Rain in the Studio


I wish!

We are in the middle of serious drought here, no rain to speak of for months. 

I added my voice (visually) today, as I started work on a series of Rain Dances. These are a couple of in-progress photos as the day and the ideas developed. This piece is in the vein of a couple of large textile paintings I did several years ago for an exhibit at the Martin Museum of Art at Baylor University. As you can see, I work on a large table rather than a design wall -- I want to be able to put down as many layers of image as I need to and pinning to a wall is just too time consuming. Thus, I stand on a foot stool (or climb an 8 ft ladder) and take a photo when I need to get a better distance view. Works for me!

This one is going to be called Pond Prayer, I think.

Here's a little bit of ethnographic info from Wikipedia:

Julia M. Butree (a wife of Ernest Thompson Seton) in her book,[2] among other Native American dances, describes the "Rain Dance of Zuni."[3] Feathers and turquoise (or any sort of blue shade) are worn during the ceremony to symbolize wind and rain respectively. Many oral traditions of the Rain Dance have been passed down[4] In an early sort ofmeteorology, Native Americans in the midwestern parts of the modern United States often tracked and followed known weather patterns while offering to perform a rain dance for settlers in return for trade items. This is best documented among Osage and Quapaw Indian tribes of Missouri and Arkansas.

I also found this line beautiful prayer for rain from the Sehardic Jewish tradition:

"So open, we pray, Thy goodly treasury of rain, to revive all in whom a soul is breathed, as Thou makest the wind to blow and the rain to fall."

I am expecting this to become a series of ongoing pieces ... I have been searching for a theme that had real meaning to me, and right now, this prayer is that, this dance is that. For all of us in the drought and all of us in the floods, let's have our blessings reversed!

How to Make an Art Quilt -- at the Southwest School of Art

Starting today at Southwest School of Art in San Antonio (and the word is that there is still room for 3 students).

If you're on a textile path of your own, this class is structured with plenty of independent work time -- and the emphasis is on design process and creativity, rather than one or another sets of technical skills. I'll be demonstrating my own approach to making an art quilt, you'll make at LEAST four small journal quilts and a larger work -- no patterns provided, just some fun approaches to getting it out of your mind and onto the wall.

2369 | Art Quilts

Take your quilting skills into a more personal realm or your art skills into a new medium in this introduction to a variety of techniques for making wall art from fabric. If you have been exploring dyeing and printing, here's the how-to for putting your one-of-a-kind fabrics into art. Or if you've got a stash of cloth or scraps from traditional quilting take your skills into personal narrative. This class will introduce you to piecing and fusing fabrics, design and construction approaches that insure a personal creative vision, and time on the sewing machine as you learn various methods to free motion quilting. Each student will make a series of small journal quilts and work on at least one larger project. Sewing machine optional; please see SSA website for a list of materials. 

Level: All Levels 
Instructor: Susie Monday 
Dates: Mon, 2/4/2013 - 3/25/2013 | Time: 1:00 PM - 4:00 PM Studio: Design Studio | Campus: Navarro 

 PS: I just counted and there is room for one more participant at the last El Cielo workshop of the year: Fearless Sketching, co-taught with artist Sarah Jones, on the weekend of April 12-14. If you are interested send me an email through the contact form on the sidebar!


How to Get Unstuck.

Two of the Hill Country Angels, part of an on-going series of flying funky angels (alterego me doing a freedom/escape flyover)

I walked into the studio yesterday after a prolonged time away -- I've been either sewing already designed pieces, finishing up final bits like facings and hanging sleeves and final touches of hand embroidery, doing other art-related activities like teaching or well, eating and hanging out with family and all the other fun that holidays bring. My partner had an extra long break from teaching at Northwest Vista College, so the pleasant and necessary distractions were plenty until she went back to the classroom yesterday.

Consequently, I found myself stumbling around, unable to focus and at loss for a starting place. It seemed a lot easier to do the business of art, especially the part that has to do with roaming around on Facebook or Pinterest.

BUT, with intention in mind.

I turned off the screens and considered my options. 

