My Work on New Walls

Coming soon (in a little more than a month) consider this a "save the date" if you are in the Texas Hill Country area. I'd love to see you at the exhibit on Sunday, October 28, 2-5 pm:

You’re Invited:

Recent Work by Artist Susie Monday

Textile art created by local artist and ABC member Susie Monday will be featured in an exhibit at the Salon d’Artist, Palace Ione this fall. Hosted by Baron Don Clausewitz and Jacob Bustamante, her exhibit of art quilts and art cloth will be in the West Gallery from October 28, 2012 through January 9, 2013.

The opening reception will be from 2:00 - 5:00 in the afternoon, Sunday, October 28, with an artist’s tour of the exhibit at 3:30. Desserts, champagne, lemonade and coffee will be served, and guests will be able to enjoy tours of the Palace Ione’s other galleries and live music in the chapel. Susie will also be signing her new book, The Missing Alphabet, A Parents’ Guide to Developing Creative Thinking in Kids, released October 23, 2012 by Greenleaf Book Group.

Susie’s colorful work in fabric, stitch, dye and printed image is inspired by the stories, icons and images of the Texas Hill Country, as well as being an expression of her sense of the divine feminine spirit. She uses both artist-made textiles and recycled and repurposed ethnic fabrics and thrift store finds in richly patterned and emotionally powerful visual stories. A lifelong artist, Susie graduated from Trinity University, and has worked as a museum exhibit designer, a journalist and a creative arts specialist for International programs. These experiences, as well as her life at El Cielo Studio here in the Borderlands, inform her work and make it particularly meaningful to all of us who share this region’s riches. For more information about Susie, see

Palace Ione is located at 1070 Mustang Drive, Pipe Creek, TX, 78063, near Bandera, about one hour from downtown San Antonio. Dedicated to Don’s mother Ione, two undeniable strains in the history of art in the world converge in the concept of Salon d'Artiste.

First, Salon d'Artiste is inspired by the Salon Society of Montmartre in the early 1900s -- providing a place for artists to exhibit, to discuss, to converse, to meet their supporters and to gain audience for their work. Secondly, special events and openings for invited audiences present the work of young and emerging artists and musicians, as well as the work of established artists of the region -- a unique showcase for creativity. Upstairs, apartment/studios provide living and working space for artists-, writers- and scholars-in-residence. The purpose of such an ambitious undertaking is the discovery of new talent and to provide a fit setting for existing private family collections and archives. For more information, see

 Those wishing to view the exhibit at another time, can call either Susie, 210-643-2128, or Don, 830-510-4414.

How to Make an Art Quilt, Again

One of the most-read posts I've made on this blog has to do with my process of making an art quilt. Interesting enough, the piece I was working on (a large Virgin/pomegranate figure) got stuck in the middle, even as I was writing about the process.

Did I tell you about that? Nope, don't think so.

I finally finished the piece after about 5 months of mulling and muttering, just in time for it to go into an invitational exhibit at the Kerr Arts and Cultural Center. Then, as is a sneakly (surprises me, every time) and productive little pattern of mine, I quickly made two other related pieces, spin offs from the theme that emerged as I was mulling and muttering (and as you  will see, slashing off about one half of the original quilt).

These are all inspired by the story of Persephone, her acceptance of her role as Queen of the Underworld, her visit over the River Styx and her mother Demeter's weeping over the loss of her daughter.

The colors are off in these photos, silly me, I shot the pics with the pieces on the new brilliantly chartruese walls in my hallway, which taught the camera some weird color tint, and I couldn't quite adjust them back. So, that's a good reason to go to Kerrville to see the originals, right?

Then, as I prodded along on my also stalled-out-for-months online course, TEXT ON THE SURFACE, I finally made it the next to last chapter and did another stab at describing my process of design and production.

