Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Side Trip: "Statement Quilts"

In the last few years, I've found myself making more 'statement quilts' -- ones that speak to or about issues that I have on my mind and heart.  This morning, my SAQA colleague, Lyric Kinnard, shared a blog post written by a quilter named Jessica, who articulates very well why she and I and so many others from time to time feel compelled to create quilts that...make a statement.

Canada Weeps:
 A Response to the 2016 Election in the U.S.A.

(C) 2016

Jessica calls her pieces 'political quilts', whereas not all of my 'statements' have been strictly related to I prefer the wider 'statement quilts' description.

Make Do and Mend:
A Response to Cuts in Funding for the Arts
in Alberta
(C) 2011

Sometimes my 'statements' are related to the expressed through my Christian faith...

I Was Hungry
(C) 2012
(Matthew 25: 25-40)

Sometimes inspired by music that was, in turn, inspired by Scripture or spiritual teachings:

Back to the Garden (C) 2013
Inspired by the lyrics of
Joni Mitchell's "Woodstock"

Always Be Humble and Kind (C) 2016
Inspired by the lyrics of
"Humble and Kind" by Lori McKenna

Most of these have been small pieces (12" x 12" or 15" x 15" for example), but more recently I've worked in a larger way, creating this triptych (or series)...

Disintegration I: Attention
Disintegration II: Acknowledgment
Disintegration III: Optimism
(C) 2017
Inspired by Dr. P.M. Forni's book
Choosing Civility: The Twenty-fiveRules of Considerate Conduct

And, of course, this project...

Mark on the Body
Opening Reception, October, 2016

In some small way, I hope that the statements I make in my quilts will inspire thought, prayer, or some form of personal action that incorporates quiet resolve, humility, kindness and hope.

As Joni wrote...

We are stardust; we are golden...
and we've got to get ourselves back to the Garden.

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Wine, Women and "Wow!" - Part II

On Friday, May 5, our first SAQA Western Canada Regional Retreat got into full swing.  The topic of the day was that of the overall retreat: "Out of the Studio, Into the Wider World".

First up, yours truly and my colleague, Valerie Wilson of Winnipeg (Regional Co-Rep, MB/SK), spoke about our experiences showing in galleries in and around our respective locales -- Valerie, from the urban perspective, and me, from the rural perspective.  I'd been concerned that we might be travelling over familiar ground for many, but in the end, over all, I think it was well received.

The next part of the morning featured Certified Appraiser, Dawn Hunt of Canmore, a SAQA Associate Member, speaking about how quilts are valued, why valuing one's quilts -- whether traditional, vintage, antique or more contemporary studio art.  She did an analysis of the prices asked by members who'd volunteered this information prior to the Retreat, and shared a detailed spread-sheet thereof with all of us.  It's in tiny print so I've yet to read it in depth, but her synopsis of the data was that "...prices were all over the map" -- which is the conclusion SAQA Board Member (then Co-Rep, Atlantic Canada) Chris Nielsen, drew when looking at the price list for the My Corner of the World exhibit last year -- and which was one impetus for our having this topic at our retreat in the first place.  :-)

After lunch (all this food for thought requires fuel!), artist and teacher Susan Purney Mark of B.C. took to the floor for a discussion about using Social Media more effectively to get our work into the public eye.  Many artists appear to be reticent about diving into various avenues of Social Media -- especially Facebook -- for fear of inability to control how one and one's work is viewed, shared and used.  Susan gave examples of blogging, Facebook use and connections between one form of media and another, with tips and tricks on how to use them most effectively, and to our best advantage -- safely and securely.

Susan gave us a short list of "Points to Ponder" which, it seems to me, are valuable whether specifically related to using Social Media for our artwork -- or for entering the "exhibit fray" altogether.  I list her questions below with what I think of as parallel questions with respect to exhibiting at all (in italics).

  • Why do you want to be involved? (Why do you want to exhibit your work?)
  • How will you be (or are you now) posting/writing? (How are you showing your work now? Are you showing, selling or both?)
  • Where will you interact? (Which platforms for Social Media?) (Where will you exhibit? What type of venue?)
  • When are you interacting? (What's your time commitment?) (Ditto.)
  • What is do you want to say? (Content) (What is your artistic voice? What types of pieces do you produce?)

After all this stimulating and thought-provoking discussion, it was time to unwind!  Despite the heavy rain, about half of us piled into a shuttle van to take a 3-stop winery tour.  First up: Quail's Gate, where the detailed tour took us from overlooking the vineyards to viewing the vats and learning the process, to tasting a variety of finished products -- all under in the hands of the capable, informative and charming Guillaume.  It was a challenge to choose what we wanted to bring home with us!

