Saturday, August 28, 2010

Figurin' stuff out...


top of studio desk

The summer trolley hops are the best!  Such interesting people wander in and out.  I always ask the question, "how often to you trolley hop?" and from the people I've spoken with, first timers make up 90%.  Not sure how significant this tidbit of info is, but I figure Trolley Hop is missing something for repeaters.

There is an outdoor art fair coming up in 2 weeks at Mellwood and I think I'll interrupt my current processes in order to make some brooches and small 4x6 postcards to move.  Maybe 25 of each.  Sadly the winter trolley hops are not anywhere as active or interesting and summer is coming to a close so I figure I betta not be content with allowing the opportunity to pass me by.

I've figured out that my intended audience for my art is primarily curators, exhibit judges, and gallery owners, followed by the general art buying public.  A couple of years ago I had an interior designer interested in my work but I just couldn't afford to "wholesale" it in order to make it worth my time and materials.  The business side of art making is like the hip pain that isn't bad enough to stop me from walking but hurts just enough to say take an aspirin.  Now that I'm no longer sharing the studio...I'm thinking of trying to move small pieces each month to cover half of the studio rent.  In other words, the push is turning into a shove.  I will not rehash my reluctance to address marketing again but do hope I can find an acceptable compromise.  I'm opening up my space by the hour to other textile artist who need a temporary space to dye fabric and I'm also offering demo'ing/teaching intro to basic dyeing for ubber beginners.  There are smaller studio spaces available but these 4 sinks are just 5 footsteps from my door and I do not want to increase physical challenges by getting further from them.


I'm going to take a page from Deborah Grayson's blog and list my business goals for September here:

1. Have 25 postcards and 25 fiber brooches ready for sale by Sept. 9thscrapped the brooches but did the postcards

1a. backing, sealed, on placards, etc.  related to above

1b. on cards, take 5 to retailersdecided against it due to dropping prices on postcards.

2. Flyers on renting space by hr/intro to dye in lobby and Mellwood/LAFTA email list.

3. Make up price list  completed

4. Complete applications for 2 exhibits  (still working it out)

4a. 2 pieces quilted and completed  (1 piece used for postcards, still working on it)

4b. Ade to photographed  (need to retake them)

5. Begin putting together a cd portfolio.  (still working on it) 

I can't commit to doing this each month but at least for September. 

Friday, August 27, 2010

Frankfort Avenue Trolley Hop...

known as F.A.T. Friday is this evening.  There is always live music in the courtyard at Mellwood and Fun Food Cafe does a Fish Fry every Friday.  I'll be in my studio, The Beauty of Holiness sometime after 5 and until 9pm.  I'd love it if you drop in.  Currently I'm writing and beading on fabrics.


Wednesday, August 25, 2010

I wonder if Beauford ever heard the whoosh?

Since the end of July I've been on a creative high but yesterday in The Basement Workshop it just wasn't happening.  I forced myself to finish quilting a "practice" piece that bottomed out when I attempted to add another layer of painting after I finished quilting it.  It is somewhat of an abstracted landscape.  I brought it home with me to continue pondering to see if it can be saved...even though it is a practice piece for free-motion quilting, it still was discouraging to have ucked it up in the last stages.  I could hear the flushing of my time going right down the commode.   Of course logically I know that even the failures are investments toward skill, but emotionally I heard that long whooshing sound when all felt in vain. Here is a sectional view of where it went all wrong-


Actually, I know it can be redeemed, it's just going to push me harder to wrap my head around colour control and painting technique.

Weather wise we are catching a big break this week.  Cooler temperatures and low humidity.  I'm staying home today but will enjoy the weather from the balcony.  Will try to finish the bio on the artist Beauford Delaney.  Peace,

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Urban Egression at the State Fair

Quilt at fair

Quilt at fair1

I will not be going to the fair until the end of next week but thanks to Mary Cartledge Hayes for the preview. 

Friday, August 20, 2010

Altering Quilts and Awards

DSCN3798 - Copy

This quilt belongs to the poetry series but I wasn't happy with it when I completed it and over a year ago. I'm still not happy with it.  For one, I've ironed the heck out of the middle section at the bottom and that crease will not come out.  Two, the vertical seams are not straight and that bothers me for this piece. Third, the horizontal strips need to be narrower and the colours are slightly off for what I intended.  Maybe if they had been narrower they wouldn't distract me.  What I love about the piece is the fabrics I created  (with the circles and writing) and the colours of those. 

