Friday, June 24, 2016

Week in Review 2016 - 06/24

Tips, Thoughts and Techniques:

One summer a local artist, Eddie Cascieri,
who lived in my neighborhood, organized
a two week summer art camp for teenagers.
My mother signed me up. I loved it. The
class was all about play and experimentation.
That brief interlude, and Eddie's nurturing
encouragement sustain me in my studio
nearly 45 years later. Eddie is on the right.
Her husband, Archangelo Cascieri,
whom she called Angel, was a sculptor,
whose work can be seen in downtown Boston.
I'm on retreat. The best part of this retreat is that I can participate from home.  It was the title, Woman Unleashed Retreat and the fact that it was free that got me to take the impulsive leap to join. Each day for two weeks I receive an email with two video sessions that focus on linking self care with creativity. The videos are made by a variety of motivational women, painters and mixed media artists. What has surprised me is that on several occasions the hosts confess to being to do list makers and being overwhelmed by their lists. 

It is one thing to make to do lists, it is quite another to take those lists and prioritize them. The key for getting things accomplished and feeling less harried, in my opinion, is developing the habit of a prioritized to do list that you maintain on your computer. On my iMac, I use Mac's program, Reminders for this. However, any computer generated to do list that you can access from your various devices, that allows you to assign items to calendar dates, prioritize items and print out your list by date(s) will work. 

Here is my mini tutorial on creating prioritized to do lists:

Step 1: Write out your to do list. 

Step 2: Now analyze it. Which items are date sensitive? Which items are essential? What items must be done in sequence? Are there logical ways to group some of the items? 

Step 3: Assign either an A, B, or C to each of the items. An A is an immediate must. A B should be assigned to anything that is important but not immediate. Finally a C is neither immediate or very important, at least in the short term.

Work has begun on First Light.
Step 4: Look at only the items marked A on the list. Give each one a number from 1 to the number of items on the list. Number 1 is the most important to get to done. The highest number is the least important. 

Step 5: I usually don't bother prioritizing my B and C lists until I complete doing my A list for the day.

Step 6: Start your day by doing A1, if you have time to do A2, A3, etc. - do them. If you do this consistently every day by the end of the year you will have accomplished approximately a 1,000 or more of the most important things in your life. 

So why do I keep everything on the computer? Because that way I don't waste time rewriting and rewriting my lists. It is easy move what doesn't get done, to the next logical date.

One of the pieces I made using dishwashing liquid as a resist.
Studio time is on my A list on Monday, Tuesday and Thursday every week. That is why I can share what I accomplished this week. 

1) Work on Sunrise Abstraction- Started

a) Make and attach the sleeve - I have made the sleeve and started to attach it
b) Make and attach the label - Not yet.

2) Free motion quilting practice - Done!

I've started quilting First Light, the whole piece quilt I designed in Art on the iPad. The first part is slow going since I am starting and stopping after very few stitches in order to not quilt over the trees. 

3) Do some surface design work - Done!

Another dishwashing liquid resist experiment. This time
I began by drawing leaf shapes with the soap.
I was inspired to try using dish soap as a resist after reading Julie B. Booth's article in the June/July 2016  issue of Quilting Arts Magazine. The appeal to me is that I didn't have to deal with hot wax. The disappointment is that the resist didn't resist as much as I might have liked.
4) Beware of when I find myself shutting down and find a way to stay open - Done!

I am slogging my way through the retreat. It would be so much easier to give up. Much of the material covers self care, good habits and being mindful of how the past influences the present. It is geared to women who have little "me" time because they are raising children. I'm beyond that. I have "me" time. It is easy to miss the lessons that I can learn, and there are lessons to learn, because I tend to tune out during messages that are old news. I had my first aha moment yesterday. I'm so glad I stayed open to continuing.