I have a few completely new ideas I want to explore for some entries to exhibits, but the momentum to go from flat stalled out to full speed ahead was daunting and scary. With relief, I realized that I could get back into the design swing of things by working on a commission piece that is a continuation of a series of flying angels over landscapes. A collector wants a piece for a wedding gift -- an angel over Monterrey, Mexico. It's one of the reasons I promote and adhere to working in not just one, but several, series that stretch over years of work.

Although the deadline for this commission is further out than the other new pieces, I know that if I can get in action quickly, get my hands and mind working with the actual materials, and not just the idea of materials, in the end I'll make more efficient use of my studio time.

Coming along just fine:

The first two photos show my sketches on the wall -- these were done using projected images; the angel from a previous piece (for size and placement mostly, she will change), the famous Saddleback Mountain profile of Monterrey and a Joshua Tree silhouette -- this is one of the area's signature plants.

The photo above is a rough audition of some of the colors I plan to use -- the view will be a sunset late twilight view of the mountain with cityscape below, and angel above. This is coming together very nicely!

Moral of the story: turn off the screen, dig into colors, and go with what you know as the doorway into what you don't know.


Stitching Stories




If you've ever had the impulse to tell a story through your art work, don't underestimate the power of stitch. While we textile artists often lose ourselves in the colors and shapes that make the bold statements in our work, the elements of stitch are no less important. I use machine and hand stitch both as textural lines on my work, but also as expressions of rhythm and energy and movement.


Stitching is the final layer of story that I try to tell. Think about it: do you strive for even regularity? For an all over even steven precision of stitch -- nothing wrong with that! Or do you let the speed of machine, the size of a by-hand seed stitch take on some of the emotional content and context for your art. I know that the second approach is mine. I gave up perfection long ago, and while I admire the skill that that kind of quilting requires, I don't even pretend to aspire to it -- I prefer my own rather higgledy pigglety kind of approach to stitching and it suits the kind of work I do.


If you'd like to know more about my approach to stitching, there's an article in the new issue of the electronic magazine In Stitches. Included is a short video interview and demo, as well as the step-by-step how-to of my process for making an art quilt. I can't share the link to the article, since that's the point of selling an e-zine, but I can share the links to the store for various platforms! If you do make the purchase (or subscribe -- I have found the e-mag full of great content) you'll find a variety of videos, step-outs, reviews and helpful and interesting stories. In this issue: articles by Janet Lasher, Carol Anne Grotrian, Jill Jensen, Norma Schlager, Cloth Paper Scissors editor and author Barbara Delaney, Carol Sloan, Kathyanne White, Eileen Lauterborn, and editor Jane Davila.


Store Links:

For iPad


For PC

Dinner@8 Exhibit in Quilting Arts

This missive from Leslie Jenison and Jamie Fingal was in the mail today:

We are thrilled to announce that the "Rituals" exhibit is prominently featured in the October/November 2012 issue of Quilting Arts Magazine.  Judy Coates Perez's work graces the cover which is a win-win for both Judy and d@8!  As a prequel to the article there is a Q&A with both of us about the history of d@8 and images of our Rituals quilts.  Between these two articles there are a total of 11 art quilts from our exhibit!

The quilts in the article were hand selected by Vivika DeNegre, using the Art Call site (where you submitted your entries).  We both agree that this coverage is yet another indication that we have a knock-out exhibit.  We are very grateful for the generous coverage of our exhibit in Quilting Arts!  Congratulations to all of you and the amazing work you created for "Rituals," and to the artists whose work is featured in this issue:  Judy Coates Perez, Susan Brubaker Knapp, Jeannie Palmer Moore, Susie Monday, Loris Bogue, Barb Forrister, Gerrie Congdon, Karen Rips, and Virginia Spiegel.  It has been such an honor to be recipients of QA's generosity for three years in a row.

There is an announcement and photos on the blog http://dinnerateightartists.blogspot.com/


Screen Printing Free Form Letters

This blog post is intended as a bonus for those enrolled in my More Text on Textiles online course that started on Joggles today. 

Now, it's not too late to join in the fun, so if you are interested in this 4-week, PDF based course (with an online forum during the next 6 weeks), head on over to this link for enrollment info --http://www.joggles.com/store/catalog/product_info.php?cPath=75_1235&products_id=24165

It's an affordable way to get your feet wet with putting words, quotations, pithy comments and other thoughts (yours and others) on your art quilts, art cloth, wearable art or mixed media pieces.

