Monday, December 31, 2007

Resolutions. Resolschmoozins.

Can anyone think of a good word to rhyme with resolution? I really can't. I don't think I'm going to make any of those resolutions, anyway.

This time of year, I am always in a funk. Christmas is over. Those cold, gray days of central Pennsylvania loom ahead. I can't get too excited about making resolutions.

Could I eat better? Exercise more? Try volunteer work (perhaps this one)? Promote my art? Sell my art? Become a nicer person? Become perpetually optimistic? O.K. I'll try this last one. I say that this post is half full.

Ask me later. As my daughter has done in this photo, I shall put a bag over my head. I'll take it off in a couple of weeks. I shall make make resolutions in mid-January.

I'll be back soon. The new and improved me.

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Spirals It Shall Be

The client and I have decided on spirals. Now I am busy spiralling. Well, I was busy spiralling and then took a few days off to visit family and celebrate Christmas. I will get back to this eventually. Maybe it will be my New Year's resolution to resume work on this. It is quite intense to rotate these three pieces around the machine over and over. Much of the quilting involves spirals, so there are far more spirals to be sewn than just the appliques. I take a few machine stitches, lift the presser foot, rotate the quilt a bit, lower presser foot, take a few more stitches, turn. As I get into the center of the circle, I do fewer stitches, and turn, stitch and turn, stitch and turn. Next spiral, next, next, next . . .
Thank you to those who have sent lovely cards with glitter. They are much appreciated and have added to the beauty of my Christmas. Also, thanks to those who have sent pictures of their families and pets. Jan. 1 is the day I "redo" the fridge, and I will put up those photos.
After I have recovered from the holiday stupor, I will come up with some stimulating posts.
Happy New Year!!!

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Someone's Gonna Get Hurt

I’m going to tick someone off. I’m going to insults herds of people. But I must get this off of my chest. I just can’t take it anymore.

First of all, my dear family and friends, I care for you very much. The last thing I want to do is upset you. And, by the way, I do like your children. Very much. My fridge is proof of that. It is covered with photos of you and your beautiful children.

It is Christmas. I know it has been over commercialized. It has lost its meaning and has become a season of greed, excess, expense, etc. For these reasons, I feel I should not make any requests. I should be thrilled to receive anything from anybody. But I do have one, very small request. . . .

If you like me, please send me a Christmas card. I know you think you did. Some of you did. Many of you didn’t. I’m not angry at you. I’m not even upset with you. I’m glad you sent something to me. But what I wanted you to send me is a Christmas card.

A Christmas card. It is sometimes covered with glitter. Often there is a painting of the baby Jesus. Other times, there is a snow-covered evergreen surrounded by woodland creatures holding gifts and birds draping the tree with popcorn garland. There may be a star off in the East, a goose wearing a Christmas hat, a candy cane, a stocking hung by the fireplace, a joyful Santa Claus. Whatever. I just want it to be a card. And I prefer it to be pretty. I really like glitter. I WANT A CARD. I want it to fold. Horizontally or vertically. Perhaps it can fold twice.

And then, on the inside, you can slip in a photo of your little rosy-cheeked Christmas cherub. Then, I will take this photo and simply affix it to my fridge. I will then take the beautiful card, which is really like a little gift to me, and I will display it. If you decide to put a family newsletter in also, I would read it. I like you enough to read about you. I REALLY am interested. But it would be nice for you to butter me up just a bit and send it with a CARD.

I actually save most of these things. I file the photos in my OPC (other people’s children) filebox. No, it is NOT the round file. After Christmas each year, when I put away my Christmas decorations, I put the new photos on the fridge and take the old photos in the filebox. My family and I enjoy looking at the older photos and see how your children have grown.

So please, send that photo. Just send it in a card. Don’t make it the card. I really don’t want to have to wrestle that photo out so I can put it on the fridge. And I don’t want to look at the photo in summer with your lovely offspring surrounded by candy canes and jingle bells.
Maybe it is the economic turndown (whatever the correct political term of the day is) that makes you resistant to purchasing cards. But what about those Christmas card designers. They have families to feed also. Toss a little money their way.

That’s all I want for Christmas. A CARD. And your forgiveness, please, for having offended you.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Too Much Time Off

I know it sounds like such a horrible thing to have too much time off. There is so much left to be done on this commission which is due at the end of January. Normally, that would be way too much time, but with Christmas and all of its "requirements" and then school being out, there is less time than I think.
Last Thursday we got an inch of sleet. Enough to close schools. I had a whole day ahead of me, I thought as I lay in bed that morning. I could get so much done. I had no errands, no other work. Just a whole day to spend on the commission. Then I discovered schools were closed. My daughter and I made cookies and Christmas cards. A great day!!! But now I'm so far behind. I threw my annual Christmas party over the weekend, so with the cooking and cleaning for and cleaning up, I had no time to work.
When I do have free days, I find I am waiting for feedback from the client and I can't proceed on the quilt. When I get the feedback and need to get things done, well, I can't. My daughter did agree to work with me in the studio for a bit (half-hour) while I got some designs ready to photograph for the client. But today, today, today, I have all day. What am I doing? Blogging. Bad girl. I will let the dishes go. But then there's laundry. Grrrrrr.
Hi Ho Hi Ho. Off to work I go.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

One Cannot Live on One' s Art Alone

Do I hang art by other people in my home?

Absolutely! Would I only eat food cooked by myself? Heaven forbid. So why would I not fill my home with artwork by others? I NEED to. Art is food for the soul, and I must have a varied diet. The photo on the left shows two of my wallhangings. On the bottom shelf is one of my framed fabric and paper collages. The top shelf is a Hyacinth Manning print. I wish I could have afforded the original. The three green vases are by Andi Runt, who no longer makes ceramics. How very sad for me -- I have at least 15 of her pieces. The bottom shelf holds a ceramic pear by an artist who's name I have forgotten. There is a wooden bowl by Richard Cruise, a framed collage painting by Sylvia Moss, and an assemblage by Robert Villagmagna.

The second photo shows two ceramic wallhangings by Rhonda Cearlock, along with one of my pieces.