Next week will be busy. I'm grateful I have developed the habit of a prioritized to do list. It gives me the confidence to know that I will have studio time next week and when I do here is what I will be doing:

1) Work on Sunrise Abstraction

a) Attach the sleeve
b) Make and attach the label

2) Free motion quilting practice

3) Do some surface design work

4) Beware of when I find myself shutting down and find a way to stay open

I am now linking up to two blogs on Fridays. The first is Nina Marie's Off the Wall Fridays and the second is Free Motion Mavericks.

Friday, June 17, 2016

Week in Review 2016 - 06/17

Sunrise Abstraction is up on my
website now that the facing has
been stitched down.

Tips, Thoughts and Techniques:

I recently finished watching, Cooked, a Netflix Documentary. I rarely rate something 5 stars, but that is what I gave Cooked. What struck me is how food is transformed by how we prepare it. Michael Pollan chose to look at food through the lens of fire, water, earth and air. Each element plays a part in how food is transformed. It is also transformed by how we combine ingredients and choose to season it. 

I was struck by the similarities between cooking and quilting. A quilt is the transformation of fabric that is chosen to work together and then quilted to bring out texture. Some quilters, like me recently, even choose to start with white fabric, that we dye, paint or use other surface design techniques, to get just the color and pattern we need. This is why I spent a couple days dying fabric so that I could have my pick of greens to blues in a variety of values for the quilt that is a glimmer of an idea.

The view from my kitchen window during the height of the
storm. It is extremely rare to have roof run off. This
felt like my own person waterfall.

Nature has a way of transforming the world around us. If you don't like the weather in New England,  just wait a minute, has been erroneously attributed to Samuel Clemens. What he actually said is, "There is a sumptuous variety about the New England weather that compels the stranger's admiration -- and regret. " New England can be replaced by any location on the globe. All you have to do is google the quote, "if you don't like the weather..." and you find it attributed to various places.  

We certainly saw some weather this past Wednesday evening when the skies opened up for 20 minutes of one of the heaviest rains I can recall. Appleton, WI, where I live is relatively flat and the streets flood easily and drain easily. Fortunately, this storm caused no major damage. Instead it provided some light hearted moments. I heard people were kayaking in the streets, but didn't believe it until I found this photo online!

 I was feeling rather light hearted myself this week. It seems I am back in the groove as you can see: 

This isn't the only picture I found of people 
kayaking in the street on Wednesday. Nor is it the 
best. However, I like to choose photos were the 
photographer can receive credit.

I used a combination of dilutive and additive 
methods to create this graduation from a yellow green
to an ice blue with multiple value reductions during
the process. The top fabric that only has the tiniest
corner showing, is a stunning nearly white, pale blue. I 
achieved this by diluting the original blue 8 times.
1) Work on Sunrise Abstraction - Done!

I finished stitching down the facing just in time to have my husband take the formal picture of Sunrise Abstraction for me to use on my website and for calls for entry. Kudos to him for getting even light across the quilt and capturing the texture created by stitching. Not an easy task to do as an amateur photographer with very basic equipment.

2) Free motion quilting practice - Done!

I don't have proof, but I started quilting the whole cloth piece I had print for me. There really wasn't enough done to share. I am loving what I've done so far. 
3) Do some surface design work - Done!

Not only did I hand-dye fabric, I also tried my hand at using dishwashing liquid as a resist. I have a tendency to collect articles on surface design techniques, much the way others collect recipes. I intend to try them one day, it is just that that one day never seems to come. This is precisely why I am devoting this year to playing with surface design.
4) Beware of when I find myself shutting down and find a way to stay open - Done!