Using letter forms for screenprinting stencils is another way to use your cut letters. P.S. This post assumes you have a basic knowlege of screenprinting. If not, go to this site to see a demo at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wogKeYH2wEE. This is a demo that takes you through the entire process, making your own screen. You can purchase them ready-made at many art supply stores. This demo shows all kinds of stencils, and you will be using your cut letters as the stencil. YOU don't need a clamped frame, I just move my small screen over the fabric. 

Because these letters will be used as a one time stencil, then thrown away, I usually just use old newspaper or sheets of newsprint, or recycled copy paper. Newspaper is really great because it is really thin and adheres to the screen and wet ink really well.

Any thin flat paper will work, but if you want a reusable stencil, cut your letters with contact paper (backing side up, the sticky side goes against the back of the screen).

 You can use any clean silkscreen for your tool. Occasionally I even use one with defects or blocked areas, for a distressed kind of print.

 Free-hand cut your word or words from your choice of paper (instructions are in the first lesson of More Text on Textiles). Then use small folds of masking tape (one or two per letter only), and tape your letters on the back (bottom) of the screen. Your words should read correctly through the screen unless you are intentionally reversing them. This is a great time to teach yourself to cut serif letters or letters that enlarge some iconic type (like those used by Corita Kent in her work).

Screenprint onto ironed flat fabric with thickened dye (see the Dharma catalog for easy instructions and supplies), textile screen printing ink, or other inks. Use a padded surface under your fabric.

Use your word as a repeat, or as a one-time print. When finished wipe down the screen, remove the letters and wash. Let textile ink prints dry, then iron to set. Thickened dye prints need to be batched, as with any dye painted fabrics.









Archetypes and Artist Identity

Above: Photo of Suzanne Wright Crain's altar in progress.

Deep work and deep play took all of us into wonderful work this past weekend. Here are some photos of artists at work -- some made altered books, some altars. Everyone, including me, found some insights pertinant to our particular time, space and needs.



Robin Early and Suzanne Wright Crain and Martha Grant work on their Archetype projects.

As we looked at various approaches to exploring our "inner teams," I had found some work by creativity coach and author Eric Maisel that shed light on the ways identity as an artist (or should I say identities) can both help and complicate our work, identity and paths. Am I artist the beautifier, artist the visionary, artist the businesswomen, artist the  producer, artist the activist...??

Recently an infographic came across my path that also informed this pondering:


Certainly teaching a workshop such as this Archetype workshop calls on my skills as teacher and mentor, while I also try to do my own work ast least part of the time as a way of modeling and demonstrating the processes and products involved.

Then, as the weekend came to a close, a friend called and told me one of my large textile pieces was included in a "home" section report in the San Antonio Express News. I called the collector and thanked him (and his wife Suzi) for giving the reporter my name (read the story for more info!). Ah, another artist identity -- published and out there. 

The dining room in the home of Suzi and Dennis Strauch, near Pipe Creek, has a quilted piece of fabric art on one wall. Photo: BOB OWEN, San Antonio Express-News / © 2012 San Antonio Express-News

The dining room in the home of Suzi and Dennis Strauch, near Pipe Creek, has a quilted piece of fabric art on one wall.

Photo: BOB OWEN, San Antonio Express-News / © 2012 San Antonio Express-News

Read more: http://www.mysanantonio.com/real_estate/article/Spaces-A-global-chic-Pipe-Creek-home-with-more-3431078.php#ixzz1qLiJe3Zi

Exhibit at University Presby

I  have a small but, I think, quite nice, exhbit of work at University Presbyterian Church in the SOL Center. It will be up through Easter, and I will be doing an artist talk on the coming Sunday after services (noonish?).

The church is at Bushnell and Shook in San Antonio. And, as a born-amd-bred Presbyterian, it's an honor to be there -- there is something really satisfying about having more than one or two pieces of work in a public forum. It is a pleasure to see 15 or so pieces of work all on nice walls all in the same space. The work in the show is from 2009 to now, with quite a bit new work. I see it differently on a wall that is not my own.