The third photo shows two paintings on the mantel, one of Central Park by John Dorish, the other by Sylvia Moss. The bitty thing is one of my fabric collages. The two masks are from my in-laws from an earlier trip to Africa. Over the mantel is another of my fabric collages. To the right is a framed print of a collage by a Chinese artist whose name I cannot remember.

To me, it all goes together. The best part is that I didn't have to travel the world (not that I don't want to), deal with art consultants, or pay an arm and a leg for any of these pieces. Even though I live in a fairly small town, we have a great art festival here each summer. Approximately 350 artists from all over the country come and spend 4 days in tents. And all I have to do is walk a few blocks from my house and be in the middle of it all. It sure does help that my birthday is the same time as the festival -- I get art for my birthday.
I'm curious as to what other artists display in their homes. Where do they get this art? From galleries, art festivals? Do they barter or trade? I have purchased only one painting from an actual gallery. Aside from a few flea market finds, all of my art has come from art festivals. Perhaps this is what I should consider when selling art. Maybe I should sell where I purchase. I do need to sell more art. I cannot live on my art alone.

Monday, December 10, 2007

let's celebrate national apathy week . . .

Yes, please celebrate National Apathy Week with me. You really don't need to do a thing. Please. Do nothing. That's what it's all about.

Maybe it's the post-vacation blues. Could be the week following my trip was spent sewing together the quilt. Once a quilt has been designed and the pieces cut and laid out, everything gets bogged down as I sew the pieces together, and then make the quilt "sandwich" by sewing along the seams. I know that this is all necessary. And it is progress. I just can't SEE the progress. During this process, the quilt always looks the same. I crave new visual stimulation. The whole thing actually becomes WORK. Work is just not fun during apathy week.

Perhaps it is because this commission is unloved at this point. The applique shapes are a no go. Now I must scrap these scraps and begin again. Yet, at this point, I do not know where to go. The shapes came pretty much from instinct after I looked into an artist suggested by the client. I have no clue where to go next. I feel like my arms are missing. How can I possibly work with missing arms? (I know, I know. How could I possibly type with missing arms?) Maybe the missing arm feeling is just part of National Apathy Week.

I'd take another vacation if I just had the time and money. But now its baking and decorating and wrapping time. I want to be part of all of that and have fun.

How can I complain. I am so lucky to be able to do what I do. If I suddenly went blank (which I think I am) and could not create, and if clients demanded their money back, and if I received emails and postcards from everyone who has purchased from me saying that I stink, I would still be able to fall back on my husband's job and be able to deal with it all. (I would be a tad bent out of joint, though). I should be happy happy happy.

I will ride out apathy week. It started last Wednesday. I assume it will last through Tuesday night. It might linger until Wednesday morning. It will end. Right. Right?

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

City Sidewalks, Busy Sidewalks

A long, cold weekend in New York City. Invigorating, inspirational, crowded. The sounds of the season are megaphones in your ear instructing you to "keep moving". Horns. Construction. Taxis. Buses. Subways. I love it!!!!!

I must say, I didn't think about being in my studio all weekend.

I ate and shopped and now I am bloated and poor. Oh well.

The photo is of Grand Central Station. What a beautiful place. It made me want to take a train. Somewhere. Anywhere.

Amidst all the visual and audible hammering of the city, there is the Central Park Zoo. In the snow. Practically alone. This has to be my favorite place. A beautiful Red Panda has come to have a look at us.

The crowd is normally 5 rows deep around the sea lion pool. On this day, we have it all to ourselves.
But now it is back to work. I have kind of forgotten what the commission looks like. Hope I still like it. I will go have a look after I shovel through some laundry.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Low-Cal, Lite, and Gallery-Free

This is Autumn Blossom I. It is one of my larger pieces at 30 x 47". Do you think this is taking up space on a gallery wall? No. It is at home. On my wall. This is one of the lucky ones that sees the light of day. I have a large dresser in my studio where the vast majority of my work resides.

I have been wanting to have my work in a gallery. I have had my work in a gallery. Two in fact. But not at the same time. Local galleries. My work has never been displayed far from home. I have tried. Early this year I sent out three portfolios. Through the internet I researched hundreds of galleries to find appropriate places for my work. None of them too upscale, none of them little country shops. I made a list, checked it twice. Then sent out three portfolios. Nice ones. Several pages of color photos. Price list. What I thought was a good cover letter. Quite professional looking. Postage paid return envelopes!!!!!!! Was there a response? Not one! Did they return the portfolios in their postage paid return envelopes????? Not one!! What does that have to say about me? What does that have to say about the galleries I chose?

Why would a gallery give no response? Too busy? Isn't this their line of work, though? Would I want to deal with these galleries in the future? Would I feel comfortable buying anything from these galleries? Certainly not. And I do buy from galleries. Not often, but it happens. These galleries I I will never visit. Are these three galleries representative of all galleries? Could be!

Should I try another round of galleries? Do hours and hours of research? Have color prints made of 15-20 pieces? Put them in a nice folder? Pay to send them out? Pay to have them sent back (ha)? Ooooh, I can't wait. I actually enjoy sticking things under my fingernails and banging my head on brick walls.

If there is a burner way in the back, that is where the gallery idea is simmering for now.

I am going to treat my website as a gallery. I will market it. Give out cards, brochures, postcards. Perhaps I will research online galleries. Has anyone out there had any luck with this? I have seen my Ebay sales drop off, and my Etsy sales are none, but the website sales have improved (significantly). As the old saying goes, "If it aint broke, don't fix it." That shall be my motto for the upcoming year.

I will make what I want, sell it (maybe, eventually), keep 100% of the selling price, thrive and grow rich and strong. I will have all my work around me and won't have to worry about its safety in a gallery. I will overlook the fact that I will have to deal with selling myself, packing and shipping (and associated supply purchasing), overstuffed drawers, and that pesky feeling of gallery rejection. I will continue to visit and purchase at galleries that don't tick me off, although their numbers are getting fewer.

Anybody out there have any positives on not having gallery representation?

Monday, November 26, 2007

Here to Stay (?) is a New Bird

Here is my newest piece "Fly South", 15 x 10". I'm still in my Autumn mode although we are gray and brown now here in Central Pennsylvania. I am pretty much always into Autumn mode. I love the colors and am not too interested in following color trends. I do like other colors and have made many pieces involving pinks, purples and greens, yet I ALWAYS go back to fall colors.