See 3 - It was so tempting to count my hand-dying session as my surface design project for the week. However, my goal with this item on my to do list is to learn many surface design techniques, not just fall back on ones I have become relatively comfortable with. I wanted to stay open to learning something new and had to fight the urge not to do anything and everything that I am far more comfortable with and therefore risk running out of time to do the uncomfortable experimenting.
One thing in the plans for next week is to finish the resist project. It requires a series of paint/dry/paint cycles. I am also looking forward to some solid free motion quilting sessions. And then there is a the finish work on Sunrise Abstraction to complete. In other words, if I don't like or tire from one project I can always change to another one, just like the weather. Here is the game plan:

1) Work on Sunrise Abstraction

a) Make and attach the sleeve
b) Make and attach the label

2) Free motion quilting practice

3) Do some surface design work

4) Beware of when I find myself shutting down and find a way to stay open

I am now linking up to two blogs on Fridays. The first is Nina Marie's Off the Wall Fridays and the second is Free Motion Mavericks.

Friday, June 10, 2016

Week in Review 2016 - 06/10

We spent a week on a cruise through
the Norwegian fjords. This time we had
a cabin in the stern. This is one of many
pictures I took with my iPad leaning out
over the railing of our balcony.

Tips, Thoughts and Techniques:

I'm in life is short, eat dessert first mode. I believe this is caused by having my first vacation in years when I had zero access to the internet for seven days. Usually when I am away, even on holiday, the responsible person in me feels obligated to check my email and handle whatever business I can. I also hope that by doing so there will be less to get caught up with when I return. I struggle with the transition from home to travel and back. This time I did something slightly different. I made a conscientious decision to spend time in my studio, knowing that I had mountain of accumulated paperwork to handle. Nirvana! Honestly, I was surprised how just a few hours working on my current project helped to maintain the relaxed state from my vacation AND gave me the energy to face the business side of things. 
Sunrise Abstraction after one vertical
facing has been hand stitched in place.
Don't forget to click on the image if
you want to see it enlarged.

Apparently I was so  relaxed that I completely forgot my goal of doing some free motion quilting weekly. Perhaps that will be my dessert next week. Here is what I did achieve:

1) Work on Sunrise Abstraction - Done!

Before we left for vacation I washed and blocked Sunrise Abstraction. This gave it plenty of time to dry. Early in the week I squared up/trimmed the quilt with my husband. Next I added the facing strips. Now I have begun stitching them in place. I use Kathy Loomis's method of the vertical strips being 2" shorter than the vertical side and the horizontal strips being 2" longer than the horizontal sides. Usually I crop my images so that distracting items, such as the unfinished facing strips don't show. However, I thought it might be helpful to include everything this time around. For example, you can see how I match, in a close enough way, my facing to the front of the work. Also, Instead of turning all the facing to the back at once, I thought I would try turning just the strip I was currently working on. I plan on stitching down the two vertical strips first. Then going back and tackling the horizontal strips. 
After sending one of the water pictures through
a series of art apps on my iPad, I came up with
this design. 

2) Free motion quilting practice - Oops, I forgot to do this.
3) Do some surface design work - Done!

I couldn't resist taking and sharing this photo of my
studio helper, Lola, sitting on my lap as I stitched
down the facing. 
One of the reasons I took Art on the iPad was to be able to do art on vacation. Yes, I was able to do some art. No, working on an iPad cooped up on a trans Atlantic flight didn't work for me. However, I found the iPad the perfect tool to have in the hotel and on the cruise for those free 15 minutes or more of transitional time. 
4) Beware of when I find myself shutting down and find a way to stay open - Done!

We were comped vouchers to go to one of the specialty restaurants on the cruise. This is my third cruise, and being the frugal person that I am, I couldn't see the point of going to a restaurant on board that cost additional money, when excellent food is included 24 hours a day in multiple restaurants. I wasn't even keen on going to one of the restaurants even having my meal comped. Nothing ventured, nothing gained. We went. It was the best meal, worth it even if we had to pay.

Next week will be more of the same, but I hope with some free motion quilting. Here is the plan.

1) Work on Sunrise Abstraction

2) Free motion quilting practice

3) Do some surface design work

4) Beware of when I find myself shutting down and find a way to stay open

I am now linking up to two blogs on Fridays. The first is Nina Marie's Off the Wall Fridays and the second is Free Motion Mavericks.