From there we travelled to both Mt. Boucherie and Mission Hill wineries for more sampling, and purchasing.

Mmmmmm.....and here I'll leave you....Part III to come!

Photo credit: Quail's Gate Winery

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Wine, Women and "Wow!": Part I

Flying in over the Canadian Rockies
It takes me a while to process events when they have been thick with learning, sharing, exploring, conversing, and enjoying good food and wine.

Such was the case with the first SAQA Western Canada Regional Retreat in Kelowna, B.C. last weekend.  I came home with a full head and a very full heart, a quiver full of new ideas and emotions that ran the gamut from delighted to doubtful and back again.

The setting was part of the delight.  Green Bay Bible Camp isn't a four- or five-star hotel, but it is a clean, well-equipped, friendly resort on the lake that was quite well suited to our group's budget, size and planned activities.

View of the green space from the parking lot.

Most of the thirty or so attendees were from B.C., and all but 5 of us drove to the venue.  This meant that the small group of us that arrived earlier than some others could take some time to preview one of the three wineries that we'd tour more formally during the weekend.  So...late Thursday afternoon, that's just what we did, driving up the hill to the sprawling and elegant grounds of Mission Hill.

I was fascinated by the assorted sculpture and architecture:

I could find titles on none of the pieces, but remain convinced that this fellow is on a perpetual search for one of his contact lenses...

And then there was the view of the vines and the valley...

The amphitheatre over-looking the lake, where concerts are held in the summer:

And the views from inside various patios and porticos which appear to be used for both large receptions and individual contemplation...

We were met on our return to the camp with a delicious dinner and an evening relaxing, settling in and getting to know each other over glasses of local wine, simple snacks and stimulating conversation.

Friday a.m. would bring a new dawn -- foggy and dripping with rain -- and a day filled with learning and discussion focused on the main theme of the weekend: "Out of the Studio and Into the Wider World".  

To be continued.... ;-)

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Back from Away

Not far away...just Camrose, Lacombe and Calgary...but away nonetheless. It feels like longer than 10 days since my last post, because the days have been rich and full.

After Easter, I put the finishing touches on all I needed to do to prepare for two back-to-back events.

The first -- April 19 -- was the Trunk Show I presented to the Battle River Quilters' Guild in Camrose, about 45 minutes' drive north of here.  I'd never done a trunk show before...and while I'm used to public speaking, I have to admit I was rather nervous!  The members made me feel welcome though, and overall I was pleased with the response to my work.  Here are some photos they took of me during the presentation...

Sharing "Mackintosh's Garden"

...and "Sometimes You Can Walk on Water"

...and "Mark on the Body I"

The last two (above) took them rather by surprise, I think.  "Sometimes" brought my first ever experience of hearing viewers pause and then say, "oooooh!"  A bit overwhelming, that!  As for "MOB I" -- well, there were two members who have adult children with Type 1 Diabetes, so that one was cause for much discussion after the presentation.

It was a long drive home and a somewhat sleepless night -- as I was wound up like a top! -- but I had work at The Shop the next day.  Blessedly I slept soundly on Thursday night, because I had an early morning Friday, setting up for my booth at the 18th Annual Lacombe Art Show and Sale!

I was ready!

Mono-printing Demo Supplies?

Small and mid-sized pieces to sell?

Lights, stands, drop-cloth for demo?

This year my booth was very 'open' in that I was right inside the main doors, and backed onto a corner that both I and my neighbour, Gordon Hiebert, used for storage and packaging pieces.  I nearly forgot to take a photo of the booth at all, so here it is on Saturday a.m. -- ready for the second day of the two-day show:

You can see Gordon's work in the background on the right.  He's a photographer who's known for following the weather patterns and getting great shots of prairie and old buildings and vehicles, with wonderful clouds and skies and so forth.  I came home with one of his pieces for my studio: an old shed out by Winfield, AB.

"Shed Near Winfield I" - Gordon Hiebert

In fact, I came home with a few pieces of others' art.  I'm a great believer in "art for art".  That is, when I sell something at the show, I like to go out and buy something from someone else who's selling there.  This year, I had a windfall...

"Sometimes..." sold at the opening bell.


I bought a hand-dyed silk scarf from designer Maxine Whitehead of Eckville, AB.

I bought two large silver rings -- one with jasper (a black and white polished stone) and one with larimar (an aqua-coloured polished stone) -- from Joanne Belicki, whom I befriended and hope to see again.

I bought that photo from Gordon (above).

I bought a mug from featured artist, potter Arne Handley of Medicine Hat, and parked it next to my "Mug Shots" (see the photo of my booth, above, on the left side!) 