I admit to having some misgivings about not being in a "proessional" venue with my work. There aren't many such available in this community; textile art is marginalized between art and craft. No excuses: I also am not the best at spending time and effort finding exhibit opportunities. Meanwhile, with the help of friends, this one came my way; the space is quite nice; I had lovely help hanging the show; it has an interesting and valued stream of people going through it for classes, events, church services and more. So if you get a chance, stop by. Ask at the church office if the Sol Center is locked. Ask for prices if you are interested in purchasing work -- 25% of purchase price goes to the church.

New Book: Texas Museum of Fiber Artists


And "I'm" on the cover. The agave detail (second row, third image from left) is from my FAITH IS A LAW art quilt that was part of the IQF exhibit last year on Text on Textiles. Then it was part of the Texas Fiber Art Exhibit last year, thus the inclusion in this catalog. I also have some other work in the book, compiled from the previous exhibits.


TMFA Fiber Arts Book Order Form

Name or company purchasing ________________________________________________________________________________

If gift: shipped to__________________________________________________________________________________________

Shipping address __________________________________________________________________________________________

City ____________________ State ___________ Zip___________

Quantity_________________ x $40.00 plus tax $3.30 plus shipping and handling $6.70 TOTAL

$50.00 per book

Multiple quantity sales and wholesale accounts invoiced with calculated shipping and handling.


And, speaking of which text-type topic,  brings us to my upcoming Joggles class on the same topic. You can get details HERE if you are interested in trying my very first "real" online class. I'm sure we will all learn a great deal!




Working in a Series, Lisa Call


If you've been reading me regularly, you'll know my word for the year is COMMIT (even if I haven't written it out loud!) I try each day to commit to what is most important, at the top of the list, and I put making art on that list (and at the top) as often as possible. Now in mid-February, it is remarkable to note how quickly the calendars fill up, how loud the competing voices for attention become, and how the realities of money, time and space make themselves known. 

But, just as I get a bit discouraged a lagnaippe appears (you know lagnaippe, right -- the free, unexpected, pat-on-the-back bonus, extra-cookie-in-the- box kind of surprise). Lisa Call featured four of my current series on her blog post today, and paid me great compliments, too.

Head over and take a look; http: at Lisa's blog -- //blog.lisacall.com/2012/02/the-secret-to-committing-to-a-series/

Therapy Strips, Thanks to Rayna

Rayna Gillman's new(ish) book, Create your own Free-Form Quilts, has inspired me to try my very first all-pieced art quilt. Yay, Rayna. For an art quilter who has come to textile work from the art not the quilt world, this is a big and scary step for me.

But, thanks to Rayna, I now know: The 1/4" seam rule is not so set in stone. Sometimes crooked is good. A piece is a piece is a piece and it can always be cut and pieced again. 

That's just the start. Here are my "therapy strips" waiting to become something else. I also actually have a nice set of pomegranite "blocks" put together and am trying to decide if they are done or need to become my own version of a 9-patch. (And, they are very therapeutic, just the thing for me to do when I need studio time, but don't know exactly what to work on next -- or ever again).


Hurray for writers who take us out of our fears. Thanks, Rayna.



Trolling around, I found some wonderful textile art on the Internet today. I'm teaching a course at the Southwest School of Art the next couple of months -- Finding Your Path as an Artist -- and it's keeping me on my toes, looking for resources, finding interesting examples of artists' styles and series, and working with artists who work in a variety of media. However, these two (three) are working in cloth, in different ways, but with clarity, focus and commitment -- just what I am trying for in the studio.

First, A Bee, a collaboration - or collective, as they call themselves -- of two artists who work large, bold and beautifully: http://www.abeecd.com/index.html

And the artist who took me to them (a post on her blog about their exhibit at the San Jose Museum): Terry Jarrard-Dimond. Terry's is a name I had heard before -- I think we've even met here and there-- but somehow I had never before focused in on her stunning, disciplined, structural work. http://www.terryjarrarddimond.com/



Save the date...

Coming to an internet near you:

Text on Textiles online 4 classes (5ths optional and free) at JOGGLES. 