Here it is. Hope you enjoy this flurry of self-examination on my part, and that it inspires you to consciously think about and write about your own process of work and how you got there. If you post something on a blog or website, please leave a link in the comments, so we can share each other's insights and an appreciation of the diversity of our creativity. So here it is, straight from the auxillery info in the course:

How I make an art quilt (and why I got that way):

Let’s start with the history - I come to quilting from an art background, as a painter. I never have learned proper quilting skills I fear, though I am getting better with piecing and bindings and the like!
Even in my undergraduate studies as a studio art major, I was drawn to stitch  -- my senior project and exhibit was actually an installation or large stained canvases and stitched and sewn stuffed sculptures that were made from paper bags (need I mention that I was in art school in the late ‘60s).
I formally entered the world of textile/fiber art with I started studying with Jane Dunnewold and with the guest artists she brought to the Southwest Craft Center (now Southwest School of Art and Craft). I started dyeing and printing fabric and then had to have something to do with it. Not being a garment mater (due to bad early history in Home Ec in the 8th grade) I thought I would try making wall hangings -- and I had done a lot of collaborative fabric stitched pieces with kids during my career in arts and education. I took a weekend workshop from Sue Benner and discovered for the first time the world of WonderUnder, and that I did’t have to be good at sewing to make a quilt. And that I didn’t have to bind the edges.

So that set me free and I developed my approach over the past 12 years. When I turned 50 I decided that if I was ever to be a “real” artist and do my work, I had to stop working full time for other companies, nonprofits, etc, and just leap on faith that I could support myself somehow as an artist. So far, it’s worked.

So, on to the work:
I start always with an inkling of an idea or story or theme, then I play with colors and textures. piling up fabrics that catch my eye and please my color sensibilities. Most of the fabrics I use are recycled from something else, then dyed, stamped, stenciled, screen printed, etc. I use a good deal of ethnic embroidery, embellishments and pieces of hand-woven fabric from indigenous people around the world. Almost all of these treasures I find at thrift stores.

The majority of my dyed and printed yardage also starts with recycled fabrics -- table linens, dresses and skirts, botls and scraps tucked away at flea markets, old cotton sheets and even mattress covers and old quilts for the batting layer. I like it that the fabrics I use have history, stories I don’t even know about. I do buy some new shantung silks from Indian sari stores, usually overdyeing the original color with a wash or glaze of something else. I also purchase bolts and bolts of fusible webbing, new batting and, sometimes, felt for lining small quilts.

My art quilts are totally non-traditional. I fuse every layer, then free motion quilt them, catching the edges of all the fused pieces. In order to make the quilt as flat and unwrinked as possible, I often”build” the quilt on the batting, designing as i go and fusing as I go, cutting the shapes (sometimes from patterns drawn on the fusible web paper) while still adhered to the release paper or backing paper. I don’t generally have an allover design on paper, but sometimes I work from smaller studies, adapting the design to the new scale.

My stitching is usually very loose, though I like to use it as a kind of drawing tool, adding veins to leaves, lines to hands, sun rays, flower details, wind currents and waves. I put the feeddogs down and use an machine foot with a round opening and put the setting on darn, with everything else on “0”. Probably  my favorite stitch  pattern is a looped back on itself spiral. I really think of the quilting as a kind of scribbling over the surface of the quilt, adding the design element of line and texture. I sometimes take large pieces into the local quilt shop and rent their longarm machine (I’m lucky to have such a resource that is very reasonably priced -- $10 an hour) and do a lot of quilting to get the piece connected with one color of thread -- usually a varigated one -- then I get the quilt home to my Bernina and add more detailed quilting.

When the whole piece is quilted, I take another look, then go in with hand stitching, embellishments occasionally, and over printing with screen-printed patterns or details for more texture -- or to add a little energy to any boring parts of the quilt. I don’t like to have areas that are too quiet.