Not only is the Christmas season upon us, it also seems to be art donation season. I have had two requests to donate pieces for good causes recently, so I guess I need to dig up a couple of pieces and write inspirational words to accompany them. It is always hard to just give up one of my pieces. I feel as if I am insulting it. I have always given human qualities to inanimate objects. I still have stuffed animals from childhood -- I would feel like a murderer just throwing them in the trash. Perhaps I should come up with the "available for donation series". I need some ideas for artwork that will appeal to all (is there such a thing).

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Thank You

OK, so another picture that won't load. I wanted to show the background of my commission. I'm really enjoying working on this piece so far. I can't figure out why I have computer issues when I am in a hurry.

I figure it is time for me to be thankful.

Here's my top 7.

1. Husband, best friend, web manager.
2. Spontaneous creative department (5-year-old daughter).
3. Supportive parents and in-laws (fortunate to still have all of them)
4. Four great nieces.
5. Paying customers.
6. Sister and brother-in-law who bring the family together at Thanksgiving (and many other times) and NOT requiring me to cook anything.
7. People out there who spend their time and money attempting to convince our government to do what is right for the people of our country and the rest of the world.

I would make a top ten list, but it is time to get going. Will return soon with photos and hopefully, more to say about what I am thankful for.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

If You're Square and You Know it, Raise Your Hand

In Junior High School, I made a D in geometry. I did not go further in the world of math than that (it was much easier to get into college in the old days). So, at times, I am surprised I am able to quilt. Pioneer women who never learned to read had a far better grasp on geometry than I will ever have. Most of those women quilted. Using triangles and other shapes that I do not know the names of. They made eight-pointed stars out of cloth!

I like squares and rectangles. They generally like me. We get along. I like the challenge of limiting myself to these shapes. It makes me grow as a person. I like to rationalize.

Years ago, I went to a seminar called "the business of art". The speaker asked us to raise our hand when our favorite shape was called. First was "triangle". 40% of the audience raised their hands. The second was "circle", 59.5% raised their hands (there were approximately 200 people in attendance). The third was "square". I raised my hand. I was alone. Then the speaker told us what our favorite shapes had to do with our personalities. The "triangles" were go-getters. Nothing could stand in the way of these brilliant, creative people. The "circles" were also quite creative, but in a more contemplative way. They were relaxed, popular people and easy to be around (no pun intended). The "squares" (me and me alone), were not creative and were unable to think outside of the box. We should be accountants. The room was filled with laughter. I felt shamed. At the time. I feel shamed no more.

I love the square. I am a square. They did not give the option of choosing "rectangle" at the seminar. I probably would have chosen that over the square. Just marginally. The rectangle is more versatile. It fits almost everywhere. But, I am a square. I accept that.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Why Panic?

Those Christmas trees (fake, of course) popping up in stores everywhere should have been a warning. So should the holiday tunes playing in the department stores (2 weeks ago, when I was shopping for sweaters, for me). I paid no attention. I had undergarments to buy. I had food to buy. I had face cream and children’s jammies to buy. Then I had a look at my daughter’s school menu and wondered why they were only serving food two days next week. There were days with blanks. Empty squares. Why? Does the school endorse (enforce) fasting. No. Next week is Thanksgiving. The big kickoff.

Why should I panic? Plenty of time for Christmas shopping. Actually, that was being factored into my upcoming trip to New York City. Time off for Thanksgiving. Time off for vacation. Some more time off for Holiday decorating, party planning, gift buying, gift wrapping, baking, relaxing with friends and family. Why panic? Oh, yeah. The commission. Gotta squeeze that in.

Why do I get worked up about this stuff?
I go to bed at 11:30 on New Year’s Eve. I get a name list at my daughter's school to scribble 20 kids’ names on store-bought Valentine’s cards on February 13th. I avoid GREEN beer. I detest (am frightened of) 4th of July fireworks, I can sew but DO NOT sew Halloween costumes (although I love Halloween), I detest turkey AND cranberry sauce. But the thought of not doing just one of my traditional Christmas activities thoroughly depresses me. WHY CAN’T I RELAX, do little, and absolutely enjoy Christmas? MUST HAVE COMPLETION. Or close to it.

I must have this commission (shown badly photographed above) well underway in order to enjoy the holidays. I just started cutting fabric for it two days ago, and if I do say so myself, it seems to be moving right along. I mustn’t think about how far there is to go. Must finish cutting and designing (yes, I do not design much ahead of time, I prefer to design on the fly). Then sew pieces together. Then attach middle and back layers. Then sew layers together. Then quilt. Then determine applique shapes. Attach them. Add beading. Why do I make these lists? Why can’t I just enjoy the process?

Breathe, sew, bake, breath, sew, shop, breathe, sew, wrap, breathe, sew, party, breathe, sew, enjoy family, breathe, sew, wait! . . . I forgot about sleep!

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

So Bloggin' Happy

I'm so thrilled that people are stopping in on my blog and posting comments. Hiding in one's attic (studio), hoarding fabrics and beads, hunching over a sewing maching and surfing the internet can be a lonely experience. It's great to know there are others out there who appreciate what I do or what I write, or maybe both.
Right now, I feel kind of like a little space shuttle with lots of little things that need to be fixed before take-off. So many bitty challenges that must be met before I make it all the way to my attic studio. Lots of tweaking, venting, repairs before I lift off (begin the commission). I haven't liked the drawings I have done for this commission (six so far), so I have to go back to the drawing board today. The client is looking for bright bright bright. I like bright bright bright, I just don't seem to do bright bright bright things (see example above, left).
This piece is King Snake. It is a rather plain piece in that it has little stitching and no beading. It is from a series of four. I ran out of steam on this series and actually felt like stuffing them in a drawer unfinished. The problem was, the drawer was already stuffed. I finished them and happily moved on to another series (Planting Seeds). I like the graphicness of the King Snake and Queen Bee pieces, but . . .
Not a lot to say today. A lot to do. I must vacuum all the bits up that my dog has tracked into the house the last couple rainy days. It's the fault of that darn refinished floor. It is (was) so perfect, I feel I must baby it and remove anything that might scratch it (the dog???). Maintenance sucks. The floor has won the maintenance contest with my hair.
Off to work (on maintenance things).