These are the thoughts I have: One, cut them into three individual pieces, (see below). Two, cut it into postcards; or, three, make my first journal covers or small purses.  Since I'm not attached to this piece I'm open for suggestions.  (There is prolly someway to add a poll feature, but I don't have the time to investigate).  Leave your ideas in the comments...and peace :)


Postscript:  The above post was a draft I wrote yesterday for posting today but since last evening, my fantastic news that was announced at the LAFTA meeting is my quilt, Urban Egression, won the LAFTA award in the Fine Arts division/Constructed Textiles category.  The jurying process was a blind one with 3 jurors from the organization.  I haven't attended a meeting in months so it felt like divine guidance for me to have the energy and inclination to attend.  I instantly had goosebumps from head to toe.  I have the image upon my FB photos, but I'm on a different computer right now and will upload the image later.  Again, Peace...and have a super fantastic weekend!

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Chitlins', Art and Holiness

Yesterday I had to absolutely go into the studio...although I was there last Friday, it had been 3 whole days without being able to be there or in the basement workshop.  The longer I'm away, the more sullen and surly I become and then I am pressed to summon up energy in surpressing those feelings and behaviors in order to maintain some appearance of civility and sanity.  When ideas are calling me I see stitching, design, quilt possibilities EVERYWHERE...on buildings, dashboards, road construction, billboards, etc, and getting back into my space becomes a near obsessive CALLING.  After I left there yesterday to return back into the world, I felt like the best of me again and welcoming to interact with other human beings again. 

I worked on one of the studies I mentioned in a previous post.  A study that now has a specific vision.  A couple of years ago I was enamored with making silk paper.  Some time last year I started stiching on it just to see how it takes the needle and thread.  I've shown snippets of this particular piece before.  It keeps intriguing me but yesterday I knew the piece had found it's voice and I was listening.  This piece was talking to me..."order the stitches a little bit more Karen", "redo that line of stitches", "repeat the shape below", "take it down further"...and then from my own voice a phrase from one of my poems came to me while stitching and I knew it was the title of the piece...PRIMORDIAL WOMB.   When I picked this piece back up a few weeks ago I was working with the title of Amoeba and I thought the stitching would be a combination of hand and machine.  But yesterday Primordial Womb said all hand stitching and I chuckled at the idea of me doing "slow cloth".


While winding down I pondered what I was experiencing...a conversation, a dialogue, with something I was creating, something that many may view as an inanimate object.  From there I was led to how some cultures hold views that everything has spirit and everything is connected and when we, as artists, enter that realm and practice this belief, are we not entering Holy space?  Estella, my sisterfriend, wrote "poets mostly talk to God..."  I've read on blogs of visual artists and in conversations with artist-friends who speak of being in "the zone".  Personally, for myself, that zone is a communion with God and my time in the processes of creating art is an offering, an invitation for God to enter.  Even when I'm piddling (its a matter of showing up), even when things aren't working out (its an effort in maintaining belief), even when I'm doubting myself as an artist (its the questioning that leads to answers), even when my well seems dry and cracked (its the silence and space I need at that time for something fresh to enter). 

I was thinking of changing the name of my studio to "The Chitllin' Circuit" which I think is brilliant on lots of levels.  First, the space is housed in what use to be Mellwood Meat Packing, later Fischer's Meat Packing...the hogs where actually slaughtered there and the building is just a spit-throw's distance from the neighborhood known as Butchertown where historically, slaughter houses where located (they are all gone except for one).  When my children where younger and we would pull up behind a 18-wheeler of live cows (usually on Sunday evenings the trucks would begin lining up to unload) and the eyes of the cows could be seen peeking out from the holes, I would say to my children, you are looking at your hamburger.  I'm surprised not one of them are vegetarian but my point was to drive home the animal sacrifice that was made for them to enjoy their food.  I had a ceramics teacher in college who lived on a farm in Indiana and they raised the food they ate including meat.  He purposely wanted his children to participate in the slaughter of the animals so they would hold a deeper appreciation for what it took to get food to the table and not be ignorant to the facts.  Conceptually, this city girl thought that was kinda cool.

But I was talking about "The Chitllin' Circuit".   This was also the name that African American artists gave the route of venues mostly throughout the south that they could work in...months on end travelling from one spot to the next.  It was a difficult and hard way to make a living in the era of racial violence and segregation. As a cultural, historical, and geographical connection, I thought the name to be perfect.  But weighing my views on art and holiness, the current name will stay until a time, if ever, I can change it.