I bought a small pewter bowl with a "Scottish" (Glasgow) rose at its heart, for which I've longed for three years now...created by Scots-Canadian artist Louise McBeath Schoepp and her husband, Al Schoepp of Innovative Artisans.  We had a good chat about my up-coming trip to if I see her next year I'll have lots to share!  (Note: they also sell at Siding 14 Gallery in Ponoka, AB, where I showed my work for a brief time in 2015, and have exhibited at Different Strokes Gallery in Olds, AB as well...)

It was most rewarding to meet the young recipient of "Sometimes", whom I guessed to be in her twenties.  Her mother bought it for her.  "Mom" was one of the show volunteers and "Daughter" works at the library down the hall in the same building.  "Daughter" had been in the ballroom where the show was being held, with "Mom", as we were setting up and she'd seen the piece and was, "Mom" told me later, swept away by it.  "Mom" then bought it as a surprise and had me keep it up until late Saturday when they came to fetch it -- a delightful, touching time to say the least.  

And yet at the end of the weekend, on my way to Calgary on Sunday afternoon for visits and appointments (in the snow, but I won't go there!)...I had mixed feelings.

Sometimes You Can Walk on Water
(C) 2017

This piece hung over my bed from the time it was finished, so I could take decent photos of it to enter into two major juried shows.  One of those shows was cancelled for lack of entries; the other didn't have room for the piece.  People told me that there was a reason...I was meant to sell it to that family, for that young woman to enjoy.

It was fairly priced (I'd done some research) but still far more than most attendees at that particular venue would ever think of paying (based on my four prior years there).  I showed it just to show them what I could do, never thinking it would actually sell in that place at this time.

And for the rest of the show, I sold only 6 more pieces.  And, well, yes...I have two more orders for the "little bird" pieces...

In monetary terms, I did very well -- better than I've ever done before (this was my fifth time in that show/sale).

And yet...

Perhaps I've become so accustomed to the "little pieces" being successful that I wasn't prepared for this.

I just sense that in the joy there is a kernel of disappointment, unmet expectations.  I can't put my finger on it, and it seems so foolish.

Every piece I make is unique -- even after I've made multiples (like the "little bird" pieces) of what could be construed as "the same" by the undiscerning eye.  I can never make another "Sometimes..." I entered three pieces into a Call for Entry entitled "Threads of Resistance" based out of the U.S. -- a project founded by a group of artists, some of whom I know and have met.  The deadline is May 1 so I expect to know in short order whether or not they've been accepted.

"Disintegration" is a series on deteriorating civility that I've been working on for some years now, based on a book by Dr. P.M. Forni entitled "Choosing Civility: Twenty-five Rules of Considerate Conduct" (St. Martin's Griffin, New York, 2003), which I read even longer ago.  I meant it as a triptych, but each piece can stand on its own.

We shall see.

This has been a long post, and today, a long day, so I will leave their story for another post.

And so I leave you for a quiet evening of knitting, and preparation for work at The Shop tomorrow.  I'm linking this to WIP Wednesday over at The Needle and Thread Network, and hope to hear some of your thoughts...

Have a lovely rest of the week!

Friday, April 14, 2017

A Good Friday Poem...for Parents

It's Good Friday today.  God's Friday.

And as so often happens on a Christian holiday/holy day, I search out poetry to help me sort my thoughts and feelings.  This year I stumbled upon this one here, posted by an author named Ellen Painter Dollar.  I don't know her or her work, but from a brief read of her biography, she's dealt with issues similar to those in my life: faith, disability and parenting.

In the past year the impact of this challenging combination on my life and the lives of my children has become ever more evident to me...and so this work by Wendell Berry speaks to my heart today.

I share it here for those Gentle Readers who might find solace and support in his words.

Easter cannot come without Good Friday.

The Way of Pain 
For parents, the only way
is hard. We who give life
give pain. There is no help.
Yet we who give pain
give love; by pain we learn
the extremity of love.
I read of Abraham’s sacrifice
the Voice required of him,
so that he led to the altar
and the knife his only son.
The beloved life was spared
that time, but not the pain.
It was the pain that was required.
I read of Christ crucified,
the only begotten Son
sacrificed to flesh and time
and all our woe. He died
and rose, but who does not tremble
for his pain, his loneliness,
and the darkness of the sixth hour?
Unless we grieve like Mary
at His grave, giving Him up
as lost, no Easter morning comes.
And then I slept, and dreamed
the life of my only son
was required of me, and I
must bring him to the edge
of pain, not knowing why.
I woke, and yet that pain
was true. It brought his life
to the full in me. I bore him
suffering, with love like the sun,
too bright, unsparing, whole.
                     - Wendell Berry

Monday, April 10, 2017

Stamps and Strings and Other Things

I've written about this before...the idea of a break for my brain -- a 'palate cleanser', if you will -- after a spate of solid creating.  For me, this comes in the form of cutting and piecing strips, which I find very soothing -- and for which I'm very grateful that my hands are still supple enough to permit doing.