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Buy This, It's for Sale, Here's the Price

Ooooh, those dirty words. I can't belive I said it's for sale. Did anyone overhear? I would be so embarrased. NOT!

This piece is entitled Planting Seeds V. It costs $110.00 + shipping. I also have loads of smaller pieces perfect for Holiday gift giving. Please see my website.

Is there really anything wrong with a bit of marketing? Is there anything wrong with having a simple and functional website? Is it downright dirty, cheap and nasty to have the prices listed on the website? And is it a sin to provide an internet shopping cart to make it easy for purchasers? I don't think so, but it seems that many artists do.

Often, I really am interested in an artwork. Of course, I do look around just to compare my prices to other's. Yet, I actually do buy from the internet & believe it or not, I might just buy something from an artist from their website. There are many factors that contribute to my choice to purchase: is the photo clear? do I have a place to hang or place it? and that pesky question - can I afford it? I really do appreciate knowing immediately if I can afford a piece. I do believe in that old saying "If you have to ask, you can't afford it." So I get a bit annoyed at having to contact an artist to get a price on a piece.

Recently, I feel in love with a piece during a spell of artist website and blog surfing. Hmmmm, good picture, love the content, can I afford it. I emailed the artist, explaining I needed the price, letting them know I loved their work and informing them of the reason I chose this particular piece -- giving them an idea of what a potential buyer is thinking and how they related to the artwork. The next day, the artist returned my email saying she was off to a show and did not have time to locate the artwork and give me a price. Several days later, I received another reply with the price, an explanation of what the piece was made of . . . and that's it. OK, so I got my info. But that's it. I don't know why my love of the piece diminished. Was it waiting for the price, not getting a cheery reply letting me know why they created this piece and saying thanks that I was interested in their work. Anyway, I did not buy the piece. Would I have felt the same had the price been listed? It was affordable enough. Would I have gone ahead and bought it without emailing the artist?

Some artists want to be contacted. For some, this is the reason they do not post their prices and want to be contacted for them. (If this is the reason, be happy that a potential customer has contacted you and let them know that.) Is this the only reason to not post prices? Are there other reasons? Would an artist get more sales if prices were posted next to the piece and the customer given an immediate way to purchase the piece? I think so. Is it a nasty thing for an artist to actually want to make a sale?

I am an artist. Please contact me if you like. Buy something. Buy nothing and just let me know you like my work. Don't contact me if you hate it. Contact me and let me know about your granny's quilts. Tell me about the weather where you live. Just don't look down on me, reject me, think I'm cheap just because I tell you how much something costs.

Can you imagine if the grocery store did not post their prices? I don't think I'd put something in my shopping cart if I didn't know the price.

Prices as low as $30.00. I do commissions. Please see my website. Have a look at my stores on Ebay and Etsy. Did I mention CafePress? Note the prices.

Monday, November 5, 2007

At a Stopping Point?

OK. This is an old one. This one is entitled "Janis" after Janis Joplin. For a week, I listened to the same CD of her greatest hits over and over. I was quite inspired.

Recently, I have been a bit uninspired. I have made little, and I have posted little. The commission is slow to start. I sent several samples to the client and she separated the samples into groups of yes, and not so yes. She also sent a couple of new colors to work in -- a light greenish brown and a deeper bluish purple. A bit of a challenge. We have also not decided on any applique shapes yet. I have no idea yet what this piece will look like. Not an inkling, other than it will have some squares in it. I'm a bit anxious as this is proceeding a bit differently than other commissions. Yet no two comissions have been the least bit alike yet. Being nervous is good, huh???

I know I have slacked off in my posting. I read other blogs and they are just going to town, offering advice, stories, insights into their lives. And there's me. "Here's an old photo". Or maybe no photo at all. I must have the creative flu.

The good news is -- my kitchen floor is done. I can use my sink. My husband can cook again. Yeah! He made a big joyous cooking mess last night & I've spent some time this morning cleaning it up. Now I have to move the rest of the dishes in, hang up artwork & other little but time-consuming chores. I'm making a list of errands to run and things I "must" buy. Good grief. I should just work already. Tomorrow I volunteer at the polls from 6:00 am to 9:30 pm. No creating will get done tomorrow.

Sorry for whine whine whining. The next post will be beautifully uplifting, chock full of information and will probably send a message to the world for peace.

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Up and Running (OK up and pacing)

Well, I was going to say I was up and running. I was going to post a photo of a newish piece here. I cannot add the photo. I am not actually up and running. Hmmmmm, this isn't boding well for the day.

The floors in my house are finished!!! The office was not done after all, so the computer was dismantled for nothing. It will be a few days before we can move furniture back into the kitchen and family room, but at least I can tiptoe in there and get things out of the kitchen that I had forgotten. My poor, tired husband wanted a beer last night. He asked where the bottle opener was. I told him that he was out of luck.

I was able to let the cat roam free this morning, so now the studio is mine again. I tried to share it with the cat, but everytime I would expose a piece of my worktable to play with fabric, he would come over and sit on my experiment. The rest of the table was covered with padding and a fleece throw for him (and to protect the artwork underneath in case of hairballs or other bad cat actions), but apparently, that was not what he wanted. I was a bit worried he would relieve himself on my table. There is a litter box in the studio but he REFUSES to use it. So I had to let him out a couple times each day to go to the one in the basement. He also refuses to drink water when it is next to his food bowl, but will drink from a bowl elsewhere. His favorite watering hole is an overflow bucket next to the hot water heater. I don't get it. The dog was confined to the living room so he would not irritate the floor guy. He got bored and barked all day, every day.

So, I have spent several days pacing and not working. I cannot work when my studio is tidied up. I've looked at all of my art and quilting books. I'm still waiting on feedback for the commission, so that is not underway yet. I feel like a car stuck in the snow. One experiement I might carry a bit further. I received several bags of vintage lucite beads from ebay. Kind of chunky and primitive looking. I may force myself to use them and just getting going on something, anything. The more I work, the more ideas I get. I just have not been working -- therefore no ideas.