Saturday, August 14, 2010


(The back ground music for this post is any song from Laura Izibor's Let the Truth Be Told cd)

The last couple of weeks have been great for being in the studio.  If I were to make a complaint it would be being there gets the pistons firing so fast with ideas and there is no way I can work fast enough to attempt them.


(auditioning threads) 

Crowbonics: The Scroll came home just as I was nearing completion of Crowbonics: The Hymnal which morphed into something that I had not intended due to being excited and getting carried away with the scissors.  After a couple of sleeps I'm okay with now having 2 new pieces instead of the 1 and I'm welcoming the opportunity to start over from scratch with The Hymnal.

(auditioning beads)

The past couple of weeks I've also been finishing up "studies" that have been hanging around, some for over a year.  Now they feel less like "studies" as I'm working with intentions towards a vision for them versus "let me see what this will do".

(stuff I do when I take a break)

  My stamina has been fueled by a new med I'm on for PH.  I started on it over a month ago and my ability to take stairs has improved and I attended the art car parade with my daughter and 3 grandchildren (it was a very short parade of about 20 cars) and was able to walk a couple of blocks and back to my car.  I'm still contending with mild to intense muscle inflammation caused by fibromyalgia but when I'm in the studio or the workshop I am successful at ignoring and working around the pain and making accomodations by pacing myself.  It helps that I'm good at tuning out distractions.

(Paula Cundiff's Art Van Go)

 The flip side of distractions is having interesting people visit in my studio.  Two watercolourists visited who are also in the building and I learned there is a life drawing class in the evenings and the price of admission is usually a bottle of wine (or diet coke if thats your flavor).  Michael, the artist behind me, brings his young daughter, prolly around 2yo, to his studio daily and she has the cutest voice and I love hearing what sounds like endless q & a.   Since Janet, a neighbor, has moved in, being at the studio has the added bonus of socializing...after conversations with her, I'm dizzy with fresh ideas.  She starts me down the path of brainstorming and I have to reel myself back (but its a super-fantastic issue to be faced with).  And yesterday, I had two seperate visits from old friends that I had not seen either of them in six years.  I was flooded with memories yesterday of things I had forgotten.  But with good friends it doesn't matter the time or the distance...the rhythm of the heart returns and re-connects.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

New Look

I like the appearance of this design but the template is set for someone who knows how to tweak html I guess.  I can't figure out how to put all my sidebar stuff on it as it's not a copy and paste format but a "write it in type template" 

I'll keep it up for a day or two to see if I can bear not having my side bar links. 

painted fabric with soy wax resist.


I didn't think I was going to like that design so here I am back to my former one...I use my blog as a central "go to" spot and prefer accessing my links from my side bar versus scrolling or making folders in my favorites. 

Monday, August 2, 2010

Its all about value...

I'm spending more time at the studio than at the basement workshop.  Primarily due to my focus of laminating and printing and dyeing which has a better set-up for it than the basement does.  The basement has morphed into the area for sewing with an area for painting cloth and silk dyeing with the microwave.  With the help of Ade I spent some time re-arranging the studio so that I could print from both sides of the table.  Last week I started printing on a piece of jacquard cotton and today this is where I left it-

DSCN1368 There are 4 different greens, 2 blues, and 2 reds used here.  Each colour dried before adding the next layer and then the fabric was heat set.  I'm at a happy point of being stuck so I lifted it off the table and hung in in the window of the studio.  I'm going to study it and do a self driven q & a with it before I decide what will happen next.  The immediate discovery was liking the backside-

DSCN1372 From the backside, the lighter colours do the talking and just the opposite on the front.  But right now I'm leaning toward this being a piece that will be cut.  If it stays whole there will be a laminated sheer layered over the top. 

Using a black and white filter to check for value, I could see that value is working but it's colour that dances---when I'm working I spend more time thinking about value than I do colour. 


I have 2 new neighbors at Mellwood, Janet, a recently retired art teacher.  We seem to be vibing quite well and in sync.  I keep feeling like I know her from some place else.  The other new neighbor is a young man, Emmett, who is a mixed media artist, and who struck me as having "good home training" as my mother would say.  I appreciated how he carried himself and am looking forward to seeing what he creates.  I'll be saving cardboard for him.