I use the same techniques on fabric paper/cloth paper as I do with fabric and I like to combine unusual fabrics, papers, photos on fabric, etc. This use of a wide variety of materials is probably one of the signatures of my style. My smaller pieces are often wrapped and stapled around wooden internal frames, built of white wood, nailed and glued. I then blind stitch a backing fabric over the back of the piece, which finishes it more like a proper quilt. I started doing so at the recommendation of Arturo Sandoval who critiqued some of my work when here in San Antonio for a workshop at the Southwest School of Art and Craft. He convinced me that while painters don’t need to finish the back of their canvases, we who are working out of the quilting tradition should do so, because it is just part and parcel of the tradition.

My neighbor Rick Murray is my construction expert. He makes the internal wooden frames that I stretch my smaller pieces around. When I use the frames, I don’t put a fabric back on the pieced quilt. just the batting layer, since it is often a piece of recycled mattress pad from the thrift store!

Like Benner, I finish the edges of my larger, none-frame-mounted pieces with layers and layers of zigzag stitiching around the cut edge of the finished piece. I don’t trim and cut a piece until it is quilted and when I work for a particular size to enter in an exhibit I make the quilt a couple of inches larger in every direction, then cut it to size at the end. I stitch the edges with varied colors of threads and change the width and stitch count often as I stitch around the edge. This is the boring, or shall I say, meditative part of my process!

More Shameless Self-Promotion


Well, really, it's a great opportunity to find some wonderful books and to see my art in a great people-friendly setting. I've just hung a small show of mostly new work at The Twig Bookstore, San Antonio's wonderful indie bookseller. They've recently moved to The Pearl, another venue you need to explore if you haven't been there yet. The shop is one of those bookstores that is infinitely tempting. In the course of hanging the art, I found two books I had to have in my hands on the way out.

The Pearl is located just north of downtown San Antonio on the Museum Reach of the San Antonio River -- and that's another reason to visit. The riverwalk or river taxis take you past public art and make stops at the San Antonio Museum of Art, The Pearl and elsewhere. And when you get hungry, try the new La Gloria, a delightful new Mexican "street food" restaurant that is now Linda's " absolutely favorite restaurant in town." Me, too, Lupe. The ceviche (I had the Nayarit style with cucumber) is fab and my variety was one of 6 or 7 cold seafood cocktails available. Wonderful fish tacos, too. And sopes, and, and, and.

Of, course, if you want something more upscale, Weissman's Sand Bar and Il Sogno are also at The Pearl, as well as the Aveda school for discount hair and salon services.

Meanwhile, my art is on show and on sale, and I'm hoping the crowds that show up for Saturday's Farmers Market in the Parking Lot will become instant art collectors.

And the winner is...

From New World Kids, The Parents' Guide to Creative Thinking.

I had a drawing for a copy of New World Kids from those who had commented on my blog posts or guest blog posts during the last two weeks of February. The winner is Laura Ann, who commented on the quilting blog, on a post I wrote about my process and influences as an art quilt maker. The book will go out to Laura Ann as soon as she sends me her snail mail info. Keep an eye on the blog to join in for future book drawings! And keep those comments coming. I love to have feedback from those who peruse these posts -- and I know from my site stats that more than 1500 hundred "unique" readers check in regularly! That's not a lot by web standards, but it makes me happy!

If you're a parent or grandparent or teacher, you might also want to check in with my recent posts on the New World Kids blog (I've started writing there regularly about kid-creativity issues at the advice of our new publicists, Austin-based Phenix & Phenix). I've found some great links to information about recent research on the effects of digital media on children's and young peoples' cognitive development.

And while I'm doing this little back-story business, remember my artist's reception in San Antonio at Northwest Vista College on Wednesday, March 18 from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. Come by to see my solo show,  a short artist's talk, the beautiful new buildings on campus (so many San Antonians don't even know this vibrant campus exists!) and have a little nosh. The exhibit is in the Lago Vista room of the Cypress Campus Center -- it's next to the big (empty for now) lake in the center of the campus, head east or ask a student where the cafeteria is!