Maybe I'll run some errands. Blog all day. Eat Halloween candy (wait, can't -- my daughter has been through her bag, and her photographic memory has logged every Snickers and Smarties). No. Must GET UP AND GO. GET UP AND GO. GET UP AN

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Life on Hold

Looks like I've got to shut down for a few days. I'll have to put everything on hold. We are having our kitchen, family room, and office floors refinished this week. This naturally affects the rest of the house. The cat will have to live in the attic for a few days since we can't shut off the rooms being worked on from the rest of the house. He must be banished or we'll have to deal with cat footprints for the next 20 years. I expect the finish on these floors to last that long. The first go round -- the finish only held up for 2 years. We've been living with a disintegrating floor for the last 7 years. Remodeling rule: 4 coats of polyurethane minimum!!!

Since the cat will be residing in the attic, I will be unable to work. The attic is my studio! I will have to thoroughly cover all surfaces to protect them from the cat. Any project or surface left uncovered will no doubt be marked by a hairball. Why can't he stay in another room -- well the attic is the only room where the door closes and stays closed -- we live in an old house. The commission is on hold anyway while the client reviews samples and mails back "yes" and "no" swatches.

Since the computer is in the office and there is no more room in the rest of the house to place it, we will have to shut it down for a few days. No Blogging!!!!! No email!!!!!! It will be like solitary confinement.

So, no kitchen, no computer, no studio, no inside access to the basement (so maybe no laundry).

Back in a few days!

Friday, October 26, 2007

What to do with That Old Stuff?

I guess I shouldn't call it "old stuff". It thought it was great stuff when I did it. And there's still a lot more like it all over my house.
Should I put it somewhere on my website? I'd like my website to look cohesive, however. I'd like my collectors to think that I've been doing the same sort of thing and will continue to do it, and not run off and change my mind and media completely. Which obviously has happened before.
This is a piece from my Biological Clock series. From way back when I did collages. My collages are a mixture of fabric and paper. All backgrounds are from fabric, and often, a great deal of the content is from fabric. The collages were done on illustration board, then glazed to look like a painting -- all are ornately framed. It became so difficult to find fabrics with realistic flowers and fruits & my home became overrun with magazines for clipping pictures from.
So I haven't a clue what to do with them now. I can't just fold them and put them away in a drawer like I do my quilts. I hate to take them off of my walls, but I really do need to make some room for my newer fabric pieces. They just make me feel a bit guilty somehow.
What do other artists do in this situation? Sell them cheaply? Give them as gifts? Hold on to them as long as it takes to sell them? Post pictures of them somewhere and list them as not for sale -- perhaps that is the way to get people to really want them -- tell them they can't have them.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

More Orange, New Blue, Less Brown, No Poo

I'll assume that most readers are tired of seeing what appears to be the same thing. A few more changes on the commission. I think it may even go more orange. I'm wondering if I need more texture in the fabrics, perhaps more swirls. I'm sure the additional applique and stitching will add much more texture, yet I feel more is needed at this point.

I bid on Ebay for 4 bags of beads that I thought would be great on this quilt. A total of $25.00. How many of these 4 do I think will work? Yes. None. Great beads, different project. I always end up throwing money at a new project. Often most of what I purchase does not end up in the project purchased for. The vast majority of things do find their way into something eventually. It may take a couple of hours, it may take 10 years. Oh well.

I "cleaned up" my studio to begin on this project and threw out lots of old paints, crusty brushes, unidentified things stuck together and some hand-dyed fabric from my last commission. It has laid in a pile on the floor for four months. Ugly colors. Splotchy, infected looking pieces. Nothing to do but toss them. I attempted to dye fabrics to match some computer generated colors from the client. Not just one piece at a time, but three pieces at a time. If I did not dye them at the same time, they would not look identical. And they had to look identical as I was placing these pieces side by side in a large wall hanging. So when I failed, I failed three times. It took four tries to get one orange right. Three failures times three pieces. I need to put that behind me now. It's time to create some new failures. I'm sure I'll love this piece in the end. I'm already loving the color orange.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Orange, Orange, Orange

Yesterday the new orange and gold fabrics arrived for my commission. Nine new fabrics. How many did I like?!? One! So on this rainy cool day, I sat in my attic and lightly painted each fabric with Setacolor paints. I blasted them with a hairdryer and came up with all sorts of lusious colors. A great day for orange! For some reason I cannot get enough of this color lately. Maybe its the fall leaves convincing me what a beautiful color this is.
I used to dislike orange, only having a handful of oranges in my fabric collection. Now its in loads of my latests pieces. Its in my home -- I just bought a beautiful (and cheap) orange throw from Target. It has even crept into my closet. I've even thought of purchasing an orange sofa. Don't think my husband would go for it though. But that's where the orange throw comes in. Might have to make some orange pillows to go with it.
After a couple hitches and glitches, the contract for my commission is going out tomorrow. I'm excited to get this underway! It will require much more indoor painting of fabric, but as long as orange is involved, I'm looking forward to it.

I'm going off to make dinner now. I'll shall look for something orange to make.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Starting a Commission

While I'm still waiting for my orange fabrics to arrive in the mail, I'm playing around with some applique ideas. This will, perhaps, be the central piece of the triptych.

I'm quite fond of the open, irregular circles. However, I think I will need to make them much larger, as the client would like them to flow from one piece to another -- one half circle on one piece, one half on the other. These circles and small blue squares are pieces of fabric I have coated with acrylic medium and have backed with fusible web to attach them to the quilt. I will still use stitching on these appliques, but the acrylic medium keeps the edges from fraying and gives them a somewhat glossy texture that contrasts with the untreated fabric.

My first idea for applique shapes was to have them look like river rocks. I had applied the medium to brown sponge painted fabric and cut out shapes that I had intended to look like smooth stones from a river. I had mentioned this idea to the client & she wasn't against the idea. The picture below will have her convinced that it was the wrong idea. It looks quite like poop.

Anyway, new fabric should be here tomorrow & I will actually be able to get this job underway.

