Snowflakes (Sort of)

Snowflakeblue.jpg

DIGITAL FLAKES

OK, looks like we aren't going to get snow, at least not with this cold front or the next (blowing in tomorrow night). So I've satisfied my desires (which are fickle at best) with some snowflake like mandala designs made with various iPad apps. 

Stitching Stories

 

 

TELLING STORIES WITH STITCH

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.

THE FINAL CHAPTER

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.

FIND OUT MORE IN THE E-MAG

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 MAC

For PC

Books Made by Hand

 EXAMPLES OF BOOK PAGES FROM MY WORKSHOP PARTICIPANTS:

 

 

 

I teach Central American/Dominican teachers creative strategies and techniques to use in their rural schools back home. we've been making books and illustrating personal stories.

The photos above are a selection of illustrations from the SEED team. They'll take home the process to establish or expand libraries in their schools with books made by students, parents and community members.

 

Bounty of the Season, South Texas Calendar



South Texas is on a slightly different seasonal calendar than most of the U.S. While you may be braving a wintery day, we are still taking in the fruits of summer, albeit the last ones! Here is what went into the oven from our garden last night, slow roasted and packed away in olive oil, salt and balsamic vinegar so that we can stretch out the flavors of summer for a few more weeks.

I picked the tomatoes from our garden about a week ago when our first "hard" freeze was forecast. We barely dropped into the low 30s on our hill top -- it's usually about 5 degrees warmer up here than it is in the valley below. So a few fruit remain on the vines, still green along the ground! Most of these sat for a week completing the ripening until we sliced and salted them and put them to roast last night. Now three lovely jars of roasted tomatoes sit on the refrigerator shelves. I don't bother actually processing them since we eat them up so fast!

And, to boot, the temp is expected to reach 80 degrees today!

12/12/12

Here are my contributions to the art studio meme: (is that the term?)
In order:
1. 12 glue sticks
2. 12 pomegranate prints waiting to become art
3. 12 ethnic textiles, ditto
4. 12 inspirational objects from around the studio
5. 12 pens etc. from my desk
6. 12 pair scissors, none of them very good at cutting
7. 12 ink jet cartridges
8. 12 squeegees
9. 12 little IKEA frames I could not resist
10. 12 post it notes
11. 12 months ahead
12. 12 journals to be filled


Looking Beyond the Art Village Where We Live

We fiber artists live in a very rich and connected community. And sometimes (often, actually) it's important to travel outside to see what other "countries" in this universe of art are up to. The valuable messages may come in the form of technical tips, some new materials that could enrich your own work, or in broader messages about the business and/or creative trajectory of being an artist. 

This great podcast showed up on my phone this morning on my commute into Palo Alto College for more bookmaking with the Centeral American teachers. If the copy and link don't show up for you, you can find the page link to the Design Observer site here. Louise Fili is a wonderful typographer, designer and inspiration to those of us who like to include text and lettering in our work. This interview is a wonderful reminder about the power of timing, about paying attention to opportunities and the importance of  taking what my coach Lesley Riley calls "imperfect action."

 

"AUDIO DESIGN MATTERS 2009-2012

Louise Fili

Louise Fili designs specialty food packaging and restaurant identities, and is pazza for tins that speak Italian.  A graduate of Skidmore College, Louise designed books at Alfred A. Knopf in the mid 70's, worked for Herb Lubalin from 1976-78 and then joined Random House as Pantheon’s art director in 1978. In her eleven-year tenure as art director of Pantheon Books she reinvented book jacket design. Louise’s passion for 1930s Italian and French poster design migrated from her book covers to her restaurant design. You can read more about Louise in the  introduction to her most recent book, Elegantissima


 

Design Workshop with Central American Teachers

 

Today, (a couple of days this and next week) I'm working at Palo Alto College in San Antonio with 20 Central American and Caribbean teachers -- part of an international education program that I have been part of for the past 10 years. These teachers (and those who have been here over the years) come to San Antonio for the equivalent of an education degree from rural "underserved" communities in El Salvador, Honduras, Guatemala, Nicaragua and Dominican Republic for 6 month or 1 year terms of study. They return to share their knowledge in their schools, communities and nations. This program, funded by USAID and administered by an international expert staff at Georgetown University (and our own Alamo Colleges International Programs) is one reason I don't mind paying taxes. 

