layers of the glass--truly stunning. 

I was very happy that I had just finished cleaning my art room when the package arrived because I have somewhere to display it away from the jumping dog and flying nerd bullets.  I've even managed to keep the table top clean in its honor (or at least that half).  I love how the card matches the plate! 

Thank you so much Ted and Karen for such a beautiful and personal gift!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

New Twelve by Twelve Blog Button

With the completion of the Colorplay series and the announcement of our new challenge for 2012, it seems like time for a new blog button. You are welcome to cut and paste this code.  The top button is 200 pixels wide.  The other one is 175 pixels wide.

Twelve by Twelve:The International Art Quilt Challenge 
<a href=""><img src="" border="0" title="Twelve by Twelve:The International Art Quilt Challenge" alt="Twelve by Twelve:The International Art Quilt Challenge"/></a>
Twelve by Twelve:The International Art Quilt Challenge 
<a href=""><img src="" border="0" title="Twelve by Twelve:The International Art Quilt Challenge" alt="Twelve by Twelve:The International Art Quilt Challenge"/></a>

Monday, November 14, 2011

A plate in Paris

Yes, Karen and Ted came all the way from California to bring me this beautiful glass plate in Paris more than two years ago!
Isn't it gorgeous?
I must say that, at first, I was surprised when they told me that it was inspired by my "Mathematics quilt".
I really think Ted did an amazing job.
Actually there are also some similarities between Ted's plate and my "Twelve" quilt, although he hadn't seen that quilt yet when he made the plate, (and I hadn't seen his plate when I made my quilt). Do you see the 12 little dots on his plate and the 12 cross stitches on my quilt? And then the curvy orange lines on his plate and the undulating line of beads on my quilt?

Thank you so much Ted for this beautiful gift!

Ted's Plate for Me: Slice

 It sounds like my experience was much the same as everyone's elses:  taking delivery of an unexpected and heavy box, wondering WHAT it could possibly be, and then opening it to a jaw-droppingly wonderful piece of glass art by Ted Rips.

Ted chose the quilt I made for the Kilauea color challenge, which I called "Slice." It's one of my favorites of the colorplay set so I was delighted that he picked it.  Here's the actual quilt.  I love love love how Ted got the texture in the colored stripes.

Since receiving it, we've had this in the center of the dining room table where we admire it daily.  It gets lots of rave reviews from visitors, too.  It even coordinated nicely with the Halloween quilt I bring out for the holiday.

To Karen and Ted, this was such a lovely and surprising idea.  Ted, I'm in awe of your artistry in glass and am thrilled to have a piece of your work.
Thank you both so much!

Sunday, November 13, 2011

More spice!

When I received a very heavy parcel from Karen and Ted I had no clue what could be inside. I could never have imagined that my quilt could be reinterpreted so masterfully in glass! And to then entrust this beautiful piece to the postal service? That took real courage! Thank you, Ted, for this very special gift and memento of an important part of our lives.

Spice dish

And here is my glass dish...

I too have had mine a while but did not dare breath a word until I was sure that everyone else had theirs. Ted chose to base mine on my spice quilt. It sits on the coffee table in the middle of our garden lounge. I love the curved corners of it.

Another Glass Plate!

Isn't it fantastic to see how Ted interpreted our work? I just love thinking about these classy glass works of art in the homes of each of the Twelves all over the world. Again, thank you so much, Ted!

Here is mine. It's inspired by my chartreuse 12x12 quilt titled Approaching Departure, pictured below.

You'll see that Ted included my loose red thread tails and my tiny square sequin grid near the top. 

My plate is sitting on the sideboard in our living room. I love the graceful curve of the plate and the bright colors!


Ch-ch-ch-changes — some of us revel in them and some greet them with kicking and screaming. It has taken some time, but the Twelves are ready for a change.

First up, the size will now be 20 X 12 inches. Do you notice a number relationship there? (Note: the orientation will be vertical.)

Secondly, since the size is larger, we are going to do 5 quilts this year. The dates for our reveals are: Feb 12, May 1, July 12, Oct. I, Dec. 12.

And lastly, how will we select our themes? Diane drew five names at random. The five will have the honor of choosing the themes. My name came up first. I thought of a few words which have to do with changes and moving on, but ultimately, I kept going back to metamorphosis.

The dictionary gives the following definitions of met·a·mor·pho·sis

1. Biology. a profound change in form from one stage to the next in the life history of an organism, as from the caterpillar to the pupa and from the pupa to the adult butterfly.

2. a complete change of form, structure, or substance, as transformation by magic or witchcraft.

3. any complete change in appearance, character, circumstances, etc.

4. a form resulting from any such change.

We have not made a drastic change, but I think this word is a great metaphor for us as we move forward.

So, Twelves and friends of Twelves, let the creativity begin, again. I will be looking forward to your interpretation of this challenge.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Excuse me, I have to sit down!

Karen told me to look out for a parcel and I knew that her husband Ted Rips is a talented glass artist but, even as I carried the heavy package up the hill from the Copacabana post office, I had little inkling of its contents. This is what I found inside - wow-o-wow! I had to sit down and catch my breath.
I've always liked the graphic lines of Stacked, my piece for the Chairs theme challenge and it is such fun to see the design rendered in another medium. Ted even captured the quilting lines. Thank you Ted for this very special gift.
Stacked © 2009 Brenda Gael Smith

Terri's Plate

I was minding my own business one day when I noticed a delivery truck coming up my driveway.  I scanned my brain, trying to figure out what I was expecting and couldn't come up with a thing.  I was baffled from the moment I took the package from the delivery person up until the moment I saw this beauty inside the box.

Ted did a wonderful job with these plates and I'm thrilled to be in possession of one.  Below is the quilt he based mine on...from the eggplant reveal.  He truly is a glass artist!

Thank you Karen and Ted for such a beautiful gift!

Friday, November 11, 2011

Kristin's Glass Plate

Everyone has been so quiet about these fabulous plates. Apparently they had reached even the international Twelves weeks before mine arrived in Hawaii and no one let out a peep, lest the surprise be ruined. And what a wonderful surprise it was. I recognized my Grey Parrot quilt right away. I think that it is even better in glass than in fabric! We joked about Helen's husband Dennis being named 13 for his book hawking talents, so I propose Karen's hubby Ted be named 14 for his wonderful glass work and obvious dedication to the project!