Thursday, January 31, 2013

The Sisterhood of the Traveling Art Journal Adventures

Today Louise Kirby's incredible journal arrived in the mail. She is part of the Journal Swap through Milliande's Ning Group. It's exciting to me to have two Australian artists, Helen Lindton is the other person, sharing this journey. We have actually started a blog called The Sisterhood of the Traveling Art Journal to document the journey and artistic process of our journals. They have certainly set a pretty high bar.  Louise has chosen a nature theme and I can't wait to get started! Being in these kinds of exchanges always helps me to grow as a person and an artist. It also helps me overcome those "I'm not good enough moments." Now I have to decide to I do feathers, crows, nests, trees...

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

When Life Throws You a Curve

I caught the cold that is making the rounds of the pottery studio on the 16th which morphed into a sinus infection by the 23. I am just beginning to feel like I am on my way to being "normal." This is so frustrating because I had such good momentum and great plans for this month. I hate being ill and having no energy. Now I have to play catch up. I have continued to do creative things like making table runners for gifts, making cards, doing some clay work, etc.

This is the first piece of clay that I have refired with more glaze. I am still not happy with it but it is better than it was the first round. Ben, an resident artist of Clay Space, thought this mask looked demonic. Not my intent at all. I think I will try the design again and see if I can make something that conveys the grief/loss I was feeling. Maybe I will have better luck next time. Embracing the process and looking forward to feeling healthy again. I am a crabby sick person. How about you?

Monday, January 21, 2013

International Postcard Exchange

I have been ill with a terrible cold since Wednesday. I hate being tired. I hate being sick. Yesterday the thought of staying in bed was making me crazy so I decided to play. I really thought that what I would make would probably end up in the trash. I signed up for Shannon Ganshorn's International Mixed Media Postcard exchange (Thanks Marie Z. Johansen).

Before Christmas I had treated myself to some of Tattered Angels' Naturally Aged Paint System in Turquoise.  The purchase was made thinking I would use it for the verdigris exchange with Arts in the Cards but I ended up doing Mother Nino and using a photograph instead. Anyway, I created the background using the "paint system" (FYI- the paint does not easily come off your hands and I think is going to take some practice to have the results look like the photo on the package). I do like the layered look I got for the backgrounds and I'm pleased that they are all a little different. My original idea was to use a photo of a window and some ruberstamps. Digging around looking for a star rubberstamp, I came across a tree stencil. I decided to go with the flow and my winter scene was born. I created the tree using a makeup sponge and a StazOn stamp pad in Forest Green which also did not easily come off my fingers. Seeing a theme here? There is also a hint of texture created with Dew Drop Brilliance ink in pearlescent olive and sequin waste ribbon. I used a punch to create the snow flake and the words are stickers. I'm happy! They will go out in the mail tomorrow. Hopefully the recipients will be happy too. 

Friday, January 18, 2013

Birthing the Crone

There are days when I look in the mirror and think, "Who is that?" For the most part, I like getting older. I am becoming more comfortable in my skin and I care less and less what others think of me. I laugh loud and often! I say what I mean and I mean what I say. That said, I still have to deal with not being able to do all that I did when I was younger. Masks have been my things for a long time  so it seemed perfect to make one that deals with aging. She's not done yet but I wanted to share what I have been working oon  and to accept Nina-Marie Sayre's offer to join in on her Off the Wall Fridays challenge. What a great way to create support and accountability!

I also want to thank Pride of the Prairie Quilters for once again inviting me to share and warming embracing me. What a fabulous group of women! For the first time in my twenty-five years of being involved with quilt guilds, I saw a guild with multiple people running for board offices because they wanted to be involved and make a difference. It was amazing as was their show and share.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Pushing Yourself to Try What Isn't Easy

It's interesting to be in the "student mode" again. I've returned to ceramics/pottery after a month's break and in many ways feel as if I am starting all over again. Ugh. I know that the only way to get better is to practice, practice, practice. I also have to work at silencing the voice inside my head that keeps telling me I'm never going to be any good on the wheel. This comes from a teacher who told me that I needed to give up pottery. "You will never be any good."  At the time, I was living in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, the class was at LSU and we were using kick wheels. I was not very coordinated (not sure I still am) but she was one of the most discouraging teachers I have ever experienced. I'm still amazed that I made it through the entire semester. Anyway, hand building and specially being able to make masks and the wonderful community at Clay Space are keeping me going. I am determined!