And more specifically here. http://www.joggles.com/store/catalog/product_info.php?cPath=75_1235&products_id=23449

Start Date: Thursday March 15, 2012
Class: Text On Textiles
Instructor: Susie Monday
Cost: $45/4 lessons

This class is scheduled to begin on March 15, 2012.

NOTE: This class requires use of an all-in-one printer/copier or desktop copier with the ability to enlarge and reduce printed images. The techniques used make use of copies and prints from such a copier/printer. Optional techniques included also involve use of a computer and digital camera.

Have you ever wanted to incorporate a favorite word, poem or quote into an art quilt, garment, art doll or other textile project -- going beyond simply writing or embroidering the text? Or do letter forms and shapes appeal to your sense of design? This surface design/mixed media class will give you a set of process tools for making text and words an integral part of artfully designed fabrics that you can use in a wide variety of projects.

Starting with design exercises that encourage a unique expression of your creativity and interests, you’ll learn three specific techniques for transfers of text, words and writing to fabric using ink-jet printing, polymer medium and textile paints. 

Working from Inside-Out

above: Milagros and Apocolyse

I was chided by a friend and sister fiber artist last night for not telling her (and others) about my recent award (first) at the Fiber Artists of San Antonio exhibition at Gallery Nord here in San Antonio. Not really false modesty -- I simply have not been able to get to the exhibit to take some en-site photos!

2009 NW Military Highway
San Antonio, TX 78213
T: 210.348.0088
F: 210.348.6862

Gallery Hours
Weds-Sat Noon-5pm
Closed Mondays and Tuesdays

But since time is flying, and the exhibit goes down at the end of the month, here's the notice (Gallery Nord is open Wednesday through Saturday in the afternoons) and a bit of back story:

First, the work that was recognized by Juror Ilsa Aviks was one of the series I worked on this August about the death and life of my father, James Lee McAtee, Jim, who died earlier this summer. This particular work is called Milagros, and is about the gifts of spirit, teaching and everyday life that blessed my life through my father's care and conversation, from writing letters, to important facts of the heart.

Ilsa, I heard from one of the artists present at the judging, recognized the joy and meaning in this piece. I think I benefited from having her judge the show, as Ilsa is a strong proponent and advocate of working from a personal narrative, whether literal, figurative (as in my work right now) or abstractly, as she does with her own stitched works.

I am also really happy to have work in this gallery because of its wonderful modern design. The space was created by architect Allison Peery, who I had the privilege to know in my youth. This gallery is a wonderful space to be in. From the gallery website:



Allison Peery considered himself one of San Antonio’s few uncompromising modern architects. The exterior of the building is simply dramatic with its soaring, winglike roofline balanced by an abstract design of stained glass and mosaic tiles at the main entrance. The interior, with its plentiful natural lighting, consists of three gallery areas - two on the main floor and an upper gallery reached by a curved staircase. Peery’s modernist ethos of expressed structure, honest and coherent use of materials creates the perfect environment for exhibiting contemporary art.

More Mermaid

The Lisa Call online workshop "Working in a Series" is doing its work on me. Deadlines work for me. Here's the first assignment completed. I won't give a lot of details as to the assignments, as that is proprietory information that is part of the course, but I will say that this one pushed me to a piece of work that I really like and that combines the kind of graphic clarity with my patterned texture work that is hard for me to find. 

Keeping at it, this will be the first of a new Sirena series, with five or six new large pieces to result (this [pieceis about 4' by 5'). I feel like I am breaking out of a long, slow slump into some new energy in my work. I find that the right teacher and the right learning experience for me can really help me in my studio practice. As artists, we spend a lot of time in our own little heads, solo. Having to interact in a creative setting, being the follower instead of always being the leader offers a certain kind of vacation, a kind of social interaction that is very valuble for my creative process.

I was once asked by a teacher/artist whom I really respect why I continue to take workshops. She doesn't, feeling that her focus is set and self directed, and that taking classes is a waste of energy and direction, can take her off her track. I don't feel that way -- first, I teach a lot of intro technique classes and some workshops are fodder for that mill -- I need to keep up on the latest and greatest. But others, like this one that I am taking now, are real soul food. Something I need to feed my artist self and to keep me honest, to keep me on task, to remind me of what is important in my work. 