These teachers who work under conditions that most U.S. teachers would find impossible (50-60 kids in a SMALL classroom, few if any books and supplies, often limited electricity and no running water, in communities with high incidence of absentee fathers, illiteracy and poor nutrition. They work long hours for not much pay -- many of them work second jobs to make enough to support their families.

Today I am facilitating a design workshop to help them find their strongest illustration style for personal stories that will become the first books in their classroom and school libraries of handmade books. These are simple products, made with inexpensive and recycled materials, and the teachers return home to teach their students and parents how to make the books based on their own experiences. I LOVE these books and have a great collection of art from throughout the past years -- I'll share some favorites over the next few days.

 


 

Paying Attention

The just-past post covered a lot of territory. As I take on this new expanded adventure of art out into the world, it's a good idea to think about my story, and what I bring to the table. (Perhaps you should do so, too! Post a link in the comments to your blog about your creative path and we'll see where this takes us...)

Where does my story as an artist begin? With paying attention.

Paying attention, this skill, like any other, needs focus, practice and to be honored within the environment (culture) of its practice. Fortunately from my childhood, I had mentors, parents and teachers who gave me that skill and fostered it's development.

First, a family who loved nature and beauty: Birdwatching was the usual activity on any trip; a geology pick was always in the back seat; composition books for note-taking are STILL a Christmas stocking standard. We looked at plants and creeks on Sunday afternoon drives as we searched for farmland (soon thereafter purchased with the GI Bill). My chemist father shared his love of observation and my intellegent stay-at-home mom nurtured beauty in the everyday life; both of them honored the skill of paying attention and modeled it to us four.

The concepts in The Missing Alphabet speak to my second set of lessons in paying attention. When 12, I was enrolled in a Children's Theatre at Baylor University, part of the department of drama headed by legendary regional director Paul Baker (he also headed the Dallas Theatre and worked with Frank Lloyd Wright on the design of that forward-thinking structure on Turtle Creek). His wife Kitty, and the young woman who became my mentor for decades, Jearnine Wagner, had started a children's program based on the same principles and ideas that were at the heart of the college drama program. These were: that each of us is creative and has a unique story to tell in our art and that all art/perception and creative thinking can be discerned through a vocabulary of form: line, color, shape, movement, light, rhythm, space, sound and texture. These perceptual/sensory tools could be harnessed by the artist (no matter his or her genre or field) as tools for telling that unique story. These, called by Baker "the elements of form," have moved into our missing alphabet book as "the sensory alphabet," a change of language that helps us explain to parents and educators that these are not just "art" words.

I've been able to take these perceptual and creative tools into my life in so many ways, I use them daily as "screens" for my thinking and inventing and imagination. They are the tools that I teach to the participants in many of my workshops, retreats and courses. I find them invaluable in defining and critiquing, in helping other artists find their own strong suits, their own voices and their best ways of working, simply by asking them to pay attention to these perceptual elements in their lives and work. The Missing Alphabet, while its a book targeted at parents, is still a useful resource for emerging artists who would like some specific information about the sensory alphabet, as well as lots of activity ideas that have no expriration date according to age!

Art school introduced me to another set of tools for paying attention, principally, that of drawing. I am not a natural "drawer." In fact, as a young woman (and even in art school) I pretty much decided I could never be a "real' artist because my drawings in junior high and high school never measured up to the cpaturing of reality that I expected as artist should be able to achieve. And though my college drawing classes at Trinity University were dully attended, I still never really fell in love with drawing until much later -- like a couple of years ago.

Paired with the sensory alphabet, some simple ways to approach the blank page have helped  me to get over my fear of drawing and to actually treasure the time I can carve out to pay attention through drawing.* I have a new group of "drawing" mentors, in real life, my friend and artist Sarah Jones, in the digital and print world, the work and writing of John Berger

 

That's why I am looking forward to the next Fearless Sketching workshop here at El Cielo. It's scheduled for April 12-14, costs $180. There is still room for a couple more participants, so if you are interested, send me a note through the comments or on the contact form on the sidebar to the right.