I know that when you push yourself to try something that isn't easy is when you gain the greatest reward and satisfaction in the end. I've noticed in my teaching that adults seem to think that taking on a new skill should not take time and effort and yet I believe that doing new things keeps us young and interesting. I call it "putting stretch marks on your comfort zone." How have you pushed on your comfort zone lately? Have any plans to do so in the future?

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Reworking A Quilt

You must not for one instant give up the effort to build new lives for yourselves. Creativity means to push open the heavy, groaning doorway to life. This is not an easy struggle. Indeed, it may be the most difficult task in the world, for opening the door to your own life is, in the end, more difficult than opening the door to the mysteries of the universe. --Daisaku Ikeda

When traveling I need to have handwork especially if I am a passenger in a car but the trip to my parents' home shortly after Christmas was not planned. However, I had already begun my annual end-of-the-year assessment and clean out. This year I definitely want to deal with some of my older work. While in Maine in 2009, I made this quilt during a visit with my friend Elizabeth Cherry Owen. We would sit together in the evening and watch movies and I would work on it. It's called "Connections." If you want to know my thoughts on it, visit my April 23, 2009 blog post. I didn't plan the quilt. It never felt finished so it became my road trip handwork. I started doing embroidery then added beads. Again I didn't plan any of it just allowed myself to flow from one section to the next. I am much happier! Now I really have to replace my camera as my son's camera definitely doesn't capture color as well as my dead Cannon. (I bought it for him so I only have myself to blame.) Do you ever revisit your work and change it? I don't so this was a new experience for me.

Monday, January 14, 2013

New Lecture and Lots of Good News

Thursday I will be giving my new lecture "Quilts in the Attic: Uncovering the Stories Behind the Book" at Pride of the Prairie Quilters' meeting which begins "promptly" at 7 p.m. They meet at the Zion Lutheran Church, 11007 Book Rd., Naperville. This group has always been near and dear to my heart so I am excited to share with them first. This will also help me prepare for being the featured author at the On the Same Page Literary Festival in West Jefferson, North Carolina, in September. Can't tell you how excited I am to be participating. I have also learned that my book is going into its third printing! Life is good!

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Clean Your Sink Become Enlightened

Creativity comes from looking for the unexpected and stepping outside your own experience. - Masaru Ibuka

Real Simple magazine recommended deep cleaning your kitchen sink as a step to being happier. I remember thinking "Really? Are they nuts?" Of course, this made me look at my sink, see how much it needed to be cleaned which caused the habit of deep cleaning it. It helped remind me that taking pleasure in the little things in life can make a difference especially if we look at every action as an act of creation. The little details in life especially if we change up routines can provide get motivation/confidence to create. If we live our lives believing that the possibility for inspiration exists in each moment and staying open to those possibilities, we can ignite new worlds within ourselves; a change in attitude.

Julie Sefton has been working through my creativity lessons and has been posting her efforts (photo provided) on her blog.  Check out what she has done for lessons 4 and 5. You won't be disappointed and hopefully it will provide you with inspiration. Thanks Julie!

How do you open yourself to inspiration? What small act/change have you made?

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Sometimes a Girl Just Has to Have Fun!

Last night I had a terrible sinus headache (I can predict the weather! It was my "it's going to rain/snow headache and sure enough it rained today.) but I didn't want to just veg on the couch feeling sorry for myself. My friend Barbara and I are going to get together soon for a paper making day. One of the things we are going to make is Valentines so I guess I had Valentine's Day on my mind. I quickly grabbed a few things and before I knew it, my head hurt less and I had made eight ATCs! The experience also reminded me of teaching in Georgia where supplies are extremely limited. I'm always amazed at what my students there create as opposed to my students in the States who often want to go shopping to fix a problem. Sometimes having a limited number of supplies and options create the best results. Also creating something that is just meant to brighten someone's day can really jump start your creativity. For me creating something that is just for fun gets my brain working. While making these ATCs, I wrote down or quickly sketched ideas for other more serious projects. I was focused on making the ATCs and didn't feel like acting on any of my ideas but I know the importance of getting those ideas down when they happen. This morning when I looked at my notes and sketches, I was instantly excited and got right to work.

For those of you who have written to me about being stuck, unmotivated, in a creative funk or just feeling your muse has left you. Try some play! Nothing serious and make something for someone else. Be open and see what happens. By the way, I still cannot believe that at one time I seriously thought I could "never" make something 2.5" by 3.5" because I love making them!