Yes, choose carefully. Avoid being a workshop junkie, using courses and workshops to avoid forging ahead on a personal path. But a well-chosen workshop, retreat or class can be just what the spirit ordered. A time to give over the reins for a time, a time to refresh the creative flow, to have deadlines outside of one's own choosing (and divorced from "entry" deadlines that have their own baggage of procrastination) and even a time to make mistakes, to do "not-so-perfect" work and to have a failure or two!

Art Quilt at Southwest School of Art

The Southwest School of Art All-School Exhibition opened last Thursday, and the show is a lovely, varied, strong one, and not just because I'm in it. It was great to see Rosa Vera's Crow piece open the show, a mixed media fiber and paper work she shared during a March workshop out here at El Cielo.

Detail of Rosa Vera's Crows.

With such a diversity of media and approaches, its remarkable how well the curatorial staff does at getting this show on the walls of the  galleries. If you are in San Antonio this summer, be sure to stop in and see the exhibit. You'll also so a beautiful piece of Lisa Kerpoe's art cloth, a fiber piece by Miki Rodriguez of Laredo (also a participant at one of my workshops) and a host of other beautiful masterly works of craft/art.

 This art quilt is titled Just Beyond My Reach. It is about 3 feet by 4 feet (measurements are somewhere!) and is fused, raw edge applique and free-motion quilted. I used fabrics that were hand-dyed, stamped, stenciled, batiked and created with monoprinting, as well as a few pieces of recycled ethnic textiles from thrift store finds. I decided quite a long time ago to only buy fabrics at thrift stores, with the exception of Indian silks, indigenous textiles and cotton batting. So far, so good! I use my own body as a template pattern (which in itself is an interesting process sometimes.) 

If you are a working, selling, making-a-living somehow artist you can probably figure out what this one is about. But I guess it even has a more universal text, as well. We are all probably living with that feeling, and it's one that generally does no one any good, but, hey compassion for one's foibles is a necessary kindness.

Here is a detail from Lisa's art cloth work:


 And here is a shot of Miki Rodriguez' work, Arroz con Pollo (chicken with rice)

The BIg Freeze, and the Studio Thaw

Its COOOOLD outside. Guess that's the state of the union. We had rolling blackouts yesterday, but "they" seem to have figured out the grid for now. And, dispite dripping the tub, the water in the house is frozen, nothing to do but wait for the thaw (tomorrow it will be 43) and hope for the pipes' best. We've never had pipes freeze before so this is a major distraction and anxiety (i foresee torrents of water coming down from the attic). I am glad there is no El Cielo workshop going on! At any rate, send me pipe fairy prayers and, gee, while we are at it, if its going to be this dadburn cold can't we muster up a little snowfall tonight? Just a bit. Just to make the visuals complete.

However, while the freeze is going on its business, I have had some extended time in the studio (where the water still works). And that has been wonderful. It's a creative thaw I've been anticipating and hoping for. The place is still a mess from teaching supplies in and out, but instead of being my (yeah, right) regular neat and orderly person, I just cleared a workspace and dove in.

The piece I am working on is one that's been in my head for a long while, since working on collage examples for the Text on the Surface workshops. I discovered it when I took everything out for the Southwest School class this past Monday. There have been several calls for entries that I want to respond to, and at least one of them had to do with working outside of one's comfort zone (SAQA, I think) and another one has a theme that fits the collage perfectly. So rather than do my usual work-on-the-table improvisation, I actually made a paper pattern, am printing some of the elements, cutting others, and will have this big text based piece done by the end of the week I hope.

So, stepping out of my usual narrative, goddessy, archetypal themes, this one will be modernism, pure and simple (sort of). Its quite scary to spend time on something so different (though I have been ooching toward more formal, abstract work for a little while) but I suspect I have to do so this time in order to renew something important, to step beyond my own pictures of my own work, and to take a chance. That was the thaw I needed in order to get myself back to the design table in an authentic way.

So what about you? I'd love to know what risky business you are trying for your own creative thaw.