Friday, October 19, 2007

New Commission

I'm embarking on a new commission. As usual, I'm excited and I'm scared. As far as commissions have gone for me, 50% are wonderful and "easy", 50% are agonizing and extremely difficult. By easy, I mean the work flows, ideas come easily and the purchaser is wonderful to work with. By extremely difficult, I may mean many different things: the customer takes control and I am just a machine to produce the desired results, the customer cannot make up their minds what they want, the customer demands a product I feel will not reflect the type of work I do and as a result, I will be forced to produce an inferior product. A recent project was a combination of all bad things. We won't go there. It is the only time that I feel I produced an inferior product. The next time, I will look for warning signs and heed them by saying "NO" to the commission.

However, this looks to be a promising one. I've been given photos and a description of the room where the piece will hang. I've been shown artwork by the customer's favorite artists. We have been through a handful of what I call "color boards" and have come up with these colors above so far. I know there will be at least one more round of photos to the client as I am expecting an order of orangey/gold fabrics.

As far as commissions go, yes, I often panic and want to say no immediately. Yet, aside from one job, I've come away from every commission loving the piece I have made, and realize I have enjoyed the process. I wish I could feel as positive at the beginning of each project. Perhaps it is superstition. If I am overly confident, maybe I will fail.

For almost every commission I have done, I have learned at least one new technique. Often I am forced to learn these new techniques. Sometimes knowing that someone loves my artwork and has sought me out encourages me to try something new. I do run these new ideas past the customer, though.

Right now I'm reading Living the Creative Life by Rice Freeman-Zachary. Most of the artists interviewed for this book prefer NOT to do commissions. It makes me wonder what is wrong with me. I'm usually the negative, no-way, go way and leave me alone, can't do it person. So why would I actually do it?

I like the interaction. Especially when it's done through email -- I can get angry, jump up and down, and heartily insult the customer & they never have to see it or hear it.

I actually get new (and good) ideas from customers.

I find I gain freedom from taking on commissions. A sell is definite and I don't have to explain to anyone why I am not making money. The money from the commission is verification & I can then play and do what I want when I'm done.


Gallery not required

Commissioned pieces are often larger (and more expensive) than those that people buy at smaller galleries, craft shows, ebay, etc. My sales usually are from pieces $30-$250. My commissions run a great deal more than that! And I get a larger canvas on which to play.

I'll keep posting my progress & we'll all see how this turns out.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Another Bird! I feel a Series coming on

This is number two. It's called Winter Feeding and is 15"x10". This one has two birds on it. Now I have a small flock. There is yet another bird quilt in progress & it has even more birds. It's getting a bit Hitchcockish around here. I feel like the birds are taking over. In the studio, little birds are all over the floor, cut out and ready to go. I've stamped fabric squares with birds and they are turning up everywhere. I think I've found the perfect square for another project & when I turn it over, there's a bird on the back. I guess I should just go with the flow and make even more.

I have a comission in the works which is now on the back burner for a few days. The woman commissioning wants lots of orangey yellows & I don't have any. I spent some time yesterday on Equilter ordering as many orangey yellows as I could & I'll wait and see what comes to my door. It's so hard to order fabric through the internet. Well, its quite easy (too easy). The hard part is attempting to match colors. For a commission I had over the summer, I needed blues. $250 worth of blues later, I found the 2 blues I needed for the project. I now need to do the blue series. Hmmmmm.......

This is my favorite and most inspirational time of year. I love autumn. My home is surrounded by mums in all shades of red, yellow and orange. This morning, I walked my daughter to the bus stop and discovered some kids had built a leaf fort. I should have gone in and sat down. Too worried that other adults would think I was a bit of a freak and should not be allowed to stand at the bus stop with small children. Perhaps if the fort is still there this afternoon I will talk my daughter into sitting in there with me.

If my commission goes as planned, and perhaps if those things will sell on Etsy and Ebay, I will buy an additional camera. I'm tired of sharing with my husband. He took it with him today & I really would like to go and photograph the neighbor's sidewalk. While walking home from the bus stop the other day, I looked down and gasped. My daughter thought I was dying, but I saw the most beautiful pattern of dead pine tree needles perfectly scattered on the sidewalk. It was only perfect that one day. Hasn't had the same effect since. So I need to find a bitty camera that I can carry with me. I'm not so good with a sketchbook. I'll have to convince my husband that the extra camera will be a great investment.

Monday, October 15, 2007

My Spiral Weekend

An entire weekend was laid out in front of me, and what did I do? Well, I purchased some beads on Ebay. I'm very excited about that. I'm preparing to have my kitchen floors refinished. I'm not excited about that. Most of the weekend was spent moving in spirals. Tight spirals. I can't tell if I've made any progress on anything.

Right now I'm working on a commission. My studio is covered in fabric samples, and during the entire weekend (included all day Friday), all I managed to do was move a couple samples around. Whew! Such hard work. Maybe some progress has been made, but at this point, it doesn't seem like it. These spirals drive me nuts. I can't see the end of them until I am actually at the end. Maybe that's a good thing. If I actually knew how long these spirals were, I would never get started in the first place.

Perhaps its more like being in one of those hamster balls. Rolling, rolling, rolling and never really getting anywhere. Or maybe that's what next weekend will be like. Or there could be some gerbil wheel action.

Hopefully my next post will show loads of progress on something. Anything.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

What is Art?

Do you really think I can do this subject justice? I'll give it a lame try. I have stumbled across a handful of blogs that try to justify what they do as art & some blogs try to explain why what others create is not art. Seems like a bit of a waste of time when one posts pages and pages, quoting multitudes of people. I think the answer should be short and easy to arrive at.

One blog of interest belongs to Petra Voegtle. There are quite involved discussions of different views. Finally, the example of monkeys with cameras is brought to the front. If a monkey took a photograph, it would not be art. No a random act of photography would not be art. However, an intentional act of photography could be considered art. A person moved and inspired by a certain scene, could capture it with a photograph. Why would this not be considered art? Many arguements seem to point in the direction of complete originality. If we haven't invented something, done something, seen something, that has never been invented, done or seen before, then we cannot create art. I have heard this quote, although I do not know who said it, that "there is nothing new in the world." Then, would that mean that nothing we create is art?