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Nominated for Teacher of the Year and Thoughts on Power

I've been nominated for Teacher of the Year given by the International Association of Professional Quilters! This is my second nomination. I have no illusions of winning. I'm simply and deeply touched that a student of mine would take the time to nominate me. It feels so good that I can touch people's lives in a meaningful way.  It's also a great way to start of the year.

And nine days into the new year, I keep journaling and thinking about what I want this year to be for me. I know I want to continue my journey of learning to trust my intuition, developing intention, being authentic and holding my own power. It's not easy. I'm most certainly not a saint. In The Artist's Way, Julia Cameron says, "The first rule of magic is self-containment. You must hold your intention within yourself, stoking it with power. Only then will you be able to manifest what you desire." I remember how deeply reading this affected and still affects me. It helped me understand that many of the people in my life didn't have my best interest at heart so I needed to release them with love. Now I am surrounded by much healthier people. I also had to admit to myself that most of my life had been based on meeting the needs and expectations of others and that had to change.

What does the word power mean to you?

Do you think of yourself as powerful? For me, it wasn't easy.

Do you think you are more powerful in the domain of "being" or "doing"?
For me, it's definitely doing but I am working on also feeling powerful in being.

You know how much I love typography. The poster is by Francesca Ramos, a 22 year old graphic design student. Isn't it wonderful? You can download it for free courtesy of the artist! I have and it's going to hang on my wall as a reminder. As always, thanks for sharing with me.

Monday, January 7, 2013

Thinking about Thinking

A conversation with my son has caused me to think about thinking again. It took me a long time to realize that I think differently than the people around me. Ideas come to me as a whole or as I call it  an aerial view of things. I am not a linear thinker (you must start with A to move to B, to C to get to D) in a world that basically believes that there is only linear thinking.  I also married a extremely intelligent, linear thinking man (got his degree in chemical engineering in three years and graduated third in his class).  I have come to also realize that constantly being told that I was/am "wrong" in my approach caused me to have a poor self image, an uneasy feeling that I never deserved my accomplishments and often was looked upon as being "difficult" which of course just makes me angry and hence "difficult." Is this kind of thinking more of a woman's way? C Diane Ealy, Ph.D. thinks so. She actually calls it "holistic thinking." When I discovered her book the Woman's Book of Creativity in 1995, it was such a godsend and helped set me on a healing path of acceptance. My question to you is how do you think? In school when you had to create an outline for a paper, did you write the paper then create the outline? That's what I did. How does your way of thinking effect your creativity? Because I believe it does and it part I think that is why I love the process.

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Introducing Tyler Tehyun Stephan

I would like to introduce Tyler Tehyun Stephan.  He was born at 8:15 pm last night.  He is 7 pounds, 9 ounces and 20 inches long.  Mom and baby are healthy and resting.  Unfortunately, Sang had to have an emergency c-section and will need time to recover. The earliest they will be coming home is Tuesday.  I am off to go meet him in person! Isn't he a beauty? I cannot wait to begin this new chapter of my life.

Friday, January 4, 2013

Sea of Change

No revolution in outer things is possible without prior revolution in one's inner way of being. Whatever change you aspire to...must be preceded by a change in heart. -I Ching Hexagram 49

I am not accomplishing much today. Trying to keep my distraught granddog happy as we await the arrive of "Fred" (I've been calling him this since my son and daughter-in-law have not settled on a name). I've waited a long time to be a grandma! He certainly is taking his time getting here. Sang has been at the hospital since 11 last night. One of things that I have been doing today is tidying up my office. It's this mindless busy work that often gets my brain engaged.

I have been thinking a great deal lately about patterns- those in my life as well as family and friends. Perhaps we don't have to keep repeating our mistakes until we get them right. Tuli Kupferberg put it so well, "When patterns are broken, new worlds emerge." Perhaps we can recognize our way out of patterns rather then repeat our way out of them. I know I want to be a healthy, happy person so change is needed.

David Campbell said that "discipline is remembering what you want." What do you want that inspires your work? When I think about discipline I realize that discipline can be obtained by punishment, chastising and coercion or by consistent guidance and positive reinforcement. When I was younger, I use to motivate myself by waiting until the last minute before a deadline, deliberately creating stressful crisis energy to get myself going. Now I develop a plan and a time line. I tend to get things done sooner than later. It is a much healthier and gentler approach, but it took time, awareness and effort to make it happen.