Since January, I've created a multitude of new 'pieces' including assignments for three online classes in modern/abstract/improvisational quilting, a piece for the latest 15 x 15 Group "reveal", and fifteen sixteen new miniatures for the up-coming Art Show and Sale.

Yes, sixteen.

After I finished the three 'Mug Shots', I found I had at least one more landscape tugging on my brain -- a combination of fabric, thread painting and needle-felting:

'Homeward' (2017)
I got to use the pencil roving I recently purchased at The Shop -- NORO's "Rainbow Roll" -- or at least, some of each of two of the three colour-ways I now have in my possession.  I really like the way the colours of the roving complement the horizon and the fields, along with some "mini-boucle" yarn I found when cleaning out the sewdio, and the wonderful eco-dyed silk in the foreground, purchased some time back from my dear friend and colleague, arlee barr.

So, there you have it; sixteen minis for the Show & Sale.  The new minis are finished -- for the time being.  All my pieces are priced and packaged.  All that remains to be done is to cut 10 new dowels (mostly for my 15 x 15 pieces that were either on tour in France and Taiwan for a couple of years, or for the ones that were new in 2016) and prepare price cards...

And write my talk for the Battle River Quilters' Guild in Camrose, for its meeting on April 19.

And box up supplies for my mono-printing demo at the Show on the afternoon of April 21.

Just a few things.

So...I decided yesterday to take a break, and do some piecing.

Those of you who know me from Facebook may have read that I've been Spring cleaning the sewdio.  I do this every year once my fabric storage rack is dismantled, ready to use to display my work at the Show.  This year was no exception.  The baskets that hold my fabric now look wonderful, and are ready to be re-installed on the rack once the Show is over.

However, I can't say as much for my scraps.

Just a drop in the bucket...

The above ignores completely doesn't include the other large basket-full, the packets of those cut into reliable sizes (a la Bonnie Hunter and her 'Scrap Saver System'), and the bag of 'bonus triangles' (another of Bonnie's ideas) and the basket of 'crumbs' (ditto)...

What the above represents, however, is not the pile with which I began, and from which,  yesterday afternoon and evening, I added to two pet projects:

My string blocks -- which now number 25 out of a goal of at least 48:

Stack o' String Blocks - April 9, 2017
8" square, unfinished

My 2" x 7" strips for a postage-stamp quilt:

Stack o' Stamp Strips

And my postage-stamp blocks -- of which 28 out of a hoped-for 81 are finished:

Stack o' Stamp Blocks
6 1/2" square, unfinished

Good thing these are rather addictive...because I've a long way to go!

And now for a break of a different kind.  The sun has come out for the first time in almost a week, and my lawn is calling to me for some Spring cleaning of its own.  And maybe a short jog after that.

So, Gentle Readers...I'll leave you with Nina Marie's Off the Wall Friday (always a good read!) and see you later.  Have a great rest of the week!

Monday, April 03, 2017

Inspired by Deborah

I admire the work of SAQA colleague, Deborah Boschert; in particular, I was taken by her series of 'bowls' that was written up in Art Quilting Studio -- the Winter 2017 issue.

The article sparked in me an idea and a desire to work it out in a similar fashion.  The past three days have been spent doing just that...with the hopes that this trio will be of interest to and go home with someone at the upcoming Lacombe Art Show & Sale.

The first in this wee series took me most of Friday, but by that night it was finished and I'd already laid out a preliminary idea for the second.  By Saturday evening the second was finished and I knew how I wanted to work out the third.  By Sunday evening, the third was finished.

I have more of the materials, but not an idea for any more than three at the moment.  With the Show & Sale less than three weeks away now, I am in "final prep" mode -- attaching sleeves to larger pieces, ensuring I have enough dowels for those sleeves, attaching hardware as required to framed and stretched pieces, making sure my spotlights have working bulbs and my pieces, I'll be making little or nothing new till this 'to-do' list is finished.

 "Mug Shots"
Each is 6" square and 
is wrapped around stretched canvas.

Mug Shots I

Mug Shots II

Mug Shots III

Linking up at the last minute to Nina Marie's Off the Wall Friday...and wishing you all a wonderful week!