Sunday, March 28, 2010

Chagall's Wonderful Quote on Color

I love how memory works. I was trying to simply explain the color wheel to one of my students when suddenly the quote from Marc Chagall popped into my head-- "All colors are friends of their neighbors and the lovers of their opposites." It's a quote that I came across while in college and thought was great. Problem solved!

Thursday, March 25, 2010

My Mexican Soul

I have been working! I've had a dream since 2006 to curate an exhibit that is about women and it looks like it will finally happen! I promise to share details the second that I can.

I have the great privilege to instruct a group of amazing women at the National Museum of Mexican Art. They have always told me that I have a Mexican soul so this quilt is dedicated to them. It was so much fun to make and even more fun to embellish. I can't look at this quilt and not smile. 

Friday, March 19, 2010

Still Battling Dragons

This quilt seems to represent my life lately--lots of sadness but with hope for tomorrow. (And it's been quilted! No UFO here.) I've been surprised by comments made to me. One came from a curator who asked me if I have ever had a real job. This said to me in the middle of a class that I was teaching. Could have knocked me over. I teach, lecture and make and sell my art, how is that not a real job? I thought my dad had finally accepted who I was and what I do only to discover that he too doesn't think I "work." Thankfully my immediate family supports me even if they don't "get" what I do most of the time. It's taken me a long time to learn to focus on my needs. I was the oldest of four children with a dad who worked multiple jobs and a mother who went back to school when I was 11. I was taught early that "being selfish" was a sin. If I didn't share or help my mother with my sisters, I was truly wicked. I'll never forget having to babysit my two sisters (my brother who was 11 months younger didn't babysit) on my 12th birthday so my parents could go shopping.  All I wanted to do was hang out with friends but when I complained, I was severely admonished.  Ayn Rand writes in her book The Virtue of Selfishness, "In popular usage, the word 'selfishness' is a synonym of evil; the image it conjures up is a murderous brute who tramples over piles of corpses to achieve his own ends, who cares for no living being and pursues nothing but the gratitude of the mindless whims of any immediate moment. Yet the exact meaning and dictionary definition of the word 'selfishness' is: concern with one's own interests. This concept does not include a moral evaluation." Thank you Ayn!

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Wrestling with Dragons

"Life beats down and crushes the soul and art reminds you that you have one," by Stella Adler. It was good this quote came to me when it did because it was a gentle, much needed reminder. It's been a long time since a quilt of mine has evoked such strong feelings and criticism from people. It was so unexpected too because I was so excited about this quilt and the direction that I was going. While I have pretty much beaten (and sometimes, like now, still battle) the dragon of the Fear of Criticism, some of the remarks have been more hurtful than helpful. In the past, this might have caused me to shut down for a while, instead I'm busy creating. It feels good. I've worked hard to be at this place in my life.

In third grade, the teacher required us to share what we wanted to be when we grew up. I remember how excited I was to share my dream. When it came to my turn, I joyfully announced that I actually wanted to do two things and I thought they worked well together. I wanted to be an artist and the person that got to decide the names for the colors of paint. Mrs. Sanders did not share my passion and informed me that the class already had an artist. His name was Guy and in all honestly, he was quite good. Further I had no artistic talent. She didn't even grace my desire to be the namer of paint colors. She told me that I was much more suited to be a mother or a secretary. I don't remember much of the rest of the day. I went to bed early which wasn't my nature and waited patiently for everyone to go to sleep (I shared a room with my two younger sisters) and then I cried. I cried until I could not cry anymore. I kept my desire to be an artist a secret until high school. I wish I could tell you that my dream was embraced but it wasn't. It has made me realize how much admonishments and criticisms can rob us of the courage to be original and take risks with our ideas. I work hard when I teach to make sure I create a safe place full of encouragement and positive energy.

Anyway, I have added more to the quilt and have decided to "stick a fork in it and call it done." Now it's time to quilt it and move on. I remain happy with the quilt.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Block for Beth

When I lived in Houston, Texas, I started a group called Kindred Spirits. Eighteen of us met every Wednesday at my house. We started in April so the group will be 12 years old soon and going strong. We got "funky" to help us loosen up and be creative. We made funky chickens (more than I care to admit), tea pots, chairs, hats, hearts, etc. Beth joined the group after I left but I knew her from the guild. She has a wonderful mother and a relationship with her mother that I envy. Her mom's health is not good so Beth has been spending lots of time with her. It has been stressful so Kindred Spirits decided to make her a quilt. The requirements were the background had to read black, you had to include your hand and a heart. I chose to do my left hand because it is the one closest to my heart. I hope it brings her joy and reminds her how much I care. It feels good to do a group project again and to feel a small part of the group again. Thanks Marti!

Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around. --Leo Buscaglia

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

My Sewing Machine Adventure with the Treasury Department

I started today just wanting to help a friend, Virginia Spiegel, get her sewing machine back. I didn't know I would walk away having an adventure. Our largest and oldest quilt shop (nearly 28 years), Stitches N Stuffing, didn't pay their taxes so the Treasury Department stepped in. Unfortunately, the shop didn't tell Virginia. Today was the auction and an opportunity to get her sewing machine back. I arrived about 20 minutes before the auction as instructed looking for Deputy Gillenwater. Virginia had told him that I was coming. There was a crowd of about 100 people waiting either to get an auction number or waiting to get into the auction. I walked up to the door and was quickly admonished for not getting in line. When I explained my mission, calm was restored. I handed the email from Virginia to the man at the door. He explained that I would not be admitted into the shop until Deputy Gillenwater could verify my story. There was also a teacher hoping to get her class sample. After about 5 minutes, we were allowed in with Deputy Gillenwater annoucing loudly "They are okay. They are with me." I was instructed to wait next to a table while he dealt with the teacher. The heat had been turned off and the coldness of the place (not just temperature) struck me. Only two people were allowed into the shop at a time to be issued their number. The process involved copying down all the info off each person's driver's license. Only 10 people per page. (I had to do something while I was waiting.) Unfortunately, the teacher wasn't successful. Her only proof was a photo on her phone of her blog entry. My heart truly broke for her. A large man came from the back of the store holding my piece of paper and demanding my driver's license. Paperwork was filled out and one copy given to Deputy Gillenwater. The man explained he would not be giving me back my piece of paper. Fine with me. Deputy Gillenwater had placed the sewing machine in the back of his squad car which was parked out front. He was worried what people would think. I told him not to worry. "I can run fast." He laughed. The focus was not on us so I quietly walked to my car. Deputy Gillenwater is a wonderful person. The Treasure Department people never smile and are a little scary.

Lessons learned:
1. Viriginia had the serial number something I have never written down. I will in the future.
2. Label your sewing machine and case with your name.
3. Be prepared for the worse.
4. Make sure all quilts left anywhere have your name and contact info somewhere on them.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

DuPage Textile Arts Guild

Tomorrow, March 8th, I will be speaking at the Du Page Textile Arts Guild's meeting at Indian Prairie Public Library, 401 Plainfield Rd., Darien, IL at 10 a.m. Can't wait! Now to take all the quilts and textiles off the walls and put them in the suitcase. Not my favorite part but I love to share!

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Begin Again

The last few days I've attempted to create a piece of fabric that expresses who I am for a new quilt I want to make. I've failed. While endings don't always feel so pleasant, starting down a new path does. There is great hope in "begin again" instead of "I failed."