Patti Digh also watched patterns and came up with six practices for being mindful and living intentionally. I wrote them in my journal a couple of years ago. Thankfully I found them again today when I was actually searching for something else. Isn't life grand when that happens!  They are now on a post-it note on my computer as a constant reminder:

Intensity: Say yes
Inclusion: Be generous
Integrity: Speak up
Intimacy: Love more
Intuition: Trust yourself
Intention: Slow down

Live fully!

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Releasing/Letting Go

I am really charged and excited! "A state of excitement, and it comes like a faucet: nothing comes unless you turn it on, and the more you turn it on, the more comes." This morning I began going through my books. I have a box and a bag ready to take to the library. I'm going to try and sell a few (see list below).

I'm always surprised at how often friends take my cleaning and decluttering to mean that they should be cleaning and decluttering too. To be honest, I'm not thinking about them at all. I am trying not to beat myself up by feeling that I am not getting any closer to my goal of a simpler life. Then I realize that it's still about process and I take comfort in that. Did you know the originally the word comfort meant "to make someone stronger"? (The Dictionary of Words Origins by John Ayto). I also accept that straying from the path is always a part of the journey.

Okay, books are the price listed plus shipping (media rate unless you want it shipped differently). I'll charge you whatever the USPS charges. If you buy , we'll work something out. Books are like new unless noted. Thanks for helping in my journey!

$15.00 books

Abstract in Design in American Quilts by Jonathan Holstein (never opened)
Quilts from the Civil War by Barbara Brackman (never opened)
Liberated Quiltmaking by Gwen Marston

$10.00 books
Vibrant Quilt Collage by Bethan Ash
Quilting by Improvisation by Vikki Pignatelli
Quilting:The Fabric of Everyday Life by Marybeth Stalp
The Found Object in Textile Art by Cas Holmes

Collage Lab by Bee  Shay
Taking the Leap: Building a Career as a Visula Artist (revised edition)
Quilting with Manhole Covers by Shirley MacGregor
Scrap Quilt Celebration by Karen Bolesta
On the Surface with Wendy Hill
Machine Quilting with Decorative Threads by Maurine Noble and Elizabeth Hendricks
Machine Quilting Made Easy by Maurine Noble
Free-Style Quilts by Susan Carlson
Uncommon Threads: Ohio's Art Quilt Revolution by Gayle Pritchard (crease in cover; it came that way from publisher)
The Collage Workbook by Randel Plowman

I have two books on sashiko a great one from 1986 by Bonnie Benjamin and Japanese Country Quilting by Karen Kim Matsunaga that I'll sell together for $15. One is projects and the other is designs.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Clean! I Did It!

I took me two days and now I have a deep cleaned, organized studio ready to create and make a mess again! I did really well with keeping it clean last year until the last few months of the year. My grandmother use to warn that whatever you did on the first day of the year you would end up doing most of the year. I'm choosing to look at the last two days as days of intent, follow through, and self-care. I am truly jazzed and can't wait to get started! What did you do with your first day of the year?

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Word for the Year and Creativity Lesson 5

Do not wait until the conditions are perfect to begin. 
Beginning makes the conditions perfect. - Alan Cohen

Happy New Year! I feel we can restart our lives at any time but there is something about a change in year that provides a good time to start. I am someone who does make resolutions and even re-evaluates them and checks on progress.  Last year I wanted to work on awareness/mindfulness so one of my goals was to not have any library fines. I failed to the tune of $1.20 which my family does make fun of me for thinking of this as a failure. It's not about the money.

Anyway, my word of 2013 is "committed." Committed to:

-Using what I have instead of shopping,
-Living with intention,
-Being healthy and taking care of myself,
-Continuing to learn and challenge myself,
-Doing what I love,
-Seizing opportunities,
-Forgiving and releasing,
-Reaching out and sharing,
-Gaining understanding and embracing acceptance,
-Being a good grandma,
-Being passionate!

Creativity Lesson 5

“What’s in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet.” William Shakespeare

“A good name is rather to be chosen than great riches.” Proverbs xxii 1

Assignment #5 – What’s in a Name?

In this assignment, we will explore our names and what they mean to us and other people. You will need to take some time to think about what your name means to you. Did you have a nickname as a child? Did you secretly wish you were named…? What is the meaning of your name? Do you have a namesake? 
Outing: Do something that you would never consider doing alone. Go to a movie. Eat out in a fancy restaurant, etc.  

Suggested reading:  Anonymous was a Woman by Mirra Bank