My old college American Heritage dictionary (usually used for pressing leaves), defines art as the "Human effort to imitate, supplement, alter, or counteract the work of nature." Pretty broad, huh?

As I see it, art is the creation of a work, whether it is a painting, a quilt (original of course), sculpture, etc. Art is the creation! The finished work is just a piece of work. It sits in a museum, a gallery, a closet. . . until a viewer (the artist, a collector, or an innocent bystander) connects with this piece of work. This relationship once again makes the piece of work art.

Anybody agree?!?

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Won't Dye Until Next Year (if I can help it)

These are my favorite pieces from my last round of fabric painting. It has been in the mid-80's and sunny in central PA for a long time. Lots of time to dye. But the temp. will drop tonight & clouds will come in and my prepared for dyeing fabric has run out so that's that. I'm kind of glad. I get kind of loopy being out in the sun for hours at a time. The piece on the top was done with a mix of Setacolor brown and gold sun paints. The design was made with cutouts from kid's foam sheets. The piece on the bottom was made with the same colors and I used leaves from my favorite Japanese maple. The tree has been quite sick for a few years. Each year we cut out the dead wood and hope. I love this tree and I NEED this tree.

I tend to dye in small doses. Each piece is rarely more than 14 x 20". I tend to be a bit messy when I create these fabrics, so I cut my losses & do small pieces. Its quite irritating to have a beautiful piece, only to ruin it by spattering it with a different color as I do another piece. Another reason is my teeny back yard. The whole yard is 30x45' with most of that given over to garden.

Now, each piece I have created must be heat set. This takes a huge amount of time. And its extremely boring. Needless to say, I have a whole summer of fabric that needs to be dealt with. I need procrastination therapy. Off to iron!!!

Monday, October 8, 2007

When a Fiber Artist Paints

What happens when a fiber artist tries to paint? A self-taught fiber artist? Someone who does not know how to paint? Well, it's not necessarily pretty, but at the time, it felt necessary. This piece was created after I received another rejection from a juried show. I don't know which show, other than it was the show that broke the camel's back. I was FRUSTRATED. Where could my anger go? For me, creating fiber art is not a quick and anger releasing method. It had to be immediate. I grabbed a canvas. I have several still hanging around from when I used to glue starched fabric pieces to canvas to create what I called "acryliquilts." Since I have acrylic paints and brushes at the ready, I tore off the plastic from the canvas and let myself make a mess. At the bottom of all of this paint are negative words. Not profanity, just negativity. These words looked violent and terrible against the white canvas, so I gave it an ochre glaze. Then I wrote less negative words. With each layer, I changed paint color and painted more positive words. The last layer consisted of a large red yes. I figured one yes was not enough and added several more. I felt much better after this was done! MOMA has not contacted me yet about acquiring it.
This noisy piece was created in the few days after the shooting at my Alma Mater Virginia Tech. I did a painting as soon as I heard what was going on, before the total number of people killed was even known. I find that piece too disturbing and have hidden it. This one has some graphic wording at the bottom. Other layers include the words "33 dead", words against the proliferation of guns in this country, words overheard regarding our right to bear arms. Over that, I painted white birds for peace, and words for hope and freedom from violence. This was not created for arts sake. It was a release from all the anger and desperation I was feeling. While I know I will always involve fabric in my day to day creations, there is nothing better than a supply of fast drying acrylic paints and stretched canvas at the ready. MOMA has not contacted me about this piece either.

Friday, October 5, 2007

Donating Artwork

Mineral Rights - donated to Palmer Museum's fundraising Gala

The more I read blogs, articles, and any other artist information, the more confused I become about whether or not to donate art.

Why not:
- It makes an artist look bad just to give away art.
- It will not actually give the artist any exposure.
- The buying public will see a discounted price on the art and assume the rest of the artist’s work should be just as cheap.

These seem to be the main three reasons. They are all good reasons. But in the end, the artist must ask themselves if they should donate for each separate request.

Last year I donated two pieces. This year, I will probably donate three pieces. I will (hopefully) refuse any more requests after that.

The first request last year was from the Greater Richmond (Virginia) Meals on Wheels program. The president of that organization is a very good friend. His good friends are volunteers and it is a great program. I donated to help a friend and to do a little bit of good. From what I remember, the fundraiser is a wine and food tasting and an art auction. The second request was from a former gallery owner who showed and sold a great deal of my work. It was to benefit Penn State’s Palmer Museum of Art. The museum has great special exhibits and in the cultural desert of Central Pennsylvania, it is an oasis. This year I have volunteered to add the Clearwater Conservancy, a local natural resource conservation organization. It is a group I believe in to do good things. They have an annual chocolate fest and art auction.

Donating artwork will give me minimal exposure. One or two people out of a room of 200 people might actually look at my work and remember my name. I do not expect any exposure.

I feel I look pretty good donating to these causes. I live in a fairly small, but culturally and economically upscale area. A few people who see my work will remember my name. These few people are important, though. The vast majority of the people who see my art will not bother to make a bid on it, they will probably not even look at it. Therefore, how can I diminish my name when only a handful of people, local ones at that, will even see my name attached to my artwork? The majority of people are cheap (how else does Wal-mart survive). The majority of people want to buy art cheaply. Whether I ask $20,000 or $20, the majority of buyers would rather pay $20. The majority of art buyers will NEVER know that someone purchased a $200 Kim Hambric original for $95.00.

Reasons I donate:

- A person I like and respect asks me to (hopefully they feel the same about me). I can give up a small piece.
- I like the cause.
- It makes me feel good to donate.
- Someone who needs the money benefits.
- Someone out there will connect with my artwork. Hopefully they will hang it on their wall, have a dinner party, tell the story of getting a great deal on a beautiful piece, tell their friends who the great artist is, pass along my name, the interested people will google my name, locate my website, and buy a piece of their own. Much in the same way that a person who purchases a piece for the full retail price will hang it on their wall, have a dinner party, tell the story of finding a great artist, tell their friends who the great artist is, pass along my name, the interested people will google my name, locate my website, and buy a piece of their own.

I am curious about what other artists think.

Thursday, October 4, 2007

Time to Dye

Yes, the air grows chill, night comes early, it is time to dye. My time is running out!
I told myself over and over this summer to get outside and create some new fabrics. But it was always too hot, too cloudy, too cranky (me). There are two sunny October days ahead & this is probably going to be it. Once the leaves turn and fall I won't be able to do this anymore. But so many other things need to be done. Blog, check on blogs, dig up some fabrics for a commission (yay). I just am not into spreading on the sunblock anymore.
So out I go! Time to dye!

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Travel and Inspiration

I spent last weekend in (or nearby) Ft. Worth, Texas. I thought I might get some inspiration from the landscape and from doing some "authentic" Texas sightseeing. But with several kids in tow (only one my own), we went to the zoo. Fun, but not exactly inspiration for art. A submerged hippo is a submerged hippo no matter where you are.

One interesting diversion was the meat fest at Texas de Brazil Restaurant in Ft. Worth. Our table of 8 (+ one non-meat eating baby) was surrounded for 60 minutes with sword-wielding, meat slicing men. Beef, chicken, beef, pork, beef and more beef sliced right on your plate. And then dessert. I'm overcome just thinking about it. Great food, highly recommended, just wouldn't do it again for another year.

As far as art inspiration, my issue of Cloth, Paper, Scissors, provided the greatest amount of motivation to create. My three-hour plane ride forced me to read ALL of the articles, many I would have skipped because they might not pertain to fiber art. One reason I did pick up this issue was for the Kelly Rae Roberts article. Her yearning to find a creative outlet is definitely something I understand. Yet, her becoming an artist was not her initial goal, but a result of reaching a goal of becoming a runner. By achieving this goal, she knew she could achieve other goals. I do wish to get further in the world with my art. But perhaps I need another goal to achieve first.

For now, my goal will be to find a goal.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Starting A Series #2

Left, Getz 24 x 20", Right, Love and Happiness 24 x 20"

While color is my reason for making art, looking at art and just about everything else, on occasion, my greatest motivator is music.

In my studio I have a 5-disk cd player. I had been doodling and spinning in my desk chair for (many) days. I told myself that I would be inspired by the next song. I fully expected the random selection to bring up a classical piece, a French accordion song, or a jazz standard, but no. The winning song was Al Green’s “Love and Happiness”. I began sketching moments later. Soon (meaning 3 days) the piece was close to completion and I was able to listen to something else. It used to be my favorite Al Green song, but has, at least temporarily, dropped to the bottom of the list. “Can’t Get Next to You” inspired the next piece in the series. Stan Getz and Luiz Bonfa’s “Jazz Samba Encore” inspired the next two pieces “Getz” and “Luiz”.

For me, inspiration can't be searched for. I can't over think it. I just have to remember to make a note of it when it happens. I wish I could train myself to keep a journal. My fear then is that I would have too much to choose from.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Big Box Customer Service (not)

A couple of weeks ago, my five-year-old daughter and I went to our only fabric and sewing store. One of the big ones. I'm sure everyone would know the store. Don't feel I should mention the name, however.

I had a long list of items, half of which were already in my basket. My daughter starts doing a little dance and tells me she has to use the bathroom. Earlier experiences have taught me to go to an employee and ask for the key to the restroom. I approach an employee who is sitting on the floor stocking the shelves. She tells me they don't have a bathroom, and to go to the store next door. She says that "corporate" (sounds eerie) has permanently locked the restrooms. I ask where the employee goes when she needs a restroom. She says nothing and turns away from us. I thought maybe she didn't hear, so I asked again. I asked her back if she really wants me to put down my basket, go to another store, and actually come back and resume shopping. Of course, there is no answer. My daugher informs me that she can hold it. She does. We finish up. I come home and Google for sewing supplies.

The result of this well-known store's inconsideration is my purchase from addictedtocrafts.
(Sorry, I haven't figured out links yet. The link might work, it might not.) They had everything I needed -- needles, steam-a-seam, marking pencils, Velcro, even Coats and Clark thread (although I haven't figured out their color#s yet). I should email "corporate" at that big box store and thank them for helping me to discover this site.

I'm always willing to hear from others about great places to purchase supplies. draft

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Will this Bird Become a Series?

I knew I had to include a bird in a piece immediately. I knew I had to include a house shape in a piece immediately. And trees, I must have trees. Last week I carved two bird stamps and then a tree stamp. And somehow the house shape for the quilt just happened. I’m also not sure whether the piece is too busy, not busy enough or just right. Is it too Halloweeny? Too dark? I feel I must have all questions answered before I start the next piece. Maybe I should give myself very few options and do another very similar piece and get started. I know that it must be house shaped! I love the shape although I cannot find a way to crop the photo so that it looks good. Hmm, photo looks good here, just not on my website. This piece is called Goldwing in Winter

Friday, September 21, 2007

Starting a Series #1

Above are three pieces from my newest series, Planting Seeds -- Planting Seeds III, VIII, and XII.

Working in a series is relatively new to me. For the first 10 years of my art making life, almost every piece was done individually. I recreated the wheel with each new piece. On occasion, scraps from a large piece might be used to create a similar smaller piece. But that was it. On to the next piece. What to do next? It could take days to come up with the next idea.
I would read about other artists working in a series and I would think, "Wow! How dull. Can they not think of new ideas? How stifling." Now I understand that it can be a freeing experience. I can still change the size, the color, or even the theme (as long as I work with the same size and color).

Since I have started working this way, I have produced much more work, had much more fun, and have been far more satisfied with the outcome of each piece.

My most recent series is called Planting Seeds; a series comprised of 12 15x15" pieces. Each piece has a hand scattering seeds. I could say that this idea came from months of brainstorming. There may have been a subconscious seed or two in my head, but those two words had been on my bulletin board for a year or two. While pacing in my studio looking for ideas, I saw those two words. I was off! I was supposed to be finishing a previous series. A series that was not my favorite and most pieces were unfinished and buried under scraps from a large commission. I knew I should finish them. How terrible to just let them be covered and discovered unloved and unfinished two years from now. After 12 pieces in my newest series were completed, the older pieces were finally done. My belief is that new ideas trump old ideas. Maybe my belief should be finish what you start. Immediately! Should my belief become "if it feels good, make it?"